JOHN 5: ROCK’S NOT DEAD, IT’S CHANGED

I posted an interview with Gene Simmons of Kiss a while back. Below you will find John 5’s (of Rob Zombies band) take on the matter from an interview he did recently.

Michael MacLeod of Wolf’s Den Records says “I will tell you this, my experience is, it is getting much harder to make a living in the music industry. People don’t want to pay for music and even expect to get any music they want for free. Many venues are still paying bands what they were making 30 years ago or worse yet paying nothing stating “they are giving us exposure”. We as musicians and artists need to push for a change to improve our situation. I personally will not play for free or for less than what I feel my time, effort, experience and talent are worth. You wouldn’t ask a mechanic or an electrician to work for free or for exposure”.


So Wolf-pack, What do you think? What’s your take on this matter?

Here is the John 5 Interview.

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JOHN 5: ROCK’S NOT DEAD, IT’S CHANGED

Rob Zombie guitarist says artists just have to work harder to keep it alive

Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 insists rock isn’t dead – but says it has changed dramatically in recent years.

Kiss mainman Gene Simmons sparked debate earlier this year when he stated: “Rock is finally dead. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age, it was murdered.”

That comment led to a string of artists defending rock music, including Rob Halford, Joe Perry, Mark Tremonti, Corey Taylor, Scott Ian and Slash. Now John 5 has given his take on the state of the industry, saying although piracy is a problem, the music lives on.

He tells Icon vs Icon: “The industry has changed dramatically. It has changed so drastically, it’s like night and day. It’s not dead, but it changed. We just have to keep writing great songs and doing great shows to keep it alive.

“It’s not just rock. It could be rap, country or anything like that. Music is a tough business because there’s so much piracy out there. I know what it was like because back in the day, I was around when people were standing in line to buy a record. It has definitely changed a lot.”

But the guitarist, who released his eighth solo album Careful With That Axe earlier this year, says he wouldn’t discourage anyone from pursuing a career in the music business.

He continues: “I would say, if you don’t do it, somebody else will. If you really want it, just do it. If you do something to move closer to your career every day, even if it’s just making a couple of phone calls, you’ll get there eventually.”

Earlier this year, Zombie said John 5 was the only musician he could trust. And the guitarist, who is working with the frontman on the follow-up to 2013’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor and the soundtrack to his film 31, says the pair are best friends.

He adds: “Our relationship couldn’t be better. We have such a great working relationship in the studio and on the road. We are like best friends, so it’s such a pleasure to work with him. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

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New Album Release.

Hey Wolfpack!

Michael MacLeod & Meredith Bailey are tying the knot soon.  In 10 Days to be exact. To celebrate this momentous occasion they are releasing their first joint effort, an album of cover songs completely produced, arranged, sung, played, recorded, mixed and mastered by just the two of them. It was a huge undertaking and was done on a tight schedule, but it is a fun and amazing album featuring songs from 1957 to 1980. We are only pressing 200 copies (over 100 of which are spoken for already) so keep your eyes here on our blog, our Facebook page and Twitter accounts to pick up your copy. We will also be doing a contest giveaway to be announced soon.

Here is a little teaser of our Album Cover.
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CD’s still king in Japan!

How do you prefer to buy your music?
CD’s or digital Downloads?
Check out our latest Blog Post and chime in.

85 Percent of Music Sales in Japan are CD’s

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It’s a well known fact that CD sales have been going down, and fast, for some time now. Ever since people got the internet in their homes and learned what it could do, the downfall of the physical disc has been on it’s way, whether it be by piracy or iTunes. However, it appears that in an increasingly digital business, there is one place in the world where the physical still reigns supreme.

Japan, the world’s second largest music market, is completely obsessed with CDs. In fact, of all music sales in the country, 85% are CDs, whereas in other countries, digital is the leader, or in progressive spots where streaming has now taken over, such as Sweden. If that wasn’t enough of a surprise, digital sales in the country have actually been receding for years now, which is the opposite for much of the world (though not for the US, where digital sales dropped for the first time ever this past year). In fact, while online sales reached $1 billion in 2009, just four years later they raked in only $400 million—a massive fall in such a short time frame.

While it’s odd seeing almost anyone buying a compact disc these days, it is particularly strange that Japan would be leading the world in CD sales, as they are typically an early adopter when it comes to new technology. The country is often years ahead of other markets when it comes to new phones, computers, and the like.

The New York Times reports that there are perhaps two main reasons why this phenomenon is happening: a “protectionist business climate” in the music industry and a cultural love of collecting things.

The Japanese public seems to be wary of digital sales when it comes to music, and it’s hard to say completely why. It may stem from a lack of options in the sphere, which are being held back by big businesses. Not only is rights management very confusing in the country, making licensing deals difficult, but companies also aren’t too worried about venturing into the digital space at the moment. Spotify and Rdio, two of the biggest streaming options in the world, don’t have a presence in the country yet.

In countries like the US, the move to selling music digitally happened out of necessity. That’s where people had gone to find their music for free, and it was seen as the only hope for an industry bleeding profits. In Japan however, while CD sales are declining, they aren’t going down anywhere near as fast as they did elsewhere, and they still bring in big bucks.

On top of that, the Japanese have a true love of collecting things, and this can help spur sales. Many stores and artists run promotions that encourage fans to buy more than one copy of an album, such as including tickets or special artwork. Deluxe editions and greatest hits do especially well in Japan, compared to the US where they usually only convince a few die hards to spend the extra money.
Tower Records, one of many mighty CD store chains that disappeared as digital grew, is still alive and well in Japan, with all locations bringing in a combined $500 million in sales a year. In fact, when the brand filed for bankruptcy and went out of business in the US in 2006, there were 89 locations. In Japan, there are still 85 in business, and no end in sight.

CDs may be on their way out, but they aren’t dead yet. The discs still account for 41% of recorded music sales around the world, which total around $15 billion. Like vinyl, there may always be a subset of the market that wants what only CDs can offer: a plastic case, a disc, and a booklet to go with their music.

GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’

Most of us who are song writers and professional musicians know how much the the music industry has changed in the last decade or so. Gene hit’s the nail on the head on several of his points here. It’s a sad state of affairs but for those of us with music running through our veins. We have no choice but to continue on and do what we do best. Keep on Rockin!  

Check out this interview with Simmons.
Wolf’s Den Music.


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GENE SIMMONS: ‘ROCK IS FINALLY DEAD’
The Kiss rocker expands on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of recorded music

By Nick Simmons on September 4, 2014

I spoke with my father about his legacy, the legacy of his contemporaries, and the state of the music industry today. Invariably, it seemed, we began to talk about file-sharing.

But this is not that old story of an out-of-touch one-percenter crying victim. As so many pointed out during the now-infamous Napster public relations war, the rich/famous/established musicians are not the victims of the digital revolution. My father instead laments the loss of opportunity for my generation, those who have begun to sense that it may no longer simply be a matter of dusting our hands, learning a skill, and putting in the time. There is a system that is broken for those of us who love songwriting, instruments, and all the soul of the analog, and it is now working against us — unless we conform. Unless we decide to stick, safely, to pop, and let gray men in a boardroom write our songs for us, dress us, and sell us from somewhere in the shadows.

The death of rock music came, as we all feared, not as a bright, burning explosion, but as a candle that slowly faded away—and in my father’s view, we are all at fault, for slowly leeching its fire without giving back any of our own.

NICK SIMMONS: You once said the music business isn’t dying — it’s dead. What would you say to young musicians and songwriters today trying to navigate this new terrain?

GENE SIMMONS: Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support. There was an entire industry to help the next Beatles, Stones, Prince, Hendrix, to prop them up and support them every step of the way. There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead.

Rock is finally dead.

“ROCK DID NOT DIE OF OLD AGE. IT WAS MURDERED.”
I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did. He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There’s always the changing tide of interests — music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: “What’s next?” But there’s something else. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid’s 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he’s jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.

The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there’s a copy left behind for you — it’s not that copy that’s the problem, it’s the other one that someone received but didn’t pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance. If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor. And I’m not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them.

Here’s a frightening thought: from 1958 to 1983, name 100 musical anythings that are iconic, that seem to last beyond their time.

NS: The Beatles, The Stones…

“FROM ’84 UNTIL TODAY, NAME SOME. JUST GIVE ME A FEW — ARTISTS THAT, EVEN AFTER THEIR PASSING, ARE OR WILL BE INESCAPABLE.”
GS: Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the numerous classic Motown artists, Madonna, U2, Prince, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Individuals, all unanimously considered classic, timeless, revolutionary. Now from ’84 until today, name some. Just give me a few — artists that, even after their passing, are or will be inescapable. Artists on the same level as the ones I just mentioned. Even if you don’t like them, they will be impossible to avoid, or deny, even after they’ve stopped making music and maybe passed on. In fact, they become bigger when they stop. Name artists that even compare with the ones I just named.

NS: Nirvana?

GS: Nirvana. That’s about it. They are the notable exception. Keep thinking. It’s harder, isn’t it, to name artists with as much confidence? The pickings are so slim, and it’s not an arbitrary difference. There was a 10- to 15-year period in the ’60s and ’70s that gave birth to almost every artist we now call “iconic,” or “classic.” If you know anything about what makes longevity, about what makes something an everlasting icon, it’s hard to find after that. The craft is gone, and that is what technology, in part, has brought us. What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that. There is a reason that, along with the usual top-40 juggernauts, some of the biggest touring bands are half old people, like me.

NS: What does this bode for the industry of the future?

GS: There is no record industry, unfortunately. Not like there was. There are some terrific bands out there — Tame Impala, which you turned me on to, and so on. And during the ’60s and ’70s they would’ve become big, I’m convinced.

But, strangely, today, everything pales before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Look up the numbers on that song. He blows everyone else out of the water.

NS: The biggest song of all time is an Internet meme. Sounds almost like popular music is jumping the shark.

GS: Yes. My guess is that despite those numbers, it will still pass from the public eye in a short time. I don’t know what that means, but it’s clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time — meaning, artists whose art can survive them, who become icons — are so rare as to almost be nonexistent.

NS: Considering that it doesn’t seem to affect you directly, how did you become so outspoken about this? Along with a few public figures I could name, you’ve been one of the most vocal critics of file-sharing.

GS: My perspective is decidedly different than perhaps the perspective of somebody who was born here. If you’re a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche. I find that many of the more patriotic people are immigrants, and they’re the ones who stand still when the flag goes up, out of gratitude. My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that’s what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism — and I’m a firm believer in free-market capitalism — then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure. You’ll never understand unless you’re the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you’re the one who’s been robbed, there’s a moment of clarity.

And let’s be clear: I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.

NS: They voted with their dollar.

“PATRIOTISM IS CORNY, AND THAT’S A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS.”
GS: That’s right. And going back to that national psyche thing… I firmly believe that there’s something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it’s now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that’s a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on — I find faults in both, some social and some political issues — but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted. And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the — and here’s the corny part — glory of America. And that’s too fucking bad.

NS: Any last thoughts?

GS: Always, but I think I’ve talked enough for a lifetime.

One of the best unknown rock guitarists dies

Today, Wolf’s Den marks the passing of legendary rock guitarist Dick Wagner. Dick Wagner is famous for his work with Alice Cooper (co-writing Only Women Bleed, School’s Out, and Billion Dollar Babies, among others), Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, and Rod Stewart, but he is uncredited for work done on many albums for many bands, including Kiss.Gene Simmons: “Dick Wagner was the consummate gentleman axeman.”

He will be missed.”We here at Wolf’s Den will Miss Dick Wagner as well. R.I.P. sir.
He will live on through his work and his fans.

Check out an interview with Dick Wagner by Alice Cooper Here

Dick Wagner, esteemed Michigan rock guitarist, dead at 71
Wagner, the Michigan-bred guitarist renowned for his work with Alice Cooper, the Frost, Lou Reed and others, succumbed to respiratory failure at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center in Arizona.

Studio Techniques: Gain Staging

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First off, what is gain staging and why is it important?

Gain staging is the process of managing the levels of incoming audio signals to eliminate noise and prevent distortions or signal clipping as much as possible.

How do I address gain staging in my recordings?

Historically, in the days of analog recording, engineers would try to find a “sweet spot” at which the incoming audio signal was significantly above the ordinary analog noise floor but yet would fall just shy of clipping the audio signal during the loudest parts of the performance.  This spot was often around the 0 db zone.  This would result in tracks that were as hot as possible without clipping.

However, with the advent of digital recording, the recording noise floor has dropped to next to nothing – and the gain stage needed to change with it, too.  Digital recording not only allows for, but basically requires, a far more conservative approach to recording levels.

This technique creates good-quality recordings with, by default, low background noise, and plenty of headroom on the meter.  Often, plugins used during the mixing and mastering phases of recording will use some of that headroom, so if your initial performance was done at too high a level, the addition of plugins can easily push your performance into the dreaded “too hot” zone.  The quality of your sound will suffer.  Far better to record at a conservative level and make a track louder, if necessary, during the mastering stage than to have to over-compress and squash the life out of a good performance that was recorded at too high a level.

For digital recording, the “sweet spot” tends to be around -18 dB.

Proper gain staging also helps in the mixing phase of recording – in general, mixes turn out better when tracks are at low levels on the faders.  If a mix is too quiet for you to adequately hear it, don’t turn up the faders on the board – turn up your monitors!

After recording, mixing, and ensuring that no signal-clipping has occurred in any track, bus all channels through a stereo master fader.  This fader represents an aggregate of all signals being bussed to it from other channels, so it may very well be the case that it will have a very high signal, or may even clip.  If this is the case, group all audio channels and turn them down as a collective unit until the master fader is at about -10 db.  It should not be approaching the -3 db mark – don’t just turn down the master fader!  This only masks the symptom of the issue without resolving the issue itself.

I hope this helps with your next mix. Good luck!

Free Eventide Plugin

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Hey, Wolf pack!  Get your Free plug-in! Now through July 8,

 

Wolf’s Den Music loves to help fellow engineers and musicians get new gear and software whenever possible. Especially when it’s FREE.

Eventide is giving away their UltraChannel plug-in for FREE – a $249 value! Head over to Eventide.com and use the access code 0C4BA949 to claim your free plug-in. Share this post with your engineer friends – Like our Wolf’s Den page here on WordPress and our FaceBook page to show some love.  Who wouldn’t want an awesome channel strip plug-in for free?

Enjoy,

Wolf’s Den Music

Should I bother with acoustic treatment?

Hey Wolf-pack,

We here at Wolf’s Den Studios are back from a brief hiatus out to Las Vegas.
I want to start getting into the tips and tricks portion of our blog and I thought a good place to start was with a question I hear often: “Is acoustic treatment really necessary?”

My short answer?  Yes, otherwise I would not have just spent two weekends taking care of exactly that!

To answer this question properly – that is, my long answer – let me first discuss what acoustic treatment is, what it is not, and what conditions it works best under.

Let’s start with what acoustic treatment is not.

  • Acoustic treatment is NOT soundproofing.
  • Acoustic treatment will not stop sound from leaking into your studio.
  • Acoustic treatment will not stop sound from escaping your studio.

The only way to “soundproof” your studio is the same way big pro studios do it: Floating floors, floating ceilings, and multi-layer walls.  Unless money is no object – and less face it, money is definitely a object for most of us – these sorts of structural changes are just not feasible for a home recording setup.  But just because you are not in a big pro studio does not mean you can’t achieve a big pro sound – and that is where acoustic treatment comes in.

So what is acoustic treatment, anyway?

Acoustic treatment is something that will reduce audio reflections.

  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections in your instrument recording environment.
  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections in a vocal booth.
  • Acoustic treatment will reduce reflections that affect your mixing room sound (and therefore your mixing decisions).

These audio reflections create uncontrolled reverb: undesirable echoes that can make a recording sound tinny, dull, or muddy.  Getting rid of uncontrolled reverb is a key component of recording a clean, rich tone.

The point of acoustic treatment is absorption and diffusion of sound waves.  Hard, flat surfaces, like walls, ceilings, and floors, will reflect almost all sound waves back into the air space of the room, where they will be recorded by an active microphone.  By breaking up and softening these surfaces, sound waves can be “soaked up” to prevent their continued reverberation around the studio.

What can be used as acoustic treatment?

Here at Wolf’s Den Studios, our preference is for Auralex acoustic foam.  This is sold in tiles or sheets, and can be found for reasonable prices online.  It is a high-density, fire-resistant foam, with the fronts sculpted in triangle or wave shapes to eliminate flat surfaces.  It comes in thicknesses ranging from half an inch to over 3 inches thick.  The thicker the layer of foam, the better its properties for sound absorption, particularly of low frequency, bass-y tones.

Auralex can, however, get pricey: even a small room, when treating 4 walls, a ceiling, and a door, can add up to a surprising amount of square footage that needs to be purchased.

Some may opt for using egg-crate foam, of the kind that is commonly used on beds.  While this is better than nothing – marginally – bedding foam often is not dense enough or thick enough to provide adequate absorption and diffusion of sound, so it wouldn’t be our first recommendation.

Very heavy drapes such as those used in theatres or the light and sound blocking drapes used in high end hotels can be an option, if you are fortunate enough to be able to acquire these cheaply at an estate sale or auction. If appearance is not important to you old mattresses will also be effective.

What should I treat, and where?

This depends on the function of your studio space.  For recording vocals, a room that has 100% acoustic treatment coverage is best – which is one reason why vocal booths are often so small!  For recording instruments depending on your room you can start with about 50% coverage.

For mixing and mastering, a good place to start is treating the surfaces immediately to the left and right as well as behind your studio monitors. I would also recommend treating the ceiling above your listening position. One method to determine acoustic treatment placement in your mix room is to use a hand held mirror held at the level of your studio monitors and place foam anywhere you can see a direct reflection of your monitors. More may be necessary but this is a good place to start.

But does it really make a difference?

I’ll let you decide for yourself.  Here is a recording in our vocal booth prior to giving it acoustic treatment.

And here’s a sample of a vocal recorded after treating the vocal booth with 100% coverage of Auralex.

No effects have been added to these samples.  The difference you hear is solely the result of acoustic treatment.

Is acoustic treatment the magic bullet that will instantly solve any problem in the studio?  No – but proper acoustic treatment is a critical step in achieving a pro studio sound.  With proper acoustic treatment, you are one step closer to getting a clean, professional sound in a home studio environment.

VB11

Letter to a young songwriter

I came across this letter to a young songwriter written by singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier and thought it worth sharing. She really hits the nail on the head.

“Nearly everything that matters is a challenge, and everything matters.” — Rilke
You’ve watched your musical heroes take the stage to thunderous applause, adulation and love, and you burn for that, for yourself, and you want to be a professional writer of songs. The songwriting call has whispered in your ears for years now, and you’ve decided to answer it. You are ready to embrace it, to begin your journey as a songwriter. I congratulate you, and would offer you a few considerations (if you are open to hearing from someone who has trudged this path for decades now).

Warning: a songwriter’s life is not what you think it is.
Music is more than a bouquet of sweet vibrations; it is something from a higher world, which we humans have been given the power to invoke. Artists are alchemists, with our hands in the holy. The Sacred. Yes, there is great power in creating music, but also great danger. The journey of the artist is filled with pitfalls. Where there is great beauty and the power to move millions on this path, there is always great risk.

Songwriting is a noble calling that requires more than talent and perseverance. It requires courage. If you are willing to face yourself and honestly reveal in your songs what you’ve seen in that unveiling of yourself, then you have a chance of writing songs that will outlive you. What can we gain by walking on the moon and planets if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages, and it is the job of the artist. The object of art is not to make salable products. It is to save one’s self, and to be a part of saving us all. Either we tell our story, or our story tells us.

And know this: A half-truth is a whole lie. Character, like integrity, is much easier kept than recovered. So write from your true self, not the self you think you should be. Do not try to impress us, and do not hide behind thin walls and smoke screens. It will only bore us. Brutal self -honesty is your challenge, and will reward you with much more than you can yet imagine.

You must learn how to reject acceptance and accept rejection. People’s opinions of you and your work are irrelevant. The search for love and applause has no place in the creative process. Here is what I know: thriving artists suffer from a feeling of inferiority, a feeling of reaching for something that keeps being just outside our grasp. We make contact with it, and then it turns to smoke. It cannot be held. So our work involves a constant striving. Those that don’t know this feeling are pretending to be close to art and live in secret fear of the aloneness of the deep creative process. Art requires audacity, and if you are not afraid, you are not taking risks. You will simply skim the surface and offer the world nothing new. Ultimately, your songs will not matter.

An artist’s job is to reach communion with truth, and bring that holy light into the world in order to soothe souls trapped in dark places. It is exceedingly difficult work and most who attempt it fail. That said, there is no safety in success either. In fact, triumph brings a greater danger, because the intense light of success is a wick that draws in darkness. Stars burn up. Flame out. Stars overdose, suicide. Some become oldies acts that create no new magic but simply repeat what has already been done over and over again, not for beauty’s sake, but for cash. And they suffer this as a humiliation and become bitter. A deep grounding in solitude is necessary to remain vital and creative. Solitude courts the muse. So know this: you have chosen a lonely path.

As you work, you will have to learn to embrace each failure as an unavoidable part of the process. There will be many false starts and errors, and even though it is terrifying, you must continue to err, and to do so on the bold side. Have the audacity to lose face, don’t worry about saving it, and embrace each glorious failure as a necessary part of the journey. The chief danger in songwriting (and life) is taking too many precautions. There is a very real relationship between what you contribute and what you get out of this life, but satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. The point of the work is the work. Being vulnerable in your work will bring you strength.

And here is a final warning. If you do succeed and people come to know your name and your songs, the creative process gets harder, not easier. Fame and success attracts parasites, clingers on, and wannabe’s. These non-creators will do everything in their power to attach to the light around you thinking it will bring them out of their own darkness. It will not, but they do not know this. If you let them in, their hungry mouths will suck the light from you and when you are emptied they will simply move on and attach to someone else’s glow. You must rid your life of these people, or suffer their debilitating and soul crushing manipulations.

Fame and success also bring laziness, and ego swelling. With success comes the confusion of believing you are doing great work, backed up the reassurance of people on your payroll, when you are not. It is easy to become delusional and get lost. Fame is a full time job. So is songwriting. A choice is often required. Choose wisely.

So then, again the point of all this work is simply the work. Struggle is the path, and there is no destination, only the path. We do not get “there.” There is no there. There is only here, now, on the path, in the struggle. We all must face the daunting blank page in front of each of us each morning. In this, we are all alike. I wish courage and perseverance for you as you embark on this life’s work of writing songs. You will need it.

A recent Interview with Michael MacLeod

501NEG Blog: Member Snapshot, with Michael MacLeod

March 9, 2014 at 8:11am

**story written by Jodi Marmonti-Anderson**

Michael MacLeod is not only a member of the 501st Legion but is also a highly experienced and accomplished local musician.  Michael has sung lead vocals and played guitar in numerous bands, and has taught music lessons to hundreds of students.  He is the owner of Wolf’s Den Music.

As soon as Michael could stand he was dancing to any music playing in his vicinity (even TV jingles).  He states that “the bug really bit me at about age 7, when I saw a teenager down the street with an electric guitar and knew I just had to have one.”  Though his parents were struggling financially they bought him a guitar and amp and the lessons began.  Through his lessons he met his mentor New Bedford, MA musician Jim Tavares.  “Upon first sight of seeing Jim with his long hair, ripped jeans and chucks (sneakers) I knew I wanted to be a rock guitarist!”  At the time Jim was only accepting adult and advanced students, but after a lot of begging to the music store owner (Gary “Boz” Bosworth of Boz’s Music) Jim decided to take Michael on as his first child student.  Michael would continue to study music and hone his craft, later studying under the famous song writer Adam Mitchell.

As a huge Kiss fan, Michael auditioned for a tribute band when he was 15 and was thrilled to learn that he had been selected for the group.  He started touring and missed many days of high school to keep up with his gig schedule.  Performing as Ace Frehley, Michael toured the east coast for almost a decade in two different Kiss tribute acts: Rock & Roll Over and Destroyer. He was a featured performer with Destroyer on the internationally distributed “KAOL 2 Creatures of the Net” album (Kiss Army online).  All proceeds from the album were donated to cancer research in Eric Carr’s (former Kiss Drummer’s) name.  He has performed at many official Kiss conventions with past members of Kiss, including Ace Frehley.  Michael’s biggest show played was at the Bangor, ME Civic Center, where he performed to a sold-out crowd of around 3000 fans.

Michael has enjoyed his career as a musician.  “I get to share music with people, which is a chance to connect to people on a whole different level.  I love playing in front of a large crowd and the energy exchanged between myself (the performer) and the audience. It’s a feeling that is amazing because you go out there and give it your all and get ramped up then the audience gets excited and gives all that energy back to you so it’s this great synergy.”  He loves writing and creating original music, which is currently his focus as he works on his first solo album. “It’s an amazing journey from getting the germ of an idea in your mind to creating a fully realized song, [and] then sending that song out into the world and hoping people get something out of it.”

There are down sides to working as an artist, of course. Financial challenges (particularly in the age of internet piracy) can make it difficult to make a living as a musician.  There are some people who believe that musicians should give their music away for free.  Michael also notes that sometimes people don’t respect the kind of work he is doing.  “Many people don’t realize the amount of hard work it is to be a full time musician: the years of studying and practicing, the sacrifices made to excel at your craft, the thousands of dollars invested in gear and instruments and the list just goes on.”  Despite these setbacks, he enjoys being his own boss: “At the end of the day I’m completely in charge of my life and that is what Rock and Roll is all about to begin with. Freedom!”

Outside of music Michael is a big science fiction and comics fan, which lead him to join the 501st Legion, as well as becoming one of the area’s more well-known Green Arrow costumers.  One little known fact from Michael’s past is that he won a DC Comics contest as a kid and they used his design as the new version of a Parademon. “You can see the Kiss influence in the eye make-up design and bits of his costume.” The only Parademon ever to have a name in comic books was named Michael (possibly due to his redesign of said character).  Michael received a 10 speed bicycle from the contest, which he still has to this day.

After completing his solo album along with a few other musical projects on the table, Michael would like to compose a film score.  Be sure to check out his sites at https://wolfsdenmusic.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfs-Den-Music/251584701558005?ref=hl .