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Belated RIP Nick Menza: 1964-201

Today's post is from our friend HIM. 

This is old news that needs a hearing. Nick Menza, best known for his work during the most commercially popular period in Megadeth’s history, passed away this past Saturday (May 21). He died doing that thing that rockers—the Lemmys of the music world—claim they want to do: playing.

That he was playing in OHM, alongside another former member of Megadeth, Chris Poland, matters only in terms of connective dots. But it points to a truth: Menza had been part of a band that featured a lot of incredible musicians.
It might seem off-putting to say this, but I will: I always enjoyed Gary “Gar” Samuelson’s drumming more.  Not being a musician myself, I can attribute that to the fact that Gar was the drummer on the albums that signaled Mustaine’s phoenix-like rise from the ash-heap of a situation he created in Metallica. Or the fact that he reminded me of, in some odd way, Bill Ward.
But what had I been listening to in recent weeks? Hidden Treasures. And what song always caught my attention? “99 Ways to Die”:


From the Beavis & Butthead movie no less. And what keeps me listening to that song? Those damn drums. So what I am saying is this: I love Gar, but I can’t stop listening to Menza. And the list of Megadeth songs that I consistently listen to these days trace more to him than to his predecessor. So perhaps I am a sucker for origins even if I have always been a Megadeth fan. While I resisted Megadeth’s rise, feeling like they were leaving Vic Rattlehead behind for a more ‘Tallica-like polish, I still can’t get the Menza (not Friedman, because it was Mustaine that mattered to me) out of my head.
And you want to see a man in his element, some 26 years ago, with the other components of Megadeth a distant sound in the background? Try this:


Again, I am no musician. But at approx. 1:50, Menza is amazing. And, throughout it all, you see something else: a smile. Slightly mischievous. But a smile that signals an artist who loves what he does. And, sadly or happily, died doing that very same thing not more than a week ago.
People on other sites can question Mustaine’s reactions to his death. I don’t. They can also bag on Megadeth itself, making that the story. I won’t. They can even question the actions that led him to being dropped and also led him to not being a part of Megadeth today. Not my place. What we can’t question is this: Nick Menza died of a heart attack, while playing music, in front of fans. We also can’t question the fact—not opinion, mind you—that Menza added something to music that will last long past his sad death.
Rest in Peace, Menza. Fans of metal, no less fans of music, mourn your passing.



Dokken Classic Lineup Reunites... In Japan

Dokken's classic lineup, featuring vocalist Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson, and drummer Mick Brown, will reunite in Japan later this year for six shows. The band is doing it for the money. Mick Brown announced that much on a podcast earlier this week. I mean, this isn't a hobby. Music is a viable - yet brutally cutthroat - career choice. We shouldn't be surprised to see a band we love reunite for cash above all else, right? During that same podcast, Mick also basically said none of the guys wanted to play together, so there's that. I would assume this means the reunion doesn't go any further than Japan, but who knows. Money talks.


Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee Go Back To Grade School

So apparently Tommy Lee just did an interview where he mentioned that Nikki Sixx unfollowed him on Twitter the day after Motley Crue's final show together. This seems completely absurd and yet I believe it. They don't need to be friends - in fact I think we'd all agree they hate each other - but they can be civil, right? Unfollowing Tommy seems pretty low and petty on Nikki's part. It's too bad there's no Motley Crue music to talk about these days. Just Twitter feuds.


Another Preview of 'KISS Rocks Vegas'

KISS Rocks Vegas hits theaters for one night on May 25. The concert movie is from the band's 2014 residency in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Of course you had to assume there would be a proper film of the residency. If Gene Simmons can monetize something, he does! Book your tickets for Wednesday night here.

Here's a preview of "Shout It Out Loud."


AC/DC Do 'Touch Too Much' Live!

This is rare! AC/DC, with Axl Rose on vocals, just performed "Touch Too Much" live for the first time in more than 35 years. Axl is sounding great on these dates and now he's up and moving around, too! The show below is from Prague, Czech Republic. I love it when bands drop rare tracks into the set from time to time.


Red Hot Chili Peppers Tonight

Tonight I'll see Red Hot Chili Peppers live for the first time. This means I'll be able to check another band off my must-see list. RHCP are headlining Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio tonight. Earlier this week, lead singer Anthony Kiedis was hospitalized. I was worried the band wouldn't play, but it seems all sorted now. I'll have a review of the show a little later this week. For now, I'm off to see rock bands.


Attack of the Horrid Commercials: Part A[C/]D[C] Infinitum

Today's post is from our friend HIM.

There are very few commercials that I enjoy that utilize metal or rock bands. I get a bit priggish and protective when the music of my youth is used to hawk products even if the music is, in fact, a product unto itself. Priest giving mini-vans a mojo injection? Nope. Bon Jovi shilling for DirecTV? Pass. Motley Crue imbuing their brand of cool onto a freakin’ Kia Optima? Please stop. Just. Stop.  But the latest burst of metal marketing irked me in a way that feels different:  


More power to Applebee’s for trying to spruce up their fading image, shoved as they are into an increasingly dated segment of the restaurant business. To compete with Chili’s and Ruby Tuesday’s and Shamus McCraptastic’s, they had to go out and buy a bunch of wood-fired grills and retrain staff so that they can hand-cut steaks. Beautiful! Go for it! If that puts enough lipstick on the pig to get them through the next earnings cycle, good for them.   But the use of that music. It irks me no end. Yes, it is AC/DC. And, yes, it is the nice Johnson-era “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” off of Back in Black (1980). But you wouldn’t know that, would you, unless you were already a fan. And therein lies a problem. The song has nothing to do with the thing being sold, even in the tangential senses that the items Crue and Priest endorsed were attempting to lift musical cache and imbue it onto their products. Instead, it fills up auditory space behind a bunch of “go for broke” images of steaks being grilled.   Compare that to another ad that I loathed, even as it made sense. In 2014, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. used Dio’s “Go Eat Your Heart Out.” Yeah, that’s Dio—well, his estate—giving us two horns up while supporting an artery-clogging slab of pre-formed death. But it works on at least a couple of levels.   You can also compare it to a band who simply recognized that they could make some scratch while making a bit of fun of themselves at the same time:

In my humble opinion, that is one of the best uses of a metal band I have seen in a commercial. Cheesy. Overly (and ironically) serious. Money exchanged hands. Norton sold some product. Perhaps a few people figured out that was only half of the original Dokken (that is fodder for another post). But it was just self-aware enough to work on a fan level and just ‘meta’ enough to work for people who don’t give a squat who Dokken were or are.   I don’t bemoan a band using their art to make money. I really don’t. I just wish that there was some thought regarding said use. I also recognize that I should make a distinction. Lending one’s services to the sale of another’s product is different from selling products in your own name. But they are both about branding. And when promotion of both sorts get out of hand—the Bret Michaels approach or the KISS method, for just two instances—it cheapen the artist and the product, whether it is theirs or another’s.   Sadly, even those with an impeccable enough reputation are guilty of branding themselves into a corner. More and more, Lemmy allowed his band’s imagery to be slapped on every conceivable item of which you can think. But he was also cool enough to lend his image to an ad campaign for milk of all things:

That the ad became a tribute is a sad reality. That Lemmy was self-aware enough to recognize that he fit the thesis of Valio’s overall message (itself an update of a much older ad) is genius on his part.   Clearly, someone at ad agency Barkley of Kansas City loves them some AC/DC. Good for them. Equally clear is that this commercial is an attempt to make Applebee’s look a bit . . . edgier? Hmm. While I agree with the song they used, I have my doubts that wood smoke and dead cows are going to be enough to lead more people back to the trough.