Friday, January 20, 2017
I admit, I have hung out with some pretty cool people. I never got starstruck except when I met JFK Jr. I was so surprised to see him standing there! I had green hair and he looked at me ,as we were both checking into a hotel, and said "far out!" Roxanne was with me, so I know I wasn't dreaming. But, that's another blog....
On a tour for Soufly 1, we happened to be staying in the Iwo Jima Best Western in Washington DC. We stayed there often, when Soulfly performed in the area, because the price was much better than the city center hotels, and it had a quite good, and reasonable, restaurant. I was outside our room, on the balcony when another tour bus pulled up. I watched as all these cool looking grey haired people came out and headed in. They looked awesome....men with long hair and beards, cool looking ladies with their grey locks streaming. They were all dressed casual, and I wondered who they were.
Kendog came to me and said "did you see Willie Nelson just pulled up?" I was like "wow, this is cool!" He said, "his family works for him and his crew is the same for years." It was at that moment I decided I wanted the same....a loyal crew. One that we walked with on our journey together. I wanted that loyalty, that comfort, that vibe. I wanted to see my crew grow older, have families, stay with us and be happy! I wanted them to feel the same about us.
After a short time, someone knocked on our hotel door. It was Wille's tour manager, asking if I wanted to go visit a bit with Willie!!!! After a couple woohoos, I regained my senses and went down. Maybe someone had told him we were staying there, or God knows how he knew of us, I really don't know. Max was cool with it, so off I went. I may have been floating as I walked down.
I entered his private bus and there he was, looking just like Willie Nelson! Long braids running parallel down his chest, those warm all-knowing eyes, yes, it was Willie frikken Nelson!!! He took me on a short tour through his bus. Just past the living room, he had a little alcove for a computer and bench. I was really impressed, since the big, boxy computers were the norm, and here was one in a bus! I never even knew you could have wifi in a bus back then! Going further back, he had a comfy woolen Western type blanket on the double bed. The back room was set up like a bedroom in a house. I swear I could smell the country smells of Texas in that bus!!
After my bus tour, we went up front and chilled. Yes, he had a bowl of magic snacks on the table. I mean, heck, he was Willie Nelson! We talked about a TV channel he wanted to make and I told him about a few shows I had planned. He was the perfect gentleman and definitely had a magic aura surrounding him. When I left, he said he knew we would see each other again and you know what? I think in the next year or two, that will be a reality!! You will be the first to know!!!
Friday, January 13, 2017
The world has changed in many ways...some good ways, some not so good. Being in the music business isn't all champagne and backstage parties! There are responsibilities that come with being a manager, and often times, it's not by choice. In the early years of my management, there were borders everywhere...serious borders. Different currencies and laws bound travel and business. This applied to bands trying to get a foothold in the business, as well as the huge bands that were established. One sticky situation was transporting merch.
All the bands I ever worked with sold merch. Some sold insane amounts, in fact. In the late '80's and '90's, the black Metal shirt was a hot commodity. Yes, it still is, but in these past times, it was the norm...until the flannel shirt covered the tees up! From Sacred Reich to Soulfly, it was all designs craved by fans. In the midst was Sepultura.
You probably don't know, but the biggest selling shirt design for Sepultura, in the time I managed them, was the Third World Posse shirt, designed by Christina. It had the photo of the guys sitting in a favela. That shirt flew like popcorn kernels in a movie theater!! Christina, Max and myself worked with Angelique (RIP) DeFeyter, to make the Sepultura line of merch, from the Arise album to the end of the Roots' cycle. I still consider the Blue Grape merch company to have been the best merch company for band gear, in my music career. You could go in a small village in Greece and find at least one shirt in some general store!
To improve the company, Angelique spent huge amounts of time trademarking and researching laws in other countries. For a few years, when Christina and I were cracking down on the bootleggers, she even hired Annie Lennox's security team to accompany us on tour. The owners of the bootleg companies were not thrilled with our behavior, and also knew we had large amounts of cash on us.
Traveling wth merch had it's drawbacks in the early days as some territories did not allow merch to come in without paying tax at the borders. Normally we would have paperwork that addressed this, but one time, unknown to myself, I was left without it.....
We entered Sweden after a show in Germany. I was on a bus with the band, and Christina, who sold the merch, was on the crew bus, which had entered the country before we arrived. At the border, our driver was asked if we had merch and replied "no." When the custom's agent looked in the bay, it was ONLY merch!!! I was chilling with Andreas in the upstairs' room and never even knew we were at the border. I was pretty shocked when the agent are upstairs and asked for me too follow him.
They put me in a little locked room, and informed me that I was being detained for smuggling. After questioning me, he brought in a typed confession to sign. When I looked at it, it was written in Swedish! Of course I couldn't sign something that I couldn't read! I posted a 3,000 GBP bail and they took all the merch....all 250,000 SK! The next day, I made the newspaper's front page......not happy... The delivery person, earlier in the day, had put the merch in the wrong bus, and now it was my headache.
We continued on with the tour, and many tours after. One day, about a year later, my office phone rang. I answered, hearing a thick Swedish accent on the other line. "You were just found guilty, in the Swedish court. They will keep the bond and the merch will be returned to Blue Grape." "Uh, ok..."
Since then, I have been more cautious about what the heck is going on with the merch. Do I have the correct papers for transporting? Is everything current and logged? Where the hell is it? It all matters.....
Friday, January 6, 2017
I met Jason Rainey in 1984, at a bar I owned called the Bootleggers. He would come in and stand at the end of the bar and visit. I didn't know he was only a teenager (16 years old or so) because he had a killer fake ID! Occasionally he would be hungry and not have any moola, and I would whip him up some lunch. One day, he shyly said "I have a band." That was news to me! I hooked him up with a gig on our next open date and it all took off from there.
Sacred Reich was special from the start. I could tell because when I see a band that is going to be successful, I get this feeling inside. I can't really explain it; it just hits me. I got it when I first saw Flotsam with Jason Newsted. It appeared again with Sacred Reich and also the first time I ever saw Sepultura. It still comes and goes through the years.
Sacred evolved, changed members, and eventually landed a record deal. I started managing them in 1985. It was at this time that the adventure began! During these early years, I cultivated a friendship with one of the dearest woman in Metal, Debbie Abono. Debbie was from the Bay Area and was managing Forbidden Evil. When I first met Debbie, she invited me to the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, to see The Possessed, who she managed at the time. Debbie had immense faith in all her bands. Through the years I knew her, she helped many bands nurture and invested her time and a good deal of money, into each of them. Many bands and band members today, owe their career to the jump start she gave them.....
I loved Debbie. We were about to become a team, on the road. I had gotten Sacred Reich on a good footing. They were a hot commodity in the '80's, and in demand. Hanging with Debbie in San Francisco one evening, I saw Forbidden in a small club, and really loved their live show. Majestic vocals, windmill hair flying, drums throbbing. I offered the European and the North American legs to her, for Forbidden. It was on!
We both took our daughters, Christina and Julie, to sell merch. That was one big gig and we needed people we could trust. I double-dutied many of the Sacred crew, I had been using. Eventually, we all fit on one bus...and off we went.
In the '80's and '90's, I would enter a country with a band and play in as many cities as possible. France and Germany were like monster size Texas's, with loads of popping' venues. Sometimes, we would tour a country for 3 weeks or more. The standard tour we did was normally 2-3 months minimum.
Keep in mind, there were no computers, no wifi, no cell phones, no fax machines and not even a damn pager, in those early Metal years. There was a border at each country and they weren't fooling around. I would have to change money in each country, find a pay phone and figure out how to dial and make a call. Some of the pay phones were in areas that seemed like a replay of Dusk to Dawn! I raised my children like this. I broke up their fights like this. I dealt with the school and doctors like this. I made tours, advanced gigs, dealt with lawyers, agents and labels on the pay phone. And you know what? You can do it! You can do anything you want to do. Piece of cake!
Friday, December 23, 2016
When Max asked me to have his child, I knew it would change my life in many ways. I would have to find away to integrate a baby in the world of Metal, a world full of headbangers, bus rides, flights, journalists and fans. I never thought twice about it.
I was so excited to go to the airport, the day he stepped off the plane. There was no hesitation in our plans. We not only were having a child together, but we worked together every day, all day long, and thrived on it! I didn't expect what happened in the airport, though.....
I could see an alcohol buzzed, long haired, flannel shirt wearing hunkalicious coming up the walkway from the airplane. As he entered the terminal and saw me, he ripped his shirt open and I saw marker all over his chest! "I love you more" was Sharpie Emblazoned across his torso! I couldn't stop laughing! He said, "I asked the dude sitting next to me what I could do to impress you when I walked off!" That he did; and he still does!! And then we went home together, for the first time. I took him and his empty backpack home with me, and our little unborn Z. The older kids were waiting for their Pops and it's been our life ever since.
This will be the 24th Christmas we shared together. I hope all of you, my dear Students, find someone to share your life and your dreams with! From our crazy home to yours..Merry Christmas!!!
Friday, December 16, 2016
As we arrived this morning in Belo, with Incite in tow, making a DVD, Max and I decided to take Richie to the birthplace of Sepultura. The original story, the very house that spawned 2 young boys, who would one day be the founders of one of the greatest, most copied and most unique bands in Metal History. The boys who would pass by giants and become legends. The very core of Sepultura...Max and Iggor! Richie would go deep into the past and learn the real story.
We stopped at the park near their childhood home. This location was where young boys sat huddled, plotting their dreams. Lyrics became real, riffs were discussed, art work and youthful ideas flowed like the rain!
The church across the street stood tall, overlooking the barrio. Tall, commanding, a presence seen from the distance. It was immortalized on the cover of Bestial Devastation.
And now, a new generation with dreams and visions of the future of head banging, walks the dirty streets....I don't want to spill all the beans of the DVD, you will have to see it for yourself with our Pop as a guide!