Entertainment behind the scenes
Reunited rockers Soundgarden took time out from rehearsals in Seattle to play a corporate gig in Hollywood on Monday, the band’s fourth show since it announced an end to its 13-year hiatus on New Year’s Eve.
Singer Chris Cornell (pictured at left), guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron whipped up a mosh pit with old favorites like “Rusty Cage,” “Spoonman” and “Outshined” during their 50-minute set on the Paramount Pictures lot. Apart from a grin exchanged between Cornell and Thayil towards the end, the studious quartet barely interacted. Cornell’s occasional comments were muffled by the sound system.
The occasion was the launch of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, the sixth entry in Activision’s videogame series. Among the tracks on the game is the new Soundgarden tune “Black Rain,” which the band premiered Monday. The tune also appears on a newly released hits package called “Telephantasm.”
Notwithstanding its Seattle roots and close identification with the “grunge” rock era of the early ’90s, Soundgarden performed in a replica of the defunct Manhattan punk-rock venue CBGB’s. With Los Angeles baking in record temperatures earlier in the day, the narrow venue certainly evoked memories of its dank progenitor.
The good thing about cuts to music education in schools is that wannabe rock stars flock to savvy entrepreneurs like Paul Green — the Philadelphia musician who inspired the Jack Black movie “School of Rock.”
Green — himself the subject of the 2005 documentary “Rock School” — has set up a nationwide School of Rock chain that helps kids unleash their inner Ozzys, Jimis and Janises. It’s certainly more fun than learning “Home on the Range” and “Kumbaya” in a public-school setting.
The next time you see Jakob Dylan pouring his heart and soul into his songs while performing in concert, be aware that the rock musician could be faking it and pondering some completely random notion.
“I can sing just about anything, and think about almost anything else. I really can. You’d be surprised,” Dylan told fans during a Q&A at the Grammy Museum on Monday, a day before the release of his second solo album. ”I’m not above playing songs that people want to hear whether I’m necessarily so into it. I won’t make an audience wait 4 hours ’til I get to that (mental) spot.
(updates with statement from Sharona Alperin)
As the family of Doug Fieger prepared a private cremation for the frontman of 1970s pop-rockers the Knack, tributes poured in from the music world. Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver veterans Slash and Matt Sorum took to Twitter to describe Fieger as, respectively, “one of the most spiritually enlightened people I’ve ever known” and “a true man of grace.”
Former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, who got to know Fieger through their work with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and also enlisted him for his recent solo album “BK3,” hailed him as “a fellow guitar freak who had an amazing collection of gear.” (Befitting his Detroit heritage and musical leanings, Fieger was also an auto enthusiast and a collector of Beatles memorabilia.)
After more than 50 years in the music business — eight of them in the most scrutinized band on the planet — Ringo Starr would rather do anything than submit to even more questions. But the former Beatles drummer has a new solo album to promote, and that means more interviews — most recently at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Tuesday, when he took part in a Q&A and mini concert for about 230 fans.
Dressed in black, including an Elvis Presley t-shirt and Nike tennis shoes, the 69-year-old Starr lived up to his reputation as the “funny Beatle.” The fans were eager to project a Beatles connection onto his every word, and Starr knew it.
(updates with comment from Joe Perry)
The wife of Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry doesn’t particularly care for the band’s recordings, and has never listened to any of their albums in their entirety.
“I am not a fan of Aerosmith’s music without the live performance behind it,” Billie Perry (at right with her husband) wrote on her Twitter page on Sunday.
These are heady times for KISS fans. The hard-rock band is gearing up for the Oct. 6 release of its first album in 11 years, “Sonic Boom”, and will hit the road to mark the 35th anniversary of its breakthrough concert album “Alive!”
And then there’s the band’s former guitarist, Ace Frehley, who on Tuesday will release his first solo album in 20 years, “Anomaly”. The date is also significant because it marks his third year of sobriety.
The road to rock stardom is increasingly going through the Internet. Fledgling bands can get a modest share of revenue from online streaming of their music on the site Last.Fm, and becoming a sensation on video sharing site YouTube.com can quickly make a singer a star.
The next step in turning the Web into a launching pad for emerging bands is to give bands the chance to tour. The Amsterdam-based company SellaBand.com is holding a contest for musical acts to not only join a U.S. tour in summer 2009, but to play in giant arenas in major cities. The contest basically comes down to which bands can attract the most support from fans online.
The biggest rock bands have always had relatively unknown bands open for them, but often those emerging bands had a following in the local area where the headlining act performed that night. What the Internet has done is allow bands to skip past becoming a local sensation, and instead appeal to a wider audience on the Web.
The nearly 20 bands chosen through the SellaBand contest will open for major headlining acts in venues that include American Airlines Center in Dallas, The Palace in Detroit and the Toyota Center in Cleveland.
“It’s the dream of lifetime for these guys,” said John Ossenmacher, president of ArenaWorks Entertainment Inc., which is working with SellaBand on the project.
“It is a chance for them to really get out there and show people what they can do,” he said.
The first round of the competition began on Dec. 1, and it ends on Feb. 28. More information is available at http://arenafest.sellaband.com.
Will tomorrow’s rock stars all emerge from the Internet, or will the major record labels still play a big role in serving as tastemakers? SellaBand began in 2006 as a way for bands to collect money from supporters and use the cash to go record an album. So far, 29 bands have done that through SellaBand, but the top band has only sold 5,000 albums.
“It would be great if ultimately the next Coldplay would emerge from SellaBand, but that’s not the basic goal,” said Johan Vosmeijer, CEO of SellaBand. “The basic goal is to get an artist to the next stage in their career.”
And for some groups, the next stage could be to stand in an arena and yell out “Hello, Detroit!”