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Jeff Jinx

Congrats to my long time friend and ex-band mate Gary Twinn of the all-star ‘International Swingers.’ Their song: FBI, is featured on the soundtrack of the movie “Homefront” (written by Sylvester Stallone starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth.)  The A-List talent is in the band. WELL DONE GUYS! 

REALLY pleased that Genya (Goldie) Ravan is going to be playing my music on her show "Goldie's Garage" set up by Steven Van Zandt to promote new rock. For the youngsters - Genya Ravan: producer, rock singer of "Goldie & the Gingerbreads". (The first all-girl rock band in history signed to a major label + had big success, ya know - toured with the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Manfred Mann etc. Produced the "Dead Boys" and Ronnie Spector's comeback album Siren.) 

The paradigm changed so long ago for the music industry, that few 
people understand that everyone used to be ‘alternative’.  A casual 
glance through the charts of the 1970’s alone, reveals scores of 
artists pursuing completely different visions of music – all their own 
– and all valid.  Audiences would ‘find’ the style/s of music they 
liked and follow those artists.  Those choices took time; this was an 
era before the fast-food, immediate-gratification culture – and once 
decided there was an element of following a new band and being an 
active PART of their career – by PAYING for their material.

Music cannot progress, nor have value, if it’s created solely for 
financial return.  If that’s a musician’s intent – they might as well 
write for elevators and supermarkets.  Yes it’s that nasty.  But it’s 
the truth that no one wants to hear.  There are too many bands out 
there slavishly following other bands, too many writing in generic 
styles, too many people – with absolutely NO TALENT - who want fame and 
not credibility - a meaningless moment  in the ‘just a pretty-face 
non-culture.’  With this desperate hunger – and the media’s brutal 
reiteration of replica styles/groups - we lost something sacred.  We 
lost original music.  Sadder still, few are mourning.  And the business 
– as is – is actively encouraging mediocrity;  because the majority 
continue to VENERATE MEDIOCRITY.

At one time, labels would head-hunt new bands with A+R staff regularly 
attending gigs.  If signed they’d ‘sweeten the pot’ with an advance – a 
large chunk of cash - up front.  That was stage one of the Faustian 
Pact.  Because many hopefuls didn't realise that the advance was 
actually a LOAN; and the launch parties thrown to promote their band’s 
name (along with the free-flowing champagne and canapés) was actually 
coming out of their own pockets.  I also know of bands signed up 
entirely as ‘tax write-offs.’ Potential careers – killed with a 
pen-stroke.

The days of record label’s significance have largely vanished.  Now 
we’re in new territory.  And in those uncharted waters are NEW sharks.  
Sadly, they’re the same old ‘bottom-feeders’.  People who’ll gladly 
take your money and offer you the world – until you’re down to your 
last cent/penny – and their hollow promises are still echoing in your 
ears.  These people are everywhere – in every creative industry.  They 
have NO interest in your music, your poetry, your novels or your movie 
scripts.  They just want your currency.  Some of them are so powerful 
that they actually DO possess (albeit tenuous) contact with the major 
artists they promise to deliver your demo to.  But if your material’s 
that good – why do THEY need YOUR hard-earned coin?   And how many of 
the people on their books have successful careers – while the 
bottom-feeders make a parasitic living – day in/day out from all the 
OTHERS who have NO realistic CHANCE of success?  If these people were 
legitimate – they’d give an honest appraisal of each writer’s work – 
and if consistently bad - ‘kick them off their books.’

***  Here’s a ‘WAKE-UP CALL’ about these companies.  If they DO have 
legitimate contact with STAR names – do you really imagine that they’ll 
sit down with those people – even ONCE a week – and force them to 
endure the hundreds of demo tracks they’re being PAID by YOU to 
promote?  NOT FOR A SINGLE SECOND!  If they did – the star names would 
AVOID them in the street.  They’d take LEGAL steps to enforce their 
privacy.  It’s blindingly obvious that the bottom feeders will WEED OUT 
the ‘also-rans’ the first time they hear their demos.  BUT THEY WILL 
STILL TAKE THEIR MONEY.  ***

Here’s  another mind f*ck, some of these companies use computer 
algorithms to ‘listen’ to your tracks – programmed to find similar 
FORMULAS to already successful songs!  So for your payment, you won’t 
even get your material appraised by a creative mind.  Not only have 
they fashioned a mechanism which REJECTS original ideas - NO HUMAN 
BEING even LISTENS TO IT!

Add to this THE ACCEPTED names in music promotion - offering their help 
for FREE – and why not?  They’re largely automated services.  You’re 
the one doing all the work – adding your details and your music – while 
a programme does the rest.  But here’s the burn.  Try taking advantage 
of one of their ‘free’ services and see if they’ll ALLOW you to – 
without FIRST revealing your BANK DETAILS.  I see this all the time and 
it really offends me.  If they truly possess the ability to promote 
your music – and it’s potentially successful – build a payment into the 
back-end of the deal – and be completely HONEST about it.  No one would 
object to that.

A few words on the companies offering opportunities in the Film 
industry and TV; they call it ‘SYNCHRONIZATION’.  Note how many of 
these people ask for your tracks then post MP3’s or You Tube links from 
their clients – saying that they want material that ‘sounds like’ this. 
  Reading between the lines they’re actually saying – we want THIS track 
– but we don’t want to pay the person who composed it the current 
value.  Instead, we want you to copy it, but we can’t say that in print 
– because it would leave us open to legal action.  Instead, YOU do the 
deed.  Oh, and remember the disclaimer you signed when you joined our 
company?  The one in which you stated that all the material you offered 
us would be solely your own creation?  That means, if someone does 
pursue legal action - IT’S ALL ON YOU.  Not only will you end up in 
court, you’ll also lose any credibility you may have entertained as an 
original musician/composer.  Believe me, I’m not just making this stuff 
up. Long before the internet, I know people who were pushed down this 
same path – and the companies that pushed were far more explicit about 
their intent – IN PERSON - than they’ll ever admit in writing.

And let’s not forget the ‘Radio Stations’ that want you to PAY them to 
play YOUR music?  Isn't that the rock-bottom of a career?  
Psychologically it’s like admitting to yourself; my songs are so bad, I 
have to pay other people to listen to them’.  But don’t worry, few 
people are doing that anyway.  Most of the ‘audience’ for these 
so-called stations are the members of OTHER bands who've ALSO paid for 
the same ‘opportunity’– JUST LIKE YOU.   My god, isn't that even MORE 
sad?  It’s all just  a PITIABLE, self-serving ego trip.

Before I finish in a bout of complete negativity and introspection, 
there ARE ‘good guys’ out there helping to keep real bands afloat, 
promoting them for next to no income.  It takes a lot of time to sound 
them out.  One of my heroes is “NEWUSB Radio.”  They cannot exist for 
free – though for a long time they did try to survive on advertising.  
These guys really ‘push’ the bands they accept.  If you want THEIR 
support – offer them YOUR support – and know that they have your best 
interest at heart.

These days, against these odds, even the carbon-copy bands are 
struggling.  To be original, to paraphrase Barrie, is an “awfully big 
adventure.”

Let me tell you – it’s worth every step.


Nice to be play-listed amongst the likes of ‘Blondie’ and ‘Carole King’ on ‘The Songwriters Webcast’ kicking out across the Universe from Texas USA. Thank you David Mobley!

 

 

 

A BIG thank you to the crew at ARZUK TV California USA for the extreme number of plays for ‘Curious and Crazed.'  At least twice a day?  Gonzalo – you’re spoiling me.

NEWUSB TV is on the rise.  If you’re in a band – if you’re a solo musician songwriter – if you have videos – follow the link. The guys behind NEWUSB are all about the music – they will promote your music. SUPPORT real music. 

Everyone wants to make a LIVING from their gifts – no one is knocking another ‘acts’ revenue stream. But at the end of that process there was a piece of work that stood by itself as ART. That piece of music was the complete form – it didn’t need a video or high-pressure advertising. Video’s accepted, we’ve now gone from the inventive promos at the beginning of the medium – to material bordering on soft porn. I have no problem with pornography. But that’s not the business I’m in. I don’t know ANY musician who is. And it makes me angry to see it used so cynically and dangerously to sell music. Yes, I said: dangerously. Because a lot of impressionable, fame-hungry kids are going to watch these kinds of images and think: THAT’S what the ‘music business’ is about. THAT’S how to become a music ‘icon.’ I would not wish such a CURSE on anybody. And that’s a male perspective. You try asking ANY of my female friends who are REAL musicians – it makes their blood BOIL to be CHEAPENED by this stuff. There is great diversity and choice in current music – but FEW people are paying for it. Even the biggest record companies are treading water repressing classic albums on vinyl. Music as an artistic culture has to be continuously inventive and bold – in its CONSTRUCTIVE form. Not endless, recycled samples, neatly packaged with a T+A show. The lowest common denominator is NOT art – its apathy. 

 

 

“When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight f*cking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not f*ckin’ good enough.’ Can you imagine?” he implores. “It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! …Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy and old f*cking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll f*cking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some sh*tty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass sh*t, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a f*cking computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol.” — Dave Grohl (via blacktooth100)

 

Musings on a friend’s comments re: Simon Cowell – vetoing Chris Daughtry – and almost cancelling out a great career/millions of albums sales/world tour.  This is one of those issues that will always make me see red.  Cowell and his like have learned their cues from politicians – promising the earth, delivering nothing, yet candidly earning obscene personal fortunes.  Firstly, Cowell has no real understanding of music, let alone Rock – his shakiest ground.  He’s tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to clone the next Beyonce, a mainstream artist in a genre that’s quite transparent: no cult alternative audience to second guess – no unique guitar skills to understand – rarely a lyric of unsafe social comment to arbitrate – and he couldn’t even do THAT.  On the Beyonce front, there’ve been a couple of UK contenders with great voices, yet the last thing I saw one of these ‘winners’ perform was a TV commercial for an underarm deodorant.  Temper that with the phenomenal exposure/promotion these acts have had on prime-time US/UK TV – and they STILL couldn’t sustain consistent sales.  That is almost UNTHINKABLE.

Chris Daughtry was WAY out of Cowell’s comfort zone – another reason he should be judging Bathing Suit competitions – if political correctness hadn’t consigned them to the waste bin of history.  The chances of finding a REAL artist on any of these shows is slightly more of being struck by lightning – every day of your life.  They’re the (far distant) exception rather than the rule.  But the saddest thing is:  all the young wannabes who really think that it is STILL possible.  I hate to see them ‘crash and burn’, and I’m genuinely worried that the rejection process will do serious long-term damage to their mental health.   Many of these kids have no skills.  They’re tone deaf – they cannot sing.  They will never be able to LEARN how to sing.  In the UK, the worst of these clueless, sacrificial lambs are served up for audience mockery: cheap, undisguised cruelty.  I’ve made this analogy (several times) before, but during the Victorian era, people paid to visit mental asylums for their entertainment – to laugh at the inmates.  I personally see NO difference with Cowell’s UK TV programmes.  At least in the US, they seem to weed out more of the rubes, early on, and actually try to promote talent.

But you have to ask yourself; exactly WHAT is it many of these contestants actually want?  Is it just to be famous?  No skills.  No talent.  Just ‘fame.’  In this ‘Instant Gratification Culture’ many people fall into that category.  I don’t personally know ANYONE in music, or who WANTS to be in music – who identifies with that absence of depth.   The people I know modesty aspire to make a living – writing and performing their own music.  We have to make that distinction now between ‘musicians’ and ‘fame freaks.’  What Dave Grohl is talking about – and I’ve said the same thing repeatedly too – is that we’re in danger of losing a whole generation of real musicians forming real bands.  They’re being hammered in the head with alternative ‘models’ of the actually definition of REAL bands and authentic music.  The WILL to WRITE has to be reinvented.

And THAT is the other glaring HOLE in the Cowell dream factory; many of the biggest acts in music don’t WRITE their OWN material.  That means whoever WINS one of his shows has to wait in line with people LIKE Beyonce, Madonna etc – and catch the crumbs from THEIR table.  If you were the go-to-guy for hit songs and you had another great track to sell, who would YOU offer it to?  An artist with a globally established name who is guaranteed to make it a hit?  Or some green kid who’s being groomed to look/sound LIKE a globally established name?  And remember, if that track fails, the buck won’t stop with the singer – it also casts doubt on the skills of the writer too.  There’s a one turkey limit – a couple of turkeys – and the phone stops ringing.  We live in SHALLOW times.

When I started out my first guitar wasn’t new, bar picks and pitch pipes, none of my gear was.  It wouldn’t stay in tune beyond a few songs.  When I had more money, I replaced the machine heads and set it up by myself.  My first amp was held together with gaffer-tape – and ran on a ‘diet’ of any valve that was obtainable from the Junk shops my friends and I constantly annoyed.  I think some were culled from broken TV’s .  My first speaker cabinet was home-made – though not by me.  It had coffin handles – I liked to think of it as ‘early Addams Family’.  When the speakers died I fitted and rewired them myself – I had to borrow the soldering equipment.  The speakers came from someone else’s broken, traded-in cabinet.  I learned a trick of melting candle wax over the wire/speaker joints to stop them vibrating free and breaking.  That’s if I didn’t spoil the deal by dry-soldering the damn things first.  But before that I had to decide whether to wire them in Series or Parallel.  I had no idea what that meant.  There was no internet.  There WAS a library.  I’m a self-taught guitarist.  I play what’s laughingly known as ‘Claw-Hammer’ style.  That’s when you play open chords with your thumb over the top edge of the fretboard.  It’s a crude MISTAKE.  A fool’s mistake.  A good guitar teacher would jump on that from day one.  But everything I did was a learning experience; every component, every gig.  But that’s the crucible of ‘noisy-ass shit’ that Dave Grohl is talking about too.

For most kids starting out – that experience has gone.  The nearest guitar shop to me, the owner makes more money from restringing guitars than selling them.  I cannot imagine NOT stringing my own guitar.  It was the first thing I learned.  I’ve met kids today who can’t tune their own instruments – nor care.  And they actually make Gizmo’s now that do THAT for you.  They want to be in bands – but only if someone else does all the actual work.  They don’t even want to rehearse if it means leaving their house – and never more than twice a week.   I once did a gig with another band – their first gig – and the guitarist had paid for autographed guitar picks with his name on to ‘throw into the audience.’  If I remember rightly: the same guy who threw up for half an hour before their set.  The birth pangs of Rock God’s are rarely painless.  I’ve been at a gig where the support band had to cancel because “the (male) bass player thought that he may have left his hair-curling tongs plugged in at home.  I’m serious.  I freely promote bands via blogs, my website and I guest write for ‘International Music News.’  I leave my card/details at loads of gigs and you’d be amazed how few people actually bother to respond.  That’s free press.  But too much trouble to send an email with the band’s names on (for spelling), set list, Bio – because that’s all I ever ask for.

If they’re the future of ‘real music’ – I don’t really expect much from them, can’t say I’ll really be rooting for them.   And ‘Talent Show’, ‘Freak Show’ or not, I just want to see these proto-Stars of the Future pay their dues.  Because I did.

Fast Food – Immediate Success – Free Music and Film?

There’s a gonzo theory that the apparent world we’re living in is a pale imitation of a superior life beyond.  I don’t know about that but I do know, without argument, that digitally produced sounds are a pale imitation of real music. 

When I first became interested in music everyone bought vinyl.  Not only did we get the ‘product’ but we also got a gate-fold sleeve with exclusive photos of the band and sometimes lyrics.  From a fan’s point of view, this made me feel connected to the artist and, in some small way, a contributor to their career.   That connection no longer exists.  The damage began with the arrival of the CD.  Not only did we suffer the loss of packaging, but more importantly, the absurd loss of sound quality.  For a while, things seemed as if they couldn’t get worse – but then they did; the MP3.  I can only hint at how poor this format is – how sonically redundant.   It’s OK if you can afford a sound system which artificially puts frequencies back into the flat mix – particularly bass, but most people will be listening ‘on the move’, unaware of the loss. 

As a songwriter I listen with dread to the miserable, flat, passionless MP3 that results from the complex, artistic sounds that I’ve spent weeks writing, playing and recording and sound so ‘alive’ at the point of creation.  And I also know that most music only makes sense when it’s heard live. 

Then, there’s also the small matter of creative rights.  As soon as you could put music or movies online – and download them for free – the entire concept of brand loyalty went out of the window.  That Genie is so far out of the bottle – it’s never going back.    

How many of you are writing, recording and performing your own, original, music?  And what do you listen to when you’re not?  Did you download it for free?  Do you expect people to pay for your music at some stage in your career? 

Herein lays the problem.  Discuss. 

Jeff Jinx – Independent Music News 

You never really know where you’re going to find great new music these days. It’s no longer in the easy places. TV exposure usually means the coma-inducing ‘variety show’ carbon copies – those fossils of prime-time oblivion. Mainstream radio: a band with some firmly fixed association to big money. There are still the occasional legends that
arrive via word of mouth. But rarer still – there are those bands that suddenly detonate explosively in the flesh - when you’re not actually looking. That’s where “The Jar Family” comes in.

20.4.13. It’s ‘Record Store Day UK’, and I'm nervously approaching a crowd of people at ‘Soundscape’ at ‘The Bridges’, Sunderland, curious at the building clamour of a live band. The sound isn't quite in focus from my location – and there’s already a sizeable crowd hogging the front spot, soaking up the acoustics and the vibe – all clearly impressed. I move closer.

On the make-shift stage there’s a group of guys ‘giving it there all’. Bouncing as one upon the (surely) elastic-sprung floor- and growling and hollering into the mikes. You look for the main man to focus your attention, but this is an outfit made up of singer songwriters – they’re all the main man. And they fit together like a well-turned jigsaw – impressive for a raucous 7-piece equipped with so many potential ‘big-chiefs’. They call their sound; 'Industrial Folk', and it’s as good a name as any - a raw mesh of electric blues and acoustic guitars – driven forward by the obligatory ‘rhythm man astride a
Peruvian Cajón/slap-box.’ But above all, it’s their enthusiasm that sells their material.

They began in Hartlepool in 2010. An eclectic mix of song scribes, Max Bianco, Dali, Al Devon, Richie Docherty, Chris Hooks and (past ‘Squeeze’ bassist) Keith Wilkinson. Later, they added Kerry 'jubjub' Edwards (that’s the rhythm wizard on Cajón) to their successful rank. And it works. Not just the music. Not just the players. But their collective image ties together too; an eccentric, retro-provincial, old English society. Take note - the bands that go that crucial ‘extra mile’ are often the ones who succeed. Hell, they sport an imposing collection of hats alone. Once seen and heard - never forgotten.

‘The Bridges’, Sunderland cannot be this band’s familiar audience; stressed and weary shoppers on the first genuinely warm day of the year, adrift between the struggling franchises, hoping for that elusive bargain. But “The Jar Family” has clearly won them over. The crowd is entranced, they are not moving on. There are small children dancing and everyone is clapping – music is supposed to do that. It’s a shared experience. If the masses aren't going to the venues – bring the music to the masses. Not that, that’s a problem for this band - they already have a solid fan base. Their acoustic shows are sell-outs. With so much creative talent, they have a wide spanning collection of songs; unfaltering, idiosyncratic blues & roots - moving albums in numbers. They’re already on the iTunes 'New and Noteworthy releases' list.

Name-check the bands that they are opening for; Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock, The Charlatans and Babyshambles, Ren Harvieu, The Sunshine Underground, King Charles, Jake Bugg. You don’t get those kinds of slots lightly. Yet they’re here today, closer to home, still giving it 100%. 'All dressed up – and everywhere to go'. You really
have to respect that. Get in on these guys now, before they break big. It is going to happen.

Jeff Jinx – out.

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