Hey, Daron here. It’s been a long time since we did a liner notes post, what with me being on the road all summer and ctan doing her writing gigs. But I’ve been cherry picking stuff to share with you guys for all that time!
The first thing is I know I write a lot about touring but the “show must go on” mentality is something I don’t know if I get across. Some people would be stressed out by it. I find it calming to know there’s a singular goal for each day on the road and that everyone is pulling together behind that one thing. In my eyes it’s a beautiful thing.
Live music, and any kind of performance really, is an ephemeral art. You have to live in the moment but so many things have to happen to create that moment. Things in the past and things in the present.
Billy Idol’s on tour right now and he posted this photo (below) the other night of drum tech Trevor Matthias lying on the drum riser having to physically hold a drum pedal together during at 8-minute long rendition of “Mony, Mony,” which is the massive show-closing number he does at the end of his encore (according to his set lists–gotta love Setlist.com).
It can be dangerous out there, too. Dave Grohl fell off a stage and broke his fucking leg while on tour this summer. He apparently got a cast put on and had a THRONE built for himself to he could keep performing since he couldn’t stand up any longer.
His mishap prompted Spin to post this list of 15 Worst Stage Falls of 2015. Harry Styles had a couple of epic ones, and Madonna had one during a performance at an awards ceremony.
You just have to keep going unless you can’t.
Speaking of Dave Grohl, did you see that Ian MacKaye of seminal DC punk band Minor Threat found a letter that a 14-year-old Grohl had written him? Grohl wrote to ask if Mackaye had “some numbers of people to get in touch with” and included his phone number and business hours: 3pm to 10pm.
We start young, man. We start young when we know what we want to do.
The journey can have a lot of twists and turns, too. I was struck by this story of a punk band from LA called The Plugz. Their weirdest, biggest brush with fame came when they ended up acting as Bob Dylan’s backing band for a 1993 appearance on the David Letterman show. Vulture.com has the article.
Dylan had just finished a really weird run in his own career, doing these evangelical christian albums that alienated most of his fans, and his sales were in the toilet.
“Still, Dylan was Dylan, one of the most famous musicians alive, and his booking on Late Night was a coup. Studio 6A had hosted some memorable acts, like R.E.M.’s network debut, but no one of Dylan’s status had yet performed on the show,” writes Matthew Giles. “His backing musicians that night didn’t include any members of his old running buddies the Band, or high-profile hired hands like ex–Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor or Dire Straits’ front man Mark Knopfler, who’d both worked with him during that period. Instead, standing behind Dylan, all dressed in ratty black suits, were three unknown 20-somethings — and they were killing it.”
Dylan didn’t even tell them which song(s) they were going to do. They had hurriedly rehearsed 50 different ones the day before, but he didn’t give a clue what they’d do. Dylan borrowed the guitar he was playing (a Fender Stratocaster, you’ll note) from one of the Rolling Stones.
So these punks from L.A., they kicked the doors off that set, revitalized Dylan’s career… and never played with him again. I’d say “unbelievable” except it’s all too believable, you know?
There’s a part of Keith Richards’ autobiography where he talks about touring the U.S. in the sixties and basically being treated like criminals wherever they went. Not by the venues or the fans, of course, but by the police all across the country, because to play rock and roll and grow your hair long equated to You Were A Criminal in the minds of the police.
By the 1980s there was still some of that attitude (like the time I got picked up for vagrancy) but it had faded a lot. Then again, as Keith Richards says, they were carrying a ton of drugs, so technically they WERE criminals. But mostly it was that the mere existence of a rock star was to buck the moral status quo.
I’m sure bucking the moral status quo was a huge part of the appeal for me, anyway.
But then there are guys who I guess take it too far. This headline caught my eye: Bounty hunter kills country singer Randy Howard in Tennessee gun fight. Howard was a so-called “Outlaw country” singer–i.e. one of those guys who preferred a more rustic and rough style compared to the over-produced, hyper-polished stuff (that I hate). Apparently he was trying to buck his fourth drunk driving conviction and refused to go to court, and then when a bounty hunter showed up, opened fire and was shot in return.
All I can say to that is… some people live a very different reality from mine.
Which leads me to a really intriguing interview with Adam Lambert on the subject of fame and being famous. This wasn’t what I expected from him:
Fame. “It’s not a normal existence,” he says. “I’ve tried really hard to always be the same guy I always was, that’s why I have the same friends, but you gotta adapt. You gotta roll with the punches on that one. It puts your relationships into a different context.”
Here’s another one that’s lighter from Billboard. To quote: “Lambert is open about being ‘boy crazy’ but ultimately feeling lonely. ‘I don’t know what I want in relationships, which is probably the reason I’m pouring my energy into my work. I’m dating my album right now,’ he cracks. ‘It’s going well. We have an open relationship.'”
It’s tough in the public eye. There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle once it’s out, either.
That’s true of the coming out genie, too. Adam Lambert will be introduced and written about for decades to come as “openly gay Adam Lambert.” (The only reason you don’t hear David Bowie still introduced as “bisexual musician David Bowie” is because he’s so thoroughly refuted the label in more recent decades.)
I was a little surprised, perhaps to see this video against homophobia and for gay marriage by none other than former punk icon Henry Rollins.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Rollins has always been about fighting “the man” and the manniest man in this country out there right now is the right-wing G.O.P. It still spins my head a little that we’ve come this far, though, that gay issues, instead of being something politicians couldn’t even talk about, are now central issues for both right wingers (a main thing they fight against) and liberals. Although I think it’s sad in a way that actually the left wing really didn’t embrace us until the right wing became so vocal about us that they HAD to address it. I still get a thrill every time Obama says “gay Americans” though just like he addresses every other constituency.
Okay, enough politics, enough ruminations on public life, music, and my parade of first wave punks who made good (jeez, there are a lot of them in this note, too: Billy Idol, Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, the Plugz…). I should finish up with just some cool musical things I’ve found.
There’s a group in England called Perhaps Contraption who are kind of a steampunkish musical performance troupe who do video and performance art with a kind of steampunkish bent. I spent a lot of time watching all their videos:
This one below is best watched on their website on a computer (not phone or tablet) because it has interactive parts where you can pick which musician you’re following around:
Finally guitarist Alex Chadwick plays the history of rock and roll in 100 riffs in one take. Because if you haven’t seen it yet, you should:
(There’s that Fender Strat again…)
There’s a lot of cool music out there, and a lot of great musicians making it. Enjoy them–life wouldn’t be the same without us.
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Okay, actually, I’m not done, I have some site reminders I’m supposed to pass on.
FANWORKS AW YEAH
First, if you missed the post about various fanworks initiatives that are coming up, check it out: http://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/4465/
Second, a couple of people have asked about whether there might be a designated chat hour or two each week so fans who want to get in the chat room together informally, can? Suggested times so far: Tuesday evenings 8pm eastern, Thursdays 8pm, Saturdays 5pm. Thoughts?
Third, remember you can vote once a week on Top Web Fiction to keep DGC in the top ranks (click here).
Fourth, some neat reviews *not* on Amazon have appeared recently. One that just appeared, from Blow Pop’s Book Reviews kinda made us laugh here: “If you like reading books about gay men in the music industry, you’ll probably like this book. I’m ambivalent both on the topic of the music industry and gay men but can definitely enjoy one or both of them.” I really appreciate reviewers telling it like it is, you know?
A much more lyrical one appeared at The Novel Approach, which calls DGC “a grand feat of altogether consummate storytelling.” And: “this is, simply put, literary fiction at its finest: character driven and filled with all the flaws and challenges and perfect imperfections of the human condition, set against the backdrop of Daron’s near-obsessive need to play his guitars.”
NEXT EBOOK COMES OUT NOVEMBER 10th
Last thing: book 8 of the ebook volumes is now available to be pre-ordered! The price for pre-order is $2.99 and then once released, it’ll go up! So if you’re planning to get it, put in a preorder at any of these sites:
Barnes & Noble
(Apple iTunes is coming…waiting for it to appear there)
The “cover reveal” of the book 8 cover will be on October 15th. If you have a blog and want to be part of it or part of the reviews and publicity blitz in November, sign up at Rock Star PR (yes that’s the actual name of the publicity folks ctan hired): http://rockstarlit.com/content/darons-guitar-chronicles-volume-8/
PAPERBACKS COMING TOO
Also, ctan finally got a breather from her other writing work and finished up the production on all the individual paperbacks that have been waiting to be done since the last Kickstarter. Cool, eh? The full wraparound covers on the paper books look like this:
That’s it for now. See you guys around.