Wolfmother back in fighting form with new lineup

Published by Reuters

 

Like all animals, Wolfmother faced two choices: evolve or die.

Citing “longstanding frictions,” keyboard/bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett left the Australian band in 2008. But frontman Andrew Stockdale wasn’t about to give up after achieving so much — the group sold 537,000 U.S. copies of its self-titled 2006 debut, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and won a 2007 Grammy Award for best hard rock performance.

“The Beatles lasted seven years (of touring), we lasted four,” Stockdale says from the band’s temporary Los Angeles base. “We toured our arses off around the world. We did 300 shows. It takes a certain type of person to want to continue to live that kind of life.”

Stockdale replaced his departed bandmates with drummer Dave Atkins — a veteran of Brisbane, Australia, bands Resin Dogs and Pangaea — guitarist Aidan Nemeth and Ian Peres on bass and keyboards.

Together they crafted the blues rock of “Cosmic Egg,” due October 23 in Australia on Modular Recordings/Universal, October 26 in the United Kingdom on Island and October 27 in the United States on Interscope.

Also new to the project is British producer Alan Moulder. But despite the changes, Wolfmother’s trademark rock sound remains intact, with tracks like “In the Morning” and “California Queen” likely to more than satisfy fans of the first album.

“I can listen to the whole record without cringing, which is a good sign,” Stockdale says. “I wanted to take it back to an old-school hi-fi sound.”

WORKING THROUGH IT

“It’s a difficult situation to come back from,” Modular A&R manager Glen Goetze says of the split. “But (Stockdale has) worked his way through it. It’s like starting from scratch on a debut record all over again, but we already have a sizable fan base out there.”

The band has been re-engaging those fans for several months now, with a carefully plotted live return involving a mix of high-impact shows, festival dates and intimate secret gigs. The group was one of only two acts to play both of the Sound Relief bushfire benefit concerts held March 14 at Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground. It also closed out the March 27 MTV Australia Awards, performing the appropriately titled “Back Round,” a non-album track that was a free download on Wolfmother’s Web site and the site for the videogame “Guitar Hero 5,” which features the band.

In the United States, the group opened for the Killers on six dates in August and September and — after Australian and European shows — will start its own monthlong U.S. headline theater tour October 29 at Dallas’ House of Blues.

The band will play to 600,000-plus Australians when it opens AC/DC’s March 2010 homecoming stadium tour. And Stockdale has collaborated on a track for guitarist Slash’s next album.

“We might do a few shows or some surprise guest appearances. I’d love to have him play at some Wolfmother shows,” Stockdale says of Slash.

All the signs are that Wolfmother can build on its debut success, despite the changes in personnel. But Stockdale says he’s taking nothing for granted.

“At the start when people were saying, ‘Wolfmother returns,’ I was like, ‘Don’t say it’s a comeback,'” he says. “But maybe a comeback is a good thing. A bit of a struggle, a challenge, is a healthy thing to have in life. Every time I do a gig now, I think, ‘Wow, this is incredible.'”

Click here for the original story.

The Hot Seat: Diane Warren

Published in The Music Network

The saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. In the music business, behind almost every great pop star is Diane Warren. The Californian songwriting legend has written hits for a who’s who of superstar performers, a list which includes Elton John, Tina Turner, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart and Barbra Streisand. The hitmaker’s songs have been nominated for four Golden Globes, six Academy Awards, and nine Grammys, and her works are featured in nearly 100 movies. And there’s a lot left in the tank. TMN caught up last week with the industry legend, who will make her maiden voyage to Australia when she speaks at the Oct. 16-18 One Movement conference in Perth.

 

Hi Diane, what’s keeping you busy at the moment?

Writing a lot of songs.

 

And how many songs have you penned?

I’ve got a lot of songs. Thousands at this point. But I can’t remember all of them. I have so much stuff in my brain.

 

Why have you never grabbed the spotlight?

I’ve always wanted to be the name in parenthesis. I like to be the name, “written by”. That’s not to say I’m not going to do a record. Maybe I will do one. I think I should do one just for the hell of it. I just never wanted to be a performer and I have no desire to be a performer.

 

But you’ll be speaking at the Big Sound conference. What do you make of public speaking engagements?

I hate the idea of it. If someone’s interviewing me it’s not so bad, but if I had to go up there and talk without being interviewed I couldn’t do it. I’d have stage fright. It would not be easy for me. If I’m sitting there and someone is asking me questions, that’s cool.

 

I saw you receive the special international award at the Ivor Novellos last year in London. That’s a lot of fun for a lunchtime gig.

I love it. Everyone’s drunk. It’s so cool. The guy who walked up to get his award before me had a beer bottle, I though ‘this is fucking cool.’

 

What’s the proudest moment in your career?

Oh, there’s a lot of them. I’m proud to be able to do this as a career. One of the proudest moments was today. I was watching Oprah and Whitney Houston was on the show doing her comeback interview. Whitney sang my song that I wrote for her, I Didn’t Know My Own Strength. People in the audience were crying, including Oprah. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen or heard on TV. It was so intense. I’ve had like 50 emails from people in the last few hours. Anytime you’re recognized for your achievements is great. Being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, winning a Grammy was amazing, getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard was a great moment. I’m proud I still do this. I’m proud that my songs still reach people.

What has it been like to work with Whitney.

She said it best in the interview with Oprah. She said it’s not a comeback, it’s a come-through. She’s come through so much. I love looking at it that way. I’ve done a lot of songs with her, but this is the first one I’ve written for her. I’ve had a couple of big hits with her. We had a hit with her in a duet with Enrique Iglesias called Could I Have This Kiss Forever. She’s done a lot of my songs.

 

You own a publishing company, Realsongs. How do you split your time between looking after the business and songwriting?

There’s only one writer here. Me. I don’t do the technical business stuff like licensing, But I deal with the placement of my songs. I’d like to grow it with my own songs.

 

Do you have any tips on how to get the songwriting juices flowing?

I only know what works for me. It’s such an individual thing. I just show up, that’s what I do. I have to work, and I work hard.

 

What motivates you?

I love to write songs. I love to come up with ideas. I love to come up with new ways of something that has been said a million times.

 

So is there a method to the process, or is it about magic dust?

All of the above. There’s a method and there’s a craft, but there’s also inspiration which you can’t really figure out.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been working with Akon. I did a great song for him, and a great song on the new Sean Kingston record. And I’ve worked recently with Jennifer Hudson. I’ve just done a great song for Kylie Minogue. I think it’s going to a No. 1 record. It’s a really great title but I’m not telling you yet. She sounds amazing singing it. I love Kylie Minogue. I’m so happy to be working with her.  I don’t know when the record is coming, but she’s coming here on concert and I’ll meet with her. She’s cool, I really like her. I was really happy she did my song. I’ve also worked with Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud. And an amazing new artist from Sweden called Agnes.

 

Do you have any goals you haven’t yet achieved?

I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and doing it better.

 

What will be on the cards for your trip Down Under?

I don’t know what my plans are. I’m looking forward to going there. I’d like to go to Sydney. I’ve heard some good things about it. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’ll think about it all when I’m there. I’ve never actually been before.

 

Day Tripper

Published in Billboard Magazine

 

Sarah Blasko’s distinctive vocals have established her as one of Australia’s premier talents, but her voice doesn’t carry onto Australia’s radio airwaves. With the exception of state-funded youth station Triple J, the national networks rarely play the singer, who’s about to hit the road again.

Blasko’s live performances—and critical acclaim—have captured a sizable audience Down Under. Her current album, “As Day Follows Night” (Dew Process/Universal Music Australia), hit the Australian Recording Industry Assn. chart at No. 5 following its July 10 release, eclipsing the peaks of her two previous platinum-certified (70,000 copies) albums.

“To have platinum records [without] significant airplay is something she should be very proud of,” Dew Process founder Paul Piticco says. “Her sound’s very unique, and she has a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong for her.”

A European release date for the album is being finalized, Blasko’s manager Edrei Cullen says. Having performed at the Splendour in the Grass Festival (July 25-26) in Australia’s Byron Bay, Blasko plays a handful of European shows in August and early September before heading home for dates though October and November.

Blasko is published by Sony/ATV and booked by High Road Touring (United States), Mobile Industries (Australia) and Pitch & Smith (Europe).

The Hot Seat: Danny Goldberg

Published in The Music Network

Danny Goldberg is a household name in the music business, and with good reason. During a stellar 40-year career, the executive has led some of America’s biggest and most influential record labels, Atlantic, Warner Bros. and Mercury. And he has guided the careers of some of the biggest alternative rock bands on the planet, Nirvana, the Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth among them. The one-time Artemis Records CEO and sometime film-maker (he co-directed 1980 rock documentary film No Nukes) is now president of Gold Village Entertainment, which manages the likes of Steve Earle, the Hives and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine. Goldberg will deliver a keynote speech at the August 9-11 Big Sound music industry summit in Brisbane.

Danny, in this business of music, what haven’t you done?

Oh God, there’s so much I can’t do. I don’t play any instruments, I don’t know how to record, I’ve never been a tour manager, I’m not an accountant or a lawyer. I’m acutely aware of all the things I don’t know how to do and haven’t done. I started as a journalist but wasn’t a very good one. I became, I think, a very good publicist. And I’ve been a decent manager and record executive, depending on which year and which month.

How is the role of the manager changing?

So much more has fallen on managers as the record companies financially weaken. I like to quote (R.E.M. manager) Bertis Downs, who once said ‘You have to do twice as many things to make less money.’ It’s not always true. There are some artists who are doing extraordinary well because the concerts side of the business in general. In terms of the marketing, it’s more fragmented. There was a time in ‘90s when if you had a video getting good rotation on MTV, it was total security that you were reaching most of your audience. Now you have to deal with maybe 10 different points of connection to reach the same audience you used to be able to by having a video on MTV.

What do you make of ad-supported digital music models where the music is effectively given away without money changing hands?

It’s impossible to turn back the hands of time. We’re not going to go back to a world where you can charge for every album. Technology makes it impossible to enforce the laws that are on the books and the political power of computer companies can weaken the law anyway. You have to deal with the real world, and this is a digital world. To the extent that these services can help to market people’s songwriting career, touring career, merchandising career, then I’m in favour of it. I expect less and less from my clients in the way of revenue from recordings, and focus more on how to maximise what they make on tour and through licensing as songwriters. Itunes is not perfect. At least we have a way of monetizing something which previous to iTunes was 100% free. Ad-supported services might throw off money eventually. We have to focus more on making money in other ways.

What was the experience like running the show at a major record company?

It was a fantasy of mine to some day become a record company president. I managed to do that for six years at Warner Music, Atlantic and Mercury. I got that out of the system, but I’m very grateful for the money they paid me, and to see life through that lens was really interesting. I spent less time with the artist and more time dealing with budgets and numbers. Although the prestige of the job and the conversation was great, it wasn’t as much fun as managing artists. And there was a certain competition that developed between the executives that I got sucked into myself. It brought out a side of myself that I didn’t like that much.

And what did you learn from (current Universal Music Group CEO) Doug Morris and (the late Atlantic founder) Ahmet Ertegun?

Ahmet was a magical figure. He embodied the essence of the people who created the modern record business in the 50s and 60s, and he had amazing stories. He was a wise man, a diplomat. He was a significant force until the day he died. Doug Morris was really running the company. I learned from Doug how to be a boss, how to be an executive, how to run a corporation.

You’ve described in the past a “Mars and Venus” disparity between the agenda of big corporations and their artists. Is that still the case?

The differences are more pronounced today than they were 15 to 20 years ago, because there’s less money for the artists from record sales and there are other incomes which will make them more money. It takes more thought to create a set of incentives and expectations that works for the artist and the company. It’s different with the indie labels who don’t have the public to reporting to do and can build longer term assets. It’s the pop artists who tend to need a major label to maximise what they do. Worrying about third and fourth quarter earnings is totally appropriate for corporate executives. That’s their job. They have to serve the needs of the corporation.

 

Click here for Lars Brandle’s interview with Danny Goldberg.