"The Spaghetti Incident?"

Set lists and a little bit of Rock

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Rise of the The Silver Scroll.

The five finalists for NZ's pre-eminent songwriting award are:

Sean Donnelly (SJD) - Beautiful Haze
Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks) - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!
Jason Kerrison, Bobby Kennedy, Matt Treacy & Clinton Harris (Opshop) - Maybe
Brooke Fraser - Albertine
Liam Finn - Second Chance

This year saw the implementation of a new judging process. Entries were whittled down by an "expert panel" to a shortlist of 20 songs (see the list here) before allowing all APRA members to select the final five. This opening-up of the selection process has meant that a few more "well-known" songs have made the cut as opposed to previous years where there were usually one or two lesser known songs and artists. None of the five finalists have previously won which makes it harder to predict. I'm placing me bet on The Mint Chicks - the Silver Scroll judges have always gone for a more progressive choice and The Mint Chicks seem to have that alternative edge going for them and the song's idisyncratic enough to stand out against the rest. Neil Finn didn't win his first Scroll until 2001 so it'd be pretty daring for them to give it to son Liam at such an early stage in his career, and I don't think Brooke Fraser's Albertine is strong enough (it's a admirable "message" song, but I would've gone for Deciphering Me, which was shortlisted, or Shadowfeet which are both arguable stronger in melody and songwriting hooks). Opshop's Maybe proves an interesting threat, the first kiwi song to top the iTunes NZ chart and a formidable radio airplay hit - it's a strong song, but is pretty lightweight when stacked up against some of their other material. The SJD song is lovely and immaculately constructed like most of his other material, but for some reason I don't see the judges going for this one.

The awards presentation is held on 18 September at Auckland's Town Hall. As usual it's who will be asked to cover each of the finalists' songs that is generating the most buzz...

Saturday, 18 August 2007


Interview with Slash by Ed Condran

Q: Despite the success of Velvet Revolver, wherever you go, there's a GN'R reminder.

A: I know. Look at the cover of Rolling Stone. It's interesting to me that no matter what, that band is still on people's minds. It's on the edge of people's lips, good or bad, that's cool. I just don't know why they have an article on Velvet Revolver in the same issue.

Q: Perhaps to compare and contrast the bands. There are some similarities. Both groups have strong, identifiable frontmen. Not to get Spinal Tap on you, but you and Weiland are like fire and ice.

A: Working with Weiland is like working with Axl (Rose) in a way. They both have a lot to offer. But not to get Spinal Tap on you (laughs), Scott is a visionary. He sees things differently than I do. He sees the whole picture, while I'm a nuts-and-bolts guy with a short attention span. I see black and white and go for the punch to the chest. He sees things peripherally. We're a good combination.

Q: Producer Brendan O'Brien, who helmed productions for Stone Temple Pilots, works well with Weiland, but he also helped improve the guitar sound on "Libertad."

A: That happened because this album was really organic because of Brendan, who was like the sixth guy in the band. He just let us play. The guitar work was very natural and we left the imperfections there. Dave and I had guitar action. The atmosphere was among the most creative I've ever experienced.

Q: "Libertad" is more cohesive and muscular than your first disc, "Contraband." The disc has more of that old-time rock feel that's missing today.

A: We love that sound. We wanted to nail it with this album. The most important thing is that we weren't satisfied. Sure, "Contraband" sold a lot of copies, but that's not what it's all about for us. We really went into this project wanting to make an album that would still be around and played in 20 years.

Q: Like "Appetite for Destruction."

A: Yeah, something that stands the test of time like "Appetite for Destruction." Why that album still does so well, well, your guess is as good as mine.

Q: I think it has something to do with the danger element. Rock just isn't as dangerous as it was 20 years ago, particularly at Guns' shows.

A: The danger aspect is right on, because when I go to shows today, it's just about always safe and predictable.

Q: Part of the reason for that is that there are so few entertaining and exciting frontmen. However, you're working with Weiland and then there was Axl. Both can be captivating.

A: It's true. Scott has a sense of style and charisma. Axl was a great entertainer as well. But those days with Axl are so long ago, and part of the reason the way things went the way they did with Guns N' Roses was because that band is all about excess, which was one of the reasons the band didn't last forever.

Q: You've been through a lot between band tensions and rock 'n' roll excesses. How have you survived?

A: There are two things that have helped me survive. There's my guitar and my music, and sometimes that wasn't enough. The real grounding factor is my family. I'm married and I have two kids, who are 5 and 3. That's been a real stabilizing force. When London, my oldest, was born, I still hadn't learned my lesson. I still toyed with self-destruction. But that's not the way I am anymore. I need self-preservation more than anything.

Monday, 13 August 2007

They all said Velvet Revolver would never last.

They all said Velvet Revolver would never last.

This article is by Ben Rayner, Pop Music Critic....

The music business is stingy in granting its icons successful second acts, but the rock gods have been uncommonly generous to Velvet Revolver. It was warily regarded upon its creation five years ago as another "supergroup" of dubious motivation, a late-career time-waster for several aging rock 'n' roll enfants terribles with proud pasts and similarly proud, shared appetites for chemical self-destruction.

But now Velvet Revolver is an ongoing concern, with a couple of million in record sales under its belt, enviable commercial-radio muscle and the growing – if grudging – approval of numerous critics who have witnessed the Los Angeles quintet's live shows and conceded evidence of some real, no-foolin' "band" fireworks onstage.

The meeting of charismatic Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, long-unemployed Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner and half the Use Your Illusion-era lineup of Guns N' Roses – ringleted guitar hero Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum – on 2004's Contraband didn't exactly yield an Abbey Road or an OK Computer. But, with apologies to perpetually overlooked '80s-hardcore hero Kushner, it did sound reassuringly like the GNR of old fronted by the Scott Weiland of old, and the disc went down just fine after half-a-dozen beers with the lads or piping out of the car stereo on a summer road trip.

All requirements the members of Velvet Revolver would surely agree are integral to the breed of metallic, Sunset Strip sleaze they purvey.

"We still have the same influences we've pretty much always have," drawls the laid-back, chatty Slash (a.k.a. Saul Hudson, 42) from Sturgis, S.D., where Velvet Revolver is about to play at a legendary local biker rally some 500,000 riders strong that he pronounces "the pinnacle of the culture."

"We're genuine. That's where we come from and that's the only style of doing things that we really know because that was the stuff that first turned us on. And that stuff is just the really great rock 'n' roll that's come out in – well, the past 50 years.

"You can always expect there's going to be a watered-down version of that music on the radio that's gonna be heavily marketed and all that stuff, but that's just the way it is. We don't have anything to do with that. The band's coming from the purest place."

The cynical might be inclined to point out the marketing of Velvet Revolver's rise has been a tad heavy, but Guns N' Roses never pretended to be anything but an extra-debauched distillation of such arena-rockin' forebears as The Rolling Stones, the Stooges, Aerosmith and Thin Lizzy – at least until Axl Rose's god complex set in, anyway – and Stone Temple Pilots were always quite open about the correlation between "grunge" and '70s c--k-rock. Just because the results tend to sell records doesn't negate their honesty; there are musicians, after all, who don't view "fun," power ballads or mass adulation as enemies of their art.

In any case, Velvet Revolver was braced for the haters when Contraband came out, perhaps even more so when it went on to hit double-platinum sales in the U.S. and Canada. And, says Slash, all involved feel somewhat "vindicated" now that "the brouhaha over the band being a `supergroup' has moved to a more respectful area" since the release of its second album, Libertad, last month.

After an energizing, pre-release teaser tour of small venues this past May that included Toronto's Kool Haus, Velvet Revolver upsizes to the Molson Amphitheatre tonight.

"I don't think we knew what exactly to expect, but we were taking it seriously from the get-go. It was something we were all very passionate about," he says. "We had no ideas that it was going to be, like, a quick thing, even though some people in the beginning kinda looked at it like that.

"It sort of goes with the territory. I know, being a big rock fan myself, you can be very judgmental when somebody who was in a band you're a huge fan of all of a sudden takes a left turn. I can think of a lot of bands who have made dramatic personnel changes or broken up and it's hard to accept and, for whatever reasons, some people can't get over that. But actually being in a band – especially after you've worked with one band for so long – to turn around and find that same chemistry with a different group of people, that's a huge accomplishment. You get very inspired when that happens and you just sort of go with it, regardless of what anybody else is thinking."

Doubts of Velvet Revolver's longevity were definitely circulating during the making of Libertad.

Original producer Rick Rubin was dismissed early on for Brendan O'Brien, delaying the record's projected release date. Weiland – whose initial involvement in the band was curtailed to mere months by enforced rehab and jail time related to a relapse of his infamous drug habit – and Sorum both lost brothers to addiction-related mishaps within the space of a few days. Meanwhile, the former's wild-child reputation was further solidified in March when a spat with his wife led to the trashing of a ritzy Burbank hotel and her subsequent burning of his expensive wardrobe outside of their home. Slash, for his part, has confessed to an OxyContin "smack binge" and a stint in rehab following the comedown from the Contraband tour.

It's almost as if, having established itself as more than a passing whim with Contraband and its subsequent tour, Velvet Revolver collectively, even subconsciously, required further adversity to fire itself up again.

"You almost look for a difficult time because it gives you that edge to give it the right kick, I suppose," Slash says. "You do everything the hard way on purpose. But there's a certain kind of integrity in doing what you want to do and having to put up with the struggle.

"Music is also the catalyst that lets you survive the hard knocks that life throws at you. There's something very cathartic about the music we do and just being a musician and a member of a group, so that helps work a lot of stuff out."

The grizzled Velvet Revolver crew can also derive satisfaction from forging ahead against the lure of the lucrative greatest-hits circuit that Slash acknowledges has rendered many of his contemporaries "bitter" automatons enslaved to their back catalogues.

At least, he says, Velvet Revolver sees enough teens and early 20-somethings in the crowds each night to reassure itself it's not playing to "just a bunch of old STP and GNR fans out there clinging to the dream."

"They're out there, don't get me wrong. I read Blabbermouth and all that and there are all these people out there blogging about Guns N' Roses today," he says, carefully sidestepping the observation Velvet Revolver has more claim to GNR authenticity than the Axl Rose solo show occasionally making the rounds today. "I don't even really pay attention to that to the extent that I wanna get into comparisons. But it was 10 years ago, okay? Who knew that Guns N' Roses was going to sustain that kind of enthusiasm for so long? It's absolutely a phenomenon that I was part of, so that's cool. But it's also interesting to see the amount of time people spend dwelling on it.

"Ever since I first started doing this, I've really, really had this unbridled passion for rock and the whole kind of energy that goes with it and playing guitar ... and that never changes in me. As soon as that starts feeling stagnant or not as fun anymore, then you need to sort that out or move on. It's not like you can go back and learn something else, so you'd better have a good f---in' time. But I know a lot of musicians, a lot of peers, who are definitely not thrilled to be doing it anymore and I'm fortunate not to be one of those."

Friday, 10 August 2007

Its so easy

From Popbitch:

Fergie's band has impressed in New Zealand. Having
got the hotel bell-hop to score weed for them, they
invited him to join an all day smoking session.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Lose Control

Lose control with the lads from Infrared - Charlie, Ben and Carl this Thursday at the Adelaide. If any thing, the piss is cheap and the music loud ..and they don't start till after Shortland St is over so no excuses! See you there Bern!

Here's their gig guide for Sept...

9 Aug 2007 8:30 p The Adelaide Wellington
18 Aug 2007 8:30 p EP RELEASE HOUSE PARTY Wellington
5 Sep 2007 8:30 p The Valve - EP TOUR Wellington
7 Sep 2007 8:30 p Basement Bar - w/ KITSCH and guests!! - EP TOUR New Plymouth
8 Sep 2007 8:30 p The PR BAR - EP TOUR Auckland
14 Sep 2007 7:00 p Oldsubnine (ALL AGES) - EP TOUR Wellington
21 Sep 2007 8:30 p The Adelaide - EP RELEASE Wellington
27 Sep 2007 9:30 p The Valve Bar Wellington
28 Sep 2007 6:00 p Real Groovy Wellington - INSTORE EP SHOW Wellington

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