Category Archives: Hard Rock Artists

Discussing “Battle Plan” with Longreef’s Josh Barker – National Bullying Prevention Month

We Are The Battle Plan

Let’s talk about your personal history of being bullied when you were growing up…

It didn’t really start until around grade 7 or 8.  I started feeling the pressure from other kids, just getting picked on in a general sense.  I could never really figure out why that was, because I never said anything to anyone.  The school that I went to was new at the time, and it was fairly small (only about 300-400 kids between grades 7-12).  I only had a couple of friends.

Things got worse between 7th and 8th grade.  At one point, I remember being out on the playground and some kids were just saying some nasty things.  Before I knew it, I turned around and I was being punched in the face.  I was completely knocked out.

The next thing that I remember was waking up on the playground with all of the teachers around me, and blood pouring out of my mouth.  I didn’t know what had happened, but I could just see the panic on the teachers’ faces as they dragged me off to the nursing room.  They called my mom, and she came down to the school.  She was frantic, and they took me to the hospital, where I ended up having around 12 stitches all through my upper lip.

It was just really scary to not even understand why that had happened.  I think that, to this day, it’s kind of left me with some form of anxiety.  I don’t know if it’s a social anxiety thing, but I’ve always had a kind of nervous tension throughout my life.  I’m not entirely sure that it was from that incident, but after that, I was very scared whenever I saw people fighting at school or anyplace else.

My mom pulled me out of that school, because it was probably not the right place for me to be, and put me into a boys’ school called Blacktown Boys High.  It didn’t have a great reputation, so I still don’t know why my mom sent me there, but they were a good school in terms of learning.

Things were okay for the first year, and then it all kind of started happening again.  I was never in any fights (which I was very grateful for), but I was kind of the outsider at school.


So, how did you handle things? 

I always found myself going to the music room during recess and lunch, to try and take my mind off of all of the kids that picked on me.  I didn’t even want to walk by any of the bullies at school, out of fear that they would say something nasty, throw something at me or push me up against the wall.  I always did my best to avoid the people that I knew could hurt me physically or emotionally.  The music room was truly my escape.


I guess it’s fair to say that you used music as an outlet…

Absolutely!  At the time, it was just an outlet, but then it started to become a lot of fun, and I became very passionate about it as the years went on, and it just grew from there.

I ended up starting my very first band with a couple of my mates that I’m still very good friends with today.  I think that really helped to build my passion for music.

The guys that I’m with now in Longreef have been together for so many years, and when you spend every single day of the week on the road, it’s more than a friendship.  It becomes a family, a home where everything happens and everyone knows each other’s secrets.  Bullying definitely steered me towards a career in music.


It’s good to know that one of the ways for kids to figure out their own “Battle Plan” is to find their passion and pursue it as an escape from tough times.  When you were playing music in high school, did you feel like you escaped to a whole other world?

Totally…totally!  That was the best part about it.  I just looked forward to recess and lunch to get up to the music room where I kind of felt like I was alive.  Because I had some sort of purpose, I knew that things would be okay in the long run.  However, I do remember things getting so bad at one point that I started cutting school because I didn’t even want to be on the playground with the bullies.


Aside from music, did you have anything else that made your high school days any easier?

I played baseball for 10 years, and loved it.  I felt lucky to have the baseball team at school to look after me, because I was the youngest kid on the team.  Whenever I was around the team, I kind of felt safe.  I spent most of my time on the baseball field or in the music room.


That’s interesting.  I think that the impression out there is that athletes are the ones bullying the non-athletic kids, but even as one of the baseball players, you still had to deal with the bullies.  I guess it goes to show that it really can happen to anybody, not just the kids who are outcasts because they are different…

I absolutely found that to be true!


The good thing about your success is that it shows kids who are being bullied that if you follow your passion, things do get better eventually.  The inspiration for this anti-bullying campaign on Hard Rock Daddy was to show any kid who is being bullied that there is hope, that things will get better than they are right now, and that you can still have a great future…

Exactly!  It must be so hard for kids in this day and age with the Internet, which was just coming out when I was in high school (and it didn’t seem to be as bad as it is now).  Social media can be horrible.  You see these kids committing suicide nowadays after being bullied on and offline.  It has gotten very scary.


Let’s talk about the process of writing “Battle Plan.”

Late last year, we were on the road with a band called 3 Pill Morning.  During a day off, I was sitting in one of the band member’s houses, strumming away on the guitar, and started singing some words around it.  I kind of felt from the music, that it needed some sort of positive lyrical message.  At that point, I hadn’t even thought about the anti-bullying thing; I was just trying to come up with positive lines throughout the song.  It wasn’t until we had a rough version of it, that I listened back to it and thought…hey, this is the song that I’ve wanted to get out there for the past 15 bloody years, so the anti-bullying idea was always in the back of our minds.

We really didn’t need to change many of the lyrics because it was very much geared towards anti-bullying already.  It kind of happened very organically, which was the best part about it.  Once we recorded it, we thought that it would be a cool thing to try and get out to anyone being bullied, and the parents of kids who are being bullied.


So, how did you get hooked up with Friend Movement? 

We were looking for an organization that could help spread our message.  It’s always better to do things in numbers, so we searched around for a little while with our management company until we found Friend Movement.  We approached them, and they loved what we had to offer in terms of the song, the video and the message.

We’ve been working together since just before Christmas on ways that we can keep spreading the anti-bullying message through “Battle Plan.”  We’re hoping to keep it going for the next few years, or as long as we possibly can.

It’s definitely a song that has some serious meaning behind it, and it feels great to be a part of something that can actually help kids.  The song is something that we’re very proud of.


The video for “Battle Plan” is incredibly powerful.  Can you talk about the making of it?

The filming was done with two GoPro cameras (which were brand new at the time).  We just went out on the street and approached parents and kids.  We thought…what better way to help try and spread the word than to have kids appear in the video, and hold up the signs with the lyrics?

It was challenging in some places, but 98% of the time, they were all for it when they found out what we were doing.  We were also very lucky to have connections with some schools down in the south, so it made it easier to get a whole bunch of students involved.


How long did it take to put the video together?

I think that the filming process went on for about two months.  We had the cameras on the bus with us.  Everywhere that we stopped, we saw kids, and asked them if they wanted to be a part of the video.

We probably shot footage in six or seven different states, which was really cool.  When we had all of the footage of the kids done, we wanted to make it look really cool, so we thought…what about Times Square?  We were playing in Atlantic City at the time, so we took a road trip into Manhattan.  It totally worked!  I really like the fact that we’re not in the video, except for holding up signs with statistics.


Did any of the kids share bullying stories with you during the making of the video?

Absolutely!  Most of them, actually.


Is there one story, in particular, that comes to mind?

The story of the kid in the wheelchair on the football field really stuck with me.  One of his caretakers told us that people often yell out very silly things to him.  Even though he is disabled, he understands everything that’s going on, but people took advantage of his disability anyway.  It was terrible to hear that story.


Since the song came out, have you heard any stories about how it has helped kids who are being bullied?

Oh, absolutely!  All over our Facebook page, we’ve gotten messages from parents and kids who are being bullied, thanking us for making people aware of this horrible situation.  A lot of the parents go in-depth about what’s happened to their child, and kids have also shared their stories.  People are really getting on board with what we’re doing.  It’s already making an impact and helping to change peoples’ lives.


The following story was taken directly from Longreef’s Facebook page.  This story (which is one of many) shows the impact that “Battle Plan” is already having on real people dealing with a real issue.  If you would like to help spread the anti-bullying message, please share this article and the link to the free download of “Battle Plan” with your friends on social media…

Susan Petersen Oldenburg “WE’LL RISE”… (Lyric from Battle Plan” – or as I like to call it: “ABBEY’S ANTHEM”!!) – I met you guys 2 years ago when you played at the Hard Rock in the Four Winds Casino. My daughters have LOVED the signed CD & DVD I brought home that night!! MOST IMPORTANTLY… My 14 year old daughter had been bullied for the last year by a group of girls to the point of having panic & anxiety attacks, became anorexic, and wanted to not go to school anymore. Counseling helped give her the tools to cope, but YOU GUYS, and YOUR MUSIC gave her the strength to FACE these kids, stand up for herself, get help from teachers if she needed it & helped her realize she was NOT ALONE in this BATTLE FIELD!! She’s become a stronger, more confident young lady AND an advocate for Anti-Bullying in her school, helping many others who were suffering in silence to speak up & speak out against bullying!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! This one’s for ABBEY!!


October is National Bullying Prevention Month on Hard Rock Daddy


The arrival of October marks the beginning of National Bullying Prevention Month.  Hard Rock Daddy will be featuring a number of anti-bullying messages, stories and more from various hard rock artists throughout the month.

Hard Rock Daddy has become more “hard rock” than “daddy” since launching in March of 2013, but this month, the two worlds will once again collide.  As a parent of school-aged children, the issue of bullying is one that is always top of mind, especially with the increased number of school shootings and suicides in recent years.

Back in July, a review of Longreef’s song – “Battle Plan” – was featured on Hard Rock Daddy.  The eye-opening video brought to light some very disturbing (and sobering) statistics.  During a lengthy phone conversation with Longreef guitarist, Nick Miller, we came up with the idea to do more together to help promote anti-bullying messages by hard rock artists, a number of whom had also written anti-bullying songs.  Longreef has partnered with an organization called Friend Movement to help spread their anti-bullying message and offer free downloads of this very powerful song, which was written by frontman, Josh Barker.

Since Longreef was the inspiration to create this month-long campaign, the decision was made to start the coverage by interviewing Barker later this week about “Battle Plan.” We will be discussing the inspiration behind the lyrics, his personal dealings with bullying during his school years and the band’s partnership with Friend Movement.

National Bullying Prevention Month on Hard Rock Daddy transcends musical taste or preferences.  This campaign is all about spreading an anti-bullying message, and also to let kids who are currently being bullied know that help is available, that they are not alone and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are anti-bullying, please share as many of these stories as you can with your friends on social media.

There was a time when people didn’t believe that they were powerful enough as individuals to make a difference, but the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has proven that there is strength in numbers.  Together, we can make a difference.  WE ARE THE BATTLE PLAN!

The End of an Era:  Geoff Tate Ends Queensryche Reign by Giving Back to Dedicated Fan in Need

Geoff Tate Queensryche Final Show

In 1981, Geoff Tate became the frontman of the band that would eventually be known as Queensryche.  In their three decades together, Tate and the band became one of the most successful bands in hard rock history before a bitter parting in 2012.  After a lengthy court battle for the rights to the Queensryche name, Tate and the band finally agreed to a settlement earlier this year, affording him the opportunity to perform under the legendary moniker for one final tour.

After more than three decades as the Queensryche frontman, Tate ended his Ryche reign on August 30th in Bolingbrook, IL.  In a symbolic gesture, Tate removed the Tri-Ryche charm from his belt to acknowledge the end of an era.  But perhaps the most important gesture of Tate’s farewell to Queensryche was the decision to auction off the backdrop that was featured on several of the band’s tours with all proceeds going to Bryan Stow, a dedicated fan who suffered a near-fatal beating on opening day of the 2011 Major League Baseball season at Dodger Stadium.

The end-result of a heated rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants (that makes the rivalry between Tate and his former bandmates pale by comparison), left Stow in a medically-induced coma after sustaining severe brain injuries from the beating that he received.  The father of two, who sports a sizeable tattoo of the Queensryche logo on his left arm, was visited by the band during his two-year recovery period in the hospital.

“We were incredibly moved by his love for life, his love for family and his love for our music,” stated Tate.  When asked about the backdrop being auctioned off, Tate replied “It’s a truly special part of our musical history and we’d like to raise some much-needed funds for Bryan so he can continue his progress.”

For all intents and purposes, the end of Tate’s reign as the Queensryche frontman was symbolic, given that his final tour using the Queensryche moniker was with the same band that he will continue on with under the name Operation: Mindcrime.

With his Queensryche days behind him, Tate is not wasting any time getting the next chapter of his life started.  Operation: Mindcrime is heading into the studio to begin recording a trilogy project that Tate has been working on for the past two years.

“I tried to reduce the story and eventually got it down to 37 ideas that needed representing to complete the story,” stated Tate.  “I knew that one record wouldn’t cover it, and that it would have to be a trilogy.  It’s an exciting project and one that we’d like to release sometime next spring.”

During Tate’s Queensryche reign, the band sold over 20 million albums, the most successful being the critically acclaimed concept album, Operation: Mindcrime.  Going forward, Tate plans on focusing on creating concept and story albums.

As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.”  While the acrimony that severed the ties between Tate and his former bandmates will probably be what many fans remember about his Farewell To Queensryche tour, the focus should be on Tate giving back to a fan in need as the final act of his illustrious Queensryche career.

With the Queensryche chapter of his life finally closed, I personally cannot wait to experience Operation: Mindcrime’s brand of “thinking man’s metal” when the first album of the trilogy is released next year.

Michael Sweet and George Lynch Honor the 13-Year Anniversary of 9/11 with “September”

Michael Sweet - George Lynch - September

Today marks the 13-year anniversary of 9/11 – one of the most painful days in U.S. history for countless Americans.  To honor the anniversary of 9/11, Michael Sweet and George Lynch have teamed up to create a powerful, inspiring hard rock anthem entitled “September.”

Through the years, there have been other songs written directly about the tragic events that forever changed the lives of so many Americans, but most of the notable ones are country songs.  Sweet & Lynch are the first ones (that I can think of) to pen a hard rock anthem directly inspired by 9/11, and the impact that it made on our country.

Having experienced the attack on the Twin Towers in a very personal way (see full story), the anniversary of 9/11 always brings a flood of painful memories rushing to the surface.  It is said that time heals all wounds, but this is one mental scar that will stay with me for the rest of my life.   Each year, I relive the horror that I experienced in a very visceral way with no real means of escape.  That being said, Sweet & Lynch’s song “September” did provide some solace on this painful day.

Famed fairy tale author, Hans Christian Andersen, was absolutely correct when he said…“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Reading about, and discussing, 9/11 each year on the anniversary has never done anything to diminish the raw emotions are felt throughout the day.  In some ways, it actually makes things worse, but engaging with others always seemed like the best way to remind myself that I am not alone in my feelings.

Listening to “September” today was inspirational.  The lyrics perfectly capture the feelings that began on 9/11/01 and have stayed with me throughout the years, and the powerful, anthemic nature of the song brings me back to a time before the collective innocence of America was lost forever.

Music cannot wash away deep-rooted scars and painful memories, but it can provide a brief respite from storming emotions.  On this, the 13th anniversary of 9/11, I am grateful to Michael Sweet and George Lynch for “September,” a great song that, in a perfect world, never would have needed to be written.

Hard Rock Daddy Announces Plans for National Bullying Prevention Month

October Is National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and throughout the month, Hard Rock Daddy will be working in conjunction with a number of hard rock artists to encourage bullying prevention.

Now that students across the country have all returned to school, the awareness surrounding bullying will once again be heightened.

“As a parent, this issue is always top of mind throughout the school year, due in large part to the rash of school shootings that have taken place in recent years,” stated Hard Rock Daddy Publisher, Adam Waldman.  “Although I personally only dealt with a few minor bullying incidents throughout my school years, I have seen the devastation that is caused by both physical and mental bullying, especially when it comes to social media,” continued Waldman.

Hard Rock Daddy’s plans for National Bullying Prevention Month include: features of hard rock artists sharing personal bullying stories from their childhood, a spotlight on hard rock songs that were written about bullying (and the backstories behind the lyrics), public service announcements by prominent hard rock artists and more.

“Too often, kids that are bullied feel isolated and fear the repercussions of talking to an authority figure,” said Waldman.  “Hard Rock Daddy’s goal with this month-long campaign is to let kids know that they are not alone, that there is help available, and that there are well-known rock stars who dealt with the same issues when they were growing up.”

A number of hard rock artists have already committed to be a part of this bullying prevention campaign.  The entire list of artists will be released at the end of September.



To learn more about this campaign, please contact

Adam Waldman, Publisher



ABOUT HARD ROCK DADDYHard Rock Daddy is an influential hard rock music website with over 60,000 monthly page views, and readers in 184 countries around the world.

Spotlight on Next To None: A Band Beyond Their Years

Next To None Logo

Labor Day weekend is behind us.  For all intents and purposes, summer is over now that the kids have all returned to school.  How many of them are happy about it?  The answer to the question is also the name of a band of young musical prodigies…NEXT TO NONE!

If you are amongst the legion of Mike Portnoy fans, you have probably heard of Next To None.  Portnoy serves the dual role of being the band’s producer and father to drummer, Max Portnoy, who is following in his father’s footsteps.  As the saying goes…“the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  Family ties aside, Max is a seriously talented drummer in his own right, as is the rest of this prog rock quartet comprised of 15 and 16-yr old renaissance kids.

Drumming seriously since the age of 8, Max has always loved writing and playing music with his friends.  He is interested in art and robotics, and his passion for filming is something that he plans on focusing on when he goes to college.

Guitarist, Ryland Holland, has been playing piano for most of his life, and guitar and saxophone for several years.  In addition to his passion for music, Ryland is an athlete who excels in numerous sports, and in his (limited) free time, the bi-lingual teen volunteers at a Mexican orphanage.

Bassist, Kris Rank, began playing guitar in 5th grade, and made the switch to bass when Next To None was formed.  He is also interested in robotics and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

Lead Vocalist/Keyboardist, Thomas Cluce, has been playing piano since the age of 5, and also plays guitar and bass.  Thomas plays everything by ear due to his dyslexia, but it hasn’t slowed him down at all.  After seeing the Philadelphia Orchestra perform Star Wars theme songs at the age of 9, he was able to replicate every song within three days.  Like the other members of Next To None, Thomas is more than just a talented musician.  He performs at retirement homes, plays baseball, and is interested in physics, mechanical engineering, computer programming and robotics.

Mike Portnoy’s involvement has definitely given Next To None a leg up on other young artists, but make no mistake, these kids are truly talented prog rock musicians who write and play music that goes well beyond their years.

The band is currently working on their first full-length album, which (Mike) Portnoy describes as “running the gamut from brutal Slipknot riffs to beautiful, lush Porcupine Tree moments to totally insane prog stuff.”

Like any father/producer, he is also very proud of his son and the band…

“I know I’m biased, but this Next To None album is blowing me away!  I haven’t been this impressed by a new prog metal band since Haken.  The new songs that they’ve written are so incredibly mature and insane.  They’re doing the sort of stuff at age 15 and 16 that I wasn’t doing in Dream Theater ‘til I was in my 30s!  People are gonna be blown away by this album.”

Hard Rock Daddy will definitely be doing more on Next To None when the album comes out, but until then, click here to check out the band’s EP on Reverb Nation.  If you’re a fan of Mike Portnoy’s colorful personality, you will definitely appreciate his role in the Next To None video below…

Three For Throwback Thursday: JUDAS PRIEST

Three For Throwback Thursday  - Judas Priest

Three For Throwback Thursday featuring:  Judas Priest.  The theme of the week is usually revealed below the last video, however, in celebration of the release of Judas Priest’s 17th studio album, Redeemer Of Souls, Hard Rock Daddy is doing a special Three For Throwback Thursday to honor the 45-year history of one of the most influential heavy metal bands in music history.  In addition to writing numerous classic metal songs, Judas Priest has put their stamp on the cover songs that they have recorded in such a meaningful way, that you forget that they didn’t pen the original versions.  Between 1977 – 1978, Judas Priest recorded three cover songs that ended up becoming fan favorites…



This week’s “Three for Throwback Thursday” songs:

ARTIST:              Judaas Priest

SONG:                “Diamonds & Rust”

ALBUM:               Sin After Sin

RELEASED:          April 23, 1977

ORIGINAL VERSION:     Joan Baez (1975)




ARTIST:               Judas Priest

SONG:                 “Better By You, Better Than Me”

ALBUM:                Stained Class

RELEASED:           February 10, 1978

ORIGINAL VERSION:     Spooky Tooth (1969)




ARTIST:               Judas Priest

SONG:                 “Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)”

ALBUM:                Hell Bent For Leather

RELEASED:           October 9, 1978

ORIGINAL VERSION:     Fleetwood Mac (1970)


Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 1987: Up Close and Personal with Rob Halford & K.K. Downing

Three For Thursday Archives

Three For Throwback Thursday: Twisted Sister, Dio, Black ‘N Blue

Three For Throwback Thursday - Twisted Sister, Dio, Black 'N Blue

Three For Throwback Thursday featuring:  Twisted Sister, Dio and Black ‘N Blue.  The theme of the week is revealed below the last video.


This week’s “Three for Throwback Thursday” songs:

ARTIST:             Twisted Sister

SONG:               “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

ALBUM:              Stay Hungry

RELEASED:          May 10, 1984




ARTIST:               Dio

SONG:                “The Last In Line”

ALBUM:               The Last In Line

RELEASED:           July 13, 1984




ARTIST:               Black ‘N Blue

SONG:                 “Hold On To 18”

ALBUM:                Black ‘N Blue

RELEASED:           August – 1984


This week’s Three For Thursday theme is…

Summer of ’84 Hard Rock Anthems



Hard Rock Music Time Machine – Summer of 1984  – We’re Not Gonna Take It!

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 1996: Hanging Out With Ronnie James Dio

Three For Thursday Archives

Three For Throwback Thursday: Cinderella, Motley Crue, Dillinger

Three For Throwback Thursday - Cinderella, Motley Crue, Dilliinger

Three For Throwback Thursday featuring:  Cinderella, Motley Crue and Dillinger.  The theme of the week is revealed below the last video.


This week’s “Three for Thursday” songs:

ARTIST:             Cinderella

SONG:               “Coming Home”

ALBUM:              Long Cold Winter

RELEASED:          May 21, 1988




ARTIST:               Motley Crue

SONG:                “Home Sweet Home”

ALBUM:               Theatre Of Pain

RELEASED:           June 21, 1985




ARTIST:               Dillinger

SONG:                 “Home For Better Days”

ALBUM:                Horses & Hawgs

RELEASED:           August 13, 1991


This week’s Three For Thursday theme is…




Interview with Tom Keifer (Part 1 of 2)

Interview with Tom Keifer (Part 2 of 2)

Tom Keifer – “The Way Life Goes”: Hard Rock Daddy Album Review

MOTLEY CRUE – R.I.P.: All Bad Things Must Come To An End

Three For Thursday – MOTLEY CRUE

Three For Thursday Archives

Three For Thursday: Great White, Night Ranger, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr

Three For Thursday - Great White, Night Ranger, Jack Starr's Burning Starr

Three For Thursday featuring:  Great White, Night Ranger and Jack Starr’s Burning Starr.  The theme of the week is revealed below the last video.


This week’s “Three for Thursday” songs:

ARTIST:               Great White

SONG:                “Substitute”

ALBUM:               Great White

RELEASED:          1984




ARTIST:               Night Ranger

SONG:                 “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

ALBUM:                Somewhere In California

RELEASED:           June 21, 2011




ARTIST:               Jack Starr’s Burning Starr

SONG:                 “Fire And Rain”

ALBUM:                No Turning Back

RELEASED:           1986


This week’s Three For Thursday theme is…

“JACK” OF ALL OBSCURE COVER SONGS – (A Special Dedication)

The key player in each of these bands is named Jack (Jack Russell – Great White, Jack Blades – Night Ranger, Jack Starr – Jack Starr’s Burning Starr).

Each of these songs are cover versions that are not known by the masses…

“Substitute” by Great White is a cover version originally done by The Who.  Great White is known for their cover version of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” but few people know about the cover of “Substitute” from their self-titled debut album.

Night Ranger is known by even the most casual fan for their song, “Sister Christian.”  In 2011, they released a cover version of the AC/DC classic – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr is an underrated band that has reunited in recent years; their history goes back to the 80’s.  Their cover of James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” brought the song to an entirely new level.


Three For Thursday Archives