Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

15Apr/140

Richard Marx On Songwriting And His ‘Beautiful Goodbye’

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richardmarx
I spoke with Richard Marx in early March for a story that ran locally prior to his show here in Cleveland in April. For those of you who are regular readers of the blog, it will come as no surprise that I'm a lifelong Marx fan. Even if I wasn't a fan, just learning that he's a fellow liner notes nerd like I am would have gone a long way.

We talked about his upcoming album, Beautiful Goodbye (which was still untitled at the time of our conversation), which is set for release sometime in June. I've never interviewed Marx before, so I was looking forward to the opportunity to dig into the songwriting that he's done, both for himself and other artists.

It was a good chat and it left me wanting to hear the new album. I'm curious to hear where he's going to go with this one. From hearing "Turn Off The Night," the one new song that he performed during his Cleveland appearance, the initial mojo on this one feels good.

Let’s start at the top --- I saw that you were writing songs with Ringo Starr last week. That’s an experience that probably tops many other experiences for most people.

It’s pretty crazy. I wrote a song with him I guess two albums ago after I did a tour with him, he asked me to write a song with him. I went over to his house and he had a track that he had already played drums on and it was a piece of music that was pretty fleshed out, but it didn’t have a melody or any lyrics. So I started singing a melody and then we started writing lyrics together and we wrote a song that ended up becoming a song called “Mystery Of The Night.” So he called me a couple of weeks ago again and said “Hey, I’m doing a new album -- I know you’re in L.A., do you want to come over and do the same thing?”

So I went over last week and we wrote this new song. But then just this morning he called me and said “Do you have time to write another song? I love the song we wrote and it was so easy. Do you have time to write another one?” and I said “Dude, I’ll make time!” Then he said “You know, why don’t we just do something from scratch -- whatever you think would be good for me to sing.” So he sort of gave me carte blanche to come up with some ideas for him. So next week we’re going to sit down and [work on it]. I’ve got to tell you, aside from being Ringo, the Beatle, he’s just such a lovely man. He’s such a great hang and it’s time well spent because he’s a blast and he’s fun.

It seems like once you do one of those All-Starr Band tours, if you play your cards right, you’re in the family from that point forward.

Pretty much. One of the things that happens is that once you know him and certainly once you’ve toured with him, if you just happen to go see him play somewhere, you have to get up at the end of the show and sing “With A Little Help From My Friends.” It’s a law that is written somewhere -- I’m not sure where, but trust me, it’s written somewhere. He doesn’t discard people.

If you treat him the way he treats you, which is with respect -- and he is, for everything that he embodies and what he’s experienced in his career, I don’t know of a more respectful musician. He’s such a fan of other people and he’s so good at giving other people props. He’s a good human. He could be Ringo Starr from the Beatles and not be that great of a guy and I wouldn’t want to work with him just because of who he is, but he’s a really cool guy.

You’ve done a lot of writing and co-writing with folks in recent years. It seems like there might be an additional level of intimidation that might creep into the process for some people, because you’re writing with Ringo Starr. Yet it would also seem like you maybe had a bit of benefit going into it, since you had toured with him of maybe having a comfort zone that some people don’t have.

Yeah, I definitely did have that. He and I, we’re social friends -- we’ve had quite a few dinners together and we talk on the phone every once in a while just to check in with each other and we’re friends. So I definitely have a comfort level with him as a person, which makes the co-writing process that much less uncomfortable. When you sit down in a room with somebody and you’re going to just sort of throw ideas out there that might suck or might be brilliant, there’s a trust that needs to happen and sometimes that definitely has to take time to develop.

You know, there’s certain people that I’ve written hit songs with and when we get back together to write again, it’s just as uncomfortable as the first time. You don’t ever get past a certain level of discomfort with certain people. It doesn’t mean you don’t produce great stuff, it just means that it’s a different kind of dynamic. And then there are people who I couldn’t be more comfortable around, but maybe I haven’t written a hit song with.

I look at every co-writing venture as a place for me to learn something. That includes writing with young writers like Jason Wade and Chris Daughtry, those guys who will tell me “Well, you’re the veteran -- I’m going to defer to you now” and I said “No, no -- there’s no such thing -- just because I’ve written x number of hit songs doesn’t mean that I’m going to be the guy that carries the ball over the touchdown line on this song. It might be you!”

I spoke with your buddy Matt Scannell about the latest Vertical Horizon album and he was telling me how you came in and as he put it, rescued things by helping him get the vocals where they needed to be with that record. I guess I’m curious if you’ve ever had somebody do the reverse and come in to rescue you with your own situation.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been rescued. I’ve certainly had….you know, look -- more importantly, Matt Scannell is somebody who has come into my life and rescued me personally and that’s way more important than musically. I don’t know that there’s a songwriter...I’ve really only had bout of [writer’s block] and I was very young. It was my father who pulled me out of it -- he was my ultimate mentor. He just simply said “Writer’s block is bulls--t” and he said “You either write songs or you don’t write songs and if you’re going to use an excuse like ‘I’ve got writer’s block,’ then there’s really nothing to talk about -- you must not want to be a songwriter that bad.”

It was tough love and it was the greatest f--king thing that ever happened to me, because I never experienced it again. He just reminded me that there’s always something to write. You may not write a particularly good song day, but you can write something. It’s a choice. So I put writer’s block way behind me when I was a teenager. So I don’t know that there’s ever been a mentor or somebody that kind of came in and kickstarted my creative thing again. I don’t know that there’s that. But like I said, more importantly, there have been a couple of people and Matt Scannell is certainly at the top of the list, [of] people who came in at certain pivotal moments of my life and pulled me out of the wreckage and were incredibly helpful, kind and loving friends to me.

At least from the outside, it seems like you two met up at a time when both of you were looking to do some new things creatively.

Yeah, well I was already kind of in a place where I felt like my artist career was something that would be somewhere between a hobby and not a good thing. I felt like I had a really great turn at that for 10 years with hits and I’d experienced all of the bucket list things I’d signed up for when I was young. I felt like you know, it’s not my turn anymore -- it’s other people’s turn -- so I’m going to write and produce and do all of that and still make tons of music, which I did and I have done. But I’m not going to really pursue the performing thing.

Matt was coming off of a pretty rough experience with his label and that [Vertical Horizon] album Go and that’s when he and I became friends. I think it was just sort of serendipitous that I kind of wandered into his life at the time that I did, because he was pretty down and he said to me “You know, you started calling me at a time when my phone wasn’t ringing,” so he knew that where I was coming from was a place of friendship and admiration for what he did. I believe that with everybody, you get put in people’s paths for a reason. Sometimes you never know what the reason is. I know that in my case with Matt, I now I have a brother that I never knew I had.

I know you’ve been working on a new album. What can you tell us about that?

Well, it’s the first time I’ve consciously made a new collection of songs in a long time in a real focused way. It’s probably [been] close to 10 years [since] I sat down and said “I want to put a real consistent album together.” The music is still me, because it’s my voice and my voice is the thread, but I think that musically it’s a departure. I listen to a lot of kinds of music, but in the last couple of years, I’ve been really fascinated with a lot of EDM and a lot of music by DJs like Morgan Page and Deadmaus.

So I’ve listened to a lot of that music and trance music and there’s something so hypnotic and sensual about that music and it definitely inspired a lot of the music on this record, even if it isn’t necessarily a clone of any of those kinds of songs. There are definitely a couple of tracks that are clearly influenced by EDM and then there’s just other stuff that’s sort of influenced by other music that I’ve listened to from Sade to world music -- all kinds of stuff. There’s really not a lot of straight down the middle pop stuff on this record and I’m excited about it because it sounds different to me and if I make a record where I think I’m breaking new ground for myself artistically, I’ve got to start there. I can never ever predict what my fanbase is going to react to. I’ve never written a song in my life that I thought was a hit when I wrote it.

Luckily, I’ve been happily surprised many times, but I’ve never had that experience that I hear about where people go “Man, I knew that song was a hit” -- so I write songs that appeal to me. I write songs to get things off my chest and I write songs just to express musically and creatively whatever I’m wanting to say at that time. The rest of it is a complete crapshoot. The good news is that I don’t know that I’ve been more excited about a record or pleased with a record in a long time. It doesn’t mean that more than 11 people will buy it. [Laughs] But I really love the record. I’m really excited for people to hear it.

Who have you been writing with on this record?

I wrote one with Matt Scannell. I wrote with David Hodges for the first time and that was really, really fun. He’s a really talented guy. The majority of it I wrote by myself. I’m actually recording the last song tomorrow that I wrote with Walter Afanasieff -- and again, that’s a guy that I’ve known and we have mutual friends and we’ve circled each other for years, but we just never got together to write until a couple of weeks ago. The song came out great, so we’re going to go in his studio tomorrow and cut it and it will be a real quick process. Then I’ll be mixing for the next couple of weeks and the record will be done.

The writing and the co-writing that you do with other folks, does that tie back to your own music at all when you’re writing?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, if nothing else sometimes it lights the fuse. I’ve had experiences where I haven’t written any songs for a couple of weeks and I’ll go to Nashville and sit with a couple of co-writers and write two or three songs over a couple of days and then I’ll come home and I’ll write five songs by myself. Because it just warms up the muscle and it lights the fuse and then you’re in that zone. So yeah, that happens a lot.

You spoke about this a bit earlier, but I’d like to talk a bit more about that period when you made made the transition from being a hitmaker of your own as a songwriter to focusing more on writing songs for others that became huge hits. I thought that was really interesting when you made that transition at that time and it was smart. But that’s a hell of a leap.

Yeah, it was a hell of a leap and look, if I’m going to be really honest with you, on one hand I think it was one of the smartest things I could have done. Because I essentially reinvented myself as a writer/producer for hire and potentially extended my musical career by any number of years, because I’m still doing it -- I’m still co-writing with people. I think that had I not done that at the time, I might have...I mean I could have maybe always ultimately done it, but I felt like the timing was what it needed to be.

But also, looking back on it now, I think part of it was that my kids were young and I wanted to be around. I didn’t want to be on the road touring and promoting constantly. I wanted to have the experience of taking my kids to school almost every day, picking them up and having dinner with them every night and just sort of having that kind of existence, which I had very little experience with up to that point. So again, I’m grateful for that, because I built the relationship that now exists with me and my three sons, which is incredible.

Maybe I wasn’t totally conscious of it at the time, but there was also a sense of just feeling like “f--k it.” You know, I finally put out a record that didn’t do anywhere what the other records had done -- in 1997 I put out this CD called Flesh & Bone. I felt like the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a tough climb to get back to where I was a couple of years before. So looking back now, really what I could have done, I could have done exactly what I ended up doing, plus hired a new producer, co-written with a bunch of different people and just done what people do to reignite their careers. Instead of that, I kind of went “f--k it, I don’t care.”

It was easier for me to sort of just dive into the writing and producing for other people because there was a lot less ego risk with that. So you know, I think looking back now, I think it cost me in terms of my career as an artist, because I had to completely rebuild my touring base and I had stayed behind the scenes for a dozen years or so and you have to remind people -- it’s a whole another generation. So in some cases you have to remind people and in [others], you have to completely introduce yourself to the first time to people. So I did some artistic damage by making that decision, but I just don’t really look back at stuff like that and second-guess it. It felt right at the time and I just try to put one foot in front of the other.

It seems like it ended up being a smart move for you at the time. But also it seems like doing all of that writing probably kept the fuel going that kept you writing songs and recording for yourself.

Yeah, I wouldn’t argue that. I think there were great benefits to my decision, both creatively and personally for sure. But there were detriments too and you have to accept the bad with the good. I own it all, so it’s fine with me. But I also think writing and producing all of these other artists, one of the first things that is so different about all of that is that it’s not genre-specific. It’s all over the map, so I’ve got all of these country records that I did, pop records, hard rock records, jazz records, pop classical crossover records and pretty much everything except polka is covered in my resume. I know that the diversity of that music informs what I write for myself now.

Because I’m a student of music still and the stuff that I’ve learned from the other people I’ve collaborated with -- even I’ve been really in the driver’s seat, it informs what I’m writing now. It also raises the question, “What do I want to do musically that I haven’t done?” Where are some places I can go that are interesting to me that I think I would not make a fool of myself doing. So that’s really what this new album is. It’s like doing a little bit of collaborating and really studying a lot of EDM music and listening to it in my car constantly and on planes, that’s a place that I really wanted to go and explore and still maintain the craft of songwriting that I count on and that I feel like I’m known for.

How have things changed for you with social media being a part of the equation now?

There’s no barriers anymore. If I’m sitting having a coffee, I’m fair game to have that picture of me doing that -- no matter how I look or how I feel or who I’m with or anything -- I’m fair game to have that tweeted to the world. Look, it’s not a burden for me -- that stuff is so rare for me. But I can’t imagine what it’s like for the current cultural celebrities. -- I can’t even imagine what that’s like.

There was the well-publicized thing where you went and met up with the Chicago-area critic that had called you "shameless." You invited him out to talk about things face to face -- had you ever done something like that before?

Not like that. Years ago, there were people that I would call up if I felt that they were taking a cheap shot or they were just being flat out dishonest in their writing. I definitely did that and then I tried to stop doing that. Because I just found that my life was too good to be worrying about s--t like that. I pretty much ignore….I don’t even notice a lot of it, but because this was in my hometown, there were some people. They didn’t mean to stir s--t up, but they said “Did you see what this asshole wrote?” And I was like wow, this guy went 100 miles out of his way to not just insult me about something that I had nothing to do with in his original article, but he used the word that just set me off, which was “shameless.”

I don’t know, man, when I look back on it now, I think “Well, why did I even care?” But what I explained to the guy and the reason that I was there, I said “You know, this is the town where my kids live and this is the town where my mother lives.” If you wrote in your blog that Richard Marx is the least talented person on the face of the earth and every note that he writes and sings is utter s--t, you would never hear from me, because I could give a f--k. But when you say something that’s a personal character insult, like I’m shameless, and you’ve never met me and you don’t know anybody who knows me -- I want you to say that to my face. So I said to him, “Do you have the balls to say that to my face?” He went “Yeah” and I went “Okay, great.” So we met up at a bar and he apologized and I took his apology.

I think the guy….I mean, everybody in Chicago who even knows who he is, nobody thinks much of him and he’s a pretty inconsequential guy and I actually feel sorry for him. The more I know about him as a person, I’m glad I’m walking in my shoes and not his, let’s put it that way. But I feel like in retrospect it was probably dumb, but in the moment, you know, I’m a man and I felt like I’m going to deal with this like a man and not like a celebrity. I just said “Dude, you know, if you’re going to say something like that about me in the town where I live, then I want to see if you’ll say it to my face.” And he didn’t -- he wouldn’t.

Going back to the social media topic for a moment, something that sticks out to me about it is that it’s nonstop and there’s a sense of entitlement and lots of other things. So I can’t imagine, as you said yourself, people who are current hit-makers today like Lady Gaga or whoever you want to mention, it’s just a nonstop storm that goes far beyond anything that you had to deal with back in the day. It’s all been magnified so much.

There’s no comparison. Look, even back in the heyday when I was the most well-known and visible, I lived a very quiet life. First of all, I didn’t court that. You know a lot of people, let’s face it, when people say “poor this person or poor that person, they can’t go anywhere,” well, guess what? Most of the time? The people that we’re talking about that I don’t need to name -- it’s their publicists who are telling the paparazzi where to go. It’s their machine that’s feeding that beast. You can’t really have it both ways -- you can’t be the victim of something that you did not [engineer], so you just sort of check out of it and you don’t embrace it and you don’t court it. I think for the most part, they kind of leave you alone.

I get approached sometimes if I’m coming out of a restaurant or whatever, but I don’t have anything to say and I’m never going to engage. Aside from that guy in Chicago, which is a totally different thing, I think it’s just a matter of understanding that this is toothpaste that’s not going back into the tube and just know that we live in a culture now where if you’re in the public eye, every public move you make is fair game.

You’re playing an acoustic show, right? Is it just you?

It’s just me. I started doing this a couple of years. I’ve seen other acoustic shows and I’ve heard about other acoustic shows and I’m not knocking anybody who does an acoustic show, but I will say that anybody that is concerned that it is a serious singer/songwriter show where I sit and talk about craft or motivation or what was going through my mind..there’s none of that s--t! It’s as if you came over to my house and we’re just hanging out. The only thing is I wish that I could drink with them. I wish everybody had a drink and we could just sit around and clink glasses and I would say “Okay, so you’re not going to believe the story about this song” or “You’re not going to believe what happened when I was writing this song or making this record.”

Because I’ve got crazy ass stories about making music, collaborating with people and just s--t that’s happened to me. So it’s really just a hang with me and the audience. I can’t really do that with the band, because it’s four guys standing around waiting for me to shut up so I can sing the next song. At a solo acoustic show, I can take my time and if people yell out a song, if I remember it, I’ll do it. It’s just such a fun hang and that’s really my motivation every night. Because if it’s just replicating the music, why get in your car and come and see me. But if I feel like I’m going to send you home feeling like you hung out with me for a couple of hours, then that’s my mission.

Will you play any of the new stuff?

Yeah, but only a couple, because I know what people want to hear. Honestly, if I go see Foo Fighters, sure play a couple of new songs, but I need to hear the shit that I love and the reason I came. The bulk of my show are the songs that I wrote for myself and other people that you know. But I do definitely play two or three new songs out of the setlist. Mainly because I’m really excited to get reaction and also because I’m a songwriter first and foremost, so I want to show off and say “Hey, look what I did -- look, Mom and Dad, look what I made!” I played one new song [recently] and it got arguably the biggest ovation of the night, so sometimes when that happens, when I play a song that no one’s ever heard before and they freak out, it’s almost as good as sex -- it’s amazing.

Photo via RichardMarx.com -- used with permission

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25Nov/130

Bruce Springsteen Offers Up ‘High Hopes’ & A Bonus

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Bruce Springsteen announced the release of High Hopes today, a new studio album which will be released in typical Bruce fashion (at least in recent years) in less than two months on January 14th. You can read up on details regarding the new release here.

Folks who pre-order the album via Amazon can get a bonus DVD featuring a full album performance of the Born In The USA album, captured on the recent Wrecking Ball tour. According to the listing, this bonus is exclusive to Amazon.

SPRINGSTEEN_HIGH_HOPES_cover-700x700

 

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24Nov/130

Run Off To The Circus With Dan Baird….

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It's Sunday evening and you're a little bit bummed that the weekend is drawing towards its conclusion, right?

Here's a brand new album from Dan Baird & Homemade Sin to help soften the blow a bit.

The new album is called Circus Life and you can either snag the physical disc here or grab the newly released Amazon MP3 download for instant gratification. Like everything that Baird releases, the arrival of this one has been highly anticipated in my world. From a quick scan, it sounds like Dan Baird, so that might be all that you need to know.

Dan_Baird_Circus_Life

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9Sep/130

Some new music from Eric Johnson…

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Eric Johnson has quietly been releasing new music in recent months via a series of single downloads. His latest offering, while not available as a download just yet, previews a new collaboration with Christopher Cross.

Johnson and Cross will perform together at the All ATX benefit concert on September 24th, benefiting the HAAM (Health Alliance For Austin Musicians) as part of a lineup that will also feature Quiet Company and Will Johnson (Monsters of Folk), Charlie and Will Sexton and others. The above track will be eventually available on a compilation album that will bring additional benefit to HAAM.

The roots between Johnson and Cross run more than 30 years deep -- the Austin guitarist can be found on the Grammy Award winning debut by Cross, a multi-platinum album that sold more than five million copies in the United States alone.

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3Sep/132

Del Amitri Returns In 2014

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Even as Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie continues to make music (including his brand new solo album Lower Reaches), I've never stopped wishing that a band reunion might come to pass someday.

Apparently, the waiting will not last a lifetime -- it will come to an end in January of 2014.

Over the weekend, I saw the following tweet from @delamitrinews, an account which had recently followed me, while beginning to favorite all of my Del Amitri-related tweets from over the past few years:

Guess Who Is Back? #delamitri Please RT!

Of course, I had to tweet back:

@delamitrinews I would love for this to be true!

A visit to their official Facebook page (I forgot they had one!) revealed a message which made things even more clear:

Well now. Get a load of this...
It looks like the three Glasgow boys (Justin, Andy and Iain) are going to be able to get together with Kris and Ashley to do some shows early next year. UK only at the moment, I'm afraid (but we are working it). There should be a details later this week.

Are you getting excited yet? Okay, so as I feared it appears to be "UK only at the moment," but if this train really gets rolling, surely we can hope for a small smattering of U.S. dates that would bring them to some of their old familiar stomping grounds like Chicago, right? That's what I'm hoping for.

Just having these guys back on the same stage would be enough for me....was it really 1996 when I last had the chance to see the band? Yep.

I did a short email interview with Justin around the time of his last solo album (The Great War) and spoke a bit about the Dels, including this bit:

Around the time that you were preparing What Is Love For for release, there was word that you also had an entire band album in the can recorded with Iain Harvie that you were trying to get label interest for. Whatever became of that material?

That is inaccurate. Iain and I have written an album’s worth of material in the intervening years but there is no band thing at all. We’re still working on it occasionally. It’s very good but we can’t see many fans of the Dels liking it. For that reason we’ll probably stick it out as Del Amitri just out of badness.

It's hard to say what will come out of this forthcoming reunion, but I'm excited by the possibilities...

UPDATE: We now know a few more things, thanks to what appears to be a newly launched Del Amitri website:

Here's a press release about the tour:

THE A TO Z OF US
With a cast of original members and even the original crew, Del Amitri return from a ten year sabbatical to wheel out every hit from every era of their lengthy recording career. Justin Currie and Iain Harvie will once again be joined on stage by Andy Alston, Kris Dollimore and Ashley Soan.

It's been thirty years since Del Amitri’s debut single, ‘Sense Sickness’ – their contribution to all things early 80s and jangly. “The A to Z of Us will take a retrospective sweep of our entire output, from indie art-pop through folk-tinged balladry to hairy Brit-rock chuggery”, says front man Justin Currie.

Formed in Glasgow in 1983, during their distinguished career Del Amitri had four Top 10 albums and a string of memorable hit singles. Their million selling breakthrough album ‘Waking Hours’ (1989) included the hits ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ and ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’. The follow-up, 1992’s ‘Change Everything’, featured the massive radio single ‘Always The Last To Know’ and reached No.2 in the albums chart, only being held off the top slot by the might of ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack. 1995’s ‘Twisted’ charted at No.3 and included their biggest ever single ‘Roll To Me’, which reached No.10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Del Amitri’s most recent album was 2002’s ‘Can You Do Me Good?’, and the band have been on hiatus since finishing the subsequent tour.

“Whenever anyone asked if Del Amitri would ever re-form,” says guitarist Iain Harvie, “our standard response was ‘We never broke up - the phone just stopped ringing.’”

It has started ringing now and Del Amitri are picking it up from where they left off.

The initial tour dates are here.

I'll leave you with Justin's latest video from Lower Reaches, "Half of Me."

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2Sep/130

Free Split Enz (What More Can You Ask For?)

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Thanks to my buddy Brian Boone for the tip on this one --- if you're a fan of Split Enz, you can nab a free Kindle download of a new book (released earlier this summer in June) by founding bass player Mike Chunn.

Stranger-Than-Fiction-small

These free downloads are usually available only for a short time, so you'll want to act fast. If you miss out, we're willing to wager (after a quick scan of the book contents) that it would still be worth grabbing for the regular purchase price of $6.99.

Head to Amazon via this link to grab your copy.

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9Aug/132

Setlist: Yes at Cain Park – 8/7/13

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It seems like some of the very best concerts are the ones that you almost miss. This was certainly the case with the Yes show on Wednesday night at Cain Park.

For me, it came down to time. It had been a long time since the tour was announced, with the first details trickling out in December of last year. At that point, I really wasn''t sure that I needed to see Yes again.

After all, I've seen many a Yes show, starting with the first time that I saw the "classic" Yes lineup in 1997 at Music Hall. That's a story by itself. That was another Yes show that I almost didn't go to. I grew up as a fan of the 90125-era of the band and had little interest in the '70s material. But a friend asked me if I could get free tickets for him to take his girlfriend to the show and I figured that as long as I was making the effort to get tickets, I should try to score some for myself and take a chance on the show.

I went to the show that night at Music Hall and got a huge education on all things Yes. Besides a smattering of tracks from Open Your Eyes, the band's current album at the time with a couple of '80s Yes tracks wedged in for good measure, it was all about the epic '70s stuff, with tracks like "The Revealing Science of God," "Heart of the Sunrise," their famous version of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and "Starship Trooper" as the closer.

Holy crap.

Each year after that, I found my way to a Yes concert at least once per year as long as they were on tour, with the band's lineup shifting slightly (mainly on keyboards) in that time. 2003 would put a wrap on my "classic Yes" experience with a lineup that featured Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White.

The band would take a short hiatus in 2004, returning in 2008 sans Anderson with Canadian vocalist Benoit David at the helm. As much as I was against the idea of a Yes that didn't include Anderson, I gave it a shot and it was an enjoyable evening of music. With David, the band returned to the studio with Trevor Horn producing and in the midst of the recording sessions, Horn's former Buggles bandmate Geoff Downes rejoined the lineup on keyboards  as well. Fly From Here was the result of their efforts and against many sets of odds, it was a new album that sounded a lot like classic Yes. Who would have thought?

Sadly, David encountered vocal issues in the midst of the touring for Fly From Here and found himself jettisoned from the group, replaced by another relatively unknown vocalist, Jon Davison.

Here's where my hesitation came in about attending this summer's tour. Do I really need to see Yes performing three classic albums with a new replacement singer, taking over for the previous substitute vocalist not named Jon Anderson? Having seen Yes with a lineup of Anderson, Wakeman, Squire, Howe and White, I wasn't so sure.

But earlier this year, I had the chance to interview both Chris Squire and Steve Howe separately regarding the tour and my interest grew. The jury was still out regarding the new vocalist, but I was willing to spend an evening with Yes and find out.

I was intrigued by the album choices, something which predictably either got a thumbs up or thumbs down reaction from the Yes fanbase, who are always ready for a good debate. You can't argue with Close To The Edge and The Yes Album, but Going For The One was an interesting pick.

When I spoke with Howe, he was a bit perturbed that the band wasn't performing the albums in the order that they were released.

Seeing the concept in play on the night, I can't argue with the path that the remaining members of the Yes brain trust chose. What could be more epic than seeing Yes open the night with the lengthy title track of the Close To The Edge album? The entirety of that segment of the evening was awesome.

The Going For The One portion might have lost some folks, as it felt more like the "deep cuts" section of the show, because of the unfamiliarity of many of the tracks for casual fans.

But by the time they got to the closing portion of the evening, The Yes Album felt like the victory lap that brought it all home for the sold out audience at Cain Park. For nearly three hours, Yes held court with a performance that was vibrant in a way that is still quite unbelievable to witness, when you're talking about a group that is 45 years into their journey. A bit of reduction in overall energy levels would make a lot of sense, but with Yes, that's not the case.

Vocalist Jon Davison, the band's newest addition (he joined in early 2012) is in his early 40s, although he looks deceptively younger than that and there's no doubt that his presence and enthusiasm adds a lot to the group's combined stamina onstage (with stage clothes that were very '70s Anderson-esque). But looking 10 years back, even with Anderson on vocals, the durability of Squire, White and Howe has always been something to behold.

Davison's performance reminded me a lot of the first time that I saw Kelly Hansen on vocals with Foreigner. Like Hansen, Davison had his work cut out for him, stepping in for a legendary vocalist like Anderson. But he handled the material with ease and there wasn't a single rough patch. It sounded like Yes music and Davison sounded like Anderson, without being an emotionless clone. The songs were communicated with the same feeling that Anderson had served up for decades prior.

Geoff Downes is another key addition to the lineup and as a heritage player, he certainly knows his way around the nine keyboards that he brought with him and his performance was both natural and skillfully executed without feeling mechanical.

Once the confetti cannons blew in the closing moments of the show (sorry about that, clean-up crew....), it had been a really incredible evening of music and it's hard to imagine that anybody walked away with disappointment.

While the full album format left some of the favorite "hits" on the sidelines for this particular run, the band has certainly done enough tours in the "greatest hits" vein that it was a very welcome change and one can hope that they will continue to explore further albums in the years to come.

Hopefully they will also find a way to document this tour with a live release (audio and video) of some sort. Yes fans will be aware that the band has released more than a few live albums and videos over the years, so this seems like a relatively safe bet. Let's hope.

For now, there's word that plans for a new album, the first with Davison,  will begin to take shape once touring commitments have wrapped. With what we've heard from Fly From Here, there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic that a new album from Yes will once again be a good thing.

Setlist:

The Firebird Suite

Close to the Edge

Close to the Edge
And You and I
Siberian Khatru

Going For The One

Going for the One
Turn of the Century
Parallels
Wonderous Stories
Awaken

The Yes Album

Yours Is No Disgrace
Clap
Starship Trooper
I've Seen All Good People
A Venture
Perpetual Change

Encore:

Roundabout

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23Jul/130

Contest: Win A CD Pack Of Music From The Doors!

Written by:

For $4.99, you can take the Doors with you everywhere that you go. Because of course, here in 2013, it makes sense that this legendary band is still looking to break on through to invade your consciousness in a new and different way -- not just with their catalog of music, but now also via a new interactive app for the iPad.

There's an exhaustive amount of material available on the app, which you can read about below via the official press release.

To celebrate the release of the app, ATV is pleased to offer you the chance to win a three pack of CDs from the Doors, including the releases Live At The Matrix, Live in Pittsburgh 1970 and the When You're Strange soundtrack.

Paired with the new app, it's the most fun that you can possibly have digitally in the comfort of your own home.

For your chance to win these CDs, drop us a line with "Doors CD Contest" in the email subject line and we'll pick one lucky ATV reader to win.

Purchase the official Doors app via this link.

THE DOORS LAUNCH INTERACTIVE iPAD APP,
EXCLUSIVELY ON THE APP STORE

Groundbreaking Band Invites Fans On Immersive Digital Journey,
Telling Their History Through Interactive Content, Music, Photos, Videos, Memorabilia And Graphic Novel

Warner Music Group Presents A New Way To Showcase
And Experience A Band's Entire Career In A Single Download

LOS ANGELES – The Doors are once again poised to break on through with a first-of-its-kind iPad app, THE DOORS, available exclusively on the App Store. Released on May 6, 2013, by Warner Music Group’s Rhino Entertainment, the app brings the band’s story to life with an unprecedented immersive experience that delves deeply into every aspect of The Doors’ iconic career with interactive content, unpublished band images and artwork, rare videos, music, and much more.

THE DOORS APP was conceived and produced by Elektra Records founder and Warner Music legend Jac Holzman, who signed the Doors to the label in 1966, and Robin Hurley; along with the participation of drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and the estate of the late singer Jim Morrison. Holzman, a pioneer in the music industry and a pivotal force throughout the band’s career, comes full circle with this app. Holzman and Warner Music now bring The Doors into the digital age with a visionary project that redefines how a band’s work can be chronicled in the virtual realm.

“The genesis of this project began with a desire to digitize the boxed set, to use new technology to improve upon a much-loved fan experience. It made total sense to choose The Doors. They have always been ‘ahead of the curve’ artists and their story is one of the great sagas in rock,” says Holzman. “Together with the band, we tell a compelling tale using materials from The Doors’ own archives and the Warner Music vault plus the hundreds of other sources we chased down – a wealth of treasures including previously unseen photos, fresh interviews, and behind the scenes insights and reflections. Delivered in a single download, this is a riveting approach to showcasing a band's entire career. I believe Warner Music has set the bar higher for future music apps… and that is a very good thing to do!”

An intimate portrait of the band enjoying a drink at the Hard Rock Café — taken by legendary photographer Henry Diltz during a shoot for the Morrison Hotel album — greets visitors on the home page and guides them on a journey through the living history of one of rock’s most fascinating and incendiary groups.

THE DOORS APP is divided into several sections, with the The Story button leading to the true centerpiece, proving endlessly intriguing for both veteran fans and new initiates with hundreds of photos, videos, and interviews. All six albums recorded by the original Doors foursome, as well as the two albums recorded later by the Doors as a trio, are spotlighted here through essays from counterculture icons including Patti Smith and Hunter S. Thompson, Doors historians such as David Fricke, Greil Marcus, and archivist David Dutkowski, as well as pieces from the band and personal reminiscences shared by Holzman. The Story section also highlights extensive technical notes detailing all the equipment used to create every studio album.

Among the other centerpieces of The Story section is a graphic novelization of the notorious Miami Incident, where Morrison was falsely accused of exposing himself during a 1969 concert. The infamous episode comes to life here through drawings by award-winning comic book artist Dean Haspiel, words by Adam Holzman (son of Jac), and rare audio of Morrison recorded during the show. This section also includes the once-confidential FBI report, the arrest report, a portion of Jim’s tongue-in-cheek testimony, Morrison’s mug shot, and his posthumous pardon issued in 2010.

Also featured are a comprehensive Timeline, a Cast Of Characters listing key people in the Doors’ universe, an interactive Doors Map of LA that focuses on prime locations in the band’s history, a Gallery filled with rare and iconic images, all song lyrics, in-app links to social media and the iTunes store, and a customizable My Favorites area. All told, the app features over 500 images including band photos, album art, singles, international releases and memorabilia (posters, ticket stubs, advertisements, press releases, contracts, and related correspondence). The app also includes 44 short form videos and 60 audio segments. Holzman had referred to The Doors app as a “1500 piece jigsaw puzzle in three dimensions, which arrives on your iPad, elegantly pre-assembled.”

THE DOORS APP is available for $4.99 from the App Store on iPad or at http://www.appstore.com.

Purchase The Doors App here: http://smarturl.it/doorsapp

To coincide with the launch of THE DOORS APP, each of The Doors’ studio albums have been Mastered For iTunes by their longtime producer Bruce Botnick and are now available exclusively on iTunes. Three new digital boxed sets (The Complete Studio Albums, Behind Closed Doors – The Rarities, and Strange Nights Of Stone Vol. II – The Bright Midnight Archives Concerts) as well as two Mastered For iTunes compilation albums (The Very Best Of and The Future Starts Here: The Essential Doors Hits) are also available now on iTunes.

DESCRIPTION

THE DOORS official app. More than 700 images and 100 music and sound clips that will delight and satisfy Doors fans. More than just photos, music and video, this comprehensive compilation in presented in a way that lets you re-discover the intensity and originality of Jim Morrison and the Doors.

The foundation of this app is authentic, source material meticulously produced by their record company president Jac Holzman, and endorsed by the members of the Doors.

Since most of the content is built into the app, you can enjoy the pictures, music, sound and video offline, without WiFi or dinging your data plan. Bonus: Includes the option for group viewing on any flat screen TV.

HIGHLIGHTS

=========================
PHOTO GALLERIES
=========================
* 227 Band Photos featuring rare publicity photos and candid shots of all four.
* 112 images of album and single artwork from around the world
* 196 images of memorabilia
* 75 photos of the notes handwritten on the original recording masters tracksheet. (It's like holding Doors history in your hands.)
* 6 full length original short films for Break On Through, Strange Days, Unknown Soldier, Wild Child, Roadhouse Blues (Live), and the Changeling.

Even better, you can pinch and zoom most of the images to discover details not possible if printed in a book or posted on a website.

=======================================
MULTIMEDIA SECTION ON EACH ALBUM
=======================================
Includes the albums The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, Absolutely Live, LA Woman, Other Voices, Full Circle and American Prayer. The story behind each record is revealed through text, photos, videos, music clips, as well as homages from influencers like Patti Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, Francis Ford Coppola and The Doors themselves. It's like getting a mini-app for each album.

=============================================
LYRIC SHEETS FOR ALL DOOR SONGS
=============================================
In one place, the complete lyrics for all the Doors' songs including Riders on the Storm, The End, and When The Music's Over

=======================================
INTERACTIVE DOORS TIMELINE
=======================================
Weaves highlights of the Doors’ history with other musical and historical events ferreting context otherwise unknown. For example you'll learn that Jimi Hendrix released "Are You Experienced" less than a month before the Doors single "People are Strange" and that the Viet Cong attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon just 6 weeks before the Doors released "The Unknown Soldier."

=======================================
* EXCLUSIVE GRAPHIC COMIC
=======================================
Chronicling Jim Morrison's "incident" in Miami along with the original FBI documents, testimony and arrest report.

=======================================
FOR AUDIOPHILE DOORS FANS
=======================================
Learn how the Doors' engineered their signature sound for each album with a photo inventory of the exact equipment used on each one.

=======================================
INSIDER MINI BIOS
=======================================
The 100+ people most important to the history of the band. Discover information about Jim Morrison and the Doors that you can't find in a Google search.

=======================================
ADDITIONAL FEATURES
=======================================
* PRESS & HOLD any item and it will be filed in the apps FAVORITES sections for instant re-access. Super helpful with all this content.

* An interactive map of the key places in the Doors L.A. lives.

* Share your discoveries with your friends by posting content from the app on Facebook and Twitter.

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20Jul/131

Contest: Win “Green” By R.E.M. On Vinyl + A Vintage Tour Program!

Written by:

When I logged into the ATV control panel, it made the Aerosmith sound. I can't tell you exactly what that means, but briefly, it just means that it's been a helluva long while since the last time we spoke.

(Speaking of Aerosmith, I got a chance to interview guitarist Brad Whitford briefly last week....woooooo! The end of that last sentence was 13 year old me high-fiving myself. Check out our conversation right here.)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the R.E.M. album Green. As fans, we've come to know that each time another album from our favorite Athens export hits this milestone, we can expect a cool expanded release to follow.

Our friends did not disappoint --- May 14th saw the release of an upgraded Green via Rhino, accessorized with a fresh remastering of the original album, plus a bonus disc featuring live performances recorded in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 10th, 1989 during the Green tour. (Looking back, it would have seemed appropriate if R.E.M. would have decided to stage the entire Green tour in Greensboro....but luckily for all of us, they decided to take the show to a bunch of other territories.)

Here's a peep at the track listing for the full set:

Disc One – Original Album

1. “Pop Song 89”
2. “Get Up”
3. “You Are The Everything”
4. “Stand”
5. “World Leader Pretend”
6. “The Wrong Child”
7. “Orange Crush”
8. “Turn You Inside Out”
9. “Hairshirt”
10. “I Remember California”
11. “Untitled”

Disc Two – Live In Greensboro 1989
1. “Stand”
2. “The One I Love”
3. “Turn You Inside Out”
4. “Belong”
5. “Exhuming McCarthy”
6. “Good Advices”
7. “Orange Crush”
8. “Cuyahoga”
9. “These Days”
10. “World Leader Pretend”
11. “I Believe”
12. “Get Up”
13. “Life And How To Live It”
14. “Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
15. “Pop Song 89”
16. “Fall On Me”
17. “You Are The Everything”
18. “Begin The Begin”
19. “Low”
20. “Finest Worksong”
21. “Perfect Circle”

REM_GreenLP_ProductShot

On that same date, Rhino also released the newly remastered Green on 180 gram vinyl for all of the black wax lovers to enjoy in analog. Since this is Addicted to Vinyl, we've got a copy of that platter (read: vinyl edition) to give away to one lucky ATV reader.

Sweetening the deal, we'll also throw in a vintage R.E.M. tour program from that 1989 trek in support of Green.  Having seen this piece of memorabilia in person, let me assure you that it's awesome. (Oh alright --- we'll show you a picture at the end of this post...)

We'll make it relatively simple for you to win this: just send us an email with "R.E.M. Green Contest Giveaway" in the subject line and in the email, tell us in a few words why you deserve to win this vinyl. We'll select one lucky entrant to receive this great prize package.

Good luck!

P.S.

There have been a number of reflections regarding Green as it hits the 25 year mark. At the time that the album came out, I was 13 years old and R.E.M. was one of those bands that each time that there was new music to be had, I was definitely interested to hear it. I think that a lot of people have conflicted feelings about the band and where they went when they made the transition from the I.R.S. years to their Warner Brothers output. I don't see a lot of division between the two periods, although clearly there are some separating factors.

What sticks out to me about R.E.M. from their earliest recordings to their present state of inactivity is that they were a band that was always pushing the envelope with every bit of new music that they would release. They were and are a group of individuals who have consistently marched to the beat of their own drum and they were never afraid to go against the grain when it came to following the path of what they were supposed to do as a band. Particularly in the later years when they would release a new album, that obligatory world tour that was supposed to follow a new release would often never come to pass.

Sometimes the lack of tour meant that they were already back in the studio working on new music and sometimes, no tour just meant no tour. Whatever the reasoning was, I always had a great deal of respect that they didn't just take the check to go out and do something they didn't want to do.

It would be many years before I would meet the woman who was 200 times more of an R.E.M. fan than I was, as evidenced by her "Driver 8"-themed license plate but when I did, I eventually married her --- although it wasn't just because she was a huge R.E.M. fan. Because you can't have a successful marriage that's built around R.E.M. and nothing but R.E.M., can you?

Anyway --- she wrote a nice reflection about the Green album which you can read here.

Some more reading regarding Green can be found over at Popdose courtesy of George Howard.

Enjoy.

REM_Green_1989TourProgram

 

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21Jun/130

Listen To This: Adam Marsland

Written by:

I'm digging the heck out of the new Adam Marsland album The Owl and the Full Moon which came out earlier this week, particularly the title track, which is on its way to becoming my summer jam for the summer (ain't it convenient how that works?).

It's an album that we almost didn't get to hear -- and for the rest of that story, I'm going to turn it over to the bio which came with the email download I got of Adam's new album. I'm grateful that Adam found his way to the finish line with this one.

To my ears, I think that Beach Boys fans (duh!) and Todd Rundgren fans will really dig this Marsland album but don't take my word for it -- check out a couple of sample tunes below at the conclusion of the bio.

Here also is a video that Marsland shot for his fundraising campaign for the album, which goes a bit more in-depth regarding the songs with additional samples.

The Owl and the Full Moon, the latest from Los Angeles, California-based singer/songwriter/musician/producer Adam Marsland uplifts - but only after several harrowing detours into the depression Marsland intermittently suffered from since 2005. "It started with this illness that never got diagnosed properly and never quite cleared up, though it got a lot better," Marsland said. "It made me sluggish and sometimes it was hard to hear, and it really messed with my social life. I did get better but then every time I tried to make it back out into the world, something seemed to knock me back into my hole. I still did good work, but in terms of my life, somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence and ability to move forward."

The Owl and the Full Moon is his first album in three-and-a-half years, and first since he abandoned his fifteen year career as a singer/songwriter in favor of behind-the-scenes production and sideman work.

"I was up in the Santa Monica Mountains hiking. It was after dark, warm, beautiful night, huge moon out, and an owl flew over my head and perched on a nearby tree. I felt so at peace and inspired. And I went home and wrote the music to "The Owl and the Full Moon" and thought, 'when I get that feeling again, I'll finish the song, and maybe write a whole new album that's happy and inspirational and uplifting.'

"A year went by, and I never got that feeling again."

Marsland has had an astonishingly eclectic career. He has proven himself a true uniquely multi-talented survivor, successively taking on the roles of punk frontman, tireless D.I.Y. road dog, meticulous arranger/bandleader and finally, multi-instrumentalist sideman/vocalist/engineer with an impressive resume, having worked with members of The Beach Boys, the legendary Wrecking Crew, 2008 Tony Award winner Stew, Earth, Wind and Fire, Three Dog Night, and others. (Not to mention, when the mood struck, an extremely accomplished Elton John impersonation). Marsland also racked up some artistic wins of his own, hitting Amazon's Top 40 with two successive releases, the 2008 compilation Daylight Kissing Night and the stylistically-diverse, lyrically thematic double CD Go West (2009).

However, the pressures of sustaining a D.I.Y. career on the musical margins for a decade and a half had worn down Marsland's resilience. After Go West failed to build on its initial success, a depressed Marsland took his road band into the studio for one blistering 8-hour session, yielding the scathing Hello Cleveland, a snotty, satiric kiss-off to the music business, and headed home.

The only problem was the solitary nature of life as a studio musician, which further exacerbated the growing sense of isolation. Having retired from the road, and inside alone for days on end building tracks for other artists, the walls started to close in. Slowly, Marsland was starting to lose it.

Finally, the day of reckoning came. "I was in the deepest funk. I felt like I had drifted so far from where I used to be, and I didn't know where I was going and didn't feel worth caring about. I just felt useless and isolated, and I knew I was in danger of doing something pretty self-destructive."

So, Marsland set up a keyboard, plugged it into the recording console, and forced himself to lay down basic tracks for The Owl and the Full Moon. "I had zero desire to do it. I already spent most of my time recording other people, and to me, making my own music was a 15-year exercise in getting your heart broken. But, it really felt like it was either that or jump off a bridge. I had a studio with everything I needed and ample chops to do it. So I sat down and started bashing things out."

Marsland had a unique strategy for keeping himself engaged in the album recording. "I already had a couple of things I had laid down, so I made sure to track just enough more that it could form the base of an entire album. That way, I could listen back to a rough sequence of the whole thing right away, kind of hear how it was gonna sound, and trick myself into continuing recording. Because like the first chapter in a book, you wanted to see how it was going to turn out. And so then you'd add on a bit more, listen back, and so on... "

The result is the ten-track collection The Owl and the Full Moon.

With these ten emotionally revealing pop and soul tunes nearly finished, two funny things happened. One, this casual offspring of Marsland's fertile but fatigued creative mind began to reveal itself as the best and most focused work of his career. And two, the depression that had periodically dogged Marsland for seven years suddenly vanished.

"It happened almost overnight. There were a few catalysts for it that I won't get into, but the shift happened very fast. The way I would explain it is you're in a dark room, and you know you need to get the lights on, but you're fumbling around forever trying to find the switch. Then one day, you find it and turn it on… and bam! Light." With it came back Marsland's "swag" and the energy to not just release The Owl and the Full Moon, but to mount a massive effort to get the music heard - a two-month tour of the U.S. and his first-ever trip to Europe, a six country jaunt that began in May. Six months ago, Marsland was totally disinterested in his own work. Now, he is about to get behind it to a greater degree than he ever has before.

"Life can suck," a newly reinvigorated Marsland mused recently. "But the trick is, don't take it personally. It's not about you. Life isn't about the crap. That's the background noise. It's the beauty in small gestures, the warmth of a friend, the smile of a stranger, the quality of the journey, the great moments… that's what life's about."

Moments like the inspiration found in an owl silhouetted against a full moon...and a long journey out of darkness into the light.

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