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

Will Not Fade Awesomeness Award 2018 – Adam Page

Adam Page
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Adam Page has brought so much joy to my life that I feel the need to coin an award just to express how he makes me feel.

I still remember the first time I saw him. It was at a bar called Lido on Victoria street, which is now under construction. My friend Sam invited me along, and seeing how Sam’s recommendations are always trustworthy, I made a point of coming. It was weird in a way, because there was no charge for admission – just buy something to eat or drink to support the venue.

Adam led the trio. He largely stuck to vocals and saxophone, but also employed other odd instruments like kazoo and shakers and melodica – just to spice up the sound. He kept his band on their toes, turning to the drummer and saying “give me a disco beat at this pace”, clapping to count him in. Ed Zuccollo was on mini moog, closely watching Adam for key changes. Adam would shout out something like “and now for a solo in the key of E!”, putting Ed on the spot and forcing him to improvise.

It was a brilliant example of great musicianship. Unrehearsed, but still incredibly good.

The highlight of the night was when Adam launched into the Lion King theme song, belting out the African lyrics with intense passion. I found it so funny that I almost fell off my chair, tears rolling down my face with laughter. Adam even paused the song to check that I was OK.

Adam played a series of these gigs over the next month of so, always a free mid-afternoon improvised show at local bars and cafes. Always a complete joy to watch.

Adam Page


I remember him opening for comedy-rockers The Beards the first time the came to Wellington. I think they had some history, both coming from Adelaide. Adam had all the vital ingredients anyway: musical talent, a wicked sense of humour, and a beard. Using a looping pedal and a microphone, he played a set of songs that comprised of beat boxing and beard noises.

Beard noises? Well, when he pull on one long hair it made a high-pitched sound. When he brushed a comb through his follicles percussively, it made a beat. It sounds unbelievable, but he pulled it off.


Another show of note was at Puppies or Happy [I can’t remember which name the venue had at the time]. It was a Star Wars themed gig, to tie in with May the Fourth. Everyone in the band was dressed up as a Star Wars character, with Page dressed in a Boba Fett outfit that was far too small for him, giving him a major wedgie. Ah, the sacrifices we make for music!

I remember one individual was dressed in the infamous sexy slave Leia outfit. Said individual was a guy.

It was a fun night, a gathering of nerds and music lovers. The band ran through hits like “Imperial March” and that fun Cantina tune, adding fun twists to the covers.


It was a glorious period when Adam Page lived in Wellington. The name Adam Page was synonymous with fun times, and those times were frequent. He comes back now and again, often for Fringe festival.

Adam plays weird, but good music. He’s known for his improv looping sets. He released an album of Native American flute songs. He also featured on Name UL’s debut EP.

Adam personifies musical talent. You never know what to expect from one of his shows because they’re so spontaneous. He doesn’t stick to genre or convention, he just plays well and has fun. He’s such a gifted goofball. If you get the chance to see Adam Page live, do it! I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

And that is why Adam Page is the recipient of the 2018 Will Not Fade Award for Awesomeness!


Adam Page is playing at Meow in Wellington on Saturday 16 December. Tickets:  http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/gig/57366/Adam-Page.utr

Adam Page links:

Website: http://www.adampage.com.au/

Bandcamp: https://adampage.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/egapmada

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adampagemusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/egapmada/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1u9MxsquCsO80boF-fClZw

 

Ten Years On: Discovering Biffy Clyro’s breakthrough album Puzzle

Biffy Clyro Puzzle Cover Art
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Ten Years On: Biffy Clyro – Puzzle

Isolated on the other end of the planet

The internet existed ten years ago, but it was a completely different animal.  My family still had a dial-up connection, so good luck trying to load a video. Not that there were many music videos on YouTube anyway. A few of my slightly older mates tell me about how they left the computer running all night just trying to load a new four-minute Blink 182 video when it was released.

Can you remember the ghastly screeching sound that the computer made when making a connection on dial-up? I can certainly remember my dad shouting at me to disconnect when he wanted to make a phone call. And to think that today we use our phones to connect to the internet!

Biffy Clyro Luke Gilford

Biffy Clyro. Image: Luke Gilford

Youtube was a fledgling, Spotify and other such streaming sites were the speculative talk of some sci-fi future. Facebook existed, but didn’t become popular within my peer group until around 2009. We were all on Bebo [remember that???], with some of the more alty scene kids also having a Myspace account. Nobody really bothered with Facebook messenger anyway, because everyone used MSN.

Which gives you some rough context to why I was my best friend’s house trying to listen to a song called “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” using a program called Limewire. I’d read about this Scottish band called Biffy Clyro who had just released an album called Puzzle. They were on the front cover of Rock Sound magazine and they sounded interesting, so I was trying to find some of their music to listen to.

Like I said, my family had a dial-up connection, so no point trying to find anything online at home. Streaming sites didn’t exist and sites like Youtube offered little music content. The record stores in my small hometown of Nelson weren’t going to import music by an unheard of [ha!] band like Biffy Clyro unless I was willing to shell out at least $40 – almost as much as I earned in a week working part-time at a supermarket. So I decided to use Tom’s computer to try to listen to this band.

Limewire was notoriously bad for containing poor quality content. Viruses were abundant and most tracks were mislabeled and poorly spelled. So when I started listening to this song that I’d tried to download – “Living Is A Problem…” – it was of little surprise that the track sounded corrupted. I listened to the jarring, stabbing sounds at random intervals for about a minute before I stopped listening and gave up. There’s no way that this file was the single I had read about!

[This video clip cuts roughly 90 seconds off the album version of the song]

Hearing more material

It was a few months later that I bought a Kerrang! Magazine which featured a best of 2007 sampler. That CD featured a Biffy song called “A Whole Child Ago”.  It had a crazy riff that sounded like a polyphonic ringtone [yes, this was 2007 remember!], weird drumming that had a looping pattern [or did it?] and nonsensical lyrics. And I loved it!

This track – along with “Get Fucked Stud”, from the Rock Sound sampler that I’d got when I first read about Biffy – made me want to track down this elusive Puzzle album again.

Tom pulled through for me. A true best friend, he had heard me go on and on about wanting to listen to that album so somehow managed to buy a copy of Puzzle on CD for my birthday.

I remember being so excited. I finally had it! I put it into my crappy discman that was hooked up to criminally bad speakers [so tinny they should have come with a gram of bud!] and sat down to listen to the album. It had a bright orange sticker on the cover with a quote from NME: “This album will change your life!” Yeah… right… I doubted the claim, but still had high expectations.

The first track was “Living Is A Problem…”. Wait… What the hell? The same stabbing sounds for almost two minutes! So that file from Limewire wasn’t corrupted? And this was a single???

Upon closer listen, I figured that the song showcased some incredible musicianship. Certainly not easy to listen to, but bloody impressive that the three musicians could play something with such odd timing and play as a tight unit. The song got really aggressive, but oddly enough had choral sections and string arrangements juxtaposed again the heavy rocking.

Listening through the rest of the album was an interesting ride. It was weird, that’s for sure. Clearly they were on drugs when they came up with most of the lyrics. And there are so many quirky elements and odd time signatures, which were actually tame compared to their previous three albums – not that I knew it at the time.

I think it is impossible to listen to the infuriatingly catchy “Who’s Got A Match?” and stay still. The triplet groove compels the listener to nod their head, tap their foot… something!

In fact, Biffy may well lay claim to my first exposure to math elements in rock. It’s either them or Tool. They took my listening experiences beyond the standard 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures that most songs we listen to are written in. “Now I’m Everyone” contains a 5/4 passage that used to annoy me so much, but I now love it.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the lyrics for most of this album. Plenty are simply nonsense. However, there is a coherent theme of mourning throughout. Simon’s mother had passed away shortly before the album was written, and glimpses into his grieving can be found throughout. I couldn’t tell you why a man is on the corner selling dozens of bones, but when Simon cries “Eleanor, I would do anything for another minute with you” the message to his late mother is clear.

And, just like that, I became a Biffy Clyro fanatic. I started trying to push it on all my mates, spreading the good word of the Biff. It became a bit of a running joke among my mates – “yeah, yeah, Joseph. We know – another weird rock band. Stop going on about it would ya?” Took a photo of the Puzzle album cover with my phone to use as the phone wallpaper, but after a while switched it for something else after a few too many people had asked me why I had the photo of a naked man on my phone.

I did manage to convert a few mates. I was in a band with my best friend Tom [who had gifted me the CD] and another friend Harry, and we chose to add “A Whole Child Ago” to our repertoire, alongside other obligatory teenage covers band numbers: Nirvana, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, System Of A Down, Incubus, Rage Against The Machine etc… I actually sat down to try to drum along to the track a few days ago and realised that I never did figure out how to play it properly, and just managed to come up with something similar that seemed to work. It’s a tricky linear beat that swaps between the hi-hat, snare and kick, and changes ever so slightly every few bars. I think I was more suited to playing something more simple and aggressive like Nirvana’s “Breed”.

It’s crazy that no-one had heard of Biffy in New Zealand. At the time, the band was busy headlining major festivals and touring with the biggest rock bands over in the UK. I guess that shows how important radio play was for entering the public consciousness, back in the days before music was so easy to find online.

I’ve since dug through the band’s catalogue, and own all of their albums and on CD or vinyl (I have most in both formats, because I’m a loser fanboy) as well as a few b-sides collections. I saw Biffy the one time they played in New Zealand and it was everything that I’d hoped for and more. I used that review to launch this music blog (and probably got a meagre 10 views – whoo!).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that NME was right. On that little orange sticker, stuck to the front on the album near the parent advisory box, they told me that the album would change my life.

It did.

Mon the Biff!

Joseph James