Fender/Jackson booth Hall 4.0 booth E08
Thursday 11th @ 14:00 with signing session at 15:00
Friday 12th @ 13:00 & 16:00 with signing session at 14:00
Saturday 13th @ 13:00 & 17:00 with signing session at 14:00
Bologna @ 19:00 Sunday 14th
Music Academy 2000's Theatre
Via Torquato Tasso 13
Milan @ 13:00 Monday 15th
Lucky Music Store
Via Carlo D'Adda, 29
Helsinki @ 19:00 Tuesday 16th
Hermannin Rantatie 10
Gothenburg @ 12:00 Wednesday 17th
Stockholm @ 19:00 Wednesday 17th
S:t Eriksgatan 58.
Paris (Juvisy Sur Orge) @ 19:00 Thursday 18th
50, Avenue d’Estienne d’Orves
91260 JUVISY SUR ORGE
La Garde @ 17:00 Friday 19th
151 Chemin Alphonse Lavallée
83130 La Garde (South of France)
Brighton @ 18:30 Saturday 20th
79-80 North Road
Glasgow @ 14:00 Sunday 21st
As much as I do not want to write this journal, I promised you I'd write them "at least once a week". Good, bad, happy or sad… so this is what has to be done.
That is the date we fired Adam Duce. That is the day that I had to tell Adam that after 21 years of being in a band together, I just couldn't take it anymore.
That is the day I said "My hope is that this can be amicable."
The words sounded like someone else had spoken them.
It was like being outside of my body watching someone else deliver these painful words.
But, it was me saying it.
And we all said it.
We had our say sitting in our jam room in Oakland. Dave said it. Joseph (our manager) said it. Phil said it. We all said that we couldn't take being in a band with him anymore. That if this didn't happen, we were going to break up the band.
It was hard. One of the hardest moments of my life.
It was also a long time coming.
We may have fired Adam on 2-11-13, but Adam quit Machine Head well over a decade ago. He just never bothered to tell anyone… but we all knew it.
Contrary to popular belief, being in a band is tough. Really fucking tough. It's the toughest sonofabitch you'll ever come across in your life and it will beat the living shit out of you 80% of the time. Many times it feels like one big rollercoaster, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There are wins and losses seemingly every single day. Being in a band is one of life’s strangest gambles.
But when you do win, when you win that 20%, well... it truly is salvation. It's what makes eating the other 80% of that shit sandwich bearable. It's where “those” stories come from. It can be the best job you'll ever have and unquestionably one of the hardest you'll ever have. But until you've done it for 20+ years, you have no clue. Until you've held a band together for 20+ years, you really don't know jack shit about it.
You think you do.
A band is a dysfunctional family. A brotherhood, a family business, and a Renaissance-era court. You're roommates in a studio-apartment-on-wheels for years at a time, 24 hours a day. Plus you're in the pressure cooker of the spotlight, every move analyzed, read into, or attacked. Everybody wants something from you, everybody wants to be your friend, everybody loves you, everybody can do so-much-better-for-you-than-the-people-you-have-now. Some people try and turn you against each other, and everyone wants to take credit for your success.
Oftentimes you're enemies. At odds and fighting about something, but "pretending" everything is "fine" onstage.
But it isn't...
You just wear a mask that looks like it's fine, and after 20 years, we know that mask so well, it slides on way too fuckin' easy.
Adam hasn't been happy in this band for a long time. But how do you leave? To a guy like Adam everything is either winning or losing. A stunning victory or the ultimate failure. There was no in-between. And while that sounds great for a TV show or an interview sound bite, or even a John Wayne movie that wraps up in 90 minutes... life just isn't like that.
And life certainly isn't like that for a band like Machine Head. A band who operate in the upper-middle tier. For us, there are no stunning victories, only respectable wins. No ultimate failures, just better-luck-next-times. We carved a niche, we OWN that niche, but it's still just a niche. Nothing wrong with that.
No matter how unhappy or fed up he got, quitting the band would be seen as "losing" or a "failure". Truth be told, he was sick of it. Sick of touring, sick of recording, sick of practicing, sick of looking at album artwork, sick of being-on-a-team-but-never-getting-the-ball, sick of yearning-for-the-honeymoon-to-resume when 20 years deep it never does. Sick of never quite hitting the big-time, sick of carving the niche... sick of caring.
I don't blame him. It's hard to keep the passion.
But he just wouldn't quit.
We wanted him to quit. We were hoping he would quit, "guys, my heart isn't in this anymore, it was a good run, later dayz". We didn't want it to come to this...
But he wouldn't.
I didn't feel anything as I drove away from the jam room that night. When I awoke the next morning I didn't feel anything either. I wasn't "numb," I still "felt", was just kinda blank. But three days after the meeting, an argument broke out in the jam room about how conflicted I felt about it. Then I cried.
I cried and cried.
I've cried every day since. I’ve been an emotional wreck. I cried writing this. I was sick the day that we announced it (11 days and 2 General Journals after actually doing it), walking around about to vomit for hours.
I met with him for a couple hours last Wednesday, met with him yesterday. It's civil.
I don't know what else to say.
I don't have some inspirational quote to end with here. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you everything is gonna be all right, or that's it gonna be the same. At this moment I can’t even bring myself to say that it's going to be better.
Because it sucks.
It fucking sucks.
It sucks for everyone who tried to save this.
It sucks more than you can imagine...
It's a horrible relief.
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Machine Head and bassist Adam Duce have parted ways. The split is amicable, and Machine Head would like to wish Adam the best with his current and future endeavors. The band will continue on for the time being as a three-piece and have begun the writing process for their follow-up to 2011's "Unto The Locust". A late 2013 release is projected.
Had a lot going on this week, didn't have much time to write, I did catch the movie "Lincoln" Awesome flick, Daniel Day Lewis NAILS IT, Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones are great as well. Such a heavy period in history.
Caught the Eagles documentary on Showtime which is ridiculously good, and as a huge Eagles fan, it was very cool to watch all the archival footage. Linda Rondstat has a quote in there that is so dead on, about bands being "constantly on the verge of breaking up", man, so true.
I also got the chance to catch this short film clip that Genevra showed me on Facebook called the "To This Day Project" by Shane Koyczan.
Unbelievably powerful stuff. It was inspiring... amazing... it was art. Watching stuff like this makes me want to write music, to create, to share it with the world. I've never really been bullied in the classic sense he's taking about, but I get it.
Man, I GET IT so hard.
Made me cry.
Watch, share, believe.
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Why the hell do we reminisce? MAN, it's fucking pointless.
These last couple weeks I've been reminiscing for some reason.
Time has a way of erasing all the bad memories and scenarios and only leaving us with "the good ol' days". It's like when somebody dies and suddenly all their sins and transgressions are totally washed away.
Do we think we get some sort of closure on the actions and/or words of the departed?
True, some people do get some closure in their lives with said person, but more often than not there may be no closure at all.
Genevra's father was an alcoholic and a heroin addict. He was barely in her life, maybe a year and a half at “best”. What little time he gave to her and her brother Jack was not what anyone would really consider “good time”. As a parent and as a child we all know what “good time” constitutes. He was never off of any of the above mentioned addictions long enough to form a bond with his children and it was a hard life for both of them.
I remember the final year of his life. His doctor telling him that if he didn't quit drinking (every day) and shooting heroin (every week) his esophagus was going to separate from his stomach lining and he would absolutely and unequivocally die from it. His family pleaded with him, Genevra pleaded with him. He wouldn't listen. People don't change unless they want to change. Even though she was upset beyond words she still reached out to try and spend time with him. She offered to take him out on our boat, go to dinner, whatever, and time after time he would just leave us waiting. He’d leave us waiting at the house or waiting at BART, but truth is, we weren’t “waiting” on him, he’d simply forgotten or had something more "important" to do.
One year everybody in Genevra’s family forgot to call her on her birthday. She was bummed, understandably. Her dad called her the next day, not to wish her a happy birthday, but to ask if any of her friends were diabetic so that he could pick up "some rigs" from them. It was heartbreaking and infuriating all at the same time. He never wished her a happy birthday.
When he died a year later (just like the doctor said), she had made so much effort to get some closure on their fucked up relationship. It never came. He just died. It was over. In some ways, without sounding too cold, it was better. This is what the lyrics to the song "Days Turn Blue To Gray" from our album "Through The Ashes Of Empires" are about.
(Read the lyrics here if you haven't)
But the finality of death somehow made that closure so much more real. She's had some closure now, it's been 12 years, however, she has no qualms about what they were and why. They definitely weren't "the good ol' days".
I relate as well. My Grandfather was an asshole. He probably said 100 words to me my entire life. "Hello Mijo", "goodbye Mijo". That was pretty much it. We had had one semi-meaningful conversation at a birthday party for my Mom, Gloria. He was a little drunk and the word meaningful is a stretch, but it was awkwardly playful, like I was talking to someone I just met or an acquaintance I never really hit it off with. He never truly accepted me being part of the family because I was adopted, and he let my family know as much. To make matters “worse for him”, I was born with a lazy eye, meaning one eye went in towards my nose (basically cross-eyed, but only in one eye). I had a corrective surgery soon after being adopted. But when my parents picked me up from the adoption agency at six months old, I had this lazy eye. When my Grandfather saw me and my eye he looked at my Mom and Dad and blurted, "That's not my Grandson!"
Up until that point I was supposed to be named Samuel, after my Grandfather. But my Mom changed my name in that instant, to her favorite actor of the time (and whom she had a major crush on), Robert Redford. Robert (after Robert Redford) Conrad (my dad's first name) Flynn. Changed from Lawrence Matthew Carden, my birth name just six months earlier.
When my Grandfather (we all called him "Papa") passed away a few years ago, everyone was very sad. To my surprise (or maybe not), I wasn't. I didn't feel sad. I didn't reminisce, as there was nothing very meaningful to reflect on. In fact, I felt nothing. It was weird to me and I thought about why, but I never came up with an answer. I just felt... nothing. It was like being at a stranger’s funeral surrounded by family. I could empathize with their sadness and I felt for them, but...
All everyone talked about were the good ol' days at the memorial. To me though, they weren't really that good.
Now, my Papa is a saint. In the homes of his family you mustn’t speak a bad word about him.
But in my heart, even now, I still feel nothing.
You know what?
FUCK the good ol' days.
Like Captain Jack Sparrow says at the end of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl"...
"Now, bring me that horizon."
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I was lollygaggin' on the internet the other day and I stumbled across a website called the "Best Heavy Metal Albums of 1983".
It's nothing really that special, researched, or informative, but man it hit me like a ton of bricks that A) DANG, I'm young! And B) Holy crap, that means these albums are 30 FREAKIN' YEARS OLD!!?? Not sure why this was so shocking to me. I'm actually ok with getting old, and my back hurting, my neck hurting, my butt cellulite, losing my eyesight, sharts, and having so many god damn skin-tags on my body that I look like the sale rack at TJ Maxx! No really, I'm fine with getting old.
But "Kill 'Em All" CANNOT be 30 freakin’ years old!! That's just not possible!!?? "Melissa", "Shout At The Devil", "Show No Mercy", “Balls To The Wall", and "Holy Diver" cannot be 30 years old! No way! The self-titled Suicidal Tendencies album, U2’s “WAR,” and Minor Threat’s “Out Of Step” cannot be... that's fuckin'... which would make me... did I mention my shoulder?
As I began thinking of this, my thoughts took me back to my high school days, when I got into underground metal/punk/hip-hop, the shows I went to, the "records" and "cassettes" of demos and live bootlegs I listened to. This was in the pre-internet/pre-iPhone…shit, practically “pre-everything” we rely on these days.
It somehow led my train of thought to Cliff Burton. I pull up his Wiki page and low and behold, his birthday is this coming Sunday, Feb. 10th. If my math is correct, Cliff would have been 51 this year. It's amazing to think how the music world may (or may not) have been different had the tragic bus accident not taken his life. It also got me thinking about the few times that I was able to see Cliff perform when I actually WAS a young whippersnapper.
My friend Jim Pittman was an obsessive, underground tape-trader. Our bond began in high school art class and soon after we started our first band together (Inquisitor, later-Forbidden Evil), and I basically credit him for pushing me to play guitar, sing, and for taking me through Sabbath, into underground music. His passion for metal and punk was so overwhelming and pure that he fueled and inspired my own love for it. The first time I ever officially got drunk was with Jim, he and I drank a 12-pack of beer his older brother bought for us. We spent the night walking all over Fremont, CA. “blasting” my Radio Shack portable tape player with a live bootleg of Metallica from The Stone in S.F. "Kill 'Em All" wasn't even released yet. We'd never heard anything like it. We gleefully stumbled around the running track behind American High School for hours and probably played "Whiplash" fifty times in a row, headbanging wildly the whole time.
What a great memory.
Still blasting the bootleg, we stumbled back to my house where my parents were gone, we vowed to jam more and to get better at our own band... and to see Metallica the next time they played. The show wouldn’t be that far away but with no car we talked about taking BART, or I might even be able to get my dad to drop us off. Both of the above just HAD to happen.
We didn't have to wait that long, "Kill 'Em All" was released soon after and they were coming through on the "Kill 'Em All For One Tour" with Raven headlining. The closest show to us was at the Berkeley Keystone and as luck would have it another favorite of ours, Exodus (whose "Whipping Queen" demo was currently blowing our minds) were opening the show. Yes!!
So I begged my dad to drop us off. He and my mom had recently split up and though he had to start work at the Lake Merritt Bakery in Oakland at 3am, he agreed to drop us off at the Berkeley Keystone and would even pick us up. Of course, I made him drop us off two blocks away from the Keystone so that the other "thrashers" didn't actually SEE my dad dropping us off! I mean c'mon!? Unfortunately our pick-up happened before Raven would finish, but looking back it was such a big deal to have even gotten the ride in the first place.
I remember the excitement of being there, even waiting in line was “exciting". Jim and I saw Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff pass by and we totally went all "Beiber-fan" on him! Baloff looked at us like we were dorks. He was probably right! Being at the show seemed so dangerous and thinking back, it was. There were A LOT of fights. Punks and Metalheads in the same room back then? NOTHING like it is today, there was an underlying rage both factions felt, it would be a few years before it was common ground.
I can remember the stage, it was tiny and Exodus drummer Tom Hunting had to have fans in the front row hold his cymbal stands up as only part of the stage would fit them all. Exodus CRUSHED! Gary Holt was a god to us. If memory serves me, they debuted "No Love" that night… it was B-R-U-T-A-L.
Hetfield was in the audience hanging out and signing autographs before they went on. Jim and I both got autographs (on Jim's autograph Hetfield wrote his signature and added a "Fuck yeah"... BOY was I jealous!... "Man, your autograph is WAY better than mine", LOL!). But once Metallica came on the whole mood changed. Exodus were and remain the real deal, but a level of seriousness came over as the intro tape rolled. When Metallica took the stage, the world came alive. The circle pit, the headbanging, the electricity, the screaming-along, NEVER had I seen a band like this! I was stone-cold sober but I was drunk on music. Jim and I headbanged as if our lives depended on it.
When it came time for Cliff's "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth" bass solo, I just remember being mesmerized. I’d had so many Metal Debates with Jim and other friends that there's no way that was a "bass" solo. It was a "guitar" solo. Fact. End-of-story.
My mind was blown. The bass is making that sound? What the fuck? It was heavy, it was dark, and it was other-worldly. The whole time he was playing he was headbanging with a maniacal grin on his face.
Cliff, shirtless in a Levi's jacket, big bells, looking like every stupid YES fan at my high school, was absolutely shredding my face off. Next up "Whiplash", and forget it! Hetfield was up there screaming his head off with his "Ronald - 6 Wilson - 6 Reagan - 6" shirt (get it?), whipping us all into a frenzy! He could have easily said "punch your best friend in the face" and I would have dutifully complied (sorry Jim!). I was hooked, addicted, enamored, overwhelmed, obsessed; it was a life-changing moment.
I saw Cliff again at the Kabuki in the Japantown area of San Francisco both nights. I then saw them at the Day On The Green, Oakland Coliseum (though I missed the end, as I'd passed out from heat exhaustion, and uh... drinking beer all night and doing a quarter of crank in one snort right before they went on... but that's a whole other story *ahem!*). They played 3rd on the bill, over America, and Yngwie's Rising Force, and under Ratt and Y&T (who up-till-then were heavy, but had jumped the shark with "Summertime Girls"). Scorpions headlined.
The last time I saw Cliff was at the Bill Graham Civic on New Year’s Eve with Exodus, Megadeth and Metal Church. Again I was drunk and high, and truth be told, I was losing interest in Metallica. They played fine, but they weren't "mine" anymore. They were quickly becoming "everyone else's"... I didn't like that. They debuted "Master Of Puppets" for the first time and “Disposable Heroes”. I wasn't feeling it. When "Master" first dropped my knee-jerk reaction was, “this sucks, too slow”.
Those words are just hilarious to read right now, but those were my feelings in that moment.
And oh, how soon those feelings changed.
“Master Of Puppets” would come to define an entire chapter in my life. It's an album I've gone back to time and time again for 27 years, as to me, it’s a how-to manual. How-to-do-it… right. One of those timeless albums from that era (and there were only a handful) made without a map. No strategy, no plan, no marketing pow-wow from the record company with stupid catch phrases and “selling points”. Just pure.
Man, the freakin' lyrics...
"Chop your breakfast on a mirror"?
I lived those words like were ORDERS.
"Just leave me alone"?
YES, leave me the FUCK alone!
"Fuck it all and fucking no regrets"?!
God damn fucking right!!
And all the while the basslines were hypnotizing me ever-so-subtly to the point where even now, I know every bassline on those albums like it's part of my DNA. Go and listen to our song "Now I Lay Thee Down"; the triad bassline in the chorus? That’s just one of my tributes to Cliff. The three-part lead section in the middle... I wrote that with Cliff looking over me. Hell, I called it "the Cliff part".
Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? Maybe you weren't even born?
I was at a kegger party in Cliff's hometown, Castro Valley, wired and drunk, when "the news" came. 10pm, someone I didn't know came running into the backyard and yelled "Cliff's dead, Cliff from Metallica is dead!" It was like, "Huh? Get the fuck outta here!" But all the dude could say was "NO, listen!" We turned up the local radio station KSJO and the DJ was talking about it. It was real.
It was unreal. A stunned silence took over the party. They were "our" band, this didn't happen to "us".
I've read the story behind the classic rock song "The Day The Music Died" several times. Well... for us... maybe not died... but... changed. We played Metallica all night, got wasted, forgot, or at least tried to.
I'll leave you with this. When we toured with Metallica in 2008/2009, I read Joel McIver's then-just-released Cliff Burton biography "To Live Is To Die" (if you haven't, do yourself a favor, and pick up one of the best biographies you'll ever read). I never mentioned I was reading it to Metallica, it seemed, well... weird. In the book it talks about how some die-hard Metallica fans made a memorial to Cliff at the site where the bus accident happened in Ljungby, Sweden. I looked at a map and noticed at some point very soon we would actually drive that same road, thru Sweden to Denmark (Arrhus actually, for an off-date at Train). We unknowingly had driven that road many, many times while touring, it's the only way to get to and from those countries; we would be passing the memorial. I asked the bus driver to stop when we got there, it would be about 6am… just wake me up.
We pulled up just as the sun was breaking the horizon. It was cold and misting. It was a bit surreal. It was beautiful.
Adam, Fiaz our videographer, and I… we knelt in front of the memorial. We looked down the road where... we were silent. Phil came over for a minute, nothing was said. We paid our respects. I placed a guitar pick alongside the letters, beer bottles, and mementos his fans had left.
I never told the Metallica dudes we did that. It seemed inappropriate, it seemed wrong for some reason, uncouth.
As this Sunday comes to pass, I'm sure in our own way, some of us will pay tribute to a man whose attitude, demeanor, vibe, genuine love of music, and unequaled talent affected us.
I know I will.
Happy birthday Cliff Burton, Rest In Peace.
Site of the Cliff memorial in Sweden
Cool write up about the New Years Eve show
Photos from the memorial site:
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