Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BLOG POST: What's the beef between Holy Grail and White Wizzard all about?

Question: Hi, I have been a fan of White Wizzard from the High Speed GTO video, which contains original singer Luna, and i also personally like the new White Wizzard clip Over The Top aswell, which is even better. I know Luna is now in Holy Grail and he has a beef against White Wizzard. I would like to know what happened to cause the war of words between Holy Grail and White Wizzard?

Answer: It's just local band rivalry really, sparked by the spotlight which is slowly coming on both bands, in fact both bands just played Download festival in UK, and the bad blood was evident, even though both bands were backstage at the famous Donington - home of the Monsters of Rock in the 80's, I don't think the bands spoke much.

White Wizzard's mainman and chief songwriter has always been bassist Jon Leon, and his search for the perfect musicians to give voice to his vision of playing Classic-era Heavy Metal has led him through 3 different band line-ups so far.

But first a quick history lesson- Jon Leon and James Luna's roots go back to Los Angeles Hard Rock band Jetfuel, which was a fairly average band but were notable for their mutual love of playing classic- era Hard Rock, as opposed to the deathy-inspired modern metal which has prevailed since the turn of the 90s.

Heres a young Jon and Luna in the clip for Beat Paradise (2007)

Jetfuel disbanded, soon regrouping with Jon around the moniker White Wizzard. Jon also shifted the songwriting to be more straight up early Heavy Metal influenced, and the band quickly recorded a 7 song EP, which they self-released in 2007 as 50 hand burnt CDRs, complete with specially commissioned Derek Riggs artwork, with the intention of hoping to attract the attention of labels.

Jon Leon explains the transition:

"Jet Fuel was an LA band and I actually joined them in Los Angeles and that band was near it's end, because of a beef between Luna and the founder (guitar player in beat parasite video named Chris Naab). He had a bunch of issues with Luna and the band split because of those issues right after that video was shot.
      I was already working on some songs for what would become WW, and I contacted James and Tyler to come listen to some demos a couple months after that band split, because we got on well back then and I thought James had alot of talent and I felt it could be a good fit.
   They listened to them, liked them and I hunted for a guitar player....and I found James Larue on craigslist and auditioned him 1 on 1 a couple times.
    Then through some rehearsals I set up, line up 1 was born and we recorded the songs 2 months later of which became high speed GTO"

Unhappily for the band, no labels were interested,so they could hardly score any gigs, and for the 2007-8 period, White Wizzard languished in the doldrums. With no outside interest the band looked destined to follow the fate of most young hopefuls - ie a short career, before disbanding back into obscurity.

That was until Earache happened across the band in mid 2008, during our search for up and coming Heavy Metal acts to showcase on a new compilation we were planning, which led to the song High Speed GTO being a last minute addition to Various Artists :'Heavy Metal Killers' in Jan 2009.It was so last minute, it didn't even make it onto the advance promotional copies of that album.

During the discussions for the sampler, we learned the unhappy news- Luna replied that White Wizzard had recently dissolved and he was soon to begin working with some of the ex-members on an as yet unnamed new project - this became known as Sorceror a few months later.

Earache held talks with Luna and Jon at the same time, and I strongly suggested they reform the band back to the High Speed GTO line up and carry on with label backing. The pair of them had become too estranged by that point, and had developed very different visions about their future musical paths. We quickly formed the opinion that we'd sign Jon Leon as he was the chief songwriter and visionary, and indeed was holding the White Wizzard name and rights. Plus, Jon convinced us that he could easily pick up the pieces and recruit a new singer and guitarist, recruiting rookie screamer Wyatt Anderson from Florida and Erik Klieber from Detroit (ex-Overloaded) on guitar in record time, and even demoed 3 brand new songs to prove his intent.

This led to Earache signing White Wizzard to a long-term recording deal.We most probably would have signed James Luna's outfit too, but because he had no music or even band name, it seemed better to wait.When he found out we had decided to sign White Wizzard, Luna flipped out- he tried to sabotage the pending White Wizzard deal by sending me scandalous emails full of misinformation about Jon, which was pretty dumb.

Because he was the more web-savvy member, Luna held the log in details for their official website. After the split, Luna refused to hand over the domain registration info for the site whitewizzard.com, instead using it to promote his new outfit .To this day it displays a holding page dedicated to his band HOLY GRAIL.

This is the origin of the bad blood.

Within 6 months Luna had changed Sorceror to Holy Grail and then scored a deal themselves with LA's Prosthetic label. Holy Grail music is a more thrashy style of modern metal, with HM touches,its quite removed from where White Wizzard is at, musically.

White Wizzard Mk 3 was born after Wyatt and Erik - who played on the Over The Top album -both left to persue different paths, leaving Jon to recruit new members once again. In June 2010 it was announced that ex-Cellador (Metal Blade Power Metal act 2005-7) screamer Mike Gremio and rookie guitarist Lewis Stephans had come into the fold, they performed their first show at Download festival 2010.

Heres new White Wizzard line up, June 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where next for Extreme Metal? It's not Jazz.

Question: Dig, speaking about the future of metal, and extreme music. Do you SEE one? Earache is focusing on the thrash revival movement, a conservative throwback that is very fundamentalist in its approach to composition and music, it brings back the radicalism, narrow-mindedness and intolerance of the 80s with a vengeance (and sees that narrow mindedness as something to be confused with "pride" for the music and a kind of "trueness" and loyalty to the music) and pretty much only allows for music to be made in the way it was made during roughly 7, 8 years, from 1982 to 1990. Any growth, experimentation or evolution that took place after this very specific tiny period is seriously frowned upon by the conservative, reactionary thrashers. I think this scene is now as set and marked in stone as other revivals, mainly like rockabilly and we will see the aging thrashers and their followers doing and playing exactly the same type of music over and over again, with the same riffs, themes, clothes, album covers, etc, in the decades to come. Is Earache prepared to be the label for that movement?

And if intense music is to grow, do you see or can you predict WHERE it can go after all these years of experimentation with punk, hip hop, electronic, faster, slower, stonier, more bass, colder, etc types of metal and hardcore have already been done?

Would you sign, nowadays, a band like Shining (not the black metal, the Norway one) which is apparently attempting to take heavy sounds to new places?

http://www.myspace.com/shiningofficial From:

Answer: Maybe you missed this particular memo dude, but the future of 'Extreme Metal' is already being written into history by a generation of young bands playing whats loosely an amalgam of Death Metal brutality & hardcore style knuckle-dragging chug chug breakdowns, its called 'Deathcore'. It was never predicted by any journalist or blogger but was created by teenagers seeking to make the most extreme music imaginable. The scene built its success due to those bands early adoption and fanatical use of the power of the then newly-launched social networking site MySpace. From 2004 onwards, they were all over it, networking with, and building a fanbase 24/7. Curtis who is a member of Sheffield, UK band Bring Me The Horizon was so quick off the mark, he nabbed the Myspace pages of both At The Gates and The Haunted for his own private use.

The success of Deathcore bands like Job For A Cowboy, Suicide Silence and newer names like Whitechapel is proven by their high USA Billboard chart placings.They have genuine fans who still -gasp - actually buy CDs, and they are changing the landscape of extreme metal, in fact they have done so for a few years now. If there is one flaw in this theory, then its the bands' relative lack of success in the heavy metal strongholds of Europe. Deathcore bands are huge in USA but make barely a blip on the radar in say Sweden or Germany. Their success story seems to echo that of Myspace itself.

Back to your point about the Thrash bands being retro- I disgree, because I think the bands are merely using Thrash and NWOBHM as a reference point to start over again. Basically to many of the young bands we deal with, Destruction is just cooler than say Cradle of Filth. Bringing Thrash & 80s Heavy Metal elements back into the metal picture is just as valid and probably more contemporary than the abominations we have had to endure over the years- Hip Hop, Goth, Electronica and even bloody Opera have all been added to the metallic palette with short-term success, but I'm sorry, for me, Jazz becoming a big thing in metal will be the final nail in the coffin.

Its all about demolishing the ensconsed. Last week NME magazine- not known for having a finger on the pulse of metal trends- actually recognised that ENFORCER were pushing the metallic envelope and named them as among the Top 50 risk-takers in music. They were right to compare ENFORCER to Bjork, Jack White or Lady Gaga, because in 21 year old Olof Wikstrand the band boast a True Heavy Metal singer who wants to be, first and foremost a showman, and put on a show for his fans.

Fenriz from Darkthrone agrees. He knows a thing or two about decent music- he's just reviewed ENFORCER 'Diamonds' with a 9.5/10 mark in Rock Hard magazine:

ENFORCER "Diamonds" Heavy Artillery/Earache 2010

I am 12 years old again! WO HO!!! it's the early 80s and the more i listen to this album the more i realize that 2010 will be THE SUMMER OF ENFORCER for me (along with THE PAST and Kate Bush, by some freaky coincidence).

First of all i started my promo shouts for darkthrone proclaiming that we start the new decade with REAL heavy metal, and i guess i knew this album would come along and solidify my stance with ease - it even has that studio production that only THOSE WHO KNOW use these days - it is that of heavy metal like 3 first DIO, the guitars taking up very little impact on the parametres and with no comprimation, Enforcer have the balls to DO IT RIGHT and even minimize the fuzz on the guitars. Yes in the fashion of old they have understood that the drums and vocals drive this type of metal best for all time, with the bass supporting the drums like they should. I am thrilled that Earache decided to stand behind this release, because it will have a huge signal-effect to EVERYONE - and now the kids can finally understand how it was in the 80s again, by getting THIS album and not all those other heavy metal bands with the modern sound but old riffs. they are mostly sad to me compared to this firework.

Many will like their straight ahead speed metal pounders, I for one adore their beautiful songs - like KATANA or WALK WITH ME. I swear those songs gave me goosebumps the FIRST time i heard them, and it gets stronger every time - so far i got around to hearing the album 7 times and in Fenriz-time that means 70 times. ELDERS AND KIDS, BREAK YOUR CHAINS AND OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO THE SUMMER OF ENFORCER!!!

9.5 out of ten points for doing this in 2010. MAXI BALLS! TAXI!!!

I'll leave it to the blog readers to make their own mind up.Which do you prefer- a new NWOTHM band with a Heavy Metal singer or an instrumental jazz-metal skronk outfit? Leave your comments.

Heres Enforcer live on stage:

Heres Shining live clip:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

BLOG POST: Why do the biggest bands come from the smallest towns?

Question: Im wondering for you which type of scene would produce the better or more focused bands? By this i mean the large city scene or the small town scene, two examples i can give which are both down under ( recently came back from a gap year in australia) is byron bay home to parkway drive and geelong which is home to the red shore. It seems to me that kids from the smaller scenes do more to keep their bands alive eg not getting rid of members as is could be difficult them and also keeping shows going because there seems to be the feeling that if they stop booking them the scene will die. Im wondering are bands from smaller scenes generally more business savy and hands on that a band from a large city where they can obtain things proffesionally quicker? From:

Answer: This is a great question, and you sum up this perplexing, but little-known fact - that the biggest bands do not seem to come from the major cities, as you might expect. Most often the biggest talents do hail from the smallest cities or towns. I'll try to explain why below.

Look at Nirvana from Seattle (Aberdeen, actually which is tiny) or Slipknot from Des Moines, or the countless bands coming out of Wales in recent years here in UK.It is a proven fact that in the Music Biz, the biggest bands, and certainly the ones who have the most impact on the scene, simply do not come from the major cities. No one has the definative answer for why this is. It defies logic. Every armchair pundit and blogger has their own pet theory, so feel free to comment below.

I think in the 70's to 80's era, bands in major cities did have all the advantages- they had a head start because they were closer to the media and record companies, and so got opportunities to be visible to the notoriously lazy A&R scouts, which the out of towners would not get. That's why so many of the 70's and 80's top tier Rock acts hailed from London, LA or New York. Its not like that nowadays of course.

I'm talking generally of course, but my own experience of running a label bears this out. Earache as a label has signed over 150 acts over the years from all over the world, and I'm pretty sure we've only signed 2 London bands - Pulkas and Akercocke - and that makes it less than 1% of our signings hail from the biggest UK city.We never planned it that way. Its weird when you think about.

As for the causes, I think its to do with the fact that musicians in major cities have a lot of options, they will probably hold down a decent job to be able to even afford to live in a comfortable metropolitan lifestyle. Much as they would hate to admit it, musicians I know from big cities all seem to be highly fashion conscious, and so make music with one eye on the prevailing trends. Bands from unfashionable towns have no such qualms, often they make music just for fun.They are unconcerned about trends, and can perfect their songs and style far away from the gaze of the metropolitan elite.

In this always-on, always socially-connected era, many bands are building their fame and fanbase via the internet, so actual location is rapidly becoming even less important. I also think that the rise of the affordable budget airlines in the last 2 decades has meant that new bands can travel much further distances in search of a receptive audience.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

BLOG POST: Rammer- Toxic Holocaust- Cauldron connection?

Question: Other than being awesome and two of the bands being canadian. is
there really a link between rammer, toxic holocaust and earache\'s own
cauldron? I heard they shared members once. Im wondering if you guys can
confirm as wikipedia isnt the most reliable source of info. From:

Answer: I've never been to Toronto but there's no denying the city's influence on the worldwide metal scene. Rush is probably the biggest rock band to come from the city, not forgetting the immense Anvil, right up to the modern day HC bands like Career Suicide and Cancer Bats.From afar, it certainly seems to me that the Toronto scene always has something quirky and peculiar about it, it doesn't follow any prevailing American trend, usually it starts its own.

In the underground metal scene, its common for many members of bands to swap around and I think the connection between the bands you mention is drummer Al 'Biddle' Chambers. He was in two of the most influential Toronto bands in recent years, who both sadly split before gaining much international fame. Al wielded the stix in early pre-Cauldron band Goat Horn, who were a stoner-doomy Heavy Metal act, before that he occupied the drum stool for local thrash-speed-crossover merchants Rammer who were amazing aswell.

Earache had our eyes on both of those bands for quite a while, but we didn't offer any record deals at that time. Eventually when Rammer split around 2007 or so, the entire rhythm section decamped to join Joel's Toxic Holocaust which was a smart move for both of them.Meanwhile after Goat Horn split, mainman Jason Decay swiftly assembled Cauldron with the aim to bash out some NWOBHM-inspired Heavy Metal.After hearing the Cauldron debut EP, Earache finally stepped in to sign the band. Cauldron write an amazing tour blog which is well worth checking out for behind the scenes stories, pics and clips of their life on the road.Reading it will crack you up- go

Another weird Toronto band connection is the big selling Indie-rock band Crystal Castles now have the most recent former Cauldron drummer Chris Rites in their ranks. In fact when Cauldron played London Old Blue Last pub last week with Enforcer, Chris, Alice and Ethan from the Crystal Castles came out to watch and support the band, which I thought was pretty cool!

STOP PRESS: I asked Cauldron mainman to give me more info and here's his explanation of the connection:

When Goat Horn first moved to Toronto in 2001 Rammer was one of the
first bands we hooked up with to do gigs with. Over the years we
became quite good friends with them and when Steelrider left Goat Horn
in February 2006, Al from Rammer offered to fill the drum slot. Al
continued on with me into Cauldron and had also started playing with
Toxic Holocaust at this point. He became very spread thin between the
3 bands and eventually chose to do the Toxic thing full time. Phil
(Rammer bassist) also ended up going to Toxic which ultimately became
the end of Rammer. Al has since quit Toxic and now plays with Toronto
band Diemonds. Cauldron has since had 3 drummers and Al has come back
a couple of time in between to fill in.


Heres RAMMER with "Uprising of Death", I never get tired of this clip, its great!

Heres Cauldron,filmed playing at the famous Toronto Opera House for their official clip "Chained up In Chains"

I would add Goat Horn's legendary video but YouTube makes it a private clip now for some stupid reason.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

BLOG POST: Red XIII - terrible name, terrible band?

Question: Hi Dig, I've asked and had answered (cheers!) a few questions on here before but im sure you get so much of this these days so if this never gets answered then I'll understand!
I was just wondering if you had the spare time if you would possibly be able to tell us your personal opinion (holding nothing back!) of the 2 songs my band Red XIII has online from our forthcoming debut album, the songs are on our myspace @ http://www.myspace.com/screamredxiii
I thought of doing this when I was reading through old questions answered on here and you had done a somewhat similar thing a few years ago, and personally I would just really like to hear your opinion on our music as someone who is the owner of a reputable record label and has signed and launched some bands that influence us massively!
You can also download the 2 songs for free @ http://rapidshare.com/files/373494418/FREE_SONGS.zip
Thanks for your time! From: redxiiibooking@hotmail.com

Answer: OK if you read this blog on a regular basis, you'll know that probably 75% of the questions I get are from bands searching for a deal, and "just want an opinion".Its drives me nuts. I avoid all such questions because its not a free A&R service.You couldn't resist asking it though could you? Too bad- you think its clever and will get your band into the spotlight, instead you are now in the cross hairs, dude....

I decided to have some fun with your band-thought it might be fun to review you in the style of a big-shot Major label A&R guy, like youtube A&R guy phenomenon Bertie "Big" Balls.In reality his opinion would not be too different from a snotty puerile Lambgoaters one. Hope you enjoy Berties letter!

From the desk of Bertie "Big" Balls:

" Red XIII? What kind of a shit name is that? From Blackpool I see? That's hilarious! Lads- do us all a favour and jump off the famous Blackpool fucking Tower because that's the only way it seems you'll ever get anyones attention.

I checked your twitter feed and it has exactly zero tweets! Are you fucking kidding me? What kind of terminally lazy fuckwits are you? Let me put it this way- fucking Lady Gaga has sold 10 million albums and is the biggest Pop Star on the planet, yet SHE can still be bothered to tweet to her fans on a daily basis. Meanwhile you retards just sit on your arses and expect fans to flock to you. NOT.GONNA.HAPPEN.

Same thing on Youtube- I checked you out, and found 2 clips of your shitty, no-hope band online. Fucking hell, you really are sad bastards- my neighbourhood pets are more famous than you, and one of them is a goldfish. Even my local cat has got more youtube views than you, and it doesn't think the music industry owes it a living.

I bet you boy-geniuses all think you got wicked sick hairstyles, well let me tell you something - fringes went out in 2007, and now its 2010 so stop copying Oli Sykes for gods sake.You look like ponces. I know its hard, but try looking fucking metal for once, get some Possessed and Maiden shirts, buzz it off, or better yet, grow your hair long. To be fair at least drummer Greg doesn't look like an emo faggot. Good on him.

I see you are actually active on Facebonk- the famous 'Social Notworking' site. Congratulations, you and 400 million others now spend hours handing over your personal data to the government for free. Suckers.

The art- OMG?! are you kidding me!!? Who did that gorilla stuff? A 5 year old?

Now we get onto the really fun stuff-- the music. You proudly put "Metalcore" as genre, which is so out of date its not even funny. Trouble is- I don't hear any metal- just shitty no talent chug chug riffs. Hey-where are the shredding guitar solos? No solos means no metal. The truth is, you are not a metal band, period.

I don't know why you wasted 10 minutes of my precious time.

Goodbye and good luck.

Kindly yours,

Bertie Big Balls, Chief A&R Scout, Bigshot Records Ltd."

OK- I'm out of character now- I repeat the above review is harmless fun,a joke, no harm intended, it's just to liven up the blog a bit. I do hope you got a sense of humour!

Heres Bertie Big Balls himself starring in 'A&R, The Movie'. Its so true!