Signals From Mars – The Rules Don’t Apply To You

So last week I nailed it by suggesting Mike Portnoy might be the fill in for A.J. Pero in Twisted Sister. Not saying I told you so, but it was easy to figure out that his name would draw more money than Joe Franco to the band. What I find interesting is that the band has come out and said they’re doing a farewell tour. Well it will extend from this year to next year. Listen, I love the band, but come on, Twisted Sister has not done a full blown tour in 30 years. They play select festival dates around the world, and that’s about it. In this day and age when playing a few festivals gets you a huge chunk of change it is too tempting to just say no. This isn’t Metallica, Kiss, or Iron Maiden dropping the mic on stage saying “we out”. Kudos to them if they never play again, but too many bands have already said “nope this is it”, and guess what a few months later come back with “oh we were wrong, we’re having too much fun”, oh and by the way the money for us to continue playing isn’t bad either. I think it’s a joke for bands to have to come out and say “we’re done”. You’re done when you’re in the ground, seriously look at every other form of popular music that has come and gone, doo-wop, big band, Motown, etc. and what is happening now with rock and metal acts has been happening to them for a while. Select acts continuing with a guy that was in the fourth version of the band, or a relative of an original member. So get ready for Twisted Sister with Jessie Blaze Snider, or something similar. Not pointing a finger at them specifically, but it is an easy example to make. Don’t be shocked for this to begin to happen, it has happened, and rock and metal is not exempt from human behavior. And again, more power to them, or any band that decides to continue on, it should be their choice, and no one else’s decision to make.

People have this cartoon world like idea that “rock stars” live on a different plain than the rest of us. We grew up with Dick Dastardly, Bugs Bunny, The Simpsons, The Munsters, Spider-Man etc. and think musicians are somehow the same because they show off a cartoonish image or fantasy world like setting in their videos and photo shoots, but that’s far from the norm. Most bands tour when they’re on vacation, case in point Greg Chaisson who just had to leave Red Dragon Cartel, or Mark Mendoza himself of Twisted Sister who is a bounty hunter and the main reason why they do not tour more.

“Why don’t they change their name” is something I’ve read a ton this week. “Why don’t they bring back Sebastian” a bunch more have mentioned. “I guess Skid Row doesn’t like making money” is something else that has been thrown out there. “The band only existed from 89 to 95”. Listen I grew up in New Jersey, and we had Skid Row jammed down our throats, as a result, I never really cared for the band. Do they have tracks that I can listen to? Sure, but I need to move on quickly after, sorry. A lot of it has to do with the diva like attitude Sebastian has displayed since day one. If this is what he is giving off to the general public, I can’t even imagine what it might be like to actually work with him! This is the same guy that got pissy and started a fight in a bar because people wouldn’t recognize him as a “rock star”.

So to answer some of these rather ridiculous quotes, “I guess Skid Row doesn’t like making money” really? “Why don’t they bring Sebastian Bach back, it’s what the fans want”. So Sebastian is playing 30 to 80 thousand seat stadiums and festivals on his own? Or that happening because he’s opening up for Guns N Roses and he knows how to behave himself around Axl Rose? How many seat theaters is he playing at the moment? What about Skid Row? Around the same right? So what they could hope for is maybe getting on a summer tour as an opener for a larger band. Maybe that reward does not merit working with him? Maybe there really isn’t that much money involved in having to put up with him, and it just isn’t worth it? Folks, you and your wife or ex-girlfriend could not make things happen, but your friends, and family wanted to see you guys get back together, how many times does that work out? Why does human nature not apply to bands? Oh they live in a fantasy world, that’s why. Also, look at the revolving door Bach has had with his solo band, talk of him reneging on paying players, forcing musicians to hand over writing credits to him in order for a track to make an album, etc. So would you deal with that? Would you work for your boss, and have them only pay you a fraction of what was promised? Or how about you patenting a product, and the company forcing you to hand the patent over in order for them to manufacture your invention? I know there are a lot of die-hard Skid Row fans out there, but even at the height of their popularity they were not Motley Crue, Aerosmith or Kiss where money ultimately made them put aside differences, all be it on separate busses, planes, or what have you, but it facilitated getting them up on stage.

“Why doesn’t the band change their name?”, first off they own the name, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do what they want with a property they own. If you own a house or business, do you want someone coming in telling you how to run the place? Should you be forced to change the name because the chef or the hostess has moved on to another job? This comes up all the time, when Jeff Hanneman died people called for Slayer to change their name. Do you understand how much money that name generates? The Kerry King Band, regardless of his stature in the metal community will not pull in as much, sorry, but that’s just how it is. So why should they be forced to abandon a name they cultivated? Skid Row tried, but Ozone Monday didn’t have the same pull, people should applaud them for at least trying. How many “fans” say “oh I didn’t know they were still together” playing as Skid Row, so that further proves that changing the name and starting from scratch will not help in any way shape or form. In the end people will unfortunately only be there to hear their hits, so even if they’re playing as Slave To The Grind, there will still be some drunken asshole screaming Youth Gone Wild between each song. “The band only existed from 89 to 95”, so because you lost sight, or interest in the band, it can’t exist for the rest of us? “Iron Maiden died after DiAnno left” similar deal, just because you’re emotionally bound to a certain period of the band does not mean they somehow died off.

Last point on Skid Row, Tony Harnell is a great singer, he’s a known commodity, an established singer around the world that could actually help the band bring some old time fans back. The switch to Johnny Sollinger was a lot like Iron Maiden going with Blaze Bayley. I saw them open for Kiss years ago, and although I was not a big fan, Sollinger seemed to just be going through the motions, not sure why it took them this long to realize it and make the change. Being close to the situation a lot of times you fight to make your decisions stick, like dating the wrong person. Even though everyone else sees things not working, you fight all you can to prove them wrong, until one day you realize that what everyone else is saying was true.

Wrapping up with Dee Snider, he was great to me back in the day. Was my first interview, he was down to Earth, could not have been nicer to a deer in headlights nineteen year old conducting his first interview. But back then he had a taste of what it was like to be in and out of stardom. This is someone that was left with no money at all, zero, had to sell everything, rode a bike to work every day, and he built everything back up. But not as the guy on those early albums, singing about rebellion, and over coming, but by being the guy in the white denim doing Leader Of The Pack and Be Chrool To Your Scuel. He has done it becoming a clown, a loud mouth that does what it takes to get his name out there on TV, or any other medium that will allow him to pontificate. So after all he’s gone through, one of his first public appearances discussing A.J. Pero’s death he comes off with no tact bashing him. People will say “what’s the big deal, he’s telling the truth, why does he have to be P.C. about it?” You can’t go on and complain about A.J. not having his affairs in order, divulge the goings on of his family, and essentially throw gasoline in the press regarding A.J.’s personal family life. Why should anyone cast judgment on how he dealt with things? Dee is pissed, I get that, but choose your words wisely. As Lemmy once said “just cause you got the power, that don’t mean you have the right”. Dee has gone on record to say playing these shows will help A.J.’s family straighten things out. So if you want to help them out, don’t go out in public and air his family’s business. Should he have been checkout due to his family’s health issues, yes, without a doubt, we should all do this. He didn’t want to? Well again, his business. Selfish as Dee put it? Perhaps, but life is complicated, it is easy to point fingers and get up on a pedestal and say “I would have done this”, but guess what, you’re not in that situation, and until you are, you really don’t know how you would actually react.