Alice Cooper Stresses the Importance of Independent Music Venues

Alice Cooper may be considered one of the most legendary acts in rock today, but all legends started out small. The shock rocker recently spoke with Loudwire Nights about the importance of salvaging smaller, independent music venues around the country that are facing potential closure due to Covid-19.

“We all started there,” Cooper began. “Everybody from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Guns N’ Roses to Alice Cooper to everybody — anybody that’s worth a salt in this business started in a bar somewhere or started in a small venue.”

The rocker went on to explain that his band’s early days in Detroit were spent in old movie theaters that had been converted to music venues, along with other acts such as Iggy Pop, MC5 and The Who.

“If you don’t have that, how is a rock band — a young rock band — ever going to get good?” he continued. “I don’t care if it’s 20 people or 200 people. That’s where your fanbase comes from, that’s where the band actually becomes good enough to go out and then get on tour once they do make it.”

Aside from starting off in smaller venues, Cooper has some advice for other young bands — listen to the Beatles.

“We all go back to two things — Chuck Berry and the Beatles,” he affirmed. “Chuck Berry is your rock foundation. The Beatles are… listen to any album and tell me those aren’t perfectly-written songs.”

The rocker recently released his latest song “Don’t Give Up” regarding the coronavirus pandemic. His upcoming album Detroit Stories will be out sometime later this year. To hear more about the album, listen to the full interview above.

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Rising Rocker Ayron Jones: Our Beginnings Don’t Have to Define Us

Seattle-born guitarist and vocalist Ayron Jones grew up in a tough familial environment, but with a passion for music. A self-proclaimed multi-instrumentalist, the rising rocker recently signed with Big Machine Records and released his first major label single “Take Me Away.” He hopes to spread the hopeful message that our beginnings don’t have to define where we go.

The guitarist was listening to a lot of ’60s bands and trios like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream when he formed what was originally titled Ayron Jones and the Way years back. That era of the band were successful to the point of sharing the stage with groups like Slipknot and Lamb of God, but the members unfortunately quit in 2015, leaving Jones to carry on by himself.

“I felt like as the composer and the writer for all this music, I think the whole band-feel kind of took away from all the work that I was putting in,” he explained. “I think a lot of people thought that we sat down as a band and wrote these songs, as opposed to me writing out all these parts and then bringing it to an instrumentalist to play these parts and me sing the music and do all of that. So I changed the name to be solo.”

The decision to go solo has proven to be triumphant for the artist, who has opened for big names like B.B. King and Guns N’ Roses, gone on tour with Theory of a Deadman and worked with Run D.M.C. and Public Enemy. So when it came time to be scouted by Big Machine records, Jones was already a natural.

Last month, he released his first single as a signed artist called “Take Me Away.” “Having grown up with the background I had, dealing with feelings of abandonment and all that, and what those kind of emotions do to you as an adult and in your relationships,” Jones said of the inspiration behind the song. “And also just being a black man in America, and kind of figuring out what that means for myself.”

“‘Take Me Away’ was really about how I was gonna use my music to take me out of whatever turmoil or whatever beginnings I had,” he continued. “And that no matter where I came from or what kind of beginnings I had, I knew that those things didn’t have to define me.”

Check out “Take Me Away” below.

To hear more about Jones’ story as well as his future endeavors, listen to the full Loudwire Nights interview above.

Ayron Jones – “Take Me Away”

2020’s Most Anticipated Rock + Metal Albums

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Why Metallica Open Their Concerts With ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’

Metallica have opened every single show they’ve played since 1983 to Ennio Morricone’s “Ecstasy of Gold” composition, originally featured in the 1966 Clint Eastwood film, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. But do you know why?

Well, to start, obviously it’s an ideal intro tape — Morricone’s composition is evocative on so many levels. A slight breeze rushes past and you feel each strand of hair sticking straight up from your arm as they gently flow in whichever direction it’s blowing. “Ecstasy of Gold” is a layered piece of work, a three-minute swirl of crescendoing orchestral might that sets a tone of invincibility and triumph.

Then Metallica walk out.

This, however, was not their idea and it’s not a stretch to imagine a group of hard-partying thrashers who had just released Ride the Lightning, their second and final Megaforce Records album, weren’t entrenched in the world of orchestral music and film scores. That’s where having a manager can be quite useful.

Megaforce founder Jon Zazula, affectionately known as Jonny Z, was also managing Metallica at the time (he had signed them to their first record deal, after all) and suggested the band use “Ecstasy of Gold,” rejecting what was already in place — a clip of an accelerated heart beat.

“I’ve always been a huge Morricone fan, and I was looking for an intro song to be played prior to Metallica’s performance onstage,” Zazula, who will soon be releasing the audiobook version of his Heavy Tales autobiography, told Loudwire, noting he wanted “something emotional to get the crowd ready.”

There was another Morricone composition, in contention in the back of Zazula’s mind, which was featured in the same film. “I was tossing around ‘The Trio’ because of the fiery coronets at the finale of the song but ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ won.”

Ennio Morricone, “The Trio”

Metallica are a band who modeled themselves after their idols, constantly seeking sources of inspiration to mold their own band into the ideal metal machine. One of those chief influences was Iron Maiden, who not only had a vicious looking mascot, but a steady intro tape as well — “Doctor, Doctor” by UFO.

As to whether that was Metallica’s ultimate aim, Zazula doesn’t know that answer.

As recollected in Heavy Tales, Zazula had organized a summer show at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, dubbed “The Midsummer’s Night Scream,” which was to serve as a Megaforce Records showcase. On the bill were a young Anthrax, who had released their Fistful of Metal debut and were aggressively working toward a follow-up (Spreading the Disease), Metallica and headliners Raven, all the way from Newcastle, England.

“During the Metallica set I had noticed some people hanging around the audience,” wrote Zazula. “Q Prime Artist Management co-founder Cliff Burnstein, Elektra Records CEO Bob Krasnow and his young A&R man Michael Alago were all there at this concert.”

Metallica, Live at Roseland Ballroom in NYC — Aug. 3, 1984 (Audio Only)

Any ‘Tallica fan with a slice of knowledge about the band’s history knows what happened next — the band inked a deal with major label group Elektra, leaving the DIY ambitions of Megaforce and its internal management.

Zazula, whose roster went on to later bring up bands such as Overkill, Testament, King’s X and more, obviously wasn’t very concerned about what his former client was playing before walking out onstage and didn’t give it much thought.

“There was a long period of time that Metallica and the Zazulas (including Jon’s wife Marsha, who was also instrumental to the label’s success) didn’t get together. Some years had passed till we spent time together again. When we finally did James came up to me and said, ‘Hey Jonny, we’re still using your intro.’ I was very flattered. I believe it was on the Summer Sanitarium Tour,” he commented.

Who knows? Maybe we never get the S & M album, the 1999 live release where Metallica joined forces with a symphony orchestra to reimagine a slew of their most iconic songs and some rarities, if the group had never been introduced to “The Ecstasy of Gold” all those years ago.

In 2007, Metallica expressed their gratitude for Morricone’s masterwork and contributed to the We All Love Ennio Morricone tribute album, playing a metalized version of “The Ecstasy of Gold.”

The Italian-born Morricone passed away on July 6 of this year at the age of 91, which prompted a tribute post from metal’s biggest band that reads, “Your career was legendary, your compositions were timeless. Thank you for setting the mood for so many of our shows since 1983.”

Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived by Jon Zazula is out now in print and can be purchased here. The audiobook version, read by Zazula himself, is coming July 21 and to hear so much metal history unfold from the voice of the one who made it all happen, pre-order here.

Metallica: A Photo Timeline of Their Remarkable Career

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DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Ah, the ’80s… it was a golden period for the explosion of metal, and the period which inspired DevilDriver‘s Mike Spreitzer to pick up a guitar.

“The first song that made me want to play guitar was Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’” says the guitarist. “I was about six-years-old and it was on MTV. I had an older brother and older sister that were teenagers at the time, so MTV was always on and I remember watching and slowly got addicted to it. When I first saw ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ that was pretty much it. I started begging my parents for an electric guitar and I really wanted the Explorer that the bass player was playing in that video. Funny thing is to this day, I’ve never owned an Explorer guitar.”

That led to a broader exploration into the Def Leppard catalog, with Spreitzer backtracking from Hysteria to High and Dry, where “Let It Go” grabbed his attention, as he displays for the viewers.

It wasn’t long before even heavier metal entered the picture, with Spreitzer citing Black Sabbath as an early influence. “One of the first riffs I learned to play, I believe it was a Black Sabbath song off Paranoid and I believe it was ‘Electric Funeral,” says the guitarist.

Spreitzer says he was a big Metallica fan growing up, nabbing the group’s Black Album tab book (which he still has to this day). From there, it was time to backtrack through Metallica’s And Justice for All and Live Shit: Binge & Purge, as he was able to xerox the tab pages from a buddy. So what Metallica song most grabbed him? He displays a bit of “Harvester of Sorrow.”

Looking at DevilDriver’s own catalog, the guitarist cites “Testimony of Truth” and “End of the Line” as his favorite riffs. He also pulls out some of “My Night Sky,” a track he loves to play live due to its groove.

“The first riff I ever wrote for DevilDriver was the verse in “Hold Back the Day” from Fury in Our Maker’s Hands,” adds Spreitzer, recalling, “I wasn’t in the band when they recorded their first record. I came in shortly in between the first and second record cycle. We were on Ozzfest in 2004 and I brought my Line 6 pod with me and I always had my guitar and that pod in the back of the bus. We needed to start writing for Fury while we were on that tour. We had a limited amount of time between getting off Ozzfest, going home to write and then going to El Paso to Sonic Ranch to record the record. So we were all on each others’ ass to keep writing riffs so that we could come home with material to work with rather than starting from scratch.”

Turning his attention to DevilDriver’s upcoming double album, the single “Keep Away From Me” is currently his favorite. “It was one of the first songs, if I remember correctly, that I wrote for the record. It’s always been my favorite song on the record.”

You can hear “Keep Away From Me” in full on DevilDriver’s Dealing With Demons I, which is due Oct. 9. Get your pre-orders in for the album at this location. See more of Spreitzer showcasing some of his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below.

DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

2020’s Most Anticipated Rock + Metal Albums

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Meet REO Speedwagon’s Production Manager: Video Premiere

The latest episode of Live Nation’s Backstage With Crew Nation web series features REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin talking to production manager Michael Richter about his daily responsibilities.

You can watch the exclusive premiere of the video below.

In the clip, Cronin explains how REO Speedwagon likes to hold on to their road crew. Richter has been with the band for the past 14 years, noting he wasn’t expecting the gig to last too long.

“They were looking for a production manager,” Richter recalls. “The guy they had helping them was a friend of mine. And off I went to Reno, thinking I was gonna just do maybe five or six shows and that was it. … Fourteen years later, here we are.”

Richter’s job involves making sure the show runs as smoothly as possible. Even before the trucks arrive, he works out the logistics with the venue. Then he’s responsible for every detail – from sorting out the dressing rooms to the loading in and out of equipment to getting the band onstage. He also assisted with REO’s recent guest shot on Netflix’s Ozark, in which the full production was brought in, even though there wasn’t as much room as usual.

“I could be the difference between us getting invited back or not,” he says. “That weighs heavily on my mind every day. It’s tough, because far be it for me to be the reason the band can’t go back and play in whatever city. It’s a tightrope walk sometimes with that.”

Richter also discusses difficulty the coronavirus pandemic has placed on members of a crew. “I’ve spent 200 to 250 days a year on the road the last five years in a row,” he says. “To go from being incredibly busy all the time to absolutely having nothing to do, it’s hard to fathom.”

There’s also the financial hit they’re taking. Richter expresses gratitude for Live Nation, which has committed $10 million with its Crew Nation initiative to help crew members who’ve found themselves out of work with

“From the band’s standpoint, our crew, they’re basically band members,” Cronin adds. “We travel as a family, so when Crew Nation comes up and offers financial assistance to crew guys,they’re kind of helping the bands too.”

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Dave Mustaine Went Back to Work Immediately After Cancer Battle

Megadeth have completed recording bass and drums for their newest album, David Ellefson recently told us. The thrash legend also broke down a little info on what fans can expect and how Dave Mustaine’s cancer diagnosis, and subsequent recovery, affected the process.

“Dirk [Verbeuren] and I put down drums and bass on the new Megadeth album,” Ellefson begins. “Slamming stuff. There’s moments where there’s very progressive stuff. I can’t say too much about it, because it’s still a work in progress, but I definitely walked out of the studio feeling like, ‘Job well done.’”

“That, to me, is the thing that’s really inspiring, when you come up with stuff that’s like, ‘We carved another new path that we haven’t been down. I don’t think anyone else has been down it.’ I think that is probably one of the most satisfying things to walk away from. We’ve still got it.”

As for Mustaine’s health affecting the new album, Ellefson reveals the band “shut everything down” once the news of his throat cancer came through. “Once he was through that… it’s funny, we share files on a Dropbox and sometimes I’d see a little Dropbox activity happening and go, ‘Yep, nothing’s gonna keep Dave down. He’s gonna keep working.’”

“I think having an album in front of us kept us all inspired. I can’t speak for any of the other guys, but I feel like as a group, it kept us all inspired.”

Watch our full interview with David Ellefson below and click here to check out the new Ellefson album, Sleeping Giants.

David Ellefson: Megadeth’s New Album + Dave Mustaine’s Cancer Recovery

25 Legendary Metal Albums With No Weak Songs

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Why Def Leppard Did Things ‘Completely Different’ on New Live Set

Phil Collen says he’s glad Def Leppard got a chance to experiment with more theatrical shows during the band’s recent Las Vegas residency.

The new London to Vegas set features audio and video from two different stage shows: One was shot during the band’s 2019 Sin City residency, while the other stems from a 2018 London show where they performed 1987’s Hysteria album in full.

The intimate audiences at the Vegas shows gave Def Leppard the freedom to explore the less famous corners of their catalog. That included starting concerts with the slow-burning Pyromania album track “Die Hard the Hunter.”

“We just felt it was kind of cool at that point, for the Vegas shows, to do it completely different, with a song we’d never start with, that we probably haven’t played for 30 years or something like that,” Collen tells UCR. “It was cool to star with a more theatrical thing and not your normal ‘We’re gonna rock you out!’ track straightaway, to create some tension instead. It was weird, because we don’t usually do that, but I loved that, I’ve got to say.”

Collen says he’s been drawn to the theatrical side of music since he was a young fan. “You’d see David Bowie, and even stuff like Led Zeppelin, and there was a mystique about it,” he notes. “Just growing up with the glam rock era, there was a sense of theatrics. If you’ve ever seen Kiss, it’s what they do. It’s really good to combine all those elements, because we’re still really big fans. That stuff is really impressive – an actual show as opposed to a bunch of guys just getting out there [and performing], which is great if you’re a punk band. There’s a time and a place for it.”

Def Leppard also took advantage of the opportunity to shake up their set lists. “One of the things you constantly hear is, ‘Oh, how come you guys never play deep cuts?'” Collen says. “If you’ve ever been to a Rolling Stones show, as soon as they play a new song, everyone just leaves and goes to the bar. You have to please your base, you have to please the people that are coming to see you. You can’t say, ‘Oh, we’re gonna drop “Photograph” tonight or “Hysteria,”‘ because everyone will get bummed out.

“Vegas was great for that, especially the last couple of nights – we played two-, two-and-a-half-hour sets and put some deep cuts in there. It’s great for us as well.”

Watch Def Leppard Perform ‘Billy’s Got a Gun’ From ‘London to Vegas’

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Hard-Rock Band Ice’s Shelved 1970 LP Is Finally Coming Out

Back in 1970, a hard-rock band from Indianapolis called Ice were all ready to release their debut album. But sometime between the recording of The Ice Age and its scheduled release date, the quintet broke up.

The LP was shelved, the group was forgotten and, like so many underground bands over the years, that was supposed to be the end of Ice’s story.

But then something happened. The Brown Acid compilation series, which collects forgotten hard-rock, proto-metal and heavy psych music from the late ’60s and early ’70s, included one of the band’s songs on a volume. That led to their 50-year-old LP being dusted off, cleaned up and prepared for its first-ever release on July 10.

“Musical trends in rock were rapidly changing every six months,” singer and bassist Jim Lee tells UCR. “Time passed us by.”

“The album was often in the back of my mind,” adds rhythm guitarist Richard Strange. “I believe most of us had given up and thought it was a lost cause.”

In 1972, two of the album’s songs – “Running High” and “Catch You” – were released as a single under a different band name, Zukus. And then, Lee says, the “dream was over.”

He held onto the tapes for years before handing them off to drummer Mike Saligoe, who carted them from place to place over the past three decades. The band members reconnected a few years ago and digitized the old tapes, “to have something to play for our kids,” Strange says.

But after “Running High” ended up on the ninth Brown Acid album, there was increasing talk about releasing the entire 10-song LP. “I think that the market has developed an interest and infrastructure to support projects like the Ice band,” says Lee. “The timing is right because the appetite is there.”

While the record features several riff-driven hard-rock tracks like those found on the Brown Acid albums, there’s also a sharp melodic foundation underlying many of the songs. Like Grand Funk Railroad and the Guess Who, as label RidingEasy notes, Ice wouldn’t have sounded out of place on early ’70s AM radio. The Ice Age‘s best songs manage to sound tuneful without losing any of their bite.

You can listen to one of those songs, the exclusive premiere of “Satisfy,” below.

The five members’ diverse tastes – which spanned era favorites like the Beach Boys, Beatles and Rolling Stones to classic composers like Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin – helped develop their own songs.

“We were pretty much working to find out how to best orchestrate the music for each specific song,” says Strange. “We didn’t seem to be limited by a specific style, influence or theme. I was influenced more by those around me, and what fit in to complement them, than outside influences. I think we all made each other better. I know … they all made me better.”

After Ice broke up, some of the guys played in other projects for a few years. Strange says he “can’t locate” two members – keyboardist and singer Barry Crawford and lead guitarist John Schaffer – but he’s open to a reunion with his former bandmates. “I rarely play now, but more and more have had an itch lately,” Strange notes, adding that he and Lee have “talked about how we might put something together again if this picks up. It’s possible, and I’m confident we could find a way to do it .”

Saligoe for his part says he still has his white Pearl kit used on The Ice Age. “I started practicing again after about 40-plus years,” he says. “Through good times and bad I have always come back to the music,” Lee adds. “It’s like going home. To play and write is to live.”

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Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

Groundbreaking musician Suzi Quatro is the subject of the upcoming documentary Suzi Q, and she recently took some time to join us via Zoom for this latest edition of Loudwire’s Gear Factor.

Quatro revealed during the chat that she started her music education at a very young age, growing up in a musical family where her father was also a performer. “I began on bongos at the age of 7 and I was pretty damn good. My dad actually let me come to his gigs and play in front of him. Then I went to classical piano, so I took that for about eight or nine years, so I had to learn to read, write and play and I still play now. Then I went to percussion in school and I ended up learning to read, write and play percussion and I ended up first chair.”

Like many of her age, the Beatles‘ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a turning point, with all the kids in the family deciding to start a band. “Everybody quickly chose an instrument,” she recalls “I didn’t speak up, so I was like, ‘Hey, what am I gonna play?’ and my older sister said, ‘You’re playing bass.’ So I went, ‘Okay.’ I didn’t care. So I got this [bass guitar] from my father – 1957 Fender Precision – as my first bass guitar.” And thus Suzi’s bass legacy was cemented.

She tells us, “I think one of the first [riffs], if I go back very early, was ‘Stagger Lee’ by Lloyd Price. It’s very basic bass. That’s what I learned when I learned.” Suzi also cites Motown legend James Jamerson and Canned Heat as an early influence on her playing, displaying a bit of “On the Road Again.”

As for the first song she learned to play, that goes back to The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” “I do remember the first song I tried to learn and because I didn’t try to go from guitar to bass, I never used a pick in my life. Never used one. I can’t get along with them. There was no one to teach me the bass. I taught myself. So I figured you had to put your hands here and then play with your thumb. So I learned to play ‘Louie Louie,'” said Quatro. “But I had a big blister, so then I learned to play like this.”

When asked for her favorite riff, she boasts, “I consider this to be my best bass riff I’ve ever written and I have seen some seriously good bass players do this riff. It’s called ‘Walking Through the Changes.’ Not easy, not easy to play, it’s that deadened string.”

Quatro reveals that she didn’t always make it easy on herself with her bass lines. To demonstrate, she pulls out “She’s in Love With You,” explaining, “I illustrate this when I do my tutorials because the riff is like a machine. You can’t alter it. It’s like a machine. And the vocal, do you hear that? It’s backward.” You can also catch Suzi demonstrating a bit of “Truck Stop” and the super funky “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” as well.

Speaking about her love for the bass, Suzi offers, “I think what you’ve probably noticed by now, my style, for a bass player, it’s very expressive for a bass player. I’m not just playing the notes. I’m getting the light and shade in the notes. I don’t know what that is, but I guess because I’m a bass player in my heart. I actually love the bass. I love the bass notes, I love the runs. It’s really in my heart and soul. I could never be a guitar player, it’s far too delicate.”

Quatro finishes her Gear Factor episode, speaking about the Suzi Q documentary that is being released virtually tomorrow (July 1) and then hitting on demand viewing July 3.

Suzi Q Documentary Trailer

“The documentary has been on my bucket list for a long long time because I always just wanted the record set straight. Everybody that’s in this one wants to be in it. They’re speaking from their heart and you feel it and you start to cry, you know. Alice [Cooper] was wonderful. Debby Harry, bless her heart. Oh she couldn’t have been nicer. Henry Winkler brings me to tears every time. Joan Jett was very sweet. Cherie Curie is good friend of mine. Talking Heads, L7’s Donita Sparks, [The Go-Go’s] Kathy Valentine. I hope I’m not forgetting anybody. They all were just so wonderful,” says the bass legend. “You have to see the film. It’s a terrific documentary, warts and all, and it does put the record straight and it has had rave reviews around the world.”

Watch Suzi Quatro’s Gear Factor below and make sure to get your order in for the July 1 Suzi Q documentary premiere at this location.

Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

12 Women Who Pioneered Hard Rock + Metal

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Billy Gibbons’ ‘Rock and Roll Gearhead’ Book: Preview, Interview

In the newly expanded edition of his 2005 photo book, Billy Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead, the ZZ Top frontman invites fans into two sacred spaces: his garage and studio. The updated edition, re-released to mark the band’s 50th anniversary, showcases more than 60 guitars and 15 vehicles from the musician’s personal collection — some of which are available to view below.

“The acquisition of some interesting instruments to the quiver led to making some interesting sonics,” Gibbons tells UCR. “The updated book shares these fine axes for the enjoyment of players everywhere. And, of course, you gotta somehow get to the gig, and the trusty hot rod will get’cha there, pronto.”

The guitarist answered a few questions about the book, noting the importance of visuals to ZZ Top’s career and enthusing about how Rock + Roll Gearhead made him rediscover some crucial instruments in his collection.

How important are visuals to rock ‘n’ roll, and how did you learn or realize that? Which artists or what event/albums first helped you understand that?
As the story goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words!” ZZ Top got that firsthand when MTV entered the picture with visuals paired with sound. It’s still going strong today. Jeff Beck puts it like this, “Play it and imagine what it would look like!” …and then, “Imagine what it looks like and go play it!”.

About once or twice a year, I’ll buy an album that I’ve forgotten I already own. Do you ever do that with cars or guitars?
Oh, yeah! Many times. It’s often been pointed out that every guitar maintains a special characteristic and personality. No two are exactly alike. Same six strings, way different effect!

Did compiling the book get you reacquainted with any of your guitars? Have any of them found their way into the studio?
Yes, indeed. The surprise came outta the vault when uncovering the famed Gibson Switchmaster ES-5 seen on page 48 in the new book. It’s the rare jazz box that delivers an unexpected punch when all three pickups are engaged. It’s a beast. We’re enjoying recording the effect on several tracks on the new [Gibbons solo band] BFG disc [Hardware]. And as mentioned throughout the book, Pearly Gates is always close at hand. She’s got it.

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Nonpoint Singer Explains Why Band Left the Herd Immunity Fest

There’s been a bit of controversy over the last few days surrounding a festival set to take place in Wisconsin in mid-July, which was formerly titled “Herd Immunity Fest.” Nonpoint were originally part of the lineup, but have since dropped out. Frontman Elias Soriano detailed their decision in an interview with Loudwire Nights.

Despite health officials still encouraging social distancing measures and suggesting that large gatherings not take place, the outdoor festival is being held at the Q & Z Expo Center in Ringle, Wisconsin from July 16 through the 18. Following backlash over the event’s name, the organizers shared that their venue capacity is 10,000 and assured that they are only selling enough tickets for 20 percent of that. They also confirmed the name is being changed.

When Nonpoint were first presented the offer to play the festival, Soriano claimed that it did not yet have a name.

“There’s a lot of deciding factors to acceptance of any show by any band. There’s multiple members of the band who’ll remind everyone that we’re in the middle of a recession,” the frontman explained. He added, however, that they’ve turned down a multitude of opportunities to perform due to unsafe circumstances, like the show being held indoors.

“If people know anything about my band, there is one thing that no one can argue with — it’s that we are very fan engaged,” he affirmed. After receiving an offer for a show, the members collectively decide whether they should take the offer or not. During this particular time, he said they want to make sure social distancing limitations are intact and being promised by the venue — masks, disinfecting stations, etc.

“When you receive those assurances and then you see something deemed in a way that doesn’t follow those assurances, then you should be able to reconsider,” he explained. “For the safety of our fans, for the safety of our families.”

Soriano noticed a lot of negative comments within their fanbase regarding the title of the festival, and he realized the discrepancy in beliefs amongst people over whether the virus is an actual threat or not.

“I can’t ask my fans to hope that the person next to them — that may not be a fan of my band — shares those beliefs,” he stated. “That the COVID situation is real, that there are hundreds of thousands of people dying, and we should take it seriously.”

“Do we want to put our fans in that situation and hope that they make it out okay? Or do we want to disassociate ourselves with it because it’s giving the impression that we don’t believe it.”

“We sign the contract to play a show, not to create what’s considered ‘herd immunity.'”

Following the announcement of the festival, Powerman 5000‘s Spider One wrote a tweet that called out the bands who were set to play the festival. However, Soriano confirmed that Nonpoint had already dropped off of the bill the day before.

Nonpoint’s latest song “Remember Me,” which you can hear below, is dedicated to the frontline workers who’ve put their lives on the line throughout the coronavirus pandemic. To hear more about the festival and the band’s upcoming new music, listen to the full Loudwire Nights interview above.

Nonpoint – “Remember Me”

30 Rock + Metal Bands Working on New Albums in Quarantine

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The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal

In episode 18 of 50 Years of Heavy Metal, we’re breaking down 100 years of LGBTQA+ representation in music.

Being openly gay in the 1920s wasn’t just rare, it was legitimately dangerous, but gay culture began to blossom in the Roaring ‘20s, especially throughout New York City’s club scene in Harlem, Greenwich Village and Times Square. As the LGBTQA+ community began to freely express themselves in certain spaces, artists began to hint at their sexuality through music.

Blues singer Ma Rainey is credited as a revolutionary figure for her lyrics on sexuality, first addressing the issue on her 1928 cut, “Prove It on Me Blues.”

I went out last night with a crowd of my friends
It must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men
Wear my clothes just like a fan
Talk to the gals just like any old man.

Ma Rainey is also believed to have had a relationship with blues icon Bessie Smith, who’s often credited as a forbearer for what would become rock ‘n’ roll. In 1930, Smith sang about her bisexuality in “The Boy in the Boat.”

When you see two women walking hand in hand
Just look ’em over and try to understand
They’ll go to those parties—have the lights down low
Only those parties where women can go.

Jumping forward to the 1950s, blues musician Billy Wright was one of the few openly gay musicians of his era, and he’s credited with helping Little Richard develop his flamboyant look. So rock and roll wasn’t just created by one gay man in Little Richard, it was created by two black, gay men from the south. As for Little Richard, the original lyrics to his rock n roll opus “Tutti Fruitti” actually read, “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.” But the words were later rewritten by an outside lyricist and Little Richard’s ode to life as a gay man was lost on the cutting room floor.

Another man who came out relatively early was Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum. He spoke in-depth about his sexuality with The Advocate in 1993, following a previous interview where he came out to NME. “I never thought it was that important,” Bottum said. “Since I went public I tend to see the prejudice that’s being leveled against homosexuals. Before, I tended to think of it as a gossipy sort of a thing. Now I think of being openly gay as a political statement, something that in some small way furthers the gay rights movement … Kids who are into hard rock and who may be dealing with the possibility of being gay themselves don’t see a lot of positive role models.”

There’s plenty more LGBTQA+ icons in rock and metal like Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, Jobriath, Tegan & Sara, the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, Marcie Free, Dug Pinnick of King’s X, Otep, Gaahl, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert of Cynic, Husker Du’s Bob Mould, Angel Vivaldi, Placebo’s Brian Molko, Lynn Gunn, Randy ‘Biscuit’ Turner of the Big Boys, Gary Floyd from the Dicks, Life of Agony’s Mina Caputo, Melissa Martinez, Tyler Carter and the most important punk band of the 21st century, GLOSS.

Watch our full retrospective into The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal in the video below. Happy Pride Month!

The Truth About Sexuality in Rock + Metal

26 LGBTQ+ Icons in Rock + Metal

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