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Oz Fox: Battling the Devil for 30 + Years With Stryper & More

Happy New Year to all! This past week I caught up with Stryper’s Oz Fox to talk about the band’s plans for the new year, about the 30th anniversary tour for ‘To Hell With The Devil’ and to talk about the possibility of a solo album.

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Ms. Mishap: Stryper has just wrapped up the 30th anniversary tour for ‘To Hell With The Devil’, which as I understand it had some controversial artwork when it was first released, where did the original artwork come from?

Oz Fox: The original release of that album way back in 1986 we had an artist that painted a rendition of something that was thought up, we all had our input but then the final idea was by Robert Sweet. Basically what the artist did was he created the picture but he did a couple of things different than what Robert had said. The overall depiction was supposed to be four angels, not necessarily any representation that we were angels, but they were angels that were chaining up the devil and throwing him into a pit that was fire-y. One of the things this devil was wearing was a pentagram necklace because back in the 80’s there were these bands that were using the pentagram as a symbol and if you ever studied any kind of occult or kind of satanic symbolism the pentagram actually was used to represent Satan. The real conservative Christians that are opposed to any kind of likeness of Satan that is a real like taboo symbol to have laying around your house or in a picture. So what happened was the original idea for the art cover was that there was supposed to be one of the angels taking that necklace and crushing it in his hands but what the artist did was he took it and he had the angel kind of looked like he had yanked the necklace from the neck of the rock-star, half rock-star half demon, and he threw it instead of crushing it so there was this pentagram thrown, but the symbol was intact and it created a huge kind of a big stir in the Christian distribution world. They saw that symbol on the artwork and they were right away, no way that’s not gonna work you can’t have that in Christian bookstores and there had already been a number of these covers that got created and were released so this turned into a huge deal and the next thing our record label did was they decided to eradicate the artwork and just make a black label with “To Hell With The Devil” in red old English font and that’s how that ended up becoming a second alternative cover and so if you can find the original artwork somewhere in an old record store then you’re pretty fortunate because they’re very rare. I actually have a couple of them myself that I have from the original days. It’s funny how I actually came to Robert and I said, “hey I got this idea and I drew a picture of an angel kind of doing a kick to the face of a satanic rocker dressed up in the garb and I still have that original drawing.

Ms. Mishap: Michael Sweet had said that when it came to bringing out the original costumes for this tour that some of the costumes had to be altered or duplicated, was your costume the real thing or did it need a little work?

Oz Fox: My costume was the only original costume, because all of the other guys had either sold their costumes or they were stolen. I know Michael had all of his stuff in a warehouse at one point and sometime in the 90’s his warehouse got broken into and he got a ton of stuff stolen from him and I know his costumes went bye bye as well so he had to have his remade. I think the other guys had sold all their stuff to collectors and I’m a hoarder by nature so I don’t sell any of my stuff, I keep it all.

Ms. Mishap: Had you held onto it all these years?

Oz Fox: Yea I have all of my original Stryper outfits from back in the day. So the other guys had all of their stuff replicated and I just had mine taken out a little bit. Surprisingly enough it held up pretty well after all these years thanks to Ray Brown who made the original costumes. Ray Brown is a famous rock clothing designer and he’s still doing stuff to this day. He did some of the alterations a few years ago for me when I had to pull that stuff out to play in Japan, but more recently Terry Smith and Yo Pinter, a couple of gals here in Vegas kind of helped me with more alterations.

Ms. Mishap: Are there any differences in touring today versus 30 years ago?

Oz Fox: Mainly that 30 years ago I was 25 years old, and now I’m 55 and it’s not a bed of roses. I mean I get it, touring is an exciting thing. A lot of guys would probably be just amped to go out on the road to tour and to have as many shows and as much success with their shows as we’re having right now. I’m very thankful that we can do it still, that we still have a following, but boy touring takes the life out of me. To have to go day after day be on a bus and be away from home and be away from your family, your wife you know all that stuff is really hard on me now. I’d much rather have a part in some residency here in town where I can go play and come home, sleep in my own bed and that’s because I’m older now. That’s why I love being in the (Sin City) Sinners or playing with Vinyl Tattoo or Let It Rawk. The only other thing that was nice back in the 80’s when we were doing the big arena tours was I basically didn’t have to worry about carrying luggage or my gear or any of that kind of stuff. We always had all of that stuff covered to the point where all I had to do was step onto a plane with my carry on bag.

Ms. Mishap: Was this tour a bus tour or all fly dates?

Oz Fox: This fortunately was a bus tour, 2 months of it was all bus so that made it easier. We were at least able to get the sleep and the rest we needed, but you know we started touring this year back in March so there were a lot of fly dates this year.

Ms. Mishap: Going back to the early days, who’s idea was it originally to toss bibles out to the crowd during shows and when did it start?

Oz Fox: Well it started back in the club days. When we were playing in Hollywood back to 1984. We thought a lot of bands threw out their stuff, their scarves or their picks and people would be happy to grab that from their favorite band so we started throwing out bibles and originally we would put a sticker on the bible with our logo on it. For us it was cool because we were giving out something that was gonna maybe provoke them to open up a bible and read something about God or Jesus. I’m not real sure who came up with the idea, but it might have been Robert. We still do it to this day and on this last tour we actually had a bible company make 30th anniversary bibles with our logo on it.

Ms. Mishap: Now as I understand it, Stryper is going on a little bit of a break starting in the new year. Michael Sweet had hinted at some trouble within the band in his last interview, is this a reason for the time off?

Oz Fox: Well it’s a number of things. A lot of it is Michael has a lot projects coming up that he wants to take time off to do which is fine by me because I’ve got a lot of stuff going on here in town and as I get older in age I kind of want to set myself up so that I’ll have more opportunities here in Vegas so that someday if I ever stop touring with Stryper I can maybe stay here and work as a musician. He (Michael) definitely is going to be doing a second album with George Lynch and he also just released a solo album and he wants to go out and tour that album a little bit and we (Stryper) are going to be playing on the Monsters of Rock Cruise the first week of February.

Ms. Mishap: Does that mean it will be the original lineup playing the Monsters of Rock Cruise come February?

Oz Fox: As far as I know yes, but Tim our bass player is going through some personal issues and were trying to let him work all of that stuff out. It’s no secret anymore, but he’s going through a divorce so we’re giving him time to work those things out and as far as I know he’s looking like he’s on his way to making all of that stuff in his life correct and fixed and then we’ll see where he stands after he’s all done with that and I know he wants to keep touring. It’s a very difficult thing to go through a divorce, it’s difficult for everybody. We’re very close to him and his wife so it hurts us as much as it hurts them and these things do happen in the Christian world and I want to reference back to a lot of those really hardcore conservative Christians; it’s very taboo to see somebody, especially in the lime light, going through that kind of thing and so a divorce is one of those kind of bad words. Now there are a lot of Christians who understand. I understand the situation because I went through a divorce myself in 2006 with my first wife. It’s very difficult it really is, but we’re going to give him time to do that and go through and deal with his issues and as far as I know he’s going to be on the cruise with us and then the only other thing I can say after that is there are plans to do another Stryper album so well see how that goes later on.

Ms Mishap: Do you think any of this will delay that new album?

Oz Fox: I think there were plans to possibly get on it in January, it hadn’t been booked or anything, but once this whole thing started happening with Tim we thought it was a better idea to just postpone everything. We decided to maybe wait until later on in the year. I think it’s good for us to just give him time to do his thing and deal with his issues and then later on we can come back together and after everything is already healed over have a solid time of being able to work together.

Ms. Mishap: Have you found a direction to go with for the new album?

Oz Fox: No I don’t think there is really anything, at least I haven’t been notified of any particular direction. Michael has creative control and what ever he feels is the way to go is what we’ll do so we’re waiting on that and hopefully I’ll be able to participate in some of the direction.

Ms. Mishap: How do you as a guitarist continue to find the inspiration to write?

Oz Fox: As a guitar player I come up with ideas all the time just by plucking around on my strings while I’m going through all of my exploration of scales and riffs. I spend a lot of time learning music for bands like the Sinners and Let It Rawk and whatnot so I have to really spend more time focusing on that than I do actually writing, but then when I want to find the time to write music I’ll sit down and I’ll just kind of think of something in my head that is different and unique. With Stryper I try to write stuff that sounds like Stryper because there definitely is a format that you have to follow and that is something that I’m pretty well familiar with. It’s not that difficult to come up with Stryper sounding riffs because I know it very well so all I have to do is sit down with my guitar come up with a few riffs that work and I can start kind of surrounding it with verses, choruses, whatever and make it happen. It’s just a matter of me sitting down and finding the time to do it.

Ms. Mishap: Is writing with the band the same as it was when lets say when Soldiers was written?

Oz Fox: It’s a little bit different now because we live in different places. Michael and I back in the early days we would write a lot. There were times when he would come in with an idea and then I’d listen to it and I would say “well that sounds like it could use this” and I’d play something for him that might work and he’d listen to it and yea okay that works or he’d modify. So there were a lot of times that we’d work together that way because we lived so close to each other in Southern California. Now it’s, he’ll ask me for an idea or some ideas and I’ll send them over to him and then all of a sudden he’ll either have all of the lyrics written and melodies for it or he’ll say “I just used this much of it and created this other song” you know, and that’s kind of how it is now just because there’s not really a lot of time to sit down with each other.

Ms. Mishap: How does writing between two lead guitarists take place, do you switch off writing solos?

Oz Fox: It’s been the format, I should say of all Stryper albums, for us to split up the solos evenly or maybe have a few song where we switch off, 4 measures of me 4 measures of him and then 4 measures of us dueling a harmony together. If you listen to the song pride off the fallen album that whole solo is him doing the lower part and me doing the harmony. There was a time when we would sit down and hash those things out together too, but now it’s either me making it and him harmonizing to me or him making it and I’m harmonizing to him depending on what the situation is or who has the better vibe.

Ms. Mishap: When it comes to guitars, What made you switch to playing GMWs rather than sticking with Jacksons?

Oz Fox: The GMWs was more of a thing where I actually had a friend who gave me one and so I started playing it. There’s a lot of old pictures of this on particular Jackson guitar where it was painted in these kind of geometrical lines and within the lines there were these symbols. The original design of that particular Jackson disappeared because there was a point were Jackson got taken over by another company and Grover Jackson no longer owned it and so I couldn’t get anymore free guitars. Fortunately I still knew the CEO which was Joanne and I knew her well enough to go in and ask if she would at least repaint one of my guitars. This happened in 1990 when our album ‘Against The Law’ came out and I needed a new guitar for some videos. That guitar ended up being a kind of silver sparkle chevron, but I missed having the original design and I told that to a friend of mine, Ian Lee. I met Ian at a NAMM show (where) he was working with GMW Guitarworks and he had a whole bunch of guitars replicated. So Ian asked Lee Garber (the owner of GMW) to make a replica of that original guitar for me and I didn’t know he was doing that and then one day probably around 2010 (Ian) came to New York and handed me the guitar. It was an amazing surprise for me to all of a sudden have this guitar that was a replicated design of my original Jackson and it played great coming right out of the case. After that I decided to have him make another replica of one of my old explorer shapes and I ended up having these two really nice GMW guitars so I decided to start using those for most of the Stryper gigs because they matched very well. I still play my Jacksons, if you come to see me play in Vegas I still have those original Jacksons and I bring them out to play. The one I play most of the time here in town it’s got a bangle tiger design on it that’s the original Jackson that was on the cover of the ‘To Hell With The Devil’ album. It definitely has a lot of Stryper history so I try not to take it out anywhere I gotta fly because it could get damaged. Playing with the GMWs has been a nice alternative to having the Jacksons because they’re great guitars, they sound great, and they look great. The only other guitar I’ve used in the Styrper touring in recent years is my GJ2 guitar. I got that a couple of years ago from him (Grover Jackson) when he first came out with his new line of guitars and they’re awesome.

Ms. Mishap: So what is next for you in 2017?

Oz Fox: At this point I’ve got a few things that are kind of in the works. I’ve got Chaotic Resemblance, they want to do some more recording, I recorded an album with them in 2014 called ‘Get The Hell Out’ and it was a nice start for them. Now they want to do some more recording this year and I’m going into the studio with them on the 24th of January and we’re going to kick out a couple of more tunes and they’re going to try to come up with an album. I’m looking forward to hearing how that’s going to turn out. I mentioned the Monsters of Rock Cruise that Stryper’s doing in February and also the new Stryper album whenever that gets scheduled. Aside from that I love playing with the Sinners it’s fun, Jason’s got a lot of dates booked which I’m really happy about and I’m going to do as many shows with the Sinners as I can. I also have a Let It Rawk date coming up on January 14th. In any situation the Sinners, Let It Rawk or Vinyl Tattoo it’s always about playing with great guys and creating a mood and that’s kind of been the situation in town with a lot of guys. I really love going and hearing guys like Stoney Curtis play or Counts 77, Smashing Alice, Tinnitus, all these great bands and I still have to go see the Queens Of Noise, that’s my next one to check out.
The sky’s the limit. I might start working on some ideas for a solo album this year if I can find the time. That’s really what I would like to do and I’ve been working on learning and studying jazz guitar so that would be kind of a thing I would want to incorporate into a new solo album for myself. That would be interesting to go in a different direction and do something new, something that no one would expect.

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Don’t forget to check out Oz Fox January 14th at Count’s Vamp’d with Let It Rawk and catch him regularly with the Sin City Sinners here in Las Vegas.

Cheers,
Ms. Mishap

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Guns N Roses’ Keyboardist, Dizzy Reed, Opens Up About the Future of GnR, & His Already Finished Solo Album.

After wrapping up a sold out stadium tour across North America, I caught up with Guns N Roses’ keyboardist Dizzy Reed at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, NV where he was joining the Sin City Sinners on stage at Vinyl as well as hosting a DJ set at The Center Bar back in late September. Reed sat and discussed with me everything from G’n’R, his solo album, musical influences, and more. Now throw on your favorite Use Your Illusions record and dive right in.

 

Ms. Mishap: Now that you’ve just finished up the North American run of the Not In This Lifetime Tour what do you think has been the biggest highlight so far?
Reed: You know for me all of the shows were really cool and really special and we played a lot of big places, a lot of great cities, but for me having been in Los Angeles for so long you know playing Dodgers Stadium, which I never even thought about doing, that was pretty cool.

Ms. Mishap: Do you think a new album with the current lineup is ever possible?

Reed: You know who knows, I don’t know. It’d be great.

Ms Mishap: With the 25th anniversary of Use Your Illusions just passing a couple of weeks ago, what is one of your best memories of that time period?

Reed: Wait it’s been 25 years? You know for me I had just joined that band and you know they asked me to come on and be the keyboard player and it was during the preproduction for those songs and obviously for the recording so I never actually played any shows with them. I was in the studio tracking those songs and working on them and just the whole thing was magic for me. You know it was like I had been living on the streets of Hollywood trying to make it for five or six years straight and I saw a lot of people come and a lot of people go, a lot of people get signed and a lot of people get dropped, but at that point in time G’n’R, who I had known for a long time, they had gone to become arguably the biggest band in the world and so I had to pinch myself a lot, but just the entire experience was just magic.

Ms. Mishap: Do you have a favorite song off of each Use Your Illusions records?

Reed: I couldn’t tell you which is on what, but I love so many of the songs. I just really started re-exploring them again. “Coma” is such a great song. I’m kind of partial to “Estranged” cause I sort of took it over and started playing it. I like “Locomotive”, espcially the ending part is a big jam thing and “Bad Apples”, “Bad Obsession”, and “Pretty Tied Up”.

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Ms. Mishap: Tonight you have your dj set at The Center Bar so I have to ask if you were stranded on a deserted island and you can only have one album with you what would it be?

Reed: It’s kind of cliche but first of all it would be my record which isn’t out yet but it’s going to be coming out, but since it doesn’t techinically exist and if I was stranded today it would probably be Exile On Main St. (The Rolling Stones)

Ms. Mishap: Is there a possible tour for Hookers & Blow coming up?

Reed: We’re always touring, we go out and we come back all the time.

Ms. Mishap: Now I was going to ask you if you were ever interested in doing a solo album but it seems…

Reed: I’ve done one, it’s finished I just gotta put it out.

Ms. Mishap: Do you have a time frame?

Reed: Well it’s been done for about six or seven years, actually that’s not true, I finally found someone to mix it properly and I just kept having to put it on hold within the tracking process and the mixing and I found someone that was right to mix it and he did a great job, my friend Jason, Jason Mezilis. So now it’s just a matter of what are we going to do with it having to put it out and then this other tour came up and stuff so it’s been kind of tough to find the time, but I think im going to play some of the songs tonight if the vibe is right.

Ms. Mishap: If you could have performed a song with anyone in history alive or dead who would it be

Reed: With someone? wow alive or dead, thats a tough one maybe David Bowie. Yea David Bowie or Warren Zevon or The Stones.
For those of you that missed Dizzy’s guest spot with the Sin City Sinners his setlist hit everything from “It’s So Easy” – Guns N Roses, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” – Elton John, “All The Way From Memphis” – Mott The Hoople. & more! His DJ set at the center bar was similar in style, but included two special surprises off of Dizzy’s unreleased solo album! Goes to show, just by missing “one show” you could be missing a whole lot more… I think it goes without saying, but always support live & local music. Lastly keep your eyes peeled for what is sure to be a legendary solo album and make sure to catch Hookers & Blow when they come to a city near you!

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Cheers,
Ms. Mishap

“It’s So Easy”

Based on the memoir of the same name, It’s So Easy and Other Lies is a rock-umentary (rock n roll documentary) about Guns N Roses’ bassist Duff McKagan’s life story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. When it comes to this documentary there are no smoke and mirrors. Duff is brutally honest from the start. Whether it’s when he talks about his struggle with addiction, his road to recovery, his many bands, or the love he shares for his family and friends.

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Filmed primarily at The Moore Theater in Seattle, WA; McKagan is seated on a stage where he reads from sections of his memoir with a backing band and a string quartet. The band plays acoustic-like versions of hit songs from McKagan’s musical career. McKagan does his fair share of playing and singing as well, including on “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “Wasted Heart”, and my all time favorite “Patience”.

The audience is taken on a trip through his life in a chapter-like form. You get a look into his punk background, a small tour of his hometown of Seattle, WA, and some cartoon reenactments of major life events. There are intimate old family videos, rare photos, and even some hand made band fliers.

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First hand accounts from a wide range of people including bandmates past and present: Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks), Slash and Matt Sorum (Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, Mike Squire (Loaded). McKagan’s Brothers: Jon and Matt McKagan. Wife: Susan Holmes McKagan. Peers: Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) and Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue). Plus many more!

If you are looking for a more indepth biography, pick up your copy of It’s So Easy and Other Lies at your local bookstore. I would highly recommend giving that a read before viewing, but if you’re as impatient as I am, then without further ado grab a seat, some popcorn, and get ready for a ride into Duff’s (sometimes erratic) life.
This documentary is a short 84 minutes and in that time it’s “gonna get the feet stompin’ and the hands clappin'” as Steven Adler would say.

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It’s So Easy and Other Lies is available to rent and for purchase on Amazon.com

Cheers,

Ms. Mishap

7 Record Stores to visit in Las Vegas

Let me start this post by saying, Happy Record Store Day! It really is a shame that this day only graces us once a year. It’s like Halloween in the way that there should be at least two a year, but I digress. Now this list could go on and on, city to city, but I decided my lucky number 7 favorites in Las Vegas would be more than enough to suppress any record store junkies appetite. Lastly keep in mind that this list is ordered in no specific way, I don’t know that it would be fair to compare apples to oranges in this case. I’m going to stop rambling on now, enjoy & stay rock ‘n’ roll!

1. Moondog Records

Address: 4440 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm (hours a subject to change)

Record Store Day Specials: 50% select records (over 600 to chose from)

Why they’re great every other day of the year: This is an all around great neighborhood mom & pop record store. The owner is always on site and is always up to talk to you about vinyl/music in general. Not overpriced with a fantastic selection. Expect to find some limited addition pieces and those records you grew up with.

2. 11th Street Records

Address: 1023 Fremont St. Las Vegas, NV 89101

Hours of operation: Sun-Mon 12pm-7pm, Tue-Thu 12pm -10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am

Record Store Day Specials: Pick up a copy of Anti-Flags acoustic album Live at Eleventh Street Records. There are also select vinyl on sale up to 30% off. Limited Record Store Day releases.

Why they’re great every other day of the year: Vinyl! Vinyl as far as the eye can see! Can’t complain about pricing and the staff are always helpful. Plus they have a sweet recording studio in the back and you never know who might stop by.

3. Zia Records (Eastern & Sahara Location)

Address: 4225 S Eastern Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89119 & 4503 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102

Hours of operation: 10am-12am (both locations)

Record Store Day Specials: Limited addition record store day releases.

Why they’re great every other day of the year: In-store signings & performances, a one of a kind book & movie collection (I’m personally in loved with their used book section in particular, you cannot beat those prices). Plus you can Buy, Sell, & Trade your vinyl, movies, CDs, books, etc.

4. Wax Trax Records Inc.

Address: 2909 S Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102

Hours of operation: 11am-4pm

Record Store Day Specials: none listed

Why they’re great every other day of the year: This is a great place to get lost in for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. You really never know what you’re going to find whether you were looking for it or not. The staff is all very friendly and helpful and great to talk music with. I personally love this place specifically for when I’m looking for rare vinyl, they always seem to have that special record I’m looking for.

5. Record City (Sahara)

Address: 300 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm

Record Store Day Specials: Store will be opening at 8am.

Why they’re great every other day of the year: They are the original neighborhood record store. Perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing until you find what you didn’t know you were looking for, not to mention they have one of the best metal vinyl collections in town.

6. Record City (Charleston)

Address: 4555 E Charleston Blvd #102, Las Vegas, NV 89104

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm

Record Store Day Specials: none listed.

Why they’re great every other day of the year: Until I started researching for this posting, I actually had no idea Record City had a second location in town. This was of course the perfect Record Store Day present for me and I do plan on stopping by today to finally check out their selections. If it’s anything like their Sahara location I have no doubt that I’ll be spending several hours there, at least.

7. Cash 4 Chaos

Address: 4110 S Maryland Pkwy #27, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm

Record Store Day Specials: none currently listed.

Why they’re great every other day of the year: It’s your one stop shop for punk, gothic, rockabilly, & horror merch/memorabilia. Best punk vinyl/CD/Cassette collection in town. This store has been a staple in my life since I was a young teen first discovering what good music was and the rest is history. With the convenient location next to The Dive bar, you never know who will stop in.

 

May you find all that you are looking for/not looking for today and if you’re like me remember to keep some money at home so that you don’t walk away completely broke. Now I think Penny Lane said it best, “and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”

Cheers,

Ms. Mishap

 

“Live in Dreams Sunday Girl”

Sunday’s are my 24 hours of restless relaxing. It’s my time to veg out and watch some of my current Netflix obsessions, do some reading, and sorta catch up on my (year round) spring cleaning. Like most, my Netflix obsessions tend to take first priority, mostly because of the sublime feeling of completely shutting off my mind and entering another world, but also because it makes great back ground noise for everything else I need to get done through out that day.

However, this Sunday was a little different. Currently I’m not all tied up in a Netflix series so I’ve taken some time to hop around my list in an attempt to watch all the rock-umentaries currently offered. I started this, drawn out, marathon about a week ago, but for some reason today I was drawn back into (re)watching Blondie’s New York.

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(Blondie’s New York is an hour long Smithsonian Channel original documentary about the band’s rise to mainstream success through the making of their album, Parallel Lines. Unlike some documentaries, it takes the time to get extremely detailed and dives into the how’s, why’s, and when’s of every song on the album. This for me, makes it a must watch and also a re-watch.)

You can expect to hear first hand accounts from the band lineup of the time such as; Debbie Harry (vocals), Chris Stein (guitar), Jimmy Destri (keyboards), Clem Burke (drums), Nigel Harrison (bass), and Frank Infante (guitar). As well as Mike Chapman (Parallel Lines’ producer) and some photographer/insiders of the time peroid: Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley, and many more.

The viewer gets minimal back ground info on not only each individual band member’s up bringing, but also a great historical account on that time period in New York City, the music, and the culture. If you are expecting anything thorough on the band’s upbringing backgrounds and how they got into becoming musicians, this documentary might not be for you, but I will be keeping an eye out for some good (auto)biographies from the band and get back to you. However, I believe there are more than enough stories of the band during the Parallel Lines time period to suffice anyone’s needs.

One by one the band talks about lyrics, melodies, and the countless hours put into the production of each individual song. The viewer also gets to hear snippets of raw individualized guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocal lines.

My favorite part of this rock-umentary, as a writer, being the insight into the lyrics and the stories behind them.

SPOILER ALERT: Did you know One Way Or Another was written about one of Harry’s ex-boyfriends who became her stalker?

Ultimately Parallel Lines has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, became an international hit, and may be the reason why I still choose to sing along to Debbie Harry at karaoke today. Now whether you’re a fan of Blondie, 70’s rock, punk, CBGB, New York, or anything in between I suggest checking this rock-umentary out.

Blondie’s New York is available to buy or watch on:

Netflix, smithsonianchannel.com , Amazon, and possibly Youtube (but you didn’t hear it from me).

Cheers,

Ms. Mishap.

“So Whatcha Gonna Do With All That Attitude?”

 


The stage was a blank canvas with the the black (semi-sheer) curtains covering the take down of Hardcore Superstar and the set up of Michael Monroe. Count’s Vamp’d was nearly full, patrons were gathered from the stage to the elevated soundboard in the back, with some rushing to get a drink at the long bar before Monroe would take over the stage.

I had arrived unfashionably late, that is, about half way through Hardcore Superstar’s set. As I made my way around the corner to enter through the two sets of double doors, I could hear their sound seeping through the walls. This was their second time playing in the states in over ten years and the crowd was overwhelmed with excitement, chanting and singing along to all of their hits.  It was easy to see, the band had definitely been missed. This is a prime example of why you should never be late to shows folks, you never know what band you could discover next, but I digress.

With the curtains gone, I laid my eyes on a new black back drop with Michael Monroe’s name and custom logo of a double M in a very fitting deep-red color. Soon enough the room went silent and the band quickly filed on stage; Sami Yaffa, Steve Conte, Karl Rockfist, Rich Jones, and last, but not least, the man himself, Michael Monroe.

The band immediately strummed into “This Ain’t No Love Song”. Monroe made his way strutting across the stage in his all, black and red, leather getup with red stars along the outsides of both legs and his signature platinum blonde locks, howling away in his glam/punk rock way. Yaffa and Rockfist kept up a strong/heavy rhythm section to keep up with these vocals.

As the night went on Monroe got into many different sober antics and decided about halfway through the set to, mid song, climb up the side stage speakers to get, what I can only assume, a better view of the audience. Singing from the peak for a few good seconds before jumping down and running back to the opposite side of the stage, he was still flushed with energy.

 

The setlist was well rounded including rock anthems from multiple albums and a few Hanoi Rocks’ songs. *Signal opening harmonica lick to the rock anthem “Dead, Jail, or Rock ‘n’ Roll”*. The band also, surprisingly enough, covered CCR’s “Up Around The Bend”.

Wanting to keep everyone in amazement; just before the band was going to go into the encore, Monroe displayed his many talents and performed a drum solo that included many familiar classic licks. After waiting for the applause, signaling approval, he continued to pick up Steve Conte’s guitar to play a few riffs before (quite literally) flying into the final songs.

This was a night filled with 80’s attitude and numerous glam rock songs about the unglamorous with countless mic stands nearly meeting their end in the making. Michael Monroe actually gave us something to gawk at, to lose a sense of time for a couple of hours. With multiple talents and the ability to do higher kicks than any cheerleader I ever saw, it will be hard to ever forget this show.  Be sure to check out the band’s new music video for “Goin’ Down With The Ship” that is out now and go down to your local record store pick up a copy of “Blackout States”. The second half of The Cemetery Tour will continue on this week with the guys making their way to the east coast and wrapping up the tour in Miami, Fl. on Monday.

Cheers,

-Ms. Mishap

      

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