A Sell Out?

(By Guest Author Kate Hepner)
If you watch Much Music USA or the Fuse, MTV or MTV2, you may see bands appearing that were well known for years in the underground scene. Bands like AFI, The Donnas and even Taking Back Sunday are coming out with music videos and becoming ever so popular . . . But why? AFI, A Fire Inside, as been around for about a decade and now all of a sudden they are getting radio play . . . The same thing with The Donnas, after so many years of playing underground and having guess spots on certain panels, they all of a sudden become a mainstream commodity.

As some of the underground listeners know, AFI and The Donnas have been around for a long time. They have paid their debts to the underground scene. Both have been around for years. Finally, they are getting the recognition they�ve worked for and earned. The Donnas who have been around for years, they�ve played guest spots on movies like Drive Me Crazy. So technically, whatever luck they�ve gotten with the media has been for the best.

The question goes on further for long time fans… Do you think a beloved band you�ve listened to for a long time, sold out? Is all this fame and fortune a result of selling out? Okay, so what exactly is a sellout? Some say selling out is when a person, a group, etc. that buy into the �system� in order to get more money. When one �sells out,� they sometimes lose their artist vision and become another media friendly manufactured product. Most of the fans I have talked to say they are fully behind their favorite bands switching labels and getting more famous. Then again there are longtime fans of bands that feel the opposite when a band signs to a major label.

In the end, only the fan can decide. Many say that along with a label the artist�s credibility is lost. When a band that has been around for some time, being called, a new upcoming band can be pretty annoying. After a decade of making music, a band finally makes it and does a 180. Sometimes makes me feel like they�ve sold out, but on the other hand, I feel they�ve worked for it. It is a double-edged sword.

Review: Linkin Park – Meteora

Linkin Park, a group of six from SoCal. An array of hip-hop, rap metal and amazing vocals. This sixtet is made up of two vocalists, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, Phoenix on guitar, Brad Delson on bass, Joe Hahn on the turntables and lastly, Rob Bourdon on drums. The band first formed in the late 90s, without Chester, otherwise known as Xero. Then the moment of truth. Chester answered the call for a lead singer, leaving his own birthday party in Arizona and tried out for the band and made the cut. The band changed its name to Hybrid Theory and put out the Hybrid Theory EP. After one more name change, the band is now the ever famous, Linkin Park. Linkin Park are on Warner Brother Records. Linkin Park have an EP, the Hybrid Theory EP and of course the [Hybrid Theory] LP. The [Hybrid Theory] LP went eight times platinum and was #1 on the Billboard.
The first track off Meteora is a 13 second intro, which leads into “Don’t Stay”. A very get off your feet and jump around. The scratching by Hahn and Chester’s hard edge voice really reminds me of “One Step Closer”. “Somewhere I Belong” came shortly before the release of Meteora. Inspiration would be the not fitting in, in society. Being someone different, not the typical, everyday person. The band’s Dj, Joe Hahn, directed the video for “Somewhere I Belong”, his second video directed. The inspiration for the video is having simple objects in Chester’s bedroom turning into a new sort of enviroment for the band to play “live” in. On March 25th, I snagged my copy along with hundreds upon thousands of crazed fans. On first listen through, you detect a little maturity, but similar sounding songs. Now after hundreds of listens, many hours spent filling my ears. A definite maturity is still there, more bass heavy, more screaming, better rapping, more experimental. And my favorite track would be “Lying From You”. The song that debuted on the Linkin Park website. Starts off some scratching and a few bass thumps, and the song explodes into an anger filled mixture of guitars, bass, drums and turntables. Mike steps in and starts laying down his rhymes about how how his personality has taken apart by some girl. So now that “Somewhere I Belong” has had its affect on the music industry, Linkin Park has instantaneously put out two more singles, “Faint” and “From the Inside”. After the huge success that [Hybrid Theory] had and after all the singles, the album was turned into one hit song and I really wouldn’t like to see that happen to Meteora.
After much listening to, I really feel this album gets a definite 4 and a half. I have few disagreements with this album, except for track 6, “Easier to Run”. It really just doesn’t fit with the rest of the surrounding song. Chester’s voice is too long and drawn out, which really irritates me. Other then “Easier to Run” I’d say this album is solid, absolutely amazing. Right now, you can catch Linkin Park on Projekt Revolution 2, after this short stint, next up is Summer Sanitarium, featuring Metallica, Limp Bizkit, the Deftones and Mudvayne.

Soundtrack to Life – Happy Haunting – My Big Year

Welcome to week 7. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long to me. Time just seems to have been flying by as of late. Weeks just melt one into the other. Guess that’s what happens when ya get older. I remember Monday through Friday used to just drag on, but that was while I was still in school. Never mind, I’ve digressed already. I really gotta stop doing that. Aside from this I’m working on a few other stories that’ll go up here with at least one of them being a multi-chapter multi-week thing. Trust me, it’ll be more interesting than this has been.

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Happy Haunting – My Big Year

“Her Ghost in the Fog” by Cradle of Filth

And so I’d been asked to join the Hartford Jaycees. I made it to the next meeting, payed the membership fee and signed the papers. I was to be sworn in at the banquet they hold every year in January. It was a fine afair. Good food as opposed to what we got this year. As expected the gift exchange turned into a war. During the banquet, we hold a gift exchange in which all involved draw lots to see who picks first. That person goes up to the table, takes a gift and unwraps it in front of everyone. When the next person goes, they can take something off the table or take another person’s gift. If someone has their gift taken from them, they can go back to the table or take someone else’s gift. That all works with the “No Tag Backs” policy. If someone takes something from you, you can’t take it back, at least not right now. It was all in good fun and I enjoyed it, but this wasn’t why I’d joined the Jaycees.

Next week, yes, still in January, meetings were held every Wednesday night to plan this year’s haunted house. I was excited naturally. Since I was new to this meant I had some fresh new ideas that perhaps hadn’t been thought of before. Usually, Gary already has at least one concrete idea that is for sure going into the house, and this year was no different. Before announcing it though, he told me that he had me in mind for this room. Basically, I was to be a vampire, dead in my coffin. My slayer would announce that she had just killed me and that they had nothing to fear. At this point, through use of a remote, I’d turn off the main lights. I’d hop out of the coffin and stand in position to be hit with a pin light that would light up my face. Not only that, but he had this in mind to be the big scare of the house. Guess that makes me star of the show. Now I’d have to live up to the pressure.

So we got to kicking around other ideas for the house. I had a favorite of mine, a combined effort between me and another memeber, Ben I believe. The group would walk in and see a man sitting in front of a TV, watching clips from horror movies. We had the “Boogeymen” DVD in mind for this. He’d flip between scenes, making comments as he went. He’d then hit a button on the remote, which would switch between the DVD and a camcorder that was also hooked up to the TV. “Oh! This is my favorite one!” he says. The guests see the camera shaking around in a darkened room, with only bits of light coming in. There is a door. One monstrous hand reaches up and pushes the door open just a bit. What does the camcorder see? The group in the room. It should dawn on them about the time that the monster comes flying out of the closet. Woulda worked great, but it became a matter of how much technical work would go into it. I’d also decided around this time that I wanted to put some real music in the house this year. So, I asked around the internet, and checked out a few bands. One band came to mind as I listened to one of their songs. It was Cradle of Filth. The song, “Her Ghost in the Fog”. It was Bloodbath’s entrance music in PWF. It just sounded perfect. I began downloading their music with the intent of whipping up a good soundtrack for the haunted house. I now own around 7 of their CDs. Sadly, the music never got used, but it was still to be a good year.

I don’t recall doing much in the way of clean up, but we started getting out there in the later months to work. Myself, Lara and Aki helped where we could. My job was mostly moving big things, but I did some basic construction as well. Lara and Aki helped me when possible but also handled a portion of the cleaning. I believe they also helped us grill out on a few days. For the most part, the three of us concentrated on what was to be my room. Using caulk, we glued pieces of pink styrofoam to the black wall in the shapes of bricks. Now, when styrofoam is sprayed with gray spray paint, not only does it take on the gray color, but the chemicals eat into the styrofoam and make a nice brick texture. I also bought several lengths of red satiny fabric to hang from the ceiling. In the end, the room had a nice, coffin-like appearance. When the local paper came through before the house was open, I was summoned along with Lara, Jerry and a few others to appear for pictures. The picture we had taken was myself holding Lara and bending down as if to bite her. If my scanner was up and running, I would put it up on the board for you guys to see. I’m the big scare in the house, a whole room designed for me, and my picture in the paper. This was definitely turning into my year.

My costume consisted of black slacks with a belt, long sleeve fishnet shirt, studded bracelets, plain black T-shirt, form fitting gray suit vest, classic black and red cape and a silver medallion with a red jewel. I paled my face and added some black paint around my eyes, and of course had the professional style fangs. Excellent costume. To add to it all, perhaps 15 minute before I left, I looked up some words in Latin. Enough to form a few sentence, just enough to give the guests a little talking to. And in case they stepped out of line I learned “You’re not funny”, “Idiot” and “Shut up”. I had my share of good scares, but also an equal amount of morons. My slayer was played by four different people on any given day. Aki, Kerrie, and Amy all played that they were the slayer and they had just killed me, saying the curse was over. Lara played it differently. She acted as an indignant member of the household who had lived here peacefully with the other ghouls until myself and the other vampires moved in. It was all in good fun. I had a few favorite moments of the year.

-When the lights went out, I’d smell blood. That is to say, I could make out the various scared noises made by our guests. Whoever seemed to be the most scared would be my target. I’d find where they were, lean over the rail right in front of them and turn on the strobes. I had some great reactions. A lot of people would hit the wall behind them when they backed up. I had one woman break into a frantic dance. Can’t say I’ve ever been so scared that I danced. One girl said she was gonna have nightmares. That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing that I terrified someone to that level.

-Again, some smart mouthed kids provided ample entertainment. They just wouldn’t shut up….. until I turned on the strobes. They froze and shut up as I addressed them, clearly scared at the vampire with the funny language. When I bid them to leave they did so. And as they got down the hall, they started mouthing off again, mocking me. This, I wouldn’t let slide. I hopped the rail and chased them down, getting one more good scare before they left.

-Aki had been trying to have a cigarette between groups while working with me. She assured me that when the group set off the buzzer in the adjoining hall, she could run from the door to her position in my room before they entered. The buzzer went off, she tore down the hall, hopped the rail and was in position. Excellent. She did this with the following three groups, but as we know, with any risk you run, it’s only a matter of time before it gets you…. The buzzer goes off, I hear her run, she gets in the room, leaps the rail and BAM! Slams her knee into the rail. Nothing serious, but we both had a good laugh about it later.

-Jamison working the Toxic Shock room. Classic gold, I’m telling you. He’d just rant and rave, coming up with ways to mess with people. “Your mother called! She worries!”. And to anyone with short hair “Get a haircut, hippie!” It was absolutley hilarious.

-Since I was the main part of my room, I only left my room to take a bathroom break I believe two or three times that year. It was all on the last night too. I’ll just say stomach problems and leave it at that. However, our bathroom door jams shut, so you gotta be careful on how hard you close it. I did, but someone tried to get in while I was in. I told them I was in there, and he pushed the door all the way shut. Fuck. Thankfully, it was a slow night. I threw my shoulder into the door several times, kicked it, but it wouldn’t budge. So, I stood on the toilet and kicked just above the knob and it flew open….. while a group was in the room. I only missed maybe three groups the entire year, and it was all due to that bathroom.

Another year had come and gone, and now we’re staring down the barrel of October 2003. We already have the house planned and work is already being started. Again, there is a room with me in mind for it, but it’s the first room of the house. We’ll see what this coming year holds.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Review: Linkin Park – Meteora

The guys of Linkin Park have struck platinum again, almost in the opening week of their sophomore album, Meteora. The much-anticipated follow-up from their debut album, [Hybrid Theory], is a continuation of feelings that lead singers Chester Bennigton and Mike Shinoda have dealt with, mixed in with their traditional rock and hip-hop feel. With [Hybrid Theory] selling over 8 million copies in 2002, Linkin Park has a lot to live up to. If selling almost 1 million copies in the opening week signifies anything, this band signed under Warner Bros. could be the biggest band of our generation.

Meteora was set for release on March 25th, and the weeks prior to the launch date, Linkin Park released the first single off their album, entitled, “Somewhere I Belong.” The song is about an individual not fitting in anywhere they go and they just want to find a place where they are accepted graciously. The group’s DJ, Joseph Hahn directed the video for, “Somewhere I Belong,” and went on to say that the concept of the video is, “Basically a dream sequence that’s taking place, and the familiar objects in the room are turning into the reality, which is the dream, which is not the reality. It’s a whole play on your mind.” The song has already hit number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock Chart and Mainstream Rock Chart.

The rest of the songs are currently unreleased, but out of all the songs, I think one of my favorites would have to be “Nobody’s Listening.” This song starts out with the sound of something like a recorder, flute, or clarinet. The drums, bass, and light guitar follow this. Mike Shinoda raps about how he had a lot of stress and how common people caused them. Just when he reveals what he has to say, especially the people who caused it, he is just ignored and no one listens.

“Figure 0.9” starts off with a nice soft drum beat, and then, the guitars and bass interrupt. This song talks about taking the bad qualities and the memories of a loved one and making them apart of you as an individual. Mike Shinoda raps while Chest sings the chorus.

Another track I enjoy has been in the writing process for six years, entitled “Break the Habit.” The turntables are used nicely on this and the beat gets a little faster but is still extremely mellow as the rest of the instruments come into play. Chester sings the whole song, which is about how one feels that they have the need to scream, fight, and lash out, for reasons unknown, but it’s hinted due to the memories, such as some terrible events that took place in their life. Once this person realizes this, they try to stop, or as they call it, “Break the Habit.”

After hearing Meteora a couple of times, I feel that this album gets 3 and a half Stars out of 5 Stars. The reason why I give this is because although the songs are good, I’ve only been really happy with about three or four, the rest were all right. I think Mike Shinoda’s lyrics have progressively gotten better, but I feel there is a little bit too much guitar on the songs. The album is still well, well enough in fact to land at the number one slot on the Billboard 200. Linkin Park will be on the Summer Sanitarium Tour with Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and Mudvayne. For more information on Linkin Park, check out Linkin Park.com.

Soundtrack to Life – Happy Haunting – The Move

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to week 5. This week will be a continuation of last week, as I felt this story was entirely too long for one week. Though I’m not really worried about running out of stories, I’m reminding you all now that this isn’t just my column. It is yours as well as mine. Particularly, I think this is a good chance for you writers to spread your wings and be the spotlight of the week. You will get mention in the title so people know it’s you writing for the week. But anyways, enjoy this week’s naration.

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Happy Haunting – The Move

“Suggestions” by System of a Down

My second year of working for the haunted house faded into memory as one of the greats. Though I didn’t have a major role, I felt as though I was coming into my own. I’d actually had a few roles this year that I held for more than one night. Perhaps Gary was begining to realize that I was one of the more dependable workers we had. What would the next year hold though? What brilliant schemes and scares would we have prepared for 2001? I could only sit and wait to find out. Who would have thought that the Jaycees would be the recipient of the first scare.

They had been planning the house for a few months and were about to head out to the site to begin work, when they received a rather unwelcome piece of news. The owner of the warehouse had decided, that despite the contributions to the community, they would increase the rent, forcing them to pay a fee they couldn’t afford. It was over. Our house site had been taken from us. The haunted house had actually been a structure within a structure. Walls and all had been built up by the Hartford Jaycees, and now they could no longer have it there. It looked as though there wouldn’t be a haunted house this year. When I got the news, it was like telling little Timmy that there wouldn’t be a Christmas this year. In the two years working for this establishment, I’d grown so very fond of this event. Halloween had taken over as my favorite holiday. And now, I was being told that I may not be able to celebrate it this year as I’d like to. But like any Christmas story, just when things seemed their worst, a ray of hope shown through. Someone had located a vacated farm house out in Slinger. Two stories plus a basement as well as an adjacent barn. Look at Rudolph’s nose everyone! He can light our way through the fog! Christmas Halloween was saved!

Times change though, as do some of those things you’d once thought were a constant. Jay moved out to Milwaukee, and Musse could no longer work for the haunted house due to a court ruling, so it seemed my ride was history. Aki, much like myself had been looking forward to this Halloween and wasn’t about to let this be a set back. She’d talked her boyfriend at the time into taking us out there. Everything was falling into place, we just needed some new gear for the year. We made a trip out to Halloween Express. I picked up a black velvet cape and studded cuffs, while Aki collected a black velvet dress and black vinyl cape. It wasn’t much, but it would provide us with something new for the year, rather than the dressing room full of ancient costumes.

When we arrived, we were greeted by much of the staff of previous years, as well as a few new faces. Sure enough, Lara and Tiff were amongst the crowd. After getting a swift guided tour, we hurried to the second floor of the barn where our make up room now was. It all didn’t seem to have the spaciousness of the warehouse, but the fact that it was a real house added to the atmosphere. I’d found out that on my first night, I’d be working with the infamous Aaron Smiley. His claim to fame was his butcher routine. He has this ability to intimidate most anyone that enters that makes him quite helpful to the house. Tonight, he’d be taking on a new persona; That of one Dr. McNasty.

I played his giggling psycho of an assistant, but I wasn’t all that convincing. Aaron got into his role, perhaps a little too far. He began saying rather lewd things to customers. Asking them to turn around so that he could “get a specimen”. Snapping a rubber glove, saying they could do this “The easy way or the hard way”. I wasn’t too surprised to find that he’d been removed by the end of the first weekend. Second night, I had the easiest scare in the house. I was the chainsaw man. We had a path going through the forest outside. I found myself a little area to hide behind, only to come charging out at the group, saw a-blazin’. One of the first groups I did this for was some smart mouthed little kids. I came charging out, fired up the saw, and it died, not 3 yard away. The kids made some smart alec remark at me, just as I got the saw started again. They changed their tune mighty quick, and wound up cowering on the ground as I stood over them. There it was, that power trip. I laughed and ushered them away. I remember another group, one that knew my location and started running before I even appeared. I chased them anyways, saw over my head screaming “You’re all gonna die!!!”. Where else can you get away with that? I loved it. Unfortunately for me though, the saw died and I resided within the house for the rest of the night, moving from room to room.

We’d met up with Speedy, a friend of ours from West Bend at the house, and he offered to be our ride from then on in. That next weekend, I was pleasantly surprised with my assignment. Gary told me they needed someone to run the kitchen, first room of the house. I would actually be running a room! Here’s hopin’ I don’t drop the ball. I whipped up a costume, character and script and shot from the hip. It was a success! I loved working this room, absolutely loved it. I got so into it, that my southern-fried Beetlejuice accent actually carried over to my real life at times. I was high energy, always looking for some innovation, and just reasons to act strange in general. I wasn’t me and I was having a blast. I had a few favorite moments in this room.

-Our two big scares in the room were the table, where someone was hidden within and would jump on cue, and a soup pot that when a sensor was tripped, air would blast out of a hose and make the lid jump. After I got the table scare on one group, I stated “Now, if yall don’t like that, Yall gotta try mah soup!” Upon saying this, a young man in a letterman’s jacket backed away from the pot. I had to single him out. “Aww, whassa matter? Big bad letterman afraid of a little soup?!” He jumped pretty good when that went off too.

-Working with Lara on the final night, we had one group remaining. She warned me that she would ham it up for this group and I told her to go nuts. Her normal line to me was “The soup doesn’t want to be eaten!”, so that takes maybe a few seconds. She unleashed with a minute long tirade, completely off the cuff, about why the guests shouldn’t eat the soup. She wound up backing me into a corner, and when she was done, all I had for a rebuttal was “Uh, okay.” Yet another priceless memory.

Ahh, working with Lara, yes. That’s another story in and of itself. Until this point, I’d only really known her as that girl from Hartford who worked at the haunted house. When I learned she was Aki’s friend, she was now a friend of a friend. But this year, things changed. I remember a night in particular. It had been a relatively slow night, groups coming through every 3 minutes or so. I remember it snowing, though just a little. I’d take breaks between groups, stepping out onto the balcony, watching the snow and awaiting the next group. To pass the time, Lara and I talked. Aki had told me a little about this girl, but I had no idea the troubles she had faced in her life. Much was similar in our lives, so we had much to talk about. By the end of the night, I’d realized that we weren’t such strangers after all. More like “kindered spirits”. A heart warming moment, no?

I’d made such an impression on Gary that I was asked to hold the position all year. By the end of the year, my room had shown signs of wear and tear. Dents and chip in the floor, counter and sink. Broken pots, pans and other utensils. I just went all out in here. To this day, this is my favorite room I ever worked. On that final night, Gary asked if I’d be interested in joining the Jaycees so I could help plan next year’s house. This was gonna be great! Finally, my input helps to make the haunted house. It was gonna be another good year.

The reason for the song; I remember listening to this song on the way to the house for the first time this year. We listened to the whole CD, this one just stuck out for some reason.

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Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com