Chris Cornell’s Daughter Feels ‘Moral Obligation’ to Help People

In the age of social media and growing an individual “brand,” people can go one of two ways — use their following to advertise for companies and make money or spread awareness for the greater good. Chris Cornell‘s daughter, Lily Cornell Silver, is aware of her platform, and she feels a “moral obligation” to use it to help people.

Silver launched her online talk-series Mind Wide Open on July 20, which would’ve been her father’s 56th birthday. Created both in his honor and as a result of the global pandemic, Silver has had guests from mental health experts to Duff McKagan and Eddie Vedder join her for conversations on the topic.

Silver is aware that her relation to Cornell and close connections with members of bands such as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains helps give her the upper hand when it comes to recruiting contenders for the show. She and one of Vedder’s daughters Olivia each have their own show now because of this.

“We were born with a platform handed to us on a silver platter, and it’s like, ‘how are we gonna use that?” Silver described to Loudwire Nights. “We both have talked about how we feel kind of like a moral obligation. How can I just sit here with this platform and use it to post bikini pics? We have to use this to spread some sort of awareness or share our knowledge.”

“[Mental health] resources and access to resources are so, so limited,” she continued. “So I wanted to create some sort of platform where it’s completely free, completely accessible, runs across multiple platforms, where I can have high-profile people like Ed or Duff, and have mental health professionals… be able to share the information and their wealth of knowledge in a way that allows anybody to access it.”

Listen to the full interview above.

12 Rock + Metal Bands Featuring Kids of Rockstars

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Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher: New Album is Full of Despair + Tragedy

A COVID-19 vaccine isn’t the only thing to look forward to in 2021. Mastodon plan to release their newest album next year, which, according to guitarist Bill Kelliher, will bring a lot of big riffs, despair and tragedy — and possibly even a theme comparable to Emperor of Sand.

After Kelliher played some of his favorite riffs for us, he got into detail about Mastodon’s upcoming album. The guitarist hopes the modern metal lords will begin recording by the end of September, teasing some killer surprises and fresh soundscapes.

“There’s so much material there between all four of us. As always, there’s some surprises, there’s some cool soundscapes that we have just never gone down that path before. We like to keep it interesting. It gets stagnant if you keep putting out the same sounding stuff every single record. That’s the greatest thing about our band — there’s no formula where someone’s gonna say, ‘Nah, that doesn’t fit.’”

He adds, “In this record, there are some concepts going on that I can hear. I know a lot of the lyrical content is already there, but I don’t know if it’s finalized. As usual, there’s a lot of despair and tragic moments and stuff like that that has happened in all our lives, that we kind of feed off of when it comes down to writing lyrics and concepts for songs. I’m sure there will be some sort of theme along the lines of Emperor of Sand.”

“I just wanna get it recorded while it’s still exciting to me. That’s the thing about the studio, you spend too long in there, you can’t tell if stuff sounds good anymore. You gotta get it out while it’s hot, while it’s still got that spontaneity to it, which it still does.”

Watch our interview with Bill Kelliher below and click here to grab Mastodon’s new Medium Rarities compilation.

Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher: New Album is Full of Despair + Tragedy

2020’s Best Metal Songs (So Far)

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How Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp Ended Up Doing Pink Floyd Songs

In many ways, the lineup for Nick Mason‘s Saucerful of Secrets makes perfect sense.

The band’s rhythm section, for instance, also includes longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt on bass. Keyboardist Dom Beken previously worked with late Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright. And guitarist Lee Harris’ father was cinematographer on the music video for Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes.”

Then there’s Gary Kemp. Best known as co-founding guitarist with the New Romantic band Spandau Ballet, he arrived with no direct musical connection to Mason’s old group. Instead, Kemp’s friendship with Pratt – who’s collaborated with David Gilmour since 1984 – opened the door for a second career in exploring Pink Floyd’s pre-‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ material.

Nick Mason tells UCR about working with Kemp, their earliest jams together and the prospect of following up the new Live at the Roundhouse with a studio album.

Overall, this band is incredible. You have someone like Guy Pratt, who has such a long running association with Pink Floyd. But each of these guys are students of this music. There’s such a dedication and a reverence for the material that elevates this experience so far beyond it just being a band playing Pink Floyd music.
I’ve known Gary for a few years before, but I had no idea how passionate he was about it – and how well he knew the songs and knew the music. I think he’s been one of the great surprises and assets to this whole enterprise. Because everyone knows that he’s a great songwriter who has written a couple of really mega-hits, and Spandau Ballet was seen as the New Romantics – hardly Pink Floyd territory – but he just seemed to slide straight into it.

Watch Gary Kemp Perform With Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

As this band was starting to come together from a lineup perspective, what it was like when you guys started jamming?
It was absolutely terrific. It’s a very old-fashioned concept, really. Because the band was put together, not with auditions or me going out looking for the right people. It was actually being approached by Lee and then by Guy. Then Gary wanted to join in. In a way, it was a very sort of old-school version of how you put a band together – which is people that you like, deciding that it would be fun to work together. We had no idea, really. I certainly had no idea of whether it would work or not. I think we booked two days in the rehearsal room. It was a really sort of pretty glossy room. To keep it really simple, I didn’t even bring my own drum kit in. We just used one that they had in the room. By the end of the day, we all looked at each other and went, “That was great! Let’s do more!”

I don’t think we did more than 10 or 12 days of rehearsal before we actually went into a pub and performed. At the end of that, we just went, “This is great.” There were a couple of people, various management people and agents and so on, they said: “We’ll find you the work. This could work on the road.” To which everyone went, “Great!” We started packing.

Would you like to make new music with this band at some point?
My first reaction is to say, “Really, I don’t think so.” What I really feel is that it may be possible and it might be something to look at, but it won’t be in the next year or so – because there’s still so much of this enterprise to work through. There’s still so many songs that we’d like to have a go at. I think it’s quite difficult to actually do new music in this day and age, but particularly for a band of people who sort of already have done other things. Starting from scratch at this stage, it would be difficult. Having said that, a songwriter of Gary’s caliber, maybe, but it’s not something I would plan to do in the next year.

You Think You Know Pink Floyd?

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Kiss’ Stage Manager to Share Backstage Stories at Benefit Stream

Kiss‘ longtime stage manager is getting ready to share his best backstage stories for a good cause.

Steve Roman – who has overseen the band’s flame-, blood- and stunt-filled concerts for more than a decade – will take part in the Six String Salute online benefit Thursday at 8PM ET on Live Nation’s “Live From Home” YouTube channel. (An encore screening will take place at the same time the next day on the Six String Salute Facebook page.)

The event will also feature live performances by Steve Vai, Tommy Shaw of Styx, the Black CrowesRich Robinson, Joe Satriani and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, among others.

Roman tells UCR that Kiss are a “great bunch of guys” who hold themselves and their crew to a high standard. “They are the consummate professionals,” he says. “They’ve been doing it so long. Basically, when you’re working with Kiss, you’ve got to be on top of your game because they’re on top of their game. If there’s a mistake, they wanna know what’s going on and why it happened. Doing a show as big as Kiss, there’s a lot of gags – people flying across the stage in the air, pyrotechnics going off, they’re spitting up blood, they’re shooting up rockets in the air at things. There’s a lot of stuff to do during the show.”

Watch Kiss Perform ‘God of Thunder’ in Concert

At a February 2019 show in Sacramento, a member of the lighting crew temporarily ran afoul of Gene Simmons‘ perfectionist streak, which resulted in an onstage “Give me a white spotlight, motherfucker” rant that went viral.

“That’s typical Gene,” Roman laughs. “When he goes into a show, he wants to be seen. And, of course, they know what’s up. They’ve been doing it for so long, they can tell when a spotlight’s not where it’s supposed to be. He’s quite a character, that’s for sure.”

Roman notes that Simmons is always quick to forgive and forget once a show is over. “I’ve had my fair share of Gene yelling at me,” he recalls. “One night, the pod he uses to fly over the crowd at the end of the show didn’t take off on time. He’s yelling at me, asking, ‘What’s going on?’ [and] flipping me off, all this stuff. The whole thing’s run by computer, so I tell him I don’t know what’s going on. ‘What do you mean you don’t know?’ he says. During the show, he’s into it, he wants to know what’s going on. Then, after the show, we’re going back to the dressing room, and he says, ‘Look, I get it.’ Once the show’s done, he’s fine. He’ll give you the thumbs up, say, ‘It was still a good show.'”

Even though Roman and his crew had been keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 shutdowns taking place across the country, they were still surprised when the tour was suddenly postponed in March. “We were in Tulsa that night, eating dinner,” he recalls. “We got the call from [manager] Doc McGhee. He basically said they’re shutting it down. We had just three shows left on that leg. I thought we would, at least finish them out.”

Roman is now eager to get back on the road. “I am going nuts,” he says. “I’ve done as much as I can around the house. I’ve done all the honey-dos I can, stuff that’s needed to be done for forever. But I’m going stir crazy. This is the longest I’ve ever been home in the 30-plus years I’ve done this job. As of right now, we’re a go for 2021, looking to start back up in April, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed until further notice.”

In the meantime, he’s hopeful that the Six String Salute benefit does some good for his peers. “It’s helping out a lot of us,” he notes. “There are 40 million people around the world right now who aren’t really working. Starting from the touring crews, that includes building staff, merchandise people, hotel, restaurants, drivers. The live music industry, it helps out a bunch of people in whatever cities we’re going to: flights, bars, restaurants. It’s concerning to me.”

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System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian Plays ‘Wiki: Fact or Fiction’

If COVID-19 has proven one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t trust everything you see on the Internet. In that spirit, we hopped on a Zoom call with System of a Down bassist and North Kingsley musician Shavo Odadjian to prove and disprove what’s written about him on Wikipedia.

Shavo tells some incredible stories in this Wikipedia episode, including the time he managed to get into an AC/DC music video shoot featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shavo ended up directly next to Arnold in the “Big Gun” video. “The shot they used, the lights hit me more than they hit him. I was shining. It should have been a crowd and Arnold, but there’s a kid right next to Arnold — me. The next day, I was popular at school.”

The bassist also cleared up some misinformation about the infamous 2001 riot caused by a System show gone awry. Odadjian says it wasn’t police who cancelled the gig, it was the fire marshal, because between 15,000 and 20,000 people (not 7,000-10,000) showed up for a free Toxicity release show. According to Shavo, fallout from the cancelled gig resulted in System’s gear getting stolen and destroyed, with his bass cabinet ending up on the sidewalk on Hollywood and Vine.

Another famous piece of System lore — that “Chop Suey!” was originally called “Self-Righteous Suicide” — turned out to be incorrect. Shavo says the song was simply called “Suicide” and that the band’s record label pushed to change the title since a song called “Suicide” would be difficult to push as a single. Nineteen years later, the “Chop Suey!” video is about to hit one billion views on YouTube.

Watch Shavo Odadjian play ‘Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?’ in the video below and click here to grab the new North Kingsley EP, Vol. 1.

System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian – Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?

Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Bassists of All Time

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Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

In this episode of Gear Factor, Ihsahn takes us through his life as a musician, from learning Iron Maiden, to the groundbreaking black metal band Emperor and into his prolific solo career.

When it came to his beginnings as a metal musician, it was Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” that really got Ihsahn excited. “Not much to it,” Ihsahn says about the track’s basic chord structure, “but the title and the chorus was enough.”

As for his favorite riffs from Emperor, one of Ihsahn’s personal favorites “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” from the pivotal black metal album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. “It’s really tricky to sing and play this simultaneously,” the musician shares before showcasing the dynamic verse riffs.

“Coming from that ‘80s Iron Maiden background, instantly, I wanted to find a melody to go over those chords,” Ihsahn says of creating “I Am the Black Wizards.” “Of course, it’s not a very diatonic thing. It’s really just an E and an F. So I came up with this melody that’s played both fast and slow in the song.”

As for Ihsahn’s solo career, he plays the fresh cut “Stridig” from his newest EP, Telemark. “It’s a very simple riff, but I think the dissonance and the way it’s arranged, to be both the hook and the verse, is kind of nice. The main guitar is playing the same thing all the way through.”

Watch Ihsahn play his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below and click here to grab a copy of his Telemark EP.

Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

Top 30 Black Metal Albums of All Time

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Why Dee Snider Had ‘Trepidation’ in Twisted Sister’s Early Days

With hit singles, platinum sales and worldwide fame, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has experienced the rock star success most artists can only dream of. Still, there were plenty of naysayers early on who predicted the band would fail.

“There was that trepidation. It was instilled in us through other people, that what we did wouldn’t translate,” Snider explains in an exclusive interview with UCR. “It was even in the United States. Here we were, this New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state [band], there’s a certain vibe. [We’re] very much, very New York guys with a New York attitude, you know, ‘Suck my dick,’ which I got arrested for in Texas. People would say, “Yeah, well, it’s not going to fly in the heartland.” It’s not going to fly in the Midwest.”

But fly it did, and Snider credits much of Twisted Sister’s success to the unifying camaraderie of metal fans.

“They’re all wearing the same uniform, all in the denim, rock t-shirt and leather,” Snider notes. “They’re throwing the metal horns with the same passion and the same love.”

The genre’s ability to unite fans serves as a central theme of For the Love of Metal Live, Snider’s new CD/DVD.

“I talk about a book called Heavy Metal Islam, which came out a number of years ago, which talks about the fact that with all of the shit that goes on in the Middle East, behind the scenes, there’s a community of metalheads connected, crossing all borders through their music, through their love of metal,” he explains. “And For the Love of Metal, by its very inspiration, the initial inspiration, I wanted to communicate that same feeling that this love is everywhere.”

The new release comes on the heels of 2018’s For the Love of Metal. That solo effort featured Snider alongside many of modern metal’s biggest names, Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones and Lamb of God’s Mark Morton. Though this material skewed heavier than most Twisted Sister, Snider insists the sound harkens to his band’s early days.

“Twisted Sister was a metal band. Before it was labeled anything else, in ‘81 and ‘82 and ‘83 when we were touring with Motorhead and [Iron] Maiden and Saxon and Metallica, nobody was blinking,” he says. “Nobody was going, ‘What are these guys doing out here?’ It was metal. And that was just the way it was. Nobody even thought twice. The place was packed from the minute the doors opened. And they cheered as loud for Metallica as they had cheered for us. Nobody left when Metallica went off.”

Widowmaker, Snider’s sorely underrated hard rock group from the ‘90s, also gets a moment on For the Love of Metal Live via “Ready to Fall,” a tune from the band’s 1995 Stand By for Pain album. According to Snider, there’s more where that came from.

“We’re actually struggling right now to put together some sort of a box set,” the frontman admits. “We’ve got a lot of….believe it or not, there were people who thought that was going to be [a big band], and did a lot of filming of recording sessions, rehearsals and gigs. So we’re gathering material and trying to get the rights to release [it all]. The first album, God, it’s not even available anywhere in the world right now.”

Blood and Bullets, Widowmaker’s 1992 debut, went quickly out of print as their U.S. label, Esquire Records, shut down unexpectedly not long after the album had been released.

“They got arrested by the Canadian government! Fucking Mounties came down on horses and locked them up! It was insane! We’re like, ‘What the fuck?’ The same thing happened to me with Shooting Gallery, who did Strangeland,” Snider laughs. “I socialize with the best people! But anyway, the actual original band lineup is all working together now to try and put together something. Just for those who care. This is a piece of my career and my life that most people don’t know about. But there was some good shit there.”

A new studio track titled “Prove Me Wrong” rounds out For the Love of Metal Live. The song offers fans a preview of what to expect from Snider’s next batch of new material.

“It’s not an outtake from the last record. It’s a new song that I wrote with [guitarist and collaborator] Charlie Bellmore,” he explains. “It’s a selling tool, but I wanted people to say, ‘Alright, this is what you can expect to hear from me.’ This wasn’t a one and done. This is Dee Snider now.”

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Kiss’ Ace Frehley Recalls ‘Awkward’ Encounter With Prince

Ace Frehley holds a lot of respect for Prince, even if their lone encounter was “awkward.”

In the opinion of the former Kiss guitarist, the best thing about the Purple One was his distinctive style. Whenever he would hear a Prince song, Frehley tells Ultimate Prince, “you knew it was Prince right away – the way he sang and the way he put songs together, his production. It was Prince all the way. He had his own style, and he excelled at it.”

Frehley is reminded of Prince on those nights when his work takes him to First Avenue, the Minneapolis club made famous by Prince in Purple Rain. “That’s a great venue and a great crowd,” Frehley notes. “I remember performing there at least two or three times. Every time I go there, I go, ‘Oh, this is where they filmed the movie!’ Which I thought was pretty cool. It was very tragic, the fact that we lost him so young.”

The guitarist met Prince only once, at a party, and recalls the encounter as “a little awkward, because I didn’t realize he was that short. I was like a foot taller than him, because I had heels on. I said hello to him, but we never really conversed. It was just a brief meeting. I never really spent any time with Prince.”

Had they been able to spend more time together, perhaps they could have bonded over their shared love of Jimi Hendrix. Frehley’s upcoming covers album, Origins, Vol. 2, includes a rendition of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression.” The first volume, released in 2016, featured a take on “Spanish Castle Magic.” Prince remade Hendrix’s “Red House” as “Purple House” for a 2004 Hendrix tribute album, though he was skeptical of being compared to the guitar legend.

“It’s only because he’s black, that’s really the only thing we have in common,” Prince said in 1985. “He plays different guitar than I do. If they really listened to my stuff, they’d hear more of a [Carlos] Santana influence than Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix played more blues; Santana played prettier. You can’t compare people, you really can’t – unless someone is blatantly trying to rip somebody off.”

Shortly after Prince’s 2016 death from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, Frehley’s former bandmate Gene Simmons got into hot water by saying that Prince’s use of drugs “killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold? … But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what he did. Slowly, I’ll grant you – but that’s what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death.”

After Simmons, who’s been famously anti-drug throughout his career, was taken to task by his own family and Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley, the bassist backtracked. “I apologize,” he wrote on Twitter. “I have a long history of getting very angry at what drugs do to the families [and] friends of the addicts. I get angry at drug users because of my experience being around them coming up in the rock scene. In my experience, they’ve made my life, and the lives of their loved ones, difficult. … Needless to say, I didn’t express myself properly here.”

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How Nick Mason Brought Back a Lost Pink Floyd Song

Pink Floyd‘s first attempt at recording a follow-up to “See Emily Play” in October 1967 ended with a shower of laughter. Maybe they never really got serious about “Vegetable Man,” though at one point it was apparently scheduled as a B-side.

The Syd Barrett song ended up sitting unfinished and unreleased for decades. Then drummer Nick Mason stumbled across “Vegetable Man” as part of Pink Floyd’s 2016 retrospective The Early Years: 1965-1972. Intrigued, Mason started playing it with his new band Saucerful of Secrets, who are now set to release Live at the Roundhouse.

Due Sept. 18, the concert film finds Mason, Gary Kemp, Guy Pratt, Dom Beken and Lee Harris exploring Pink Floyd’s rich pre-Dark Side of the Moon discography – including the once-lost “Vegetable Man.” Mason discusses the archival find, how Saucerful of Secrets get their interpretative ideas and what it felt like to lose his friend Barrett to mental illness in an exclusive interview below.

You pulled out and finished “Vegetable Man,” which had never been played live by Pink Floyd in a concert. What was it like preparing that one for the live set?
That is sort of extraordinary. It’s sort of an unfinished work, really. It’s that thing about whether one should put more into it or whatever. But in a way, it’s a nice little cameo of what Syd did. One of the strange things, looking at Syd’s work, is the variety of music styles. Because some people, I think, point at “Vegetable Man” as a sort of early punk thing in a way, which it is. It’s got that driving four-to-the-floor sort of beat. But also then there’d be the rural, almost fairy story – “Gnome,” “Scarecrow”-type of songs. Or “Bike” even. And then there’d be some wilder [songs like] “Interstellar Overdrive,” with improvised sections and, for rock ‘n’ roll, really unusual things where the rhythm breaks down and you’re left with a sort of soundscape for maybe five or 10 minutes.

Listen to an Early Version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Vegetable Man’

I loved reading in the liner notes that you guys went into the archives, and Dom Beken finds a version of “Atom Heart Mother” that’s just you and [Pink Floyd keyboardist] Rick [Wright] playing together, which provides a really important bit of inspiration for the version that the band ends up playing. What was the source material for that stuff? Did you and the band members literally have access to the old session tapes? It didn’t sound like Beken was accessing a version of “Atom Heart Mother” that was released on one of the box sets.
No, it wasn’t. I’ll tell you exactly what he was accessing, which is bootlegs! [Laughs.] Bootlegs of past performances. I mean, virtually everything. We do occasionally go back into our own archives for bits and pieces or a sound effect or something like that. But in general, it’s one of those things [we use] for working out how much improvisation to do with any given song. [We] listen to some of these bootlegs – to see the variation, really, on what’s done and what we did.

Syd Barrett really gets his moment of spotlight in these shows. Going back to his songs, what did that draw out for you? What sort of perspective did you have on Barrett both as an artist and a songwriter, as you return to some of these songs decades later?
I think there’s a lot of mixed emotions with the whole Syd thing. Because in some ways, he was so smart in so many ways. I think there’s a bit of sadness now looking back on it – and a little bit of guilt. Not really guilt, but we handled Syd very badly. We had no idea – and still don’t really know – what the real problem was, whether it was LSD or whether it was something in his character anyway. Or whether, in fact, he was probably clearer than we ever perceived and he just didn’t actually want to be in a band, necessarily. While we thought if he didn’t want to be in a band, it was a sign of madness – because we were all at that point, absolutely committed to doing it. But I think he maybe just thought, “Well, I’ve done that. I don’t really want to do anymore of it.” But instead of just going … we should have probably let him go much earlier or separated from him earlier. But as I say, we had no idea at the time.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Discuss Syd Barrett

You said during a Saucerful of Secrets show, “We ran out of Syd, or perhaps he ran out on us.”
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s it. Absolutely.

I smiled. It was a poignant way of looking at things.
Yeah, but I think it’s great to celebrate the work that he did do. I don’t think we’ve ever wanted to hide it, but I think it just got buried underneath all of the successful later Pink Floyd stuff and hopefully it’s of real interest to people who listen to it now.

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Robert Duncan Recalls an Early Career Low Point in ‘Loudmouth’

After a decades-long music-writing career that included an early stint as the managing editor of Creem magazine, Robert Duncan has crafted his first novel, Loudmouth.

In an exclusive excerpt from the book, Duncan recalls a real-life career low point: getting spotted and pitied by the Clash while peddling an unauthorized Kiss biography at a collector’s convention in a rundown New York City hotel.

Duncan began a career in his early 20s as “an accidental journalist” for Creem, going on to write for Rolling Stone, Circus, Life and dozens of other publications. His friendship and working relationship with Lester Bangs, and an ill-fated attempt to find a piano player for a Clash recording session, provide fuel for some of the book’s stories.

“I’ve called it a veiled memoir,” Duncan tells UCR. “It’s at least an accidental telling. I thought, Hey, they have that thing in the movies, where they say ‘based on a true story,’ so why can’t I use that for a novel? I wanted to remember it the way I wanted to remember it. I didn’t want to fact-check myself; I wanted to let it flow. It’s definitely based on my life, such as it has been.”

Maintaining a sense of humor about himself and the artists he covered was an important part of Duncan’s success. “I think that’s the way I approach life,” he explains. “I try not to take myself seriously, number one. I try not to take people who are supposed to be stars seriously. I try not to take music that takes itself seriously very seriously. And I like to have fun and laugh at stuff. I’m always running up against somebody who doesn’t get the joke. I like to deliver the jokes as deadpan as I can, which makes it even more dangerous. I’ve been thrown out of a dressing room, and I’ve been threatened with fists. That stuff happens every once in a while.”

That attitude came in handy during the pride-swallowing incident depicted in the below excerpt, which finds an unhappy Duncan forced to try and sell his newly published Kiss book.

“It was in this big old grand hotel that now stunk, it was all moldy and mildew-y. They gave me a bunch of books and said, ‘Okay, go sell these things, sign them and promote the book.’ So I’m alone and I’m embarrassed to be there. You know, it was collecting nerds, and that’s not me. There’s a lot of that. They wanted to talk about collector-y stuff. Then, as I describe in the book, and it truly happened, Mick and Joe from the Clash just walked up. I had been with them in the studio a couple of months before, when they were recording Give ‘Em Enough Rope. So, they were the righteous revolutionaries, and here I was exploiting a band that was not considered by them or probably by me a revolutionary band. [Kiss] definitely weren’t punk!”

***

At a press party in the Time-Life building for Ozzy Osbourne – where the guest of honor could be found, with difficulty (even if you were his publicist), chin to chest, in a dark, back corner – a producer acquaintance, yet another of that hard-hustling breed, palmed me the number of an editor looking for an unauthorized biography of Kiss. And the next day I called that number. For a few zloyts down and a pitiful percent down the road, I readily agreed to prostitute what I viewed as my considerable, yet virginal, talents. And if writing a Kiss book might seem far from the most dishonorable thing, for me trying to be a real writer – in order to be a rock star – it wasn’t far from shitting yourself in a St. Olaf’s classroom. It exponentially compounded the agony when the first printing arrived and the publisher’s marketing department booked me as an exhibitor at the First Annual Rock Flea Market and Collectors Fair in the ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Directly opposite Penn Station, the Roosevelt had once teemed with real armies in transit home from real war, the ballroom floor pulsing into dawn with straight whiskey, syncopated horns, hair-flying Lindy Hoppers and undiagnosed post-traumatic stress. Now those hallowed cedar planks were swirled in must and crawling with the Kiss Army – allied forces of the round-shouldered, the inhaler-dependent and the prepubescent, a white-faced band’s even paler disciples and not coincidentally my best shot at a dime of royalties. It was exactly the kind of place a rock snob would not be caught dead. For my sins, the publisher had shipped in a dozen cartons of product and commanded me to get out and sell. Wedged between the Satanist belt-buckle kiosk and a stoney scammer’s-apprentice peddling crates of illicit promo records – possibly the selfsame crap I was peddling to this guy Benny (“No last names!”), the illicit record-buyer who, twice a month, lumbered up to the fifth floor with cash – I sat at a card table, counting the minutes till closing and doing my damndest to hide behind an improvised duck blind of my own disgraceful books. Which is why it took a minute for me to note the arrival of the new scourge of the bourgeoisie, torch-bearer of the rebel spirit, savior-in-waiting of modern youth and leader of the Only Band that Matters.

It had been two months since I had slunk from Athena studios with a dazed and confused Eddie. Terry called a week later to let me know they’d got the Blue Oyster Cult’s keyboardist to bang out the piano part in less than 20 minutes, and, since the ever gracious Allen Lanier had also agreed to forego credit, the Village Legend would n ever have to know.

“Eddie,” Terry said with a snort, “can go on dreaming.”

It was kind and cruel at the same time. I decided the kind part was Joe’s idea. The cruel part – making sure I knew they’d formally nuked my “protege” and effectively putting the fiasco on me – was just what you’d expect from a guy in indoor shades.

In the meantime, our friend Lasker had tagged the Clash the Only Band that Matters, and the record company had airlifted Lester into the middle of the U.K. tour, enabling a week-long bender and slobbering mutli-park hagiography, and a legion of premature ejaculators were stroking their Selectrics over the impending disk.

In the U.S., in other words, the Clash had advanced beyond buzz.

“Oh, hey,” I said to Strummer, as I raised my head above the paperbacks.

He nodded and fingered the volume.

Then along came Jones.

“Oh, hey,” I repeated.

Mick nodded and turned the book over and back, and over again, like he wasn’t quite sure where to begin. I hemmed and hawed. “Yeah, well, kind of a joke, you know … “

But I was too hot-faced to pull it off. And once more Joe stared. This time it wasn’t wariness. Worse, it wasn’t judgement. This time at the Rock Flea Market in the smelly belly of the Roosevelt Hotel, Joe Strummer looked at me with pity. As if to confirm, he shrugged and said, “We’ve all got to make a living … “

Agonizing later, I told myself that, rather than a whore and a rock Judas, I had been joined, in Strummer’s mind, with the lumpen youth he was bent on redeeming, that the pity I had read in his black gaze was actually sympathy – “We’ve all got to make a living” – and brotherly commiseration on the state of the Clampdown.

It wasn’t like the Clash hadn’t compromised. The debate about whether or not you could be beholden to a media conglomerate and still be revolutionary – the Only Band that Matters – fueled half their publicity.

We … Strummer had said. All .. he’d appended.

I had to write shitty Kiss books, and he had to suck up to the suits at Athena. Same prison, different cells.

***

Loudmouth will be published on Oct. 6. Details and pre-order information are available on Duncan’s website.

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Ace Frehley Confused by People Who Call Him an Influence

Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley says he finds it “confusing” when other musicians cite him as an influence. He also recalls his doubts as he geared up to cover the Beatles classic “I’m Down,” which was released last week.

The track includes guitar work by John 5 and features the pair trading off against each other toward the end. “I met John 5 when Kiss was rehearsing for the reunion tour,” Frehley tells UCR. “He came to the rehearsal studio, and I met him there. We’ve been close friends ever since. He’s played on several of my albums. and he always does a great job. He’s really, really fast in the studio. Usually, most of his solos are first or second take.”

Frehley notes that John 5 “can play all sorts of music, [like] country – he can fingerpick and stuff. I never really got the hang of that. But I think I do what I do good, supposedly, considering so many guitar players cite me as the reason why they play guitar. Never taking a guitar lesson, it’s kind of confusing to me when I think about it, how I’ve pulled that one off.”

A Beatles fan since he first heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Frehley says “I’m Down” was another favorite, but he was doubtful how to approach it at first. “I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to sing a Paul McCartney song, but somehow, I pulled it off,” he explains.

Watch Ace Frehley’s ‘I’m Down’ Video

Now that his new album of cover songs, Origins, Vol. 2,  is all set for release on Sept. 18, Frehley is turning his thoughts to writing new music as well as building a studio at his new home in New Jersey. “The Origins records are a lot of fun, but the songs are written by other people,” he notes. “When you write your own songs, it’s more gratifying when people appreciate them.”

Still, Frehley says he “never [has] a plan – I just write. I sit here and I see where it goes. There’s no concept, there’s no rhyme or reason. I just start writing songs that come into my mind and develop it into a studio record.

“I don’t believe in forcing things. I think things should just happen naturally. To me, the most important thing when I record is having spontaneity and just going for it. If you don’t get it in two or three takes, take a break and go back to it later. If you try to do something too many times, over and over again, it loses that spontaneity.”

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Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Mastodon‘s Bill Kelliher tells us in this edition of Gear Factor that he came to the guitar late, but as we’ve seen over the years, he’s definitely able to fire out killer riffs.

“What got me into playing guitar was that all my friends were playing. I was the last guy out of six of my buddies who were all playing guitar,” says Kelliher, who adds that Van Halen was the band who put him on his path. “When I first saw Van Halen, I looked up and said, ‘Man, that’s what I want to do with my life,’” says the guitarist.

Admittedly, his friends had a head start on him as a youngster, but he recalls a friend playing Randy Rhoads riffs from Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Crazy Train” as his turning point. “I felt like giving up in the moment. I felt like they were just too good,” said Kelliher of trying to keep up with his buddies. “I could play ‘Smoke on the Water’ and stuff. But I told myself that if I could learn how to play that riff in ‘Crazy Train’ that I had a standing chance.”

Other early influences of note included Iron Maiden and the Dead Kennedys, with the latter really speaking to the guitarist. “I had accidentally got this Dead Kennedys tape passed along to me in the art room and my friend was like, ‘Dude, this is the stupidest music you’ve ever heard and it’s terrible,’ but I heard it and I coveted it. I was like, ‘This music is awesome. I don’t know what you’re thinking. This music is crazy. It’s cool as shit and I love it.’”

Records also gave him an entry point into additional music, noting that bands like Metallica and Slayer were photographed wearing other band T-shirts or sporting stickers on their instruments. Because of Jeff Hanneman having a Dead Kennedys sticker on his guitar, he gave Slayer a try.

As for his own music, Kelliher takes us back to his early days with his first band, Crinkle Pig, sharing the origins of that name as well as one of the first riffs he’d written. The guitarist also reveals that after being in a number of bands that didn’t take themselves too seriously, he was well aware that Mastodon was a definite pro band. “With Mastodon, it was like, we’re serious now. We’re going to write some heavy shit and be fucking evil.”

Taking viewers through some of his favorite riffs, we get bits of “Crusher Destroyer,” “Asleep in the Deep” and “Spectrelight,” revealing that the band typically writes in three different tunings — D standard, Drop C and Drop A.

“I like incorporating a lot of those open strings. Every song I write has got an open string somewhere. It’s kind of like an exclamation point to the low string,” says Kelliher.

The Mastodon guitarist also gives us bits of “Fallen Torches,” their new Bill & Ted Face the Music song “Rufus Lives” and his Grammy-winning Emperor of Sand favorite, “Sultan’s Curse.”

Watch Bill Kelliher’s full Gear Factor episode below and look for Mastodon’s Medium Rarities coming Sept. 11 and check out the Bill & Ted Face the Music soundtrack available now.

Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher Plays His Favorite Riffs

2020’s Best Metal Songs (So Far)

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