Category Archives: Music Fans
Kenny Aronoff, author of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!, sat down with the Indy Star to discuss his book including his time during the John Mellencamp era. Check out an excerpt of the interview below.
In his new autobiography, Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!, Kenny Aronoff pulls back the curtain on the dangers of being a Hoosier rock star in the 1980s.
Aronoff writes about the time John Mellencamp survived a motorcycle crash one week before the recording of breakthrough album “American Fool.” Toby Myers, who played bass in Mellencamp’s band from 1982 to 1998, lost a toe in a boating accident during an East Coast tour. In an episode that parallels music movie “Almost Famous,” the entire Mellencamp entourage could have died when a charter plane lost power between Miami and Biloxi, Miss.
And everyone in the band was required to participate in a fall pastime known as the Mellencamp Football League. No pads, full contact, highly competitive.
But there’s more than misadventure detailed in “Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which arrived in bookstores Nov. 15. Aronoff, the drummer in Mellencamp’s band from 1980 to 1996, mostly writes about an unyielding mission to succeed.
“We weren’t the best rock ’n’ roll band in the world,” Aronoff said in a phone interview. “We made ourselves great by hard work.”
Mellencamp, who sold 16 million albums from 1982 to 1987, maintained regular rehearsal hours for the musicians: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., interrupted by a 5-7 p.m. break, five days a week when the band wasn’t on tour.
Before the Seymour native renovated a Brown County house into Belmont Mall studio, Mellencamp worked at “The Bunker,” a cramped, concrete room in rural Bloomington that once was a dog kennel.
Those were days, Aronoff said, when the musicians grasped for the secret of making hit records. They took a field trip to catch a date of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” tour. They studied Tom Petty’s “Damn the Torpedoes” album for tips on arranging songs.
Mellencamp, known then as John Cougar, had written a song called “Jack & Diane.” It wasn’t working, however, as anything other than a stripped-down solo acoustic tune.
“We knew it was a cool song, but we didn’t know what to do with it,” Aronoff said.
John Mellencamp, center, points his American Music Award at guitarist Larry Crane after collecting an American Music Award in 1983. Drummer Kenny Aronoff, author of 2016 book “Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll,” is seen at right. Bass player Toby Myers is second from left, and guitarist Mike Wanchic is to the left of Aronoff.
Working at Miami’s Criteria Studios with producer Don Gehman, the Mellencamp crew heard the Bee Gees experimenting with an early drum machine, the Linn LM-1 Drum Computer, in a nearby room.
Aronoff said Gehman borrowed the Linn “out of desperation” for a potential fix for “Jack & Diane.”
“I was insulted,” Aronoff said. “I grabbed the thing out of anger and said, ‘At least I want to have control over this thing.’ ”
Aronoff programmed the hand-clap beat heard during the first half of the song, and he added the distinctive midsong solo on conventional drums. “Jack & Diane” reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart in October 1982.
Click HERE to read the entire interview.
Kenny Aronoff, one of Rolling Stones’, ‘Top 100 Drummers of All Time,’ can now add author to his repertoire with the release of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll! In the whirlwind of press surrounding this release, he sat down with Tim Barnicle and Harry Hill of the ‘How I Got Here’ podcast. The trio discussed Aronoff’s early years, career, and new venture as an author and speaker. Take a listen below.
Playing felt good spiritually, emotionally, physically; every which way….It was just an organic thing. I was just naturally drawn to the energy of the drums.
Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll!, with a foreword by Rush drummer Neil Peart, and researched and developed with Jake Brown, takes readers on Aronoff’s amazing journey from the small New England town where he watched the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 to performing alongside Paul and Ringo on a television special 50 years later. Along the way it chronicles an uncommon career in which the excesses of the rock ’n’ roll life are always tempered by his core personal and professional values.
The interview took listeners on a journey of what to expect in the book from his love for the Beatles to his early career of playing in a bar at the age of 13 with his twin brother. He’s one of the hardest workers for a reason having explained how he worked endlessly to reach his goals. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about fame. It was about accomplishing not only what he set out to do, but ultimately staking his claim in rock & roll and beyond.
I spread myself al over the map my entire career and I got teased for it. Classical people teased me about playing rock. The rock people teased me about played classical….That means I am different and I will pledge to follow my own beat, my own muse, my own thing.
“Staying the course” has never been enough for Aronoff, who has consistently embraced his own uniqueness while charting his life’s path. This has included taking his music career into every genre imaginable and branching beyond the stage and studio to build a second career as a business speaker.
Writing the book took four years and then what came of it was a speaking career that I’m really pushing….It’s really an inspirational evening with Kenny Aronoff where you’re entertained, but I’m talking about how to be successful and stay successful.
In Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll!, Aronoff paints the portrait of an artist, instructor, and businessman who never followed the norm, always followed his heart, and never settled for anything short of excellence.
There’s definitely a little bit of fear in me. I told my mom when I was 11 I was going to do this for the rest of my life. Now that I’m 63, I’m still saying I’m going to do this for the rest of my life. I want that choice.
Maynard James Keenan along with Sarah Jensen took a moment with Mark Rotella of Publisher’s Weekly to discuss their joint effort and latest Backbeat Books release, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, for the PW LitCast. The PW LitCast are conversations between Publisher’s Weekly editors and authors of new fiction and nonfiction books. Take a listen below.
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents the outtakes, the scenes of disappointment and triumph, and the events that led him to take one step after the next, to change direction, to explore sometimes surprising opportunities.
The interview covered an array of topics including: how the book came to be, the relationship between Maynard and Sarah, the writing process, hesitations, Maynard’s wine venture, and more.
Maynard had contemplated writing a biography 7 years ago, but he put the idea on the back burner because it just didn’t feel right. The point of biography is to inspire readers, not air dirty laundry.
Most journalists are very sensationalists. They’ll try to latch on to the things that are gonna, you know, be click bait; gain headlines. Just kind of further their own career rather than tell a story.
-Maynard James Keenan
Included throughout are passages in Keenan’s own words, often humorous anecdotes that illuminate the narrative. There is also commentary by his family members, friends, instructors, and industry colleagues. The book also features a foreword by Alex Grey, an American visionary artist and longtime friend of Keenan, who has designed Tool’s album and stage art.
As for Maynard’s relationship with Sarah? The two have known each other for over 30 years as Maynard was best friends with her younger brother back in high school. He ended up asking her to write the biography one night at dinner as they were catching up.
If you know Maynard My initial reaction was total shock because were talking about a whole bunch of other things… It felt like everything I had ever done in my life had led to that moment. All the writing I had done. Everything I had learned about publishing. It just was like, okay, here we go.
The writing was so organic between them as they understood each other. The two were able to bond over the fact they both enjoyed storytelling and this interview gave further insight to that.
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents Maynard James Keenan’s story as a metaphor for the reader’s own evolution and an encouragement to follow our dreams, hold fast to individual integrity, and work ceaselessly to fulfill our creative potential.
Musician and poet, Leonard Cohen, has died at age 82. In celebration of his 80th birthday back in 2014, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows by Harvey Kubernick was published. The book is a celebration of the life, music, and poetry of the unique artist and music legend. Kubernick sat down with Talk Radio Europe when the book was released to discuss the book and life of Cohen. Take a listen below.
Cohen arrived at the 1960s pop-music party fashionably late, releasing his debut album – Songs of Leonard Cohen – in 1967. At the age of 33, he was the adult in the room, a room brimming, then as now, with literary pretension and artistic self-importance. But Cohen, already established as a respected poet and novelist, was the real deal. In the decades since, he has battled with drugs, love, and bankruptcy; become a Buddhist monk while simultaneously reaffirming his Jewish faith; and recorded 11 more albums of unfailingly affecting beauty.
The interview with Talk Radio Europe discussed the evolution and mastermind of Leonard Cohen. From his song ‘Suzanne’ to the infamous ‘Hallelujah,’ Harvey Kubernik gave Talk Radio Europe listeners a snapshot into it all. In addition to the art of Cohen, Kubernick discussed their countless encounters providing further insight into Cohen’s personality and legacy.
I think the songs continue because they can be done by rock bands and they can be done instrumentally. They can be done by female and male vocalists. I think almost superseding the legacy of music. I know things started on the printed page and he started as a writer, but I also know people that buy Hallelujah, or see it, or want to sing along with it; not all of them in the audience have Leonard’s books or anthologies. So there’s something about what he’s offering on stage.
With an insider’s knowledge, author Harvey Kubernik reviews Cohen’s unique achievements, beginning as a young poet in Montreal through his 2012 album, Old Ideas, and his acclaimed worldwide concert tour. Illustrated with 200 rare photographs and items of memorabilia and featuring the recollections and comments of those who have worked with him and are close to him.
The man. The music. The poet. The visionary.
Michael Jackson a name that will cemented in history forever. Kit O’Toole, author of Michael Jackson FAQ,sat down with Steve Ludwig of Classic Pop Culture to discuss the book in addition to how Michael revolutionized modern music and pop culture.
Michael Jackson FAQ takes a fresh look at Jackson’s four-decade career, covering his work in three acts – the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, and his solo years. Along the way, O’Toole reveals details such as Michael’s earliest musical influences; the Jackson 5’s start on the Steeltown label; the key players truly involved in the group’s discovery; Michael’s transformation in to a prolific songwriter; his explorations of genres, from soul to disco to pop and hip hop; the tours, videos, and notable television appearances; his best-selling albums (Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous); outtakes and obscure tracks; and more.
The purpose of this book was not to focus on the controversy surrounding Michael or even his life, this was to focus on him as an artist. Kit explained that so many books has been written about those topics, but she wanted to stress his contribution to music and pop culture instead.
He did so many thing and revolutionized music video. He made an impact opening doors for a lot of African-American artists.
The interview continued with O’Toole sharing 10 songs from Michael’s solo and years with the Jacksons going more in depth with a few sharing the art of the songs from his vocals to the writing and collaborations. Steve Ludwig went through each of the 41 chapters pin pointing a few here and there for further discussion. This interview zoned in on the art and musical genius of Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson FAQ also takes a long look at Michael’s work in films (The Wiz, Captain EO); his guest vocal appearances; and his collaborations with such music makers as Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Diana Ross.
The interview touched on Michael’s relationship with his brother, Jermaine, in reference to the chapter ‘Whenever You Need Me I’ll Be There: The Unique Singing Chemistry of Michael and Jermaine Jackson.’ O’Toole also discussed Michael’s friendships with Queen’s Freddie Mercury and producer/songwriter, Rod Temperton. The friendships that Michael Jackson created in the industry was displayed in his music as he was the pioneer of fusing Rock, R&B, and Pop.
Most importantly, Michael Jackson FAQ celebrates Michael’s legacy – his influence on countless artists from New Edition to Justin Timberlake, as well as his widespread impact on artistry across many media, from music to choreography to videography to fashion.
That’s what I hope that people walk away with is renewed appreciation of what he did, what he left us, and how his legacy is enduring.
Authors of The Bass Book: A Complete Illustrated History, Tony Bacon and Barry Moorhouse, sat down for a live Skype interview with Raul Amador of Bass Musician Magazine. Bass Musician Magazine is a free online bass magazine speaking directly to tech-savvy bass players, gear enthusiasts and industry professionals around the world.
This revised and refreshed third edition of The Bass Book offers all there is to know about the story of the bass guitar in one stylish and up-to-date volume.
The interview covered the idea behind the book and the evolution of the bass. There was discussion of the instrument once being the headliner, but recently has faded to the back becoming more of a footnote. There’s a lot of innovation in the bass from the design to how many strings. What doe the future hold for the bass?
The bass guitar is a very seductive instrument, but used properly it can change the course of a piece of music.
The Bass Book is the first to study its story, with the full low-down of the most important bass players and bass makers. Brands featured in the book include Alembic, Danelectro, Epiphone, Fender, Fodera, Gibson, Hofner, Ibanez, Lakland, Line 6, Music Man, Peavey, Rickenbacker, Sadowsky, Spector, Squier, Steinberger, Warwick, and Yamaha. The lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums that would define pop music found its heart with the Fender bass. The bass guitar provided the solid foundation upon which much modern music is still built.
As Raul suggested in wrapping up this interview, for someone that is into the instrument, this book is great reference on the history.
Tony Bacon writes about musical instruments, musicians, and music. He is a co-founder of Backbeat UK and Jawbone Press. Tony’s books include The Ibanez Electric Guitar Book, The Ultimate Guitar Book, History Of The American Guitar, and many others. He lives in Bristol, England.
Barry Moorhouse founded the Bass Center, his specialist bass-guitar retail and distribution operation, in London in 1984. Now in its fourth decade, it continues as a worldwide operation. Through his associate company House Music, Moorhouse represents Brian May guitars in partnership with the Queen legend.
AC/DC FAQ author Susan Masino shared her account of her three decade friendship with the band on The Slacker Morning Show (101 The Fox, Kansas City) listeners. With AC/DC playing in the background, this fast paced interview took listeners along with Susan on a stroll down memory lane. Take a listen below.
AC/DC FAQ captures that danger and that insanity. Rock journalist and author Susan Masino spans AC/DC’s 40-year career, starting from the band’s inception in 1973 and covering everything from their earliest days in Australia to their first tour of England and the United States. It also includes personal experiences, stories, conversations, and interviews by Masino, who has known the band since 1977.
Susan Masino was one of the first American journalist to interview AC/DC during their first U.S. Tour. She met them before their stardom when they were playing in clubs. She watched their evolution and transformation in rock music as they moved up the ranks eventually opening for KISS and Aerosmith.
Featuring 37 chapters, AC/DC FAQ chronicles the personal history of each of the band members, all their albums, tours, and various anecdotes. Rebounding from the tragic loss of their singer Bon Scott in 1980, AC/DC hired Brian Johnson and went on to record Back in Black, which is now one of the top five biggest-selling albums in music history.
“It was a horrible tragedy for the band. It’s just an amazing rock and roll miracle that they found Bryan Johnson, continued the recording of Back in Black, and as they say the rest is history.
Taking a seven-year break after their album Stiff Upper Lip, the band came back in the fall of 2008 with a new album, Black Ice, and a tour that ran from 2008 through the summer of 2010. Once again breaking records, AC/DC saw the Black Ice Tour become the second-highest-grossing tour in history.
Susan Masino has been a rock journalist for more than 30 years and has written six books, including Family Tradition: Three Generations of Hank Williams, published by Backbeat Books, and The Story of AC/DC: Let There Be Rock, which has now been published in 11 languages. She also appears in the Van Halen DVD The Early Years and the movie AC/DC: Let There Be Rock.
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and the muse behind Dave Thompson’s, Roger Waters:The Man Behind the Wall, will be hitting the road in Spring 2017 for a solo tour. This is perfect timing with the paperback release of Thompson’s book in the Spring
To some, Roger Waters is the face behind classic Pink Floyd. To others, he is the temperament behind some of the greatest albums of the rock era. And to others still, he is one of the most original songwriters of a generation that overflows with notable talent. To all, he is an enigma: a rock star who not only eschewed stardom but also spent much of his career railing against it.
Roger’s tour, Us + Them, was named after one of the songs he wrote for Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon. The 40+ date tour will kick off in Kansas City on May 26th and wrap up in Vancouver on October 28th.
“We are going to take a new show on the road, the content is very secret,” Waters says. “It’ll be a mixture of stuff from my long career, stuff from my years with Pink Floyd, some new things. Probably 75 percent of it will be old material and 25 percent will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme. It will be a cool show, I promise you. It’ll be spectacular like all my shows have been.”
Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall traces Waters’ life from war-torn suburbia to the multitude of wars he has fought since then – with his bandmates, with his audience, and most of all with himself. Packed with insight and exclusive interviews with friends and associates, Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall dismantles the wall brick by brick, revealing the man who built it in all his glory.
Just in time for the tour the book will be rereleased in paperback. Tickets for the tour are now available for presale.
Norman Harris, co-author of Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer, sat down with Music Connection to discuss his latest book and adventures. Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer is an intriguing memoir from a man who has spent a lifetime getting extraordinary instruments into the hands of extraordinary artists.
The thrill never goes away. There’s always something, a rare custom guitar or a hard-to-find model, that still excites me.
Why write a book?
Well, I published a book about 10 years ago, Norman’s Rare Guitars, but it was a picture book. I could have included stories, but I didn’t think anyone cared. Then I discovered that people liked to hear the stories and even asked about them. So, I decided to tell my story and the stories behind the guitars.
You came to Los Angeles to be a musician.
Little Richard brought my band out here and we were signed to a small deal. Plan A was to become a professional musician. Plan B was selling guitars for extra money. Although I did well as a player, Plan B took off and became Plan A.
You got a shout-out in the movie This is Spinal Tap. How did that happen?
Christopher Guest (who played Nigel) is a regular customer. He told me about the film and wanted to use the store in a few scenes. He also wore one of my T-shirts in the movie. I watched them shoot and it was total fun.
Do you get involved with a lot of films?
It never occurred to me to do that, but then I was asked to and it was great PR and brought in additional income. The first film I did was Bound for Glory. David Carradine (who played Woody Guthrie) wanted a period correct guitar. Now, I supply guitars and accessories for films and videos whenever needed.
Why aren’t you located in Hollywood where all the action is?
I didn’t want to be in the middle of all the craziness. Besides, the store is close to my house and it’s a place where professional musicians, rock stars and celebrities can browse without being bothered by paparazzi.
In your book you describe guitars, ones that you had never seen, in exquisite detail. How did you acquire that knowledge years before the Internet?
A lot of it was word-of-mouth. I established friendships with old players and picked their brains. I also nurtured relationships with people who worked at guitar companies. I just talked, listened and learned.
Read the rest of the interview here.
Maynard James Keenan, co-author of A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss his upcoming biography. The interview covered Keenan’s Army days, his Joni Mitchell obsession, his fateful encounter with early Tool adopter Johnny Depp, what Green Jellö taught him and much more during an in-depth chat.
Did you watch last night’s debate
No, I didn’t. I just don’t know what the point would be – 2016 sucks, in general. Loss of life, family members, artists, professionals. It’s a strange fucking year.
Agreed. So Trump is getting you down?
No, just the polarizing of people in general. And the bipartisan politics. It’s divisive. There’s so many things on the horizon; there’s so many things happening in the universe in general and in our nation and just in people … that I just feel like all this is a divisive distraction.
Moving on to the book, it seems like this is your attempt to say, “OK, there’s this thing that everyone knows me best for doing, but there’s all this other stuff that’s gone on in my life that carries just as much weight in terms of my overall story.” Were you trying to reclaim your narrative in a way?
Not necessarily. I’m just trying to tell a story and just show that there’s a process that I feel like has been lost. Just kind of trusting that inner voice and making decisions that bring you places. There’s also an overall broad stroke of kind of getting back to what matters. That connection, where you are and how you relate to that environment and your community. I feel like that shit’s a really important message for now.
I feel like there have been conscious and unconscious decisions throughout the years that I’ve made. And if there’s any kind of benefit to those, if I can actually map some of those out. … I’m no Deepak Chopra; I’m not Tony Robbins by any stretch. But I have seen a few things in my day, and if I can just kind of map some of them out and then have somebody else tell that story in their voice like a third party, maybe I can recognize some of those milestones. Or maybe somebody who’s in a weird place can recognize them and use them to kind of move forward.
As the book depicts, you’ve been involved in, and excelled at, an amazing number of things. Obviously the military was a key one. The book suggests that seeing the movie Stripes influenced you to join – is that really how it went down?
Does that sound like a better story than, “I just needed the money?” ‘Cause again, at the end of the day I’m an entertainer so I’m gonna tell you the story that sounds a little bit more entertaining. If that inspires you, that’s great. Was Stripes part of that decision? Absolutely. Was it the only part of that decision? Probably not. It’s not in my nature to just map it out for you.
It seems like for the time you were there, despite needing the money, you were obviously invested in it. I remember seeing a speech you gave at a show where you said you’d gotten some flak over expressing what some had perceived as pro-military sentiment. Is there a specific message you’re trying to send in this book regarding your feelings about the military in general?
Not necessarily. I feel like from an artist perspective there is that warrior’s perspective and I feel like that’s in each one of us. And if you can embrace it in some way and understand … even in terms of martial arts, when you step into that ring, on that mat, you have to kind of embrace that warrior side of you. You’re competing against yourself more than you’re actually competing against your opponent across from you.
Of course, you know the big pick-up we usually see when it comes to military is of course the entire globalization and our invasion of other areas for our own interests. That’s not really what I embraced about the military. What I embraced about the military is that that warrior’s mindset that you’re competing against yourself and just understanding that you have to be able to get into that mindset in certain situations. But at the end of the day, you’re competing against yourself.