Daily Archives: April 20, 2017

Flashback: See Bowie, Metallica, Axl Rose Pay Tribute to Freddie Mercury

Less than half a year after Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, brought on by AIDS-related complications, his bandmates in Queen gave him what guitarist Brian May called “the biggest sendoff in history” in the form of a massive, star-studded concert in London’s Wembley Stadium. David Bowie, Elton John, Annie Lennox, George Michael, Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant, among several others, performed with Queen, and Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, U2 and even Spinal Tap performed their own mini sets at the four-hour extravaganza for some 72,000 Mercury fans. The event took place on April 20th, 1992.

One of the evening’s biggest highlights at what was officially known as “The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness” was “Under Pressure,” David Bowie’s dramatic 1981 duet with Queen. In Mercury’s stead, Annie Lennox sang the tune’s beautifully filigreed higher parts in counterpoint to Bowie’s forceful vocals. Dressed like a shiny, demented black swan – topped off with a raccoon smear of mascara over her eyes – she floated about the stage before inching closer and closer to Bowie leading to a theatrical yet sentimental embrace for the song’s final harmonies. It was a moving moment that drew deafening applause from the crowd.

For fun, also check out video of the ensemble’s visually subdued, but still arresting rehearsal of the song. About three minutes in, you can see George Michael looking transfixed as he sings along.

Aside from the cadre of talent that showed up to pay their respects, the concert is also notable for being the first time that music’s biggest artists came together to draw attention to AIDS awareness. Even more notable was the support of hard-rock and heavy-metal artists, like Def Leppard, Extreme, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. James Hetfield sang Queens’ thrashy “Stone Cold Crazy” with the group (with an assist from Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi on guitar), while Axl Rose, whose presence at the event had been protested by the AIDS activist group ACT UP due to his use of homophobic slurs, sang both “We Will Rock You” and, in a duet with Elton John, “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the band.

But the biggest thing to come out of the show, other than a home-video release, was a collection of George Michael’s performances with (and a few without) Queen on an EP called Five Live that came out a year later. His performances of “Somebody to Love” and a duet with Lisa Stansfield on “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” Proceeds from the release benefited the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity organization that had been launched in Freddie’s name to combat AIDS, and it became a Number One seller in the U.K., going gold there; it bowed at Number 46 on the Billboard 200 but the songs received copious MTV airtime.

Although Michael made a prescient claim about AIDS at the event (If any of you really think that [AIDS victims] are all going to be gay people or drug addicts, you’re lining up to be one of those numbers”), talk related to the disease was kept to a minimum. “That’s definitely what Freddie would have wanted,” Queen drummer Roger Taylor told Rolling Stone at the time. “‘For fuck’s sake, dears, have fun.'”

Watch more highlights form the monument event here.

Queen with James Hetfield and Tony Iommi, “Stone Cold Crazy”:

Queen, Elton John and Axl Rose, “Bohemian Rhapsody”:

Queen and George Michael, “Somebody To Love”:

Queen and Robert Plant, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”:

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Watch Gorillaz's Murdoc, 2D Give First On-Camera Interview

Gorillaz‘s virtual members Murdoc Niccals and 2D sat down for their first live, on-camera interview with BBC Radio 1 DJ MistaJam.

Murdoc and 2D – who are voiced by Phil Cornwell and Nelson De Freitas, respectively – answered an array of fan questions about Gorillaz lore, their new album Humanz, the various guests on the record and what they’ve been up to since their last LP, The Fall? In response to the latter, Murdoc quipped, “I got in a little bit of trouble over a breach of contract thing … and the record company banged me up! I did nine moon in a high security jail underneath Abbey Road Studios.” 

Telekom Electronic Beats hosted the interview on their YouTube page. Gorillaz also teamed with the augmented reality app the Lenz, which allowed users to reveal hidden content during the interview if they pointed their phones at the color magenta.

Gorillaz will release Humanz April 28th. The LP features contribution from Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, De La Soul, Vince Staples, D.R.A.M., Pusha T and more. Gorillaz previewed the album at a secret live show in London in March and will embark on a North American tour July 8th in Chicago.

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Rise Against Preview New LP With Blazing Song 'The Violence'

Chicago hardcore outfit Rise Against detailed their new album Wolves and released the record’s fervent first single, “The Violence.” Wolves will arrive June 9th via Virgin Records.

“The Violence” is packed with jagged guitar riffs and rumbling drums that combine with Tim McIlrath punchy vocals to create a furious tension that finally bursts with a soaring chorus. “Are we not good enough?” McIlrath howls. “Are we not brave enough?/ Is the violence in our nature just the image of our maker?”

Wolves is available to pre-order in digital and physical formats. Rise Against will preview the record for fans with a pair of free shows at the House of Vans in Chicago and Brooklyn, April 21st and 24th respectively. Tickets can be claimed via a ballot system at the House of Vans website. Rise Against will also play the Troubadour in Los Angeles April 26th and embark on a North American tour with the Deftones June 9th in Chicago.

Wolves marks Rise Against’s eighth LP and follows 2014’s The Black Market. The band recorded the album with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains) at his studio in Nashville, forcing the band to relocate from their homes in Chicago and Los Angeles. Of the new setting, McIlrath said, “Living in Nashville drove home that we can’t just focus on our differences. If we can stop and talk to each other, face to face, we might realize our common ground. We are all wolves in the same pack, circling at the gates.” 

Rise Against Wolves Track List

1. “Wolves”
2. “House On Fire”
3. “The Violence”
4. “Welcome To The Breakdown”
5. “Far From Perfect”
6. “Bulls***”
7. “Politics of Love”
8. “Parts Per Million”
9. “Mourning in Amerika”
10. “How Many Walls”
11. “Miracle”

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iZotope Unveils RX 6

iZotope logoCAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — iZotope, Inc., makers of award-winning tools for audio production, today released RX 6, the latest update to its flagship audio repair and enhancement software, RX. Built on years of extensive research in advanced digital signal processing…


Big Boi Launches Third Solo Album Boomiverse in June

http://rockbands.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/04/Big_Boi_Mic_Jack_Cover_Art.jpg?p=captionLOS ANGELES, April 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Big Boi returns with his highly-anticipated third full-length solo album and first release for Epic Records, Boomiverse, in June. The six-time GRAMMY® Award-winning, RIAA diamond-certified hip-hop luminary, producer, and member of&…


Hear Gucci Mane's Brash New Song 'Coachella'

Gucci Mane made the most out of his week in between appearances at Coachella, releasing a new song fittingly named after the Indio, California festival.

The slinking, flute-laden “Coachella” opens with the delightfully scattershot Gucci couplet, “Cold weather, just performed at Coachella/ It’s a cold summer so I’ma paint the Lamb’ yellow.” From there, Gucci Mane spins several brash and colorful verses, dropping references to Travis Scott and piling up cheeky images of Eskimos, snow and soft-top Rolls Royce convertibles.

Gucci Mane’s Coachella sets come in the middle the first tour of the his career. He’s scheduled to play Denver tonight, April 20th, return to Indio on the 22nd and continue his trek April 24th in Columbus, Ohio.

The rapper is reportedly at work on a new album, which he said in January would be called Drop Top Wop, though a release date has yet to be announced. He’s also set to publish a memoir, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, September 19th.

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Review: Sheryl Crow's 'Be Myself' Is Her Toughest, Best in a Decade

It’s no surprise Sheryl Crow has growninto such a classic-rock sage – even when she was coming up in the Nineties,she relished the role of a grizzled road warrior who sang about still gettingstoned and scraping mold off the bread. Her excellent new BeMyself is her toughest and best in a decade, a full-blown return toher fierce rock-queen glory. She aims directly at the torn-and-frayed guitargroove of her Nineties records, but with flourishes of her recent detours intoMemphis soul and Nashville country. Crow flashes her nasty streak inthe highlight “Heartbeat Away,” where her bluesy guitar sounds aspissed off as her voice – she rages against crooks who steal both elections (“Russia’sblowing up the phone”) and loot, snarling, “Ain’t no silver in thebank vaults/There’s just paper where the money used to be.” Her windingroad takes her through lovelorn laments (“Strangers Again”) andyoga-mama romance (“Rest of Me”). Crow’s a grown-up with doubtsabout all this clicking the kids are into – one of the kickiest pop gems herehas the chorus, “Put your phone away, let’s roller skate.” Yet BeMyself has a well-tooled sheen, crafted with her old-time comrades JeffTrott and Tchad Blake; “Halfway There” choogles like a weird lostcollabo between the Cars and Al Green. She sounds mournful when sings “angermakes the world go round” – yet that angry edge helps keep Crow burningbright in dark times.

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Incubus on Creative 'Recharging,' Skrillex Team-Up, 'S.C.I.E.N.C.E.' at 20

Five years ago, the members of Incubus were experiencing one of the darkest phases of their career. Both internal and external forces were making the period around the release of If Not Now, When? an especially brutal one as they saw the end of a 17-year long relationship with their former label and wondered what they could possibly do next.

“I can only speak for myself,” guitarist Mike Einziger tells Rolling Stone via phone. “I got to a point where I felt like I didn’t know what else I wanted to accomplish being in a rock band. I kind of just hit a point where I didn’t necessarily feel like I was doing my best work, and it was getting harder and harder to find ways to get five very different personalities to focus all on the same thing at that time.”

Respective personal issues each member was dealing with made life even more chaotic, leading to an unplanned but much needed hiatus before the band jumped back into a studio space offered to them by friend Hans Zimmer to work on new music. What resulted was a rebuilding of their two-decade-plus creative partnership; Trust Fall (Side A), the 2015 EP that got them back on the road together; and now 8, an energized, pristine rock package featuring some of the band’s finest work in years.

“We hadn’t ever gone into the studio without time constraints before,” Einziger reveals of the freedom the quintet enjoyed in recent years. Touring with Deftones and Death From Above 1979 last summer also helped lift their spirits. “It felt like a recharging, and it was a nice reminder to us that our audience is huge and still wants to watch us play.”

For both Einziger and singer Brandon Boyd, close friends and collaborators since they were teenagers, working on outside projects brought them a fresh perspective. Boyd worked on a solo project called Sons of the Sea with producer Brendan O’Brien, released a book and rehearsed for the part of Judas in a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar that was also set to feature Johnny Rotten, ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez and Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams. The 50-show tour was abruptly canceled a week before its premiere due to poor ticket sales, a bit of cosmic luck for Incubus, who were offered the studio space from Zimmer immediately after.

“I was just feeling like I should say yes to more things,” Boyd explains of his mid-hiatus pursuits. “I found myself kind of getting a little bit too precious about decisions I was making and then that I ultimately wasn’t making. I had been dancing with courage and with self-confidence before but it always felt like it was sort of a pensive dance so I decided to make some more resolute decisions. The older I get the more I understand that I’m quite shy for the most part.”

Einziger took a similar left turn prior to 8. Realizing that the only musical project he had worked on outside of Incubus was friend Jason Schwartzman’s musical project Coconut Records, he decided to experiment and collaborate with new artists. He worked on the Amazing Spider-Man 2 score with Zimmer, co-wrote and played guitar on Avicii’s worldwide hit “Wake Me Up” and produced songs on Tyler, the Creator’s Cherry Bomb.

“His energy, his creativity, his brain is really different than working on an Incubus album,” the guitarist says of his time with Tyler. His biggest takeaway from these outside projects was opening himself up to new methods of writing and producing. To further broaden Incubus’ horizons, Einziger brought his good friend Skrillex by the studio to hear what they were working on for 8, leading to the famed producer mixing the shimmering, catchy “Familiar Faces” before taking a crack at mixing and producing every song on the new LP.

“We were able to snag him for two weeks in a rare moment of availability for him and we all met in the studio every day,” Boyd explains of their surprising union. “It was like there was one more lick to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop and we found it.”

Still, with all the excitement and newfound vigor, there’s a somber tone to the album’s lyrics. The band had a house in Venice Beach where they were able to reconnect, but as they rebuilt their relationship, Boyd had to deal with the dissolution of another one.

“I was in a long but graceful unfolding relationship,” Boyd reveals, noting that the eventual breakup followed a romance of 10 years. “There was no betrayal. There was no, like, heart-wrenching ‘Get out of my house!’ kind of thing. We kind of held each other through the experience but carried with it a very broad spectrum of emotions, and I think that a lot of those unconsciously pushed through in the lyric stuff.”

“I think he showed an immense amount of vulnerability and honesty in the lyrics,” Einziger adds. “I’m really happy for that. I think that’s significant.”

As they push forward into the future, the band is also looking back this year. This summer marks 20 years since they released S.C.I.E.N.C.E., their major-label debut and foray into nu metal that led them to bigger stages, where they opened for bands like Korn and 311 before releasing their mainstream breakthrough Make Yourself two years later.

“I still felt like I was a kid completely when we made that album,” Einziger reminisces. “A bunch of those songs were written while we were still in high school. Just being here making music in 2017 still is a privilege. It’s rare.”

For Boyd, it’s hard to wrap his head around the anniversary. “In certain ways, it feels like it was a lifetime ago,” he says. “It feels like we’re just figuring out how to be a band and how to write a song, and we blink and it’s been 20-something years.”

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