WILL NOT FADE AWESOMENESS AWARD 2019 – DAVID ZEIDLER

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NMH tent at dunk!fest 18

New Musical Horizons tent at dunk!fest 18. Zeidler and myself in front, with Guillaume Morette (centre) and the guys from Ranges behind.

Last year I invented an award for Adam Page, who deserved some praise for his work. Being an arbitrary award, I didn’t have set selection criteria or anything of the sort, I just think Page is awesome, and contributes a lot to the music scene.

So this year the choice seemed fairly obvious to me. And it is somewhat ironic that this recipient isn’t even a musician, but there’s no denying that he has contributed hugely to his music scene on an international scale.

I first came across David Zeidler through his writing. At the time he wrote for Echoes & Dust. Later on his was a key figure running Arctic Drones (the best post-rock site out there – give those guys some love!). And now he contributes to Heavy Blog Is Heavy.

Funnily enough, is roots aren’t in music, but horror films. He cut his teeth writing for horror zine Fangoria, and organising cult horror film screenings in New England cinemas. Over the years he transitioned to post-rock music, using the skills he’d aquired through his writing and by running events.

Ranges, Cloud Shelter, Zeidler and Joseph Hard Rock Cafe Lyon

Outside the Hard Rock Cafe Lyon. Zeidler and myself in front, with the guys from Ranges and Cloud Shelter behind

Thinking back, our first interactions were when Zeidler asked me if I’d like to contribute to a Explosions In The Sky tribute he was assembling.

Not long after he asked me to suggest some good local bands. He was working with CJ Blessum of A Thousand Arms [and Ranges, and also former WNF writer] to put out Open Language, an international post-rock compilation, and wanted to find acts from all over the globe so that they’d have a wide selection of music to showcase. A Thousand Arms now have six compilations out, which have helped countless music fans discover new bands from around the world.

Not happy to settle with the work he’d done already, Zeidler formed a few Facebook groups to cultivate an online community. One in particular is great initiative and an invaluable resource for all the creative figures in the game, who can reach out to find others for recording, touring, design, reviews, . It is common to see something along the lines of “Hey, my band x is trying to put a tour together in this region around these dates.”, with many others replying to help piece the tour together.

Now it’s one thing to organise and promote a few local shows, or even provide a platform for others to do it themselves, but Zeidler decided to jump in the deep end and organise a music festival with an international line-up.

dunk!USA 2017 poster by Error Design

Inspired by a trip to dunk!fest in Belgium, Zeidler decided that America needed something equivalent. He began working on putting on dunk!USA  in his hometown of Burlington, featuring a stellar line-up from America, as well as a few international acts. He already had a full-time job, plus his work writing for Arctic Drones, but decided that jumping in the deep end and taking the workload of organising a festival of this size with within his capabilities.

dunk!USA wasn’t a total success in a financial sense, but it provided a springboard for launching this year’s post. Festival in Indiana, and paved the way for possible future dunk!USA events. It was well run, felt professional, and brought many bands from the American scene together.

I personally had a great time at the event. I’d been on tour with the band Ranges, working as a roadie/tour blogger, helping with set ups/pack downs and documenting the tour with my writing and photography. The festival was the climax of said tour. I was stoked to finally meet David in person once we’d arrived in Burlington, and we even stayed at his apartment.

drunk Joseph

Drunk Joseph during Astronoid at dunk!USA. The back of Zeidler’s head far right. Image taken from Behind The Scenes footage in the forthcoming Ranges DVD The Ascent

The following year Ranges invited me back on tour with them, this time in Europe. But they also invited Zeidler.

I’ll be honest, I felt threatened. I thought I’d already proved myself when touring with Ranges in America. Why did they need another blogger?
Arctic Drones has a far greater reach than I’ll ever have, so I was worried I’d be stuck under Zeidler’s shadow.

I needn’t have worried. Zeidler wasn’t trying to steal my job (can I call it a job? It was unpaid. Internship maybe?). We have different focuses anyway – Zeidler writes about foods he ate on tour, whereas I’m more Gonzo styled and write about the crazy character I meet, or shenanigans I get up to.

We shared some quality time together, eating fine European foods. It was nice to have a friend to spend time with who was free when the band was doing soundcheck. We ate fine cheeses and meat in Paris, and went on a crepe date in Lyon.

Tour van

In the Ranges tour van in Europe. Image: Luxinvictus

These days Zeidler is writing for Heavy Blog Is Heavy, and runs PR company Young Epoch – an arm of A Thousand Arms which focuses on promoting bands and running smaller local events. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance at dunk!fest in Belgium again next year, or has a part to play in organising another USA festival in the next year or two.

So there you have it: music promoter, festival and show organiser, publicist, and stalwart of the international post-rock community – David Zeidler, recipient of the 2019 Will Not Fade Awesomeness Award.

p.s. Zeidler snores like a bear.

 

Joseph James

WILL NOT FADE’S BEST OF 2018

Ranges dunk!festival 2018
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Ah, the obligatory end of year listicle. They’re always fun. I love reading those written by other people, and comparing their thoughts against my own. My own annual summaries are never too comprehensive, but still a nice opportunity for reflection.

Live music in 2018

Caspian dunk!festival 2018
Caspian at dunk!festival

Caspian at dunk!fest 2018

The best show of the year was Caspian at dunk!festival in Belgium. Hands down. It was incredible. The lights, the music, the sheer intensity was overwhelming. I could barely comprehend it all as it unfolded in front of me. It was obvious that they put a lot of planning into creating a fully immersive experience.

The Ocean dunk!festival 2018
The Ocean at dunk!festival

The Ocean at dunk!fest 2018

One of the other headliners, Berlin’s The Ocean were also stand out. I don’t usually listen to heavy music of that ilk, but they’re coming to play a small metal venue in my hometown of Wellington next year, and there is no way I’m passing up the chance to see such an incredible band again.

The King Brothers Meow
King Brothers at Meow

King Brothers

Like their Japanese peers Guitar Wolf, King Brothers and the Vottones delivered incredible performances, with emphasis on the crazy rock and roll antics. They’ve set the bar high, and I don’t think that I’ll see any act play such a wild or shocking set for a log time

Rhian Sheehan

Rhian Sheehan has been a favourite of mine ever since I first heard Stories From Elsewhere. I’d missed his past few shows, so jumped at the chance to see him play this time. It was just as amazing as I’d hoped, with beautiful visuals added to complement the stunning music.

David Byrne

The Talking Heads frontman played one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen. Not only was the music great, but the choreography, lighting and stage management was outstanding – not to mention his extremely talented band who were all mobile for the entire set as well.

Frank Turner San Fran Wellington
Frank Turner at San Fran

Other highlights include seeing many of my favourite bands: Biffy Clyro, Shihad and Frank Turner (twice!).

 

 

Releases in 2018

I’m surprised at my own favourite releases of 2018. Most of what I listen to falls under the umbrella of rock music, but I’ve found myself branching out and exploring pop, hip-hop, folk etc a lot more this year. 

The Adults. – Haja. Jon Toogood was blown away by the wedding band when he got married in Sudan. He recorded some beats with them, recruited some local talent in New Zealand, and came up with this brilliant collaborative album as a result. I didn’t expect a feminist hip-hop album from NZ’s best rock singer, but it became my most listened-to album of the year. Seeing it played live was also a real treat.

Estere Meow Wellington

Estere with The Aduots at Meow

Amy Shark – Love Monster. What is happening to me? Another favourite album I’ve thrashed this year, and this time it’s pop music! I’ve thrashed Amy Shark’s music so much since discovering her, and had a total blast seeing her live at the Hunter Lounge when she came to Wellington.

Tash Sultana – Flow State. I’m gutted I missed Sultana when she came to Wellington, because this record just oozes with talent. Plodding along with laid back vibes one minute, and melting your face off with guitar shredding the next, Sultana proves her abilities time and time again, playing all the instruments on this ripper of a record.

The Beths – Future Me Hates Me. I discovered The Beths thanks to cartoonist Toby Morris, who designed one of their tour posters. Ironically I missed said tour, but managed to see The Beths play their irresistibly catchy tunes when opening for Bloc Party, and at a Christmas fundraiser in December. They’re blowing up fast, so make sure to see them in intimate settings while you can.

 

Listener at Valhalla
Dan Smith of Listener at Valhalla

Listener – Being Empty, Being Filled. Listener’s latest album rocks hard. It’s a fascinating concept album which explores the lives of inventors and creators. I was stoked to see them live at Valhalla in Wellington, and Dan and Kris even stayed at my apartment whilst holidaying in New Zealand after their tour.

 

Winter Dust – Sense By Erosion. Winter Dust immediately cemented themselves as one of my fave post-rock acts with their last EP, so it was awesome to find that their new album is just as good. And album that I had high hopes for, and my expectations were exceeded.

Toe – Our Latest Number. Same old Toe. This EP is exactly what we need from such a talented band. The only problem is that it’s too short. More please!

Thrice – Palms. I’m slightly bitter about Thrice, who postponed an upcoming Australian tour (that I had tickets to) in favour of supporting Bring Me The Horizon on another tour. That said, there’s no denying how great Palms is. Haunting songs that root themselves deep in your mind. I find myself humming their melodies all the time.

Alien Weaponry

Alien Weaponry in Porirua on Waitangi Day

Alien Weaponry – Tū. I know that I announced Alien Weaponry as the next big thing a while ago, but I never anticipated the level of success they’ve achieved in such a short span of time. This year they’ve released their dubut album, toured Europe and America, and are currently on tour supporting Ministry. We can talk about their age, their culture, and an assortment of other topics, but when you boil it down,Tū is a great album full of furious thrash metal and it’s a blast to listen to at loud volume.

Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live. A late addition from my favourite folk act. I don’t think I’ve ever covered Paper Kites on this site, but you really should look them up if you aren’t familiar with them. It starts of with a stunning horn piece, which launches into a well crafted album saturated in feeling. A hazy outing perfect for listening to when you need some down time.

 

Looking to 2019

I’ve already got a lot lined up for next year. There are some great NZ acts playing Wellington over the next few months: Into Orbit, Skinny Hobos, Beastwars and Head Like A Hole, Hiboux.

I’m also travelling to Sydney in February to see Cog (the same weekend that Thrice were supposed to play before postponing that tour). And I’m excited to attend Download fest in Melbourne in March, featuring heavyweights like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Alice In Chains and Slayer.

Conclusion

2018 has been a year of up and downs, like any other year. But if I could pick one moment to encapsulate what I want to remember this year by, it is this:

I had just rejoined my dear friends in the band Ranges. I’d travelled for nearly 40 hours to meet them in Belgium, where I would accompany them on their first European tour. I’d taken the longest commercial flight in the world (Auckland – Doha), and that was just one leg of the journey. As you can imagine, I was exhausted and jet lagged, but full of excitement for seeing my friends and exploring a new continent. 

The first show was at Kinky Star in Ghent. Ghent is a wonderful picturesque town with canals, cobblestones, a castle and all sorts of exciting things that you would never see in New Zealand where I live. I’d had a few (strong) Belgium beers, which didn’t help my jet lagged body in the fight against sleep.

Astrodan Kinky Star Ghent
Astrodan in Ghent

Belgian locals Astodan opened. They were awesome. Great guys, great music. Check out their album Ameretat.

Sadly, I didn’t make it through Ranges entire set. But there is one thing stays in my mind when I think back on that show. One of the locals kept shouting “Perfecto!” at the band. It was both hilarious and endearing, the most wholesome heckling ever. The guys from Ranges loved it too.

And that’s what I want to take away from 2018: even when I’m feeling worn out and have to tap out, there is always something small that I can focus on to laugh at and cheer me up.

Perfecto, my friends, perfecto!

p.s. Let me know what you enjoyed reading on Will Not Fade this year! What do you want to see more of? Comment below, or on Twitter or the Facebook page. I’m keen to take on feedback.

Words and photos by Joseph James

The Guns N’ Roses Revival In Full Perspective 

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One of the most remarkable musical events of the current decade has been the full-fledged revival of Guns N’ Roses. While the band never set in stone that it was calling it quits, and never seemed completely gone, it felt a few years ago like GNR was heading for a gradual unwinding featuring the occasional festival appearance or mini-tour and leading, ultimately, to the end. Now, however, it feels fair to wonder if the band might have five or even ten more years left in it as a headline-quality, internationally touring, and best-selling rock group.

How exactly did this change come about? Dedicated fans will recall the timeline and rock enthusiasts are well aware that GNR hit the stage at Coachella in 2016 and has hardly stopped playing since. But now, as the positive headlines continue to roll out about Guns N’ Roses (for instance, they’ve announced their first ever Hawaii show in December), it feels like a good time to look back and put it all in perspective.

A Teaser With Star Wars

Late in 2015 the Star Wars film franchise roared back into action for the first time in years. The renewal of the core franchise, The Force Awakens, debuted with the highest grossing opening weekend in the history of cinema (though that record now belongs to Avengers: Infinity War). And on some screens around the U.S., fans in their seats early enough were treated to a wholly mysterious teaser for Guns N’ Roses material. The trailer, if that’s the right word for it, featured unclear footage and bits of music and didn’t really speak to anything in particular. It did get people talking about the band though, and it wound up being just a few months ahead of the aforementioned Coachella show.

An Internet Game

In another apparent effort to simply get people talking about Guns N’ Roses again, the group also allowed for its music and general look to be spun into a themed internet game. More specifically, in fact, it was a slot game. That may seem unusual if you don’t partake in the genre, but international casino gaming platforms spend a lot of time on establishing broad selections these days. There’s a huge number of ever-inventive and colorful options including some with specific themes, and in this case a Guns N’ Roses reel that very literally plays the hits while you game. This slot arcade was made popular early in 2016 – again, just before the actual reunion show.

The Coachella Reunion

The truly remarkable thing about the group’s performance at Coachella wasn’t that it happened at all, but that it featured the reunion of frontman Axl Rose and guitarist Slash. Following a falling out, the two had previously seemed exceedingly unlikely to ever play a show together again. Indeed when asked about the possibility of this happening, Rose famously responded with words that are now all the more legendary: not in this lifetime.

Not In This Lifetime

When Guns N’ Roses took the stage at Coachella it may as well have been a one-off get together as far as the crowd was concerned. Slash performing alongside Axl Rose was headline-worthy, but a cynical observer could well have assumed the band was offered a nice sum of money to appear together just to give the festival a jolt. Instead, however, the reunion performance essentially launched what would become the “Not In This Lifetime… Tour,” a reference to Rose’s quote mentioned above. That tour would go on to last about two years and span the globe.

Sweeping Success

The concept of Guns N’ Roses touring the world in the mid-2010s probably sounds like a nostalgia play, particularly to anyone who’s not a dedicated fan, or a classic rock lover. But this was more like a U2 tour than some kind of relive-the-glory-days effort, which is to say Guns N’ Roses proved it’s still able to pack stadiums and massive concert venues anywhere on Earth. It was the top grossing tour of 2017 and one of the most successful rock tours of the current decade, if not the 21st century.

Hints of More To Come

More recently things have been cooling off again. The tour finally came to an end, and Axl Rose has divided his time between GNR and AC/DC (with whom he’s become a sort of recurring guest frontman). There’s talk he may in fact help AC/DC put out a new album. However, there have also been whispers of new material from Guns N’ Roses. Nothing is confirmed, but members have been coy about the possibility, and at this point it would almost be foolish of the band not to capitalize on its renewed popularity.

Looking back at all of this – the sheer scope of it all from the end of 2015 to today – this is one of the most impressive and comprehensive revivals in modern musical history. And for rock fans it’s been an incredible treat.

 

This is a guest post

Will Not Fade’s best of 2017

Will Not Fade Logo jpeg
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What a year!

Every year offers new highs and lows, but for Will Not Fade it has been the best yet.

I started the site during my second year of university, making the most of the downtime between assignments to write about two new records I’d bought. (Shihad – FVEY and Maybeshewill – Fair Youth). The blog slowly gained traction as I continued writing. Most posts received very little attention, but I kept at it, refining my style, making musical contacts, and learning more about the IT side of things.

Believe it or not, we’ve published over 200 posts now – not a bad effort for a small DIY blog. I (Joseph) also made a few dreams come true this year, travelling to America to meet a bunch of musicians I’ve come to know online through the blog.

I met with Jesse from Glacier in Boston for a beer at a brewery near a peanut butter factory. Matt from Aviation and the War hosted me in Chicago for a few days, and we watched the solar eclipse from his back yard. Former Will Not Fade contributor CJ Blessum also hosted me at his house in Montana, and I traveled across America on tour with his band Ranges. I also stayed with Arctic Drones writers Aaron Edwards in Idaho, and David Zeidler in Vermont. It is incredibly gratifying meeting people in person after being “friends” online for some time.

I also met Samuel at a Ranges show in Colorado. He mentioned that he’d like to get into writing about music, and next thing you know, he’s making me look bad with his excellent reviews. It’s great to have someone so passionate on board.

I also teamed up with A Thousand Arms to print a limited run of WNF t-shirts. They turned out great, and I’m proud to say there was fair demand for them. Thanks to everyone who requested one.

Joseph’s best of 2017

Song of the year: Tides of Man – We Were Only Dreaming

This is the sound of happiness. The awesome instrumentation makes me dance every time. I met Tides of Man on tour and feel blessed that I can now consider them friends. I saw them play four sets on tour, and this song was my highlight every night.

His Master's Voice The Devils Blues Woman EP CoverRelease of the year: His Master’s Voice – Woman EP

Filthy, raw blues inspired heavily by Black Sabbath. Hands down the release I’ve listened to most since I first got a copy. These guys are seriously underrated.

Living Colour Powerstation Auckland

Band of the year: Living Colour

This year I interviewed one of my drum heroes, Will Calhoun. Then his band blew me away at The Powerstation in Auckland. I also managed to catch a free Chuck Berry tribute show in New York, featuring a hotshot band assembled by Vernon Reid. And then Living Colour dropped Shade,a brilliant album that treads the line between heavy and soulful.

Live highlights:

There are so many that it is hard to narrow down.

Obviously dunk!USA was a major highlight. Not only was this my first international festival, but I was friends with many of the acts, and had an all-access pass. I may have let the journalistic integrity slide somewhat with my drunken antics, but as far as I’m aware, I’m the only person who wrote a review of the festival, so technically I still pulled off writing the best review. Plus, I think the photos I took were killer.

El Ten Eleven Rough Trade NYC Brooklyn

El Ten Eleven played in Brooklyn, not too far from where I was staying. I had a blast dancing along to their tunes. It’s amazing what two musicians can pull off with the help of technology and talent.

I flew to Las Vegas to see St Paul & The Broken Bones. They played a great set. But headliner Trombone Shorty blew them out of the water. This was a class act. The stage was packed with hotshot musicians, all exuding vibrant energy.

Frank Turner has long been one of my favourite artists, so it was a blast to catch him live in Vancouver. He even previewed a few new songs. There’s few things as good as seeing an artist play some of your favourite songs live.

Head Like A Hole Valhalla Wellington

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never seen Kiwi rock legends Head Like A Hole before this year. Duncan from Hiboux invited me along to a show at Valhalla, and I’m so glad I went. Like their contemporaries Shihad, they’ve been around long enough to know what they’re doing.

And I’m always partial to some outrageous novelty shows, so David Liebe Hart, Guitar Wolf and Chain and the Gang all stand out. Especially Guitar Wolf, who pulled me up on stage to play guitar with them.

David Liebe Hart with Alien singing Salame at Meow, Wellington

2018

Looking forward to 2018, I’m super pumped for Thundercat in March, Biffy Clyro in April, and Royal Blood in May. And new albums from Alien Weaponry, Frank Turner and Tides of Man all sound very promising.

And, of course, it will be awesome to meet many European friends at dunk!fest 2018 in Belgium. I may even make it to Pelagic Fest in Berlin the following week, but we will see…

 

Special thanks to all the readers who take the time to read our content. It is so gratifying when I hear that I’ve put someone on to new music. If you have any suggestions for what content you want to see us cover in 2018 then by all means, let us know!

Joseph James