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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fallen Star Fashion Show

As we had previously anticipated, the Fallen Star Fashion show was a complete success. The night featured some awesome live music, which included Queen V, and rocking clothes modeled by unique and beautiful women. One of the concepts of Horns Up Rocks is to showcase alternative fashion and to offer a platform for women to be themselves. When Star Frost from The Fallen Star Boutique reached out to us and invited us to the event, we didn't think twice. Just as we expected, Don Hill's was full of great people who were there to have a great time. If you have a chance to catch the next Fallen Star Fashion Show, we recommend you join the sexy fun. Here are some images, courtesy of photographer Joe LaRusso. We also have exclusive videos. Enjoy!

Related links:
The Fallen Star Boutique

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The State of the Music Industry

We recently found out that SoundScan had the lowest numbers in history! SoundScan, for those of you who don't know, was created by Nielsen Media in order to track the number of record sales. This is how the Billboard Charts gathers the statistics they use to create their famous music charts. It is also how record labels keep track of the records they are pushing. You may be asking yourself how does this affect the artists, the fans and the record labels.

The way the record industry works has changed drastically since the Digital Music era took over in the late 90's. Before the Digital era, people were forced to buy music, and people would listen to the radio or watch MTV to find about new artists. People would also go to a record store to buy some music. You would also give music to others through music vouchers. And going to a concert was always a big deal. What happened to all of this?

When Compact Disc technology was introduced in the 80's it was seen as a huge step up, since it meant that more data could be stored in a smaller device. The technology also gave the user the power to browse through the tracks of a CD in a quick and efficient manner. This was all very positive until the technology got ahead of itself and all of a sudden you could burn your own CD's. Exchanging music is a great way to find new artists, and many of us would create mix tapes for our friends in order to teach team about new artists. The problem with CD burning is that people started abusing the technology, specially once the file sharing websites like Napster became the way most people got their music. In other words, the need to purchase music or to listen to the radio or watch MTV, became irrelevant.

Around the end of the 90's the record industry saw a big decline in sales, but were still able to keep record sales at a decent level. Mainly because the generation of the 90's was used to buying music and going to concerts. So even though free music was available, people were still investing money in the music industry. Then it all went downhill at the turn of the century with the introduction of MP3 players, since it became very easy to store a lot of music in a small device. At that time the record industry took a Mike Tyson punch to the stomach and hasn't been able to recover.

You may be wondering what happened to Tower Records, Virgin Megastore and all the big record stores that helped the music industry prevail for so long. They all had to close down because people were not buying music. Before Virgin Megastore closed in Union Square here in New York City, you would see people wandering the store, looking at music and rarely would you see people buying records. Part of it has to do with the economic crisis, the other part has to do with file sharing, but the key factor is that record prices had to go up in order for the music industry to stay afloat. So what now?

The record labels are on a bind because if people don't support the artists they need to push, then the record sales are low and they have no money to break new bands. This is why record labels nowadays have to compromise when signing new talent. Roadrunner Records for example has been signing established acts such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd and The Steve Miller Band in order to prevail. As we all know Roadrunner Records had a huge influence on the Heavy Music scene in the 90's and signed bands such as Slipknot, Fear Factory, Sepultura and Machine Head. While they would like to sign new bands, the market place is closing the doors to new bands. Why?

Thanks to the Digital era it became too easy to create a record with Pro Tools and to distribute it to the world through websites like My Space. As a result, there are way too many mediocre bands and people are getting used to it. This is sad because people are not caring about the quality of the music as much as they should. So when a new record comes out, people have either heard it already thanks to the internet or they simply shut it off since they expect another mediocre record. So why won't mainstream radio and TV stations help the music industry like they did in the 90's? Well, since there is no demand from the public for new artists, they can't afford to play new artists. What can be done?

It is imperative for people to become more aware of the consequences that getting music for free has and not attending concerts have on the entire music industry. The artists who are looking for a break need to apply the old school philosophy of getting on the road and playing anywhere they can, specially when labels are looking for a band that will bring in revenue from the get go. The fans need to buy music and merchandise, and also attend concerts. Otherwise, the big labels will have to shut down and the concert tickets will get more expensive since there will be less bands around. And with the economic crisis in effect, then the labels will have to drop bands or simply shut down. It is a domino effect and it is killing the music industry. And really hurting the underground Heavy Music scene.

Related links:
Billboard Charts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

David Ellefson: The Megabassist of the Megaband

David Ellefson can be considered one of the old stagers of heavy music. He was in the front row of that small, but fierce and tight-knit army, which forged thrash metal. These guys have gone through a lot of things: P.M.R.C., “demetalling” of youth, the grunge-burst in the 90’s, and the enmity from the music press and critics. Back then they had no idea that three decades later the whole world would know their songs and massive crowds of people would fill stadiums just to see their idols perform.

Thrash metal doesn’t stand any sissies and only the strong survive. Many failed while fighting their own demons, but David found his way out of the darkness. You can’t help admiring the fact that so many years later this man is still in full vigor and at the pinnacle of his creativity.

Megadeth visited Finland on the 4th of July (US Independence Day) to headline Tuska Festival 2010 in Helsinki. We got to meet David and talk to him about various matters regarding the band and the state of the metal scene. The discussion could have been endless, but there was not much time left before Megadeth had to go on stage, so we tried to make the most out of it.

When we last met, you told me that you came to Finland for the first time with Megadeth in 1988. That’s exactly 22 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. You left Megadeth and came back. How did you change over this time?

David: In a lot of ways. I was in a band from such a young age. I was 18 when I moved to L.A., met Dave [Mustaine] and we started Megadeth. So I was inside the confines of our own creation for so many years. It was fun to step outside and do a lot of other things musically: I went to college and got a degree, I did some work for Peavey, so I got to do a lot of other things. Of course, I am married, I have kids. All that stuff helped me develop a lot of sides of my life that I would’ve never done had I just only been playing inside a rock and roll band.

When Megadeth disbanded and you didn’t come back after the band got active again, did you feel in a way that you were at a loss, because you wouldn’t be able to participate in something as big as Megadeth anymore?

David: I had offers to go touring with some pretty big bands, but I didn’t take those offers. Because I thought that if there was ever a time in my life to just step out and really be an artist and be creative, it was then. That was the time, right after Megadeth. Because at that time the band was over, it was gone. I was happy doing what I was doing. I think that when Dave put the band back together, initially he really was thinking of doing a solo record which then ultimately became a Megadeth record. Personally I would’ve encouraged him to do a solo record, because it would’ve been a good plan to do something that wasn’t under the Megadeth name. So I think that “Risk” album would’ve been a great Dave Mustaine solo record. Because as soon as you put Megadeth on it, people expect it to sound different, but there are some great songs on it. Dave wrote some amazing material on that record. You can also do things without having to leave the band. That’s something that maybe we’ve figured out now through all of this. You can creatively take some liberty to do some things, because they ultimately make you stronger when you come back to your band.

When you left the band, did you actually know that there will come a day when you will be back?

David: I did. I knew there would be a day. And I don’t mean that to sound pompous that you can always come back, but I took the chance to do what I had to do. There was a chance that Megadeth will be fine without me and that might never happen again. But at the same time it was cool to create new music, play with new people and do something like Hail! We didn’t create anything new, but it was fun – all professional level guys basically being a garage band again.

Did you think that after everything that has been said and done during the time of your feud with Dave, you would be able to go on as if nothing happened? Had these old wounds left any scars?

David: We actually talked about it years ago. Back in the time we used to get together for dinner, and I told him that if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve done it. I would’ve driven over to his house, knocked on his door, you know, yell, beat each other, just to go through it (laughs). Dave and I certainly had our disagreements over the years, but that was like a fight we never had. So to a certain degree, yeah, you have these things and then you have to work it all out, move on and let go. We forgave each other for what happened and there is no point in coming back to it. The past is in the past, you can’t change it, you can’t fix it, you can only create the new future. So let’s go create the new future.

What was the thing you missed the most when you were not a part of Megadeth?

David: I missed a lot, just having Dave playing. I’ve played with a lot of really good musicians: guys in F5, I did the Temple of Brutality record. But there is something about how he plays that I missed, there’s a very original spark and charisma when it comes to his playing. While a lot of other musicians I’ve played with are great players, they just didn’t have some of the charisma that he has that pours out through the music. And I’ve missed that about how he played.

What do you think about the Megadeth albums that you didn’t participate in?

David: They sounded to me like Dave Mustaine solo records, and I say that because he was the only original guy with three other people. And it’s not the same, what they did not have the characteristics of Megadeth. Because Dave was singing and playing and writing, to some degree 50% of it was Dave Mustaine. But I’d say that on “Endgame” there are parts that sound like most of the Megadeth records, because there’s heaviness. I think Andy Sneap was the producer, he fundamentally understands how to get Megadeth sound right and he worked really well with the band to bring that out. There are some things on “The System Has Failed” that had a couple of pretty cool Megadeth tracks. And then there were moments where I really felt that Dave was trying to break out and do some of his own stuff, which again, I would always encourage him to do on a solo record. I think it would be good for him. He would enjoy it without having to do it within the confines of Megadeth. To some degree as big as Megadeth is, there are restrictions on it. It has to sound a certain way, otherwise the fans will be pissed.

When Megadeth was still a young and not a famous band, were you ever oppressed by bigger bands?

David: Oh yeah. Especially when touring with other bands. I remember, years ago we did a lot of stuff with Iron Maiden. The band was always very good to us, but at the same time it was their show, clearly. We were just kind of a young up and comer. So we had our little 45 minutes of play and then just got off the stage and it was an Iron Maiden show. Probably one of the more difficult experiences we had years ago was with Motörhead on the Orgasmatron tour. We brought on “Peace Sells…” We just got signed with Capitol Records; it was our first big tour, not arena level, but 5000 seat venues – pretty big. They [Motörhead] had this drum set which had a train track that would come out. As a result there was nowhere for us to set our gear up, so we had to set up our drums offside. It made the set look sucky. I remember there was a big disagreement over that. It’s funny, because we’re friends with Motörhead now; we’ve played together a lot. We can only laugh about that now, but at that time, yeah… They were the headliners (laughs). Anyways, we’ve worked some things over the years about how we want our show to be. But not to the point that we ever wanted to infringe upon these bands that open for us, because we know what it’s like to be in that position. So I’d like to think that we’ve been good stewards of our stage for other bands that play before us.

So what can you say about the fact that Megadeth won’t play on the same stage as anti-Christian bands?

David: I wasn’t in the band when that whole thing happened. But, you know, sometimes you’ve got to stand up for stuff. Dave and I are both Christians now. If there were ever two people in rock and roll who walked on the dark side, it was us. So to come out of that and to proclaim a faith in something good is, I think, a good thing. I was born and raised as a Lutheran kid, which, I think, most Scandinavians are, nothing fanatical, nothing crazy. So for me, coming out of the dark side of drinking and partying and everything that I did which almost killed me – coming out of that to come back to the mainstream and get kind of in the middle of the road with a family and being healthy... If anybody sees that as a bad thing – that is not good. You don’t have to be goody two-shoes, but you also don’t have to lead people down the bad road. I think at one point Dave said that he is not going to play with bands that are doing this kind of stuff, because it goes directly in violation to his beliefs. He is pretty lenient about most stuff, but in that particular situation he said “No, that’s not ok”. So we learned that you have to respect the headliners, you have to have respect for the people on whose stage you technically are. And on that particular day you’ll have to be respectful, if you’re not… (claps his hands)

You are David Ellefson of Megadeth, it’s basically a part of your name right now. So how does David Ellefson in Megadeth differ from David Ellefson outside the band: a husband, a father, a businessman?

David: I’m pretty much the same guy. When you walk on the stage, you’ve got your game face on just like anywhere else: on a soccer field or a basketball court, you’re going to have your game face on, you’re focused. But personality-wise I’m pretty much the same guy. I try to have one set of principles that applies to everything that I do. Honestly, my goal is to try and be the same guy I am on and off the stage, because that is a big part of what Megadeth is about. Megadeth is not a theatrical act, where we would paint our faces or wear masks, or we do one thing on stage and then we come off and do the opposite. The guy who was great at that is Alice Cooper. He was also pretty open about his Christian faith, got saved after all the alcohol and drugs lifestyle he led at one point years ago. He is able to go on stage and be this character named Alice, the evil villain. Then come off stage, wipe the makeup off and go play golf, hang out with his wife and kids and be a stand up family guy. We’ve been on tour with him many years ago and he has been a very good mentor, a role model of how to do show business: to be in showbiz, but not of showbiz.

Are you planning to return to Hail!?

David: Yeah, I’d like to. Of course it’s really hard to find some time off now. But yeah, that’s a fun band and as I was one of the founding members, I really hope there will be some time for me to go back to play with Hail!

Many of the old bands are still popular - that’s why the recent Big Four shows were so successful. People tend to cling to things like that, as there is still no worthy replacement. There wasn’t a single band to appear in the new millennium which would’ve had the potential of being out there for decades and generations ahead. Is there any hope for metal music in the future?

David: The thing is that you have to be original and you have to innovate. Without innovation there is no future.

Yeah, but people have already come up with everything possible by now.

David: I think they might start cutting two or three strings off their guitars and see what happens. We got up to 7 strings, now we should go the other way.
So what do you listen to these days? If you listen to music at all.
David: Yeah, that’s the thing. I don’t listen to music, especially right now, because everything’s been so intense with the Megadeth tour. Most of the stuff I’ve been listening to is Megadeth music, just kind of staying up on that. Actually I recently bought Rush “Hemispheres” album. Very old one, so I bought it on ITunes.

Do you think that a certain geographical location can have an impact on the music created there? For example, Seattle will always be associated with grunge, Los Angeles with glam, San Francisco Bay Area with thrash, etc.

David: Absolutely. There’s a spirit that occurs in certain areas. Getting back to the question of what would be the future of music, it would probably be culturally driven rather than musically driven.

Megadeth came out from L.A., which was a glam sanctuary at that time. Spandex, glitter and make-up were the law. How did you end up being so different?

David: Dave met Metallica’s James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] in L.A. They quickly saw there was a scene in San Francisco and relocated there. They went where they saw the scene being planted and then ironically became the driving force of that scene. So with Megadeth Dave was like “Fuck L.A.! We’re not playing in L.A.! ” And thank god we didn’t. We would take the long drives to San Francisco and play there. It was so much better for Megadeth; they really loved us up there. The San Francisco scene produced the Grateful Dead, years later it produced Montrose which was Sammy Hagar’s [Van Halen’s second vocalist] first band, and then years later thrash metal. There have been full generational scenes coming out of San Francisco. There must be something in the water up there.

Back in the days there was kind of a competition among thrash metal bands - who is the fastest. So who is the fastest now?

David: Exodus are fast. Kerry King [Slayer guitarist] would always say that Tom Hunting from Exodus is the fastest drummer. He had probably tells Dave Lombardo [Slayer drummer] all the time: “Dude, Hunting’s faster, we got to be the fastest!” So Kerry wants to be the fastest. Maybe Slayer might have some of the faster breaks, faster parts of the show. I don’t know if it makes them the fastest. Exodus are still probably one of the fastest.

Nowadays the image of a band is more important than the music the band makes. Back in the old days people used to care if the band actually rocked. Do you think this would affect further development of metal music? Whether it will deteriorate in quality as the image is preferred over the music?

David: Music is about a lot more than just the notes, it’s about a lifestyle. I remember watching Korn, when they came out, and we took them on their first big tour. Their whole look, their style and their hair, they sang songs for an entire generation that related to it. So it’s about a lot more than just the music. It’s about identifying when you go to see the band play. It’s more about the scene and a movement now, rather then it was in the old days when I was going to see Kiss, Rush or Van Halen. They were all different bands, but there weren’t 8 other bands just like them to be a part of the scene. That kind of started with thrash metal. It started with the Big Four and then Overkill and Exodus. There was a bunch of us that started a scene and we all moved as a big tribe. And since then there were Guns N’ Roses, there was a bunch of McCoys and their glam bands, punk bands: Sum 41, Blink 182, Green Day – they’re all a part of the scene.

You’re a legendary bass-player, basically an icon. Are there any secrets or magical tricks that you would share with a beginner?

David: You’ve got to practice – number one. It doesn’t just happen. A lot of people, who want to be rock stars, have no idea how to go on being a successful rock musician – big difference. A lot of people who go to work every day wish they could be rock stars. Then they never have to work again and they can have all the champagne and all the girls that they ever wanted. Who wouldn’t want that, right? That’s the figure of being a rock star that people want. But a lot of people either won’t know how to go on about it or are not disciplined enough, or they are just too lazy to go and get it. Being successful is about a lot more than just learning the parts; it’s about a lot more than the notes. And I think the people who figure that out, are the ones who actually get to have some success.

What would you consider to be the absolute highlight of the whole Megadeth history?
David: I think we’re living it right now.

Shortly after the interview Megadeth went on stage and proved by action why its greatness is indisputable. It is the blood and flesh of thrash metal. It is timeless.

Interview by: Tanja Caciur of Music Photocalypse
Photography by: Jana Blomqvist of Music Photocalypse

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Colombian Independence Day # 200

Today marks the 200th Independence Day of Colombia. Since Jo Schüftan was born and raised in Colombia, he decided to pay tribute to Colombia by telling you his personal story about growing up in Colombia in the 80's and the 90's. As many of you know, Colombia has gone through some really hard times because of the never-ending armed conflict between the government and the rebels. This unfortunately changes the image that people have about Colombians in general. Many ignorant people think that all Colombians do drugs or that all Colombians are criminals. What many keep ignoring are the hard working Colombians like Jo, who keep the name and the image of their country high up in the air.

Colombia is a country with a population of over 45 million people, and there are millions of Colombians living outside of the country. Many like Jo, decided to leave because of the armed conflict that exploded in the mid 90's. Around that time people were living in constant fear, bombs were exploding on a weekly basis and the news was always bad. When Jo was only 7 years old, his best friends father was shot at point blank and even though he survived, the family was forced to leave the country the next day. As a result Jo never got to see his friend again.

One of the scariest things that Jo experienced was when a bomb exploded feet away from his families home in Bogota. Thankfully nobody got hurt. Another episode Jo experienced was when the guerrilla took over a nearby town, and Army tanks started taking over the streets. You could here the exchange of fire in the distance and you could see flashes in the sky.

What caused the most impact on Jo, was when soccer player Andres Escobar was shot dead in Medellin. As many of you know, Andres Escobar scored an own goal when Colombia played against the US team in the 1994 World Cup. That goal meant that Colombia, who was the tournament's favorite, had to pack their bags and return to Colombia. What many people don't know, is that before the game the coach received a death threat against the entire team.

Once Escobar returned to Medellin to face the press, he decided to go out with some friends and clear his mind. Towards the end of the night, as he is getting ready to leave, he started getting harassed by some angry fans. Andres responded by standing up for himself and trying to reason with those people. As soon as he got in his car, they shot him 6 times in the chest. Colombian soccer would never be the same. The next morning Jo's father gave him the sad news, and Jo was devastated. Andres Escobar to this day is Jo's favorite soccer player.

Today, Colombia offers more opportunities than ever before. And ever since the government eliminated narco giants such as Pablo Escobar, the armed conflict has decreased notoriously. While there are still violent episodes, life is a lot more predictable in Colombia. Add that to the amazing culture, the food, the 3 oceans, all the weather types, the beautiful people, and you get heaven within one corner of the world. As Anthony Bourdain said on his TV show called "No Reservations": "Colombia, many times you have to travel to a place that you are not that thrilled to visit, but then get surprised with the warmth of a culture that is on the rise. This is a place that is unforgettable and you end up not wanting to leave."

Here is Jo Schüftan telling you about his life as a Colombian (Explicit Language):

Music Photocalypse

It gives Horns Up Rocks great pleasure to welcome Music Photocalypse to our family! One of the most important concepts behind Horns Up Rocks is to educate our users about the arts, through high quality entertainment.

Since we want to share with our North American audience the stellar musical movement that breaths in Europe, we decided to partner up with Music Photocalypse. Music Photocalypse covers all the big festivals in Europe, and they are famous for their crisp pictures, flawless interviews and solid articles.

We look forward to working with Music Photocalypse and together bridge the gap between the arts scene in North America and Europe. Make sure you check their great work out!