Why Rusty Shipp are the most exciting band of 2016

Does your playlist need something fresher than an explosion in a Febreze factory?  Do you need to hear the band that Captain Jack Sparrow would most certainly have at the top of his playlist (y’know, if iPods were around back then)?  Has your musical collection struck an iceberg, and now it’s sinking faster than Celine Dion at a Guns N Roses concert?

Picture this:
Earlier this week, my life was a meaningless cycle of daily routine, designed to be productive but not exciting (imagine me brushing my teeth, washing my face, and it’s black and white.  Perhaps someone’s playing a Film Noir soundtrack, but maybe not; it’s your mental image after all). Sound familiar? Well, then I discovered Rusty Shipp (the Film Noir turns into a very stylish seafaring monochrome with optional pops of colour; the Beach Boys are queueing to see them… the Beatles already did)…

Okay, maybe I’m going overboard.  See what I did there?

Seriously, though, stop what you’re doing right now (put the cat in the kettle if you need to) and click play, this music will bring new awesome to your life, even if your existence is already perfect; this is Davy Jones Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me:

Do you need to hear more RIGHT NOW?? Of course you do! Here’s their second song Sinking Scarabs:

See what I mean?  Now I know I just worked very hard to get your undivided attention, but I am confident that I wrote a cheque that this music can cash.  So if you haven’t clicked play, do it now!

Let’s get a bit more serious with the band now:

Rusty Shipp is a 3 piece band consisting of Russ T “Rusty” Shipp (that is his real name) on vocals and guitar, Andrew Royer on drums and Dustin Herres on bass. Their music is described as “surf rock meets punk and grunge” and I’d recommend it to anyone into cool activities that need an epic in-ear soundtrack.  This would also be perfect for a road trip’s playlist music.   Rusty Shipp are based in Nashville, Tennessee, and they’re probably one of the most strikingly creative bands I’ve seen in recent times. They’re inventing a completely new genre here, using elements of surf rock, grunge, hard rock, and even ska.  They have been compared favorably to both Nirvana and Iron Maiden.  Their lyrics showcase storytelling techniques we would usually associate with the great poets of bygone eras (Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, for example, or Milton’s Paradise Lost) a progressive bassline and a guitar sound that needs its own surfboard! You can find out more about them at their website.

After hearing their latest song, Sinking Scarabs, I was so taken by their music that I had to find out more, so here is an exclusive interview with Rusty, Dustin and Andrew from Rusty Shipp:

How would you describe your band to new listeners in one sentence?
Rusty: Raw, high-energy, Beatlesque songs with a surf rock overtone and philosophical lyrics.
Dustin: It’s got that 90’s grunge sound but a surf rock feel to it.
Andrew:  Very reminiscent of the 90s grunge scene with a little surf rock tossed in for flavor.

I would definitely agree with that.  Rusty, when you moved from Washington to Nashville to take the band to the next level, what were some of the unexpected challenges that you faced?
Rusty: That it’s tough starting a band from scratch because most musicians you find on Craigslist aren’t serious; most of the serious musicians seem to rely on connections they’ve already made in the music scene and don’t resort to Craigslist.

That sounds difficult! It must take so much work to get a foothold when there’s so many bands all trying to get the same exposure.  You’re one step ahead with your very unique musical style, but what are three things that you’d like your audience to know about the band?
Rusty: We make a lot of Canadian jokes for some reason, are actually really nice, laid back, caring guys, and like Taco Bell.
Dustin: We love stupid jokes. We love people. We love Taco Bell.
Andrew: Super approachable, goofy, and we take what we’re doing very seriously.

Wow, so you guys really love Taco Bell.  Tacos are pretty incredible when all is said and done. It sounds like it’s useful to have a sense of humor in order to keep a band together. What’s your favourite thing on your ipod playlists at the moment?
Dustin: I’ve been listening to almost nothing but Dirty Loops and Dear Hunter for the past forever.
Rusty: I’m currently listening to all the recordings of song ideas I’ve made the past decade, pulling out nuggets for future songs.
Andrew: Been a lot of Coheed and Cambria and He Is Legend lately. A little Arctic Monkeys and OK Go to lighten things up a bit.

Wow that’s some pretty inspiring stuff.  I am very partial to the Arctic Monkeys, myself.  What’s the most rock-n-roll thing that you’ve done so far (musically or otherwise)?
Andrew:  I don’t know. I guess I’m not very rock n roll. I’m a little too laid back I guess.
Rusty: I don’t know, but my mom bought me a rock n roll looking jacket for Christmas so I could finally look the part instead of wearing Hawaiian shirts.
Dustin: I wear a fake leather jacket to and from work everyday. That’s pretty rock-n-roll if you ask me.

There’s that sense of humor you both mentioned in question 2!  Andrew, you’re clearly made for surf rock!  So one last question, what’s the thing you’re most excited about for 2016?
Dustin: I’m excited to really start focusing on my music career and making myself become a better artist. Also, I’ve been helping with a church called Church Alive that just launched last year and I can’t wait to see how it grows this year.
Andrew:
I’m pumped to see where this band goes. I think we’ve got a good shot to do some pretty cool things.
Rusty: Making a solid, creative, radio-quality full-length album.


So there you have it, Bryan Adams and Maple Leafs are fair game, Craigslist isn’t the greatest place to find band members, even in Nashville, center of the musical universe, and the band members are really nice guys. Rusty Shipp have a sound that’s set to become legendary, so get in on the ground floor before they get so big, you’ll be staring at their albums on iTunes thinking, “damn, I wish I’d shared them with my friends.” Don’t be that person!  Share this with everyone you know and watch your grateful friends’ faces as they light up with the joy you brought to their lives.  Download their latest song, Sinking Scarabs for only 99c here and whatever you do, subscribe to their Youtube channel here so you are the first to hear their latest music!

Note:  This is not a sponsored post.  I have no financial interest in this band.
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Bob Dylan, Professional Mumbler.

The sky opened and started pouring sheets of rain over London as we hurried towards Albert Hall to see Bob Dylan.  We were running a little late, and not being terribly familiar with that part of London, we had a bit of trouble finding where we were going. Was this a sign from the Weather Gods that we shouldn’t be doing this?

We arrived drenched and I spent the first half of the show shaking with cold because the temperature inside the Royal Albert Hall was not warm enough to dry off from the October rain.

Bob Dylan Albert Hall rain London 2015
Two drowned rats at a silly angle: This was after we arrived at Albert Hall and my Dearest had a sausage roll. Sorry about the blacking out but he works in a job where he might get into trouble if he gets found on the internet.

Before we go any further, I need to make it quite clear – I have no idea what 80% of the songs were that Bob Dylan sang that night. It didn’t really make a difference. The guy’s a genius. Do you know any other musical artist who can professionally mumble for 2 hours in the Albert Hall, London, and get a standing ovation? No profanities, no “I’m so pleased to be here” no “without you there’d be no us” it was just a man with a sparkly suit (a beautiful ensemble in black with a lovely teal embroidery-and-sequins accent, that was co-ordinated with the rest of the band wearing the same in the opposite colors, I really loved the outfits) doing whatever the damn hell he pleased on stage.  There were a couple of songs I recognized from his latest album – Shadows In The Night – a re-imagining of sorts of some Frank Sinatra classics.  Aside from that, I recognized Blowin’ In The Wind.  The rest was a mystery.

I got the distinct impression that he did this tour out of a sense of humor – he was entertaining himself rather than the crowd, he didn’t feel he owed the audience a single thing. You had to admire his audacity. The amount of time and effort that went into putting this show together, and the music was great. It didn’t really matter that we couldn’t understand what he was saying – consider Enya, for a moment. She invented her own language to make her songs’ vocals sound more lyrical and fluid. She doesn’t perform live tours, of course, because her whole act is so post-processed that it wouldn’t be do-able as a live act. Bob Dylan seems to have taken the concept of music and once again turned it on its head. Do the audience need to be able to discern the lyrics? Are discernible lyrics part of what it takes to make a legendary show? Apparently not.
A thoroughly good time was had by all.

His re-interpretation of Blowin’ In The Wind was phenomenal. But then, it should be – he wrote the original.

One thing I didn’t like from my vantage point, sat behind the stage, two rows from the musicians, was the amount of people who flouted the no flash photography rule. If there hadn’t been a rule, I probably wouldn’t have cared, I dunno. But because of where I sat, it meant there were dozens of people getting photos and I couldn’t get any. Right at the very end of the show, when the band and Bob Dylan took a bow, I got my phone out and caught a couple of quick snaps, but they’ve mysteriously disappeared from my computer.  Maybe the reason he didn’t want any photography is because he’s secretly a vampire and doesn’t show up in cameras or mirrors?????  Or maybe the idiots who left their flash turned on just bugged the hell out of him.
I felt like the night was complete, since I’d also acquired two patches for my battle vest.

Bob Dylan concert London 2015 Royal Albert Hall
Bob Dylan concert London 2015 Royal Albert Hall

I feel incredibly privileged to have seen Bob Dylan (especially with the harmonica) and I don’t think I regret going in any way at all, but I think it’s not for everyone and you have to go in knowing that he probably isn’t going to spend 2 hours singing catchy tunes.

This review of Bob Dylan’s concert is quite short, so I thought I’d ask my Dearest to weigh in with his perspective on the Bob Dylan concert, since he was there too.

DH Says: “Bob Dylan was using his voice like a musical instrument, not like a voice.  It was interesting being behind the stage because you could see all the stuff that was going on that the audience don’t normally see, such as that the whole band used ipads with all the scores, you could see the technical adjustments on the sound set, and exactly how the drummer was playing, that I really liked. It turned it into a very sit-back-and-listen, rather than sing along. Was it because Bob Dylan maybe didn’t like people singing along? I suppose you have to ask, would the same effect have been done if he’d just played an instrument such as the piano or guitar rather than singing. He was using his voice as a musical instrument, I think, rather than a voice. To some extent it worked. Do you think if you had expected the Bob Dylan gig to be like that, then you would have felt differently? I knew the concert was likely to be like that, Bob Dylan’s known for mumbling, so I don’t think that’s the case. But I think part of that is not knowing anything, so you can’t sing along, different music, unintelligible lyrics… I don’t think the Bob Dylan concert was ever going to be an outstanding night, but neither was it a disappointment – unlike Megadeth. I think it comes down to: Do I think its a shame I wasn’t doing something else that evening? Certainly not.”

So there you have it.  We both had a great time seeing Bob Dylan in concert but I think his act can possibly be classified as avant-garde; don’t go if you’re expecting to hear Subterranean Homesick Blues.  Another one for me to tick off my Official Bands Bucket List – the list of bands and musical acts that I need to see before they kick the bucket.

Battle Vest

In particular musical subcultures, especially heavy metal, thrash and death metal, the concept of the battle vest is well established, and you will see many 30-40 something men, usually bald and walking around built like a tank, sporting a battle vest at particular concerts and festivals. In the course of trying to work through my Bands Bucket List, I’ve seen quite a few. I’ve even got one of my very own.

I would go so far as to say, you can tell how metal a festival or concert is by the number of people wearing battle vests (and motorcycle club attire).  I was the only one at Bob Dylan (but there was a guy with a mohican a few rows away).

What is a battle vest?

It’s a jacket, usually made of denim or sometimes leather, often with no sleeves (particularly in colder climes such as Nothern Europe, where slevelessness is metalness), which has patches affixed to it.

I feel very strongly about the procurement of patches.  The patches in question are not just a collection bought on the internet declaring which bands I like (well, it can be, but that’s for amateurs, and if you’re 18 and have emblazoned your jacket with a Pink Floyd patch, you’re clearly just making a kindergarten collage out of a perfectly good piece of clothing), they’re all representative of the bands I’ve actually seen.  Hence “battle vest” because it’s a chronicling, in embroidered patch, of the battles I’ve survived, the moshpits I’ve been crushed in, the number of times I got trampled by enormous 30 something bald men or had to sleep in a tent that should have been marketed as a child’s swimming pool.  Sounds like hell?

That’s metal.  And there’s nothing like it.  The battle vest is a modern day Bayeaux Tapestry, and you just can’t buy them (well, you probably can, but that would defeat the point of the journey).  Every single one is different, and those patches will stand up to a lot of damage before they need replacing.

The denim ones are usually faded blue or white (bleached) thick denim – the thick denim is integral because the battle vest will need to withstand wind, rain, spillages, moshing, the occasional vomit, and all the steps taken to purge the remains of the aforementioned.  A deep blue cottony shirt that’s been done to look like denim (or girlyfied, as I call it, because you rarely see this crap being foisted on men) is not going to cut it.  I bought my base jacket from ASOS.com and have added the patches as I’ve seen the bands on my bands bucket list.

On the leather ones, more and more people sew patches these days.  It used to be the case that people would paint an album cover and band logos on their leather jackets, but for some reason (probably skill shortages) that’s gone out of favour in exchange for sewing patches.  Or perhaps gluing them.

The glue-on patches are a bit annoying, to me – I try and press them on my jacket but they invariably go brittle and start coming away, so I end up sewing them down anyway.  What’s the point of the glue, apart from to stain my jacket with the residue??

I have also seen people add badges and rhinestones, and this can work really well, but it can also look dreadful.  If you want to look like a school kid from the ’80s, then go ahead and make a badge-only battle vest.  But please don’t make a scene when the old-skool cause-ists (you know, activists, feminists, environmentalists, etc) in their woolen attire and sandals turn up and absorb you as one of their own and carry you away leaving the vague scent of cabbage in their wake.

I like sandals.  But not at a concert or metal fest.  I’d hate to lose a toe.  I also know quite a few environmentalists – although, as with anyone who has a “cause” they tend to over-exaggerate their spiel to a point where no normal person can take it as seriously as the environmentalists would like, because otherwise we’d have to drink our own urine and only eat from dumpsters.  It’s a shame.  I’d like the environment to still be here in 100 years, and I separate my recycling like a compliant citizen, but you’d never find me handing out leaflets (the irony) or harassing people about it.  I also like animals.

One of the big problems with putting a battlevest together has been that some of the bands I’ve been to see didn’t actually have patches.  In some cases (Alice Cooper, below slash in the second picture), I got around it such as buying a fabric “wristband” for Alice Cooper and sewing it on.  It won’t last as long but ain’t nothing ever permanent.  In other cases, such as Billy Idol and Steeleye Span, there’s just no patch available, so they are notably absent from the thing.  In the case of Steeleye Span, I bought a t-shirt.  In the case of Billy Idol, I did not.  I think some bands think they will make more money off you if they don’t sell a patch in their official merch, but the amount of bands I’ve seen this year, I’d need a whole new cupboard to put t-shirts in if I’d bought one for each of them.  It would have added £15 to £25 to the cost of every concert, and that would have severely reduced the number of bands I could have seen overall.

Given the nature of my quest, to see as many of the bands on my Bands Bucket List before they kick the bucket, for me the battle vest was the only solution.  I guess that’s one of the things about it; the battle vest is called a kutte in German because it’s a word play – a kutte is the name for the vestment a monk would have worn, when they had such things as mainstream religion in Germany.  In a way, committing to seeing through my Bands Bucket List seems like a calling – a purely self-indulgent one, but still something that seems to at times touch upon the transcendent and help me make sense of the world around me and my place in it.  It might not be a religious calling, but there’s certainly a spiritual aspect about it.  I can’t explain it, except that I get into a trancelike state when the universe just becomes clear… or irrelevant.  Either way, this whole task has given my life meaning again which I was distinctly lacking before I made a more-than-half-assed commitment to do this.

So what makes a really great looking battle vest?  Well, one thing to bear in mind is (if you’re doing it right) it’s a work in progress, not a destination to race to, and it’s going to be “in progress” for quite a while before it’s completed.  That usually means wearing it while it’s unfinished.  Like how you have to be on the train before you arrive at your destination.  Enjoy the process; if you never see yourself getting tired of bands of the sort who release patches, if you really love metal, I suggest you make your train seat cosy, because your jacket vest may never reach completion – and that’s a good thing!  I’m looking forward (if money permits) to going to Bloodstock in 2016 and seeing some awesome thrash/death metal bands.

The rear of my battlevest.
The rear of my battlevest.
The front of my battle vest.   As you can see from the pictures, I currently only have 14 patches.
The front of my battle vest. As you can see from the pictures, I currently only have 14 patches.

Also I’m adding Children Of Bodom and Asphyx and Murderdolls to my bands bucket list and will update it accordingly.  Children of Bodom are supporting Lamb of God who are supporting Megadeth on Thursday (and it’s going to be awesome).  Listen to them here:

Asphyx just sound excellent on Youtube (I saw their patch on someone else’s battle vest… see how this works now Billy Idol???), give them a listen, I really want to see them live now:

And this is the reason Murderdolls have made it onto the list.  It’s probably old but I only got round to listening to them for the first time today and this was the first thing I picked, it’s the best. Cover. Ever (miles better than Tainted Love):

The Bands Bucket List

So I’ve alluded to my “Bands Bucket List” many times, but I’ve never really gone into the full details.
Let me explain.
I have a list of bands and musical artists that I would like to see before they kick the bucket. Being on the list doesn’t imply that they are elderly, or that they are more likely to die than some other band who isn’t on the list. It’s simply a list of all the bands, who, if they died unexpectedly in a plane crash tomorrow, I would feel like I had missed a chance to see something truly special.  Sometimes I add things as I decide they’re worth adding.
So here is the list as it stands today, the ones in bold are the ones I’ve seen so far, the ones with a line through them (crossing them out) are the ones that are no chance in hell severely unlikely (or dead).  Ones with a W next to them are on my “wish list” – the Creme De La Creme:

Band Name:
AC/DC
Alice Cooper -W-
Anthrax
Asphyx
Apocalyptica

Beyonce
Black Sabbath -W-
Blink 182
Billy Idol -W-
Black Eyed Peas
Bob Dylan -W-
Boomtown Rats
Britney Spears
Buzzcocks
Children of Bodom
Clannad
Dave Gilmour/Pink Floyd -W-
David Bowie -W-
Death DTA
Deep Purple
Dire Straits
Dolly Parton
Donovan
Eagles -W-
Eminem
Fleetwood Mac
Green Day
Gwen Stefani
Iron Maiden -W-
Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson -W-
Jimmy Page/Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) -W-
Judas Priest
Kate Rusby
Kiss
Kitaro
Lamb of God (booked 12th November 2015)
Led Zeppelin/Jimmy Page -W-
Lynyrd Skynyrd -W-
Marilyn Manson
Megadeth (booked for 12th November 2015) -W-
Meatloaf -W-
Motley Crue (twice) -W-
Motorhead
Murderdolls
Muse -W-
Nightwish
Nine Inch Nails
NOFX -W-
Paul Mccartney/Beatles
Queen
Radiohead
Rammstein
Ringo Starr/All Starr Band/Beatles
Roger Waters/Pink Floyd
Rolling Stones
Slash (Guns n Roses) -W-
Slayer -W-
Slipknot -W-
Steeleye Span -W-
Steppenwolfe
System Of A Down -W-
Tenacious D
Therapy? (Booked for 3rd March 2016)
The Damned
The Jam
The Trashmen
The Turtles -W-
The Who -W-
They Might Be Giants
Tool
Within Temptation

My favorite band: NOFX live in Birmingham 2015

After a whole year of so many different concerts, bands and gigs that I’ve been to (see here to see my other articles on various bands), I wasn’t holding out much hope for NOFX being any good live.
What I forgot is that they’re primarily a punk band, and like nearly every punk band (and riot grrrl band, for that matter), they ALWAYS sound better live.
I guess I wasn’t sure because I just didn’t know what could possibly sound better than NOFX’s recorded albums.

Well…. seeing them play live is a better experience. It’s like having someone playing your favorite music AND seeing them in person in front of you AND being surrounded by people who know their back catalog as well as you do AND do you know what’s better than that?
Fat Mike came on stage in a fucking MAID DRESS mauling his guitar like it was a toothpick and I could’ve died right then and died happy.

Can you tell it's from before I got my new camera?
Can you tell it’s from before I got my new camera? Click to enlarge.
Fat Mike in a maid dress while Hefe plays the trumpet for the trumpet solo that he plays why is my internet taking so damn long to finish uploading this stupid picture it's still terribly slow I don't know when we are getting it fixed but this is taking far too long to upload and if I stop typing it'll blank this caption when it finishes fucksake why won't it fi
Click to enlarge. Fat Mike in a maid dress while Hefe plays the trumpet for the trumpet solo that he plays why is my internet taking so damn long to finish uploading this stupid picture it’s still terribly slow I don’t know when we are getting it fixed but this is taking far too long to upload and if I stop typing it’ll blank this caption when it finishes fucksake why won’t it fi

It was literally the BEST concert I’ve been to ever.
It’s like everything I wanted all those other concerts to be, everything I was looking for in this quest to see all the bands on my bands bucket list, it all culminated on this one evening in July.

I took my step-dad and my half-sister, against my better judgement, because while her and I have had a pretty big rift that got even worse after my mum died last year, I’ve never really had any huge issues with him after I got over the whole “you didn’t want me when you went for custody after the divorce” (he didn’t).
That bit.
But we’re over that. And it was a milestone birthday for him this year so I decided to extend my good fortune of having enough time and money to go to concerts, and I bought 3 tickets for NOFX.

My half-sister didn’t really know who they were. But my step-dad did (I was brought up on metal and punk because he was the biggest ever metal fan when he married my mum then over the years moved more into punk; I still can’t listen to Sepultura or Slayer without cleaning my house, because that’s just what we DID on Sundays when my mum was still in bed).
I don’t know why I’ve always loved NOFX. I guess their sound reminds me of simpler times while their lyrics are so fresh and relevant (and I wonder whether my stepdad actually gets the lyrics).

Here’s some of their stuff (from one of my favorite albums – aw hell they’re all my favorite) in case you don’t know them:

From start to finish their gig was AMAZING. They were being supported by Lagwagon (who were the first band that Fat Mike signed to Fat Wreck Chords – aside from NOFX of course) and Alkaline Trio.

I thought Lagwagon were a good warm up band but their sound system was a bit loud (same as The Who – it was just so loud that it cut loads of the sound out of the audible range – what is the point of this?) as there weren’t enough people in the room by then to absorb all the sound, and they sounded totally different live than they do on their recorded stuff. I like them better recorded, they’ve got a good sound. They still had me bobbing my head though.

Alkaline Trio were a bit EMO if I’m honest. I thought their lyrics sounded very angsty and I was surprised because I thought they were one of the bands that was slightly more “out there” than NOFX. Like, proper American punk. Putting all argument about whether America has any “proper” punk aside because that’s elitist and it’s not my job to keep punk rock elite: That’s Fat Mike’s job:

After Alkaline Trio finished, there was an OBSCENE interval, in which my stepdad got VERY drunk (by normal people’s standards – not by his standards, he could’ve probably drank 3 times as much before he’d be as rowdy as he can get) and then complained that this is why he hadn’t seen NOFX when they’d played Blackpool’s Holiday In The Sun (or whatever it’s called nowadays. Google says: Rebellion Festival) – he just couldn’t be arsed with waiting around to see ’em. He also said that aparently NOFX were banned from this year’s Blackpool Rebellion Festival (the big punk one) because they’d been too offensive last year.
Too offensive to play a punk festival… whuttt???
Something to do with things they’d said being taken too seriously by festivalgoers.
Well, when NOFX came on stage and Fat Mike was punking his maid dress and Hefe was looking like he hasn’t aged since the early ’90s (in fact, they’re all doing pretty well in that regard), in between songs Fat Mike did make a few jokes which could have been taken to be offensive by the wrong crowd, so I guess if you don’t “get” NOFX then there’s no hope for you. Like, literally.
I say this in the full knowledge that my Dearest had seen NOFX at Leeds in 2004 and told me several times that they were “a bit meh.”
Fuck only knows what that’s supposed to mean. I thought they were the best band I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a LOT of bands.
Here’s a list of live bands that NOFX are better than (by me, Bender):
Iron Maiden,
Slayer,
Anthrax,
Slipknot,
Muse,
Kiss,
Billy Idol,
Motley Crue (but I’m seeing them again in 2 weeks so I’ll report back),
Slash (but only because NOFX has better lyrics than the old GnR stuff, if it was all like Anastasia they’d have to have a rock off for me to work out who was best),
Mallory Knox (by a country mile),
Marilyn Manson (by a country mile),
The Who,
Steeleye Span,
Judas Priest,
Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I’m seeing Alice Cooper on 4th November, Megadeth on 12th November, and Bob Dylan TOMORROW (24th October) so I will let y’all know how they size up against NOFX.

So what did they play?
Only the entirety of their album Punk In Drublic and when they started playing Linoleum I was just gone. GONE. Just… raving? Is that the right word? I was waving my arms and jumping up and down and banging my head and the whole universe just made sense and it all converged around a moderately sized man in his 40s wearing a maid dress and wielding a guitar, surrounded by other men in their 40s who were not wearing girly costumes and who were still equally mesmerizing. What impressed me most was that they knew their shit. They didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t lose their thread (unlike Bruce Dickinson when we saw Iron Maiden). They just sounded like they do on their records, but BETTER. That’s the first time I’ve said that about a band. My step-dad disappeared into the moshing and I later saw him crowd-surfing. They also did Franco Un-American and some other stuff I’ve forgotten because I was just totally lost in the experience which is why it’s taken me so long to get to a point where I could write about it. Putting it into words I’d say it experientially was like being in a BDSM scene. Which I’m patently bad at writing about (hence my other, VERY ADULT CONTENT DON’T GO THERE IF YOU GET OFFENDED BY BDSM, no reblogging, blog only having one proper scene write-up, DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU –it’s here– NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED although much less extreme than loads of stuff out there) when it’s something I’ve experienced rather than using my experiences to write stories.

Speaking of which… I was intrigued by the maid outfit but I thought Fat Mike was being ironic: I didn’t know that Fat Mike was like BDSM’s biggest fan. Then I found this interview and when the guy asked him the question, “you’ve got your finger in many pies, what are you first, are you a musician first?” And he said, “Oh, no. If I could only do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be, er…” [long pause] and I instantly thought about my own answer to that question, which would unequivocally be BDSM. I would literally abandon everything else going on in my life if it was a choice like that, stop writing, acting, traveling… anyway, I was whispering “BDSM, BDSM…” (the way you do when you know how you’d answer a game show question) then I took a gulp of tea, Fat Mike said, “BDSM” and I literally spat my tea. It happens around 28 minutes 30 seconds (although you can’t see me watching it and spitting my tea I guess).

I felt like such an idiot, there’s this punk guy being interviewed in a pink negligee with a chain around his neck fastened by a padlock and I totally MISSED the fact that he’s someone’s bitch. So anyway I did some googling and found out he’s actually married to a dominatrix (lucky him) and has a dungeon in his house (lucky him) and my respect for Fat Mike and all things NOFX just went through the roof. I thought S&M airlines (an album by NOFX) and all their dominatrix-themed shirts and him turning up to the gig in a maid dress and that song about Japan (Cool and Unusual Punishment) were all just another example of people incorporating BDSM imagery into popular culture. It happens a lot.

Mind…. blown…

It gives me another reason to place NOFX at the top of my list as my all time favorite band. It’s like there’s this fundamental rightness to the sound of NOFX that I have only ever heard when listening to Bikini Kill. *stares off into space thinking about Kathleen Hanna’s voice and feels a bit sad that Bikini Kill aren’t still touring* Bikini Kill were, in fact, the whole catalyst that started me on this Bands Bucket List quest, because I felt it was such a tragedy that I never got to see them live on account of being FAR too young. I need to see NOFX again. Like, every day for the rest of my life.

Anyway this article needs an ending. We staggered out of the venue and then went on a hunt for some food and it turns out there’s a deficiency of fast food in Birmingham on a Sunday night. So I think we got back as far as Stafford before we found a McDonalds and ordered large quantities of dead animal flesh to fill our faces with.

See what’s on the rest of my Bands Bucket list
Other concerts I’ve reviewed.

My Official Bands Bucket List

So I keep referring to my bands bucket list when I write about things I’ve been up to.  Today I wanted to go back and explain what it is.

You are probably aware that a bucket list is usually something written by people of all ages to ensure that they get to do all the things they’ve dreamed of doing in life – all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket,” to coin a term.

In my case, that would be my ever-dwindling 30-list and my currently being written 40-list, which are the things I want to do before I reach age 30 and age 40, respectively.  It would probably not surprise you, then, to know that, when I was eighteen, I started this whole thing by writing a 20-list, a set of things I wanted to do before I turned 20.

The Bands Bucket List is very separate.  My age-lists are really more a set of things I feel would be achievements, accomplishments, or that I have some control over.  Things you can get with work and dedication.  They are lists of things that are within my power to make happen, however unique the circumstances would need to be for the achievement to be made.

The reason I don’t include bands on my 30-list and 40-list is because anyone can buy a ticket and travel to a gig.  Yes, some bands only tour in their homeland of Japan or The Faroe Islands, but by and large, live music is a capitalist, class dependent commodity (ooh er) that anyone with time and money can engage in.  For that reason I don’t think it’s an achievement to see The Who or Lynyrd Skynyrd, in the same sense that it would be an achievement to climb a mountain or get a master’s degree.  It would certainly be an achievement to play in a band, an honour that I have never been privy to (flutes tend to get stuck with orchestras rather than popular music bands, and ukuleles are the sonorous pariah unwanted in most ensembles), but seeing a band?  I am responsible for quality control of my lists and I decided it would cheapen the accomplishment of a PhD or climbing Everest to liken them with going to Download Festival (sorry, Download, it’s not that I don’t think your wonderful, but you are very easy).

I did need to keep track of a large set of data though, to make it possible to organize, and as I was spending more and more time on the internet typing different band names into Google, I thought I needed a spreadsheet.  I do love a good spreadsheet.

So I wrote them all down in alphabetical order, every band I could think of who, if their members died in a plane crash and they ceased to exist, I would feel like I’d missed out if I had neglected to attend them.  I know I won’t see all of them, but I wanted to make a concerted effort to see as many as I could while I could.

The list doesn’t distinguish between bands who have been apart for 30 years and those who are still coherent, it does separate out individual artists who are known to currently have a solo career and also link them to the band they used to be in (so, for example, the entry for David Gilmour states “Dave Gilmour/Pink Floyd” and Roger Waters’ entry is “Roger Waters/Pink Floyd”) ensuring that the musical genius that spawned the bands are placed to be seen even when they can’t be in the same room as one another.  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are another example, where their entries are “Jimmy Page/Led Zeppelin” and “Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin” respectively.  Either entry can be ticked off once the required people have been seen, so if I’d seen Jimmy Page, it would then be at my discretion whether I decided the performance was sufficient to tick off Led Zeppelin, or whether I also wanted to see Robert Plant first.  I have ticked Guns n Roses off because I’ve seen Slash, and his performance with Myles Kennedy would be sufficient to tick off Guns n Roses (although GnR weren’t on my list) even though I haven’t seen Axl Rose and the band he’s put together when he kept the name Guns N Roses.

This list, and the ticking off part especially, has raised two very interesting dilemmas facing the modern music fan of older bands:  To what extent does the name of the band matter if none of the original members survive, and what actually counts as having seen a band?

The naming question is difficult.  So for example, there’s only one founder member of Lynyrd Skynyrd left in the band, but when I went to see them you could tell straight away that it didn’t matter.  Trying to define a band as who they were when they first signed on the dotted line of that fateful first record deal in the 1960s is a constrained and counterproductive way of going about things.  Take Pink Floyd again – guitarist Dave Gilmour wasn’t even in the original line-up, but for many people, he IS Pink Floyd, moreso than any other member.  Likewise, I need to be cautious about letting too many things be defined as the correct band.  It gets to a point where the only member of a band worth seeing is the drummer, and unless it’s Ringo Starr or Keith Moon, you might as well go and see a tribute band and tick off the real thing.  It’s false.  So somewhere between these two polarized opinions lies the way forward.

With The Who it was easy – the lead singer/guitarist and the lead guitarist are both still knocking around, the drummer is Ringo Starr’s son, and the bassist is an excellent session musician.  Hearing them play, you can tell they’re the real deal not some tribute band which have learned their songs meticulously to the letter and never deviate from the script.  They had the spark of Who-ness that made them Who-lesome.  I make no apologies for the wordplay.  Not all wordplay is a pun.

With Guns N Roses it would have been harder, since Axl kept the band name but is the only remaining member.  Seeing Slash play was such a jaw-droppingly stirring experience that I decided there was no way any replacement guitarist could ever possibly outdo him, unless Axl had hired Hendrix or Jimmy Page (which he hasn’t, which is a good job because Hendrix is dead and in either case, they’d want to play like themselves so you’d not get the same result).  It’s all a matter of style and substance.  Tribute bands and lesser replacement musicians can copy the style but have no substance.  Replacement musicians who are greater than the original will have substance but a differing style.  It takes a rare genius to walk the line between these two and still come out on top.  So I ticked off Guns N Roses.

The second dilemma is also one that I could spend years obsessing over if I wanted to:  How much of a band counts as “having seen” a band.  Here are my criteria:

1. It has to be live.

2. I had to be close enough to see and hear the band, not just watch the video screen, because that defeats the point.

3. I have to have heard the actual band play at least one full song.

4. Televised appearances are lovely, but there is so much loss of quality and atmosphere that they can’t possibly count, and the same goes for Youtube and other ways of seeing them.  For example, I watched the Pink Floyd Live 8 performance live on the BBC as it happened less than 20 miles from where I was sat (2 days after my mother had tried to kill me resulting in my being removed and never returning home, and 5 days before the 7/7 bombings), but it doesn’t count as having seen them, even though it had a profound and evelasting impact on the course of my life after that moment and probably stopped me killing myself.  That bit where they played “Wish You Were Here” and dedicated it to Syd had me in tears.

5. It doesn’t matter what they play:  If I wanted to hear a specific song I could buy and listen to the proper recording studio version.  That’s not what I’m looking for in my quest to see these bands.

Then there’s the single criterion for removal from the list:  If there are no living members of a band or if a solo artist dies, they are taken off the list.  Here is the list so far, there are currently 60 entries, and things are always being added:

Click to enlarge, again to zoom.
Click to enlarge, again to zoom.

For planning purposes, only the bands in white/orange matter:  The ones in pale grey are supposed to be ones who are just not touring at all, so they’re discounted from planning purposes (but breakups/reunions etc are so fickle that I don’t exclude reunion tours until the last member has kicked the bucket).  The ones in dark grey are ones I’ve now seen.  The ones in lime green are currently not attainable due to either dates, cost, or some other factor of sheer preposterous awkwardness that makes them unachievable such as announcing on the day of sale, selling out in 10 minutes and placing ridiculous resale criteria on the tickets, that only means that WHEN the tickets are resold, they’re triple the price they would have been so the resellers make even more money.  The ones in lime green are generally ones I’ve written off for this year.

So that’s my bands bucket list.  What do you think?  Who would be on yours?

Anything Can Happen At A Festival…

It’s anything can happen Thursday and I’m going to Download Festival on a three night camping ticket until Monday.   I have ordered a tipi for the camping to happen in.  When I return, I can tick the following bands off my bands bucket list:

(ahem)
Motley Crue
Billy Idol
Kiss
Dragonforce
Muse
Apocalyptica
Judas Priest

And possibly Alice Cooper if he’s making a surprise guest appearance (it’s a possibility, because he’s supporting Motley Crue on their farewell tour and is playing at all the other festivals that they’re doing).

Also I will see Slipknot, Lacuna Coil and possibly Marilyn Manson (possibly not, the set timings have NOT been thought out very well on the Saturday) although these aren’t on the bands bucket list – the list of bands I want to see before THEY kick the bucket.

Still, exciting times. I’m a little nervous as I’ve never camped at a festival before (last year we got a day ticket for the one day all our favourite bands were playing on, and got to see Iron Maiden, Slayer and Anthrax on one day), and I’m going with my best friend rather than my husband so I am concerned that I might not sleep so well. Add to that, the tent arrived while I was on the school run, literally two minutes before I got home, and now I’ve got to collect it from the depot this evening (they very specifically said I could only collect it at 6:30… bizarre), and it will need waterproofing (which I knew when I ordered it) and I am still off alcohol and sugar for reasons of sanity, and no, that’s NO pressure at all.

Still, I’m sure it will be great. I felt like backing out of Lynyrd Skynyrd at the last minute and it turned out to be the most awesomest show ever.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, the most recent band that I ticked off my bands bucket list.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the most recent band that I ticked off my bands bucket list.