By Carl Begai
Being the first to embrace an original band with a unique vision takes balls, because doing so is an exercise in uncertainty and fear of “What will everyone else think?” Famous Underground is that road test, you’re the deer in their headlights, and the impact is a skull-rattling reminder that a stand-alone identity in the here and now overshadows past glories and current blood-sucking music industry trends.
Or, if you prefer your promo without the formality, Famous Underground is one of those present day rarities that defies being dumped in the genre box. Fangs and all. A cross between Guns N’ Roses when they were mean (Appetite For Destruction) and latter-day non-suck Metallica (‘Sad But True’, ‘King Nothing’), Famous Underground is a heady mix of ’80s attitude and ’90s grit with former Slik Toxik frontman Nick Walsh at the helm. The man’s voice is still a big fuckin’ deal some 20 years on since ‘Helluvatime’ – a bigger deal, actually – and the songwriting is darker with more muscle behind it; a lot less hit-and-miss compared to the Slik days. Continue Reading
Guns N’ Roses – better known by the old schooler such as myself as Axl & Roses these days – kicked off their residency at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV on October 31st. Author, journalist, musician, internet radio host, long time BW&BK supporter and good friend Joel Gausten was in attendance and checked in with an exclusive review of the show. An excerpt is available below:
By Joel Gausten
“One-hundred minutes. That’s how long it took Axl Rose and his current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses to take the stage at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on October 31st AFTER the 9:00pm start time actually listed on the damn ticket. While a local opening band called 333 did their best to placate the crowd with their brand of Nickelback-lite alt metal (and came back and played an additional 20 minutes AFTER ‘Thank you, good night!’), the groans from within the crowd grew louder with each passing minute. Was that bastard going to screw his audience AGAIN, even on the first night of a lengthy residency in Vegas? Would the headlines about Axl’s erratic behavior once again take center stage over the guy’s unbelievable talents? Would this guy flat-out suck? Anyone who has witnessed the train wreck that occurred at the band’s recent Bridge School Benefit gig surely couldn’t know what in the world to expect as the lights finally dimmed on the Joint’s stage. Would this much-hyped string of shows be the final nail in the coffin for one of Rock’s most incendiary acts?” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Toronto rockers Danko Jones have been a buzz band for years. Europe caught on long before Canada and the United States, turning them into an annual staple on the metal festival of your choice sandwiched with some of metal’s finest. A support tour with Motörhead and Saxon in 2008 gave them a foothold in the UK, not to mention serious credibility amongst the old metal guard. Up until now Canada and the US have devoted half an eye to the band beyond the diehard fans that have been following them for a decade, but 2010 may well be the year things change for the better. It began with a coveted opening slot on the Canadian leg of Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy tour alongside countryman Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) followed by a support tour with Clutch and select headline shows in the US. Add to this a brisk-selling Canadian headline tour announced prior to the official May release of new album Below The Belt and the rock trio seem to finally be on their way to getting the credit they deserve at home. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
I recently caught up with Danko Jones to discuss his new album, Below The Belt, and because he and I both call Toronto home conversation invariably turned to Canadian metal – past and present – and growing up on the local scene back in the day. One topic of discussion was vocalist Sebastian Bach, easily the loudest personality of that era. Baz was also the man that put Skid Row on the map back in 1989 and took the band’s voice, face and fame with him when he got the boot in 1996. Danko, an admitted Bach fan, toured with him on the January 2010 Canadian leg of the current Guns N’ Roses tour, an experience he would be only too happy to repeat. He looks back on sharing the road with his fellow former Willowdale native… ironically, the same part of town where I grew up. It’s a small world.
Danko: “Growing up in Toronto and going to shows, my biggest goal was to play the Concert Hall because that where all the shows I went to were. That level of band to me was ‘You made it!’ If you could get on a tour and be the first of three bands on a night, you were in. I remember seeing Testament, Savatage and Nuclear Assault there; Nuclear Assault were first up and for me it was like ‘Aw man, they made it!’. So sometimes when we get on those tours where we’re first of three I have to remind myself that that’s what I wanted (laughs).”