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Friday, August 30, 2013

"Every Good Boy Dies First" - the Electric Crime Novel is Out Now!!!!

"I can tell Electric Stories
Electric Stories that will surely blow your mind
People find that I can tell
Electric Stories very well"

-Electric Stories, The Four Seasons

"Every Good Boy Dies First", the bi-weekly serial run on my blog Out Demons Out has finally been published in compiled, full-length form for your reading enjoyment. The tale of a young musician's dream of playing in a band only to watch it degenerate into a nightmare of greed, power, and deception, just like any sleazy non-artistic corporation. It's the bitter pill no one wants to swallow: rock bands don't have more fun, and here are the reasons why.

"Every Good Boy Dies First" is the story of Griff (Sam Fuller's generic name for every hero featured in his films from Forty Guns to The Naked Kiss), Hollywood trumpet player who falls under the spell of both free jazz and punk rock and staking an original sound as well as a name for himself with his band Garbage Truck.

While Griff trudges around Hollywood setting up Garbage Truck shows his former music teacher, now homeless and destitute hovers around the old music haunts like a ghost. My novel basically sets the tone of story by presenting two different ends of the musical spectrum: a hip, promising young jazz player playing punk rock and creating new, exciting sounds; and the old guard, a failed big band jazzer, rotting on the streets of Hollywood after spending his life making traditional music. Did the ends justify the means?

The questions all through the book becomes: how far is Griff from becoming just like his teacher, Jeffrey Chandler, roaming from apartment building to apartment building like a vagabond, trying to keep hi home life together while maintaining his artistic muse? Will he eventually end up homeless like his sensei? Griff has to keep his head together while dealing with clueless radio DJs, parasitic fanzine writers and devious scenesters. All to a breakneck hardcore beat.

Garbage Truck play the hot clubs all over town but feel a degree of peer pressure to play a more accessible, alternative-friendly sound just to go with the flow. Because our story takes place during the grunge-fueled Nineties, the boys in the band plot to wrest Griff's ownership of the band and forego a less cacophonic punk for a more sludgy stoner metal sound. Griff's vision of exploring new sounds is viewed as a commercial threat to the more careerist rockers in the band.

Egging his band to foil Griff is an arrogant booking agent, played by Moish Wilson of Varmint Booking as well as shallow all-girl band Kitten Claws. While Griff feels the pressure to cave in to commercial vapidity - remember when Punk bands went New Wave in 1979? - he holds on strong to his creative muse, finally giving into a climax of extreme violence.

Because "Every Good Boy Dies First" is a punk rock noir novel first and foremost, there's a dead body in there somewhere, there always has to be, a sadistic nightclub bouncer with the IQ of a sack of rotting meat. When Griff discovers the stiff's carcass in a parking lot in the dead of night it's similar to Antonioni's Blow Up, a murder no one wants to believe, much less care about.

There are a couple of people who have groused about my novel being too depressing. I don't get this remark at all. I didn't set out to write a trite load of shit like Almost Famous or Rock 'N Roll High School. If the world of rock is so sweet and jam-packed with fun why do so many bands break up? Very few rock fiction novels ever delve into the struggle, bitterness and futility of playing music. "Every Good Boy Dies First" completely demolishes the false premise that every show's a party. If only they were!

The cover art was designed by Rebecca Seven, who's designed albums and tees for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, L7, Faith No More, and Frightwig, she was featured in the anthology of female lowbrow artists, "Vicious, Delicious, and Ambitious".

"Every Good Boy Dies First" is first and foremost a story about artistic freedom and the battle to defend it even in a forum as self-deceptive as the alternative music scene. Dressed in noir clothes, you'll feel the throbbing feedback guitars humming through your brain and smell the beer and blood-stained walls closing in on you because Griff plays trumpet like Gabriel, summoning up doomsday with every blast. Read and believe!

Links to get "Every Good Boy Dies First":

Amazon Kindle



Sony Reader



Sold at Punk Rock prices - $2.99!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Self-Portraits and Soda Water

Somehow somewhere someone thinks that posting pictures of themselves holding a cell phone into a mirror shooting a pic of themselves with bottles of cleaning fluid and dirty towels is a great idea of a self-portrait. Thank you, Instagram. Somehow the owners of Flickr aren’t losing sleep. Believe it.

If you want to take a good picture of yourself invest in a damn tripod and then learn how to use the timer on your camera, yes those funny things that Canon and Nikon make. You can’t make phone calls on them. Sorry. Once you hit that button for the 10 second timer get in the shot and pose.

Let’s talk about posing. I know you think you look awesome from every angle, otherwise why are you posting pictures of yourself on Instagram? Unfortunately, and even movie stars know this, is everyone has a good side and a bad side, or rather, one side of the coin looks like a head and the other side looks like a donkey’s tail. Check your face from both sides and then decide which one looks the least ghastly. It won’t take very long.

Your face isn’t the whole story, thank God, you need to pose your body, too. You can’t just stand there like a slab of Grade A Sirloin, even Michelangelo’s David struck a pose. You need to learn how to pose, let’s start with your legs. One leg should be in front of the other or spread apart if you’re standing. Put your hands on your hips or have them hang on your belt buckle, or even go for the proud farmer pose with your hands holding your jacket lapels. It worked for Jefferson Airplane!

Getting back to the face, always leave your mouth slightly open so people can see your lips. Keeping your maw closed gives you a dumb, surly expression on your face. (Great advice from Vicki Berndt when she shot my album cover).

Another disgusting habit people have is overdressing for a picture. The world doesn’t need to see your entire wardrobe in one shot. It’ll look outdated in two years, anyway. Avoid wearing a coat even if you’re posing in a Canadian park in December. And keep your accessories down to one per wrist and a small necklace if you have to. There once was a recording artist on IRS Records in the Eighties who thought it was New Wave to wear ten watches on his wrist, and needless to say he never sold any records and got dropped. All because he wore ten watches in his photos.

Thick, stocky, sturdy, and/or husky people should never be shot from the ground up or they’ll look like a human balloon. In fact, our heavier neighbors should be shot from the waist up. Which brings me to another subject: unless your taste in footwear is impeccable and your pants are from a high-end designer nobody needs to see you from top to bottom. Editing your photos is your best option, or more bluntly, check your ego at the door.

So if you’re going to thrill us with more hot, smoky photos of yourself on Facebook please follow some of my advice so you won’t look like a trailer park Dita Von Teese. There’s already too many of them on television, and TV’s losing money every day.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Preparing For The Prog Rock Revival

Some people have to brace themselves for a tornado while some people have to brace themselves for a hurricane, but if there’s one thing people haven’t braced themselves for is an impending prog rock revival. Prog, short for Progressive Rock, also known as Art Rock was a curious music form popularized from the Psychedelic Rock days of 1967 until Punk stamped it out into the ground in 1977. What makes it curious is that unlike most rock it showcased classical music forms with lyrics that owed much of its imagery from science fiction and fantasy tales. While it lacked a worldly universal appeal it captured the hearts and souls of record buyers for its 10 years during its powerful reign.

Why am I making a case for Prog Rock making a major comeback? Well, all the earmarks of its influence are rolling right back to us again:
1. The popularity of The Hobbit films and Lord of The Rings series being bigger than ever, Tolkien exerted a considerable influence on British prog.
2. The tripling if not quintupling in numbers of people attending fantasy shindigs like Renaissance Faire, recalling records by Jethro Tull, Genesis, among others.
3. Cosplay is bigger than ever, and that totally works the whole fantasy aspect of bad prog music. It would be nice to see someone cosplay that nutty Peter Gabriel flowerpot man.

Prog Rock, according to the BBC special “Prog Rock Britannia” started with Procol Harum’s single “Whiter Shade of Pale”, which in their words referenced “Percy Sledge and Johann Sebastian Bach in the same song”. While I agree with that statement, I think Procol Harum were a little too eclectic and wider in scope than the average prog band – they could swing the blues better than a lot of other bands, what with Robin Trower on guitar and Gary Brooker’s very soulful vocals. The first blatantly prog band was probably The Nice, Keith Emerson’s power trio who shed their guitar player after their first album.

Well, what if you hate prog rock for its precious lyrics, fussy instrumentation and overt snobbery? Are there any songs a prog hater can enjoy without falling into the pit of pretension? I’m glad you asked. Believe it or not, there are a few numbers you can enjoy without sitting through a ten-minute suite of stuffy classical melodies. Submitted for your review are my personal recommendations. You can thank me later:

1. America (The Nice) – Notorious for Keith Emerson’s burning the American flag on stage during this number, it’s still the most simultaneously explosive yet jubilant instrumental I’ve ever heard. Emerson’s organ playing is positively breathtaking, melodic and funky at the same time. Equally of note is his amazing cover of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo A La Turk”. By the way, the kids that were offended by the onstage flag burning probably missed the intro to America featuring a dirge played to the sounds of slaves being whipped.

2. Silver Machine (Hawkwind) – Lemmy played prog in this acid nightmare side show, how bad is that? Hawkwind were at their best when they kept their songs short, like on tunes like “Quark, Strangeness And Charm” or “The Right Stuff”. Anyway, The Sex Pistols rocked this great song on their last tour, so whatever goes around comes around.

3. Selene (Gong) – French acid gypsies led by ex-Soft Machine Daevid Allen. Their mythology was more cartoon than Middle Earth and served equal doses of sex and humor, which many prog bands severely lacked (paging Gentle Giant).

4. 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson) – The greatest prog track of all time, devastating upon its release, sounding like John Lennon howling over a Black Sabbath dirge describing a doomsday that quickly degenerates into the most demonic, whirlwind cop show instrumental ever played. Robert Fripp and Greg Lake became stars and Ian McDonald made the poor decision to disappear into Foreigner. Nevertheless, an essential record.

5. Piece Of Mind (Curved Air) – Another wild dirge with Sonja Kristina singing in a haunting falsetto that oddly works well, transitioning into a jazzy tune changing on the down beat, winding over into a kinetic Greek dance kaleiodoscoping with color and then slowing down to a synthesizer lullaby. Has to be heard to be believed.

6. Play In Time (Jethro Tull) – By the time Jethro Tull hit the scene shortly after their appearance on The Rolling Stones’ “Rock & Roll Circus” they incorporated many influences in their music, but this foray in noise/music concrete screaming above Ian Anderson’s wistful flute was probably the most radical thing they ever played, and it’s over in three minutes, too.

7. Knife Edge (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) – ELP made a few silly records but Knife Edge from their first album is a tense piece of work with another Greg Lake vocal, singing: “Tread the road cross the abyss, take a look down at the madness On the streets of the city only spectres still have pity Patient queues for the gallows, sing the praises of the hallowed Our machines feed the furnace, if they take us they will burn us”. Harlan Ellison couldn’t have said it better!

8. Killer (Van Der Graaf Generator) – Peter Hammill’s dramatic David Bowie-like vocals about a shark are so suave it’s an instant classic. The great demented David Jackson saxophone break in the middle when the band goes kabloeey is something for the ears to behold, I mean this is why records were invented in the first place. Hammill’s brilliant lyrics make the correlation between a deadly shark and a malevolent outcast.

Bands that aren’t prog: The Moody Blues (too pop), The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (much too much R&B and blues, but try Kingdom Come), Kraftwerk (too electro), again not Procol Harum, Pink Floyd (lyrics too contemporary and music not classical sounding enough), Soft Machine (same reason as Pink Floyd), and nobody’s talking, but The Stranglers allegedly started out as a prog band before they jumped on the punk bandwagon. Dave Greenfield’s keyboard playing certainly bears this out.

So, that’s my Prog Blog. I know, I didn’t mention Yes or Rick Wakeman - the less said the better, although the intro to "Roundabout" was sampled at the beginning of a Germs single back in 1978. Actually, Roundabout's the only decent song in their rep, and Rick Wakeman’s soundtrack to Ken Russell’s movie “Crimes Of Passion” was very good, so there’s a positive in everything. So, button up your overcoat, get plenty of supplies and water, shutter your windows, because prog rock is coming back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The World Isn't Coming To An End Just Because You Want It To

This will probably go down in Los Angeles history as one of the worst summers ever. Here we are in early August, and while the rest of the country is sweltering and sweating here in LA every morning has been cloudy, gloomy and downright cold. If it ever gets warm at all it doesn’t last long, and there’s always a glacial wind to cut down on the warmth. In other words, it’s Springtime In July and Springtime In August. Who knows what’s going to happen in September?

Because of this shit weather the general disposition of LA natives is pissy and angry – an equally shit economy and a rapidly decaying grasp of patience/attention span doesn’t help, either. People are angrier than ever.

Negativity seems to work for a lot of people. There’s no concept of perhaps making the most of a bad situation, and Heaven help you if you try to say something positive or you’ll get shot down, so I won’t. I’ll just post this great video from Supergrass.

Supergrass are not only one of the best bands to come out of England in the past 20 years, I think they’re heirs to the throne once inhabited by The Kinks, The Who and The Small Faces. Their output of perfectly crafted British pop songs is considerable, the first three albums in particular, I Should Coco, In It For The Money, and Supergrass, are flawless, brilliant rock albums and have more balls and spirit than the rest of their overrated contemporaries. Plus they look totally cool!

If Supergrass doesn’t cheer you up then check out this amazing video from Mississippi Fred McDowell. Not only is this song amazing, but the video of “Shake ‘Em On Down” is ultra-cool, giving us an uninterrupted look at his flashy fingerwork across the fretboard. If this isn’t one of the best guitar lessons you’ve ever seen, then you’re not a serious player. Really.

I wonder what guys like Son House would say to these spoiled brats crying about not making their first million or realizing their projected plans for world domination? Idiots like Kanye West could learn a lot from House’s “Death Letter Blues”. Maybe not. Kanye West is retarded, and his fans are even more retarded than him. Look at me, I’m starting to sound pretty angry myself. Maybe I ought to listen to some Les Paul and Mary Ford.

Now that’s better. Les Paul and Mary Ford played music for the sheer love of it, just like Memphis Minnie and Howlin’ Wolf. Maybe if I post their insanely sunny take on that hoary old Gay ‘90s standard “In The Good Old Summertime” that motherfucking sun will finally show its face. Or maybe El Sol is busy nursing his big hole, like the ones in everybody’s empty skull these days.

Painting: Ol' Black and Blue Eyes Is Back by Rebecca Seven