The Ramones: ‘Four’ Fathers of Punk...

Of the countless genres in music, no group of genres may be as well respected and loved world-wide than those that fall over the broad umbrella of rock-n-roll.  Of the genres that belong to rock-n-roll, and beyond, few genres are as big as punk.  Throughout the years punk rock has giving the world memorable songs my memorable musicians: Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Green Day, MC5, Pennywise, and Rancid.  All of the aforementioned bands have carved their musical niches in many subgenres ranging from garage to hardcore to psychobilly and more; but they all fall under the parent category of punk.  So, you may ask, who is considered the fathers of punk?  Unlike many other genres in music, the answer to this question is clear.  The fathers of punk or none other than the legendary Queens, NY group The Ramones. John Cummings and Thomas Erdelyi, who had both been in a garage band from 1966-1967 while attending Forest Hills High School in Queens, New York City, NY, met and became friends with Douglas Colvin, recently moved from Germany, and Jeffry Hyman. When Cummings and Colvin requested Hyman to join a band with the in 1974 The Ramones began to take shape.  The initial lineup featured Colvin on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Cummings on lead guitar, and Hyman on drums. Colvin soon switched from rhythm guitar to bass.  Inspired by Paul McCartney’s pseudonym of Paul Ramon during his Silver Beatles days, Colvin was the first to adopt the name “Ramone”, calling himself Dee Dee Ramone.  Dee Dee convinced the other members to take on the name and came up with the idea of calling the band the Ramones. Hyman and Cummings became Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone, respectively. Dee Dee soon...

System of a Down: Armenian Metal Proprietors...

One thing about popular music is that it is catchy.  The messages are often simple and fun.  The music more of the bubble gum variety rather than metal.  And pop music rarely, if ever, contains politically charged and controversial lyrical content and ideas.  Pop music almost always is settled into well defined genres as well.  Justin Bieber is undoubtedly R&B.  Lil’ Wayne is squarely rap/hip-hop.  Nickleback is assuredly alternative rock.  Shania Twain is unmistakably country.  But there are always exceptions to every rule.  System of a Down is the exception to these rules. They dated their roots back to 1992 in a band called Soil, which featured Serj Tankian on vocals and keyboards, Daron Malakian on vocals and guitar, Dave Hakopyan (who later played in The Apex Theory/Mt. Helium) on bass and Domingo “Dingo” Laranio on drums.  Soil hired Shavo Odajian to be there manager and he eventually joined the band as a rhythm guitarist.   In 1994, after only one live show, and one jam session recording, Hakopyan and Laranio left the band, feeling that it was not going anywhere. After Soil, Malakin, Tankian and Odajian formed System of a Down (a.k.a. SOAD or simply System).  Odajian switched from guitar to bass and the band hired Velvet Hammer Music and Management Group to handle their managerial duties.  Ontronik “Andy” Khachaturian was recruited to play the drums; he, along with System’s other members, were alumni of Rose and AlexPilibosArmenianSchool.  System of a Down made two demo tapes that never saw commercial release, Untitled 1995 Demo Tape and 1996’s Demo Tape 2.  These tapes were released to the masses via file sharing networks.  In 1997, they released final demo tape, Demo Tape 3.  In mid 1997, drummer Khachaturian left the band because...

Slayer: Trash Metal Gods...

Not many bands came lay the claim that they were at the forefront of a musical movement.  Music is more often imitated rather than innovated.  In the copy-cat profession of songwriting, the majority of music creators, distributors and performers would rather stick with their current time’s proven blueprint for success, instead of boldly forging a sound of their own or expanding on a fresh, new genre.  It is clear why so many songs are created in this fashion; the allure of the almighty dollar.  Many musical acts resign genuine personal creativity in order to ensure that the bottom line is as lucrative as possible.  Not all bands and musical acts are as such.  Count trash metal behemoths Slayer as on of those acts. In 1981 guitarist Kerry King met drummer Dave Lombardo.  Both musicians shared the same taste in music and aspirations for a professional career.  Soon after, King recruited guitarist Jeff Hanneman and bassist Tom Araya to the fold.  Araya had played previously with King in a band that went by the names Quit, and formerly, Tradewinds.  The earliest incarnation of the band played Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs and relied on a Satanic influenced image for early shows.  When seeing Slayer at a show at Anaheim’s Woodstock Club, former music journalist and founder of Metal Blade Records Brian Slagel was impressed and asked Slayer to record an original song backstage to the show for his Metal Massacre III compilation album.  Slayer recorded “Aggressive Perfector” for the record and was eventually signed to Metal Blade Records. The self-financed debut album, Show No Mercy, was released in December 1983.  it generated a good underground buzz for Slayer, which the band took advantage of by embarking its first national...

HIM: Love Metal Crooners!!!...

Love songs.  We just gotta, well, love them…right?  Across all genres of music, love and the relationships between a man and a woman is a prominent theme.  Whether they are of the sappy ‘without your love I would surely die’ variety or the dark and brooding ‘if you ever leave me I shall surely destroy you and everything you stand for variety’ love songs hold a special place in the hearts of musicians and fans alike.  Some musical acts have based their careers on a few of the greatest love songs they have released.  Others have completely skewed the topic of love in their music.  One band who has seemed to set out to write about the topic of the heart exclusively is the Finnish band HIM. Formed in 1991 in Helsinki, HIM is composed of Ville Valo (vocals), Mikko “Linde” Lindström (guitar), Mikko “Mingé” Paannanen (bass), Janne “Emerson Burton” Puurtinen (keyboards) and Mika Karppinen (drums). HIM released the demos Witches and Other Night Fears (1992) and This Is Only The Beginning (1995).  The former was never released and the sole copy resides with Valo.  In 1996 they released their debut EP 666 Ways to Love: Prologue only in their home nation of Finland; just 1,000 copies were pressed.  It has been said that the woman adorning the cover of their debut EP is Valo’s mother. On November 20, 2007, HIM released their debut studio album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666.  The album featured a predominately gothic metal theme, full of down-tuned and heavily distorted guitar tracks, dark and haunting atmospheres, and what would become Valo’s trademark dramatically lamenting lyrics of love and death.  For a conceptual theme of the album HIM chose to focus on the numerical value...

Marilyn Manson: Controversial Superstar...

What does it take to be a very much talked about metal band in our generation?  A unique mixture of sonic influences?  Controversy?  Elaborate stage personas and costumes?  The religious and political right waging war against you?  Controversy?  In-band turmoil, including an onstage fight?  More lineup changes than you can remember?  Catching the blame for one of the nations most infamous mass shootings?  Did we mention controversy?  These things, at least not all of them, are necessary to be a successful and talked about metal band.  Just don’t tell Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson, the band, trace their origins back to 1989 when they were known as Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids.  Fronting the band was Brian Warner, who went by the stage name of Marilyn Manson.  The band members combined the first name of iconic female sex symbols (i.e.: Marilyn Monroe) and the last name of an iconic serial killer (i.e.: Charles Manson).  They did this in order to demonstrate laudatory appraisal of the United States and its peculiar culture.  After dropping the Spooky Kids moniker and releasing the first version of their debut album, then titled The Manson Family, Marilyn Manson released Portrait of an American Family in July 1994 on Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records, along with Interscope Records.  It was met with mixed reviews, with Rolling Stone stating that “Manson’s debut […] isn’t the sharply rendered cultural critique of America he’d like you to think it is. Most of the record comes off like some low-budget horror movie.”  The debut album peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and has since been certified Gold by the RIAA. In late 1995, Marilyn Manson released Smells Like Children, produced by Manson and Reznor.  The album...