Archive | May, 2012

Cordel Roper

17 May

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Now I’ll admit that when I first listened to Cordel Roper, I was a little blown away. In fact that would be an understatement. I was quite shocked! However do not jump to conclusions my friends. Cordel Roper is someone to check out for sure.

Cordel Roper is a real blast from the past. This music is a real testament to dynamic and melodic music. Cordels silky smooth vocals mixed with swaying rhythms makes for a pleasant listen, for sure. His style of song writing vastly differs from track to track (I’d imagine an album from this guy would be a real roller coaster). His dynamic style of writing is evident in songs such as “Sh-Boom” (a swing influenced song) and “Saltwater” (a more mellow acoustic track). The track “Book of Love” could have also easily been a smash hit back in the day. Cordel would certainly appeal to a niche in todays market (which is probably just waiting to be tapped into!).

The production aspect of Cordel Ropers music is fantastic. Everything is clear as day and easy to listen to. I found that each song was mixed befitting to whichever style the song was (a very nice touch). The dynamic range is fluent and pleasing to the ears. I never found myself cringing to any of this, I more so felt a strange attraction to the music as I wasn’t very aware of these styles of music.

Cordel Roper will most likely not be everyones cup of tea. However the singer from Brighton, England certainly has some ridiculous talent in his body. This was an interesting experience for me, but I’m glad I took the time to listen to this mans music. I’d imagine we will be hearing great things from him in the not too distant future.

7/10

You can check out Cordel Roper at:

http://soundcloud.com/cordelroper

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A conversation with: Steve Lukather (Toto)

9 May

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As the guitarist for Rock band, Toto and as a session player for thousands of musicians, Steve Lukather has had a career like no other. During his recent visit to Brisbane, Nic Raffo
sat down with Steve to discuss G3, music and a career that has been anything but ordinary.

Welcome to Brisbane Steve! Not a bad place to be staying whilst in town, how’s the Hilton treating you?

It’s been great! I haven’t been outside yet though and apparently it’s really hot, so I don’t think I’m dressed appropriately today. But it’s weird because the weather is never how you think it is going to be. I always bring
the opposite of what I need, clothing wise. It’s just one of those rules of the road that I’ve learnt after 35 years of touring!

How does a tour with G3 differ from any other tour you’ve done?

You know…A G3 tour is just a big bundle of fun, you know? When the guys asked me to be a part of it I was like, really? Me? But you know, I’m a huge fan of Joe and Steve. I think this time around they asked me to maybe throw in a different flavor. There’s always the obvious choices and I think I’m a little left of center compared to those guys. I’m not sure what people expect when they see me come out on stage, you know? I’m wondering if they think I’m going to start playing ‘Africa’ or something from Toto, haha. But no, it’s definitely one of those things that was on my list of stuff that I would love to do in my life!

Is a tour with G3 a huge learning experience because you are constantly around such amazing musicians?

Yeah! I’m glad I go on first, haha! Steve and Joe are just amazing guitarists and for sure I’m not on their level. But it really is a fantastic experience being around all these guys. We’ve all gotten on so well, it’s been a blast and it’s been an honor. On this tour I was so nervous because I never ever put myself in the same league as the guitarists that have been on previous G3 tours, so I was really nervous that the crowd would yell out that I suck! But no it hasn’t been like that and so far it’s gone down really well!

Do you feel that being a part of the G3 tour, you are able to self indulge in your playing?

Somebody actually wrote on my Facebook, “What’s up with your music? It’s really self indulgent”. You know man, that’s what it’s all about! This is really fun, It’s all about fun. Sometimes it gets a little silly on stage but we just laugh, you know! It’s probably stuff I’d never play at any other show but it’s so great to just be able to shred on stage and jam with the other guys. Everybody gets their moment to shine, you know? We try to not make it boring but at the end of the day it’s just a lot of fun! I know I can’t win the show, but I’m having a blast being a part of it all! It’s like a marathon, you don’t expect to win but it’s awesome being a part of it.

You’re quite known for having an excellent work ethic. Do you work harder or are you more relaxed as time has gone by?

Yeah, haha! It’s cost me a couple of marriages but you know, it happens. I don’t hurt myself anymore. I don’t drink or smoke or do anything crazy anymore haha. I just can’t do that stuff anymore, especially because I’m on the road so much these days. However I’m feeling better, my playings better and I feel clearer! For me with all that stuff, the music was suffering because of it. I’m sure there’s a lot of Youtube videos out there of me doing stupid stuff, haha. You know, after 12 Tequilas you don’t really care what you do. You leave all your mess at the place where you drank. But then you sober up and have to deal
with all the consequences, haha.

No one in the industry has had a more prolific session career than yourself. Do you think being a session musician is possible these days?

Well I think there isn’t a lot of work and the people who have work are mostly T.V and film guys. These days you know, records can be made at home! The budgets are slashed and a lot of the session guys have a studio at home and just share files, you don’t really see the actual people anymore. I used to go everyday and see all the guys that I loved and learned from. Sometimes the national guys would come in from New York or London too. It was just one big, happy, musical family! We would all just mingle, figure out who’s playing drums or bass etc. Then we would create this music. We would play this music that we had never heard before. The notes weren’t necessarily written out and most of the time they weren’t. There were maps and charts (you had to be able to read through it to know
which direction to go in) but most of the time there were a lot of blank spaces and you were expected to come up with a little hooky part just like that, because that’s what we were trained to do! Producers would tell you what they wanted in some parts as well. If they wanted a solo, you had one or two takes to get it perfect because that’s what was expected of you. Definitely had to be on your game, haha!

You did work on Michael Jacksons Thriller album with Quincy Jones. What was that experience like?

Oh yeah, Thriller! Well….You can’t really tell that you’ve just played on an album that will become the highest selling album of all time! You just can’t.  At the time I was something like 22 or 23 years old so to me it was just  awesome to be working! But could I have predicted how big the album would become? Definitely not. But it’s interesting you know? A lot of musicians these days will never know what it’s like to have Quincy breathing down your neck, telling you what to play and that you have minutes to prepare. It was hard work back then that’s for sure! But yeah, I played all of the rhythm parts and bass parts on ‘Beat it’. Jeff Porcaro also played drums and obviously Eddie played the solo!

Many people don’t even realize how many successful records you and Toto have played on. Does this bother you?

Well you know, my career has definitely been off the beaten path. I love to play and I love to work! It used to bother me a little but I don’t have a say in the decision of who gets credited what etc. But you know, thanks to the internet now, people can discover anything about me and so nowdays a lot of people actually do know that I played on all those records.

If you could pick just a few albums that you have worked on, which are you most proud of?

Oh you know, that’s a really hard one, haha! There’s so many! I’m writing a book about my session playing. Like you said, I’ve had a unique career. I wasn’t just a guy in a band. It’s like, name me an artist and I’ve got a story about them from people like Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Alice Cooper, all the pop singers I’ve worked with etc.
A lot of these people I’ve become very great friends with over the years!

Do you think that the human connection within music has disappeared because people don’t necessarily get together to play music anymore?

Well we’re becoming a very clinical society. We’re isolated even if we’re in the same room because everybody’s connected to their little gadgets. You could be talking to somebody and they’d be looking down at their phone or something. We’re getting more and more isolated. I have 70,000 Facebook friends! I don’t know 70,000 people, haha!
I don’t want to sound like some old guy (even though I am) but I know my son, who is also a guitarist, is having a tough time just playing anywhere! I think these days the DJ’s are ruling the scene at the moment. You can’t really experiment anymore. Some places are like, “Well we can’t afford a real band so we’ll get a DJ”. I was actually in the room when they were making the first drum machine at Roger Lynns apartment. I distinctively remember Jeff Porcaro saying that we had to destroy it., haha!

What do you think about musicians of the newer generations?

I don’t think so, really. I’m actually getting into a lot of the newer kind of music, like this electronic music stuff. I think I can relate more to electronica than I can to Rap. I mean, I can appreciate artists like Eminem and I think some of these guys are cool! A lot of negativity in it all but you know, It’s not my generation so I’m technically not supposed to like it, haha! But I’m certainly trying to embrace new music these days.

The Other night I went for dinner with Steve and Joe. We were talking about the sub-genres of Metal. The kinds of chops these guys are pulling out are incredible these days. It’s completely different to the kinds of chops guitarists were pulling out back in my day.  I would look at guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Dave Gilmour and I would just melt when they’d play one note. Albums like Dark Side of The Moon, you know? Who’s making that kind of album these days!? However this is very small minded of me though. Like Joe and Steve were telling me what their kids are listening to these days and of course as old musicians we look at the how these new guys are playing polyrhythms over the music with such intensity! It makes me laugh, you know! Not because it’s funny but because it’s like, Fuck! How do you do that!? What are these guys putting in their cereal in the morning that make them play like this, haha!

These days though, a lot of people say musicians don’t have soul or feeling. That’s bullshit. Small minded bullshit. Every time these guys play I’m certain they’re putting everything into it. The guys in
Dream Theater are amazing! You can’t argue with great musicianship. Some people will see me on stage during G3 and think that I don’t belong there and that’s fine. I’m not in a competition. But when you see the three of us up there having so much fun, you just can’t help but smile. Like when I see Joe or Steve play sometime incredible, I’ll just play something silly because I know I can’t compete with that, haha! So once people see that they kind of get it, you know?

Speaking of the Metal Genre, do you realize how much of an influence you have been to musicians in the genre?

What, me? Are you serious? No way, haha! The Toto guy, really? Haha. That’s very interesting. No ones ever said to that me before. I mean people say that I have a style but I’m just rippin off guys like Larry Carlton or Jeff Beck and I’m just throwing everything I’ve learnt into a blender and that’s what comes out. But that’s one of the greatest compliments you could ever give me! There’s a billion guys with better technique than me so It’s very surprising when you say that.

What is influences your writing and playing these days?

You know what, man? I’m not under the thumb with having the write a hit single. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck for a hit. I would say that, honestly, I can do what I want these days. I’m just having fun! I love ear candy. I love mixing up genres, you know? I love writing something that has an odd time riff then has a really melodic section then goes into big ass harmonies like Steel Dan or something. I’d definitely say I have more freedom with my music now.

Do you find that you have an obligation to be nice because of your fame?

No, I think as a human being I have an obligation. What do people get out of being an asshole? I mean if somebody does me wrong and starts with me first, then they’ll see my darkside. But if you fuck with me, then I have an obligation to call you out on it! But it feels good to be nice! I like to be nice. Doesen’t make you feel good to be an asshole. I’ve seen when artists go off on somebody and nothing good ever comes from it. But you know, if somebody wants to come up to me and says hello and says “Hey man, thanks for the music!” It only takes one second to say thanks! But if someone comes up to me and is a pshyco or is drunk or something and getting in my face, then you gotta draw a line there and set them straight. You’ll find though that the biggest dicks are the ones with the biggest insecurities.

What do you think the future holds in store for yourself?

Well I can honestly say that I’m very happy to be all booked up! Next year is Totos 35th anniversary and we’re gearing up for a big one with that, haha. So I’ve got a lot of cool things coming my way. I’ve got my children as well. I’m alone a lot and that kind of sucks but I’ve also got Skype! So I get to talk to the ones I love frequently. One thing I can say for sure though, is expect the unexpected, I never can be certain how my life is going to pan out.

Mr Steve Lukather, It’s been an absolute honor and thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

Thanks, man! The pleasure is all mine!

 

A conversation with: Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)

9 May

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In the wake of Arch Enemys Australian leg of their Khaos Legions Tour, I caught up with beautiful and brutal, Angela Gossow, to discuss being a woman in Heavy Metal, touring without Christopher Amott and what Australian music she is listening to.

Hey there Angela, first of all. Happy international womens day! How are you celebrating?

Angela Gossow: Well, I’m kind of celebrating myself being a woman everyday! I was very fortunate to have grown up in a part of the world where being a woman is not a disadvantage. Now that I’ve been a part of this band for a while and traveled the world, I have become aware that most parts of the world are a bit behind in womens rights. I think it would be tough to be a man!

It’s interesting that you say that, Angela, because Heavy Metal is such a male dominated genre, why do you think it’s easier to be a woman in Heavy Metal?

Angela Gossow: I find it more fun to be a woman, especially in Heavy Metal because I get more attention just for being a woman in a Heavy Metal band and if you’re a guy, you have to really stand out to be noticed. It also really helps us in the media because Arch Enemy is a female fronted band, which is quite rare in Heavy Metal, especially with the death vocals.

A lot of female Death Metal vocalists, regard you as a role model. What are your thoughts on this?

Angela Gossow: I think I am. Actually I know I am because people tell me that! I think because I am in one of the more successful bands in Death Metal, more people know about me. I’m also quite vocal about my opinions, such as political, health and protecting the planet. Yeah, I’m quite outspoken so I guess it grabs peoples attention, you know. I’m glad I can be inspire people to do something other than party, drink beer and do drugs, haha.

For the Khaos Legions Tour, why did the band choose to only play 2 shows in Australia?

Angela Gossow: Well this time around we are working with a different promoter and we also wanted to play it safe and not burn ourselves out. We will also be in the middle of the tour so we could only squeeze in a couple of shows during our visit, but mainly it’s because we are working with a new promoter. We travel really far on our tours and we hope that fans will make the trip down to Melbourne and Sydney when we do play in those places.

What is a typical Australian Tour like for Arch Enemy?

Angela Gossow: I would say that the partying and booze takes a backseat when we come to Australia, haha! We do so much traveling because it is a big country. Usually we just rest when we’re on the tour bus but when we have a day off we always try to get out and see what’s new in Australia. I really like the vibe and the people are so friendly, it’s a bit like a holiday sometimes! I love to see the trees, the architecture and smell the flowers, Australia really is one of my favorite countries to tour because it’s so chilled and relaxed.

Do you think this tour will be different because of Christopher Amotts absence?

Angela Gossow: I think it will be a lot more energetic actually. We had been touring with Chris for quite a while and the vibe was dying down a bit because he didn’t really want to be there. We actually asked him in the Summer of last year whether he wanted to continue and we was quite relaxed in leaving the band. It didn’t really hurt the band because we saw it coming for quite a while, so it wasn’t too much of a shock.

However our new guy, Nick, I think, will bring a lot more energy to the band because he is younger and hasn’t been to a lot of the places we are going to on this tour. It’s is first time traveling to Australia, actually!

How do you think Australians will receive the new album on this tour?

Angela Gossow: I’m not too sure! We’re gonna find out though! We won’t be playing a whole setlist of new songs, only a small portion of the set will be songs from the new album. But I think so far the album has been well received but we will have to wait and see until we play the shows. That’s one of the reasons why we tour, you know. We like to connect with our fans. You can’t really say anything about record sales anymore, what really counts is when people come to the show and if lots of people come, then I suppose they like the album!

What Australian bands are you into at the moment?

Angela Gossow: Actually, I’ve just discovered this death metal band! It’s a tough name to pronounce, I think they are called Ouroboros. I think they are really really good and I tell everyone that they are from Australia, you should check them out!

Angela, thanks for the chat! It’s been a pleasure and I wish you all the best for the upcoming tour!

Angela Gossow: Oh thank you very much! I hope we can play good shows again this time around! We travel in old planes and stuff so I’m sometimes scared that the plane will crash. Hopefully that doesn’t happen so we can play all the shows, haha! We hope to see you at the shows!

 

ARCH ENEMY performing at:

  • Monday 30th April , Sydney – Manning Bar (with As Silence Breaks & Datura Curse)
  • Tuesday 1st May, Melbourne – Billboard The Venue (with Teramaze & Elysian)

Willow Tree – The Rapaputy Band

6 May

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Willow Tree is the latest album by a band with one of the most oddest names I’ve ever heard. The Rapaputy Band. This is a 10 track album filled with music of inspiration and hope (a nice change from some of todays releases).

Throughout the album, the music presents itself with a powerful presence and your ears twitch a little right when the music hits them. The Rapaputy Band have presented their fans with something to remember and that something is Willow Tree.

The songs are all about the good life. This kind of music gives you hope and makes you feel at peace with the world. The intricate melodies and powerful rhythms really compliment the music, making each song a wonderful, sonic journey. I’d imagine that’s what the band were trying to achieve with this record and they certainly have.

Willow Tree is produced quite well. The production is crisp and the vocals are clear as day. Each instrument also stands out when needed but also blend together for the more rhythmic sections. This album is a pleasure to listen to on all levels and much of it would be due to its stellar production.

The Rapaputy Band have done a fine job with their latest release. Willow Tree is a fantastic example of what this band is capable of and things can only get better. Everyone should have music like this in their life and Willow Tree is the perfect place to start.

7/10

You can check out The Rapaputy Band at their official website

http://www.rapaputy.com