The MC News Repository [Sept. ’17]

The MC News Repository [Sept. ’17]

September allegedly kicks off the fall around these parts, so I decided to deliver my first “MC News Repository.” This is where I’ll provide links to articles of note for each particular month. It’ll be a good place to catch up on what I’ve been working on for a variety of publications.

This was a pretty busy one, talked to the singer from Kasabian, found a new band to dig into with Nothing More, revisited the 2007 Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth and finally finished up a long gestating ranking of Depeche Mode’s catalog.

There’s much, much more after the jump.

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Needs More Skulls [V.I]

Need Skulls

One of the descriptors of this blog is, “Skulls.” It’s meant kind of tongue in cheek but kind of not. I get asked all the time, “What’s the deal with you and skulls?” The answer is a pretty simple one.

Basically, the skulls I have around and tattooed on me are a reminder of how short life is and that we can all go at any moment. Yes, that’s an old cliché, and sometimes clichés are hard to pay attention to because they are often so trite. So in my twisted psyche, it only makes sense to have this one ever present.

Interestingly, I didn’t get my first skull tattoo until 2009, which was right around when I fully grasped just how quickly life can be snatched away from the young without prejudice. Since then, I’ve been working on a piece ever so slowly on my lower left leg made up of multiple shulls that showcases my feelings. Part of what’s taking so long is wanting each skull to mean something. A few more than others, but they all have a connection to my past, present or hopes for the future.

Last weekend, I got my most visible tattoo to date, and, of course, it involves a skull. It’s much more than just a skull tatt though, it’s a symbolization of me taking part – and committing to – Project Semicolon. Their mission statement is as follows:

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Part of Me: Chris Cornell Calls It a Day, My Heart Breaks

It’s been two weeks since the death of Chris Cornell and still I’m not settled over getting my thoughts about it out. When John Lennon died, I was too young to grasp the…not importance, because I somehow knew it was a big deal that my favorite band ever (as a child and until now) was truly done, but the pain of those congregating outside the Dakota where the ex-Beatle lived and died was something I wasn’t mature enough to comprehend. I saw the tears in everyone’s eyes, but couldn’t join them in mourning.

Kurt Cobain was next, who retroactively got labeled the spokesman – and “John Lennon” – for my generation, but like the Dallas Cowboys being tagged “America’s Team,” that  wasn’t something which everyone agreed. I know I didn’t. Few people remember, in fact, that Nirvana’s then fresh release In Utero was polarizing at the time, and the band’s popularity was waning while Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins were blowing up. Jump ahead past to the not-so-shocking deaths of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley in 2002 and Scott Weiland in 2015, while also realizing Bowie had been sick and Prince was on another level of stardom, Chris Cornell hit differently. Harder. Like, this was my John Lennon if there had to be a simple, tied-in-a-bow descriptive.

Soundgarden, however, had been around longer than any of those acts, were signed to a major label before them, and bridged the gap between 70s and 90s hard rock for both incoming grunge fans and leftover lovers of cock-rock. Cornell was a shirtless, lion-maned rock God without coming across as cheesy, and the guys could drop metal riffs and Beatles-esque melodies with equal effortlessness. Lyrically, Cornell’s words resonated not just because of their authenticity, but because anyone who ever went through the doldrums could identify with them. Nothing was bright and sunny; hell, the most popular song of theirs is titled “Black Hole Sun.”

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Havin’ it in Toronto

One of the musical acts I’ve been into for a couple years now is Sleaford Mods, an inventive duo out of England. Stripped down, it’s observational punk hip-hop with frontman Jason Williamson spouting off about working class struggles with a mixture of humor, anger and disbelief backed by the laptop created beats from Andrew Fearn. It’s brilliant. Iggy Pop himself has dubbed them, “The world’s greatest rock and roll band.”

Sleaford Mods: Iceland Airwaves ’15

I caught Sleaford Mods at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and despite the guys themselves being unhappy with the gig for a variety of reasons, it was one of the best times I’ve had at the festival since I started going each year.

Afterward, I got the chance to meet and talk with Fearn, who immediately enthused how my mate and I Rich were “havin’ it.” We were right up front, bouncing about and I, for one, was yelling out the lyrics to every song and Fearn was as entertained by us as we were by him.

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Elegia: Haunted by New Order

I’ve long been into by New Order, mainly because they have two things I find attractive in a band; they make engrossing music which happens to span and combine wildly different genres (at the time of their release), and they have a fascinating backstory.

new_order_press_picture

The incredibly abbreviated history is: Three guys who were in a Manchester, UK band and poised to break in a major way had their singer die by suicide on the eve of their inaugural tour of North America. Left to their own devices, they decide to forge ahead under a new moniker with the guitarist ultimately taking on vocals, enlisting the drummer’s then-girlfriend for additional guitar parts as well as keyboards and then go on to single-handedly create a new form of music by melding aspects of rock, punk and electronic.

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No, This is Not Normal

[Re-post from my Facebook dated 21 January 17]

I’m ashamed for not speaking up in a public forum until now, but have decided to do something about it, hopefully beginning the slow march toward a bit of personal redemption. Typically I keep my political leanings close to the vest, choosing not to engage with anyone other than my dearest friends about them. This evening, I have spent the past hour deleting lots of them from not only Facebook, but essentially my life. This includes members of my family, people I once considered best friends and a slew of acquaintances. I did it with a heavy heart and it wasn’t completed rashly.

This-is-Not-Normal.jpg

The reason this was done is not at all because they voted for and continue to support Donald Trump – that was their right and I respect it. It was for the hate-filled rhetoric dripping from their pages today. Saying protesters should be beaten, that they should not be organizing in the first place, that this “anti-women agenda” talk is nothing more than nonsense by the Far-left, that wearing “pussy hats” somehow means they shouldn’t be taken seriously, when a man you defend and take serious was caught saying the vagina is where you need to grab women.

WHAT IN THE FUCK REALITY ARE YOU LIVING??

I’ll tell you the one I’m living in. I have expectant and recent mothers in my life with children who are absolutely terrified of the world where their babies are going to be raised. I have people close to me who are horrified that family members who have lived here for decades are going to be deported. I see stories that the US Border Patrol and Customs is denying entry to this country founded on freedom, because they intended to non-violently march in support. I have friends of different races, genders, sexuality and religious beliefs scared their God-given rights are about to be trampled. I have friends not just coast to coast, but worldwide who are taking time out of their weekend to make their voices heard.

And those same friends in foreign lands? They want to know what the fuck is happening in my country.

In my country, white supremacists are celebrating the voting-in of Trump. Pharmaceutical companies are over the moon about the election results, with requests from people who now feel the need to go on anti-depressants through the roof. There is a man who is an admitted climate change denier and once said the Department of Energy should be eliminated preparing to head the organization. The vice president supports conversion therapy – which involves electroshock and castration – and also made the outrageous claim that smoking doesn’t kill people. His boss has invoked an executive order to remove a form a healthcare that technically could leave many citizens in precarious positions when it comes to continuing life-saving treatment they are currently receiving.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert on what Trump hopes to accomplish, what he can get away with and how he will proceed with a confusing and cloudy agenda. The fact is, the only thing I really consider myself an expert on is a singer who left his band in 1985 and finally came back to tour with them in 2007. Both of those events were under somewhat murky circumstances, and I’m ok with that. I’m not ok with the future of my life and that of my rightfully fearful friends from all walks-of-life to be so nebulous.

To those friends, let me openly say for the first time I AM WITH YOU. I am here for whatever you need, by your side both physically and spiritually. I’ve got your collective backs, am holding your hands and standing up for your rights. We are stronger united, open and honest. And those interested in putting forth or encouraging hate, misogyny and a having a racist bent can feel free to delete me from your friends and life if I haven’t done it to you already.

Love,
MC

History: Van Halen at Cafe Wha?

“I am with the whole team right now. We want to know who you are writing for and where we can follow up and find your stories at.
Are you on assignment or can you get assigned by one of your publications.
Please let me know asap.
Thanks”

I received that message from Van Halen’s publicist – Eddie Van Halen’s wife Janie – in the middle of the afternoon five years ago today. Immediately I responded with my editor’s contact information for the Boston Phoenix, who I would be covering the invite only show for by the band at the tiny basement club Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. The day before, I had been told that I was on the wait list. Now it was looking like I might actually have a shot at attending.

Eight minutes later, this message came through:

“Ok my friend, we will see this evening.
There are no plus ones at all so please come alone.
Thanks and look forward to seeing u tonight!”

Holy SHIT. This was really happening.

dlr
I took this fucking photo!!

Continue reading “History: Van Halen at Cafe Wha?”