Ongoing History of New Music
Summary: Ongoing History of New Music looks at things from the alt-rock universe to hip hop, from artist profiles to various thematic explorations. It is Canada’s most well known music documentary hosted by the legendary Alan Cross. Whatever the episode, you’re definitely going to learn something that you might not find anywhere else. Trust us on this.
Music is one of the greatest gifts the universe has bestowed on humanity...it provides so much joy and comfort and inspiration and enjoyment and motivation... It’s used in ritual and worship...and it allows us to communicate when words fail us... Every culture we’ve ever known has had music...an existence without music?...inconceivable... But like everything in this life, even the best things can be perverted and corrupted for malevolent purposes...and that includes music... It can be something as simple as your brother or sister annoying you by playing their awful music at high volume...or music can be employed as a weapon, a tool of war, an instrument of torture, a form of intimidation, and a way of inflicting pain and distress... And to be fair, it can also be used as gentle non-lethal retaliation against some kind of incursion or attack...no bullets may be fired, but a point will be made... This use of music in these ways is almost as old as music itself...and this history isn’t pretty...welcome to the story of using music as a weapon...warning: this could get loud... See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
One of the things that makes rock great is the energy and the power that comes with the music..and depending where you go, that energy and power varies from place to place... If you’re looking to exorcise a little aggression and anger and frustration, you have several choices...there are various flavours of metal that can serve your purpose, ranging from the melodic (Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” for example) along with Sabbath and Ozzy to the straight-from-hell insanity of black and death metal... Industrial music is another option...guitars, synthesizers, and driving beats from acts like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Ministry... A third option is punk rock...it comes in many flavours, so there’s almost something for everyone... But if you really want pure adrenalin, something aggressive, something super-physical, something primal, and something that can be dangerous and violent, there’s one particular part of the punk world that you’ll find very attractive... It’s a space where things can’t be too hard, too fast, or too angry... And for many people, it’s become a lifestyle and even a lifesaver...it isn’t for everyone, but as we’ll see, its influence has extended far, far beyond just a bunch of guys yelling over loud guitars...misunderstood?...maybe...important?...definitely...this is the history of hardcore... See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It’s never too late to follow your dreams…here are a few inspiration examples… Anna Mary Robertson was born in New York in 1860…for years, she worked as a housekeeper before moving to farm work with her husband, Thomas Moses…they had ten children… When Thomas died, Anna needed something to occupy her time, so she took up painting…she was 78 years old…Anna became known as “Grandma Moses” and is one of the most celebrated American painters of the 20th century…she’s also held up as an example of never being too old to follow your dreams… Then, early in 2022, I ran across the story of Ruth Slenczynska…she was the last surviving pupil of classical legend Sergei Rachmaninov…Ruth first met him when she was declared a child prodigy many, many, many decades ago, back in the 1920s… She recorded some classical records for Decca in the 50s and very early 60s, but that was it…the contract lapsed and wasn’t renewed—that is until early 2022 when she signed a brand new record deal with Decca for a solo album entitled “my life in music”…Ruth Slenczynska got this record deal at the age of 97… This got me thinking…rock is supposed to be for the young…new artists are almost always in their teens or early 20s…but not always…sometimes it takes a little longer and a lot more work before certain artists were able to get their big break…some had to wait until their 30s—ancient by any measure when it comes to the contemporary music business… And given the ageism that persists throughout contemporary music, these accomplishments are all that more impressive… Let’s take a look at the late bloomers of rock’n’roll… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When someone in your band decides to leave, gets fired, or heaven forbid, dies, you have a problem…this is an issue if any member leaves, but if we’re talking about your singer, that’s a hurt on an entirely different level… Your front person is an integral part of your sound…it’s the voice of your music…and there is nothing important to your music than its voice… It gets worse, too…your front person often provides the central image of your band…that person is the one out front…that person takes centre stage live…that person is the one the camera follows in a video…that person is the one photographers focus on…and chances are, it’s that person’s name that comes to mind first with fans… So what do you do when that person bails?...you have two choices…fold your tent and go home and maybe come back in a different form with a different name…or you suck it up and risk replacing that singer with someone else… That is hard on so many levels…again, I go back to the notion of “voice”…you could find a sound-alike like we’ve seen with journey, a period of time with Judas Priest, and perhaps Queen…but the fans know you’ve just plugged that whole with a reasonable facsimile at best or a out-and-out fake at worst… Instead, it’s probably best to focus on skills and chemistry…so maybe the new person does sound like the old one…but maybe they bring something new to the table, some intangible talent that not only dressed the wound but makes the body as a whole stronger?... That’s really, really, hard…but it can be done…and here are 18 examples of bands who have done just that… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
I get a lot of email from young musicians looking for advice…they all ask pretty much the same questions: how to do I get more people to know about my music?...how do I get them to listen to my music?...how do I get my songs on the radio?...how do I get a record deal?...listen, if I had the definitive “silver bullet” answers to any of these questions, I’d not only be rich, I’d be worshipped as a God—which, come to think of it, would be kinda cool… It has always been hard to make it in the music business…you need to not just be good but great…and—never discount this—you have to be lucky, to be in the right place in the right time with the right sound and image and attitude… And since the internet disrupted everything, it’s become even harder…at the moment, there’s a split when it comes to artists…the majority of them made their bones and established their reputations before the internet hit the music industry around 2000—and everyone else… The internet—free-flowing digital files, streaming, social media, YouTube, and all that ilk—has not only made music more accessible to everyone, but it’s also increased competition amongst musicians exponentially…it has never been harder for a new act to be heard about the noise of everyone else… Here’s an exercise: name all the rock bands who have emerged since 2000 who are capable of filling an area as a headliner today…Arcade Fire, for sure…Muse, is another…Linkin Park, although they’re no longer with us…White Stripes and Jack White…and after that, you start to run out of names… Here’s one more: Imagine Dragons…they were formed in 2008 and have since become a major alt-rock band…and yes, they can fill an arena…how did they do that?...let’s investigate…. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Back in 2014, I was invited to the foo fighters headquarters...this is 606 studios, the band’s hangout and nerve centre in Van Nuys, California...I was there to talk about the new album and TV series, “Sonic Highways”... I got there before anyone from the band arrived...first to roll up was Taylor Hawkins...he was driving the same beat-up 1986 Toyota 4 x 4 pick-up truck that he bought for $400 when he was in high school...he could have taken his other truck, which was a 2005 Subaru Baja... “not a very rock star ride,” I said when he got out...Taylor smiled—of course, he smiled—and said “it gets the job done”...Taylor was never much for the trappings of rock stardom... Here’s a quote: if you want to play music, play because you want to play music, not because you want to be rich and famous”.... We went inside where I noticed a poster on the wall for an obscure solo album by Queen drummer, Roger Taylor...it was a 1981 release called “Fun in Space”...what was that doing here?... Taylor came alive... “Roger Taylor, man!...my favourite drummer ever!...Queen was my first concert and I’ve always been a fan of the guy...I mean, just the way he plays”... And that’s how the conversation went until everyone else arrived and we had to start the interview...but during those 15 or 20 minutes, Taylor made me feel at home, a welcome guest in this sacred and very private Foo Fighters space... I forgot that was talking to the drummer of one of the biggest bands on the planet...he was just this goofy, fun surfer dude who wanted to talk about music...I think he even made me an espresso... That’s what I thought of when I heard that Taylor had died...he wasn’t just the Foos’ drummer and a beloved member of the band, he was a nice, normal guy, who wanted to do nothing more than be a dad and play rock’n’roll... Let’s spend some time remembering Taylor Hawkins... See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We’re thrilled to share a special preview of the Broken Record podcast from Pushkin Industries. In honor of the Red Hot Chili Peppers new album, Unlimited Love, the band members sit with their legendary producer Rick Rubin to share exclusive insights about the band’s dynamic. In this preview, Rick, John, and Anthony discuss John rejoining the band after a 10 year hiatus and how right it felt to be playing together again. You can hear the full episode, and more from Broken Record at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/brokenrecordrhcp?sid=ongoinghistory. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
I’m going to explain why you might get frustrated at spellcheck on your phone or computer…and the answer has to do with a guy named Noah… no, not that Noah from the bible with the ark…another one… Noah was annoyed…as a proud new American, he believed that his new country needed to set itself apart from its former colonial masters in every way possible so they new nation could truly be different and independent and separate… By 1828, there was no need to take up arms anymore, so Noah picked up his pen…as an author of schoolbooks, his annoyance had to do with the way the British spelled some of their words…why could “colour” have that extra “u?”…the proper way to spell “centre” was “c-e-n-t-e-r,” not “r-e”…everywhere he looked, he saw what he believed to be nonsensical spellings… He made a list of such annoyances…and in 1828, at the age of 70, Noah Webster published his “American dictionary of the English language”…and it was a hit—largely because Noah was already that guy with all the spelling books being used in school… And so came to pass that Noah’s preferred spellings—again, modifications to the original British versions of these words—became adopted by America…and these spellings are what’s accepted today as correct in the U.S… That means if you have a computer or a phone or whatever and you have your default language set to “English,” it’s most often means “American English” by default…and that means if you try to spell certain words the British or the Canadian or Australian way, you get a squiggly line underneath… That really annoys me (and maybe you, too)—almost as much as when my iPhone insists that I mean to spell “ducking”…but that’s another story…but this story does explain why your device seems to hate your spelling skills…it goes back to grumpy Noah Webster and his nationalistic demands on language… Rock music has been with us since the early 1950s…that’s long enough for many things to become entrenched, familiar, and basically just part of the scenery…there are so many things about rock that we just accept and don’t really question or wonder about… But just like the spellcheck on your phone, if you start thinking about some of these things, you might wonder where they came from, why we do it, or who came up with the idea in the first place…let’s see if I can help…I call this episode “the rock explainer”… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It’s hard being in a band…all that time close together, day and night, in cramped vans and crappy dressing rooms…record company issues, personal issues, personnel problems and the general fragile state of the human condition…it’s no wonder so many groups break up...after a while, it’s just too much trouble. But there are exceptions, bands that somehow manage to stay together in the same form forever, no matter what happens… the Radiohead that we know today is really the only Radiohead there’s ever been…U2 hasn’t had a lineup change since 1978… ZZ Top has been the same three guys since 1969… And here’s another one to add to the list: Billy Talent…same four guys since 1993…how have they managed that?...well, if you want the truth, go to the source… This is Billy Talent: in their own words, part 3 See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Artists make art because they have it…there’s something in their hearts that forces them to turn what they feel inside into something the rest of us can see and hear and feel ourselves… It supposed to be this pure thing…the pursuit of beauty for beauty’s sake…undistilled human emotion designed to create a reaction, to spread a profound messages, to make the universe a better and wiser and more joyful place… Yeah…those are nice thoughts…but the universe being what it is, things don’t work that way… Artists need to eat…they need to pay the rent…they need tools and supplies…they may need to travel from place to place…and they may need help from others—people that demand payment… In other words, artists need money to survive…they may find that money from donations…maybe they have a patron…but in the modern world, what they really need is a regular income… It used to be that musicians would play gigs and sell their music to the public…if they got it on the radio, then that was revenue stream…then came selling t-shirts and other merchandise… But around the turn of the 21st century, things began to change…economic realities surrounding the evolution of the music business forced musicians to look at different ways of bringing in income… What was once considered compromising artistic principles and destruction of your integrity of music by prostituting yourself to soulless multi-national corporations (and the like) started to look like not just like a pretty good idea but a very necessary one… Oh, sure, you can reject the evil lure of money to maintain the purity of your music, but that’s not going to take you far if you’re homeless and hungry…and after a while, you realize that the shame levied upon you for finding new ways of making a living is actually the result of the audience’s idea of artistic purity…the audience expects you to do what they believe is the pure thing for their entertainment… Whoa…these are complicated concepts…let’s proceed with part two of “the concept of selling out”… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
I’ve done hundreds of interviews with individual artists over the year…it’s relatively easy...all you have to do is get one person in a room, turn on the recording devices and you’re set… When it comes to interviewing a band, you’re lucky to get two members in the same place and the same time… But getting every member of a band in the same place at the same time for an interview is next to impossible…I’ve only managed to be so lucky a couple of times… U2, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Blink-182—and that’s about it… And lemme tell you something: each of these interviews required extraordinary efforts under extraordinary circumstances… Such circumstances miraculously presented themselves with Billy Talent…all four guys around the same table in the same studio…the purpose?...to get them to tell the story of the band in their own words…this is part two of our conversation… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
One of the worst insults you can throw at an artist is to accuse them of “selling out”…the most basic definition is when the pursuit of money compromises, corrupts or otherwise interrupts the pursuit truth and beauty and all the purity and goodness that is supposed to flow from art… But that’s an awfully broad definition which can be applied in a billion different highly subjective ways…at one extreme, some people believe that taking money for any kind of art is perverse…at the other, anything and everything has its price, high or low, depending on the circumstances… And the world has changed…making any kind of art costs money…competition for attention among artists have never been greater…and we’d like to thing that great art inevitably and naturally rises to the top, but it just doesn’t…in a true meritocracy, it would…but we all know that’s not true… And ever since the internet started shaping the way we find and consume music, the value ascribed to it—that is, how much we’re willing to pay for it—has dropped to near zero…thanks to streaming and YouTube, almost all the music ever created in the history of humankind is available for free… But there are costs to making music…musicians (and those associated with its creation) have a right to make a living…where does the money come from?... From a lot of different places, as it turns out…the sources of this working capital may be distasteful to some, but if you want to be a working musician these days, some creative and philosophical compromises need to be made… What I’m trying to say is that “selling out” ain’t what it used to be….here…let me show you See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The best way to construct a profile on an artist is to round up everyone together, put them in a studio and get them to tell their story themselves… But that can be difficult, especially with a band…beyond touring and recording schedules, everyone has their own lives and may even live in different cities…putting everyone in the same place could be impossible… It took a while, but we did it…i have all four members of Billy Talent in one place…and they’re here for one purpose: to tell their story in their own words… See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In the days before Covid, I was always on the road…if it wasn’t a music conference in Singapore, it was an interview in London, the Juno’s in—wherever, or a concert in Los Angeles…this means I have seen more than my share of hotel rooms—everything from five-star luxury spots to sub-one-star establishments that come with a complimentary dead hooker under the bed… This means I’ve developed a certain attitude toward hotels… First thing you do when you get into the room is ditch the bedspread…they are never, ever cleaned…just tear it off, pile it in the corner, and then wash your hands…then try not to imagine what’s happened on that couch… At night, there’s the sound of the air conditioning, the noises coming from the hallway…and what are they doing in the room next door?... Then in the restaurant and the bar and the fitness room, you run into fellow guests…who are they?...what are they doing here?...what’s their story?...occasionally, I’d find out—like the time I ran across a Nobel prize winner who was living in this Asian hotel because he was too ill to fly back home… Hotels are fascinating places where things happen that don’t happen anywhere else…strangers come together from everywhere to do things that they might not do anywhere else…no wonder so many books and TV shows and movies are set in hotels…I am fascinated with these places… Here’s the segue: rock stars spend a lot of time on the road, meaning that they spend a lot of nights in hotels…and some of the rooms they stay in end up become part of rock’n’roll history…let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?... See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
There are some people who just can’t get along…it could be the result of politics, religion, philophies, property, honour, a personal slight, a perceived insult, or—well, a million things, really… The most famous feud in history might be the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s who fought each other along the border between Kentucky and West Virginia in the late 1800s…it started over a hog…did it belong to Floyd Hatfield or Randolph McCoy?...in the end more than a dozen people were killed on both sides of the feud, largely over a pig… Here’s something a little more relatable…German brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler co-founded a shoe company in their mother’s basement…when U.S. sprinter Jesse Ownes used their shoes for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, sales blew up… But the brothers couldn’t deal with the success and kept fighting and fighting and fighting…finally, in 1948, they couldn’t take it anymore and the company split in two…Adolf called his company “Adidas”…Rudolf named his “Puma”… And this is a good one…R2D2 and C3PO never liked each other…Anthony Daniels (C3PO) was a classical trained actor and never really like the fact that he had to play this robot…meanwhile, Kenny Baker, the little guy inside R2D2 was a circus performer…Daniels never, ever let Baker forget that he’d never been in the same league as him… And that’s just one of many different feuds to be found in the performer arts…when artistic types have a beef, it can get very, very weird… The Beatles vs. The Stones (although that was a manufactured fight…they were actually very good friends…but after the Beatles broke up, Paul and John scrapped a lot in the media…Ray and Dave Davies in The Kinks…no love lost there…David Gilmour vs. Roger Waters in Pink Floyd…Brian Love and Mike Wilson in The Beach Boys… And think of all the rap beefs…Biggie vs. Tupac, Kanye vs. Drake, Nas vs. Jay-Z…that list is endless… But what about more contemporary rock feuds, fights that have happened over the last couple of decades?...thanks for asking because here they come. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.