Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cuban punk rocker to stand trial this Friday

According to AP, "Cuba has ordered jailed punk rocker Gorki Aguila, an outspoken critic of Fidel Castro and the communist government, to stand trial on Friday for "social dangerousness," a charge that could carry up to four years in prison.

Authorities arrested the 39-year-old lead singer of Porno para Ricardo at his Havana home on Monday, shortly after the band had completed work on a new album. Cuban law defines "social dangerousness" as behavior contrary to "communist morality," and police use it to detain offenders before they have a chance to commit a crime."

You can read the entire article here.

Gorki Aguila has been set free and fined 600 pesos (the average monthly income in Cuba is 408 pesos).

"Chinese Democracy" leads to Arrest

Kevin Skwerl, the blogger who leaked 9 supposed songs from the long awaited Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy", was arrested yesterday on suspicion of violating Federal Copyright Law.

and the God said "Let there be Rock"

Looks like the Christian community is ready to cash in on the Guitar Hero / Rock Band craze. Coming this September is the knock-off "Guitar Praise" featuring "hit songs from popular Christian rock bands". Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Denny's Rock Star Menu Premiers

In a new (and strange) cross-promotional marketing plan, Denny has unveiled its new Rock Star Menu. Here is the press release:

Denny’s introduces a new line-up of chefs in their kitchen with the launch of the Rockstar menu. Top musicians, such as the All-American Rejects, Taking Back Sunday, Plain White T’s, and the Eagles of Death Metal join Denny’s to create the new Denny’s Rockstar Menu presented by Dr Pepper.

“We teamed up with popular bands in an out-of-the-box way to develop a menu by rock stars for our rock star guests,” said Mark Chmiel, chief marketing and innovation officer for Denny’s. “Music and late night are a part of the Denny’s DNA. Denny’s has been a late-night destination for musicians, fans, crews, and crowds for over 50 years, so it is natural for us to have them create the meal they would most like to eat.”

America’s original late-night diner asked four of the hottest bands to cook up something special for the Denny’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. menu. The bands, along with Denny’s Culinary Innovation Chef Andrew Dismore, invented dishes that are ideal for late-night dining with friends and groups. The new menu items created by rock stars include:

− Taking Back Bacon Burger Fries, created by New York-based band Taking Back Sunday, combines two of the artists’ favorite foods – bacon cheeseburgers and loaded cheese fries – in a new, sharable way with familiar flavors of fries, cheese, hamburger, crispy bacon, onion, tomato, and pickles. They even top it off with ketchup and mustard.

− Plain White Shake, by the Chicago band Plain White T’s, blends whole milk, vanilla ice cream, creamy cheesecake, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips creating a heavenly, drinkable dessert.

− Heart on a Plate, by California rockers Eagles of Death Metal, starts with heart-shaped pancakes topped with raspberry sauce, hot fudge, strawberries, white chocolate chips, and whipped cream. The Heart-themed entrĂ©e – a tribute to their soon-to-be-released album “Heart On” – is served with crispy bacon and eggs any style.

− The All American S.O.S. brings the timeless classic and hometown favorite dish of Stillwater, Oklahoma band, The All-American Rejects, to life with hamburger, cheese, grilled onions, and gravy on top of grilled Texas toast and hash browns.

“The S.O.S. is a dish that we eat on the road all the time. There’s something for everyone in this dish and it fills you up good,” says Tyson Ritter, lead vocalist, The All-American Rejects. “From the trailer house to the lunch tray, ours is a dish that is often imitated, but never duplicated.”

The new Rockstar menu complements the Allnighter menu introduced earlier this year. Denny’s strives to appeal to its late-night crowd, with a whole new vibe from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., featuring alternative rock music playing through the restaurant and servers sporting T-shirts and jeans instead of their usual uniforms.
The Denny’s full Allnighter menu includes favorites such as Potachos – kettle chips topped with crumbled sausage, bacon, bell pepper and onion, and shredded Cheddar cheese; and the Smokin’ Q Four Pack - mini burgers with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, grilled onions and pickles, served with a double portion of onion rings.

In keeping with its rock ‘n roll history, Denny’s is also lending a helping hand to emerging bands through the Adopt-A-Band program. Bands can enter to become a Denny’s Adopted Band through the site They can then mobilize their fan base to vote them into a selection of bands that will receive free meals and promotional support from Denny’s.

Plain White Shake:

Taking Back Bacon Burger Fries:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) asked on stage at Nader rally

"NOFX and Rage Against the Machine might be playing beside various political conventions this year, but songwriter Ike Reilly and troublemaker Jello Biafra are actually getting asked on stage. Well, kind of. This election cycle Ralph Nader is back with Matt Gonzalez (who unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Gavin Newsome in San Francisco) as his running mate and they'll be holding "Super Rallies" outside the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The purpose of these "Super Rallies" is to serve as "a call for opening the presidential debates."

Still performing beside the convention, I guess, but at least on stage with candidates will be Biafra, Reilly and other notables such as Nellie McKay, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello, and Cindy Sheehan. Details can be found at"

Is Guitar Hero "Saving" Rock 'n' Roll

Recently, CNN wrote an article asking Is Guitar Hero Saving Rock 'n' Roll. The articles talks about how both "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" are introducing a new generation of kids to classic Rock. The article also points to increasing catalog sales of artist featured in the games. Check out the article here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

30 Seconds to Mars sued for $30 million

According to this article 30 Seconds to Mars has been sued by their label, Virgin Records, for failing to fulfill their 3 record contract. The band has been sued for $30 million. Jared Leto responds by explaining how their contract has terminated in a letter that can be found here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saul Williams Discusses Nike Commercial, Politics, and Music

Saul Williams (poet/hip hop artist) has posted the following letter on the web discussing the Nike commercial, politics and music (the commercial can be seen below the letter):

Dear Friends,

Although I cannot boast a lifetime of keeping my views to myself, I have seldom taken on the responsibility of trying to change someone (alright, maybe a few girlfriends, but you'll never hold me to that). However, this year for me has been one of aggressively shifting from a reluctant pursuit of change and growth to taking a proactive stance on what I believe in times that I see as clearly representative of a societal paradigm shift both necessary and urgent for our country and world.

I received a lot of questions from some about why I would allow my song 'List of Demands' to be used in a Nike campaign. Ironically, half of the people now reading this post never heard of me until that commercial aired. That, indeed, was one of my reasons for allowing it. A small circle of poets and conscious do-gooders are not enough to effect the change necessary to shift our planet in peril. We must enlist people from all walks of life, people not accustomed to questioning the norm, people who may simply want to dance uninterrupted without message or slogan. I see no glory in 'preaching to the converted'. Furthermore, I believe fully in the power of music and have branded my work with it's own conscientious stamp and stomp of attitude fueled to steal the show in the face of the nonsensical. Quite simply, it was clear to me that people would not be rushing to the store to buy Nikes after seeing that commercial, but rather rushing to youtube or itunes to hear or download the song. I even imagined those who would be rushing to blogs to question how I could allow this to happen and the subsequent discussion of the ethical treatment of factory workers and how new minds would be informed and enlisted in the struggle for ethical change.

As an artist that characterizes himself and his work as a hybrid synthesis of creativity and responsibility I am forced to make politicized choices, weigh evils, and work strategically to make a living and contribute to the change I wish to see in my lifetime. For instance, the groundbreaking digital release of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! wasn't done simply because I wanted to give my album away for free and maintain my independence as an artist, but also because record companies left me little choice. As a musician I have been signed to both Columbia/Sony and Island/Def Jam rosters and have faced consistent naysayers who have basically insisted that I choose the type of music I am going to make and if the choice wasn't according to their definition of hip hop showed little faith in it or in the possibility of a wide public supporting it, without realizing their role in determining what the public supports. Radio stations followed suit in determining my music not urban, alternative, or rock enough. Of course my music showed more rock influence than Eminem but the KROQ's of the world seemed to be basing their definition of rock on something a little more surface than sound, at the time. Thus, I have always found myself with fans that have through their own hard work and diligence fought through the norm to find me, yet still voice surprise that more people haven't.

The compliment "you're ahead of your time", often feels more like a curse than a gift from a well-wisher. I have never considered myself ahead of my time simply because a few executives may not have been visionary enough to determine where music or antiquated ideas of race are heading or to realize their role in continually underestimating the intelligence of the listener and our generation. Rather I have seen those 'powers that be' as behind the times and perpetuators of an old cycle. Likewise, I have seen their over-turn as inevitable. Thus, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! simply came at a point when I realized that we were, indeed, living at a crossroads and Victor Hugo's saying, "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come", came to life.

Without question, we are living in powerful times, a time where the powers of being will truly prevail over the powers that be. This is evident in the political sector where it has become clear, at least to me, that my support of Barack Obama is not because he's black, but because he seems to represent both symbolically and ideologically many of those ideas and ideals whose time has come. Ideas of the divine need for change ("God's just a baby and her diaper is wet." Get it?) in how we look at the world, ourselves, and at our individual and communal powers. The idea that might is right, that we demonstrate our power with aggressive force is great for football teams, but hardly the best idea for a country whose running source of pride has historically been the evidence of our collective imagination: our music; our films; our amusement parks; and the technology we create to share it. These products of peace are the things that made the world initially fall in love with us. We have rooted ourselves in a growing sense of independence as evidenced through our historic social movements, always upgrading our beliefs and laws to reflect our broadening understanding and vision. Of course, many, if not most, would label this a very optimistic perspective of the ongoing struggle for justice and equal opportunity for all people in this land. There is still a fight to have our voices heard and many of us when given the opportunity to speak seem to have very little to say. Then are those who have consistently fought against growth and change, who would rather fight for their right to maintain their antiquated, sometimes ignorant points of view, as if the age of the perspectives themselves is what validates them. Yet, the first technology is of the mind. It is the shift in perspective that allows us to streamline possibilities of understanding as reflected through invention. And quite simply, we are coming of age.

In this age it is our responsibility to challenge ourselves beyond cultural traditions and delineate between what we have perpetuated through ignorance rather than wisdom. We face an opportunity to broaden our worldview through the exchange of technology and information. We need not rely on what teachings of the past could not anticipate. It is an opportunity to forge ahead and beyond the wavering shortsightedness of our religious leaders, elected officials, teachers, principals, and sometimes parents and live in simple accordance with what we can feel deep within ourselves. We should no longer be surprised to sometimes find ourselves seemingly more intelligent, informed, or insightful than our leaders and bosses, rather we should feel encouraged to inspire and share our most informed selves in our every encounter. And that, my friends, is what has led me to write you today.

While sitting on a plane, on my way back from Lollapalooza, reading Thanking The Monkey by Karen Dawn, it struck me that this was the second awesomely inspiring and informative book I was reading this summer without sharing my thanks by spreading the word. I am sometimes hesitant about making a big deal about my vegan diet, as I have considered it a personal choice worth little discussion. Yet more and more, I have found myself attempting to encourage people who ask me where I find my inspiration, or what issues do I find important, or how can we curb warfare and violence to consider what we ingest. A story was recently recounted to me of a popular TV chef who chose to raise little piglets on his show to insure that they were fed organic food and not injected with chemicals (as is the practice on most factory farms), all for the sake of fattening them up for their slaughter and another primetime recipe. Yet, the time that this chef spent with these pigs taught him a valuable lesson (more valuable for the pigs, no doubt). What he learned was how intelligent pigs are. In fact, in recent times, it is common knowledge for most that pigs are arguably more intelligent than "mans best friend" and companion, the dog. For our chef, this meant switching gears and realizing that he could not consciously kill this intelligent animal, that it would constitute a murder as brutal as slicing your fluffy pets neck and watching it writhe and bleed to death, or sticking an electric prod up its ass and electrocuting it, if the fur or skin is of value…

It may seem like I have just taken a turn to the graphically extreme, I wouldn't want to make you "lose your lunch", but these are the common practices perpetuated by the factory farm industry on millions of animals a day, in the name of your breakfast lunch and dinner. And, no, I'm not simply talking about pigs, but also cows, chickens, turkey, horses (that's right horses. Everyday), and fish. Everyday, our species participates in the mass genocide of other species without care or concern or even questioning whether the violence that we ingest and condone plays any role in our apathetic support of the war machine we have become. How is it that we as human beings can represent both the highest and most developed and lowest and least concerned forms of intelligence of any living species? Are we simply glued to age-old barbaric traditions that cloud our senses and render us inhumane in our dependence on comfort foods and practices? Is our dependence on foreign oil the only thing we need to curb? What about not so foreign species?

Some might argue that artists are a race or species apart from the common person. Yet we all identify with the teachings of Gandhi, the genius of Einstein, the art of Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Rembrandt and the talent and compassion of living artists like Alice Walker, Will Smith, The Mars Volta, Dead Prez, Prince and countless others. Some of us choose to emulate their styles, their fashion, their career choices, but why not their diets? If our brightest most celebrated stars all have this one thing in common why are we so slow in connecting the dots for ourselves? Perhaps the biggest issue at hand is not what our cars run on, but essentially what do we run on? The fact is that factory farms are the number one users of crude oil, not cars. That's basically what it takes to kill approximately one million chickens per hour (just in the US). More than half of our water supply goes to feed animals being fattened for slaughter. The methane gases that contribute to global warming are produced majorly by cow farts in factory farms, not to mention the amount of fossil fuels needed to create just one pound of beef.

Yep. You doing the math? Basically if we shifted our compassion towards animals, the domino effect would heal the planet. We'd no longer be cutting down rain forests to create more space for cows to graze, we'd stop depleting the ocean of the necessary (keyword: necessary) food chains that our eco system depends on, diseases including many cancers, heart disease, obesity, and others which find their root in the food/toxins we ingest would slowly disappear as would our taste for violence.

Which brings me to the other book I read this summer that inspired me to reevaluate every aspect of what I've been taught through the news and media, especially concerning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That book is The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

So what are you reading?

I know what you should be listening to,


Rage Against the Machine to play Republican National Convention (sort of)

Rage Against the Machine has announced a concert on September 3rd at the Target Center in Minneapolis that will coincide with the Republican National Convention taking place that same week in St. Paul. Tom Morello will also join in on a union rally on September 1st, the first day of the RNC, at St. Paul's Harriet Island. This is similar to when Rage played outside the Democratic National Convention in 2000, except that was across the street from the convention and I believe it was free. At $60 a ticket, maybe the band is no longer raging so hard against the machine.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

M.I.A. accused of using Terrorist imagery in her videos

Interscope has sued hip hop artist Deleon after he posted a Youtube video accusing M.I.A. of using terrorist imagery. You can read the article here.

Warner Music Wants a Bigger Piece of that Rock Band Pie

According to Reuters, Warner Music has come out saying that video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero should pay larger licensing fees to the music industry. Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman said, "The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small". Video games have recently become a major stream of revenue for the struggling music industry and I would expect more music industry executives to come out and say the same thing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Congress to Require Universities to Pay for Downloading Services

Both the House and the Senate have voted to reauthorize the Higher Education Act which includes new provisions that will require Universities to provide students with access to commercial music downloading services and implement traffic filtering technologies in order to deter peer-to-peer filesharing. The provisions are controversial, with RIAA and MPAA pushing for its approval and Academia pushing against its approval. It not certain whether this will make any difference in illegal downloads, though it is likely it will stop a small percentage. One thing that is for sure is that it will raise tuition and the cost of living for college students. The bill is awaiting President Bush's signature, he is expected to sign it into law. For a more in depth discussion of this issue, check out this article.