1964 – 2017
1964 – 2017
by Robyn Smith
Family. This is the basis of Virginia Hanlon Grohl’s new book From Cradle To Stage: Stories from the Mother Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars. Every artist’s mother she interviewed, every anecdote, every artist’s career is based on the foundation of family. Not all artists had happy or easy family dynamics. Virginia and her son, Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, definitely did not have an easy life. But they made it work. As they shared family stories from their past and present, the 200 people in attendance at the Strand Bookstore in New York City was given an inside look into what this rock n’ roll family is really like.
Dave Grohl introduced his mother as a former school teacher, forensics coach, debate team coach, and former singer. Through the 30-minute interview with his mother, the crowd discovered that Dave grew up in a musical household (not surprisingly, given his respect and dedication to music). Virginia was a singer in an a capella girl group in the 1950s with a group of high school friends. “We were better than The McGuire Sisters,” she said. “But we went our separate ways after high school and that was that.” Music reigned supreme in the Grohl household, growing up in Fairfax County in, coincidentally, Virginia. “I would sing songs to David and his sister,” [Lisa Grohl, who is 3 years older than Dave] Virginia fondly recalled, as she and Dave launched into “A Bushel and A Peck” to the delight of the crowd of mainly Foo Fighters and Nirvana fans. Dave watched and smiled as his mother took everyone on this trip down memory lane. He later chimed in about “driving around in my mother’s Ford Maverick, listening to AM radio and then FM radio in the mid-‘70s.” But what really opened his eyes to music, Dave explained, was “my mother and I were driving in the car one day singing to Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’ and we split into harmony. I mean, I’m just singing and she sang the high line. It flipped me out that people could sing two different sets of notes and make a chord.”
Virginia expected she would go to teacher conferences and the teachers would be delighted with her son, during his schooling years. This wasn’t the case. As a former teacher, there were questions about how to support a child who is smart and bright, but didn’t do well in school. But, Virginia recognized that Dave had a gift and she fostered it. He wouldn’t pay attention in school but when he came home, he would sit for hours, practicing, writing, composing. That was his talent, his focus. So, it stood to reason that Mrs. Grohl would let this side of her son blossom. For that, not only should fans of Nirvana and Foo Fighters be forever grateful to Virginia for that, but the music world as a whole should be.
Virginia took a major dig at the public school systems for letting down the artistic kids. “A school in Fairfax County was closed down to make a Science and Technology high school,” she said. “I, along with countless other teachers and community members went to meeting after meeting asking why there wasn’t a school for the arts? If you’re taking away a public school to make one for science and tech, why not make one for the arts as well?”
Other family memories include when she would tour with David and got to stay at the best hotels and eat at fancy restaurants. “This was my introduction to ‘ooh, this is really fun,’” she joked. When asked about the hard times, Virginia paused. She and Dave looked at each other and brought up the death of Kurt Cobain. “It was a tough time for David and for all of us, really,” she carefully explained. Dave added that “whenever times got tough, I went home. So I went back to Virginia for a while.” As Virginia looked lovingly at her son, she said “We got through it as a family. It was a realization that it could have been any of them and that life and success are so fleeting. But eventually, we helped David get back to the music, find his voice again and…here we are.”
Her book, an undertaking of several years and hundreds of hours of interviews, delves into the lives of artists through their mothers’ eyes. Artists including Geddy Lee of Rush, Michael Stipe of REM, Amy Winehouse, Dr. Dre, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Miranda Lambert, Mike D. of The Beastie Boys, Dave Matthews; the list goes on. Peppered throughout the book are vignettes – little personal stories about different times in the musical family’s life. One Vignette is dedicated to Nirvana, how Virginia opened a carton of memorabilia much like Pandora’s Box. She described how Dave joined the band, their struggles and ultimately, Kurt’s death. Virginia ends that vignette with “I’ll put the lid back on my carton of memorabilia now. I’m glad there three cartons next to it. They hold happier memories.” Nirvana holds a dark, solemn space in a lifetime of memories for the Grohl family, one which was, unfortunately, a necessary blow to create the success and happiness they now have.
Solemnity aside, Virginia says that writing this book was “the most fun I’ve ever had.” The list of artists is one “of people whose sons’ and daughters’ music I really admire. Most of the mothers had never done interviews before. But we had this bond, something in common, which was really special. It was truly wonderful. I found out some amazing things about when the dreams began with all of our kids. Between the ages of 12 and 13, they all said “It’s music. Don’t bother me with anything else. I’m going to do it. Don’t get in my way.” None of the mothers got in their children’s way. Some struggled and persevered so that their children wouldn’t have to or more importantly, so their children would understand sacrifice. Amy Winehouse’s mother put herself through school while working, in hopes that Amy would
Sonic Sound Magazine: Virginia, how do you handle Dave’s touring, especially when the reports come in from overseas – particularly when he broke his leg in Sweden two years ago?
Virginia (pauses): “Hearing stories, especially when he broke his leg in Sweden, is tough. And the news outlets just keep replaying and replaying the scene. And there’s nothing I can do. He’s there, he’s my son, I can’t do anything. Then he comes back out on stage with people holding his leg together?” (At this point, her voice breaks as she gets choked up.) “I thought ‘oh my gosh, he must be in shock! How could he continue playing the concert?’” (Dave mimicked drinking, to show he was likely intoxicated at the time.) “But we spoke the next day and then he designed the throne and, the rest is history.”
Dave (regarding the time when he was pulled over for driving a moped while intoxicated in Australia): “When I got out of jail, I called my mom and told her.”
Virginia: “I laughed at him. And I believe that’s where the lyrics “I’ve got another confession to make” really come from,” she says with a smile. (The opening lyrics to Foo Fighters hit “The Best of You” off of In Your Honor) “He will always be my son, my David.”
Virginia Hanlon Grohl’s From Cradle To Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars is available at bookstores and online now.
by Robyn Smith
It was a night 25 years in the making. Pearl Jam, the band that came to define Seattle’s indie music scene in the ‘90s. Pearl Jam, the band that became mainstream, in spite of itself. Pearl Jam, consisting of Eddie Vedder (vocals), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass), Mike McCready (lead guitar) and Matt Cameron (drums), is so much more than simply “a band” was inducted, on their first shot as nominees, into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame’s 32nd Class.
Walking through the doors of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, those wearing Pearl Jam garb far outnumbered those in formalwear. While this was a formal event for those at the tables on the floor, the true music lovers and fans were surrounding their icons throughout the arena. It was clear this was Pearl Jam’s night.
As Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner opened the ceremony, he introduced the evening’s inductees. Each artist and band received cheers as Wenner described their accomplishments and accolades. Then he announced Pearl Jam. Actually, he did not even speak the band’s name; their picture appeared on the gigantic screens and the entire Barclays Center crowd was on its feet – cheering, whistling, applauding and screaming. The resulting 5-minute standing ovation of deafening proportions seemed to simultaneously embarrass and overwhelm the guys. After the crowd took their seats, Wenner did not even read his prepared introduction. Who could blame him? The welcome from the crowd of tens of thousands had more impact and spoke volumes of Pearl Jam’s inclusion in this year’s group of prestigious, iconic musicians.
Inducted last (but certainly not least), a montage of clips from Pearl Jam: Twenty, the critically-acclaimed rock documentary by Cameron Crowe played on the screens, intermixed with photos and videos from recent shows, introduced the band. Friend and fan David Letterman (a replacement for original inductor Neil Young who was ill) spoke from the heart of his admiration and adoration of the band.
“I know them as friends as well as cultural icons,” Letterman said. He highlighted their fight against Ticketmaster (whom he referred to as “blood-sucking beady-eyed weasels”); their continued recognition of injustices and activism; and their continued fight for human rights, the environment, and poverty. “They wouldn’t let it wash over them. They would stand up and react, even if it meant risking their careers,” he explained.
Letterman spoke of their music, and how it united generations. How a B-Side (“Yellow Ledbetter”) became an anthem 25 years later, and “a musical icon.” As cameras panned Eddie, Mike, Stone, Jeff, and Matt, the look on their faces was one of true graciousness.
Graciousness was a ribbon weaving through the entire evening, from inductors to inductees. Letterman brought his own personal anecdote to his speech, regaling the audience with the tae of when he had three shows left. He spoke of Eddie Vedder giving him a personalized guitar for his son, Harry, with an accompanying letter. The guitar and letter were on the stage. Letterman read the letter, which said, in part “Playing guitar is kinda like fishing – fishing for songs.” As his voice broke, he concluded “Personally, this is the most important reason they are in the Hall Of Fame.”
Eddie, Stone, Jeff, Mike and Matt took the stage, all dapperly dressed. Stone spoke first, eloquently stating: “Maybe the most important reason we came here tonight isn’t to receive this honor, but to honor others. Those who fought for us, cared for us, gave us perspective, made phone calls, hung lighting rigs, bought thousands of tambourines, changed hundreds of strings. You make us feel genuinely happy.” Stone continued his thanks to the artists who create their tour posters, and “more importantly, to our fan club. Your belief carried us through the times we didn’t believe in ourselves.”
Those thoughts were echoed by former drummer Dave Krusen, who mentioned 10Club, Pearl Jam’s fan club, and The “Jamily” – a moniker given by Gossard – and credited Pearl Jam with saving his life.
As fans stood through all of the speeches, Matt called thanked them for “the lifeblood you give to our art form – rock and roll.” Mike repeated this sentiment, telling the fans that they keep him going. He also gave a shout to Duff McKagen, who had told him “You guys [Pearl Jam] did it right.”
The most heartfelt words came from Jeff and Eddie. Jeff, the multifaceted artist, spoke of when he moved to Seattle in 1983, looking for his tribe. A tribe of fellow artists and musicians. Going to indie punk shows with Stone led to this, he said. “Now I get to travel and meet other people and minds all over the world. That’s a pretty great fucking life. This is for every small town kid who has a dream.”
Eddie’s turn at the microphone turned, of course, a bit political. He spoke of how we, as humans, are constantly evolving and have a lot of evolving to do. “It’s evolution, baby,” he crooned. His jabs at President Donald Trump were evident – “Climate change is real. This is not fake news.” But he quickly switched topics to his side of meeting with David Letterman, the people he cares about. He thanked all of the Pearl Jam drummers – Jack Irons, Dave Abruzzesse, Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, and “for the past 15, 16, 17 years, Matt Cameron. You enabled us not just to survive, but to thrive.”
Pearl Jam band members are always a gracious group, thankful to their fans, constantly in awe of how far they’ve come. They remember the tough times, when they were sleeping in the van that also held their handmade merch in the early days of Mookie Blaylock. The snapshots they still have from their first Lollapalooza. The fact that, “if it weren’t for everyone coming to the shows, we wouldn’t be here. We knew we were better together than apart. You forged this brotherhood.”
In a true sign of grace and thanks, Eddie closed with this memorable line:
“I feel we’re about halfway there to deserving this accolade. But this is encouraging. And I’m very, very grateful.”
Pearl Jam turned the Barclays Center into a rocking 4-song concert stop. Alive featured Dave Krusen on drums, Eddie jumping around in his tux, and Mike leaving the stage and running through the audience during his solo. After the song, Eddie gave a nod to Michael J. Fox, sitting in the crowd, who mentioned “this next song in your book.” Cue Given To Fly with Matt back behind the drum kit. 10Club members were evident in the audience as they did all the audience participation movements. The arena seemed to be shaking with the thousands of bodies dancing and singing.
As the performance closed with Betterman, the crowd started singing the first verse. Eddie let it go on for almost the entire verse but then shushed the crowd to introduce, on the B3, Boom Gaspar. Shouts of “BOOOOOOOOM” (also typical of a Pearl Jam concert) echoed throughout Barclays. Betterman rocked the crowd, including those in eveningwear on the floor. Eddie ended it with the “Save It For Later” tag and multiple guitar windmills. Vedder in a tuxedo is still Vedder.
As the stage was reset for the All-Star Jam, members of Rush, Yes, Journey, and Dhani Harrison (George Harrison’s son) took the stage. Eddie shouted “This is for Uncle Neil!” and launched into Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World.
HBO will air the induction ceremony on April 29th.
by Diane Woodcheke
by Bryan Holland
Saturday night in downtown Huntington can be quite the sight to see. With its eclectic mix of dive alley bars and fancy, suit and dress restaurants, it has something for everyone. Going to see a show at The Paramount is always a good choice as they’re known for drawing big crowds with great line ups.
In town on February 18th was the Less Than Jake and Pepper tour, which for this writer, was an extremely exciting mix of bands. Generally, you’ll have bands of the same genre playing together and if “fun to watch” was a genre, then it would make sense here. Here, we have a Hawaiian reggae punk rock fusion group in Pepper opening for a legendary punk-ska band from Gainesville, Florida, Less Than Jake.
Pepper has been making music since they were teenaged “surfer dudes” listening to Bob Marley and Sublime in Kona, Hawaii. Their first major release, entitled “Kona Town” came out in 2002; although, they had been playing for a few years prior with release of a demo. The producer on Kona Town was Steve Kravac, who had previously worked on some Less Than Jake albums. A lot of their most popular fan favorites are off of Kona Town. Pepper opened their set with “Stormtrooper”, direct from that first, Kravac-produced album.
Pepper brings a party atmosphere wherever they go. On February 18th, they were in full debauchery mode. They have an upbeat style to their music, which blends reggae and rock, with elements of punk. As a 3-piece-bad, Pepper impresses with the fullness of their sound. A lot of people in the crowd were there for them as they tore through a span of fan favorites including “Stone Love” and “Ho’s”. The light show was spectacular and they had a fervent pace to their set. Ever the crowd pleasing bunch, Pepper would constantly check in with everyone and make sure they were going all out for this Saturday night spectacle.
Less Than Jake has been a solid staple in the punk-ska scene since their first album “Pezcore” dropped 22 years ago. Officially beginning 25 years ago, this tour is commemorating the 25th anniversary with the release of a new EP named “Sound the Alarm”. Less than Jake is a 5 piece with guitar, bass, drums, saxophone and trombone players. The crowd suddenly seemed to grow less “surfer dude” and more “flat-cap-and-black-and-white-checkered-pants” fast. Right from the get go, a “skank pit” blossomed (think mosh pit but more dance-oriented). The ska scene was alive and well in Huntington. After the second song, they noticed a couple in the crowd and proceeded to call the man up onto the stage. Eventually, they called his girlfriend to join him up there with one condition: They had to make out for the entirety of “Things Change”.
After talking about how many states these days are legalizing marijuana, a forgotten albeit illegal job is becoming obsolete: the weed dealer. “Dopeman” was their fourth song, an early hit that had many of the long time fans singing along. Less Than Jake continued rocking along with hits from many of their early albums like “Losing Streak” and “Hello Rockview”. Their fans are very loyal and the big, dancing circle in the center of the floor never ceased to move and skank.
They are also a very fun band to watch as they are extremely animated and interactive. During “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” a fan or tour mate came from the side of the stage wielding a toilet paper gun, shooting it out all over the crowd. Right after that an obvious fan favorite came in “Look What Happened”. From the opening lyrics “And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try”, the crowd was almost louder than the band.
This was a very fun and enjoyable show and it was nice to see a mix of music as opposed to a bunch of the same for a change. The bands had great intensity and showmanship and the crowd was involved throughout. You can find more info on the bands at their respective websites.
by Bryan Holland
It’s funny how life goes in circles. On December 29th of 2016 I attended the O.A.R. show at The Paramount in Huntington, NY, the first of a back to back for them at the same venue. As I write this, I sit on a laptop in Orlando, Florida, on family vacation, the exact city where almost to the day, 14 years ago, I first heard of and listened to O.A.R. , which stands for “Of A Revolution”. It was thanks to a college swimming and diving team from Chicago who was staying at the same hotel as my family and I was. It was actually New Years Eve and I went roaming the hotel in search of some fun when I ran into this wild group. After a few underage New Years beers, I asked who the band was we were listening to. Fun music with catchy vocals and saxophone on most tracks, which you don’t always hear. That night I also learned of the music festival, Bonnaroo, in Tennessee, where the next summer I would get to see this rock and jam outfit from Rockville, Maryland for the first time. And here I am 14 years later writing a review on the same band. Circles.
O.A.R. knows how to put on a show. Their set dynamics are impeccable if not formulaic but what works, works for a reason. Hits, new songs, covers and miscellaneous tracks blended in to form two and half straight hours of unabashed rock and roll. They are on tour for their newest, career-spanning, compilation album titled “XX” which is a monument to the 20 years they’ve been together, with the same lineup! A testament to the staying power and constant creativity of their sound. Friends and bandmates since middle school, it goes to show that when you vibe with people, you should probably keep them around!
They started their set with “Wonderful Day” as if labelling what was now going to be just that. All stresses from the workday were left at the door for this upbeat, poppy track from their 2004 album “34th & 8th”. They followed it up with a dub inspired track, a favorite of mine due to the catchy bass line throughout, named “Dareh Meyod”, which was released in 2012. This track ended up sliding into a cover of “Pawn Shop” by Sublime and really lifted the crowd as they still poured in from the concourse, fresh drinks in hand.
For their third song, they brought it back to beginning with a quintessential hit off their first major release titled “Night Shift”. Now for those from the Napster era, this song is probably hiding on your computer somewhere, mis-titled “3 AM” due to instantly recognizable first lines “It’s 3AM and I want to go to bed, I got a lady running through my head”. All the old school fans rejoiced and by next song, the new school was too. Possibly their biggest radio hit, 2008’s “Shattered” was their 4th song and was a giant sing along, with everyone in the crowd singing the words as a reflection of the heartbreak it speaks of. Everybody connecting the song with memories of different people in their minds but with the same lyrics making that connection. “How many times can I break till I shatter?” Lyrics of adversity and inner strength from sadness. “I always turn the car around” could mean he wants to go back to object of his heartbreak but can also mean he’s picking himself back up, righting the ship if you will. This song shows the lyrical poignance lead singer Marc Roberge is capable of, backed by a solid rhythm and melody on all instruments.
The show was in full swing now, with song after song receiving fanfare galore. I hadn’t realized it until then, how much a span of 20 years really can mean to a band and their fans. I’m finally reaching that age where I see many bands from my younger years that either break up, change direction entirely or become a cover band of themselves, essentially. In 20 minutes, O.A.R. had spanned two decades and people of varying ages were all singing together, comforted by the fact that this particular band had not fallen victim of those traps.
The rest of the two and a half hour set was filled with many of their recognizable hits. I didn’t realize how many songs of theirs I really knew, and many of the words to throughout. From fan favorites “Hey Girl” to “Black Rock” the band was flawless in transition from their uppers and downers, happy songs and heart string yankers. “Love and Memories” may be one of the most popular judging from crowd reaction, as it wasn’t necessary for any vocals during the chorus other then the fans screaming out the songs lyrics, which Marc obliged and encouraged on many of the songs.
“City on Down”, “Delicate Few” and “Peace” began to take it down a level before their big crescendo ending. After an excellent rendition of Led Zeppelins “ Fool in the Rain” utilizing the guitar shredding skills of opening act “Taylor Carson” guitarist Mark Williams. For their opening act, Taylor and Mark played about 6 songs of smooth acoustic and electric guitars, with strong vocal presence and brought Marc onto stage with them for their closer as well.
My sister who now lives in New Jersey accompanied me to this show and the whole time we were hoping for a few particular songs. Suitable to the situation, their first encore was “Home”, a sweet and melodious acoustic song about the feeling of being home, surrounded by those you love. We sang all the words knowing it’s moments like these that really count in life. Family, friends and loved ones can save you from the impurities of the world at times. “Well I’ve been away but now I’m back today, and there ain’t a place I’d rather go”.
They closed the night out with the song that put them on the map. The first one I heard all those years ago in that college dorm room style party at a hotel in Orlando. “That Was A Crazy Game of Poker” is a storyteller song about a night of shenanigans and poker. They mixed in “Let It Be” by the Beatles and the openers, Taylor and Mike, came out to jam as well. At the end, they actually use their bands name in crowd participation, when every screams “I say Of, You say A, I say Revolution, and you say JAH!” Of a revolution, indeed. The revolution of bands spawned after the grunge rock era of the 90s that were blessed with the ability in this transient time to stay relevant and grow together as a cohesive unit. Enough debaucherous games of poker on tour buses to write songs for a lifetime. We all find our way home.
by Lisa Schreiner
On October 28th, 1981, four young musicians came together, completely unaware that they would become one of the biggest bands in the world, continuously, for the next 35 years; though it’s likely it was an ambition. Metallica has become a staple in not only the rock n’ roll/heavy metal/thrash scene, but a solid staple in music all around. They are the epitome of success as well as a cautionary tale of what it truly means to be in a rock n’ roll band. Through it all, Metallica has always come out on top. They continue to sell out venues all over the world, they’re still pumping out albums and they’ve remained a relevant band, avoiding the nostalgia ditch their peers have fallen into (see Guns N’ Roses).
In 1981, frontman James Hetfield answered an ad in The Recycler, the famed Los Angeles based classifieds-only newspaper, posted by a young, Danish drummer named Lars Ulrich, looking to start a band. Hetfield and Ulrich would be the only two absolute original members of Metallica. Original bassist Ron McGovney would be replaced by Cliff Burton, who tragically died in a tour bus accident in September of 1986, while the band was touring in Europe. Burton would be replaced by Jason Newsted, who departed the band in 2001. Newsted would be replaced by current bassist Rob Trujillo (formerly of Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Groves and Ozzy Osbourne). Trujillo’s audition and ultimate hiring is documented in Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster documentary. Original guitarist Dave Mustaine was replaced by current guitarist Kirk Hammett in 1983; Mustaine would go on to form “rival” band Megadeth in 1983. Got all that?
Forgoing the spandex, hairspray and make up that engulfed the 1980’s rock scene, Metallica instead relied on their raw guitar riffs, screeching vocals and fast-paced drumming to thrash their way onto the scene. Their lyrics consisted not of girls, money and lavish lifestyles but of death, destruction and greed. Though there were certainly lean times for the foursome, soon enough, the band would be the ones drawing the crowds in for the music act they were opening for…Ozzy Osbourne; a true example of the student surpassing the teacher. From then on, Metallica continued to gain their now famously loyal fan base, thus becoming the world-renowned band they are today.
Now, Metallica has released their tenth studio album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (produced by Greg Fidelman along with James and Lars) , almost exactly 35 years from when James Hetfield answered that ad. And coincidentally (or maybe not), on Kirk Hammett’s 54th birthday. The album’s first track, “Hardwired” though very reminiscent of early Metallica, was still a shock to the system. First reaction upon hearing the first ten to fifteen seconds of the song: “They’re back.” The in-your-face rock continues with the second track “Atlas, Rise!” before the third track “Now That We’re Dead” brings us back to Load era Metallica. In fact, the next few songs seem to calm the album down a bit, but nonetheless speak heavy volumes. “Here Comes the Revenge” begins with a very familiar riff…so familiar that one could mistake it for the beginning of “Leper Messiah” off of Master of Puppets. However, it soon changes into another unique albeit hard-rock-filled track. The album ends just how it began: with heavy metal that could melt your face off. “Spit Out the Bone” once again makes you say “they’re back”. This was a very well-thought-out album and should not go unappreciated. That’s not to say any other album wasn’t thought out, but Hardwired…To Self-Destruct has a certain, “je ne sais quoi” about it. Is it the eight-year wait fans had to endure? Maybe. Is it the yearning to hear pure, satisfying, true rock n’ roll that has seemingly gone missing among the Justin Biebers and Drakes of the world? Perhaps. One thing is for sure: Metallica has the ability to withstand the test of time and Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is the perfect example of that. And, when they tour again, their endurance and that same ambition to be one of the greatest bands in the world that they’ve been holding onto since 1981 will be extremely palpable in every venue they play.
There will always be a divide between “old school” Metallica fans and those who enjoy most of their music. Some fans just cannot get past …And Justice For All or their self-titled album (commonly known as The Black Album), and that’s sad. There is incredible music on albums Load and Reload as well as –dare it be said– St. Anger. Yes, Metallica has changed throughout the years. The band is made up of four individual human beings; no change would be unnatural. Let’s face it, the same fans that complain about Metallica changing would be the same people that would complain if they remained unchanged. And please, please stop bringing up the Napster lawsuit; the horse is dead already. The truth is, many artists did not agree with what Napster was doing. Metallica was the only band to stand up and do something about it.
James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo may get older, but their music will never age. Maybe they’ll retire some day but it’s more probable they’ll continue on until they’re physically unable to walk out onto the stage. Why? Well, as Metallica promised in the song “Whiplash” 35 years ago:
We’ll never stop, we’ll never quit ’cause we’re Metallica.
by Bryan Holland
The Paramount in Huntington is one of the greatest Long Island venues to see a show. Not too big, not too small, it has a personal feel with great sound and it’s nestled in a nice downtown area. I recently caught Sublime with Rome there and it was a hit filled marathon on a Monday night.
Opening act The Skints, hailing from London, England, impressed everyone from the get go. The Skints are a four-piece group that have a dub heavy reggae sound. Extremely charismatic, you receive vocals from 3 of the 4 members which leads to great harmonies. They are all very talented musicians as you’re getting vocals from a drummer mid beat, a guitarist who sings and rhymes in the classic reggaetón style while rallying the crowd, a bassist whose low-end grooves keep everyone moving and a keyboardist that sings and plays around 5 instruments if my count was correct. She literally picked up a saxophone in one song, a flute in another, played a melodica, had a drum machine for added percussion and samples on top of playing the keys. A band to keep an eye on. They had fans cheering loudly from their music and even louder when they told everyone to meet them at the pizza place across the street after the show to hang out because “we’re all friends now”.
Sublime with Rome was next and came out of the gate, blazing. They played old, original Sublime hits to get everyone in the right mood for the first few songs. Classics that brought most of the crowd back to high school days cutting class and riding over to the beach. “Date Rape” was followed by “Smoke Two Joints”. “Wrong Way” was followed by “40 Ounces to Freedom”. 4 huge songs from the epic catalogue of original Sublime tunes they choose from.
For those that don’t know, this has been one of the many incarnations of this band since the passing of original singer/songwriter Bradley Nowell in 1996. After the remaining members played in a few different bands, most notably the Long Beach Dub Allstars, they decided to reform Sublime with Rome Ramirez in 2009. After some legal issues over the name with the Nowell estate, they became Sublime with Rome officially in 2010. 5 months after their first release, original drummer Bud Gaugh left and so Eric Wilson is the only remaining original member, although the sound is still very familiar as they play a mix of new originals and old classics.
After some more early Sublime songs such as “Pawn Shop” and “April 25th, 1992”, the latter being about the riots in Los Angeles, they moved into some new originals. “You Better Listen” was one for the newer fans as it’s Rome getting to try his hand at writing. It stays in the vein of the older material, but definitely has a fresh feel to it as well, an upbeat song with an infectious chorus. The crowd was singing along to every song that was played and the hits continued to come. You don’t realize how many songs of theirs are extremely popular until you look around and realize every single one of them is practically a giant sing along.
The crowd was a majority of late 20s and 30 somethings all dancing to songs, filling them with nostalgia. Sublime in the late 90s was something totally different. Tones of punk rock mixed with reggae, dub and ska. It just reeked of California, surf and smoky jam music. They often covered other groups songs, some of which nobody ever knew wasn’t actually a Sublime original because of the way they would make it their own. Take “Scarlet Begonias” for example, originally a Grateful Dead song. Many people have no idea it wasn’t original. They did skillful renditions of songs by Bad Religion, The Descendents, Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley, The Wailers and many more.
I ain’t got no crystal ball, but after seeing what they had played to that point, closing with “Santeria” seemed the clear and obvious choice. It’s evident that they aren’t slowing down any time soon, which is a nice sight to see considering a few years ago, catching Sublime songs live were only possible through covers and cover bands. Even if it’s only Eric remaining from the original lineup, the spirit of Sublime lives on.