Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Histrionic Flummery

...or, as most people call it, "show business".

Someone forwarded this to me. yEAH, big surprise. If you put on a show, people like it better than if you just stand there.

If you wanna be all "serious" about your "art", you better be really really good. Like, The Cars good:

They didn't have to move to be awesome. But there's still some guitar face, and their songs are so good they can't help but get into them a bit.

But you know what, it wouldn't have hurt them to throw some rock jumps in.

I'm not saying you need coordinated dance moves like Prince makes his people do (and by the way, he is ruthless about that - he expects you to nail your parts, play with heart and soul, follow his every move, AND you have to dance...)...but come on. People come to see a show. You better put one on.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fashion Tips for Aging Rockers


Look, it ain't easy. especially as you get older. You can look back over the history of pop stars, and nearly every big shot today has photos they wish they'd never taken, but at the time looked AWESOME.

Go take a look at any band from any era. Ridiculous.

There's very little difference between this:

and this:

At the same time, you gotta NOT look like you just walked out of the crowd and got onstage.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Where I've Been (new mixes)

Hot girls drive clicks. Basic marketing!
"What do you call a singer who can't sing?"

Unemployed, I guess. Or "funemployed", as the kids say. Ain't much fun about watching your bank balance go down while you can't do anything about it.

Short version is I couldn't sing for the last 4 months or so. Looks like I'm on the mend, but sorta like breaking your leg, you don't get the cast off and start running marathons right away.

By the way, I've also been running a lot. I'm in great physical shape, so i fit right in today's pop landscape: Look great, can't sing so good!

Anyhow, gonna be in voice training for a while, trying to figure out what I've got left here.

I can tell you this: being on the sidelines, benched, gave me a new appreciation for the game. I wanna get back in, blow you all away, and have a good time doing it. 

My buddy and ace producer Chris Fudurich is still tweaking some mixes. Here's the latest versions of Automatic and Drives.

We're gonna finish that album.
We're gonna play some shows.
I will keep writing, too.

I'm too much of an entrapre intrepr businessman to sit around doing nothing. I've been working on various projects and talking to various companies about being a creative inventor spokesperson like some of my contemporaries.

I'll keep ya posted. Stay young, fans. Life is short.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What Happens To Rock Stars

This album cover is brilliant.
But this is what happens to rock stars, right? They age, they wither, and they eventually play 30-year-old songs to 50-year-old people who are doing their best to avoid nostalgia's bittersweet aftertaste while nursing an $11 Bud in the back of a basketball arena.

Yes. If you are very, very lucky.

If not, you end up dead in some shitty hotel room, your last meal cheap booze you snuck in, your last sight some fake impressionistic hotel art.

Or you end up unemployable, wandering around the last town you thought might be fun. People stare at you every now and then, but instead of the glint of "aren't you famous?" it's the pity/laughter of "weren't you famous?". What are you going to do, be an accountant? Get a law school degree? Invent some kind of stupid internet thing?

Regardless, Bowie's a master. Absolute master. I guarantee this new album is more compelling than anything the Rolling Stones have released since about 1983, and more adventurous than Johnny One-Note acts like AC/DC (who create nominally "new" albums to ever-decreasing effect).

Bowie has also resisted the lure of the cash-in tour. He could have reformed The Spiders From Mars and made a mint wheeling out Ziggy in a wheelchair. Or played nearly any of his albums in entirety. I sure would have paid bank to see that, and not for reasons of snark or throwing tomatoes or subpoenas.

Like all of us, Bowie is vaguely ridiculous at times. Like all of us, you'll really miss him when he's gone.

But unlike all of us, he is a true artist, and knows how to write songs.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prey For Rock and Roll

"All my life, all I ever wanted to be was a rock and roll star...I got an electric guitar [and started a band]. That was 20 years ago. Today, and god knows how many bands later, not much has changed. Not the gigs, not the clubs, and not the money. Tonight we made $13.50 each..."

The movie's a bit too slick. The performance aspects aren't authentically grimy enough - the stages are way too big and well-lit, as is the "rehearsal warehouse".

The performances too clean, tame, and under-powered (I'd have tracked/filmed it all live, clams and all), and the songs commit the cardinal sins of being preachy, boring, or both.

The ladies are too pretty to sell things quite right, but many of the other details are pretty spot-on.

The hoofing of the gear.
The porch and the house. The drinking and cans of beer.
The smoking. The drugs.
The weird manager guy.
The hope and desperation and professionalism and naivete.

If you can look past the TV-movie sheen, excessive lighting, soundstage vibe, flat and clunky dialog , some awkward performances, and the ridiculous ending, this is about as good a movie as you're likely to find about being old and not making it.

Plus, Gina Gershon.

"It never occurred to me that I might make it...at what point do I become a joke? In 2 days, I'll be 40. Surprise, surprise, I ain't no rock star. I could quit and become the bitter old bitch who devoted her whole life to rock and roll and never succeeded...or I could stick with it and become the bitter old bitch who refused to give up... Either way, 'bitter' and 'rock and roll' end up together."

Not as good as the stellar and highly recommended "Still Crazy", which was about being old having made it once (all of my "peers" doing victory laps and playing their 30-year-old hits should see this).

Not as disturbing as "Hard Core Logo", either. And certainly not as intentionally funny as the Ur-film,  "Spinal Tap".

But it helped pass the time.

"Do you ever think about quitting?...being 50 or 60, hauling our gear around, fighting with the bartenders and sweating the rent?"

For all its significant flaws, it was written by someone who understands/understood band life.

"It all comes down to these few minutes of playing live..."

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Nice or Serious?

Whenever someone asks me what I do, I smile.

I tell them "I used to be a rock star."

They say "what was your band?"

I say "Sid Luscious and The Pants. We were almost big in the 80s."

They say "Oh, I think I've heard of you."

I never know if they're being nice or serious.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


NAMM. For a few years, I was in it. I was in the shit. Good men died, and bad men prospered. It was a jungle. The noise was deafening, and it left you with nightmares and the shakes.

But the merchants prospered. This article gets it pretty much right: A wonderful hell.

I miss it, and I miss lusting over gear and being pretty sure that if I just bought that sampler or that drum machine or that Fender Custom Shop Tone King Amp for $2,000 ($4600 in today's dollars) that of course, my art and career would totally take off.

That's never the case, but that doesn't stop an army of longhairs and wannabes and has-beens and the occasional "holy crap is that STEVE VAI?" from turning up at the show to marvel at the latest batch of noise makers, and pick up both promotional materials and 8 different infectious diseases. As well as every knob they can pry off of a piece of gear.

Yeah, I even worked at NAMM a couple times. Standing in a bootth, looking cool. I thought I'd been hired as a gear endorser, and showed up ready to meet my adoring public. Turned out my manager owed the vendor a favor for one of his other acts that had an endorsement deal, and "free labor" - specifically my free labor - was part of the deal.

I walked away that day a wiser and richer man. The vendor tipped me a hundo. And I tipped myself a pedal or two when they weren't looking. I would tell you what they were, but I only endorse gear when I'm paid! DRUMROLL! Thank you!

Anyhow. Yeah This Year's NAMM has some things I'm definitely intterested in, notably the new Prophet-12 synthesizer:

I (and pretty much everybody else) used a Prophet-5 back in the 80s. This is at LEAST 7 better. Plus it looks rad.

I'm also probably going to get one of these Fender VI reissues. Steve Kilbey from The Church played one on Priest = Aura and Robert Smith of The Cure used 'em a lot on Disintegration.

Go buy some records so I can afford this stuff, please!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Rock Life Tip: On Stolen Music Gear

Gear gets stolen. That happens a lot. Doesn't matter whether you're us, Sonic Youth, or Duran Duran (sorry guys, that keyboard is MINE now...)

I saw a band called XOXOXO a few years back while I was playing synth for Luxxury. On stage, this 3 piece had probably $20,000 of vintage synth gear. It was astounding. It took them a long time to load in. I saw a Moog Voyager, a Jupiter 6 or 8, and a bunch of other real analog synths. For a band that used a lot of sequences and backing tracks and MacBooks.

It didn't make sense to me - would have been smarter to bring cheaper virtual analog gear or use software on those computers. But I guess that doesn't look as cool or something.

If I were those guys, I would have been crazy worried about all that stuff getting stolen or broken or beered. Then gain, if I were those guys, I would have had great gear and been 20 something and WOOO WHO CARES ROCK AND ROLL!!!

Still, no matter how young and hot you are, that sinking feeling you get when you walk back to the van in the morning and see a broken window and/or door ajar is awful.

You can avoid this by not being lazy. Don't leave your gear unattended, ever. Don't leave it in the van overnight unless there is someone sleeping in the van or near the van. Load it out into whatever place you're staying. Yeah, it's heavy and yeah, you just played a kick-ass 60 minute set after waiting around for hours and now you're drunk and horny and it's 2 am. But do you really want to wake up tomorrow to no gear?

Good but rich musicians get insurance. Through ASCAP, for example, you can get full replacement insurance at a 1% annual premium (you tell them how much your gear is worth, then pay them 1%). That seems high until you realize they cover you for everything, more or less no questions asked.

Popular bands can get a roadie/thug to watch their gear. The pro here is these people usually work for no money. The con here is these people sometimes ARE cons. In every sense. Maybe they're casing you guys for one big score. Or maybe they're...obsessed...with you. And will talk to you. A lot. Regardless, it's one more farting bag of meat to shove in the van and eventually, you will want to leave them at the Denny's in Tempe, AZ.

A better solution would be some sort of tiny RFID thing that you stick INSIDE the gear. Hard to find, easy to detect with a reader. Vendors at shops could wave an RFID gun over the gear and see if it comes up on a list of stolen stuff or not. I guess I should say "ethical vendors", because there's always someone who will do the wrong thing.

A low-tech solution is to tape a business card inside the gear somewhere. Most thieves won't open up all the gear with a screwdriver to check for such a thing.

Unfortunately, none of these options will deter people from taking your gear in the first place.

My take has always been "don't take anything on the road you don't mind losing". The world is a scary and unpredictable place. Unless you're top-of-the-world level and you can hire a minder for your favorite instrument, don't leave home with it. Keep it safe and secure. Get a stunt guitar or double for it. You'll thank me later.

This has been another Rock Life Tip from Sid Luscious.