Performer Magazine: February 2015

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Tracked on her iPad® with new Capture™ Duo. Beamed wirelessly to her laptop and mixed with Studio One® Artist. Available for sale to her fan base the same day via Nimbit®. The iOne and iTwo are the only 96kHz USB 2.0 interfaces with a seamless suite of easy-to-use software that encourages your creativity. ©2014 PreSonus Audio Electronics., Inc. All Rights Reserved. iOne, iTwo and Nimbit are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. Capture and Studio One are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Software Ltd. All other marks are property of their respective holders. Except any smudges you get on this magazine. Those marks are solely your property.

Full info and videos at…




Artists Speak Out!


The “27 Club” Myth


Drugs as Creative Fuel by Pat Kearns


Drug Use Infographics



Me & My Shadow by Benjamin Ricci

4. Letter From the Editor 6. Quick Picks: The Best in New Music

Drug Street Names & Nicknames


Musicians as Role Models by Shane Watson


Treatment Options & Addiction by Gary Blanchard

36. 5 Not-So-Obvious Revenue Tips For Bands

44. Gear Reviews 47: My Favorite Axe: Loveskills

10. Vinyl of the Month: Crayon

38. New Air Travel Rules For Musicians

48. Flashback: 1960 Gibson Byrdland

11. Live Reviews

40. An Interview with Dr. Z

cover photo by Torben Hansen used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license



Howdy, y’all! So, we fucked up…again. And by “we,” I mean just me. In November 2013, we published an article about the band Golden Bloom in our Studio Diary section. It was a Q&A all about the recording process for their (at the time) latest album. To accompany the article, we had the band shoot some photos during their studio sessions and provide them to us along with the interview. Cut to: the issue hits the stands, featuring a photo from the sessions, and also online, where we added a few more shots that we couldn’t fit in print. So far, so good. Now, here’s where things go downhill. At some point, I mistakenly deposited the entire folder of photos into a stock image library that I keep on hand in case we need a random image of, say, a mixing board or guitar amp to accompany a piece. It’s not uncommon - most publications have a stock image library for just such occasions. But adding these images was wrong.

For starters, we didn’t have permission to reuse the photos, and for another, it’s really not cool to juxtapose a photo of an artist with an article they weren’t involved with. Which is, unfortunately, exactly what happened in our January 2015 issue. There’s no one to blame but me. I feel like an asshat, and have offered my formal written apologies to the band. It was a mistake, pure and simple. There was no malice, just a misplaced folder in the cloud and an empty-headed editor. The absolute worst part? The images of the band were used as stock photos to accompany an article on mistakes to avoid while recording, which is just about the worst place we could have put them. And for that, I sincerely, honestly, offer my deepest apologies (again… and again, as much as it takes for the band to be cool with us once more). The photos in question have obviously been removed from the stock image library, and I assure you, our readers, that nothing like this will happen again. -Benjamin Ricci, editor

Volume 25, Issue 2 PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT

Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER

William House Phone: 617-627-9919 EDITOR


Cristian Iancu



Benjamin Hanson, Benjamin Ricci, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, Don Miggs, Gary Blanchard, Heidi Schmitt, Jaclyn Wing, Julia DeStefano, Kate Dennis-Skillings, Lauren Moquin, Matt Ingersoll, Matt Lambert, Michael St. James, Pat Kearns, Rich Coleman, Shane Watson, Taylor Haag, Taylor Northern, Tony Eubank, Vanessa Bennett CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Gabriel Burgos, Ilana Shulman, Kitty Terwolbeck, Laura James, Matt Lambert P.S. – For my thoughts on THIS issue, please head to my personal essay entitled “Me & My Shadow,” starting on page 14.





Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.

Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”

MUSIC SUBMISSIONS We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143


EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”


William House Phone: 617-627-9919 © 2015 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.


...ARRIVING 2015 #PodOutWithYourRodOut





The Hobbes


Black Cop Down Austin, TX (Wolfshield Records)

I Want To Grow Up Los Angeles, CA (Hardly Art)

Up at Lagrange Bradford, UK (Shelflife Records)

BLXPLTN’s Black Cop Down cover art immediately brings to mind the once banished and now legendary album Black Bastards from early ’90s hip-hop group KMD (the crew that featured a young Zev Love X aka MF DOOM). And much like that album, Black Cop Down provides a valve for the issues that people of color face over a gritty and (at times) quite danceable album. The band expresses their righteous rage and frustration with brute earnestness, driving the point home without being ham-fisted. BLXPLTN’s sound here is mostly straightahead punk that’s been electronically distilled with flourishes of thrash, post-punk, no wave and new wave nicely blended, not wedged in. All of which makes for an actualized, but not over-produced, sound with a swift, kick-inthe-head study of Black in America rage.

Although the thought of full-blown adulthood bums most people out, Colleen Green gives good reason to embrace the growth. In her own playful way, Green celebrates the will to move on from all too familiar situations. Much like her 2013 LP, Sock It To Me, she gives us simplistic fuzzy punk songs, but I Want To Grow Up feels more cohesive, lyrically speaking. From the harsh realization of an inevitable breakup within “Wild One” to the courage on new things within “Whatever I Want,” the album is all about growing more aware of what makes you happiest. And we’re happiest listening to Ms. Green (if you’re nasty).

The Hobbes Fanclub’s debut dropped in 2014, but Up at Lagrange might as well have been released in the early ’90s, when the fuzzy sound known as shoegaze reached its peak in the UK. The trio’s daydream-like indie rock melodies are sure to make fans of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Primitive Radio Gods feel right at home. Even though the 11-song set only clocks in at about 35 minutes, the effects it has on the listener are long-lasting. Vocalists Leon Carroll and Louise Phelan accompany each other very well on standout tracks “Why Should You Tell the Truth?” and “The Boy from Outer Space,” complete with heavy reverb effects that almost make them sound like a fourth instrument. It’s the absolute perfect album to listen to when on the verge of sleep, just ahead of the gates of dreamland.

Follow on Twitter @BLXPLTN T. Ali Eubank


Follow On Twitter @colleengreen420 Lauren Moquin

Follow on Twitter @hobbesfanclub Matt Ingersoll


Lady Lamb the




The March


After Portland, ME (Mom+Pop Music)

ep Boston, MA (Self-released)

+1 San Antonio, TX (Self-released)

Aly Spaltro has a voice that twists and turns and rises to the point of breaking, but just before it fractures into a scream, it turns on a dime and becomes a whisper. Though only her second studio album, After tells stories in a way that belies her years, while at the same time remains a fun and catchy vehicle. Call her the Thinking Woman’s Taylor Swift, with her lively collection of songs including the first single “Billions of Eyes” and the love song “Milk Duds.” The whole effort is entertaining, but remains complex with Spaltro’s deft songwriting. “Ten” is enchanting from the first second and describes memories from childhood in a way that isn’t entirely joyless, but is nonetheless dark and haunting. Overall, a fantastic effort from a former Performer cover star. Follow on Twitter @ladylambjams Heidi Schmitt

Love Love’s new EP makes a bold statement with folksy rock melodies, husky vocals and intricate storytelling. With lyrics ranging from topics such as love and loss to the dark eccentricities of murder, the mini-album delivers six strong tracks that have something for any listener. The standout, “Murderpedia,” is an ambling story of murder and betrayal. The track combines singer/songwriter Chris Toppin’s smokey vocals with classic Americana inspirations that would rival any country hit on the charts today. On the other end of the spectrum is “Maryland,” which features sultry guitars and layered vocals that can be listened to endlessly. Love Love’s greatest strength lies in their songwriting. They’re able to effortlessly transition from a love song to an offbeat track such as “I Like You Weird.” Follow online at Kate Dennis-Skillings

The March Divide actually wrote and recorded the +1 EP at the same time as their most recent album Billions, which was released last October. Singer and primary songwriter Jared Putnam’s music retains its emo roots, but with lyrics that are more introspective. The EP starts off with angular sounding chords and a driving tempo. Songs “Forward Thinking” and “Slow Down” are loud, rich and full, sonically speaking. The others are mostly acoustic based, ranging from a more relaxed folk vibe in “You Save Me” to the softer “Someone Nice.” All in all, this is a killer sounding EP with a great mix of songs for whatever mood you are in. Follow on Twitter @TheMarchDivide Benjamin Hanson

Here you’ll find the best new music our writers have been digging this past month. For full reviews and to stream tracks and videos from the artists featured on these pages, please head to Enjoy!



Matthew Squires & The Learning


The Reverend Horton



Where The Music Goes to Die Austin, TX (Self-released)

REV Dallas, TX (Victory Records)

Great Pine Bucks County, PA (Self-released)

Quirky, floaty, indie psychedelic rock, Matthew Squires & The Learning Disorders is an ever-evolving project. Their latest LP is equally ambitious lyrically and in terms of composition. This quirky indie album twists together with psychedelic rock elements and leaves you somewhere between fantasy and reality. The combination of electronic and acoustic instrumentation results in unexpected harmonies that float through the air, and leave you with a comforting, familiar feeling that you’ve been here before. The guitars strum and pluck to upbeat percussive melodies, accompanied by smooth and emotionally mature lyrics that take you on an intimate journey of love, loss and uncertainty. Recommended if you’re in the mood for something different…

Reverend Horton Heat, featuring the inimitable Jim Heath and his whiskey-soaked vocal in tow, continues to reign as the undisputed kings of the rockabilly resurgence – not to mention psychobilly freak outs and rollicking, high octane, good times. Never has the adjective “subtle” pertained to the trio and on REV, the band shows no signs of letting up on the gas – hence the album’s title. Automotive imagery abounds; opening track “Victory Lap” is a raucous assault on the eardrums indicative of rejuvenation. Such a 1, 2, 3 punch continues on the devilishly-suggestive tale of one woman’s affinity for the “Smell of Gasoline,” in which a tonguein-cheek Heath laments the events of his past. Vibrancy is a constant throughout the duration of the record (“Spooky Boots”), and is especially seen throughout “Zombie Dumb,” a shift into a surf-punkabilly mode akin to Dick Dale and His Del-Tones. REV, as the title suggests, sees the trio firing on all cylinders. Take no prisoners! Follow on Twitter @revhortonheat Julia R. DeStefano

“The Beach Boys playing with Korg Kaossilators” is a good start for approaching Seagulls’ masterful debut, Great Pine, but this band is up to so much more. While the 8-bit samples and synth tricks will elicit plenty of grins from listeners, this is first and foremost a solid collection of summer folk-pop songs that go down unbelievably smooth on each subsequent listen. If only this was released last summer. Listeners might immediately jump to the lead single “You And Me,” a refreshing love song with no qualms with sentimentality, as their favorite of the bunch. And with good reason – it’s absolutely infectious and is a great example of what you’ll find on this record: beautiful vocal harmonies and meticulous instrumentation arrangements. For those who want a sense of the band’s real potential, pay attention to “Ocean Cyclone,." This is what great music is meant to do. Seagulls have nailed it. Follow on Twitter @sglls Rich Coleman

Follow on Twitter @ImMattSquires Jaclyn Wing







Kenny Dennis III Chicago, IL (Joyful Noise Recordings)

Mr. Face EP San Francisco, CA (Drag City)

Complete Strangers San Francisco, CA (Easy Sound Recording Company)

The latest from the Windy City’s cunning linguist, this narrative-infused hip-hop saga blends playful flows, bombastic rhythms and lucid production. Imbued with hyper-specific Chicago references, the 19-track LP incorporates grooving tracks with spoken-word excerpts, painting a musical memoir of the eponymous character. An often irate and outlandish individual, the record’s lyrics explore the misadventures and career pursuits between the narrator and Kenny Dennis. From the playful “No Beginner” to the introspective sea change of the closer, “Tickled Pink,” the record simultaneously threads together comedic and heavy-handed tones like a musical black comedy. With his blend of meaningful lyricism, rhythmic realism and straight-from-the-heart storytelling, Serengeti tastefully coordinates organic production with insightful conjecture to create a sound that is uniquely fly and foresighted. Follow on Twitter @SerengetiDave Taylor Haag

This latest EP is another addition to Segall’s already prolific library and perfectly captures his rugged and experimental artistic style. The record opens with an acoustic composition, easing listeners into the headier and driving instrumentations of upcoming tracks. As enjoyable as this tranquil moment is, it is short lived. “Circles” immediately erupts with a 30-second drum solo and a percussion set that doesn’t quit. Fast and aggressive, this provides the foundation for the album’s two middle tracks and leads in a familiar frenzy of guitars on “Drug Mugger.” Segall returns to his initially softer and more contemplative approach with the closing track, “The Picture,” and wraps things up with drifting guitar chords and crooning backing vocals. Segall does a masterful job in his approach to tempo, rhythm and harmony and creates a captivating and pleasantly unpredictable EP. Another winner from Segall and Drag City. Follow on Twitter @tysegall Vanessa Bennett

The San Francisco indie folk heavyweights entice with new electronic details, warm melodic embers and buoyant unfettered textures that deliver bliss and embrace a subtle chill wave. Andy Cabic culls inspiration from an enclave of musicians he’s worked with throughout his career: the Shins, Fleet Foxes, Jeff Tweedy. Akin to the Sea and Cake, Cabic’s current songwriting is lined with electronic hooks in a sweet, highly listenable melodic pop framing. Symphonic and electronic rhythms weave among acoustic guitars, effortless Wurlitzer organ lines and Cabic’s gentle tone - think the Shins fronted by Ira Kaplan. “Loose Ends” takes a California flecked electric surf guitar line and harvests a shimmering tempo, while “Shadow’s Lane” offers sweet, long strums and mellow pacing, centered on the hushed orchestral textures, easy-does-it percussion and Cabic’s cool phrasing. Complete Strangers maintains the chill with unhurried pacing. Highly recommended. Follow on Twitter @vetiverse Christopher Petro



Recorded by Pat Maley in Olympia, WA Mastered for Vinyl by Kevin Nettleingham

Follow on Twitter: @HHBTMrecs

Size: 12-inch Speed: 33 1/3 rpm Color: Black Vinyl

“Lost ’90s Gem Finally Gets Its Due…” Crayon existed as a whisper, a rumor, a mysterious name on the wind for the past 20 years. It’s been that long since their only full-length, Brick Factory, was originally released on cassette and CD by Massachusetts label Harriet Records. Since then, it’s been heralded by indie icons like Dinosaur, Jr. But for years, actually tracking down a copy of the album proved fruitless (even digitally). My mom’s Mercury ate my Crayon cassette in the late ’90s, and it’s been that long since I had a chance to give this one a spin. Thankfully, that’s all done – this lo-fi, Pavementesque flash of noise-pop brilliance has finally been re-issued (on vinyl, no less!) by what’s quickly becoming our favorite label, HHBTM (Athens, GA). 10 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

How best to describe Crayon? It’s kinda punk, kinda twee, kinda off-kilter alt-pop. It’s a slice of the 1990s, in every sense possible. And it’s glorious. It’s the songs, dammit. The songs are great. It’s not just hazy textures and fuzzed-out guitars that go nowhere. There are meaningful melodies there (sometimes you gotta listen for them, but that’s just a product of the era). The fucking songs. Spinning Crayon in 2015 is an instant trip back in time. Back to my high school bedroom. Back to the days when the Walkman ruled the world. Back to cramped teenage bedrooms overflowing with posters, VHS copies of Mallrats and that secret stash buried in your closet. Back to when you’d play your favorite records endlessly as you figured out what your life was going to be…


Brick Factory (re-issue) Bellingham, WA (HHBTM Records)

REVIEWS Follow on Twitter: @everytimeidie

Every Time I Die W Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA December 11, 2014 “Hardcore heat on a cold Boston night…”

hile it may not have been their hometown show, Every Time I Die performed an energetic hometown-like show to a packed house at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Buffalo-based band was celebrating their most recent (and seventh) full length album From Parts Unknown. They pretty much had everyone in the crowd on their feet. Violent Gentlemen put a great tour together to get hardcore fans through the late fall months. Representing the States and beyond were New York’s Backtrack, South Carolina’s Hundredth, Brighton UK’s Architects and Los Angeles’ The Ghost Inside.




Mutoid Man with Russian Circles The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA December 10, 2014

Follow on Twitter: @MutoidMan & @RussianCircles

“Maximum heaviness and a Dio cover for good measure…”


few nights after Cave In played their first show in three years, singer/ guitarist Steve Brodsky was back with his metal outfit Mutoid Man, featuring Ben Koller (Converge) on drums and Nick Cageao on bass. They put on a great set full of material from their debut release, including a Dio tune with guest vocalist Sarabeth Linden. It was the perfect warm up for instrumental postrock/metal trio Russian Circles. They put on a tremendous, hour-plus set spanning their career, closing with an unexpected encore. Over a half dozen pedals easily between both guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Brian Cook along with Dave Turncrantz on drums, they successfully replicated the gigantic sound found on their recordings. PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 13



sually I reserve personal thoughts and interjections for my monthly “letter from the editor” piece, which oddly, people seem to respond pretty well to. But for this issue, I felt more explanation was necessary than I could squeeze in a 3-inch column. So here it goes. When I was young, maybe 11-years-old, I read an interview with Frank Zappa. Great stuff, as is always the case with Frank, but what stood out most was an exchange the interviewer had about Frank’s guitar/gear collection. To paraphrase, he asked Frank how he could afford so much stuff, to which Frank replied something to the effect of: “Simple. I don’t do cocaine.” That mantra has stuck with me for over twenty years. For the record, I don’t do cocaine, either. In fact I don’t imbibe much of anything (besides the occasional fruity cocktail, preferably with as many slices of pineapple and mini-umbrellas as possible). Part of that is due to the impact of that quote, and part of that is because I’ve seen the destructive nature of drugs of abuse (including alcohol) firsthand, in a number of people who’ve been close to me throughout various points in my life. Put simply: drugs and booze don’t seem like a whole lot of fun when you grow up in a house with an alcoholic father and have to watch one of your close friends detox from heroin at the age of sixteen. Don’t worry, everyone turned out OK. My dad and I are talking again after an eight-year hiatus, and my old friend is alive, well, and still making music today. But the glamour and appeal of the

A 30-Year Journey Avoiding The Pitfalls of Abuse

bigger-than-life rock star, with their drugfueled lifestyles that was ever-present during my childhood just seemed, well…not so glamorous anymore. It was kind of a joke, and kind of dangerous…and serious all at once. It’s complicated. Another standout memory for me was my first club show. I was a teenager, and it was at the now-defunct Daddy-O’s club in Springfield, Massachusetts. I had gone to see a friend’s band, Surge, perform one of their first shows in the area after releasing their debut cassette (yeah, tape, I’m old). Anyway, one of the opening acts was a roadbeaten, leather-clad gang of Uriah Heep-looking rejects with ancient gear and even more ancient “old ladies.” It was sad, really. This band (whose


Me & My Shadow

name escapes me) had minor success in the late 1970s and was still duking it out on the shitty club circuit. A few minutes with them and it was easy to see why. The guys were all drunk, high, a mixture of both, perhaps? They were so wasted and vacant they could barely stand upright, let alone perform a coherent set. It was sad. That’s the feeling I remember the most, how sad and pathetic and pointless it all was. I could see how the potential was drained out of them, year-by-year, drink-bydrink, show-by-show, and I just felt bad for them. A lot of artists think that only big-name stars can be role models or influences on younger kids. But on that day, some random group of middleaged rockers had a bigger influence on me than any of the mainstream bands I worshipped at the


DRUG ISSUE time. That’s another issue, though, one we cover in-depth later on in these pages. I urge all indie artists to read that article, as you may not even be aware what your actions and social media posts may be doing to younger fans. But what really got me? My first writing gigs, probably. I started out where a lot of people start out – in the morgue (so to speak). That is to say, writing obituaries. Doing a hundred or so of those on various celebrities taught me something - a helluva lot of talented people weren’t able to win their battles against substance abuse, and we’ve lost too damn many artistic geniuses to drug and drink. I promised myself this wouldn’t be too preachy, so I apologize. But there you have it. Shaking my head each time I had to write one of those awful things, cursing under my breath at the idiocy of it all – feeling frustrated and helpless at the same time. I understood addiction. I’d seen it up close. I’d felt its effects. I even believe there’s an addictive quality in me that I’m (thankfully) able to keep in check. But unless you’re in the throes of addiction, actively battling your demons day-byday, you can never really understand what people are going through. Like I said, it’s a frustrating business to be in. I’ve seen talented kids on the verge of major breakthroughs throw it all away for a hit of shit. Absolute shit. And poof – all the promise is gone. So, that’s my long-winded segue into 16 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

answering the question you’re probably asking: why are we doing a drug issue? Certainly not to be a downer, or to be preachy (although I guess I failed at that already), or to attract more readers (this isn’t exactly a sexy topic). There are no Nancy Reagan sponsorships here, I assure you. This issue was simply mean to be an open, honest look at the drug culture and its effects on the music scene. We didn’t want it to be a “Just Say No” propaganda issue – rather, we wanted to examine the devastation drugs of abuse are capable of, as well as the role they play in the creative process for musicians. I felt we’d be doing a disservice by simply loading the pages with anti-drug sentiments. But, after speaking with a number of artists who do partake in recreational drugs, the sentiments kept coming back more or less the same: there weren’t a whole lot of upsides to speak of. I guess growing up in the ’80s wasn’t exactly the best barometer for how real artists perceive drugs. What I mean to say is, while it was sort of fun watching Mötley Crüe engage in all manner of debauchery, most artists nowadays see that as, and I quote, “pure clown shoes.” But we know that not all use is abuse, and that substances have played (and will likely continue to play) major roles in the writing and recording process for a number of bands. We wanted to share that side, warts and all, because we understand that it’s pat of the culture. We’ve interviewed bands in the past who swear by their use of

psychedelics (see: White Orange) and artists who smoke weed almost religiously as part of their process. And we even got a testimonial (which you can read on up ahead) from an artist who swears by drugs as part of their artistic fuel. At the end of the day, I learned a lot more than I expected, and confirmed a number of things I had assumed to be true. What I’ll leave with is this: I’m not going to stand on some holier-than-thou pedestal condemning what grown adults choose to do with their bodies. That’s not my place. I think Kevin Smith sums it up best in his podcasts when he says, “Handle your high.” If you can handle it, then who the hell am I to judge or shake my finger disapprovingly at you? If you can’t handle it…well, that’s another matter. Smith nearly lost his friend and (no pun intended) muse, Jason Mewes, to heroin abuse too many times to count. And we’d hate to see any of our readers head down paths they can’t get back from. We even have an article with resources especially for musicians who may be struggling with addiction. We urge you to read it even if you’re not facing these problems yourself, since you never know when you might be in a position to help someone you care about. The bottom line is this: I don’t want to write any more needless obituaries. And I don’t want to see any more talent wasted. I’ve seen enough. Benjamin Ricci Editor-in-Chief

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Available exclusively at: ©2015 Acoustic


A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole. FRANK ZAPPA

As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.

As a creative person in long-term recovery, I know that some of the most challenging obstacles we face are feelings of hopelessness and the fear of not being able to return to a productive, creative lifestyle without the assistance of drugs and alcohol. WOODY GIESSMANN (THE DEL FUEGOS)



Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your selfrespect and everything that goes along with your self esteem. KURT COBAIN

I think we fucked ourselves in a lot of ways that in a sober head would have seemed pretty stupid. TOMMY STINSON (THE REPLACEMENTS)

When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself. BOB MARLEY

There was a time I thought I couldn’t enjoy rock ‘n’ roll unless I had heroin in me.

I was more addicted to self destruction then to the drugs themselves ... [there’s] something very romantic about it. GERARD WAY (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE)

I could never quite understand cocaine, you can’t get a hard on, you can’t sleep and you grind your teeth, what the fuck is good about that? JON BON JOVI




A kid once I used to I used to What said to me, have a drug do drugs, has drug ‘Do you get problem, but don’t addiction hangovers?’ now I make tell anyone done for I said, enough because me? It’s ‘To get money. it’ll ruin my cost me my hangovers DAVID LEE ROTH image. career, my (VAN HALEN) you have COURTNEY LOVE fortune and to stop basically drinking.’ my sex LEMMY life when I (MOTÖRHEAD) found out I was HIV positive.


My son We believed Jack just that got out of anything rehab, he’s that was 17 years old worth doing and he got was worth hooked on overdoing. Oxycontin STEVEN TYLER (AEROSMITH) and I’m just a little pissed off that he never gave me a few.



Quotes From Musicians About Drugs of Abuse


DRUG ISSUE DAVE ALEXANDER Bassist, The Stooges Date of Death: February 10, 1975

GARY THAIN Bassist, Uriah Heep Date of Death: December 8, 1975

JANIS JOPLIN Singer Date of Death: October 4, 1970


The Mysteries of the

BRIAN JONES Rolling Stones Guitarist Date of Death: July 3, 1969

AMY WINEHOUSE Soul Singer Date of Death: July 23, 2011



BACKGROUND So, what exactly is the mysterious “27 Club,” and how does one get a membership? Well, this is probably one club you don’t want to be a part of. Here’s the gist: theorists (read: nutjobs) believe that unseen forces cause artists at the peaks of their careers to let their demons consume them so much that they die at the ripe old age of 27. Nutty, right? It’s basically music’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle: utter nonsense that doesn’t even dignify a rebuttal argument, yet somehow gets passed on through the generations. In lay terms, the “27 Club” refers to a number of popular musicians who died at age 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. The number of musicians who have died at this age and the circumstances of many of those deaths have given rise to the idea that premature deaths at this age are unusually common. Which is, of course, hogwash. The “club” has been repeatedly cited in music magazines, journals and the daily press. Several exhibitions have been devoted to the idea, as well as novels, films and stage plays. There have been many different theories and speculations about the causes of such early deaths and their possible connections. Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross writes, “The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.”

DRUG ISSUE JIM MORRISON Singer, The Doors Date of Death: July 3, 1971

Music’s Bermuda Triangle

However, a study published in the British Medical Journal in December 2011 concluded that there was no increase in the risk of death for musicians at the age of 27. Although the sampled musicians faced an increased risk of death in their 20s and 30s, this was not limited to the age of 27.

JIMI HENDRIX Legendary Guitarist Date of Death: September 18, 1970

KRISTEN PFAFF Bassist, Hole Date of Death: June 16, 1994

ORIGINS Most likely, this ma la rkey sta r ted in the late 1960s/ea rly 1970s, when rock sta rs Bria n Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Ja nis Joplin a nd Jim Morrison a ll died at the sa me age of drug- or a lcoholrelated causes. At the time, the coincidence gave rise to some comment, but it was not until the death of Kur t Coba in, about two a nd a ha lf decades later, that the idea of a “27 Club” bega n to catch on in public perception. The “Club” was back in the media in 2011, when singer A my Winehouse passed away at the (seemingly) mag ica l age. REFERENCES IN MUSIC The song “28” by John Craigie off his album Montana Tale, is about the club. The three verses refer to the deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain respectively. The theme is referenced in the song “27 Forever” by Eric Burdon, on his 2013 album ‘Til Your River Runs Dry. The name of the song “27 Club” by letlive. off their album The Blackest Beautiful is derived from the club.

RON “PIGPEN” MCKERNAN Keyboards, Grateful Dead Date of Death: March 8, 1973



The Upside of Drugs: A Working Artist’s Perspective 22 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

When I was 16, I smoked some weed with my friends and climbed into the passenger’s seat of my best friend’s mom’s Honda Civic on a rainy 1980s Portland night. He popped in a cassette of Led Zeppelin II. I had heard the album before, but not like this. My mind exploded. It wasn’t just the weed. It was the combination of the weed with Jimmy Page’s perfect realization of guitar mayhem on that album that melted my mind and it set me on the path that I’m still on today. It was in that moment, for the first time that I heard what a recording studio did. I had heard Sergeant Pepper’s. I was familiar with all kinds of studio trickery like tape speed tricks (we grew up on the Chipmunks)…but it was that moment of being stoned in a two-door Civic hatchback, while listening to Zeppelin II,



ince I am an artist, perhaps that’s why Performer Magazine asked if I would write a few words concerning the positive side of drugs. After all, nobody is going to ask an athlete, a politician or a soccer mom that question. It’s up to us artists to be the pioneers, I suppose, in this field. “Drugs” is a charged word here in America. We have political “SAY NO TO DRUGS” campaigns. We have or had a War on Drugs (not the band). Even performanceenhancing drugs are considered taboo in the States. What’s your reaction to seeing the word “drugs”? Did you perk up? Or did you cringe a little? Perhaps you have past experience?

“I’m constantly looking to give the listener a novel experience. I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do every day if it weren’t for drugs.” No matter what, I’m sure you have a bigger reaction to the word “drugs” than let’s say… the word “puppy.” Oscar Wilde once said, “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” I’m an artist. I’m a singer/songwriter and a producer and an engineer. And I completely agree with Mr. Wilde. In my job, I try to bring new ideas to listeners’ ears, whether it be a lyric, a melody, a hook, or even a drum sound. I’m constantly looking for new perspectives. I’m constantly looking to give the listener a novel experience. I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do every day if it weren’t for drugs.

“Drugs can help you see things from a new point of view as long as you are open to the experience.”

when it all clicked for me and I truly started to comprehend how all the different pieces were put together to make a great record. If the weed had not have been there, I don’t think I would have had the epiphany. If there is anything I know about drugs, it is this: a drug of any real potency will change your perception and your experience. Drugs can help you see things from a new point of view as long as you are open to the experience. And creativity responds positively to experience. The more experience you have, the more depth you have to find solutions for the problems you come up against when pursuing any creative endeavor. Sure, there is the obvious downside. Behind the Music is a running joke amongst everyone, not just musicians. But I still don’t see anything negative about the potential of drugs. My experience with drugs gave me my career. On top of all that, obviously, drugs can also be fun. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Pat Kearns is the lead singer and guitarist for the band Blue Skies For Black Hearts. The Portland Mercury described the band’s 2011’s album Embracing the Modern Age as “one of the most significant contributions to the (power pop) genre in recent memory...” PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 23






Street Terms for Common Drugs of Abuse W



e know that a lot of our readers run the gamut as far as ages are concerned, from teenage DIY punk bands to more seasoned studio veterans. That said, there are a scary amount of drugs of abuse out there today, and if you’re concerned about a loved one, a band mate, a child or anyone else in your life, then you owe it to yourself to know not only what substances are out there, but what names they go by.

All it takes is the recognition of one of these terms overheard in conversation, or glanced in a text, that can be the difference between stepping in and helping someone or remaining blissfully unaware of what they might be up to because you weren’t hip to the slang they were using. One of the best resources we’ve found to keep up-to-date on street names for drugs of abuse is the “Slang Lookup” and its sister feature, the “Drug Lookup” at www.firstcheckfamily. com. Using these tools, parents and concerned loved ones can cross reference known drugs with their current nicknames, and vice versa. So if you know the name of a drug (say, marijuana) you can look up its known slang variations. Likewise, if you’ve heard a slang term and don’t know what it means, you can look up the term and see which drug it corresponds to. Look, at the end of the day, it’s not our job to lecture, preach, or offer advice (we’re a music magazine, after all, not licensed medical professionals). We just have the safety and wellbeing of our readers and their circles in mind. And we know that being informed and having resources is better than living in the dark. So take this for what it’s worth.

hooter, crank, blow, bad rock, bazooka, beam, Bernice, big C, blizzard, coca, blast beam, flake, nose candy, skiiing. Crack is also referred to as freebase, ready rock, and gravel. • OPIATES Slang Terms: Smack, Morphine, courage, brown sugar, black tar, H, junk, horse, gunpowder, hard candy, bomb, chiva, mud, noise, dope, skag, China White.

• AMPHETAMINES Slang Terms: Speed, gaggler, pid poppers, Bennies, brown and clears, beans, uppers, pep pills, dexes, black beauties, Louee and “hyper pills.”

• METHAMPHETAMINE Slang Terms: Meth, crank, crystal, speed, ice and glass. Use is often referred to as “doing a line.” Binging is “doing a run.”

• MARIJUANA Slang Terms: Grass, dank, bud, zig zag, hydro, cannabis, bud, smoke, chronic, herb, reefer, pot, weed, ganja, dope, mary jane, skunk, kush, green, plants, bush.

• ECSTASY/MDMA Slang Terms: Molly, Disco biscuits, E, X, XTC, Adam, hug, beans, love drug, clarity.

• COCAINE Slang Terms: snow, racehorse Charlie, yeyo,

• PHENCYCLIDINE (PCP) Slang Terms: Angel dust, wack, ozone, rocket fuel, hog, fry, formaldehyde, amp, wet, elephant, tranq, TicTac and embalming fluid.

Crystal super grass refers to PCP mixed with marijuana. • BARBITURATES Slang Terms: barbs, birds, blockbusters, Christmas trees, goof balls, pinks, red devils, reds and blues, yellow jackets. • BENZODIAZEPINES Slang Terms: Rohypnol may be called rophies, roofies, and roach. Others slang terms include benzos, downers, tranks and sleepers. • METHADONE Slang Terms: Juice, amidone, chocolate chip cookies (methadone or heroin combined with MDMA), fizzies, street methadone and wafer. • OXYCODONE Slang Terms: Hillbilly heroin, country h, oxycotton, oxy, OC, killers. Source:



Hey, Artists. Guess What? You’re Role Models. Understanding Musicians’ Roles as Influencers in Today’s Culture 30 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE



live, eat, and breathe music. For decades, that’s been the case. Music has long been a constant companion, one that’s seen me through countless experiences, both good and bad. In elementary school, I inherited my dad’s appreciation for The Beatles and The Doors. In middle school, my cousins introduced me to The Police and The Clash. However, my love for all things music-related really began to hit its stride during my high school and college years. I disappeared into my headphones, connected with songs as if they were somehow written specifically to me, and pored over lyrics and liner notes. I latched on to a number of bands, bought and borrowed music biographies, and read as many articles as possible about the artists I was into. Nothing in life up to that point had resonated with me like music and the mystique surrounding those who created it. It was a welcome escape. I was a nervous, awkward, and at times scared kid. I never quite felt like I fit in or ever even felt comfortable in my own skin. Middle school and high school only amplified those feelings, reminding me of everything that I wasn’t. I wasn’t popular, good looking, tall, athletic, or particularly talented. I wasn’t confident, and I wasn’t even sure of who I was. However, music gave me a way out. The right album could let me forget about all of that, even if only for an hour or so. It was more than a distraction. It opened a door to understanding that there was a world far beyond what I had known up to that point. It made me realize there was more to life than the tiny, uptight schools I had known, where if you weren’t a star athlete you practically didn’t exist. It opened my eyes to the fact that there were plenty of misfits like me who had found their place, found their identity, and were making amazing music in the process. Unfortunately, right around the same time that my love affair with music began, I started another new relationship. It was one that would last for 20 years. It was a relationship with a lying, violent, cunning, and selfish partner, one whose ugliness was beyond surface level and went marrow deep. It resulted in broken promises, broken dreams, and broken bones. It included multiple trips to jail. It was an incredibly unhealthy and abusive relationship, and it nearly cost me my life. Just as I started discovering music’s true power, I ran across another seemingly effective method of dealing with my pain and loneliness: drugs and alcohol. Like music, it felt warm, comfortable, familiar, healing, and at times even transcendent. At the time, it seemed free of consequences, regardless of what I had been told. Also like music, it had a time limit. Depending on the substance and dose, it could last as long as a single, an album, a double album, or a box set. Unlike music, it was fleeting and ultimately false. However, all I knew and all I cared about in that moment was the fact that for

the next little while, everything was going to seem all right. My relationships with music and substance abuse not only coexisted, they began to overlap. I became especially interested in and drawn toward artists who had drug references in their songs, albums, and cover art. I felt some sort of bizarre kinship with those who openly embraced hedonism, excess, and self-destruction. For lack of a better term, it all seemed really cool to a foolish kid who lacked the wisdom, experience, and self-identity to know otherwise. After a while, my two areas of obsession began to fuel one another. When college rolled around, a number of interesting new opportunities opened up for me related to my major. As a communications/ journalism student with a music obsession, a radio internship was a natural fit. Somehow, despite my escalating drug and alcohol habit, I

managed to be successful and ambitious enough as a radio intern to acquire a pool of references and contacts. Those references, paired with the ability to interview well, landed me an internship with MTV’s then all-music network M2 during the summer of 1997. Both my radio and M2 internships provided me more access to the local music scene than I’d ever had before. As part of a radio station, I was involved with the planning and implementation of numerous local events, concerts, and festival shows. For M2, I was required to review local concerts, record stores, album releases, and radio stations as a website stringer. This meant I frequently ended up backstage, in dressing rooms, and sometimes in buses and vans belonging to the bands. As you can probably imagine, I saw and heard a lot. The moments ran the gamut from the mundane to the memorable, and even included PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 31


some situations that seemed straight out of This Is Spinal Tap. I watched members of tiny local indie bands eat ramen on the sidewalk in front of the bar where they were slated to play and ask random passersby for payphone change. I saw a straight edge performer treat the backstage area like it was Gold’s Gym. I witnessed plenty fights in the crowd, on the stage, and behind clubs. I watched members of one band put three different stray cats into another band’s van. I also saw a whole lot of alcohol and drugs. Being in close proximity to a number of bands multiple times allowed me to get to know a lot of them better. Eventually, I ended up on a first-name basis with a handful of independent musicians and even managed to create genuine friendships with some of them. To a wide-eyed college kid whose walls were completely covered with music posters and whose shelves were filled to capacity with CDs, records, and tapes, those relationships were a really big deal. They still are, and a few of them have continued to this day. By that point, I had already read countless tales about certain legendary music acts and their penchant for various substances. Additionally, I had already experienced quite a bit in terms of my own entanglement with drugs and alcohol. None of it was new to me. However, there was something different about witnessing it firsthand, being done by people whose music I not only knew and liked, but also by individuals whom I held in very high regard. They were talented, successful, and down-to-earth. The majority of them treated me with respect, and I considered them good people. To see some of them abusing drugs and alcohol not only didn’t change my opinion of them, but in my opinion at the time, lent credence to my argument that drugs and alcohol were not the monster that some had made them out to be. These people were much older and more experienced than me, so I was convinced they had to know what they were doing. Before we go any further, there is something I need to make abundantly clear: my drug and alcohol abuse, my addictions, and the resulting consequences were a result of my own choices. At the end of the day, I am the only one responsible for my decisions. I am not a victim of my environment, my role models, or my genetics. That said, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a number of factors that went into the decisions I made, especially before I managed to create a solid self-identity. The lifestyles of those I idolized and emulated were among those factors. For too many years, the words, opinions, and actions of others had a lot of power in my life. In that way, I was like a whole lot of other kids. Whether it’s a parent, an athlete, a musician, an actor, or someone else, kids and teens are going to latch on to someone and their accompanying philosophy. They will live and die by that person’s words, because they lack the experience and wisdom to know otherwise. Even if a person’s

job description doesn’t include the phrase “role model,” they will still often end up in that position. At no point did the fact that these were independent, local, and often small-time artists give them any less gravity in my life. I think that too frequently, indie artists can discount the amount of power they have. When a song or concert resonates with someone and connects with every fiber of their being, it makes no difference whether the person on the other end is signed, unsigned, local, regional, or international. When an artist makes a powerful statement, it doesn’t matter whether they showed up in a private jet, bus, van, or mom’s station wagon. The good news is, an impression was also being made on me at the same time by those who didn’t promote or flaunt a lifestyle of excess. I just didn’t realize it then. However, I continued to come back to the works of those artists and bands over the coming years, and I continued a lot of the healthy relationships that began around the same time. Those amazing songs, albums, and friendships not only made it through the

hurricane of addiction, overdoses, and pure insanity, they helped carry me through to the other side. Now three years into my recovery, I try to use what influence I have for good. I very openly and candidly share my personal story and experience to try to help others, some already struggling and others that haven’t yet started down the path. Whatever the case, I meet them where they are. I’m not rich, famous, or particularly powerful. But in those moments when I doubt my ability to make an impact, I remind myself of those who made an impact on me. Most of them have names you wouldn’t even recognize, but to me, they’re legends. They always will be. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Shane Watson is the Communications Coordinator for notMYkid, a Scottsdale, AZ nonprofit that seeks to inspire positive life choices by speaking in schools on six topics: substance abuse, bullying, Internet safety, depression, unhealthy relationships, and body image. To learn more about notMYkid, visit PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 33


Musicians, Addiction & Treatment Options Resources And Solutions Designed Especially For Artists



zzy Osbourne, Kurt Cobain, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jerry Garcia, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash; this is an impressive list of talented musicians. While they have great talent in common, they have something else in common; they all struggled with addiction. Some initially used substances to spur or augment their creativity, or to help them cope with life on the road - they all found that eventually the substance took over. Once they entered the realm of addiction, overcoming the addiction proved hard; some succeeded while others did not. There are some special challenges facing musicians who want to overcome addiction, especially for the independent artist. Luckily, there are also many resources and solutions. Many musicians feel that drugs aid their creative process and fear that life without the chemical muse will be daunting. Most people have a fear of the unknown; it is even more

months, is temporary. With patience, a person will get through that time. It is important that a person know this is normal and temporary. Creativity may be different after recovery, but it will not disappear. Another challenge for the independent musician may be the cost of treatment. Many working musicians may lack health insurance that would help cover the cost of treatment. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to many as Obamacare, is helping to provide subsidized insurance for many people; a number of working musicians could qualify for either free or very low-cost health insurance. Another advantage of the ACA is that it creates parity between medical and mental health/addiction services, making sure that people have access to the help needed to deal with addiction. It is always important to find a source of treatment that respects who you are and what you

“Creativity may be different after recovery, but it will not disappear.” difficult when taking chances that may affect a person’s livelihood and personal identity. How much of a part did the drug play in the creative process? Without the drug, will the artist still be able to bring the same energy and insight? Is there life after drugs? In reality, a person will experience a change in ability and creativity, especially early in the recovery process. Excessive drug use (and I should point out that this includes alcohol, which is considered a liquid drug in the world of treatment) brings about chemical changes in the brain. There is a period of time when the brain is trying to get back into balance; during that period, many normal functions seem strange and difficult. Needless to say, creativity is likely to also suffer. Luckily, that period, while it may last

are about; sometimes musicians find this more difficult. Some addiction professionals may suggest “getting away from the lifestyle” of performing, and others may not understand what drives a performing musician. There are some treatment programs that specialize in treating musicians with addiction issues. One great example is Right Turn, based in Arlington, Massachusetts. The founder of Right Turn, Woody Giessmann (pictured, above), was a drummer for the Del Fuegos until addiction led him to make a change in his life. As a result, Right Turn incorporates creativity into the treatment process. Other resources include MusiCares, funded by the Grammys, and the website Rockers in Recovery. Aside from professional treatment, there are self-help groups that can help people deal


with addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the best-known and easiest to find groups, but some members of these groups are too rigid in their thinking for many musicians to find comfortable. I suggest that folks shop around to find a group they find accepting as each individual group has a personality of its own. There are also groups like SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), and many others that can be found through an Internet search. All of these self-help groups have online meetings as well as “real-life” meetings, which can be helpful for the touring musician. While self-help groups are helpful, and some may recover solely though selfhelp groups, many still find that professional help is important. The hardest thing in addiction recovery is maintaining the change. This can be especially hard for the independent, working musician. Many gigs are located in bars where alcohol and other drugs can be readily available. Many venues offer free drinks to the band, and many fans will send drinks to the musicians. Folks freely offer other substances as well. For a person in recovery, constantly being put in the position of having to say “no” can be difficult. It can also be difficult seeing people who are actively using the drug you are trying to quit. A familiar adage in the recovery community is to avoid people, places, and things. The working, independent musician finds that especially difficult. On the other hand, many musicians find that performing helps their recovery, as it puts them in touch with the core of their being, and helps them to feel whole. Despite the challenges, many musicians have successfully overcome addictions while maintaining the life of a working musician. Though being a superstar with an entourage may help (you could carry your own AA meeting with you), many independent musicians have managed to remain working musicians while maintaining recovery. Woody Giessmann remains active as a musician, though most of his work now is within the recovery community. Stevie Ray Vaughan (pictured, opposite) continued to record and tour after his stint in rehab. He was unsure if he could continue to perform at that point, but he not only did well, he thrived. Many others continue to make music as they build their recovery. Drugs and rock and roll seem to be inseparable in the minds of many, but you can be a happy, creative, and successful musician and be clean and sober. The key is to find your path to recovery, and to follow it faithfully. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gary Blanchard is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Massachusetts. He is the author of three books and speaks at national and regional addiction conferences. He was named MAADAC’s Counselor of the Year for 2014. Gary has also been writing songs and performing since the late 1960s.



YOUTUBE MONETIZATION I’m writing a whole eBook on this, but here are some basics. Set up your YouTube channel to allow monetization, choose ads that are less than 30

chances as possible for uses, make sure that you have an instrumental version (no vocals) and a “TV-up version” ( just background vocals - “oohs” and “ahhs”), as well as a separated vocals only track, in addition to the final master mix of the song. So, you have 4 “songs” now: a Full Mix

seconds (unless trailers). Entertainment 15 second ads pay best (no skip). Every song you have ever recorded should have at least an album cover video and a lyric video. Uploading these gets your music into the YouTube Content ID system and you will earn a percentage of the revenue share with Google on the ads.


ou’ve probably seen many lists outlining revenue opportunities. Here’s a little twist on not just learning what they are, but also how to utilize them.

But, the key here is to have your music available for other content creators (like your bother’s sister-in-law in her basement making fashion videos) to use simply and in a way it makes you money.

MASTER/SYNC LICENSES By far, this should be the most important part of your music business plan now. In other words, this is where the real money is. Without boring you (again) with music publishing and rights laws, here’s a basic breakdown.

That’s right. If a complete stranger needs to use music for their video on YouTube and

(regular song), Instrumental, TV Up, and Separated Vocals (a cappella). There are countless times when a song cannot be used because of a lyric here or there, or the vocal just doesn’t hit the right emotion. Sometimes, you can get the same money for 30 seconds of the bridge without vocals as you could for the whole song. This is imperative. SHAZAM Shazam might be one of the most important drivers of the future of music. Industry insiders are watching these charts very closely, trust me.

5 Not-So-Obvious Reven If you wrote and paid to record your own music, you are the songwriter, publisher, AND label. This gives you an advantage over most majors, as they have separate labels and publishers to grant licenses for the Master and Sync rights, respectfully. You can negotiate a deal granting the Master (recording) and the Sync (underlying song) rights, all by yourself. This is called “one-stop” or “pre-cleared” deal. Every entertainment medium needs music: commercials, TV shows, movies, local news, web campaigns, and games. Try to start local first; find a local restaurant, car dealership, even a local filmmaker. Understand their messaging, then a pair a track with it for your pitch. 36 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

your music is available, it’s free for them to use, but you get paid. You must administer those rights on the platform and be a partner (which you are not). So, use Audiam or Rumblefish (they charge a 25% admin rate off of the top). This is a little known secret, you CANNOT do this on your own, and you WILL NOT get paid if it is not administered properly. Think outside the box here. You could use your own songs to do a tutorial lesson on bass, guitar, or vocals. You could breakdown one of your song’s structures and BOOM - another video. Add an audio track to one of your songs, explaining the life moment behind its writing. INSTRUMENTALS Probably the most important facet of lost musician revenue is the lack of a clean instrumental track. To effectively license music, and make sure you have as many

Once your music is on iTunes: email with the


enue Tips For Musicians subject line: “Shazam new artist” along with the iTunes link and this: Track artist - track title (track sub-title, if applicable) Do not inundate them with songs that are not available on iTunes. Now, once you’re in Shazam’s ecosystem, tag your own song and save it. Then plan a “Shazam Party” by asking all of your fans to download Shazam (free), then play that song on their computer or stereo at a time (like Tuesday night at 7pm EST) and all of them Shazam it at once. You will hit the top of local charts and possibly larger ones. It will get you noticed and might lead to a larger licensing deal. SOUNDEXCHANGE You know of PROs that collect for performance royalties. But they only do that

for songwriting, publishing, and composition. SE administers the statutory license for satellite radio and webcasters. They collect for the recording owner and featured artist. Think about this way, Aretha Franklin did not write “Respect,” nor did she own the publishing or the master recording. But she IS that song, plain and simple. So why shouldn’t she be paid every time that song is played?

Well, that’s what SoundExchange does - only for satellite and web radio (non-interactive, like Pandora). No terrestrial (yet). ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development. PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 37


U.S. Department of Transpo Regarding Air Travel wit T

he U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a final rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which requires that U.S. airlines accept musical instruments as carry-on or checked baggage on commercial passenger f lights, provided that certain conditions are met. “At DOT, we know how important instruments are to musicians and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that they are not damaged while being transported on airlines,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This final rule implements the statute, and it will go a long way towards keeping instruments safe when they f ly – from allowing them in the cabin if there’s space for safe stowage, to letting passengers buy a seat for certain large instruments.” The rule requires that each U.S. carrier subject to this regulation allow a passenger to carry into the cabin and stow a small musical instrument, such as a violin or a guitar, in a suitable baggage compartment, such as the


overhead bin or a closet, or under the seats, in accordance with FAA safety regulations and the carrier’s FAA-approved carry-on baggage program. Carriers must allow passengers to stow their small musical instruments in an approved stowage area in the cabin if at the time the passenger boards the aircraft such stowage space is available. Under the rule, musical instruments as carry-on items are treated no differently from other carryon items and the stowage space should be made available for all carry-on items on a “first come, first served” basis. Carriers are not required to give musical instruments priority over other carry-on baggage, therefore passengers traveling with musical instruments may want to buy the preboarding option offered by many carriers to ensure that space will be available for them to safely stow their instruments in the cabin. For some musical instruments that are too large to fit in the cabin stowage areas described in the carrier’s FAA-approved carry-on baggage program (e.g., an overhead

bin or under a seat), it is sometimes possible to secure them to a seat as “seat baggage” or “cargo in passenger cabin.” Carriers are required to carry large musical instruments in the cabin if the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased an additional seat to accommodate the instrument and the instrument is contained in a case or cover to avoid injury to other passengers, the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds or applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft, and the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the

requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the FAA. Carriers are not required to provide for this process in their carry-on baggage programs; however the Department encourages carriers that do not currently allow such stowage to

amend their programs to allow it, provided that all safety requirements are met. Carriers are required to accept musical instruments in the cargo compartment as checked baggage if those instruments comply with the size and weight limitations provided in Section 403 and the FAA’s safety regulations. The final rule applies to scheduled and charter f lights in domestic or international transportation operated by U.S. carriers, regardless of the size of the aircraft they operate. The rule also applies to persons not directly involved in the operation of an aircraft who sell air transportation services to the general public other than as an authorized agent of a carrier. This final rule is issued without notice and comment from the public as it simply implements the statutory requirements. The rule will take effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. The


sportation Issues Final Rule with Musical Instruments final rule is available on the Internet at, docket DOT-OST-2014-0231. In addition to issuing this rule, the Department has also created a webpage ( g o v/a i r c o n s u m e r/

air-travel-musical-instruments) that provides useful tips and information for consumers on how to prepare for air travel with musical instruments. The Department also sponsored meetings to provide representatives of musicians and airlines an opportunity to discuss the difficulties musicians face when traveling by air. DOT may conduct additional such meetings to further explore ways to better assist musicians and airline personnel ensure the safe carriage of musical instruments.

photo by Kitty Terwolbeck



The Doctor Is In!

Behind-The-Scenes with Dr. Z, America’s Premier Boutique Amp Builder


hat’s an electric guitar without an amp? Let’s be honest, rock wouldn’t have been birthed until some crusty bluesman cranked his tiny tube amp to 12 so he could be heard over the blaring horns and drums. The amp is almost as paramount to a player’s tone and style as his guitar, maybe more. And in recent years, the boutique and vintage amplifier market has experienced a major resurgence in interest from hobbyists to professional touring musicians. Boutique amp company Dr. Z Amplification 40 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

debuted in 1988 and they haven’t stopped growing since. The company has been gaining respect worldwide from professional players and they continue to add major artists to their top-notch roster. I had a minute to speak with Michael Zaite (aka Dr. Z himself) about how he started the company and made the transition from medical technology to building tube amps. Can you tell me where you’re from and what got you interested in amplifiers? Cleveland is my home. My dad was a TV

repairman and I grew up in the Fifties; the basement of my house was similar to an electronics shop. My dad was gracious enough to teach me a little bit about how tubes worked and the unique processes and construction behind tubes. Anyway, when I was younger there were lots of bands, every house up the street had a basement band and I played drums in the Sixties. So this was a cool time to be a young person and involved in music, because there were so many bands practicing and musicians jamming – eventually many guitar players were leaving their amps at my house


(laughs). I could repair things. I was always the guy that when people bought electronics, they would grab me and ask for my opinion of what to buy. I also have a background in medical electronics; I worked in that field for 15 years. I read in Dave Hunter’s Guitar Tube Amp Handbook that you are a drummer, when did you make the transition to guitars and guitar amps? I suppose what brought me to making amps was this boutique builder renaissance around 1988 and there was this Guitar Player issue, the “amp issue,” and I want to say that the deciding factor for me. I was so intrigued by these amp gurus - they showed Jim Marshall, Paul Rivera, and Jose Arredondo who did the mods for Eddie Van Halen’s amps - it was all the hotshot builders of the time. I started doing repairs and I had a great knowledge of tubes and test tube equipment. So I started out doing mundane maintenance work on my friends’ amps. Who are your favorite artists and what guitar tones influenced the most you when you were younger? Of course Steely Dan. I like Santana, especially in the early ’60s and ’70s - that was amazing music to me. Also John McLaughlin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck. He’s a master of the Stratocaster and stuns me. He makes the most vocal sounds with a guitar, and of course Jimi Hendrix, too. In terms of guitar tone, I do believe all my amps have that basic vintage type tone that works very well with pedals. If you look at any of those players, they play in concert with pedals to get to their sustain and they play like concert violinists. They always have a basic Fender or Marshall style amp; the amps they played had to have a consistency from venue to venue. I spend a lot of time not really trying to cop a specific tone, my idea is to make the Mercedes Benz of guitar amps and make the most reliable and trustworthy amp for a player.

When you were initially designing Dr. Z amps, did you have any mentors that you would refer to for building advice? At the time I started, there was such antiquated technology and in the Seventies, mainly solid-state circuits were taught in schools. I learned about tube amps from my father, but besides him I met a guy named Charlie Jobe and if you look at some of the old jazz Hammond organ players records, you will see credits to Charlie Jobe. He was the premier Hammond organ repairman at the time and as fate would have it, he lived in Berea, a suburb of Cleveland. I went to his house and it was filled with amps and speakers and all kinds of electronic doodads. He had a MIDI-controlled guitar and saxophone and sometimes he would entertain people with those instruments. Charlie was a wealth of knowledge and gave me so much information - I recall him working on Jimmy Smith’s organ and he would tell me all kinds of stories about the designing Jimmy’s equipment and working the backline at his shows. One day, I asked Charlie about a reverb amp

chassis that he had sitting on top of an organ. I though, ‘Hey these things would make really cool guitar amps.’ So I bought a few from him and this is how the original Dr. Z Carmen Ghia evolved, from this reverb chassis. I put a volume and tone control on it and it made a great little amp. I then reached a point where I ran out of the chassis and I remember being a little worried there wouldn’t be more, but then I went to the Columbus Guitar Show with a couple Carmen Ghia and some guy says, ‘Wow those are Hammond O-35 chassis, right? I can sell 300 to you !’ (laughs) When developing Dr. Z amplifiers, did you have a target audience in mind? For instance, do you assess what hobbyists want to play as opposed to touring performers? Because of the scene in Cleveland it’s basically blues guys, and this was the time of Stevie Ray Vaughan, so I have worked with lots of blues guitarists. I believe the magic is in a player’s fingers, the amp is an instrument they use to make their music. You can plug Brad Paisley into his signature amp and a solid state PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 41

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practice amp and he will be able to play the same things and sound like Brad Paisley, the same goes for Jeff Beck, Walter Becker, any of these guys. I don’t have any huge endorsement deals, the simple fact the guy is playing my amps and likes my amp, to me that’s an endorsement. Can you tell me a little bit about your new amps the Antidote and the Therapy? Are they based on any particular circuit or are they an original design? The Antidote is basically an amp that a certain cabinet and speaker manufacturer approached me to make. They wanted a JTM45 voiced amp, 45-watt amp. I was the first guy to release the KT-66 tube amp and my claim to fame with that was that the very First Editors Pick from Guitar Player was for the Dr. Z Route 66, it was the first amp to receive that accolade. So the Antidote was supposed to be like a JTM45, I didn’t copy a schematic at all, I never do that! Tube technology really hasn’t changed too much since the Fifties, but I always tweak and season my designs to add a unique flavor. Every builder is rehashing designs, but I didn’t want to merely copy the JTM45 design. So when I developed the Antidote, I took the amp and sent it to a wellknown blues guitarist named David Holt from Austin. He played it and did a demo and then I developed the product even more from there. David liked the amp so much that he encouraged me to release it onto the market with my Dr. Z name stamped on it. He loved the sound of the blended internal channels and the polished EQ circuit and presence control on the Antidote. The Therapy was the evolution from that, using the Antidote and the sound of lowpowered Tweed Twin 2x12 as its blueprint or springboard design. It’s a 6l6 tube amp with a great master volume control, the amp has pristine cleans and a beautiful overdrive with around 35w. It can be used at home or on stage. Right now Brad Paisley, Steve Miller and Walter Becker all have Therapy amps in their rigs. What are some design principles that you live by? Do you believe in simple circuits vs. complicated circuits, handwired vs. modern PCB construction, custom speaker designs? I make a turret board and I like turret pins more than eyelets. The problem with eyelets is that they attract moisture and too much interaction between components occurs. The little eyelets and you can build a stalactite of solder if you’re not careful! (laughs) Stuff that uses PCB boards has to be shipped off to populate the circuit boards, but I can do all that stuff in house so that cuts down on my

production time. We are all good at modifying turret boards and do a very nice job of hand building a reliable and handy amp. Do you have a favorite preamp tube and guitar speaker? As far as 12AX7s are concerned, I use current production tubes and some of the NOS (New Old Stock or vintage) tubes sound great, but you can’t build a company from NOS tubes. The Tung-Sol reissue 12AX7 is a really, really fine sounding 12AX7, one of my favorites of current production tubes. As far as EL84 tubes, I use old Russian military tubes in my Z-Wreck and I have close to 800 in house. I bought 600 in the last three or four months, since they are reasonably priced. As far as current production, the EHX EL-84 tubes are close to that. They sound a lot like the Russian NOS and hardly have any tube rattle. Can you recommend any “best buys” in the used amp market for our readers? Fender makes the Blues Jr and that’s a great little amp, dollar for dollar, pound for pound. It’s very solid and inexpensive. In terms of vintage stuff, the Gibson GA-40 is a wonderful amp! It’s a great, great sounding amp and they’re priced fairly reasonable. If you want higher gain, modern sounds, the Blackstar equipment is stellar. What advice would you give to builders and entrepreneurs who want to break into the guitar amplifier industry? Stay true to your art, do what you do because you love it. Don’t get into it and think, ‘I’m going to make a lot of money,’ because the competition is way too strong. I was able

to start at a time when there wasn’t much competition, so I was able to get my amps into the hands of artists. I’m not some electronics genius like Ken Fischer, but I put together a nice, reliable product. When I was a kid, there was this department store downtown that sold Vox amps and I would go there all the time. I was mesmerized by those amps; I would just go and stare at them. That stuff motivated me to build and do the designs I do. I kinda take those sounds of yesteryear, the sounds I love and I evolved them. One thing that’s helped me grow and stay big is exporting, as exporting makes up about 35% of my revenue. Are there any modern builders that inspire you? Tone King, Two Rock, Mark from Victoria Amps and Bad Cat. We all communicate together and have a mutual respect for each other. It’s amazing how there’s a really small group of boutique builders; we all know this is a difficult business to be in, so if you made an amp that sucked, in the matter of a week a customer would know because of the Internet. Any last words? Next year, I’m releasing a Dr. Z pedal and it’s basically going to be a channel of the Maz and Jazz designs, built into a six-knob JFET pedal. It has an EQ control with cut and drive. Now you can get this pedal and it will allow you to turn your Maz 18 into a dual channel amp. I hope that it will be on the shelves by early 2015. For more, visit and follow Dr. Z on Twitter @drzamps PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 43


PRESONUS RC 500 Solid-State Channel Strip -$ 599


Super high quality construction and sound. CONS



here are tons of companies that offer quality preamps, so when a company like PreSonus releases a solid-state channel strip, it’s got a lot to live up to. Thankfully their RC 500 does that and more. The RC stands for Robert Creel, who designed their fantastic ADL 700 preamp (which we reviewed back in August 2013) as well as the XMAX preamp. It’s a single channel, solid-state channel strip, with a preamp, compressor, and three-band semi-parametric EQ. Front and center is the VU Meter that can select between the compressor’s gain or the output level. It’s pretty much got everything covered: phantom power, a -20dB pad, and an 80Hz high-pass filter. A preamp is only as good as its components. The RC 500 uses FET (Field Effect Transistors), which have been proven for decades to emulate the warmth of a tube, but keep the clarity and definition of solid state. These also work faster than tubes, giving a quick response, which is important in components like a compressor.

› Transformer-coupled, high gain microphone preamp with a Class A hybrid design


› FET-based soft-knee compressor using hybrid detection methods with switching relays for hard bypass › 3-band semi-parametric equalizer › 48V phantom power, 80Hz highpass filter, and -20dB pad › Front-panel instrument and rear-panel microphone and line inputs with Input Select switch › VU meter w/ selectable output level/gain reduction display › Analog insert with balanced send and return › Balanced output on XLR and 1/4” TRS connectors › Internal toroidal power supply with IEC connector


Speaking of which…the compressor is supreme, from subtle to slamming. Things never seem to get too squashed, and the RC 500 maintains musicality for anything running into it. Even when running direct guitar and bass signals, it doesn’t get in the way or over-process things (a nasty habit of crappy compressors). EQ-wise, it follows the compressor - even pushing its limits, sound quality and signal clarity is maintained throughout. Boosting the signal brings in the frequencies desired, while not bringing in any unwanted hangers-on (again, a nasty habit of lesser systems we’ve tested out). Cutting doesn’t thin anything out, either. It works with the frequencies being manipulated, not against them. At a street price of $599, it might seem slightly pricey at first, but trust us when we say it’s well worth it, considering the quality in construction, and of course the sound. This should be the first choice for anyone looking for a versatile preamp/single channel strip for any studio. Chris Devine

› 8-inch Kevlar low-frequency transducer


› 1-inch (25 mm), ultra-low-mass, silk-dome, high-frequency transducer


PRESONUS Eris Series E8 Studio Monitors – appx $250/each (street) › 140 watt Class AB biamplification › Front-firing acoustic port for superior bass-frequency reproduction › RF interference, output current limiting, over-temperature, transient, and subsonic protection › Optimized, resonance-suppressing internal bracing › Balanced XLR and 1/4-inch and unbalanced RCA inputs


Great sounding, easy to tune to music styles and room configuration. CONS



here are a lot of manufacturers getting into the monitor business; some don’t have a background in professional audio, and it shows. PreSonus has been in the game for years, and their Eris studio monitors prove again why their name is so respected. Encased in a nice, rugged enclosure are a 1” silk-domed tweeter and an 8” Kevlar speaker for low-end support. Below that, a front-facing acoustic port. The rear panel is loaded with input gain, and high frequency and midrange driver adjustment controls. Low frequency cutoff selection, and acoustic space adjustment controls as well as connections to the usual XLR, 1/4” and RCA connections are also located on the rear panel. Right out of the box, these sound fantastic, with plenty of range, response and dynamics. The real deal, though, is the tuneability for the room, and the

type of music (you engineers and home studio producers are gonna love this). The Acoustic Space setting control can really change the interactions of the frequency driver adjustments, and get the monitors to mimic the responses of other speakers, such as a home audio system, car speakers or even a portable speaker. When mixing tracks, having the option to switch between these settings and adjustments can give a better mix across a broader range of listening devices and settings. The best word to describe these speakers in a nutshell is, WOW. Even better is the street price. Look, there are other brands out there that cost twice as much, and don’t have the same components and sound quality, adjustability and overall value for the money. These come highly recommended. Chris Devine



ELECTRO-HARMONIX Soul Food Overdrive Pedal - $89 PROS

Ultra cheap price point, flexible as a boost or an overdrive pedal. CONS



n the guitar world there are some legends, borne out of rarity and cost. In some cases its rep is over-inflated or exaggerated. ElectroHarmonix’s Soul food brings some of that sonic rarity, and delivers the goods tonally. The idea behind this pedal was to deliver the same character of the legendary Klon Centaur at a price, and make it available to the masses. Like most overdrive/boost pedals it’s dead simple. Volume, treble, and drive controls, as well as a true bypass footswitch. Now while we didn’t have a Klon on hand to compare it to, the Soul Food (on its own merit) delivers perfectly. It’s not a super saturated, hyper-gain monster, but the drive can be run clean to hot in a ‘Tube Screamer’ type of way, while still maintaining clarity throughout. Turning down the guitar’s volume control cleans things up nicely, as well. For most players, this would work as a great dirty tone, for rhythm or lead on its own. Turn down the drive knob, and up the volume, and it’s a clean boost that interacts with an amp really well. Even with other drive pedals it plays nicely. Overall, it has plenty of clarity and definition, across its entire set of drive controls. This pedal with a single channel amp is a monster. With a 2-channel amp, it can really change its color when used as a boost. Does it out-Klon the original? That’s a tough one - originally Centaurs went for $300, and now they are very rare, sometimes commanding four-figures on the Internet. There are several companies making copies, and they can run $200 and up. Klon themselves now have a KTR pedal that runs about $400. With that in mind, EHX has put out a pedal that seems to do all that the legend did at a $69 street price. How can you go wrong? Chris Devine


› Transparent overdrive › Boosted power rails for extended headroom and definition › Super responsive › Compact, rugged design › Selectable true bypass or buffered bypass modes 46 FEBRUARY 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Follow on Twitter: @LoveSkillsMusic


Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at


In the state of multiplicity, we will find Loveskills (aka Brooklyn producer Richard Spitzer). Producing textures of therapeutic synth, low frequency bass, and a balance of melodic heart speak. MAKE & MODEL

2008 Dave Smith Prophet Synthesizer WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU

It’s like a lover or friend that knows both my strengths and shortcomings. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE


Nice natural panning and theta 3rd oscillator allows for extra magician wizardry. OTHER NOTES

I had some problems with the knobs and the folks at Dave Smith kindly sent me new ones right away, then I had a blast opening her up and make the repairs myself. Once I finished the new record I said goodbye to the synth. I’m focusing on the unlimited bounty of the acoustic piano right now. It’s endless… CAN BE HEARD ON

The bass line on “Point of View” from my Pure EP. PERFORMER MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2015 47


1960 Gibson Byrdland The Axe Of Choice For The Nuge BACKGROUND Named by Billy Byrd and Hank Garland, who contributed in the making of the guitar when Gibson’s president was looking for new ideas, the Byrdland was introduced in mid 1955, making it essentially a custom-built guitar, initially, as it is today. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE During the late ’50s/early ’60s it was THE guitar to have for jazz and country players because of its narrow short-scale neck (this used to be very popular). NOTABLE PLAYERS Strangely, Ted Nugent. The guitar feeds back a lot at higher volume so it can be a nightmare for rock players. Ted, apparently, has tamed the beast. INTERESTING FEATURES The Byrdland had a rounded single cutaway from 1957-1960, humbucker pickups replaced the alnico pickups used on the earlier models and the guitar came in two colors- natural (wood) or sunburst. The shorter scale made playing single note runs and big neck stretches easier and truly helped guitarists play better. OTHER NOTES The famous jazz club Birdland actually filed a lawsuit against Gibson over the name! It was dismissed when Gibson proved the name’s origins. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Find out more at,, or his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7PM EST).


Hey Marseilles. Nectar Lounge. Seattle, WA. 09.17.2014


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