Monday, July 19, 2010

I Have Had It.

That's it. I've had enough. I am sick of these so-called "voices of our generation" writing their shitty blogs for shittier magazines or their web based counter parts.

Normally, what they write about is irrelevant to me.

What gets me pissed are those who think in their twisted, egotistical and narcissistic view of themselves, that because some music critic validated their "art" and deemed it "acceptable", have the audacity to think they have the right to judge others art and can tell people how they should think and feel. They actually think it will "change the world".


You're not from MY generation and you sure as hell aren't MY voice. There is a pretty good chance I was on tour, sleeping on dog-shit covered floors while your mom was still packing your Power Rangers lunch box with an apple and a note telling you how proud she is of you.

So back up and hear me out, tough guy.

Times change. So does music. And so have means in which it is presented. When The Beatles came out I will bet that there were just as many haters of them as there are of Justin Beiber. Trend setters are a very, very rare breed. Everyone else is a follower. I am a follower. I admit it. Following a trend isn't new. It's as old as time itself. And if you really and truly think you created a new music form or are saying something new, you're not. Cut the shit and please, get over yourself.

Usually the guy who yells the loudest about things that are fucked has the hardest time taking criticism about themselves. I stopped giving a fuck YEARS ago about what people think of me. I'd rather people totally hate me than think, "Yeah, he's o.k. I guess." If someone wants to verbally spar, I am always down as long as I have knowledge on the subject at hand. If I lose, so be it and from my loss, I learn. The problem is with these so-called "know it alls" is they can't be told they are wrong. EVER. Therefor, they never think they lose. The saddest fact is most of the people that should be reading this won't and that's o.k. with me. They are too far gone anyways.

But if you are that loud guy and you are offended at what I just wrote and you are reading this, then I am talking directly to YOU right now. Now that I have your attention, read this next line a few times:

Change your outlook, you close minded asshole.

You are only hurting yourself. No one REALLY cares what you like or dislike, except you. I could honestly give a crap who my favorite bands listen too. I prefer to ask my friends what they listen to. At least I know they are honest about liking it and don't have a financial stake involved (well, usually.)

If you are constantly looking down on everything that you don't understand and telling others that it's shit in interviews, blogs, etc. just because you don't like it, my questions to you are as follows:

1. Do you want to make out with the singer? Sounds like you may have an obsessive crush...

2. Why would you waste your fans time telling them about anything other than YOUR band?

3. Why would you give bands that you DON'T LIKE the LOVE of MENTIONING THEM IN PRESS OR ONSTAGE??????

To me, you are TOTALLY missing the point. The most important band on any tour that I go on is MY BAND. I know that sounds totally crappy, but I have always felt this way. I don't waste my time talking about anything that isn't my band. Sometimes I talk about my friends, but never as much as I talk about my band.

I am probably one of the friendliest guys you will meet. Unless you are a hater. I can smell you from a mile away. We might be the best of friends or the worst of enemies, though. My beliefs are different than yours in a lot of ways, but similar in a lot of ways too:

I believe everything HAS to exist. Without bad music, how could we EVER figure out what was good?? And what is really good or bad anyways? Like all art, what is good or bad is based on opinion. What some love, others won't. So what exactly makes YOUR opinion so right, Mister "Just released my 3rd record"? How many degrees in music do YOU have? How many degrees in English? I don't base intelligence on education of the subject matter, but please don't act like you're a person who wrote a doctoral thesis on the subject of Taste.

You know what?? There is a good chance that someone...maybe ME...thinks that YOUR band sucks. You o.k.? Need a tissue? Suck it up, baby.

The thing is, I won't bother mentioning your name, your band's name or any other bands that I don't particularly choose to listen to. You don't deserve that kind of press. By the way, I give everything a chance. And that chance IS NOT THE CHANCE TO FAIL. I think too many guys in bands approach listening to a new band with the thought that it is immediately going to suck. That is why musicians are so jaded in regards to other music styles. You're just bummed because you couldn't do it.


Ha. yep. You're right, buddy. It does suck. To you. So please: don't buy it, listen to it or support it. But you STILL bother talking shit on it!? Chances are your fans hate that band, too, so you are preaching to the converted. What about the band that you don't like? I bet their fans don't like your band. They wouldn't read, listen to or give a shit about one word of what you're saying even if they HAD heard of your band. If there was maybe a small chance they'd listen to your music, you just shot yourself right in the dick all because you couldn't shut your stupid fucking mouth.

Good job, jerk off.

The bottom line is some people will listen, some will not. You have your right to bitch. So do I. I'm doing it right now. But, being hurtful is so high school that I can't even stand it. Grow up. Support your friends. Treat your fans right. If you want to isolate yourself, go right ahead. But seriously....STOP trying to show everyone how smart you are by talking down on people.

You look like an idiot.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Doing Nothing is A Lot of Work!

I've been lazy lately. I will say that I've worked hard since I was about 13, but for the last 2 weeks I have been doing literally NOTHING. I suppose I'm streaky. Sometimes I'm ultra motivated and can't be stopped. Other times I just want to flush my phone down the toilet and watch baseball...which I'm doing as I type this :)

Here's the thing I've noticed about days like today: by the end of an entire day of doing nothing I am EXHAUSTED! SO tired that I actually contemplate pissing my pants rather than bother getting up and walking the 10 feet from the couch to the toilet. That is just too much work on a day like today. You have to be really committed to sitting on the couch because if you get up, someone may take your spot. NO ONE likes to lose their spot. ESPECIALLY when you've been sitting there since you can remember.

So what do you do when you're doing nothing? Because you ARE doing something. REALLY doing NOTHING is boring. You're watching a show, listening to music, checking the internet. There are actions taking place. When I'm doing nothing, I like to be as sloth-like as possible: slouched on the couch, barely breathing with as little movement as possible. When I'm in this state even responding to someone's question is like running a marathon. I actually have to stop writing this right now. Too much work.

Ok. I'm back from doing nothing. I'm exhausted!

In my doing of nothing, here are a few cool things I found:

A friend of mine told me that Brian Fallon, the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, had been "spotted" doing a cover of my old band, SPRING HEELED JACK USA's cover (haha!) of early CT pre/post/hardcore/punk/rad ass band BiG MiSTAKE's song called Pop Song (Green). I thought it was very nice of him to say what he did before the song and yes my friend, you HAVE written songs as good as that. Mission accomplished. Enjoy the vid:

I watched a VH1 documentary about NWA. When I was in 7th grade, I was that white suburban kid listening to NWA and loving every second of it. I thought the music was unlike anything I had ever heard. It was so entrancing I couldn't help but want to listen to it again. "Straight Outta Compton" blew my little 12 year old middle class mind. It was the angriest thing I had ever heard at that point. I didn't know ANYONE who said things like "Fuck The Police". To this day the only record my parents ever took away from me was NWA's. I called my friend and he made a cassette copy (or as I call it an mp1) the next day, but still that can tell you how seriously afraid white America was of the group....and it was AWESOME.

So after all that research to find those videos I had to break. Whew! That was way more work than I had wanted to put into today. Finally, I will start writing more blogs and posting them. I just have to stop being so friggin lazy.


One more awesome video.

Jeff Ross makes me laugh harder than almost any comic alive. enjoy him ripping Drew Carey to shreds :)

Til next time thanks for your support and I promise I'll do something.

Tomorrow ;)

Monday, February 22, 2010


"Stay Real". It's a phrase I say to my friends all the time. It seems so simple on the surface, but it can actually be most difficult, especially in this industry that chose me. That's right. It chose ME, not the other way around like many think. I'll hit on that in a bit. But it has become so commonplace for guys in bands to try to live out their own version of "Behind The Music" by getting wasted, trying to snort ants or whatever the fuck stupid shit Motley Crue talked about in "The Dirt." I have seen the biggest and the smallest act a fool just because it's what's expected. Rock Stars. So predictable. My friend Fat Mike always puts things the best:

Kill The Rockstars.

I would never sit here and try to act like I have never been this way. I have done my fair share of insane, rockstar-ish things and wouldn't change a thing about it. If you're in a band, we all have our moments and are allowed to have said moments. It's one of the "perks", so to speak. But when the act blurs into reality is when you need to step back and re-evaluate. Too often by the time the "rockstar" realizes how fucked he or she really is, it's too late. Enter rehab. A great idea, especially for the chemical dependents. It helps people to "get clean" usually in a short period of time. The real problem isn't with chemicals you ingest. It's in your DNA. Look at how many of the people living in mansions on the hill, the rich and famous type, go into rehab. Not just once, but multiple times. My question is with all that money and free time, how come they can't figure it out? Maybe they're just not that smart to begin with.

Now if you're living on that hill and representing that "side" and reading this you're're DEFINITELY a lot richer than I am, so take that to heart. That kind of thing usually makes your type feel better. I really don't like you. Not you, the person because I'm certain you may be quite pleasant. It's your given lifestyle I don't like. The privilege you were born into. It pisses me off. Perhaps it's jealousy, but I feel all good things should be earned, not handed down. If you earned it, good for you and accept my apologies; I'm a dick and keep working hard. But 90% of you didn't. You earned your money "the old fashioned way": you inherited it. I could say "in a fair world it would be that way for me", but the world is actually quite fair in it's own way. Because I do not like those kind of people and, as life is fair, I am not one of those people. At all. I have had to earn everything I have. I live a fairly normal, middle class lifestyle and I thank my parents for that. They challenged me to work for what I want and earn it. The right way. I tried. I failed. A lot. At times succeeded. But ALWAYS worked.

Still do.

There is no job I won't do. Last week, I actually cleaned up human shit for the first time in about 15 years. Yes. I have cleaned up human shit multiple times. And no. It was NOT my own. I don't care if you're disgusted. I was the one cleaning up the shit; not you. I did it for my uncle. And no, he didn't shit on the floor. The sewer backed up. He lives a very simple life and is a very proud man. He hates asking for help but I think he realized awhile ago he may go blind some day. Just like his father, my grandfather, had. He reminds me a lot of my grandfather. I have very faint, but clear memories of my grandfather, so figure this man, is who I'm supposed to be here for right now. For that particular day, I mean. I am lucky to have been blessed with a profession that has offered me the time to spend with him. Even if it's spent cleaning up his shit.

In September, my father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I have spoken about it on my blog and with friends. It's not a weird thing for me to talk about. He is living with cancer. But, here is my male role mode. I know that though he is slowly fighting this horrible disease (and winning!). It's tough for him to be tired and feel so weak. It's tough for me to see him like that. I again, have been blessed. I have been here at home with him: Going to every chemotherapy appointment, making sure he's taking care of himself, and just hanging out with my Dad. I have to say, he's pretty good about taking care of himself. My mom is getting older too, but don't tell her that! Just kidding. She is in very good health, though she will tell me CONSTANTLY how her hip and hand hurts. I tell her my ears hurt from hearing her bitch about her hip and hand. I know. I'm an asshole. Even to my mom. But I love her. It's always good to spend time with her, even if she makes me crazy.

My grandmother is the best. Every other Thursday after my Dad has he chemotherapy session, she cooks dinner for us. And man, this is not just some soup and a sandwich. It's a feast fit for kings. It's also probably the reason I've gained weight, but I'll do some more sit ups. She's about to turn 89 and can't walk very well, but she still gets around the kitchen and cooks up a storm. She is incredible. It's not really hard to talk about my family. These are MY stars and I am their biggest fan. They taught me how to appreciate what I have been offered in life. They taught me that the measure of a person is not based on their possessions, but on their goodwill and their kindness to others. I was taught to treat people as you want to be treated. Be kind. Kindness will follow.

What an amazing concept, huh?


It seems even life's simple tasks have become nearly impossible for today's "stream lined society". There are times my mom says things and I blabber in my thickest douche-bag-laden tone, "It's 2010, Ma, not 1965." I should punch myself for being such a schmuck. Think about it: something as simple as a man holding a door open for a lady is all but extinct. Do you say "thank you" when that door is held open for you? Do you smile at the person? Even make eye contact at all? I think Politeness needs to be taught in school like English or mathematics. It's like we've been trained to show no emotion out of fear that someone wants something from you.

People that are considered "celebrities" are even more on their guard. They have every right to be. To the normal citizen, these celebrities are just pictures in a magazine or an image on their TV or computer screen. To the layman, these people are not "real" and the image that they portray are who YOU think these "stars" are. You can read every blog, fan site, and interview that they do but no matter what you may convince yourself YOU DO NOT KNOW THEM. You know WHO THEY WANT YOU TO SEE. I have heard or read so many times "So and so is such a dick because he wouldn't..." Just fill in the blank. Sign this or that, talk to my friend on my cell phone, give me a hug, stop and talk to me about this or that. Fans put such high expectations on their heroes that a lot of times they are unachievable. Here's the truth, kids:


They make mistakes. They make bad choices. They say stupid things. A good majority want to live "normal lives" when they are not working and would really rather not be bothered when they are out to dinner with their families. But they are "public figures", are they not? They should be held to a "higher moral standard" because they are under the spotlight all the time, right? Because YOU spend your money on them, they should be at your disposal if they are in eye-shot, right? WRONG. If you think this way, you are FAR worse than the celebs who think their shit doesn't stink. Again, life is fair and if you're a hater, hate will always come back around on you.

Staying Real is a concept for everyone.

I have a friend who recently had a fan park outside his home, take pictures of his house, dogs, and then after he got home, went up to the house, knocked on the door and ASKED FOR PICTURES! THEN the fan blogged about it, posted the pictures and after reading her blog, seeming thought it was no big deal. I'm sorry but that is just FUCKED FUCKED FUCKED!! I know that people can get crazy about their favorite "star", but give me a fucking break! If someone was camped outside of my house, I'd bring them a cup of coffee and ask them to kindly be on their way. Thank God no one cares enough about my band to do that, but privacy is important to everyone. How would you like it if someone came to your house and harassed the shit out of you? You'd call the cops. For celebrities this can be a daily occurrence.

This is a two way street, folks. Some of my friends are more well known than others, but I was always told to treat everyone THE SAME. That's what I do. I don't care if you sing for a Grammy award winning group or pump gas; if you are a good person and treat me as such, we can hang out. I don't freak around "celebs" because they are just people like you and me. I'm not saying don't ask for autographs and pictures! By all means, most celebs in the right setting will be more than happy to sign whatever you have or take a picture. But if you get a weird vibe from them if you approach them to do as such while they are eating dinner, understand why. Don't be a lurker.

To you "stars" that give a shit, remember: THIS LIFE CHOSE YOU. If you are self aware, you may think you're good enough and deserve it, but you also know in the back of your mind that there is always someone smarter, faster and better at what you do. YOU are blessed and it is because of your fans that you are allowed to continue to do what you love. Don't take them for granted and shut them out. Don't feel like you "deserve" things just because you're face was on Perez Hilton's blog or whatever. Try to maintain some sense of normality.

But both sides, here's the most important thing: CHILL THE FUCK OUT. If you just do that, I bet life will get easier for everyone. But what the hell do I know?

I'm just a sax player in a ska band.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Remember My First Day...

May 4, 1996.

I can't really recall how I got to Dave's house, but I got there. I brought one of my brother's old hockey bag's as my suitcase and my horn. That was it. I remember pulling in to Dave's driveway and seeing the van sitting there. We had just bought it for about $2500. It was a 1986 grey 15 passenger van. Red, vinyl seats, an AM radio...dial, not digital, no air conditioner and about 60,000+ miles on it. This vessel was about to take us on our first tour of these United States. And I was STOKED! This is what I always wanted. I couldn't wait to get out of this shitty state where I had lived my whole life and see what laid beyond it's borders.

We didn't have a trailer because we couldn't afford one, so we packed all the gear, all the bags, and all of us into the van and got ready to back out of the driveway. I remember Dave's dad standing out in the driveway waving goodbye. He had this look on his face that I could never properly describe: it was a look of concern, blended with fear, confusion and just a little bit of disgust. It never quite sat properly to me, especially since I was sitting shotgun. We waved goodbye and pulled down the street and headed towards the highway.

This was it, man!

Mike took that left and we were off! This was great! The open road! It really was a beautiful spring afternoon. We were all laughing, telling jokes, singing along to whatever song we could tune into on the AM dial. This was AWESOME! Destination: Wilmington, NC. The Mad Monk. That's where we were meeting The Toasters to start our first national tour in support of our new record. We were living the dream, man!

We were moving along great, but, as anyone who has driven in the northeast can tell you, we suddenly hit traffic. Out of nowhere. As a newer driver (I was 18 at the time) one of my newest pet peeves is other people driving. Especially when they tailgate, break fast and stop short. I didn't realize just how nervous this made me until right at this moment. We were carrying a lot of weight and when Mike hit the breaks, we didn't quite stop when we were supposed to. Up to this point I was feeling so care-free and awesome, I had my foot on the dashboard just chillin'. We stopped so fast that I nervously pressed my foot against the windshield and cracked it as we came to a screeching hault. It got deadly quiet. Everyone looked at the crack, then looked at me. Shit. Was this some sort of sign? We're not even 20 miles from where we started and we already cracked the wind shield? This can't be good.

It was about to get worse.

We were in stop and go traffic all the way into New York. This, apparently, isn't very good for your engine. For the record, some other things that are not good for your engine are bad fuel filters. Another bad thing for your engine is carrying a group of 18-22 year olds that have no idea how to take care of an engine or know how to figure out that it has a bad fuel filter on it.

As we were approaching the George Washington Bridge, the van begins to buck. You would feel the engine rev up, then stop, like it wasn't getting fuel. It did this about 4 times then....nothing. The engine is dead. Stalled out. It's 5pm on a Friday. We're about 300 yards from the GW Bridge and the engine is NOT starting. To say the stress level increased would be the understatement of a lifetime. I'm pretty sure the idea of getting out of the van was thrown around, but with all the horns blaring and middle fingers we were getting from motorists trapped behind us, we figured it would be a better choice to stay in the van. People outside the van were pissed. People inside the van were pissed. So we just sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Silently.

Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe we should go home. We're not that far. But just as those thoughts seemed like the right thing to do, Mike turned the key and the van started. Whether we kept going or turned around, we had to go over the bridge. We saw a sign for a service plaza...more specifically the Vince Lombardi Service Plaza. We could stop there and "check it out!" My only experience with cars was from what my father had told me: Check the fluids, change the fluids, bring it to a mechanic! My first thought was maybe there was condensation in the gas line. Now how ridiculous does that sound? Sounded valid, I thought. I think my dad had said dry gas would fix it. So I bought a shitload of fluids: transmission fluid, engine coolant, dry gas (which is a gas additive), and an air freshener because then van already smelled like shit.

I called Dave over and handed him the fluids and said "Hey man, I'm gonna grab a bite to eat. Put a bottle of the dry gas into the gas tank. Maybe it will help." He says OK and heads out to the van. I grab a burger and head back out. Dave comes walking up to me looking a little crazy. I noticed he was holding two small bottles. He holds one bottle up and says, "Pete, look at this bottle." Quickly he puts it down and holds up the other bottle; "Now, look at this bottle!"

"OK, Dave. What about the bottles." He looks at me and says "The bottles! They look EXACTLY the same, right?" I replied, "Yes, Dave, They do...except for the fact that one says DRY GAS and one says AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID. Why are you showing me this?"

If you didn't figure it out yet, don't worry. Neither did I. Apparently, he put a bottle of transmission fluid into the gas tank. What a fucking nightmare. We probably should have followed our instincts and headed home, but after talking to a mechanic two bottles of dry gas would neutralize the transmission fluid. Remember that the next time YOU pour transmission fluid in your gas tank. We had the mechanic take a look at the van. He was a nice guy and he didn't charge us anything to take a look. He said he didn't see anything wrong and it was "probably condensation in the gas tank." Yes!! I was right! But I wasn't right.

As we pulled away, there was still a lot of tension, but we laughed about it. That was the only way we dealt with any kind of adversity: laugh at it. As we continued down I-95 and hit the Jersey Turnpike, we again felt that familiar buck-buck-buck before the van stalled out on the highway. This happened every hour or so on the normal 12 hour drive from CT to NC. We'd have to pull off on the side of the highway and wait about 30 minutes until the van would start up again. By the end of that week, we would have spent well over $1,000 trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the van.

Fuckin Fuel Filter. Son of a bitch!

We made it to the show, though. And made it through the entire tour. By the end of it, we were convinced we were bullet proof. In most cases, if you're a band and you can make it through your first national tour without any fist fights, accidents or breaking up, you can pretty much do anything.

I was just at Mike's house last night and we were talking about this first day of tour and how we all wanted to murder that van. The same van we named "Jolene". The same van we sat outside of in the sun waiting to cool down so we could drive. The van we penned the song "Jolene" about and the same van we used in the video we shot for that song. Funny side note, we filmed that video in New York City and had to drive Jolene one last time back and forth. The entire drive back, the van was bucking in it's oh too familiar way. Mike pulled it into his driveway, jumped out of the van and just then the engine started steaming. It was like reliving the nightmare all over. He ran into the house and turned the TV on to try to forget about it. We eventually sold that pile of shit to a church. Their problem now. And probably one of the many reason's bad luck seemed to follow us.

When we got in that van to tour all we had was a road atlas, a beeper, calling card and the 7 of us. No cell phone, laptop, internet card, blackberry or directions to the first venue. We just got in the van and left. No more planning than that. It seemed so pure, in retrospect. It seemed so terrifying when it was happening, but at the same time it felt right. Now a days when I'm on the tour bus, surfing the web and microwaving some nacho's, I think back to that first day. My life now was a dream that became a reality. I never lose sight of what I have been afforded and how lucky I am. Those early day were important. We all start somewhere and we are all "green" at some point. What was your first day like?

Monday, February 1, 2010


In December of 1995 I was living in Boston, MA. I had recently quit the band that I had been in for 2+ years (J.C. Superska for those of you keeping score at home) and was a full-time student at Berklee College of Music. I was in my dorm room one day and the phone rang. It was my buddy Dave Karcich.

Dave played drums for the "other ska band" in CT at the time, Spring Heeled Jack. The Jack was a little more ska/punk than Superska. From afar, I had always been a little envious of Spring Heeled Jack. They were a great live band, had fun songs, they seemed to get really cool opening slots for bands like The Toasters and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and were everything that I really thought a band should be.

I was a fan.

So Dave calls and says, "Hey man. Our sax player left the band and we need someone to fill in for us at the Bosstones's Hometown Throwdown at The Middle East. It's the 2nd one they're doing and we're playing. Can you do it?" That was the first gig with the band that would become the band I would spend the next 5 years of my life in. It was the first touring I ever did, the first record contract I ever signed, the first song I ever wrote for a record. I had a lot of firsts with Mike, Ron, Rick, Dave, Tyler and Chris.

In 2000 we decided it was time to call it a day. No regrets. It was time. We played a "farewell" show at Toad's Place in New Haven, CT in May. Unfortunately, Chris couldn't be there because his new band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, were playing on The David Letterman Show that night. We asked the club if they would turn The Letterman Show on in the main room. When we saw the Bosstones start performing, we stopped in the middle of a song to watch him play on the big screen at Toad's. We called Chris from stage, congratulated him and then went into a cover of "Where'd You Go" with the new, more appropriate lyric, 'Where is Chris Rhodes?" It didn't matter the band was breaking up. We were family. We were brothers. We were each other's biggest fans. Even though endings are always sad, it was the beginning of a new chapter in all of our lives that night:

I went on to play with Less Than Jake. I'm still there to this day and loving every damn minute of it. Chris is still with the Bosstones. Tyler went on and did a stint with Reel Big Fish. Ron was in The Lost City Angels for years and has recently stared a new band called The Murder Mile. Rick, up until recently, ran a very successful indie night at BAR in New Haven for nearly 10 years, as well as playing in Crooked Hook and The Mountian Movers. Mike played in Cenzo with our friend Vinnie Nobile (Bim Skala Bim, The Pilfers), Lord Fowl and also with Ron in The Murder Mile and Lost City Angels. Dave went on to play with The Pilfers and Avoid One Thing.

In 2002, I was on tour in Albuquerque, NM when I was woken by my tour manager who said that Rick was trying to get in touch with me. In a daze, I looked at my cell phone and saw he had called several times. He answered the phone and proceeded to tell me that Dave was in the hospital. He had suffered a brain aneurysm and was in a coma. When I asked Rick what his chances of coming out of it were, he told me it wasn't good. Dave was basically brain dead. Even if he came out of it he would never be the same Dave we all knew and loved. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I didn't want to believe what was happening. And I sure as hell wasn't going to loose hope that Dave was gonna make it. I believed in miracles. And I was praying for one to happen in this case.

I hung up the phone and started running around asking Jeb, our tour manager, to book me a flight out of there to New York so I could be with my brother in the hospital. I had to be there. My phone kept ringing. It seemed every one of my closest friends were all in a similar state of shock and numbness. In all the running around and phones calls, finally I sat down to try to think. I tried to make some sense of all this insanity. The realization finally hit: There is NOTHING I can do. I felt helpless. Why Dave? He was too young. This was total bullshit. I was a sobbing mess and didn't even realize it. I had never felt a pain like this is my life. I played the show that night, but I didn't even know what I was doing. I couldn't tell you anything about that show because my mind was anywhere but there.

A few days later I got news Dave had passed away. I couldn't tell you exactly how many days because between self medicating and not sleeping, I was lost. I headed back to Connecticut for the funeral. I was a complete emotional disaster. I kept thinking I was going to have a brain aneurysm. I was having massive panic attacks. I never thought I would feel normal again. I lost my brother. We had a banner that we would hang at every show. As the now surviving members of Spring Heeled Jack, we decided that the banner and the band would rest in peace with Dave. As I write this, I'm realizing how much I still miss Dave. Those that knew him know he was a great man. We also know that we are all better people for having had him in our lives. We did a small reunion at the end of 2002 at Toad's Place and raised over $8,000 for a scholarship fund that was set up in his name. At the end of that performance, we were all pretty certain that was the last time Spring Heeled Jack, in any form, would play a live show.

Until Last Week.

We decided that we need one more chance. I always hated when people would "come out of retirement". I had some very harsh things to say about Brett Farve making his comebacks. Same with Michael Jordan. We had always talked in the van how lame the Kiss reunions were and that if and when we ever broke up we would never EVER do a reunion. Well, at this point we've already done one, but that was very last minute and very thrown together, but for a good cause. The ends more than justified the means.

We all discussed it and decided that we would do one more show. Maybe two. But one show, for sure. We are in the process of booking it now. I can't really tell you anything more than that, but for those of you who didn't know of my life before Less Than Jake, there is the history. We are going to re-release both of our full length records (Static World View and Songs From Suburbia) on vinyl for this show and will also have some new and classic merchandise available online soon. You can check back here for updates on this, but I am very excited to get together with this talented group of friends of mine and play some songs that I hold very dear to my heart. Hope to maybe see you there.

OH! And let me be the first to officially say it:


Monday, January 25, 2010

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain!!

I love twitter. If you are reading this blog, it's probably because you read a twit I posted directing you here. I like to use it as like a mini live journal, a place to try out my awful jokes and a place to poll public opinion. Earlier in the week I asked this question:

How would you feel if you found out your favorite song by your favorite band wasn't actually written by them?

I received an array of responses. Here are a few that I thought were interesting:

"Depends. If the band claims its theirs then I'd be mad. If they are up front about being performers that use writers, I'd be ok."

"A good song is a good song. I'd definitely want to hear the writer(s) perform it though."

"I would shit bricks."

"I don't think it would change my opinion all that much, I think it's the performance of it that counts.

"No big deal."

"That would suck a lot. The reason why I like listening to bands is because they write their own songs."

"It would no longer be my favorite song, and I'm not sure they'd be my favorite band anymore."

"Then its a cover."

"That happened to me the other day. I still love the song, but it made me question every other song they've created."

"If its a cover and I didn't know; as long as it was better than the origional I wouldn't care. Otherwise that's really lame."

"Like when I found out Miley (Cyrus) didn't write 'Party in the USA?' Absolutely crushed."

Even though that last quote made me chuckle a little, I was surprised that it was roughly 50/50 on caring versus not caring. Bottom line is a good song is a good song, right? Well....Yes and No.

Yes because immediately when you hear a song you like, it moves you. Something about that particular song, whether it's the melody, the beat, the lyric, something about the song makes you want to hear that song again. After the second time through the chorus if you find yourself singing along to key words and the melody, chances are it's a good song. Before the days of videos (yes, they existed and yes, I remember them) it seemed the song had to stand on it's own. Remember Christopher Cross? Not handsome. Music was marketed a different way in those days. More radio and press driven, seemingly. I was just a kid when MTV started, so my views on the music industry prior to it's existence are totally skewed. I'd love to sit down with people from that era and ask how it all "went down", but considering terms like "payola" were invented in the 1950's, I have to think one common thread that ties the timeline of the industry together is and always has been money.

Don't know what "payola" is? Look it up. Things have been fucked for a lot longer than people think.

So in my warped perception of pop music's past, as a kid I always thought that all artists wrote their own songs and then performed them. Period. The End.

But did Diana Ross write all the songs for The Supremes? Nope.

Did Micheal Jackson write the songs for the Jackson 5? Or even for his own records? No sir.

So why should it be so shocking to hear that Hannah Montana didn't write "Party In The USA"?

Real Talk. What's really the difference between MJ and Miley? I'm not talking about physical differences, records sold or length of career. I'm talking about the basic formula of what MJ and Miley are: pop stars. Both were children who displayed talent at a young age and whose parents pushed them to pursue it. Talented singers. Talented performers. Both built their fame on television and radio and both with a team of musical masterminds and career advisors around them selecting material "suitable" for them. The head of the team, who is often called "producer", "executive producer" or "A&R", knows that no shirts, tickets, pillow cases, lunch boxes, backpacks or records (Gasp! SELL records??) will ever be sold if the music on the pop star's record sucks. So how could they possibly leave the catalyst behind the entire plan in the hands of this mean artist?

Now wait a minute. I always thought that the "artist" was the person who created the art. I went and looked up the definition of the word "artist." There were 6 total definitions. I highlighted the "key words":

1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor.
3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
6. a person who is expert at trickery or deceit.

Definition six sort of sticks out, huh?

Definition one makes total sense. That's what I've always thought the word meant. But definition six blew my mind. An expert in trickery! I never knew that was an option. The example sentence given for this meaning of the word was "He's an artist with cards." I guess by that account you could say some bands are "artists with other people's songs." However, definition four makes definitions one and six cancel each other out. If I accept DEFINITION NUMBER 4 as my default meaning of artist, then everyone involved in the writing, production and performing of a modern pop act, like Miley or Britney or Christina or even the late great Micheal Jackson, are all considered "artists".

I have to admit: for a guy like me who has spent my entire life studying and actually going as far as getting a degree in music, the last sentence pisses me right the fuck off. I'm certain that if you are a person in a band writing original material, you might be just as offended. A lot of these so called "artists" couldn't even tell you what key they're hit song is in. Some may not even know what a key is. POSERS!! They perform a song that isn't their creation and get all the accolades for it. I don't need someone to tell me that Miley Cyrus didn't write that song. WE KNOW. By now everyone has seen American Idol. None of those clowns coming into their audition for Simple Simon are singing their original songs. If they do, chances are they won't be making it "to Hollywood, dog."

Very few on the artists' team of consultants (who will be refered to as "they") will say that that having writers is wrong or weird. They believe that getting the best product possible is the most important thing. I can agree with them on that. I've always said the difference between a good band and a great band is the record they make. But, now it has become standard for people to co-write that I feel like as long as you have a pretty face you have a better chance of getting signed than a band who is out in the trenches trying to carve their own path. It doesn't matter if a band writes their own songs anymore. As long as it's a good song wrapped up in a good looking package, they figure you'll buy it. At least that's what they think. I mean, no offense to YOU, but a real record company guy like Lyor Cohen doesn't give a shit about your feelings. Wait, that's not totally true. He cares about your feelings, but only those specific to the product he is pushing. He cares so he can hopefully get your money. By any means necessary.

If we look at it from the song writers perspective, they are usually pretty stoked. And should be! The college I attended had an entire major devoted to professional songwriting. Some very good friends of mine have written songs for other bands. Some of those songs have been hits. Some not so much. Some should have been. But hey. It's a tough business. These writers are the musicians and who I think should be getting all the attention. But sometimes the "image" of these songwriters is not what They think will sell. Other times the songwriters aren't very good live performers. It's safe to say that to gain "maximum exposure" for a song, the muse isn't always the correct choice: enter the PERFORMING ARTIST. As much as you may say "I'd be pissed if my favorite band didn't write their songs!" Actually, no, you wouldn't. If the plan goes off without a hitch, you'd never even know. Remember: If the songs are good, the songs are good. The music industry is based on smoke and mirrors. Tricks.

"He's an artist with cards."

I wonder if I should just start listing off the bands that have co-written or had successful songs that were written by other people. Would it matter? Would it make the songs not as good anymore? I don't know. All it would probably do is start a shit storm on some "music" website or message board. I'd probably loose a few friends because they'd be embarrassed to admit they didn't write their songs. To be completely honest I didn't choose this subject to call out bands. Bands make their own decisions on what direction they take their career. I can't speak for them and I won't judge them. But I can talk about my own experience.

My band co-wrote. We're not afraid to admit it or talk about it. One of the most popular songs we ever released as a band was a co-write with Mark Hoppus. I love Mark and enjoyed working with him. I will admit that when my manager at the time asked how I felt about co-writing, my response to him was "What the fuck are these people gonna to teach me about songwriting that I don't already know?" I should have know I'd eat those words. For what it was worth, it was a great learning experience and I learned a bunch of different techniques that I would have never thought of on my own when it came to composing. For that, I'm appreciative. For the flack we got for doing it and openly admitting it; not so much. We did what we thought was right for our career. I'll never apologize for that.

So go ahead. You want ask it. OK. I'll ask it. "Then who's song is it?" My response is "That is a Less Than Jake song."

Yes, Mark wrote part of it. We took his original idea, transformed it, changed lyrics, rearranged it, played it and finally "owned" it. It's not a Mark Hoppus song featuring Less Than Jake. It's also not a Less Than Jake song featuring Mark Hoppus. It's a Less Than Jake song. Period.

So does that mean "Party in The USA" a Miley Cyrus song? Absolutely.

That song is a great song. What if it was the composer performing the song? I bet it wouldn't have gotten as much attention. In the pop world, it's the combination of the right parts put together that creates hits. Just so you know, a producer named Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald was the mastermind behind "Party". Look at the songs he's had a part of. You'll be surprised. While you're searching around, look up another songwriter named Desmond Child. Now THAT guy wrote some hits! The composers of these songs are the real artists here in my eyes, but no one cares about those guys. And with the amount of money they have most likely made, they probably don't give a crap about not being in the spotlight. And for real, most people are too busy checking out Miley's jean shorts and cowboy boots in the video or "nodding my head like yeah" to the track to really care who made it all happen. You're just glad it happened.

To you bands out there who are writing your own songs, keep doing it. But please stop being angry at artists like Lady GaGa and The Jonas Brothers. They deserve to be here playing their music just as much as you do. Both of the aforementioned acts are fantastic performers and if you don't agree, turn the "ego switch" off, take a look at it again. You can enjoy a magic show even if you know they are just illusions being performed, right? It's about the show to me. Live is the difference maker. What these pop acts are doing on stage I could never do. Love it or hate it, just respect it because you probably couldn't do it either. Take your jealousy and turn it into motivation, you will benefit. Promise.

And to you bands who are co-writing don't use it as a crutch and let someone else write for you. Use it as as classroom. Learn what these song writers do. Listen to your favorite songs and analyze them. Figure out what makes it so damn cool. Figure out the chord progressions. Read the lyrics. Lyrics are probably the most difficult part of writing a song, the most important part and also the most often over looked. Do some research. If you like a song see who wrote it. Google search is an amazing invention. So is wikipedia. It's ok to know the truth on who wrote your favorite song. But don't be shocked if you choose to take the blue pill and look beyond the looking glass. Because when the wizard is revealed you'll realize that there was never really any wizard at all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Revolution Will Not Be'll be on

I read an article last week in the New York Times about a 15 year old girl from New York City. According to the article, this young lady was grounded by her parents for 5 weeks for "drinking a beer at a party and getting home an hour late for curfew". Apparently, the young lady did not agree with her parents' sentencing for her crime. Before taking up the argument with her parents, she decided to gather some support for her position. She approached her pursuit with the same fire as a young attorney trying to win her first case would, including telling her mother that the grounding was against her "inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness."

The story goes that on the Monday her grounding commenced, Tess Chapin began a petition at her school and asked her classmates to sign it. When she got home that afternoon, she decided to move her petition to Facebook and started a group called "1000 People To Get Tess Ungrounded." Remarkably, by the next day, Tess had over 500 people following her page. By Friday, she had well over 800 followers and they weren't just people from her school. She only knew about 35% of the followers.

Whether or not you think this story is incredible or bullshit, it really got me thinking about just how powerful a tool the internet is. I always joke and say that the internet is for porn (thanks Avenue Q!), but it is much more than that. So much more, in fact, that a few years ago when Google first opened offices in China, the Chinese government demanded searches within the country be filtered and block links to certain websites. At first, the heads of Google, one of whom grew up in a communist run Soviet Union, were adamantly opposed. After many discussions, Google begrudgingly agreed, citing it was more important to have a censored version of Google available in the country ruled by communism for over 60 years, than not have it available at all.

Just recently, the Chinese government asked Google to not only censor searches on China's Google search engine (, but on ALL Google search engines. Google flat out refused. Last week, there was infiltration and cancelling of gmail accounts set up via China's Google service. These hackings were traced back to China and now Google is considering closing down and moving offices out of China. They are not the only site the Chinese government considers "a threat". Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are all considered equally as "dangerous", are heavily filtered, monitored and have not seen the growth that western investors had anticipated. But there is an underground movement rising up.

People are now figuring out ways to break through or go around these IP blockers and firewalls the government has set up. The one thing I've come to realize about the internet is that for every filter or firewall someone creates, there is someone else that is creating a program to make it invalid. This is a new revolution. This is a new battle. And this is most certainly a new battle field. It's a constant game of cat and mouse, good versus evil. China versus the internet is not only a new war, it is also the most unique.

This is a new kind of revolution. Revolutions in the past have been battled with guns, tanks and planes and cost millions of lives. This revolution is being waged with IP blockers, firewalls and tracking cookies, but costs far, far less in human carnage. A more "civil" war, if you will, but a revolution, nonetheless. Part of revolution is defeating tyranny. The Chinese government had mostly been able to conrtrol media within it's boarders. Along comes a new form of information transfer that NO ONE has really figured out how to censor and the old ways of censoring aren't working. They can't stop it. They can't even really contain it, but they are trying. In terms of weaponry for this war, the information available via the internet is like that of the greatest spys, toughest SEAL teams, largest armored battalion and most powerful atomic bomb all rolled into one. And far more damaging.

Think of the destruction the internet has caused: The entertainment industry is being ravaged by it; CD and DVD sales are fewer and fewer yearly...strike that....monthly. Online fraud has become so rampant that there is now a division for it's investigations in the FBI. The espionage industry has flourished from it. Random guys who just so happened to know how to create a "code breaker" program were even able to tap into our country's databases. The internet is a much more powerful tool than we could have ever anticipated it being. Because of the internet things we only dreamed of, like video chatting and GPS mapping, have become reality.

Even modern warfare has changed with the development of the internet. They use unmanned drones to drop bombs on selected targets that are flown by pilots sitting in front of computer screens on a secure internet connection. I am not taking ANYTHING away from the fine men and women who are currently serving our country. It is because of their diligence and hard work that we are safe from the worlds' would be attackers. But I can't help and wonder what my grandfather would think of these modern war tactics? He fought in WW II in the south pacific on a PT boat. He got fired on. He saw human lives taken. Daily. Saw friends die. He never would talk about the horrors he saw when he was there. It was a different type of war than the wars fought today. Would he think they compared? Would he even call today's fighting techniques "war"?

It's Martin Luther King Day today. What if MLK had a Facebook page? I know. It almost sounds like the beginning of a joke. But I'd imagine if a young lady trying to get out of her punishment can get 800 followers over a few days, the good doctor would certainly have attracted many more with his message of peace, love and equality, right? Would it have changed the impact that he made? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The question I have is would the message have lasted as long as it has? It seems the "internet generation" has a short attention span and pop culture phenomenons last as long as it takes to load the next Youtube video. Would Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech get as many views as General Larry Platt's "Pants On The Ground?" I guess we'll never know, but both men carried the same message, in a broad sense.

The internet has changed how we get our information. Newspaper subscriptions are on the decline; so is "real time" television viewing. On the rise are wireless broadband devices and the thought of immediacy in our gathering and sharing of information. The internet has changed how our social interactions take place. At one time people would call and write letters. Now they Twitter their location and email you a link to Mapquest that contains the directions there. If the internet goes down, we lose our minds. If we don't have phone service, we freak out. It has become almost as important to humans as breathing and eating. Well, almost. In some people's cases it's why they get up in the morning. Ever see the "Over Logging" episode of South Park? Go to Totally worth it and totally true in a lot of ways.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the one, the only: The Internet. What an incredible invention! Seriously, for all it's faults, the fact of the matter is you can find whatever you want at the touch of a key and the click of a mouse. Anything!

Including porn.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't Believe The Hype unless it's the song by Public Enemy.

I subscribe to Alternative Press magazine. It's always a fun read for me because it's (mostly) very informative about all music that is considered "alternative". And even though a lot of the "alternative" acts they cover are more "main stream", I enjoy reading the magazine. For the most part, it is well written, intelligent and fair.

For the most part.

There have been times that I have read articles (not specifically published in the aforementioned periodical) and have felt a slight burn in my chest. No, it's not heartburn, wise guy. It's the burn you feel when you realize someone stole something from you that you never really had. Or when you fail a test that you were certain you didn't study for. I'm angry and I don't know why.

If I feel this way when I read an article, that means the writer had done their job. What is the writers job, you ask? To evoke an emotion. It pissed me off and made me think. Even if what I think is that the writer is a fucking moron and has no idea what he's talking about, that is the best thing the writer could have done. The words the writer chose were perfect. They made me feel like I wanted to burn down the building they wrote it in. It made me realize the art form of word-craft is just as valid of an art form as painting, acting, music or...writing?

Wait a minute. There are writers who review other writers? Sounds a little ridiculous when you read it a few times. Well, who reviews the reviewers?? Better yet, how did all these critics become so-called "authorities" on their chosen subject?? I'm not sure, but I can't recall hearing of a university that offered "Criticism" as a major concentrate or as a minor to Journalism. See! You thought I'd forget about Journalism. I almost did. Well, these "authorities" MUST have created something of importance within the genre they review. By the way they write at times you would think this important "creation" may or may not have altered the course of the art or the culture that surrounds it, right? In almost every case, the answer is no.

Have these the writer's, been criticized? Oh for sure. Probably A LOT. I hear that writing teachers can be BRUTAL with that red correcting pen. So what we are dealing with is a hyper-tense, hyper-critical, emotional wreck with a pen and a pissed off outlook that probably thinks that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't rip off The Plasmatics because they don't know who The Plasmatics are. (Never heard of The Plasmatics? Well...go ahead...we'll wait.)

Obviously this isn't every journalist, but for sake of argument this is who I think the stereotypical journalist is. Deal with it. So, we know who is sitting behind the computer and typing the review you are about to read, let me ask this question:

How is it that the opinion has become more powerful than the subject?

I've always wondered that. I decided to do some research. I hung out with my old pal Google and searched "quotes about reviewing". What do other artists think about reviews? I clicked on the first link and the first quote I read was by Iris Murdoch:

"A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia."

The second from Danielle Steele:

"A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it."

I didn't read on. These two pretty much sum up how I feel after I read any review. Well, mostly after I read a review about my band. Obviously good reviews are...well...good! It's always the bad reviews that sting. For me, reading reviews are hard. I'd like to say I stopped reading them, but I'd be lying. The whole reason you create is to get your feelings out and communicate them to others. Once you release it, your creation is immediately put on trial. It's in a court that's called "THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION." There is no single judge in this court. There are roughly 6,692,030,277 judges, give or take and they ALL think they have the correct opinion. That's a hell of a lot of judging. The neat thing is they can't ALL possibly tell you face to face what they think. 85% of them would be too scared to voice their real opinion and 10% would probably tell you but they wouldn't show up cause they have better things to do.

Of the remaining 5%, I would say that 2% are that "+/-" thing they always add to polls to make it fair. So that leaves roughly 3% of the world. Those are the people who tell you what they think. A lot. Whether you want them to or not. And they all have blogs. Just like me. :) The "creme de la creme" of this small percentage of world society end up going to school, studying journalism, moving to a city and writing for periodicals. An even a smaller percentage end up writing for music mags. So, in a perfect world, these writers are the best of the best of the BEST. You would hope they were honest and unbiased. You would hope they want to expose the world to bands that will change the world and make it a better place for you and me (we are the world!) I believe all music journalists want to do just that. Yes, all you writers out there: YOU truly are great writers and no one can ever take that away from you!

But there is no accounting for taste.

Just because someone is a brilliant writer doesn't mean they listen to good music. Or DOES it? A good word-smith can spin quite a tale. After they are done spinning these seemingly fine threads, they are woven together to create a beautiful "description blanket" that is soft, warm and comforting. These words are meant to make you feel like there is no doubt that you should buy the writer's subject item with little delay. Again, this is a writer doing their job to the best of their ability. A lot of times the reviewer is just reviewing what is assigned to them. I can always tell when a reviewer got an assignment he's excited about, though. They use SAT words. It's true what I've been told: If reviewers reviewed what they wanted to review, it would be worse than if artists reviewed other artists. So FTW right?(which shall, and will, always mean FUCK THE WORLD) Let's not read the reviews. We'll just listen to what our friends listen to so we don't get made fun of!

Maybe people should think for themselves.

There's an odd thought! Having an opinion that is your own and not someone else's? It sounds scary to some, difficult for others and mostly sounds like people telling me to fuck off through their computer screens. But it's fact. For all you music buffs, there is this brand new invention called "The Internet". I've been told it's EVERYWHERE and you can go and listen to acts on something called their Myspace or Purevolume pages and make your OWN opinion. I know for some people this is difficult to do, but if you're reading this blog, you probably have enough time to go check out a few bands. AND NOT SPECIFICALLY NEW BANDS! A lot of bands from "back in the day" are worth checking out. That's where all your favorite bands got inspiration from. Don't believe the hype machine that is created around modern acts. The talent pool is much shallower than it appears to be on the surface. Be cautious diving in head first; you might break your neck.

Most people are afraid to speak their true feelings. Most people in the music industry are, at least. No one wants to "start any waves". Maybe it's good that people who aren't musicians are calling out all these holier-than-thou-rock-star-types who think that just by adding their name to a product or cause that they are "changing the world." How many times have you seen Bono doing a press conference about this cause or that charity? Hundreds. How many times have you seen Bono in a field in Africa planting seeds? Never. Well, maybe once years ago. But last 10 years? No chance. If dudes in bands were writing reviews, they'd all be trying to get on each other's tours so it would be a suck-up fest.

My grandpa used to say to me, "Son, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and think's it's everyone else's that stinks!" I originally started this post with full intentions of ripping apart journalists for spouting their garbage all over print and online outlets throughout the world. But I can't. I suppose we, as artists, need it. That burn I feel inspires me to work harder. It should inspire other artists to do the same. If it makes you shut down and feel awful, remember that feeling when you tear someone else's art apart. Especially behind someone's back. We all do it. And to you journalists and columnists out there, one request: be fair. Don't shade something as being "cool" when you and everyone else know that it totally sucks. Just say it sucks. You won't get fired. You might actually get a raise and an editor's position in a few years.

Then you can hire me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dinosaurs Will Die.

I had a phone call yesterday with a young man who is in a band. He called to ask me for some advice. I was very flattered that he cared what my opinion was and wasn't surprised the question he asked was the same question that I asked when I was 19 and in a band:

"We work really hard, we're good to our fans, we play well live and I feel like we're so close (to getting signed) but all these bands we know are getting signed. What are we doing wrong?"

My answer? Nothing.

No, I didn't just hang up the phone. My answer was that they are doing nothing wrong. It's just the way it is. Like all the arts, music is judged on a person to person basis. I sure don't like every band out there right now. I actually think that many of the bands are cookie cutter versions of other bands that look, acts, dress and sound just like them. It's like making a copy of a copy. Eventually the image becomes distorted and unrecognizable. Over the last decade popular music has become so watered down that the old "three note, three chord, three word hook" formula has been reduced to "one note, one chord, three words." Don't believe me? Listen to "Let It Rock" by Kevin Rudolf. Catchy? Sure. Boring? You bet.

Now, some of you cynics like myself will say "The Beatles did the same thing, ya jerk! "Love Me Do" "She Loves You". What about those??"

I have to admit you have a point. It's not just in the last decade where this trend happened. How about all the grunge bands in the early 90's? If any of you are old enough to remember the 80's "hair metal" era, Faster Pussycat and Winger were just as shitty as any shitty band today...probably shittier. There was shitty music in every decade and every era. True story!! If there was no "bad" how could there be anything "good"? I think if Mozart didn't have composers like Moriarty to be compared to his genius may never have been fully realized (and if you haven't seen the movie AMADEUS yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it).

But back on topic. The one thing I have realized about the music industry is that I thought it was bad when I signed to a indie label in 1996. I had no clue how bad it would become a decade and a half later. This scenario sound familiar to anyone?:

A bunch of hacks (the label) tell a bunch of lies to a group of kids with stars in their eyes (the band). They'll ask the band to co-write (because YOU can't POSSIBLY write a hit song! You have to learn HOW to write a shitty song from other people who have written many, many shitty songs), ask to sell minimum 1/3 of your merchandise rights, sell minimum 50% of your publishing (both of which are in perpetuity, which is just a big word for FOREVER). Your "people" (managers who take 15% to 20% of YOUR money, sit in an office all day, go home every night, sleep in their beds and, in many cases, have never been on the road more than a few days) tell you to do it while you are sleeping 7 guys to one hotel room, broke as fuck, playing in front of 15 kids a night hoping that you might get just that one opportunity.

Remember kids - music is opinion based. Ever wonder how many people at the label tell you you're music is great and actually can't stand it? More than you think. Do your managers and agents really care about you and your career? Sure they do...until you stop making them money. Then they don't seem to care as much. I've even heard of management companies that won't work with an artist unless they sign all their merch and publishing over to the company. That is just fucking gross. Thieves.

"SUBMIT AND ASSIMILATE so the label has MORE of an interest and, there for, will work HARDER because they have more invested in the artist."

In a perfect world, the above statement would be true. But shouldn't they work hard regardless? Don't they have a vested interest just by signing you? At a 90% failure rate on albums released (this is overall; it varies label to label) you may wonder how ridiculously in debt are these labels? I had a guy that worked for a reputable label of a band I managed ask me to ask the band's PARENTS for a loan to pay for CD's!! CD's, mind you, that are not only a dead format, cost no more than $2.00 each to manufacture and that they sell to you at the bargain basement price of $7.25 per CD. Sound like a ridiculous request? I thought so too.

The question is after reading all that how bad do you really want to get signed now? REMEMBER - ARTISTS DON'T NEED LABELS TO SUCCEED, BUT LABELS NEED ARTISTS TO SURVIVE.

I have been part of the problem, for sure. I won't sit here and deny that I have done things that I am not proud of in order to try to achieve success. I don't think anyone who is in the music industry can honestly sit there and say that they did everything honorably and righteously. If they do, they are the biggest liars on the planet and are most likely A&R guys.

I am, however, a firm believer in the progression of music and when something is done with heart and with good intentions, it will rise to the top and stand out. That's how it has always been. Even if it doesn't sell multi million copies, these kind of records and the artists that create them will most likely influence others to create and follow their own path. The fact that my band mates and I have influenced even one person is humbling to me. I started writing and playing music as therapy. My therapy has become my profession and I am grateful for it.

To all artists out there some words of advice, if I may. You can't fix the world in a day. You can't control what others think. HOWEVER, you CAN control what you sing and say and THAT is the most important thing. Because no marketing plan or t-shirt design in the world will make a shitty record sound good. SAY SOMETHING. There are other things to write about beside girls. And if you're following a trend remember - they ALL end. There used to be hundreds of active, touring ska bands back in the 90's. The trend ended. Then they became swing bands. Then emo bands. Now most of them work at Arby's. Sad, but true.

Is the passion truly gone? I hope not. Stand up and be heard. But hey...what do I know? I'm just a saxophone player. Real musicians play guitar, right?