Well it looks like I made it to a year. A year. Goddamn. 52 weeks straight of gathering up rock/metal/guitar-related news, filtering it through my 24-year-old Pino perspective, and regurgitating it all out to you, the UG Community.
Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic, maybe a bit accomplished, or maybe I'm a little freaked out over how fast this past year has gone by (seriously, what the deuce?), but I want to give some kudos and thanks to everyone who has continued to read this blog. You've kept me motivated enough to withstand late night revisions and generalized writer anxiety; you've offered insightful opinions and turned me on to some sick music. We're like... best friends now or something.
Off the bat, I have to say that writing for you guys every week has been rewarding and challenging, greatly invaluable to my development as a writer and musician. From your comments of lol
age to the musical experiences and influences you share, you guys proved - to me at least - that the UG community isn't merely a mosh pit of opinionated trolls, which I admittedly thought was the case when I started writing this series. In fact, I was fearful when I started; I tended to drink and draft each week's post in anticipation of getting bludgeoned with sarcastic, mean-spirited comments... Like on Blabbermouth
. But no, your comments every week kept me going, kicked my a-s with confidence, and helped me see the result of what I set out to do with this series get people listening and get people thinking. So thanks guys. No really, thanks.
But enough yammering about that sappy stuff. With a fine brewski in hand well... it's Pacifico I'd like to sum up some of the things I've learned and realized over the past year while writing this column. Join me whilst I muse away.
1. Listen To The Old Stuff It's Better
Okay, well "better" is up for debate. Obviously whether or not you like something simply boils down to taste, but generally popular music of decades past, especially in the rock world, was of a higher quality. Although there's still great stuff coming out now, for some reason I constantly return to the recordings of veteran bands, especially from the 60s and 70s.
For those of you who either have no interest in checking out the rock giants of yore or have written off anything that came out before 1990, do yourself a favor and get down to some serious exploring. There's a reason why bands like The Beatles
, The Rolling Stones
, Led Zeppelin
, Black Sabbath
and Neil Young
, are still relevant and talked about today; it's because they were all brilliant in their heyday.
Earlier this year, I got on a deep and geeky Beatles kick. It was almost a sickness. Exploring the evolution of sound, non-singles, musicianship and history, it became shockingly apparent why
they are regarded as one of the greatest rock groups that has ever existed. On a grander scale, their music actually held a widespread cultural importance, which is something that sadly, current music seems to lack.
And another beauty about getting into older bands is the hefty amount of records that already exist. They're all there, waiting for you to give them a listen. Dive into the catalogue of a band your dad listened to as a youngster. It'll likely shine in comparison to your Emmure
2. Use Your Ears
In terms of guitar playing, use a critical ear to get rid of sloppy mistakes and less than perfect notes. Because music is an aural art form, what you hear is paramount. If you are technically able to play a difficult piece but your phrasing and tone are less-than-stellar, it doesn't matter how fast you can alternate pick, tap or sweep. Your hands aren't what make you a great musician, your ears are. Use them.
3. It's Okay That Everyone Doesn't Like Rock Music
Fourteen year old me: I was young and stoked as hell on the geetar. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with those around me in school. I enjoyed the camaraderie of like-minded individuals who dug the same music I did, but more often than not, I couldn't comprehend why so many of my peers preferred the rapity-raps and hip-hop stylings of Top 40 songs they were spoon fed. I'd get frustrated. I'd look down on them, thinking I had better taste. I'd even argue, "Look, listen to this guitar solo and tell me it's not incredible!
" This fell on deaf ears.
But I aged and cared less about what people liked. Eventually, I started to realize why people don't like rock music (especially metal) and why that's okay. It's not for everyone. The image of Jimmy Page
with his iconic Les Paul
may look bada-s to us, but to a non-rock fan, it could look ho-hum and maybe a little gay. Who cares? Love the music you love and know that rock isn't a religion that needs to be spread; what's important is digesting, celebrating and producing quality tunes that'll tickle the taste buds of six-string fans.
4. Musicians Love To Talk Smack
In the music journalism field, publications have a field day with this. Often taking quotes out of context, music news sources, desperate to write about something that will entice their readers, tend to overly dramatize the words of musicians "slamming" other musicians.
The usual suspects Axl Rose
and Liam Gallagher
, Lars Ulrich
, Dave Mustaine
, Corey Taylor
they talk, we respond. We criticize their often-idiotic statements, and yet become annoyed when news sources keep reporting them. Why does this happen?
Well this is the closest thing to tabloid fodder that we have. Thankfully it doesn't even come close to the celebrity gossip drivel that rests on newsstands and grocery store checkouts, but it's a curious practice. The rock world demands characters and the often off-the-cuff remarks from musicians in the public eye play a large roll in shaping their "role" in rock culture.
5. Music News Isn't Very Exciting
Face it, although we're always riveted when Alfred Music Publishing
releases a new Van Halen
Tab book, the majority of headlines here don't normally elicit a "woah-get-the-f--ck-out-of-here!
" response. Across most music new sites (it's definitely not just UG), you start to see patterns. Bands or artists reveal the sh-t they've been up to; the music industry sucks and purists aren't happy about it; so-and-so broke up; so-and-so thinks his former bandmate is a knobstuff along those lines. While of course no subject can report events that wow the world daily, guitar-oriented music news has the tendency to lull for weeks at a time.
This particular fact was frustrating as I combed the headlines to gather up content for this blog. "It's too repetitive!
", I'd smash my face on my desk, wondering why interesting stories couldn't happen more often.
But the cycle of familiar news stories doesn't matter. What does is, again, the damn music. And we want the community of guitar enthusiasts. And we want quality. To me, UG, a site that I've been going to for years is worthy of that. That's why I want to continue to keep delivering you guys quality content. With hope, that exposure to quality can help you become the best guitarist, critic, fan and musician you can be.
Thanks for reading and here's to another year!
Have a great weekend, and I'll leave you now with some of your favorite On The Next jokes from this past year:
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
Children Of Bodom
faces staunch disagreement in the studio, after keyboardist insists on an "all marimba" keyboard approach.
Monopoly, more bands start releasing board games: Ozzy Osbourne
Clue and Necrophagist
reveals that the "Gold Cobra
" album is all a joke and release a "jazz-odyssey" record instead.
admits to being a diehard and lifelong fan of Mushroomhead
decides to take Tori Amos
out on tour, realizing that her low growls are much heavier than their Nathan Explosion
Now an official FBI-recognized gang threat
join the Crips, Bloods, Triads and Aryan Brotherhood to form the world's first international super gang; however, Juggalos soon realize that they are merely entertainment for gang reunions and birthday parties.
Elated after a fun commercial shoot for WalMart
crawls further and further away from being metal by becoming the permanent band for FreeCreditReport.com commercials.
Following his decision to "quit music
" due to harsh fan criticism, Fall Out Boy
singer Patrick Stump
visits a psychiatrist and is prescribed a heavy dose of "Man The F-ck Up".
Churches around the United States start getting in on metal-based services, eventually developing more specific Christian metal subgenres: Gregorian Chantcore
, and Creedstep
, as predicted in Part 1
of this series, finally joins Megadeth
By Zach Pino