Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Ace Pic

The picture with Ace came through. Check out me, Ace and Dean.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ace Frehley Rocks Anaheim and Hollywood

This past Saturday and Tuesday I was able to see Ace Frehley in the Los Angeles area. First in Anaheim, about an hour from where we live, and a second time in nearby Hollywood. Both shows were at House Of Blues venues and with the great setting and sound systems made for some great shows.

First up was Anaheim. Jacki, Darian and I headed down late Saturday afternoon to get down to Anaheim before the doors opened. We had been told that they were moving the time for doors to open up an hour so we were in line shortly before 7pm. Unfortunately the doors didn't open till after 7:30 so we were a bit early.

Once inside we split up. Darian and Jacki wanted food and I headed for the front of the stage. House Of Blues are notorious for not allowing cameras but after a succesful night of pictures of Queensryche at HOB Anaheim I thought pictures at the Ace show wouldn't be a problem. Right before Ace came out Darian brought me the camera and she headed up stairs to watch the show from the balcony with Jacki.

The opening band was called The Trews. Good music, strong musicianship and a great singer. Unfortunately the songs weren't very memorable although the played one song that interpolated The Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter" which was cool.

Next up was the main event. The last time I saw Ace solo was back in 1994 in Houston, Texas. I remember the band and setlist being good but Ace not being in the best of shape. This was a completely different Ace. Sober and with a great band behind him. This performance was extremely tight and the arrangements of the KISS songs rivaled Paul Stanley's solo show a year or so back and had an energy that even KISS doesn't always hit when they perform. Seeing in arena caliber band in such a small venue always translates to a great performance.

As you can see I was able to get some great pictures from this show. All of the pictures were from Anaheim. Unfortunately about 1/3rd of the way into the show a security person made their way through the crowd and told me no pictures. I promised no more pics and kept that promise. So as a result no great pictures of the NY Groove guitar or the smokin solo, although I did take a smokin solo picture with my Helio the night of the event.

Anaheim went by so fast but I think was the better of the two performances. Highlights of the Anaheim setlist were Hard Times, Parasite and Love Her All I Can. The last song being one of my all time favorite KISS songs and not one I'd normally associate with Ace.

After the show we capped off for a late night dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and made it home around 1am.

The Hollywood show was a completely different experience. I had planned to go alone to this show but due to a new partnership I was establishing at work I was comp'd access to the House Of Blues Foundation Room and given a couple of extra tickets. Thanks to Mark and Sean. I initially thought I only had 1 extra ticket so I invited Brian, a friend from work that I knew would appreciate a night out seeing Ace. Once down to the venue we found out we had another ticket in will call so I called my good friend Dean and he was able to come down and join us.

Before the show Brian and I headed up to the Foundation Room which is a private bar on the top floor of the House Of Blues. Typically the guests are industry people, and VIPs of the sort. I think someone told me they saw the drummer for Blondie up there.

After some phone tag we were able to meet up with Dean inside the venue. We had access to an elevated set of reserved seats on the floor of HOB so after talking with the security guard, and finding our names on his list we were able to get seated.

We missed the opening act entirely in LA but didn't miss any of Ace's set. The band came out and played the same set as in Anaheim. I noticed the band wasn't as tight as in Anaheim but Ace seemed to be having much more fun. He was cracking jokes through out the night, told a couple of KISS stories and even introduced himself as Tommy Thayer as he launched into the guitar solo for Shock Me. Nothing quite like the real Ace introducing himself as fake Ace. And then during the Shock Me solo Ace burned his fingers when the guitar was smoking. He cut the solo short, blew on his fingers and told the crowd that he burned himself during the solo. A quick change of guitars and back into the set.

Shock Me and Love Her All I Can were the standouts for me in LA.

After the set I ran down to the floor and was able to get the guitar pick of the bassist. Not an Ace pick but a nice consolation. Once the venue cleared out we headed back to the Foundation Room to cap off the night. Upstairs one of Dean's friends, Ken Sharp and his wife, came over to talk to us. Ken Sharp wrote the liner notes in the KISS Box Set and wrote my favorite KISS book called Behind The Mask. It was a treat to meet him and hear some of his stories about interviewing KISS and the people around KISS. He mentioned he just finsihed a new piece in the new Goldmine magazine that covers KISS' early days on the NY club scene that I'll have to read.

As we were talking Ken mentioned that he wrote the bio for Ace's current tour and bio for Ace's new album and that he was going to go backstage to say hi. He had talked to Ace recently on the phone but hadn't seen him in nearly 7 years. After we saw Ken walk past security with no issues Dean, Brian and I followed along. Once backstage there were a small number of fans no more than 10 and a couple of industry people like Ken including one of the producers for the Detroit Rock City movie. Ken talks to Ace's management and is able to get us into Ace's dressing room for a quick meet and greet.

This was entirely unsuspected so all I had on me was a piece of paper in my back pocket and my concert ticket. No camera, no CD, nothing, but I made the best of what I had. Ace graciously took pictures, signed autographs and briefly spoke with each of us. Dean and I got our picture with Ace and hopefully the guy backstage that took the picture will email it to us soon. Ace was in a good mood, although he didn't seem too comfortable with the praise but took things in stride. I told Ace that he was the last of the original 4 from KISS I got to meet and that this was a dream come true. He said in his high pitched voice "Ok... do you want me to sign something". Very funny. He did a similar thing when Brian was taking to him. Ace signed two great autographs for me, first my ticket and then a much larger autograph on a piece of paper.

One thing worth noting is that Ace is sober on this tour. Brian happened to have a beer in hand when we walked into the dressing room and Ace's manager politely told him that alcohol was not allowed around Ace. Last time I saw Ace solo he was a bit strung out so seeing him take sobriety seriously was impressive.

I now have all of the original KISS members autographs and the only KISS autograph I'm lacking is Mark St. John, who passed away last year and was a member of KISS for only a few months. The night ended up being a strange alignment of events but I have to thank Mark and Sean for the access to the Foundation Room, Dean for introducing us to Ken and to Ken for getting us into meet Ace. This was a night I won't ever forget.

Ace Frehley
March 22, 2008
House Of Blues
Anaheim California


Ace Frehley
March 25, 2008
House Of Blues
Los Angeles California

(LA only - introduction "Transmission sequence activated")
Rip it out
Hard times
Snow blind
I Want You (partial) (Drummer Coogan on vocals)
Rock soldiers
(LA - Ace joke paraphrased. Ace said he was talking to a guy in Silicon Valley that asked Ace who used the first computer and Ace said the chinese? The guy says no Adam and Eve. Eve had the Apple and Adam had the Wang..... )
Breakout (Coogan on vocals)
Into the void
Strange Ways (Bassist Esposito on vocals)
Medley Torpedo Girl, Speeding Back To My Baby, 5 Card Stud, Trouble Walkin (Coogan vocals)
Stranger In A Strange Land
New York Groove (with back in the Anaheim and LA Groove)
(LA - Ace said, as Paul Stanley would say give yourselves a round of applause)
2000 man

(LA - Ace joke that wasn't funny. Why did god create gentiles. Somebodys gotta pay retail.)

Shock Me
(LA - Ace yelled Tommy Thayer before solo)
Guitar solo
Rocket Ride

Love Her All I Can (Coogan vocals)
Love Gun (Coogan vocals)
Cold Gin
Black Diamond (Outro)

I met Ace

I can't believe it, I met Ace Frehley tonight. I will blog more after I stop shaking!

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spider Drums Day 1

Yesterday we were able to begin tracking of drums. It took awhile to get the gear set up, the mics in place and the recording gear working but after about 3 hours of prep, and a quick break for lunch it was time to record.

This time around the band and the producer did not want to use a click track so I felt as though this was a little too live without a net. We tracked "So Dirty", "Love Sick", "98.666", and "New Year's Dissolution". The band performed the songs live, with the guitar and bass going direct into the board for a headphone mix, Ellen singing a scratch vocal and at this point the only performance that mattered were my drums.

So Dirty and Love Sick are my favorites from this batch. After listening back to the drums the lack of click didn't cause too much of an issue. Although once I listened to rough mixes at home I noticed that the band as a whole pushed Love Sick more than we should. On the guitar only intro I noticed Pete's guitar might be one of the primary culprits.

We did tracking for a little over an hour. If I recall correctly we did three takes of So Dirty, two takes of Love Sick, two takes of 98.666 and 1 take of New Year's Dissolution. After NYD Nick, our producer, asked if we ready to track a second time and I said I think that was the best we had ever played that one so that was a keeper. I think this was my first, first take performance.

We go back into the studio in 2 weeks and I'll probably ask the band to re-track Love Sick and will probably record another 4-5 drum tracks. Once complete the rest of the band will begin recording their parts. We were able to leave the gear set up, since we are recording in our rehearsal studio, so next time we won't spend hours doing set up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spidersuit Studio Day One

Still setting up stuff but getting ready to record.

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Happy Easter

Not only is today Easter but this marks the first day that one of the bands I'm working with, Spidersuit, enters the studio. Self described as "Heavy Indie Power Pop" which I can agree with. I'd describe us as a grungy sounding Cheap Trick.

I'm currently listening back to our last rehearsal to get an idea of where I may need to make some adjustments. If things go as planned we may have a 7" 4 song single, plus a 10 song CD available through both physical and digital distribution out later this year.

I kicked off the weekend with the family down in Anaheim to see Ace Frehley. I'm seeing Ace again on Tuesday in Hollywood so I'll post reviews later in the week. Needless to say I think I now have the necessary inspiration for the studio.

Time to "Rip It Out"...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ace smokin' Anaheim

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sold out show

I just got inside the Wiltern for a sold out show with The Black Crowes.

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Pattys Day

A st patricks day at work. I come in this morning and i have a cookie on my desk and this afternoon we had a happy hour with green beer.

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Sunday, March 16, 2008

4 dollar gas

$4 gas finally happened in LA. Let's hope it doesn't go any higher.

Sent from my Helio Ocean

Sunday, March 09, 2008

W.A.S.P. at the Keyclub

After a late afternoon rehearsal with Outlaw Engine I headed over to the Keyclub around 8pm to see W.A.S.P. Doors were supposed to open at 7pm but I had a feeling there would be several opening bands.
Upon arrival the security quickly informed me about the no camera policy for the night. I'm not sure what Blackie has against cameras but his anti camera policy is nearly as famous as is his tendency to cancel concerts and even tours.

I bought my ticket day of show as you have to do with W.A.S.P. due to the previously mentioned cancellations and headed over to the Rainbow for a quick dinner. After dinner I caught two of the opening bands. First was a local band from LA called Intentional Rage. They did ok, heavier music that the W.A.S.P. crowd seemed to enjoy. The second band was Fatal Smile from Sweden. They looked like a throw back to the Sunset Strip scene circa 1986/1987. They played well and looked good but their songs weren't great. I was kind of surprised that Blackie would bring Fatal Smile out as an opener the entire tour.

The W.A.S.P. set was a performance of the Crimson Idol album in its entirety. They used professionally shot video which played on the screen above the band throughout the show. The video was surprisingly well done including actors and movie sets. The performance was sync'd with the video so as Blackie sang lyrics the characters in the movie would say those lyrics as dialog within the movie. Very well done.

Considering the video was sync'd you knew the band was playing to a backing track. You could hear keyboards and Blackie's backing vocal through the performance. On previous tours this seemed like cheating but with this presentation it served a purpose.

The crowd didn't seem all that familiar with the material and although I hadn't listened to the album in years I knew the songs and was able to enjoy the set. One thing I noticed about the performance is that this represents Blackie's serious side both as a performer and as an artist. The show included perfectly executed lighting effects, a new band that could play the music well, and a visual experience that fully tied in with the story being told. One thing I never caught from the album is that the primary character in the story hangs himself. It was visually shown so there was no misinterpreting Blackie's story of Jonathan any longer.

After performing The Crimson Idol they came out for an encore and played a handful of hits. Looking back the day after I almost wished they hadn't come out to play a hits encore. After seeing and hearing such a dramatic performance it seemed out of place for the band to come out with party songs like Blind In Texas and jump and run around the stage. Although I do admit the crowd was very into the mini-hits set after a night of hearing unfamiliar music.

I'm glad I went to the show. It was unlike any other W.A.S.P. show I've seen and I doubt this is a tour Blackie will be able to top.

March 8, 2008
Los Angeles, CA

Mephisto Waltz (taped intro music)
The Titanic Overture
The Invisible Boy
Arena Of Pleasure
Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)
The Gypsy Meets The Boy
Doctor Rockter
I Am One
The Idol
Hold On To My Heart
The Great Misconceptions Of Me

L.O.V.E Machine
Wild Child
Take Me Up
Blind In Texas

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rocklahoma 2008

Here is the official line up that was announced today at the Whisky in Hollywood.

Thursday (Pre Party for those who have bought three day tickets) Bret Michaels, LA Guns featuring Tracii Guns, Enuff Z Nuff (w/ Donnie Vie and possibly Jake E. Lee), Vain, House of Lords and Jet Boy.

Friday: XYZ, Armored Saint, Kingdom Come, Night Ranger, TBA, Triumph and TBA.

Saturday: Pretty Boy Floyd, Every Mother's Nightmare, Tora Tora, Black N Blue, Trixter, Kix, Warrant (w/ Jani Lane) and Cinderella

Sunday: Axe, Beautiful Creatures, Zebra, Lynch Mob, TBA, Tesla and TBA

Side stages include Ron Keel (possible Keel reunion), Paul Shortino, Neil Turbin's Deathriders, Drive A (a local favorite of Darian) and some 30-40 other bands.

I'm excited about Triumph, Extreme, Night Ranger, Cinderella and Tesla. I'm still hoping Motley Crue or KISS is added as one of the headliners but that is just speculation at this point and based on the bands listed may be too big for the festival. Other headliners I'd speculate at this point would be Whitesnake, Judas Priest or maybe even Def Leppard.

This past year I kept a draft of predictions and here are the ones I got correct.
Cinderella, Tesla, Extreme, Night Ranger, Keel, Triumph

Monday, March 03, 2008

Helio and Celebrity Apprentice

I started to watch this season's Celebrity Apprentice because of Gene Simmons of KISS. Unfortunately he lasted only a few episodes but seemed to have left on his own accord. I noticed in one of the early episodes that Gene was using Helio's Ocean device, our first flagship device. It was pretty cool to see someone I've followed since my childhood actually use something that I had a hand in creating.

I finally picked up on watching the post Gene episodes and have seen more Helio devices in use. Most recently the Fin device and one of the episodes even had the default Helio ringtone playing. I'm assuming our marketing team had something to do with device placement. It's exciting to see that the majority of the mobile phones shown on the show so far have been a Helio.

Above is a picture of some of the celebrities using a Helio Fin on a recent episode of Celebrity Apprentice.

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