Archive for October, 2013

I love a good rockumentary and these days I seem to watch more documentaries than I do movies. I think this is because of my OCD of wanting to know everything about rock n roll and its origins. Well, to be honest, it’s mostly because I am a wannabe music journalist and I like to keep up on my knowledge so that I am not looking like a complete buffoon when I am writing about music or a particular band. While this is by no means a definitive list, and let’s face it, lists are fuckin’ stupid, really, this list is a bunch of documentaries that I personally love; documentaries that have taught me something. I hope you will search these out or watch them at the links below (for those that have links to the full movie) and feel free to leave a comment below about what you thought of each one, especially if you had never seen them before. Anyway, get yourself a pizza, a drink, sit back and watch cos you’re in for a real treat.

10. PUNK: ATTITUDE
There is nothing to fault in this documentary and you all need to see it. I mean, come on, the first person talking is Henry Rollins. I rest my case. Don Letts’ Punk is filled with great interviews and some mindblowing live footage by some of the greatest bands of all time. It also has a bitchin’ soundtrack. Why you wouldn’t watch this is kinda stupid and you should be ashamed of yourself if you’re not going to do so. Seriously, don’t be ‘that guy’, watch it now at the link below and learn something.

 

9. ANOTHER STATE OF MIND
One of the best and probably the most honest punk rock documentary that has been made to date. Filmed back in 1982, Another State Of Mind follows a tour of Youth Brigade and Social Distortion as they tour across the USA and through parts of Canada. What they weren’t banking on was everything going to shit with band members talking shit about each other and others just getting up and leaving mid-tour while some dude dyes his hair every couple days. It’s a really raw doco but it really shows just how things were back in the day and how doing things yourself can have great ramifications. Along the way they meet up with straight-edge legends, Minor Threat, and the live footage and interviews are killer. I’d love to see this doco made again with the same people at the age they are now and see just how different, if at all, these people are today.

 

8. THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World, The Little Rascals, Suburbia), this movie takes a candid look inside the world of punk rock in 1980. I could go on about this doco all day but it can seriously be summed up by watching the last 10 or so minutes with the live footage of the band FEAR who before playing a single note start a riot on stage with punches thrown and spit flying both to and from the stage. This is punk rock long before the breakthrough in 1994. This is when shit was dangerous. Penelope Spheeris went on to make a follow up years later on the heavy metal movement and that is also some priceless viewing. Look it up! The interview with Chris Holmes in the swimming pool will forever go down in history as cinematic gold. In the meantime, watch this.

 

7. A HEADBANGERS JOURNEY
Canadian metal fan, Sam Dunn, decided to make a doco on the world of heavy metal. While there have been many documentaries on heavy metal, this one stands out as one of the best. The interviews are classic (Mayhem’s being the most memorable), the live footage is great, and the story telling is just precise and delivered with a genuine love for the music and not a cash-in on a music scene by some Hollywood exec who knows nothing about it. A Headbangers Journey is a definite must see and chances are, if you are reading this site, then you’ve already seen it which in turn makes this suggestion completely redundant. Couldn’t find a link to the full thing so here’s the trailer.

 

6. SOME KIND OF MONSTER
I have spoken about this doco elsewhere on this site but it has to be said, any band that can sue its fans, make this highly embarrassing documentary, release St Anger and Lulu, and still continue to be the biggest band in “metal” is commendable. I don’t know how it happened but it did and this film is just priceless and worthy of your time. Sure, you’ll probably end up throwing a book at the TV (or whatever else is within your reach at the time) but that just goes to show that Metallica can really work an audience and get them feeling something. All the arguing and the ridiculousness of this movie as they record St Anger is at times extremely painful to watch but I still get a kick out it, especially the therapy sessions with guy in the Cosby sweater. I can’t find a link to the movie but here’s a link to the trailer which is just fine cos after three minutes you’ll probably be over it anyway. If that happens, just watch Cliff Em All instead. That’s a good one.

 

5. FLIGHT 666
If you ever want to know how a band with more money than you’ll ever dream of spends their time both on and off the stage, then look no further than Iron Maiden’s very own Flight 666. Directed by Sam Dunn (A Headbanger’s Journey), our British godfathers of heavy metal allowed a film crew to tag along on their Somewhere Back In Time Tour of 2008 to capture the bands day to day activites, both on and off the stage. Flight 666 takes you everywhere with classic interviews and some seriously awesome live footage. Actually, I am really only including this documentary because I’m in it, albeit fleetingly (giving the metal horns at 20:47). You’ve no doubt seen this movie anyway but still, here’s the link for those who have not been blessed with such awesomeness.

 

4. LEMMY – The Movie
This really is a no-brainer. If you enjoy rock music of any kind then you should have already seen this movie. It’s everything you need to know about one of rock n roll’s living legends, Lemmy Kilmister. Fronting Motorhead for what seems like half a century, Lemmy – The Movie, takes you on a firsthand look at the icon’s lifestyle, his relentless touring, and his love of rock n roll as told by the man himself and the many who have been involved with him throughout his career. This is essential viewing and if you still have yet to see it, you need to drop everything and watch it now.

 

3. BETTY BLOWTORCH AND HER AMAZING TRUE LIFE ADVENTURES
When director, Anthony Scarpa, set out to make a documentary on all-girl hard rock band, Betty Blowtorch, he had no idea what was going to unfold. This amazing no holds barred documentary tells the uncensored story of the short-lived band’s beginnings, recordings and their tour across the USA that saw the band fall to pieces ending with the untimely and tragic death of vocalist, Bianca Halstead. This documentary has it all and then some. There’s fights, punk as fuck over the top stage shows, perversion, and most importantly, a ton of rock n roll. The DVD also contains a whole bunch of extras including the readings from Bianca’s funeral. This documentary is very rock n roll but also quite heartbreaking to watch as the band members tell extremely personal stories that are both shocking and unbelievable. Betty Blowtorch were a band who were as real as they come. I couldn’t find a link to the entire movie but apparently this link may work elsewhere as it says that the movie is not available in Australia so feel free to check it out if you’re elsewhere. Still, here’s the trailer. A taster of what you will expect from a band whose time was taken from them way too soon. Bianca R.I.P.

 

2. END OF THE CENTURY – The Story Of The Ramones
To make the definitive movie about punk legends, the Ramones, would have been an arduous task. It’s also something that should have happened a lot earlier than it did. Unfortunately, we thought the Ramones would live forever just like their songs will live on in the hearts of the people that connected with it. End Of The Century is both inspirational and depressing, yet it’s as close as we will ever get to knowing the story. This movie really digs deep and cuts hard, leaving the viewer with a warm feeling of love and appreciation for everything they ever did for the music we hear today. I mean, let’s be honest here: The Ramones were the greatest band of all time. What they did for music will mostly go ignored by the mainstream media and you know what? Who fucking cares. The mainstream never mattered to begin with. The Ramones connected with their legions of fans across the world, as is evident in this documentary, and that will mean more than being accepted by the mainstream public. Us fans know what they did and the lives they have inspired, the bands they have influenced, and the legacy they have left. Long live the Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey!

 

1. A TRUE TESTIMONIAL
Before Detroit went to complete financial ruin, this incredible documentary was made by people with an insatiable lust of telling the most in-depth story on one of the most important bands in music history; The MC5. What we have here is two solid hours of rare footage of the band compiled with a truckload of highly informative interviews with each band member, people who were close to the band, and of course their very own spiritual adviser, John Sinclair. The thing that makes this documentary stand apart from other music documentaries is that this movie isn’t just about the MC5. This is a movie about the people of Detroit, the music of Detroit, and what was happening in the world during the years the band was active. Of course it all ties back to the band but there is something so powerful, so inspiring and so unique about this documentary that it is a travesty that it has yet to be seen by every single person in the world. This is an important documentary and is one that if you have the time, you need to watch immediately. You might even learn something about music and why it is so important to so many people. You may pick up a guitar and kick out the jams. Or at the least, you may feel so inspired to create something beautiful, and if any of these things happen, hopefully the world will become a much better place.

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For me, Devin Townsend has always been an interesting character. When I first heard Strapping Young Lad, I just couldn’t get into it. It just didn’t make sense to me, it was too chaotic and just wasn’t connecting with me at the time. I was already into his solo material because, let’s face it, I’m a sucker for melodies and his solo work is packed full of them. The song Christeen is a prime example of the melodies and use of harmonies that I love. Then some day I was just listening away to music on my lonesome and I decided to give SYL another go. I don’t know what prompted me to do this but the song I listened to was a track called Love. I don’t know what it was but it just resonated with me and right from that moment forward, I have been an avid fan. I don’t know what it was specifically about that day but it just hit me and I was hooked right in. Done and dusted. I was a converted fan and I was loving it.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to interview Devin on the phone for HEAVY Magazine and seen him live in concert, one of these shows was an intimate acoustic show at Allan’s music in Melbourne where for three hours Devin told stories and played a bunch of tunes in the most stripped back ways without all the effects, drums, guitars and keyboards. It was really surreal and quite a moving experience.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be granted an interview with Devin for HEAVY TV. The interview was to be held at The Palace Theatre, the same venue that he would be performing at that night. The interview was to be done after soundcheck so I got there around 4:30pm and met up with the host, Doug Steele. Around 5pm we were let in and after a bit of nosing around, we decided that we would hold the interview upstairs on the top floor where everything we walked on seemed to have been covered with alcohol making the soles of our shoes stick with every step. Good times!

We set up around these couches which seemed like as good a place as any to interview the Canadian metal rocker. After much rearranging of furniture we got the place all looking good for the shots we wanted as Devin ran through a soundcheck that sounded pretty awesome. Once soundcheck was over, Devin was brought up for his HEAVY TV interview. Like always, he was friendly and seemed really relaxed. While we were getting the microphone settings right, he engaged in conversation with us about anything and everything and was quite humorous through the whole thing.

Then came interview time. The cameras rolled and away Doug went with his questions and praise for his guest. The whole thing was extremely interesting and insightful as Townsend answered every question with a genuine interest in all that was asked of him. For a good solid 20 minutes he gave us his time in what was no doubt a busy schedule and for that we thank him. After the interview was done, the crew snapped some photos and got some signatures. Mine? The book that came with the Strapping Young Lad vinyl boxset. Personalised by the man himself to.

An all round solid day and a great success to everyone involved with the HEAVY TV crew (Sheri, Mike, Doug, and myself). Stay tuned to HEAVY TV for the link to the video interview.

 

A vinyl-junkie’s journey from the coldness of Melbourne, Australia to Jack White’s wax wonderland in Nashville, TN.

A goal of mine for a while has been to visit Third Man Records. Having been a huge fan of Jack White’s music and his many projects that he has been and is involved with, it was only just that on my recent trip to the USA that I head to Nashville, TN and see what all the kafuffle is myself. Arriving at Third Man on a Monday morning, before me stood a building that was much bigger than I had anticipated. The building is quite large and besides the record store houses a live music venue, a photography studio and offices out back where Mr White himself, I assume, does his business signing bands and coming up with more crazy, wild and wacky looking vinyl releases.

After posing for photos outside this lovely establishment, it was time to head inside. The shop itself is not large by any means but it works. Upon walking in the front door I was greeted by the friendly and quite pretty lass behind the counter and suddenly that feeling hit my stomach of knowing I will not be leaving the store empty handed. There was no point in trying to fight it. I was doomed! I was going to be handing over my credit card to indulge myself in vinyl goodies.

Lining the walls behind the counter are countless rarities of Third Man releases including the legendary triple decker record; an ingenious 12” single by The Dead Weather that you need to crack open to get to the 7” record that sits inside it so you can hear the unreleased song that is on it. There are also limited coloured vinyl pressings, Third Man Vault editions (I suggest you sign up now, trust me, it’s pretty damn cool!), and there’s more White Stripes memorabilia than you can poke a stick at. For those who like art, there are also posters to buy and the counter is filled with Third Man knick knacks from stickers to record cleaners to 7” adapters and slipmats.

For those who have a vinyl addiction, the shelves of Third Man are packed full of 45s and LPs for you to purchase. For a label that has released over 300 releases since its inception, there is no shortage of great releases for you to buy with new music being dished out to the public regularly. Keep in mind that if you are going there to pick up the latest album by whatever band you are currently listening to, the records on sale at Third Man Records are Third Man releases only. There is no used vinyl section either so if you’re looking for those rare punk / hardcore records, or if you are like me and enjoy buying shitty 80s metal records, you will come up empty. I recommend for these items you head to Grimeys which is only a five minute drive away.

One of the stores main star attractions is the infamous Third Man Novelties Lounge; an area of fun and games that to use requires the purchase of Third Man tokens that will set you back around $1 a piece.

The lounge features a Mold-A-Rama where you can make your very own wax mold of Jack White’s classic airline guitar for a measly 3 tokens. These machines are usually found at museums and the like across the USA and the Third Man one is probably the coolest one yet. Just be careful handling it as soon as it’s made because it’s hot for a minute or two. Not hot as in you’ll burn yourself but hot as in it’s a tad too hot to just hold onto straight out of the machine. Basically, treat it like a fresh cup of coffee.

There’s also the Third Man Monkey Band; a machine that plays a song while a motorised monkey band plays along – guess the song and you go in a draw to win a prize. It’s kinda silly but it’s amusing to see.

Want some memories of your time at the store? Why not jump inside the photo booth for some old-school snapshots?! These photo booths are always good times so get in, take some snaps and cherish your memories of your time at Third Man. Note: Make sure you adjust the seat to the correct height because you don’t want to be taking photos of your forehead or your torso. Or do you?

One of the lounge’s most impressive attractions is the Scopitone that features over 30 actual 16mm films of Third Man music videos. This ain’t no DVD video jukebox, this is a real deal Scopitone packed with all the quality, beauty and uniqueness of film but with the audio awesomeness of your favourite Third Man bands.

Want to hear a Third Man release that you haven’t heard before? Why not request to hear a record on the Third Man listening station? A turntable set up alongside a jar of complimentary White Stripes candy that spins Third Man releases while you gaze up at the wall displaying a whole bunch of Third Man t-shirts at $25 each.

Last but not least and no doubt their most prized possession is the Third Man Record Booth; a telephone booth-like device that seems too good to be true. A place where people can record 111 seconds of themselves and press their very own vinyl record. A genius idea and one that no doubt sees endless traffic passing through the store. In fact, Mudhoney’s very own Steve Turner recorded his own record there recently. There is a tambourine and an acoustic guitar for you to use if you wish to get creative. The machine presses to acetate within minutes and will set you back a measly $15 which is a pretty good price for the enjoyment and fun that comes with your very own voice on record. Why not record a song for someone and send it to them in the mail as a surprise? Well, you’re in luck! Third Man also has postage paid envelopes for $3 that allows you to do just that! The hardest part is giving up something that you know there is going to be only one copy of. Note: If you are making the trek to Third Man just to record in the booth, I’d suggest that you phone ahead first. When I went back to the store on the Wednesday, the machine was out of acetates to record to.

Inside the record booth, I recorded an acoustic track of a song I had written with my band back in 1999. Whilst I didn’t get through the whole song before the timer ran out, it was done for kicks and that feeling of accomplishment was enough for me to not care. You can hear my acoustic rendition of Muscle Car’s song, Sandra Sully, below to give you an idea of the sound quality:

And you can hear the actual recorded electric version of that song here:

All of these things combined has made Third Man Records more than just another record store; it’s a Nashville tourist attraction. While I was in the store I saw people making a stop just to have a look inside. A sign that you can still get people interested in the love of vinyl. As the store says, your turntable is not dead. So when in Nashville why not pop in and grab yourself a slab of wax and enjoy the love of vinyl’s warm and perfect sound. If you don’t have a turntable, don’t stress because Third Man sell them as well. Of course they do.

If passing through Nashville, TN, stopping in at Third Man is a definite must. Sure, you won’t find any Taylor Swift merchandise there but you will most definitely walk away with something cool. It’s hard not to, the shop exudes huge amounts of cool.

Third Man Records is located at 623 7th Avenue South, Nashville, TN. The shop’s hours are 10-6 Mon-Sat and 12-5 Sun. For more information call 615.891.4393

In just under 2 weeks I will be seeing the new Metallica film, Through The Never, at the IMAX theatre here in Melbourne. Ever since the film’s unveiling at the San Diego Comic Con this year, to say I have been anticipating this is a bit of an understatement. I just got back from the USA and when I was on the flight home, before I took my Xanax tablet to pass out and sleep the whole way, I quickly checked the film guide to see if it was showing on one of the plane’s gazillion movie channels. It wasn’t. Still though, seeing this movie at the IMAX theatre in 3D is kind of a big deal for me because not only is it in 3D so I am sure to have a killer headache before the movie is over but I very rarely go see movies in the cinema anymore and this is for a number of reasons;

1) I really don’t like people who have no cinema etiquette and therefore make my viewing of movies at the cinema a complete waste of money and time. Yes Mr “I have seen this movie already, even those I am seeing on opening night, and therefore I will tell you what happens before the scene even eventuates”, I am talking to you. You are the worst. Please stay home.
2) I don’t really care for most movies made these days and so therefore will wait for the DVD / BLU-RAY release to watch it in the privacy of my own home because of people in reason 1.
3) Cinema food pricing is completely ludicrous and more unrealistic than the pricing of a croissant at the airport.
and
4) I really get annoyed by walk-in-late guy – you know, the one who walks in 5 minutes after the movie starts and then always sits right in front of you and then opens up his Malteasers or packet of crisps and makes a shitload of noise thus making me miss an integral part of what is being said. Annoying!

Sure, I will take some of the blame because I should just not go there and therefore I wouldn’t deal with such things but every now and then it’s nice to get out of the house and actually do something entertaining like seeing a movie. The last film I saw in the cinema was in the USA a week and a half ago. It was a movie about a mafia family starring Robert De Niro. It was one of those cheap Tuesday nights in California and I went along with 3 friends. Hey, who am I to turn down good times and no hassles? It was either go see a movie or stay at the house alone and look at all the stuff I bought that wasn’t going to fit in my suitcase… again. I opted for the movie. The cinema was pretty empty and the film was kinda lame, even for a De Niro movie. It had its humorous moments but it’s not a film I will be re-watching in a hurry. In fact, if I saw this at someone’s house in their DVD collections I’d probably question them on why they feel the need to see this movie more than once. It’s not like it was Taxi Driver or the Blues Brothers, this was some film called The Family. Don’t waste your time unless you want to see Dianna Agron kill some dude with a tennis racket.

ANYWAY, Through The Never looks bitchin’! The fact that Metallica has made, or should I say, is part of an action movie is something that sounds better on paper than it probably will be but for the sake of this article, I am going to be optimistic. Well, to be honest, I am actually pretty damn excited by it. I have this love / hate relationship with Metallica. For one thing, every tour they do, I’m there. Every book on them, I’m buying it. Every DVD / BLU-RAY, yep, I snap them up too. Why? Cos I’m insane. Probably. No, but because I still enjoy Metallica. Sure, I haven’t bought an album since And Justice For All (I don’t really count the Garage Days double release cos that’s not technically an official album), but that doesn’t hold me back from seeing the Californian quartet in concert and deliving into their lives through books and documentaries. It’s a habit, I guess. I first saw Metallica in Adelaide at the Thebarton Theatre in 1989 on their And Justice For All tour and I guess I’ve been hooked ever since. Now almost 25 years later, the thought of Metallica starring in their own movie seemed ridiculous back then but seems completely logical now. I mean, where do you go after writing disappointing albums with Lou Reed? Exactly… straight to Hollywood! And what better way to bring in the audiences around the world than with a bitchin’ soundtrack and a shitload of explosions and guns n stuff? Damn straight!

This isn’t the first time that metal has hit the cinemas here in Melbourne. Back when Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 was shown in the cinema here, I was over the moon and not just because my ugly face is in it but because a doco on Iron Maiden was being shown in a cinema setting and I was surrounded by a bunch of Melbourne metal heads and great friends. That combination always makes for good times. Even Poodle was there, surprisingly (or not surprisingly), with two bourbons. Yes, even the most hardcore of Melbourne’s music scene will find a way to get bourbons into a cinema. Good job! Sam Dunn’s documentary on one of metal’s greatest bands gave all fans of Maiden a taste of what it’s like to fly your own plane around the world, play some shows along with a few rounds of golf and tennis, all the while keeping your hands out of your pockets because, according to the old man working for Maiden who confronted a friend’s brother on the matter, it’s just unacceptable.

But I digress, Through The Never may sound and look cheesy but I am actually pretty damn anxious for its release. What we have here is a band who sadly ran out of fresh ideas finally come up with a fresh idea! I probably haven’t been this excited since that day I saw the VHS of Rock N Roll Highschool starring the Ramones on the shelves of Civic Video in Salisbury for $2 a week. I was thankful then just as I am thankful now.

Metallica are no stranger to movies though. Who could forget their reveal all documentary Some Kind Of Monster; a gripping documentary that follows the band recording one of the worst albums of their career while going through therapy in the midst of an emotional breakdown. The film is filled with classic moments in cinematic history as the band fight with each other pretty much the whole way through whilst the director intersperses scenes of Lars Ulrich talking about the black on some shitty paintings he owned and then re-sold for millions, James Hetfield driving around and talking hot rods, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine crying because he isn’t making as many millions as his former band (how distressing), Rob Trujillo being welcomed to the band with a one million dollar token of the band’s gratitude, and the highlight of the movie; the band’s therapist, while wearing a Cosby sweater, offers to write the band’s lyrics. It’s a touching movie that I recommend everyone see. Not only does the film show how embarrassing it must be at times to be in Metallica knowing that you haven’t done a great album in years, but it even goes to show that you can sue your fans for illegally downloading your albums and then still continue on to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest band in metal today. It’s kinda ridiculous when you think about it. I think KISS are probably the only other band capable of suing their fans and then, once out of court, those financially out of pocket fans will still manage to scrounge up enough money to buy the next set of KISS shot glasses and golf balls without hesitation. The mind boggles. Still, Some Kind Of Monster is highly recommended and I’m sure, or at least hoping that the KISS one that is currently being made will be just as amusing.

Even though taking the piss out of Metallica is almost as fun as ragging on KISS, I have to admit that I am still a huge fan (actually I am a KISS fan too but that’s a whole different article in itself). Sure, I don’t own the Load albums, the orchestra one, or their last 3 debacles (Sorry, Deth Magnetic, you showed promise but your production killed you) but that doesn’t matter because it’s Metallica. I just returned home from the USA with like 3 new books on the band. Maybe I have a problem? It wouldn’t be the first time this is pointed out to me. Still, Through The Never looks to be a whole load of fun. I am anticipating Saturday the 12th of October as I settle into my uncomfy seat for two hours and experience what’s sure to be the blockbuster event of the year. It looks to be a night of good times and no hassles. I hope you can join us.

Oh, and if you’re coming along to this momentous night, please open your Malteasers and potato crisps before going into the cinema. Thanks.