Tag Archives: Rockzone

RockZone 10th anniversary party

aniversario

The 10th anniversary of Rockzone Magazine started with a party held at Rocksound last Thursday. Last year I also played some music when celebrating the #100 issue, which also meant the change to digital and free publishing, which has been a huge success, thus it was a huge pleasure to be invited to share stage dj’n with Turbolovers DJs and Danko Jones.

Lots of friends, collaborators, familiar faces and other remarkable personalities in the rock and press scene came to celebrate these 10 years of existence of the magazine, which, considering the difficult times press is going through lately, especially since the internet era, is a great achievement. My contribution to the mag hasn’t been for too long time, but I’m thrilled for being part of it, and I really hope it lasts, and I can improve my input.

rockzone team

It’s hard to open for a party, but I tried my best to get people warmed up for Danko Jones’ session anyway. I took record of all my first session, but when I joined the Turbolovers DJs there was too much fun and booze, so this time the playlist is a bit short, but believe me, it got wild in the end.

Congratulations to Jordi and Richard for their amazing work!

The truth about rock interviews (by a rookie)

After one year and a half as a contributor for RockZone magazine, I still see myself as the rookie of the team. Much stuff yet to learn, and apparently some shit to swallow, according to a couple of fails I’ve gone through.

It’s been a year since I had my first phone interview with great Dave Wyndorf, of Monster Magnet, and the experience was awesome. The fact that he’s an artist I’ve been following for years was an advantage, but also the guy loves talking and interacting, so everything went nice and easy.

I must be humble and confess that I definitely need more experience. I still get sweaty minutes before a  phone call, and if you were listening to the recordings you’d notice I’m nervous for a couple of minutes till I start focusing. Still I’m already able to distinguish between a good and a bad speaker, and it’s very easy to identify their mood, decisive for a successful or terrible interview.

phone

Like I said, I had the best start. I understand it now as the first timer luck, there’s no other explanation. After that, everything’s been a bit more like a rollercoaster, with peaks and fails, and the ugly truth.

Interviews are not like having a beer with a friend, even though there are occasions and people which might make you feel extremely comfortable, but let’s have something clear: an interview is fuckin’ promo, which means the least the interviewee should do is to be polite with the journalist. I’m not saying nice, which also makes things, reviews, and that personal point of view from the interviewer reflected on the text, even better.

What makes an interview worth? Personally speaking I reckon the most interesting stuff has to do with going beyond this promo part. If you have to talk about an album, you better try to get some meaning, find out curiosities and push the interviewee to talk about more personal facts. Everybody is gonna tell you their last album is the best up to date, but you have to understand why. In case promo is to be with an upcoming tour be creative about what we can expect from that, but I guess the best is to make them think. Films, family, influences, science…you name it. Put them in the position they feel like revealing something new and divert from the main path. Readers are eager to read something outstanding, and for that it’s necessary to push the artists.

Months ago I had to interview Ann Wilson of Heart. That interview together with Neko Case’s were the greatest to me, because we dealt with things which didn’t have to do with their music but their experiences and positions on certain issues. With Wilson, as per Jordi’s request, we dug into the Seattle scene back in the early 1990’s and we ended up talking about the loss of Layne Staley. With Neko we dealt with hypersexuality in music and talked about Lady Ga Ga. Believe me, it was awesome, plus it was face to face.

Probably because I’m not very experienced I’ve never had an interview with a young band. I guess it must be tough because of their short career, and you cannot bring out old stuff, so that’d be a challenge.

I haven’t told you about my two last fails. Well, the first was a disaster. I’m not naming the band because I still got hope I will manage to do something with them eventually, but I got very disappointed with the lack of seriousness they showed. I was meant to have a face-to-face interview with them and spent many hours waiting for their call to meet them for the chat. When I arrived, I had to wait for 20 minutes till the singer showed up and explained that they had to eat something first to it will take a little while. Well, I waited on the street for almost 2 hours till I got pissed off and joined some friends for a beer at a bar. When I met them they told me it wasn’t personal and they were too hangover, so we could do a phoner or I could send them the questions via email. By the time I didn’t care anymore. I was the only Spanish journalist willing to have an interview with them, because they aren’t getting press covered properly in this country. I can see why now.

axl and slash interview

For the second, the phone call was agreed at a convenient hour at lunch time so I could make it at the office without interfering in my work. I tried to reach the guy 4 times unsuccessfully, with the fuckin’ answering machine jumping all the time. I had to notify my boss at the mag, send an email to everybody (boss, manager, singer) advising it was impossible to reach him. He replied 4h later apologizing asking if I could do it then. And I did, but I had to ask my real boss for this favor, and luckily he accepted because we’re not too busy these days. Apparently his phone had run out of battery (first world problems). The interview was excellent even though I was a bit stressed with the situation but, how come you let your fuckin’ phone die when you have an interview scheduled, man? Really, I couldn’t believe it.

Thus this is my truth about rock interviews up to date. I hope I improve and don’t have to face many incidences, but to be honest, this is harder than I expected. I only wish they keep coming so I can focus better and learn the most of them.

ALBUM OF WEEK 12: TRANSGENDER DYSPHORIA BLUES

Against Me! has burst onto my life intensely. Not only thanks to their last record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, but also because of the fascinating leader, Laura Jane Grace.

To be honest few I knew about this band, only that they had an album named Reinventing Axl Rose, with, obviously, Mighty Axl on the cover, and a couple of songs heard. You know, sometimes you can’t cope with everything and have to set your priorities. Against Me! Wasn’t one, even though some friends had told me I had to give them a chance.

against me transgender dysphoria blues

With the release of the new album, the right time to start digging arrived. The impression caused by Transgender Dysphoria Blues was very positive. A pretty intense 10-track album, a straight declaration of principles, with lots of released energy, revelations and deep lyrics full of message. Solid composition and compact sound, and very very powerful.

The case of Laura Jane Grace is terrific. She was born Tom Gabel, and ended up leading a quite respected and popular band. After lots of years of inner struggle, having wife and kid, two years ago he discloses his change into HER. Tom is now Laura Jane, and will go on leading Against Me! No matter what it takes.

The more details I got acquainted with, the harder my crush on her was, up to the point that, giving so much thought to the impact of her decision on his/her female fans, I decided my monthly text for Rockzone March issue would talk about her. The thought of his fans in shock after discovering Laura Jane was no longer Tom, and their teenage crush fallen to pieces, was very inspiring. On one hand your concept of someone changes completely, and on the other the fact that he proved great balls going under treatment and making it public. Very brave.

laura jane

Her guts, her story, her suffering…everything in Laura Jane is inspiring, and now I only wish some day I get the chance to talk to her.

Recently  I’ve been dissecting one of the most likely to 5 albums of 2014 (sorry, I cannot tell yet), so obsessed, I’ve been listening to the same record nonstop for 5 days, until Tuesday, when the mailman finally brought me my copy after  long delay. Today I’ve spent my evening with Transgender Dysphoria Blues. 28 minutes of emotional release, passion and rock. This album easily gets under your skin, as if the poison of a mosquito was, getting hooked right away. I’ll have to wait until mid June though to get the chance to enjoy them on stage.

Don’t want to start with forecasts yet, but I got the feeling I will talk about this album again at the end of the year. totally dig it!

FEBRUARY AND A NEW ERA

Finally February arrived, and with the shortest month of the year, so did some news. The most remarkable one is that Rockzone Magazine issue #100 was released free and digital, and people’s reactions seemed to be quite positive. After being collaborating for 7 months already, I feel attached to this transition, and very supportive after this decision.

toisintheattic

You know I’ve been reviewing shows and albums, interviewing some musicians and artists and from now onwards I will have my fixed column on every month’s issue named Toi’s in the Attic, as a tribute to classic Aerosmith. I never thought I could achieve having my own voice and opinion available to public in a magazine, but seems that I might have interesting crap to say. It is a great challenge to be worth enough reading. I’ll try hard not to disappoint.

I had thought of translating the text into English, but unless I get some input from your side, I won’t do it for the moment, basically because I don’t have much time. This month’s issue is also important to me, as the interview to Neko Case I told you about was finally published, and I’m quite happy with the result.

rockzone bipolar

On Saturday, Rockzone’s bosses held a barbecue party to celebrate this issue #100, the change to digital, and to introduce a compilation CD of the most remarkable alternative bands in the country covering bands such as Pearl Jam, The Mars Volta. Gallows or NIN. I found some of the versions particularly outstanding, proving that there’s a scene of great quality bands in very good shape. Young bands supported by the magazine from their beginnings, which have gained respect thanks to constancy and hard work throughout these years. The party was full of people, other collaborators, bands members, photographers, sponsors, family, kids…great vibe. And I was in charge of playing music for 2-3 hours. I loved the idea right away, even though, you know, sometimes you have to be concerned about people involved with music at the same level as you attending the event. But seems that I did it ok as there wasn’t any complaint, and I had lots of visits from friends and kids at the music booth.

As usual, I brought my notebook and wrote down the lists of songs I was playing, so I could create the playlist. So, this is what people listened to, among beer, hot dogs and hamburgers, and lots of joy. It was really nice to see people in such a celebrating mood.

I wish Rockzone, especially Jordi and Richard, good luck in this new adventure, and hope I can join them in the ride for a long time. Cheers!

THE DAY I GOT PUBLISHED

A couple of months ago I got the chance to attend a great festival in Bilbao and  write the review for July-August issue of Rockzone Magazine. Needless to say, when the bosses handed me a copy with hot Josh Homme on the cover and I discovered my review occupied almost a full page I got immensely happy for the achievement and very proud of myself.

Rockzone-julio-agosto-2013

Truth is that it’s not the first time some of my reviews are published on a real and physical magazine, however  because I was talking about one of my favorite bands whose members are friends from my London years, this article was very special to me.

You know summer is being too warm, crazy and very very busy, so to be honest I haven’t found the proper moment to translate what I wrote until this evening. I hope you like it even though it might miss some of the “Spanish” essence and style, but at least I think you’ll get the picture of the experience. and those who’d like to read it in Spanish, please, don’t be stingy and buy it. I promise to sign it before I become famous, inaccessible and a prick 😉

kristonfest rockzone

In February, when Kristonfest confirmed British band Orange Goblin to be part of the line up this year, next to Clutch, Truckfighters and Karma to Burn, who unfortunately cancelled just 10 days before the show, I didn’t think twice and arranged a flashtrip to Bilbao.  No matter how many times I’ve seen the band led by Ben Ward -last time was at Sonisphere in 2012-, the opportunity of enjoying one of their powerful shows at a venue such as Santana27 for the first time in Spain, was an irresistible bait. No doubt it was a rad lineup for all the stoner fans.

Therefore on Saturday, suffering a (light) hangover after Clutch show at Music Hall in Barcelona the night before, relieved with the help of some beers and pintxos, we arrived at the venue.

Surprisingly Truckfighters, the Swedish championed by QOTSA, had started with beyond British punctuality, so we couldn’t enjoy the actual startup of the fest. Even though many more had been caught by surprise, when we arrived you could feel the party atmosphere, with the audience in high spirits all the time. However, even though the band sounds pretty solid and powerful, there’s something worng. They wanna be but they’re not able to be. They have good songs but these are not overwhelming, and even thought their live performance is quite acceptable, but they couldn’t blow our heads at all.

During their set we really missed Karma To Burn, an absence wisely handled by the organization of the fest, affecting positively to the most interesting shows extending their act.

Orange Goblin opened their set with Red Ride Tiding, the first song of their terrific last studio album A Eulogy for the Damned, which has caught the attention of many people, and has confirmed they’re enjoying their best moment. Their set list was mostly based on their last work, including Acid Trial, The Fog or The Filthy and the Few, but had room for classic songs such as Quincy the Pigboy, Some You Win Some You Lose, Time Travelling Blues or Blue Snow. They didn’t give us a break, and the audience was getting nutter thanks to the huge and exultant frontman, who was cheering everybody up nonstop. No doubt Ward is the most outstanding member of Orange Goblin for obvious reasons, but Joe Hoare’s work on guitar is impressive. There were sound issues at the beginning of the show, but luckily everything was improving. I’ll never get tired of repeating the Brits are a 100% live band.

Finally the main course was delivered by Clutch. We were all ready to face what was coming, and some of us were playing in advantage as we had seen them earlier that week in Madrid or Barcelona, but the show they performed got Santana27 crazy as I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  Perfect sound, Neil Fallon completely out of control, , and a bombing proof set list  to keep us breathless. Crucial Velocity, Cyborg Bette, groovie Mr. Freedom, and Book, Saddle & Go as the first part of the show, blew our heads. Once on the track, nothing could fail, and the venue turned to host mass mayhem. They continued playing song from Earth Rocker, but also recovered awesome hits such as 50 Thousand Unstoppable Watts, The Mob Goes Wild, Burning Beard, and of course, Electric Worry. Neil Fallon is THE frontman, with an overwhelming energy, and the remarkable ability of balance the lack of charisma of his band fellows Dan Maines and Tim Sult, accomplishing his tasks impressively on the other hand. Regarding JP Gaster, apart from taking our hats off and bow, nothing else could be done. This guy on drums is definitely not from this world. Probably one of the current best active drummers. Huuuuge.

This Kristonfest evening was terrific, and we all ended very pleased , neck aching, and willing for some more. Let’s hope this fest becomes a fix event in calendars so we can visit Bilbao in the future to enjoy this celebration. Congratulations to the promoters, the venue and the bands for an incredible evening.

 

*** Thanks to Jordi Meya and Richard Royuela for everything. You’re fuckin’ great, guys!