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By the dawn of the 80s, punk rock was dead and a leaner, more muscular sound known as hardcore had commandeered the underground. On the West Coast, hardcore pioneers like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Social Distortion and The Minutemen unleashed rage-fueled anthems that bypassed the cheek of punk and went straight for the jugular.

Chronicling every show, rumor and police raid was We Got Power, a fanzine founded by a pair of first generation hardcore freaks and best friends, Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz. The epitome of DIY publishing, We Got Power seethed with unchecked passion, snark and attitude, and three decades later, their humble periodical now stands as one of the most vivid and enduring documents of Los Angeles in the Reagan era.

One is hard-pressed to find a more festive American than Andrew W.K. The muti-talented musician, artist, motivational speaker and TV host announced his arrival with his 2001 debut I Get Wet, and its narcotically-catchy anthem, “Party Hard.” The ensuing decade saw the classically-trained musician release a slate of hard-charging rock albums celebrating the time-honored art of partying, as well a record full of J-pop covers and an album featuring only improvised piano pieces. He has published advice books and delivered motivational speeches at some of America’s most prestigious universities, including Yale, New York University and Carnegie Mellon. Anything but a vapid party animal, Andrew’s unwavering positive attitude and magnetic charisma saw him recently commanding headlines amid rumors of a State Department appointment as Cultural Ambassador to the Middle East.

With the November release of Adler’s Back from the Dead, former Guns N’ Roses timekeeper and notorious reality TV underdog Steven Adler has transcended the milieu of improbable comebacks and released one of the finest rock albums of 2012. At the year’s outset, few would have registered surprise that a member of the classic Guns lineup would record one of 2012’s most bracing releases; it’s just that nobody would have bet on Steven.

The thing about superstitions is that usually there is some anecdotal evidence, however tenuous, to bear them out. Take, for instance, the myth that misfortune visits in groups of three. Laugh if you will, but for Oakland’s Machine Head—arguably the biggest underground metal band in the world—a trio of recent mishaps suggests there just might be something to that old wives’ tale.

While I’d taken it upon myself to pick some horrific non-horror films a few Halloweens ago (Guillermo del Toro’s eyes-in-the-hands guy, you’re always on my mind), this year I was interested to know what my fellow TNB contributors might say were the most terrifying movie scenes they’ve endured to date. Below, if you dare to read on, you’ll find those iconic dead-eyed twins, bad hell-spawn hair, an unfathomable choice, and more, but first I’ll get this party started with Willy Wonka’s boat ride from the 1971 Mel Stuart film.  Most of my phobias can be traced back to these two manic minutes in the tunnel:

Might as well just drop the testicles into a vice and start spinning the gears. It certainly presents a less painful alternative to releasing a sophomore follow-up to a mega-successful debut. Call it the “sophomore jinx,” or call it “the hot, blistering envy of your critics,” but second albums carry a far higher degree of difficulty than any other album in a band’s career. The bottom of rock and roll’s dark, abandoned well is littered with the bones of bands who frittered their careers away chasing the success of a massive debut. If the second album tanks, the band’s legacy is reduced to a trivia question under the “One Hit Wonders” category; but if the band pulls off a compelling, groundbreaking follow-up, then someday they might just have a date in Cleveland.

TNB Music reviews an outdoor rock festival in Irvine and a Red Hot Chili Peppers show in San Diego.

EPICENTER FESTIVAL
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Irvine, CA
September 22, 2012

Fans holding tickets for this year’s Epicenter Festival have reason to be concerned. This past Monday night, Epicenter headliners Stone Temple Pilots channeled their inner Guns ‘N Roses and strolled onto the stage two hours late for a show in British Columbia. The half-hearted apology from singer Scott Weiland, followed by zero in the way of explanations, proved to be an exasperating precursor to their subsequent cancellation of the next evening’s show in Alberta. Although the band eventually issued a statement that Weiland was ordered on 48-hour vocal rest, speculation raged that perhaps there was another explanation. After all, Weiland has never been regarded as a paragon of sobriety, and with back-to-back snafus, as Epicenter opens its doors on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, fans and promoters are left wondering if STP will even show up for their only Southern California appearance of the fall.

If you can recall the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, then you have a crystalline picture of the present state of the music industry: absolute carnage on all fronts. Record labels have begun suing people for illegally downloading new albums, while paradoxically, more and more bands, such as Green Day, are streaming their new albums for free. Technology has leveled the playing field, allowing anyone with a MacBook to release an album, and the price of gas continues to push more and more up-and-coming bands off the road because they can no longer justify driving a hundred miles to split $50 four ways. It seems like nobody’s making a living anymore, except the lawyers and maybe the toothpaste companies buying ads on American Idol.

An artist would have to be plumb crazy to walk away from a well-oiled support team and try to enter this fray alone. Right?

Comedian Jim Florentine might well swing the biggest pair of brass balls in stand-up comedy—no small feat in a genre where bulletproof cojones are an occupational prerequisite. Most comedy and music fans know Jim from his duties co-hosting VH1’s That Metal Show, but Jim first crept into the pop culture limelight years before through recurring appearances on MTV’s subversive hit show, Crank Yankers. He has since appeared in myriad television shows and movies, and although Jim proceeded to win an Emmy in 2004 for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL, his most enduring achievement may well be that this month, he released the worst comedy album of all time. On purpose.

One of the runaway cable hits in recent years has been VH1’s That Metal Show, a production cobbled together with the barest of bones, featuring three regular guys from Jersey (host Eddie Trunk and comedians Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine), sitting around and talking about hard rock and heavy metal. Were it not for the the guys’ unmitigated passion for metal, their profane sincerity and the massive, eye-watering doses of ball-busting (they are from Jersey, after all), the show might have never left the ground. The trio’s lack of pretense and utter likeability however, have inspired the show’s evolution from a late-night placeholder to a bona fide cultural epicenter for hard rock and heavy metal fans across the globe.

On August 9, 2012, the legendary Iron Maiden were playing in Irvine, and as a rock journalist, I sort of had to go. I mean, it was Iron Maiden and this wasn’t just any ordinary tour; the band were dusting off a handful of rare gems, scattering them across a setlist of classics that inspired metal fans across the US to hail this tour as their best yet. Moreover, they were playing at a sprawling outdoor amphitheater in the belly button of Southern California on a warm summer evening—an ineffably inviting backdrop for live music.

And yet, I didn’t go.  Agalloch, the mysterious psychedelic black metal outfit from Portland, Oregon, were playing The Casbah here in San Diego, and in the remote but statistically viable chance that I passed away on August 10, I wanted to ensure that my blink of an existence did not pass without experiencing this preponderant act in a rare and intimate live setting.

Drummer Vinny Appice first established a formidable reputation by playing with the likes of John Lennon and Rick Derringer, although he is best known for his hard-hitting contributions to Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio. Two years ago, when shoulder surgery sidelined him from playing, Vinny found himself in his home studio, idly playing with a series of drum tracks that he had recorded for downloads. He wondered if these tracks couldn’t form the backbones of fully-formed songs and so, as guys like Vinny Appice are wont to do, he put out a few calls.

Enter guitarist Mark Zavon.

Juicy staff picks to take you through the back nine of the summer…

I just finished writing a book filled with suicide, psychosis and the elusive meaning of life.  I turned it in and spent three solid weeks lying on my living floor, watching old metal videos and trying to untangle my brain.

My writer sort-of-mentor friend called while Judas Priest was ripping through “Diamonds & Rust”.

“Did you know that for at least one night in Memphis, K.K. Downing was the King of Rock and Roll?” I said when I picked up the phone.

“What?” she said.

“Never mind,” I told her, stabbing the TV mute.

How is it that an artist can sell over fifty million records and yet creatively, have nothing to lose?

Guitarist and songwriter Mark Tremonti has achieved incontrovertible commercial success with his bands Creed and Alter Bridge, although for reasons far too complex and speculative for this piece, the former band remain perennially tied to the whipping post of the music industry despite towering album sales and multitudinous awards. Alter Bridge, formed in the wake of Creed’s success, have enjoyed a much warmer welcome from fans and critics, but their commercial performance is nowhere near that of Creed.

With his new self-titled solo project, Mark carries on his back both the suffocating expectations of current fans and the unwavering prejudice of Creed’s detractors. Capitulating to neither, Mark’s blistering solo debut is already one of the most buzzed-about albums of the summer. Sometimes having nothing to lose is right where you want to be.