Entries in KGLT (14)


A reversal: more KGLT changes for David

I'd actually gotten used to the idea that KGLT's role in my life was on the downswing. I had received the very clear message that my opportunities there were incredibly limited and there was no well-defined hope on the horizon. I was continuing my Loud Rock Director activities and staying well-informed about new releases but was only scheduled to do two shows before the end of 2012, each of those as a sub for AK on Friday night.

Just like that, it's changed (again). I received word on Friday that Justin Adams, who alternates with AK on Fridays at 9pm, is leaving KGLT. The one time slot where I can do my show suddenly came available and was offered to me. It's effectively a no-brainer. I said, "Yes".

So, starting Friday, November 2nd, the "Heavy" show is back on the air, 9pm to midnight (Mountain time, like Denver), every other week. I'll actually have three weeks in a row starting on the 2nd, because I'm scheduled to sub on the 9th. I'm hoping that will very quickly get me back to full engagement at KGLT. I'll be able to play the new stuff shortly after it's released and can once again really get involved in maintaining the Loud Rock library.

I'm hoping a few of you will join me as I get the show back in full swing.


Change: ready or not, here it comes

Last week I wrote an article about Nightwish, describing how much my family enjoyed our road trip to see the band in Salt Lake City. I mentioned that their lead singer, Anette Olzon, had been in the hospital for their previous show in Denver and they had performed with a makeshift lineup. I had applauded the band and Anette for making the show in Denver work and for coming back out the following night to put on a show we all enjoyed. Little did I know that at roughly the same time I published that article, Nightwish was onstage in Seattle, performing with Floor Jansen on vocals, because Anette had been asked to leave the band.

Just like that, my most-often played band on KGLT had gone through a major upheaval and there's really no way to know whether the next chapter will be as enjoyable for me. The music world has these shifts all the time. David Lee Roth split with Van Halen, and regardless of which version you like the best, the band was never the same after that (with Sammy HagarGary Cherone, and the return of David Lee Roth ). There are these magic periods in a band's creative lifetime and sometimes they are painfully short. And then things change...

I had been excited about my activities on the radio and had anticipated the onset of construction for the Music Tech Center. With the former, I felt like I'd really found a home, a place with like-minded music lovers sharing the common thread of highly eclectic taste. With the latter, I could taste the next step and see what the building would look like after completion. And then things change...

So, I now move on because that's the only thing any of us can do. Sometimes the changes come along and you can't stop them. We've got an election coming up. Even if political sentiment was the same as four years ago, things would still change. Under current circumstances there will have to be changes, some of which I will be unhappy about, and maybe, if I'm lucky, there will be a few things I'm happy about.

More importantly, though, I have to accept the ongoing progression of life and the many aspects I have no control over. Time is a big one for me. It passes no matter what I do to increase my efficiency or shortchange myself on sleep. I'm once again looking at how I spend my time and wondering which activities are really worth the effort. I'm also facing the challenge that the same creative juices are needed for blog writing as for songwriting. I'm taking 3 songwriting and music classes this quarter and barely having time to breathe. I love what I'm learning but to get the most out of the experience I'm skimping on a lot of other activities.

Honestly, it may be time to cut my losses with respect to the radio show. It hasn't been much fun since losing my regular slot and I'm not seeing a way back to that enjoyment level. The Music Tech Center is still very much up in the air, but I need are more conversations and more pondering, things I do better when I have some breathing room. Finally, there's the question of this blog...

I spend a few hours every week writing the articles for this blog. Over the last 2 or 3 months, I've had a harder time coming up with ideas for those articles. Now, the blog writing is butting heads with all my songwriting homework and without the radio activities I have less music-related thoughts to share with everyone. I think that my blog is going through one of those "And then things change..." moments. It was inevitable but it's still destabilizing. To keep the blog going and keep the content lively, I need some new pool of ideas. I need to be talking about something that I care deeply about and that I'm actively immersed in. Hence, the blog needs to change, much like replacing its lead vocalist or changing its record label, something to freshen things up.

At the moment, I see a songwriting and my efforts to release my next project(s) as the prime candidate. Yes, I've talked about those here previously, however, those were interspersed with many articles drawn from my radio experiences and suddenly there's a lot less of those. I'm thinking that the blog will become a way to keep all of you updated on my creative efforts. As such, I don't honestly know how often I'll update it through the end of 2012 with my course load and the holidays. Somewhere along the line, however, I anticipate things picking up again. As I start generating musical content, then the blog can serve it's primary purpose as an extension of my own experiences and a way to share those things that mean the most to me.


Loud Rock at KGLT - playlist analysis and demographics

Ever since I began doing my radio show at KGLT, I've been collecting playlist data and coalescing it into a spreadsheet. I've been interested in analyzing that data to answer some questions about my listening and playing habits. Early on, I just didn't have enough data to evaluate, then life got busy and I didn't have time. Now that my steady show at KGLT is no longer, I wanted to analyze the data (over a year's worth) and see what it tells me.

I've often made the claim that a "lot" of the bands I listen to are from Finland and Sweden, however, I've never quantified that. That's one area I wanted to investigate using my KGLT playlist data. I also wanted to look at my data in the context of some of the "metal demographics" maps that are out on the web. They typically show Scandinavia, especially Finland and Sweden as contributing a disproportionate amount of metal to the world per capita (see Demographics of Metal). Of course, my analysis will only be one view of the problem, specific to the music I play at KGLT, but I still think it's interesting to analyze it in the context of the bigger picture.

My data is arranged to show every band I've ever played at KGLT and how many times I've played them. The simplest version of the spreadsheet sorts that data from most often played (#1 Nightwish, #2 Amaranthe) down to all the bands I've only played once. Right off the bat, I see hints of what I already suspected: in the top 10 most played bands, 3 are from Finland and 3 are from the United States. However, Sweden only has one band in the top 10. Looking at the top 20, Finland and Sweden each show up 4 times but the US is there 5 times. So, at the simplest level, yes, I do play a lot of Finnish and Swedish bands, but not at any obvious cost to the US.

However, the US starts showing up in heavy numbers in slots 21 and below, quickly establishing a higher play count overall than even Sweden and Finland combined. In fact, the US swamps everyone else with 462 plays, with Finland the next closest at 86 and Sweden following at 77. That, however, feels a bit distorted to me. I'd spent many months reviewing the entire KGLT Loud Rock CD collection and had played any band that got my attention. That collection is fairly weak in imports, so the pool I had to pull from was a bit skewed against Finland and Sweden. Many of the bands during that library review period I only played once. With that in mind, I decided to trim down the data set and regenerate my charts. I ended up with charts just like the original except restricted to 3 or more plays, 6 or more plays and 8 or more plays. Only the most restrictive (8 or more plays) chart levels the tables, showing Finland in the #1 spot followed by the US and then Sweden, but all in comparable numbers. Clearly, when push comes to shove, the music I like to play the most is, in fact, biased towards Finland and Sweden.

I also have claimed that I lean toward new music, playing lots of recent releases and bands from the 1990s and 2000s. To test those claims, I rearranged the data to look at number of plays per year the band was formed. I was pleased to see the 669 of the songs I played were from bands formed in 1990 or later. Only 223 of the plays are from bands formed prior to 1990. Being disappointed by the prevalence of "Classic Rock" stations and the dearth of new music on the radio, I was happy to see that I've been doing my part to reveal all the recently released heavy music out there in the world.

Having confirmed my suspicions at a very high level, I started to wonder how that relates to the population size that's generating these bands. I was highly suspicious that the main reason the US dominates the overall list is based on population size. I've seen the "metal demographics" maps and know how small the Swedish and Finnish populations are compared to the US. In addition, given my own knowledge of variation in metal style between states here in the US, and relative populations, I was curious about how things would change if I treated states as comparable to countries elsewhere in the world.

The first chart I generated considering states as countries showed something that won't shock anyone. The entity that generates the most plays on KGLT is California, immediately followed by Finland, Sweden and then the state of New York. Also, as no surprise to anyone, England and Germany land in the 5 and 6 slots. The next 10 are mostly states, including a number that I would have guessed (MassachusettsFloridaGeorgia and Texas). I don't know that I'd have guessed New Jersey and Illinois would be this high in the list, but Washington makes sense considering Seattle's contributions to music. Those of you outside the US will be pleased to see Canada at #8, the Netherlands at #12 and Australia at #16, immediately followed by NorwayItaly and Greece.

I was still a little surprised to see California dominating the list but once again remembered all those single-play bands from my library review efforts. We know that California, especially the southern part of the state, churns out a ton of bands, so it might still be simply the result of excess availability relative to imports. With that in mind, I decided to try looking at bands with higher numbers of plays. Even at 3 plays, the playing field levels quite a bit, with California leading at 88 but Finland in the same ballpark (73) and Sweden at 56. Being even more restrictive and looking at 5 plays or more pulls Finland into the lead at 63, with California at 61 and Sweden at 44.


I also wanted to look at the cities spawning most of these bands. Now, at this point my data is a little less robust, since the Wikipedia, where I gathered band information, is a bit spotty on how it describes where bands are from. Places like New York City and Los Angeles often are credited for bands that were formed in a borough or nearby city. Even so, I think the table is interesting, keeping in mind that Los Angeles and New York City probably have higher numbers than reality. It's definitely interesting to see Gothenburg as contributing the second largest number of plays and Helsinki in the #4 spot (note I'm skipping the true #1 in the list which is "undetermined").

With all those questions answered, I still had a nagging curiosity. How much do the large populations of California, Germany and England help them generate large numbers of playable bands (for my show). So, I made one more table, scaling the number of plays by the population of the state or country.It's impressive that California has so many plays that it still lands in the #4 spot despite its large population. Sure enough, Finland and Sweden, with their smaller populations and large number of plays land in the #2 and #3 spots, but what about #1? I had to laugh when I saw it. I love Tyr and a played them a number of times, but they had never generated an entry anywhere near the top of my tables before this. Thanks to the tiny population of the Faroe Islands, however, it lands in the #1 slot. Basically, I can conclude that the Faroe Islands, per capita, are the most effective country for generating music I like to play on the radio. Go Faroes and Go Tyr!!

In the end, the data simply reinforces what I already know. I love Finnish and Swedish metal. Those two countries are highly efficient at creating new bands that I like, and at the same time generate a wide variety of sub-styles within the metal umbrella. The United States and California, where I was born and raised, clearly generate a ton of listenable heavy music, and I should not overlook many parts of the US for their contributions to the overall metal pool. Sadly, Montana does not even appear in the data. Perhaps I can take small solace in knowing that Oregon does not appear in the data either, and Portland is currently a lively music center. So there's always a chance I just didn't get around to playing that one metal gem from Montana.



It's been a rough few weeks following our return from Scandinavia. Although there's the obvious struggle to find a post-vacation groove, that hasn't been the real issue. My mood in September has been dominated by a couple of unexpected shifts that began almost immediately upon our return to the States.

This summer we spent a lot of our time and energy interviewing potential business consultants for the Music Tech Center ("MTC") business plan. Once we selected an individual, then our time was spent scoping our request and describing our vision of the project to the consultant. The analysis we requested had two very concise constraints, 1) leverage the commercial building that we already own in Bozeman and 2) make sure that I can personally be involved in day-to-day musical activities once the facility is up and running. The first requirement stems from having invested years of architectural effort into our building and having negotiated a very carefully structured agreement with the City of Bozeman. It also reflects the unusual circumstances that allow us to own the building for a monthly outlay comparable to renting a space 1/5 the size. The second requirement, in many ways, is even more fundamental. If the MTC doesn't develop into an outlet for my musical interests and a rallying point for my own collaboration, then it fundamentally makes no sense. In that case, it fails to satisfy my own needs, and we cannot justify moving forwards.

Well, a couple of days after we returned from Scandinavia, we received the final, 87-page business report. Given its length, and my own scrambling for time, I started by reading the summary section. I was immediately struck by how far the vision had drifted away from our constraints. We had received a "Yes, proceed" recommendation but the proposed project was based on looking elsewhere in Bozeman for a small rental property. The document also neglected to consider the construction costs necessary in a rented space to tame the acoustics enough for any form of musical activity. In essence, the business plan chose to veer off course from the get go and then justified its alternative path. In doing so, the consultant invested most of his time (and our money) in the wrong project. Worse yet, much of the data the consultant collected (reflecting feedback from local music promoters, musicians and recording engineers) was incredibly negative, delivering the clear message that Bozeman really doesn't need anything like what we've proposed.

A sense of gloom and disappointment settled over me and it really hasn't lifted yet. Mind you, I'm glad to have this information before proceeding with an expensive remodel but somehow I can't shake the feeling that the picture painted by the report is on the wrong canvas. We've been scrambling to gather more information and to make better sense of the situation. In light of construction scheduling and fairness to all the parties that have helped us prepare for the remodel, the only option we've been able to settle on is postponing the project for 6 months. Of course, there's a very significant chance that during the 6-month delay we will conclude that we cannot (or at least should not) proceed with the project. We'll leave the door open, just in case things align over that 6-month period and in that case we will proceed with the project.

Although I had every reason to anticipate some amount of disappointment related to the MTC planning, the more recent disappointment hit me out of the blue. On Friday, September 14th, the day before my last radio show of the Summer schedule, I received a voicemail from the music director at KGLT. At the time I was sitting with my daughter in her piano lesson and felt it would be too disruptive to take the call. Kiley had a good lesson and only once we'd said goodbye to her teacher did I feel it made sense to screen my voicemail.

There was only one message and it only took a few words before I knew it was not a good one. I quickly realized it was a message from KGLT's music director; usually that means the new schedule is out and he's letting us know about our time slot for the semester. The tone of his voice, however, suggested this wasn't routine; there were issues related to musical style and scheduling that meant I was being pushed out of my Saturday 9-midnight radio show. Worse yet, instead of being given another time slot, it was suggested that I squeeze into an already full Friday 9-midnight slot, meaning that I'd end up doing a show once a month. Being a father, a musician and a software engineer keeps me pretty busy, but more importantly it takes a great deal of my focus. The few times I've only done my show once a month have been very difficult because I lose my rhythm and spend half the show trying to get back in gear. I was also unhappy about cutting into my good friend, Adam Kish's biweekly radio time. On top of that, I was frustrated that I'd been putting so much time and effort into Loud Rock Director responsibilities, only now I wouldn't actually be able to play any of the new material while it's still fresh.

The KGLT change also hit particularly hard because of my musical struggles here in Bozeman. I've had a terrible time finding anyone to play with or collaborate with. At this point, all it'd take is someone interested in heavy music (metal, alternative, punk,…) but my attempts to post ads and respond to them have failed miserably. Similarly, to see a reasonable variety of heavy concerts, we've had to accept the fact that travel is a requirement. The 2-hour drive to Billings is the shortest path, and has led to shows by Halestorm and Korpiklaani. You also know about the trips to Canada for Iron Maiden and Sweden for Amaranthe. This coming weekend we'll take a road trip to Salt Lake City so that we can catch the Nightwish and Kamelot tour. Given the struggle to make Bozeman my musical home, the radio show at KGLT had been the one bright, shining star of hope here in town. It put me in contact with people that love music, including at least a few that enjoy the heavier varieties. It also kept me wrapped up in new music and the excitement that goes with it.

Over the course of roughly 2 weeks, two key components of my musical hope for Bozeman collapsed. I've picked up a few pieces (I've got two substitute DJ spots lined up, October 12th and November 9th). But that won't take care of the whole problem. I've gotten a great deal of support and positive feedback from friends around the world. Their support has included a common theme, that when one (or more) paths become eroded or blocked, find a new path. I am doing my best to live up to that advice. This quarter I'm taking two songwriting-related classes at Berklee online ("Melody" and "Harmony"), and I'm excited about the effect those classes will have on my creative efforts. I've also set a rough target of next Spring for the first round of demos for my next album. No clue whether it'll be recorded in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Sweden or Finland, but at least I've got a path I can head down. Onwards, bit by bit...


New Releases - early August 2012

Testament - "Dark Roots of Earth"'

Those many late nights at The Keystone Berkeley, The Stone, the Old Waldorf and Wolfgang's left me keenly attuned to many of the early-80's thrash metal bands. I watched closely as ExodusLääz Rockit and Testament cut their teeth before gaining national attention. That Bay Area trash metal scene was hard for me, because I often struggled to reconcile my desire for melody and harmonic motion with the relative lack of those qualities in the thrash scene. Thrash metal has wandered in and out of my musical tastes over the years but only rarely has a thrash-related band really made its way into my top bands list (e.g. see Megadeth).

So, when I received notice at KGLT that Testament's brand new album, "Dark Roots Of Earth" was available for airplay, I was really not quite sure what to expect. In retrospect, just a week or two later, I really had nothing to worry about. "Dark Roots of Earth" is a powerful release; it is entirely consistent with what we all expect from Testament, and yet assimilates itself naturally into today's dark and foreboding metal styles. I've been listening quite a bit to Mastodon, Orange Goblin and, recently, Baroness and feel that all the songs on "Dark Roots of Earth" would fit perfectly in a shuffled playlist with those sludge/stoner metal bands. There's a darkness to the new Testament album that makes it a natural fit.

I've been playing the "Native Blood" single on my radio show lately, and I love "Rise Up", especially the extended guitar solo. If you're short on time, check out those two songs, along with "A Day In The Death". Honestly, though, just play the album top to bottom. This is true thrash metal...and a lot more.'


Korpiklaani - "Manala"

Even as I write this, I have that same silly smile on my face. It's really hard to avoid that while listening to Korpiklaani; there's something about folk and/or pirate metal that does that to me. But there's more to it. Korpiklaani's latest release, "Manala", is Heavy. Sure, it has all the catchy melodic motion, the accordion and gritty vocals but it also hits you over the head with its sledge hammer guitar tones. An example of that is "Rauta" which begins like a fairly well-behaved folky metal song, and then the rhythm guitars hit you like a cannonball in the gut. Wow.

I have no Finnish chops at all but as best I can tell there are no alcohol songs on this release. You'll have to look to Korpiklaani's earlier releases to get your "Vodka" and "Tequila" fixes (Karkelo and Ukon Wacka, respectively). On this latest release, start by checking out the first three songs on the album ("Kunnia", "Tuonelan Tuvilla" and the aforementioned "Rauta"). See whether you can avoid that silly smile...

Regardless of your facial expression, you can get a full swig of Korpiklaani during their upcoming North American tour in late August and September of 2012. I know that there will be a number of Bozeman metalheads making the drive over to Billing for Korpiklaani's show on September 5th at Manny's. Wherever you live, if Korpiklaani's playing nearby, hoist yourself up off that couch of yours and get yourself to the venue. You owe it to yourself and there's nothing quite like Korpiklaani.