Swedish Metal Fiasco – Duncan – Part 1

“You should come up! We’ll rock out and you can see your family. No one ever laid on their deathbed and said, ‘I should have spent more time at the office.”

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My buddy Duncan reached out to me a couple of months ago. He’s the one who works all the time at the bank in commercial real estate in North Carolina and makes tons of money. He’s completely driven by succeeding and earning, so he’s lost all site of the little things in life.

But I thought there was still hope when he sent me some music clips from a Swedish heavy metal band called Ghost. I thought it was pretty good, but I’m not thrilled with metal in general anymore. I’m just not that angry. I enjoy music that’s a bit softer now as I’m well into middle age.

A few weeks later he texts me that Ghost is playing at the Fillmore here in Philly. He says he’s buying two tickets and flying up to see them with me. I’m thrilled that I’m going to spend time with my old friend. I wouldn’t care if we’re going to see the Wiggles, I’m just happy to hang with my buddy.

He also tells me he’s staying up here a couple of days because his sister is getting married on Saturday. Ghost is on Thursday so I figure I’ll take off a few days and do stuff around the city with him until Saturday. It’ll be awesome just like the last time he came up.

I was hanging in a bar with my friend Church having some food and drinks when that text came through. Church says he loves Ghost. He wants to go too. I figure the more the merrier. Church buys a ticket on Stub Hub, and now we’ll all go rock out.

Three days before the show, (I’ve already asked for the time off) Duncan texts me that he’s not coming up now. He states that it will cost him $1000 for everything round trip and he just doesn’t want to spend the money. (This clown will be a millionaire by the time he’s fifty years old in two years!) What the hell?

He says it always costs him that much with air fare hotel, transportation, etc.

“Dude. Listen to yourself. You’re close to being a fucking millionaire.  A thousand bucks is like piss in the ocean to you!”

“I just don’t want to spend that much money on anything right now. Got to stay focused.”

“What about your sister’s wedding?”

“I’d rather do a longer fun filled trip and spend a thousand dollars rather that a quick up and back for a ‘questionable’ second wedding.”

“Oh, come on! This was your idea!”

“I’m emailing you the tickets now.”

“You suck! Church already bought his ticket.”

“Well you can bring someone else, or sell the ticket or give it away.”

“I think you’re making a mistake. Dude, you work a lot, you like this band and can totally afford to take a break and come up and enjoy the show. Live a little!”

“I would have really liked to see this band with you, they are good but a little different than what we’re accustomed to listening to.”

“You should come up! We’ll rock out and you can see your family. No one ever laid on their deathbed and said, ‘I should have spent more time at the office.”

“You sound like my mother.”

“Fine.”

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Keith Moon

Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who, and if he didn’t invent insane rock star behavior, he did his best to popularize it. What are now common rock star cliches, were daring and original back when Moon was doing them. Trashing hotel rooms, consuming horse tranquilizers, engaging in naked cake fights–Moon did it all, with vigor, passion and creativity. The best Keith Moon story is the time when shortly after leaving a hotel, he sat up in a panic and told the driver to stop and turn around. “I forgot something! We’ve got to go back!” Upon returning to the hotel, he ran to his room, grabbed the television and threw it out the window and into the pool. Returning to the car, he said with a great sigh of relief, “I nearly forgot.”

His signature stunt was ruining toilets, and not in the way Kevin Smith ruins toilets. Moon actually demolished them. He went on the road with an enormous supply of cherry bombs, M-80s and dynamite, exploding toilets wherever he went. Moon was ultimately banned from every Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Hilton in the country for his trouble–though he was heralded Man of The Year by several plumbing supply industry associations.

A Typical Day If You Were Keith Moon’s Personal Assistant:

You: Keith? Please come out of there, Keith. Please don’t flush that down the toilet, Keith. I could see why you’d think it’s funny the first 60 times, but this is too much. Exploding Toilet 61 is going to be no different than any of the rest. We’re just gathering redundant data now. There is no logical, scientific or statistical need for this.

Keith Moon: -Opens bathroom door, runs past, cackling.

You: -Rolls for cover.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Liam and Noel Gallagher

Given that their creative partnership is based on barely contained homicidal rage, getting both Gallagher brothers on the stage at the same time has proven to be a bit like refereeing a slap fight between two chimpanzees–only with less crap throwing (probably) and more shrieking of the UK’s favorite C-word (definitely).

Liam and Noel Gallagher are the immensely talented brothers responsible for Oasis, the most successful band that everyone wants to punch in the face. Brash and outspoken, they’re known for spouting off about Blur, AIDS and how they hope everyone in Blur gets AIDS–comments which have predictably not gone over well with Blur, AIDS sufferers or anybody else.

Rock stars saying stupid things isn’t that remarkable. What really makes the Gallagher boys so difficult to deal with is the ridiculous amount of fistfights they manage to get into between themselves. A typical example: Following a canceled show in Barcelona, during a friendly conversation Liam raised his doubts about the fidelity of Noel’s wife and legitimacy of his daughter. (We will assume that Liam did so as delicately as he knew how.) This ended unsurprisingly when Noel headbutted his brother and then punched him in the face.

Our favorite story, though, is the one where Liam decided to bring a bunch of people he’d met at the pub back to the recording studio where Noel was working, which understandably irritated Noel somewhat. Noel’s role as the reasonable person in this story ends when he reacts to this interruption by attacking Liam with a cricket bat, breaking his foot.

Given that their creative partnership is based on barely contained homicidal rage, getting both Gallagher brothers on the stage at the same time has proven to be a bit like refereeing a slap fight between two chimpanzees–only with less crap throwing (probably) and more shrieking of the UK’s favorite C-word (definitely).

A Typical Day If You Were Oasis’ Personal Assistant:

You: Liam, don’t. Don’t throw that poop. Don’t throw that poop, Liam. Listen to me, Liam. Do not throw that poop at Noel. He’s your brother and you love him.

Noel: You fookin love me, man. Don’t you throw that poop at me.

Liam: Fook! -he throws the poop at you instead-

You: AGHR! Ahh! What the hell have you been eating? Is this… is this a battery?

Anyway…. This is Wonderwall.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – The Beatles Almost Reunited On SNL

For decades after they had hung up their guitars and lopped off those moptops, fans would continue to beg The Beatles to reunite. The Brits would come close on multiple occasions, but the reunion would always fall through for one reason or another (I’m looking at you, Paul). But on a fateful Saturday night in 1976, John Lennon and Paul McCartney let an opportunity pass them by that would have shredded the minds of music fans everywhere, for no other reason than they decided to call it an early night.

Lennon and McCartney were hanging out in New York City when, serendipitously, they turned on the TV to see Lorne Michaels addressing them directly during an episode of Saturday Night Live. Michaels offered the Beatles $3,000 if they would come down to the studio and perform together one last time. Lennon was immediately taken with the idea and began to pressure McCartney into the reunion, trying to persuade him with the possibility of earning $1,500 — which was about as much money as McCartney was earning in royalties per minute just by sitting there on Lennon’s couch. According to both band members, they were less than two miles away from the studio and could have easily walked down to the biggest reunion in music history.

But it was pretty late, and they were both kind of tired, so they eventually decided against it for no other reason than they ultimately just felt like staying in (and hey, we’ve all been there). They wound up just hanging out at John’s house, and the world missed out on the most iconic musical moment/mediocre comedy improv scene ever.

 

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Tales of Rock – Elvis Almost Had An Album Produced By David Bowie

Dreams can still come true, especially when you’re David Bowie. In the winter of ’77, Bowie received a phone call from Elvis himself.

In 1997, country star and occasional actor Dwight Yoakam met David Bowie, and the pair got to talking about their mutual love for Elvis Presley, which, despite being a music legend, is generally not a person you expect to find yourself talking about while locked in conversation with David Bowie. As Yoakam tells it, Bowie related a story from 20 years prior, when Elvis had approached him to produce his upcoming album.

This happened in 1976, when Bowie had just released “Golden Years,” a song he’d originally intended to ask Elvis to record. But legend has it that when Bowie asked his then-wife Angie to deliver the request, Angie got so nervous about meeting the rock ‘n’ roll legend that she chickened out and never delivered the message.

However, dreams can still come true, especially when you’re David Bowie. In the winter of ’77, Bowie received a phone call from Elvis himself. He had heard Bowie’s latest hit, “Golden Years,” and was apparently so blown away by it he wanted the pop icon to produce his next album. However, because the universe was not satisfied by the current level of irony present in this interaction, Elvis died of a heart attack that same summer, and the two never got to work together.

However, many critics have speculated that the Duke’s last album, Black Star, was a tribute to Presley, who had a little-known song of the same name. So maybe they’ll do some kind of ghost collaboration, which would be an absolute treat to listen to.

 

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Tales of Rock – Metallica Turned Down Les Claypool Because of what?

Les strolled into the audition wearing skater pants and two different-colored shoes, and sporting a blond mohawk.

Metallica have enjoyed a storied career of playing amazing metal that graduated into boring dad rock, and part of the reason for their success is that they have always been very business-minded. Too business-minded for the crazy antics of iconic Primus bassist (and the guy who sings the South Park theme) Les Claypool, at least, who once upon a time was a hair’s breadth away from becoming the band’s newest member.

When Metallica was looking for a new bassist after the tragic death of Cliff Burton, guitarist Kirk Hammett suggested his old high school buddy Claypool try out for the vacant position.

But when Claypool was approached, he wasn’t really all that interested. Claypool later claimed to have had no idea just how big Metallica actually was, despite the fact that this took place in 1986, the year Metallica’s album Master Of Puppets was released (AKA the year that everyone knew who Metallica was). But to the legendary bassist, the group was simply his “buddy Kirk’s band,” which might be why he showed up to the audition dressed like an at-risk teen, strolling in wearing skater pants and two different-colored shoes, and sporting a blond mohawk. Although for Claypool, this was a conservative “job interview” outfit.

While Claypool showed up looking like he was really into Pac-Man and NOFX, Metallica’s boys were decked out in black and taking this session as seriously as an anti-piracy lawsuit. Claypool claimed that vibe was too much for him, and that he just didn’t gel with the band. However, Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield gave a much kinder reason for Claypool’s failed audition: Claypool was just too good. Either way, Claypool’s style certainly didn’t mesh with Metallica’s, and we were forever robbed of one of the most bizarre metal albums ever recorded.

 

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Tales of Rock – Brian Wilson Gets Kicked Out of the Beach Boys

He asks others in the studio if there are any more “hash joints” left and idly comments that the LSD is starting to kick in, but at the same time rules the studio musicians present with an iron fist; for example, he instructs a guitarist exactly which strings on the guitar he wants him to strum.

If you listen to the ancillary tracks on the superb 2011 reissue The Smile Sessions by the Beach Boys, you’ll hear Brian Wilson experimenting with drugs while in complete control of his music. He asks others in the studio if there are any more “hash joints” left and idly comments that the LSD is starting to kick in, but at the same time rules the studio musicians present with an iron fist; for example, he instructs a guitarist exactly which strings on the guitar he wants him to strum.

But holding such a firm grasp on his mind was another matter. Shattered by a lack of support from his fellow band mates in his new musical direction and driven mad trying to compete with the Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was partly a response to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, which had been a response to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul), Wilson shelved Smile, which would have been his masterpiece.

Subsequent years were not kind to Wilson. He got seriously addicted to cocaine, his weight ballooned and he descended into mental illness and was put under the care of a manipulative psychologist named Eugene Landy.

In the early ’80s, he was fired from the Beach Boys; a once unthinkable move for a band built around his songwriting talents. He’s made many comebacks since, even rejoining the Beach Boys. Still, one can’t help but wonder what might have been if he’d recorded all the songs he’s written over the years that were only heard by those in proximity to the piano in a sandbox in his living room. For his part, however, Wilson doesn’t altogether condemn drug use; speaking to a Canadian radio station in 2011, he credited marijuana with helping him write Pet Sounds and LSD with an assist on “California Girls.”

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Beach Boys, but Brian Wilson is an absolutely elegant songwriter and musician. A musical genius. Please see the film, Love and Mercy.

 

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