rock and roll

Rock and Roll and Whatnot

final front

This project makes me seem much more cool than I really am, and I have to thank Roz from Heavy Looks for that. She is the lead singer and all around Cool Lady who got in touch with me to stitch the album cover for their old/new release Waste It Right. It’s old because it has been available digitally for a while. It’s new because the hardcopy CD is going to be available for the first time tomorrow at their show at The Frequency here in Madison.

I learned a lot from this project. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I found myself wishing I had formal training in design. I’ll always remember the feeling of utter panic when she first reached out to me. An album cover? I have no idea how to do that! So I did what anyone would do – I faked it the best I could. Luckily, Roz was great to work with, and knew what she wanted, which made the end result kind of perfect.

It’s hard to tell from the photo how big this thing really is. Check out the photo below for scale.

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I think the band plans to use it somehow at their live shows (I’m not cool enough to use the word “gig”). I like to imagine Roz pinning it around her neck and using it as a cape as she flaunts and does her thing on stage. I’m not sure that will happen, but it looks awesome in my head.

Give their bandcamp a listen. Buy the album. Follow them on social media. Support local music. These folks are putting themselves out there in the most admirable way. I envy and fear them.

 

Ronnie James Dio

dioI don’t have much to say about Dio; I just wanted to stitch him giving the rock and roll horns. I should mention that Rainbow in the Dark was my song of the year in 2013. I know I was about 30 years late, but I don’t think he’ll mind as long as I keep rocking out, like always.

 

Freddie Mercury

Freddie

Freddie Mercury is so tragic, I nearly burst into tears just looking at his overbite. He may even be more tragic than Joey Ramone, and that is a bold statement.

I don’t have much of a past with Queen. I was aware of certain hits when I was a youngster, especially Another One Bites the Dust, but I was not a fan. In my college years I had a more formal introduction due to my swift and intense obsession with Bowie. This led me to purchase a greatest hits album for access to Under Pressure. I eventually gave the entire disc a chance and it hit heavy rotation and made frequent appearances on my mix tapes. This is where Queen stayed, quietly in the background of my life.

Fast forward to 2014 when I reluctantly agreed to see a Queen tribute Band, Gary Mullen & the Works. I went into it incredibly skeptical, thinking any version of a Queen song is pointless without Freddie Mercury behind the microphone. Needless to say, this tribute band was amazing. Amazing, I tell you. By the time Gary Mullen ripped off his shirt and told the audience how sexy we were, I was smitten. Of course I never actually saw Freddie in concert, so perhaps there really isn’t any comparison. Still, Gary has the mustache, the chest hair, the moves, the voice, and the charisma. If he’s ever in your area – get tickets and go. Don’t think about it. Just go. I still get goose bumps thinking about clapping to Radio Ga Ga.

And sometimes, when I feel like sobbing uncontrollably, I will watch the video of Liza Minnelli leading We Are the Champions at the end of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992. Have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of that song? Jesus. It kills me.

Despite all of that, this is a custom piece that I have an inkling is being given to someone as a gag gift. I thought about refusing the request based on that alone. However, I wanted to stitch Freddie, and I gave his mustache and chest hair all of the respect he deserves. If someone else thinks it’s a joke, well… screw them and their Taylor Swift album.

KISS

kissI asked my partner for a write-up on Kiss, and he gave me over 1000 words. God bless him. And now I give to you, guest blogger David B. Fidler:

Dick Clark said “music is the soundtrack of our lives.” If that is true, then I suspect my entire soundtrack, and thus, my entire life—or at least the first 25 years—could be distilled into nothing but Kiss.

“I Was Made For Lovin’ You”

Kiss was my first band and my first album. I was five, and I convinced my parents to order from the old Columbia Record Club, where you got so many albums (tapes or vinyl at that time) for one penny, and then you had to buy one more, at an inflated price, for the rest of the year. I got Kiss’ Double Platinum and Dynasty, along with the Village People’s Cruisin’ and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I still had and regularly listened to those Kiss tapes (as well as the Village People tape) well into my 20s. By that time, it was starting to get worn and I bought the vinyl, which I still have, along with all other Kiss vinyl in their catalogue from Kiss-Dynasty, as well as most of the 80s albums. I stopped actively following their new stuff after Hot in the Shade.

“I Stole Your Love”

In 1978, Kiss released trading cards. I was in nursery school and one of my fellow students had a bunch of the cards, which he showed to the group and then left in his cubby hole. In my life, to my recollection, the only things I’ve ever stolen were trading cards. Much later I stole some baseball cards out of a department store, but I stole this guy’s Kiss cards out of his cubby hole. I don’t remember what I did with those cards or what happened to them, but I remember standing by my cubby hole as he lamented to other nursery schoolers that his cards had been stolen. I remember feeling pretty bad about it, but I didn’t give them back.

“Got to Choose”

I associated with very few underclassmen while I was in high school (not because I was above them, but with 450 students in my graduating class, people just stayed with the group they grew up with). However, I befriended one sophomore when I was a senior. His name was Josh and we met in auto shop, where he, like the group I hung around with, didn’t fit in in that class. We were mostly college bound while the rest of the class was into cars. That aside, Josh, like me, loved Kiss. I even loaned him my Destroyer cassette. Josh was also interested in taking up the guitar, but his thinking was that he was already a sophomore and what was the point? I told him that if he wanted to learn to play the guitar, he should do what he wanted. What difference did his age make? I didn’t think anything of it, but my sister befriended Josh after I graduated (she entered high school the year after I graduated), and she told me that Josh really changed—he became a music head, pursued his guitar dream, and became really good, and he always thought back to my “advice” and how it influenced him. The final catch to all this is that Josh apparently did become an accomplished musician, and while he never became Ace Frehley, he did become a professional session player.

“She”

As I was coming into my senior year of high school I tried to remake my image. My previous image had been a lack of any image, and being a shy teenage boy, I lusted after girls, but had no recourse as to how to get them to notice me. In effect, my new image—that of a metalhead—featured the hair, the tight jeans, the leather jacket. The second real concert I went to was the summer after my senior year. It was Kiss’ Hot in the Shade tour at the Meadowlands. I went with two cars full of high school friends (one of whom was the aforementioned Josh). Most of said friends knew me as a quiet, subtly funny guy who mostly kept to himself. However, we were standing around before the show and a girl came up to me, tugged on my hair, and when I turned around she said, “You’re cute” and then she ran away. I don’t remember what she looked like. What I remember more than anything was the look of astonishment and respect on my friend Paul’s face. Unlike most of us, Paul did okay with the girls, but this was beyond doing “okay”—to have girls at a concert approach me. He also said she was really good looking, but again, I was too overwhelmed to take notice.

“Rock n’ Roll All Nite”

Speaking of that concert, that was the best concert I have ever attended. My concert years are long since over—other than tribute bands—but during my time, I probably saw 40-50 acts at some point or another; however, nothing can ever top that show. It was as though I had been waiting 18 years to see it. The three most notable elements of the night were: 1) the set was a sphinx like the album cover. The show began with the sphinx opening and Kiss coming out of it, backlit by lasers. The opening song was “I Stole Your Love” 2) I was not an air guitarist. I was an air or knee, as the case was, drummer. I had black and blue knees after that show. 3) Before playing “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” Kiss almost apologized, because it was, after all, their disco hit. Paul said something along the lines of “A lot of people don’t like this song, but…”. Once they launched into it, everybody in the place erupted. Somehow, that felt good, because Dynasty, the Kiss disco album, is probably my favorite Kiss album aside from Alive I!

“Shock Me”

I’ve never been to a second Kiss show, because I have to believe Kiss is the kind of show where if you see it once, you’ve seen it a million times, and the only thing it could do was go downhill. Nevertheless, the second-best concert I ever attended was a Kiss tribute band; I think they were called Hotter than Hell. I saw them at Birch Hill in Old Bridge, New Jersey. A Van Halen tribute band opened for them. They played in full makeup, with a full pyrotechnic show. It was deafening, considering that said show was in a fairly small club. But the best part was when their equipment failed them. Firstly, I love when things go wrong; it lets you see what people are made of, and the Kiss tribute band was made of solid gold. “Gene” and “Paul” left the stage and “Peter” did a drum solo, while the roadies worked furiously to get everything back up. Then, after a 15-minute drum solo, “Peter” left and “Ace” came out and told jokes. “Ace” fucking Frehley, in full makeup, in his full glory, did a mini-stand up routine to a club full of asswipe 20-and-30 somethings, most of whom were pissed that their show was interrupted. But I was in heaven. Here was a highlight of his routine: the swearing pianist (adjust for American language). “Know it. I fucking wrote it.” Brilliant.

“Love Her All I Can”

It would have been great if I had been listening to “Detroit Rock City” when I totaled my first car [I was listening to “Love Grows (Where my Rosemary Goes)”], or “Calling Dr. Love” the time I dated a doctor (I’ve never actually dated a doctor), but it’s been a while since Kiss has been a key player in some major point in my life. Regardless, here we are, and here are these bad ass cocktail napkins. Somehow, Kiss has played a huge part in my life by playing a huge part in my partner-in-crime’s commercial/artistic/social venture. Kiss Army forever. “You wanted the best and you got the best.” The hottest DIY artisimo in the world: Stitch Boom Bang.