Monthly Archives: November 2013
Three For Thursday featuring: Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi and ZZ Top. The theme of the week is revealed below the last video.
This week’s “Three for Thursday” songs:
ARTIST: Led Zeppelin
SONG: “Thank You”
ALBUM: Led Zeppelin II
RELEASED: October 22, 1969
ARTIST: Bon Jovi
SONG: “Thank You For Loving Me”
RELEASED: June 13, 2000
ARTIST: ZZ Top
SONG: “I Thank You”
RELEASED: August 27, 1979
This week’s Three For Thursday theme is…
“GIVING THANKS” (In celebration of Thanksgiving)
This week, Austin Winkler and Hinder – the band that he has fronted since its inception in 2001 – parted ways for reasons that are not entirely clear. The reaction to the announcement was met with disbelief, disappointment, sadness and even anger by diehard Hinder fans. Many fans believe that Winkler’s distinct voice will be impossible to replace, and that the band should change their name if they are going to change singers. Given that I was initially drawn to the band because of Winkler’s vocals, I can see why the general consensus seems to be that Hinder will never be the same again unless the band reunites in the future.
There is an inherent risk to changing singers, particularly for established bands that have built a loyal following. Throughout the course of history, numerous hard rock bands have replaced their original singer with varying degrees of success.
AC/DC’s Bon Scott was beloved, but the band overcame his loss and achieved its greatest success with Brian Johnson fronting the band. Of course, Scott’s death gave fans no choice but to accept a replacement. Most people would agree that the Bruce Dickinson era of Iron Maiden is far superior to the early days with Paul Di’Anno. Johnson and Dickinson proved that bands can reach new heights after replacing a singer, but not every singer can escape the shadow of their predecessor.
Motley Crue was at the top of the hard rock food chain with Vince Neil singing lead, but became something of an afterthought during the John Corabi years. Only after a reunion with Neil did the band reclaim their elite status. Judas Priest was an iconic heavy metal band with Rob Halford at the helm, but many of their fans ignored the work that they did with Ripper Owens. When Halford returned, so did the fans who had abandoned the band.
The movie Rockstar is loosely based on the career of Owens, who got his start in a Judas Priest cover band. And though an example was set by Owens’ stint as a sound-alike replacement singer, it has not stopped other bands from taking the same approach.
Journey replaced the legendary Steve Perry with Arnel Pineda, a close proximity, but not quite Perry. Meanwhile, the legal battle for the Queensryche name has resulted in two current versions of the band, one of which features Todd LaTorre on vocals. LaTorre sounds like a lot like Geoff Tate circa 1984, but diehard fans will notice a difference, no matter how slight.
While there may be a temptation to replace an iconic singer with someone similar, often times the best course of action is to evolve into something new and different, but even that approach does not guarantee success.
When Ian Gillan first parted ways with Deep Purple, he was replaced by David Coverdale. Deep Purple’s musical direction changed with Coverdale, and he did an admirable job, but fans were thrilled nonetheless when the band reunited with Gillan. The second time that Gillan left the band he was replaced by Joe Lynn Turner, but the combination of Turner and Ritchie Blackmore felt more like Rainbow 2.0 than Deep Purple. Both Coverdale and Turner brought something new and different to Deep Purple, but to diehard fans of the band, Gillan is the only singer that ever mattered.
Replacing a singer with a strong identity may be difficult, but it is not impossible.
When Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne parted ways, the idea of the band carrying on without him seemed implausible, but they reinvented themselves with former Rainbow frontman, Ronnie James Dio. Like Black Sabbath, Rainbow also had a very successful run with Dio, but their greatest commercial success occurred when Joe Lynn Turner joined the band. The gap between the Dio and JLT eras of Rainbow was bridged by Graham Bonnet, who recorded one album with the band. Though Rainbow changed singers twice, they never missed a beat, due in large part to Blackmore’s guitar virtuosity and songwriting ability.
However, even guitar virtuoso’s can face fan backlash when choosing the wrong frontman.
Eddie Van Halen, one of the greatest hard rock guitarists of all time, enjoyed tremendous success with David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar singing lead, but the majority of Van Halen fans wanted no part of the Gary Cherone era (or error as the case may be).
For better or worse, hard rock fans largely identify their favorite bands with the singer. Whenever a change is made, bands run the risk of alienating their fanbase if the replacement singer is perceived to be subpar, or at the very least, a poor fit.
In the day and age of social media, bands can get a relatively instant gauge of the fan reaction to a replacement singer. Based on the reaction to the news of Austin Winkler’s departure, the new singer of Hinder will be facing an uphill battle to win over the band’s dedicated fanbase.
Only time will tell if the new singer will keep the band’s momentum going, or “hinder” their ascension in the hard rock community.
Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown for the week of 11-23-13.
This 11-23-13 Big ‘Uns Countdown playlist can also be found on www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived playlists from 2013.
#15 – “With Me Now ” – BLACKLITE DISTRICT
#14 – “Shepherd Of Fire” – AVENGED SEVENFOLD
#13 – “Die For You” – OTHERWISE
#12 – “Strike Back – WE AS HUMAN
#11 – “Immortal” – EVE TO ADAM
#10 – “Mz. Hyde” – HALESTORM
# 9 – “Stardust” – GEMINI SYNDROME
# 8 – “Lola Montez” – VOLBEAT
# 7 – “My Demons” – STARSET
# 6 – “Hail To The King” – AVENGED SEVENFOLD
# 5 – “That Day” – NONPOINT
# 4 – “Deal With The Devil” – POP EVIL
# 3 – “Whore” – IN THIS MOMENT
# 2 – “Tired” – STONE SOUR
# 1 – “Battle Born” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
In part 1 of the interview with Tom Keifer, we discussed his latest album The Way Life Goes. In part 2, we discuss his relocation to Nashville, the vocal cord problems that nearly ended his singing career, his duet with Lzzy Hale and the future plans for Cinderella.
You’ve relocated to Tennessee now. How did you end up leaving the northeast for the south?
I moved here in the 90’s when the whole music scene changed. Cinderella had lost the deal with Mercury Records, and we didn’t have an outlet for our music anymore, at least, not the kind we were used to having. We started drifting apart, and I was looking to do something new. That’s when the idea of a solo record first hit me, and I moved to Nashville, and started working and writing with people here. It’s been a very inspirational town…the musicianship, the songwriters, engineers and studios here are just the best of the best, so it’s a good place to be. I was up in Philly and New Jersey when Cinderella drifted apart and we lost our deal. It was the first time in years that I wasn’t part of a band. We were constantly working, so I never really thought about my environment in terms of inspiration. I found myself just sitting in the house in Jersey, and decided that I had to get somewhere to get inspired.
Is there anything that you miss about the northeast?
(Laughs) Well, Tastykakes, cheesesteaks. It always comes down to food, right? Things that you grow up on as a kid, you think that they have everywhere, and then you go out and travel the world, you realize that’s not the case. I remember the first time that I had a cheesesteak in San Francisco, and it was like an open-faced French bread with a filet mignon on it. I was like…“that’s not a cheesesteak!”
So I definitely miss that stuff, but my family is kind of spread out all over the place. My dad and one of my sisters still live up there, but they’re kind of spread out too. It used to be about missing the family because there was a unit there, but since we’re all spread out, it comes down to the food, I guess (laughs).
Nashville’s landscape is actually very similar to what I’m used to, and we have the four seasons of weather changes, so in that respect, there are a lot of similarities, which is probably why I like it here.
You recently had an interesting trip back to the northeast singing with Lzzy Hale at the York County Fair. She’s clearly a huge fan of yours. What was it like doing a duet with her?
It was awesome! That was so much fun. We actually did two shows with them. We did the night before in Atlantic City at the House Of Blues. They’re just great people. I really love the band and their music, and her voice, so getting to sing with her was pretty cool. She’s a great talent. Her voice is insanely good. I really enjoyed doing the shows with them and getting to see them live because I’ve heard really good things about them over the years. That was actually the first time that I’ve gotten to see them live.
Are there any other new bands that you’re into?
I’ve been digging this “Radioactive” tune by Imagine Dragons. I love that track. I like Bruno Mars, and specifically of late, that piano ballad that he has is just classic, you know, “When I Was Your Man.” I just think that he’s an incredible singer. I’m drawn to really great singers because it’s an inspiration to me after what I’ve been through. It’s something to aspire to, when you hear someone like Bruno Mars sing like that.
How did you get into singing?
I kind of fell into it. I started off singing and playing together when I was really young on acoustic guitar…Beatles songs and American folk songs. That’s what my teacher taught me. And then as soon as I heard Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, I gravitated more towards the guitar, and then I came back to singing and playing when I started writing my own music.
You touched upon the vocal cord problems that you’ve had. Do you feel like you’re back to where you were before the problems with your vocal cords?
In a lot of ways I am. It’s not 100%, because where I once was, I didn’t have to maintain it for an hour-and-a-half every day. I have to do an incredible amount of therapy and voice exercises to keep it in this place. I thank God every day that I was able to figure out a way to get around this, but it’s not an exact science learning how to sing again. I was told that I would never sing again, so I’m more than happy to do the work in therapy that I need to do. It’s pretty much every day whether I’m on the road or not. And even on a show day, my warm-ups and exercises are usually longer than the show, but it’s worth it.
How do you usually feel when the show is over?
(Laughs) It depends on how I sang. Most nights pretty good, because it’s gotten more and more consistent. It’s not something that I have 100% control over. I can do everything right, get all the rest that I need, and eat all the right things, and hydrate and do all of the exercises. When I’m about to walk on stage, my voice can feel like a million bucks, and then at some point in the show, the neurological condition can rear its ugly head. It’s hard to determine night to night why that happens. Some nights I kind of struggle a little bit, but for the most part, it’s pretty stable. Most nights I come off feeling really good and really grateful, and then there are other nights I come off a little frustrated thinking… “man I thought I was gonna soar tonight” (laughs) and then it kind of just doesn’t happen.
Do you find that it’s more of a challenge hitting the higher notes on the Cinderella songs?
No, it really affects all areas of my voice. Really, the area most affected is the middle part of the voice more than anything. But overall, it’s really been stable in the last three of four years. It’s just occasionally still frustrating when you do all the therapy and exercises and you still have those challenging moments. And you never know when it’s going to hit. The same notes that you hit one night might not be there the next.
What’s going on with the legal issues that prevented you from making a new Cinderella record?
That’s clear now. It was a re-record restriction surrounding the record deal that went south, but that’s all behind us now. During the course of the re-record restriction period, we all started working on individual projects. Mine took 10 years, so in terms of new music, I was really just focused on this record. The band has just toured in recent years. Now it’s more a situation that if we were to make a new record, it would just have to be the right label and the right deal before we jump into that pool again.
You made “The Way Life Goes” before you had the record deal. Did you find the creative process to be more liberating without having to worry about what the record label thought?
Well, yeah. The reason that I made that decision was because of the record deal that went bad with Cinderella. I just didn’t want to deal with a record company, with lawyers or any of that bullshit. I just wanted to make music. This record really was about the music and having fun. I made it with Savannah. She wrote a lot of the record and it was co-produced with Chuck Turner and me. It was about just making music, and to make it as good as we could make it. We didn’t care how long it took, and we didn’t care if it ever came out.
Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and the direct connection that artists have with fans now through social media has allowed bands to bypass the labels altogether if they choose. Is that something that you ever considered?
I didn’t want to do that for the release or the marketing or any of that, so the idea was, if we ever got the record finished (laughs) – like I said, we took a long time making it – that once we got it to something that we felt was something, the idea was to eventually take it to a label, and find a home for it with a label that believes in it, and really wants to go to the wall for it, and we found that with Merovee Records. They’ve been incredible. They really believe in the record, and have really supported it, so we’ve got a great home there.
What are you future solo tour plans?
We’ve just been doing some one-offs here and there right now, but we’re looking to get back on the road full bore at the end of the year or early next year, and tour through the year supporting “The Way Life Goes.”
I’m looking forward to catching the show when you come around next time. Congratulations on finally getting your record out there. I think that I speak for all fans when I say that it was definitely worth the wait!
Three For Thursday featuring: Iron Maiden, Skid Row and Godsmack. The theme of the week is revealed below the last video.
This week’s “Three for Thursday” songs:
ARTIST: Iron Maiden
SONG: “Wasted Years”
ALBUM: Somewhere In Time
RELEASED: September 29, 1986
ARTIST: Skid Row
SONG: “Wasted Time”
ALBUM: Slave To The Grind
RELEASED: June 11, 1991
ALBUM: Live & Inspired
RELEASED: May 15, 2012
This week’s Three For Thursday theme is…
“THE VALUE OF TIME” – Are you a “Slave To The Grind” caught “Somewhere In Time” or do you live a life that is “Live & Inspired?”
“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.”
“Is it all just wasted time? Can you look at yourself when you think of what you left behind?”
“So understand. Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years. Face up, make a stand, and realize you’re living in the golden years.”
Hard Rock Daddy recently spoke to Tom Keifer about his solo album entitled The Way Life Goes (see album review). The posting of the interview was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, but that’s “the way life goes” sometimes.
Given the amount of time that it took to complete “The Way Life Goes,” was it difficult to settle upon the final tracks?
Well, most of the songs were selected when we started to cut the tracks and produce the record. We didn’t over-record and then select the songs. It was probably harder at the beginning of the process to say which 14 songs we would choose. Actually, it started out being more like 12, and then there were a couple that we added in. “Mood Elevator” and “Welcome To My Mind” were later additions when we were actually in the middle of recording.
With 10 years of material to choose from, it couldn’t have been easy picking the final cuts for the album…
A lot of the writing was done prior to the recording, but as I mentioned, some of the songs were written during the recording. It’s always hard, because I had a lot of songs to choose from and sometimes you just don’t know which ones are going to come out the best until you actually start recording and producing them, so it’s always a tricky process. I like to pick of mix of songs that create dynamics and give you some variety.
Lyrically, the album shows the highs and lows that you’ve been through as far as relationships are concerned. Your wife, Savannah, is a big part of this record. You seem to have great musical chemistry with her. What was it like working with her on the record?
Very easy. She’s so talented, and an amazing songwriter and producer. She co-produced and co-wrote a lot of the songs. What’s really cool is that we approach music the same way. I know some songwriters who feel that they always have to be writing a song, and kind of forcing it, but I’ve never been that way. I’m very happy not to write a song for a year-and-a-half, because I just figure that I’m not supposed to be writing one at that moment. Sometimes, the break allows you to fill the well and get inspiration. Savannah approaches songwriting the same way. I don’t think that either one of us could stand living in the house together if one of us was a pushy songwriter.
You can definitely feel the love between you and Savannah on the album, but there is also some hate on various songs. Were those inspired by one bad relationship or several?
I think when those things get written, it’s cumulative. Those are feelings that we’ve all felt throughout our lives many times. From high school on, we all experience many heartaches and anger about bad relationships. With songs like “Cold Day In Hell” and “Ain’t That A Bitch,” I can’t really point to any one person in particular. It just builds up in you through the years from the time that you’re an adolescent. “Nobody’s Fool” was like that too. It wasn’t about one thing. It’s more about capturing an emotion that we all go through many times over in our lifetimes.
There’s a disclaimer on “The Way Life Goes“ about someone from high school not really becoming a drag queen.
(Laughs) – Well the title track is a little tongue-in-cheek about the irony of life. There are real people in that song, people that I grew up with in high school, but as far as I know, he did not become a drag queen. It was kind of a funny way to make a point because they were the all-American couple, you know, the prom queen and captain of the football team. I had to find a way to have it end in despair in an ironic way, so it was pure fiction.
The storyline of the song actually reminded me of Billy Joel’s “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.”
Oh, well, thank you! That’s a compliment. I love Billy Joel, and his ability to write about the slice of life. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Growing up in high school, The Stranger was huge album that I loved.
You do a great job of capturing a slice of life on this record. One of the things that I appreciated most is the way that you do it with a social conscience, while hitting on things going on in society today. For example, the way that you highlight the short attention span that exists today due to technology on “Fool’s Paradise.”
I think that technology is a catch-22. Good or bad, it’s changing our society drastically. I think that a lot of our modern conveniences are opening the door to not such good things.
On the song “A Different Light,” I think that you really captured a lot of what is going on in America today, in a sympathetic, positive kind of way.
I’ve been asked about the meaning of that song a few times. To me it comes down to non-judgment. People are sometimes guilty of looking at someone’s situation, and judging them on the situation while forgetting that there is a real person there, and maybe there were circumstances that were out of their control. You might see them very differently if you look at their situation in a different light. Basically, we all want the same things out of life, and sometimes people end up in unfortunate circumstances that are beyond their control.
Check back on Friday for part 2 of the interview with Tom Keifer to read about the vocal cord problems that nearly ended his singing career, his duet with with Lzzy Hale and the future plans for Cinderella.
When you think of hard rock bands under the radar, you might envision an up-and-coming act struggling to get the recognition that they so richly deserve. There are an untold number of bands that fit into that category for one reason or another. Luck, or lack thereof, often contributes to which bands make it and which ones become a cautionary tale for aspiring artists with rock and roll dreams. It is rare for a band to have a lengthy career and still fly under the radar, but Tyketto is living proof that this phenomenon exists. The band recently released “DOCUMENTALLY YOURS 25th Anniversary DVD.”
How is it possible for a band to release a 25th anniversary DVD and still be a relative unknown within the hard rock community? Bad timing! As the saying goes, timing is everything, and Tyketto’s couldn’t have been worse. Their debut album, Don’t Come Easy – a prophetic title if ever there was one – was released in 1991, just as the grunge movement was starting to drive the final nail into the coffin of 80’s metal. But make no mistake, this band should have, and likely would have been huge if their album was released in the mid-80’s.
Don’t Come Easy is an outstanding hard rock album that has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, most hard rock fans have never heard it, or any other Tyketto album for that matter.
Tyketto has had its share of tribulations throughout the past 25 years, from lineup changes to record label problems, and eventually a breakup in 1996 that led the individual band members to pursue other projects.
In 2004, the original band reformed for a reunion tour, and then again in 2007 for one last hurrah under the Tyketto moniker, going so far as to release an album entitled The Last Sunset – Farewell 2007. However, the band has continued to play together in Europe and South America at various festivals.
The four original members – Danny Vaughn (vocals), Brooke St. James (guitar), Jimi Kennedy (bass) and Michael Clayton (drums) – released a new album in 2012 entitled Dig In Deep, an appropriate title given what the band has had to do to overcome the obstacles that they’ve faced throughout their career.
One of the saving graces for bands like Tyketto is that there is still a strong market for their style of music around the world. Given the difficulty in gaining traction in America, it is understandable why the band that started out in New York City is now based in Europe.
For more information about Tyketto, check out the band’s official website.
Check out the video for “Forever Young” below…
Hard Rock Bands Under The Radar
With a band name like Sick Puppies, those who have not yet discovered this three-piece unit might assume that their latest single, “Gunfight,” would be filled with the distorted guitars and guttural growls that are commonplace in hard rock today. However, Sick Puppies are a breed unto their own within the hard rock community, so much so that their songs are easily distinguishable from most other bands played on radio stations like SiriusXM’s Octane.
The L.A.-based, Australian-bred rockers released their latest album – Connect – earlier this year. According to the band’s website, they have finally “come into their own, thanks in no small part to five years of touring and a full year of songwriting, finding their musical medium without sacrificing intensity or their trademark, dead-on lyrical acuity and introspection.”
“Gunfight” is a catchy, unique hard rock song that stands out because of the interesting verses that offer history lessons of sorts, and a chorus that offers some very sage advice – “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – you’ll lose!”
If there are other bands out there that can seamlessly work Kevin Bacon, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Tiananmen Square into a song and make it flow so perfectly that you can’t help but sing along, I have yet to discover them.
“Gunfight” is poised to enjoy similar success to the first single off of Connect – “There’s No Going Back,” another song with a great hook that instantly got stuck in your head.
Check out the official lyric video for “Gunfight” below…
Songs Played On Octane