Tag Archive for music

You Should Be Listening to Clutch

Whether we’re talking writing, art, music or filmmaking, word of mouth is key to a creator’s survival. Someone could write the most amazing piece of literature ever put to paper, but it won’t make a lick of difference if only three people read it.

Sure, advertising and marketing help, but they can only go so far. How many over-hyped blockbuster flops have we seen the past several years? Once word gets out the plot sucks, the acting is terrible, and the flick is just plain boring, it doesn’t matter how much money the studio threw at the advertising department.

What needs to happen is those first three people need to tell everyone they know how incredible the creation they just experienced is. Sure, I’ll settle for them telling three more people each, but if you finish the last track on an album and say, “Wow, that was awesome,” then you need to tell everyone. Remember the true meaning of awesome? Something that fills you with awe. Something awe-inspiring, not just, “Yeah, that was pretty good.”

Which brings me to Clutch. They’re not exactly a small band, but it surprises me how few people have heard of them. They have their own label, they tour like crazy, and they get some play on satellite radio, but I have yet to hear them on any terrestrial radio stations. They first came close to mainstream with their “Electric Worry” playing in the background of commercials for the Left 4 Dead game series.

They deserve more exposure. Their songwriting and studio work is damn good, but the awesome part comes during their live shows. These guys kill it on stage. No spectacle or flashy lights and pyro, just some damn fine playing, and most of the time in small, intimate clubs where you can get up close, like so:

BOW TO THE ALMIGHTY CLUTCH!

Suddenly I feel like a stalker

I first discovered them when they opened for Pantera fifteen or so years back at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. They performed most of their first full-length album, and I distinctly remember “Rock & Roll Outlaw”. Even today it’s one of my favorite tracks, and it’s not unusual to catch my kids singing it. (For a while it was my middle son’s most-requested song in the car.)

I mention Clutch now because they just released a new album, Earth Rocker, last month. You need it. Their work is primarily rock, with their earlier work leaning toward hard rock, but they also have a strong blues influence that comes to the surface from time to time. Take, for example, “Gone Cold” off Earth Rocker:

Love it. Yet you still get their songs influenced by cars and science fiction, like “Crucial Velocity”:

I’m looking forward to hearing these tracks live. They’re going to be playing the House of Blues in Chicago on Friday, April 12th, but it’s not looking like I’ll be able to make it. Fortunately I caught them at a small club in Joliet back in November, so I at least got my fix.

Even if these particular tracks don’t catch your ear, check out some of their other albums. They have a real range to their music, and there’s sure to be something for everyone. In fact, I’ll leave you with another of my favorites, “The Regulator” off of Blast Tyrant.

That may actually sound familiar to some of you. Remember when I said their first flirting with the mainstream was “Electric Worry”? Well, “The Regulator” saw airtime during an episode of The Walking Dead.

Boom. Now it’s clicking.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Your Top 10 Songs

Ever checked out your top ten songs? I don’t mean the ones you sit back and think up a list of, but I mean the ten songs that get the most play in your collection.

I just sorted my iTunes collection by Plays, giving me a listing of my music sorted by the number of times they’ve been played. Granted this is just going to be over the time I’ve had my iPod, but it still spans almost four years. I’d say that’s a good enough sample for my purposes.

Here, then, are my actual top 10 songs, counting down to #1 in true Billboard fashion:

10) “California Über Alles”, The Dead Kennedys
Old school punk for the win.

9) “Astronomy”, Metallica
Love this Blue Öyster Cult cover. These days I think Garage, Inc. is one of the best Metallica albums, despite it being a collection of covers.

8) “Caress Me Down”, Sublime
Mucho gusto, me llamo Mikey…

7) “Mother”, Danzig
So many reasons I dig this song. I also remember it really hitting its stride on the radio several years after its first release.

6) “Cowboys from Hell”, Pantera
This is my get-pumped-and-break-shit track. It was my Power Song on Nike+ when running, the song I’d play on the last lap to get me back home. It almost killed me twice.

5) “Wake Up”, Pepper
This, on the other hand, is my chill song. I first heard it on Sirius and was hooked.

4) “Smooth Criminal”, Alien Ant Farm
I dig this cover more than the original. While I do list it without shame, it appears high on the list because Little Bird loves this song and requests it in the car all the time. She calls it “Smooth Criminals” no matter how many times her big brothers correct her.

Yeah. I just watched the video all the way through before finishing this post.

3) “Electric Worry”, Clutch
“You can have your riches, all the gold you save, ain’t room for one thing in everybody’s grave.” Word. I was thrilled to see this song take off when it got used in the Left 4 Dead commercials. Selling out? Hell no. That’s called spreading the gospel, son.

2) “Waiting Room”, Fugazi
I was hooked on the bassline for a while. I’m kind of surprised I got it cranked to the top this way, but at the same time, when it shows up on shuffle, I don’t think I’ve ever skipped it. It was also part of my running playlist.

1) “Rock & Roll Outlaw”, Clutch
Clutch brings home two of the top three? Hells yes they do! One of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. Nonsense lyrics and a killer jam for the win. The Squirt picks this one a lot, and I’m always happy to play it with him. We sing it together. Hell, I’ve even caught him sitting alone in his room singing “Ee-aw, ee-aw, ee-aw, I’m a rock & roll outlaw!” Crank up your speakers and throw up the horns for the almighty Clutch:

So how ’bout it? What does your top 10 look like? Post in the comments, or post to your own blog and link back in the comments. No cheating!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Writin’ Music

This morning my man Jack Drew asked the Twitterers for suggestions for music to write to. I immediately offered up my go-to writin’ music, the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.

Dig:

I often prefer soundtracks and instrumental work. Danzig’s Black Aria is another one, or Pink Floyd’s Animals. Sometimes I’ll let the ambient noise of Ghosts I-IV from Nine Inch Nails fly. Surf guitar, like Los Straitjackets, works well. After a while I stop hearing the music anyway, and I let iTunes shuffle or I’ll pick a song and let it build a Genius playlist for me.

There are times I’ll shoot for a particular feel, though. I still adopt “Wolves & Werewolves” from The Pack A.D. as the unofficial theme song for Lie with the Dead (or even my entire Pack series), and iTunes will run with it and build me a good blues-rock mix with a little Rage Against the Machine for spice.

Time to write something steamy? I don’t always need music to get me in the mood, but one that always works is Tito & Tarantula’s “After Dark” off the From Dusk ‘Til Dawn soundtrack. Why that song? Observe:

I’ll always take a sleazy guitar riff over the old school R&B. It just works.

Am I still talking about writing? Right. Moving on.

Action scenes, I might queue up some punk or metal. Sometimes spoken word will pop through a shuffle, like something from Henry Rollins, but I have to hit skip so I don’t end up listening to it instead of writing.

Whatever the sound, having music on works. If I find myself procrastinating by surfing websites or fooling around on some social networking time suck, I will open up iTunes and just hit play. It’s almost a trigger for me. A Pavlovian reaction that goes “this happens, now I do this.” It’s not quite as effective as sitting down with a cigar and the iPad on the front porch, but it gets the job done.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time I fire up Pages and rock out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Tonight’s Tuneage

I’m working on The Pack: Lie with the Dead and jamming some tunes. When this song shuffled on, I cranked it up.

That’s Faith No More’s “The Zombie Eaters”. In fact, just buy the whole album. It’s brilliant.

I like rock and metal, but half the stuff that wakes me up on the clock radio makes me want to strangle the DJ. I’ve taken to calling it emo metal because all some of these bands seem to do is whine. They’re like shitty, open-mic poets after someone taught them a handful of chords.

“Stop cutting yourself and play this. Chicks dig it.”

And then we were all doomed.

Back to work.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Brian Posehn is More Metal Than You

I went out for lunch and heard Brian Posehn’s new song “More Metal Than You” on Sirius. Hilarious if you’re a metal fan!

Uh, not safe for work.

“Gene Simmons was my mohel, I’m more metal than you!” \m/

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Cowabunga!

Realized tonight there’s not near enough surf guitar music on my iPod. Bummer.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Fear of a Digital Age

It’s been nine years since Metallica launched their crusade against Napster. Since then we’ve also seen the MPAA and RIAA shit their respective beds, Sony’s assault on consumers, the DeCSS controversy, and the rise and fall of DRM.

Through that time, I’ve been wondering when the same behavior would hit the publishing industry. The Google Book Search brouhaha came first, and it was subsequently settled. Now we have the Kindle 2 and the controversy over its text-to-speech capabilities. Neither of these have been as bloody as the music and movie entertainment battles, but they amount to the same thing: a given body fighting change they don’t understand.

And the worst part is they’ve been through this before. Why aren’t the industries learning from their mistakes? Why aren’t they partnering with digital innovators instead of trying to crush them?

It also bothers me that it’s never been proven that all this digital bootlegging has been detrimental to the industry (in fact at least one study shows file sharing does not affect music sales). They see X number of people downloaded an album/movie or may have read a book on Google, and they claim it’s Y lost dollars. Meanwhile, they have no idea how many of those people turned around and bought a copy of the real thing. They have no idea how many of them enjoyed the item and told all their friends about it, and how many of those friends turned around and bought copies.

The music and movie industries are coming around, finally doing away with DRM and coming to agreements with distributors and retailers to get their product out in such a way the consumer won’t get screwed. I shudder to think of how much money they wasted on lawsuits, studies, and encryption/restriction research that ultimately failed.

With luck the publishing industry will step up before it’s too late. Guys like Cory Doctorow give away their books in multiple electronic formats, yet still sell enough copies that Tor Books is wiling to publish his work in hardcover. That may not be a common situation, but it shows that it can be done without harming sales.

For my own work, I know for a fact Werewolves: Call of the Wild showed up on several torrent sites. Did that have a negative effect on my sales? I sincerely doubt it. I’m much more concerned about the number of people who told me they ordered copies but their comic shop never received them. That tells me if I want to be read, I can’t rely solely on the current distribution model.

Whether we’re talking books, movies, comics, or music, they’re all about one thing: grabbing ears and eyeballs. If you can get enough people to pay attention, you’re going to make a profit, regardless of how the product is getting to those ears and eyeballs and how much they’re paying for it. Theft, be it shoplifiting or digital distribution, comes with the territory. It’s a cost of doing business, and publishing has been lucky to get a free pass for this long.

Keep in mind, people are not afraid to pay for their entertainment. Take movie ticket prices, for example. I spent $27 for the Midget and I to see Monsters vs. Aliens: $9 for each ticket and the 3D glasses and another $9 for a medium popcorn and medium drink. People bitch about that, but you know what? The theater was packed, despite all the whining about the economy. Or consider the Kindle: it’s essentially a $359 bookshelf. If Kindle books average $6 a pop for titles available in mass market paperback for $8, you’d have to purchase 180 books to break even. Nevertheless, everyone I know who owns a Kindle raves about it to anyone who will listen.

Content creators who want to make a living on their properties need to concentrate on earning those eyeballs and eardrums. We need to market ourselves as best we can, and if our publishers are unwilling or unable to leverage new technologies to get our work out to our fans in every way possible, then we need to make sure our contracts allow us to do it ourselves.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Elvis Esta Muerto

I’m ripping more CDs from my collection today, and I stumbled across a band I haven’t thought of in a while: Living Colour. I remember they were huge for a while, and their performance of “Cult of Personality” on SNL kicked all form of ass.

Then I remembered this little number:

I always dug that song and video, because I really don’t understand the Elvis Phenomena.

That’s right, capital P on Phenomena. I’m not a big fan, but I will admit the man had talent and had a big influence on music. But to elevate him to cult status? Come on.

Some people just don’t know when to let go.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Gimme a Theme Song (or Three)

Driving home at 3am last night, it occurred to me that I need a theme song (which you’d already know if you follow my Twitter feed). In fact, everyone should have one. Something to at once provide a jolt of energy and convey mood to all those around us. Something without lyrics, that would explain itself in the beat, the pitch, and the tone. It worked for Peter Griffin, right?

It occurred to me, then, that we actually need three. Well, at least three, but I feel these three, if written correctly, can be adapted to just about any situation we might encounter. They are as follows:

Walking

Speaks for itself, yes? To follow the Squirt’s example, why walk when you can strut? Why stand when you can dance? I sure as hell am not going to do it without music, so why not have something blaring away as I stroll down the street? I heard Flogging Molly’s “Requiem for a Dying Song” on Sirius last night and it’s damn close; strip out the lyrics and place close attention during the chorus and you’ll feel it.

To be done right, it would need a variety of beats. Something while standing and waiting at the DMV. Something to soothe one in the security line at the airport. Something to make one’s way through a crowd to.

Something to drive to! Someone on the radio said no car should be driven without the theme to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure blaring from the radio. Not bad, if perhaps a little over the top. Along the same line, consider the theme to The Simpsons.

You can’t tell me Danny Elfman wouldn’t be perfect to pen this one for us.

Fighting

When that pinhead from the next cubicle steals the last donut from the break room, it’s time to cue up the Fight Music. It should also be good for everything from unbridled road rage to the controlled power of a sparring match, from pushing that last rep into the air or punching through that last lap. It gets the blood pumping and keeps it that way, fueling fight and flight alike. Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell” works, but it’s way too obvious. Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” works in the gym, but it’s too cheery for life-and-death situations or when you just need to beat some poor bastard’s face in for pinching your girl’s arse.

It needs to be mean and offensive. It needs to shock the enemy. Thus I give you Metallica’s cover of Anti-Nowhere League’s “So What” (most certainly not safe for work).

“But wait, Mike!” you might be saying. “It has lyrics!”

To that I say “so what?” Rules were meant to be broken.

Deal.

Loving

I was tempted to label this one fucking, but according to the Wife, that’s not an appropriate term for all bedroom entanglements. Thus this one is the trickiest of the three, as it has to cover those tender Barry White/Marvin Gaye moments and those times you go so fast and so hard you think your nut is going to blast her through the bedroom wall.

Want metal? I suggest Judas Priest’s “Turbo Lover”. It works. Even after you remember Rob Halford is gay halfway through the song (and the lovin’). Trust me. If you were thinking “Lick It Up”, I will queue up my Fight Music right now. Although John is probably going to recommend “Swallow That Load” (do I really need to warn you this link is not safe for work?), which I will allow just to see the hilarity that ensues.

Our conundrum here is lyrics. If the song is going to tell us what to do, then we may as well watch pr0n. “Pause it, honey! I’m not there yet!” Not quite my thing. Or hers. Not to mention if I asked her to try some of the things on the Internet, she’d have me castrated. The old ’70s Disco tracks are lame and cliche, so they’re out, and I don’t want to hear what I’m fairly certain came out of the automatic mode on a $50 synthesizer in the ’80s stuff, either. (Jesus, why do I even know this?)

So once again we have to recruit someone to pen us something that alternates from wild to wonderful to fit the varying cadences of carnal desire.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Les Claypool. Jam that bass for us, my brother.

There Is No Number Four

Crying music came to mind. You know, sad stuff.

Bah, I say. Leave that one for the chicks to figure out for themselves. They can recruit Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond and pass around the tissue boxes at their Pampered Chef parties. If you’re a dude and something’s about to get you crying, cue up your Fight Music and knock that wuss crap down deep.

Or at least use it to conceal the way you’re blubbering like a little girl because you just watched Tommy’s father die at the baseball game in last season’s finale of Rescue Me. (Yeah, that’s right, cried! Don’t make me cue up my Fight Music again!)

In Conclusion

I have more time on my hands than I thought.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smells Like What Now?

When I first heard Kid Rock’s “So Hott”, the opening chords really caught my attention. I was in the car, and after a few seconds I reached down and turned up the radio. The intro rolled on for a while, and I got pumped up waiting for the song to really kick in.

Then the first line came: “You’ve got a body like the Devil and you smell like sex.”

Body like the Devil? Really? The first thing I thought of was St. Wolfgang and the Devil:

St Wolfgang and the Devil

Now that just screams sexy, doesn’t it? Especially that ass.

Sadly, the song just goes dowhill from there. If you read through the lyrics, it’s not a big leap to translate it to “I’m going to take you home, get you drunk, screw your brains out, and kick you to the curb.” I realize there are some women that may work with, but I’m not sure it’s a good tribute to the woman you love. (Maybe that’s why his darling Pammy bailed for Rick Salomon.)

As for the music, I think he took a page from the Lenny Kravitz Guide to Music: find a hook and play it over and over and over and over and over and over and over, throw in a solo, return to the hook, play over and over and over and over and over and over. Disagree? Take another listen to “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and “Bring It On” and you’ll hear it. Kid Rock’s hook is just longer.

I often make fun of pop and country stars for not writing their own material, but sometimes it would appear there’s a reason for it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.