Arcade Fire's Win Butler, Will Butler Endorse Barack Obama

Wil Butler Win Butler Arcade FireKevin Winter, Getty

by Jason

After endorsements from a host of musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, The National and Moby, Barack Obama has another huge rock band in his corner: Arcade Fire.

The site 90 Days, 90 Reasons featured two statements by the group's Butler brothers Win and Will over the weekend, with both giving their rationale for supporting Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

"REASON 86: Barack Obama is perhaps the greatest president of modern times at communicating directly with foreign populations," Win Butler wrote. "He has also changed the way the government communicates with its own citizens about the outside world."

Win Butler cited Romney's well-reported miscues while visiting London, stating that "he ended up convincing our greatest ally that he's prone to terrible gaffes that could jeopardize relationships with our allies -- delicate relations where a few misplaced words can do great harm." He also referred to Obama's recent address to the United Nations which "detailed America's vision for human rights, democratic change in the Middle East, and its priority to change the global status of women."

The singer also mentioned he was "excited" to see Obama with another term as president but was also supporting him for selfish reasons.

"I want four more sweet years of Canadians liking Americans," Win wrote. "The Republicans will try to convince America that President Obama being a good communicator is somehow a bad thing. Often times politicians act as if the only use of public speaking is trying to get elected. In fact, this kind of personal charisma is perhaps the most direct way a president can pursue America's interests abroad. Being able to communicate in a compelling way, and engaging other countries as partners and adults, is in America's best interest.

"I felt so proud -- as an American citizen living in a socially progressive country like Canada -- that our president understands that there are global moral imperatives that unite us all," Butler concluded.

Much like his brother, Will Butler echoed similar sentiments. "REASON 87: Because it's okay for foreign countries to like America, and it's better to not live in constant fear of shadowy foreign threats," Will Butler wrote. "I like that Obama isn't trying to scare me."

Will Butler mentioned how Obama ceased the "color-coded" terror alerts that would be announced "in a weird, TV-announcer-on-Quaaludes voice" as Butler walked through various airports. "My world feels less dystopian with those half-useless, half-creepy announcements gone."

Will also said Obama's choice to use "at war with Al Qaeda" versus "global war on terror" was also another asset as the phrase "implied that the enemy was everywhere and made of the stuff of nightmares." And he also liked Obama trying the conspirators of the Sept. 11 attacks in civilian court "to show that they weren't scary super-villains, but low, low criminals."

"Obama acts like we should engage the world, not shrink from it," Will concluded. "I want four more years of confident, moral, level-headed engagement with the rest of the world."

The blog site has taken 90 different essays or statements from 90 different people ranging from musicians like Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready to other celebrities like Margaret Cho, Ben Stiller and David Lynch.

As recently reported, Arcade Fire revealed they were working on new studio material for an album to come out sometime in 2013. The album will be the band's first since 2010's The Suburbs.

Continue reading Arcade Fire's Win Butler, Will Butler Endorse Barack Obama

Johnny Hockin's Pop Power Ranking for Nov. 5

From: Johnny Hockin

Power Rankings have been rating sports teams throughout their seasons for years based on statistical analysis, momentum and gut feelings. These people shouldn't have all the fun.
Using our proprietary chart reading technology, we bring you the Pop Power Rankings, our roundup of who's on top in the pop game.

Data gathered based on sales and airplay charts, magazine covers, twitter trends, and personal bias

1. Taylor Swift.
Everyone wants a piece of Taylor Swift. Her new album Red was released to rave reviews and the biggest sales debut in 10 years (1.2 million copies, thank you very much). I don't care who you are, you've tapped your feet to "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Although, this top 40 push away from Taylor's core of country fans is worrying super-pundit Bob Lefsetz (case in point her complete shut out at the Country Music Awards). But this week, it's all working in her favor.

2. Nicki Minaj.
It's hard to keep track of everything Nicki going on right now. She's off on her international Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded tour, released a new video, joined American Idol as a judge and now, as of last night, debuted her reality show miniseries Nicki Minaj: My Truth. Here she showcased the kind of staged, fan-loving, eye-shadowed, Perez Hilton-confronting drama we've come to expect from an E! network narcissism-fest. And with all of this madness, it's starting to feel like she's playing with fire -- today's leak of new song "Freedom" has been met with criticism for being about the pitfalls of fame (uh, Nicki... Your hometown of Queens, NY was almost leveled last week?!). But the sheer number of plates Nicki is spinning has kept her on top... for now.

3. Rihanna.
Rihanna's new single "Diamonds" was EVERYWHERE about 10 minutes after it came out, and as it settles in towards the top of the charts, she's announced that her new Unapologetic album (out November 19) will be available in an "Executive Platinum" edition -- $250 for some bonus remixes, posters and stickers. That's pop power. As for rumors that she's back dating a guy who's on probation for assaulting her, it has allegedly cost her BFF Katy Pery and could eventually hamper her power ranking, too.

4. Psy.
So maybe a follow up to Gangnam Style is taking too long, but somehow the song is holding in the top 5, Psy is still being managed by the Bieber machine, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with him and relinquished his title as "world's most famous Korean." No big deal. Also, after winning over Toronto during his first Canadian concert last week, he got 20,000 Parisians doing a "Gangnam" flashmob at the Eiffel Tower earlier today. Not to mention his mega-viral music video, currently clocking 650,000,000 Youtube views is expected to pass Bieber's record later this month. But seriously Psy, time to ride that invisible horse back into the studio.

5. Bruno Mars.
A couple weeks ago Bruno Mars surprised us all by carrying Saturday Night Live to not only one of its best host performances in years (including this weekend's unfortunate Louis CK effort), but their best ratings this season. Now with his new single "Locked Out of Heaven," Bruno shook off his lightweight radio-friendliness for a stripped-down, The Police-aping style, and yet there it sits, #2 at iTunes. He's already released a new slow song, "Young Girls," to keep his original fanbase happy, and they'll likely be too distracted by the sweeping strings to notice the sleazy lyrics.

Continue reading Johnny Hockin's Pop Power Ranking for Nov. 5


Every weeknight for 30 straight years now, a Thunder Bay-raised musician named Paul Shaffer has performed for, bantered with, and provided a foil to legendary talk-show host David Letterman. That's Shaffer's job, and it's a good one -- but he's a Canadian treasure for more than his omnipresence on American TV.

From his early years in Toronto as musical director of the legendary production of Godspell (with its cast of future SCTV and SNLers) and subsequent stint with the original cast Saturday Night Live, to writing "It's Raining Men," recording with Yoko Ono, working on the '96 Olympics and that unprecedented partnership with Letterman, Shaffer has certainly had, as he tells Huffington Post, "the best seat in the house all these years."

Before hosting this Sunday's Canadian Walk of Fame Awards on Global at 8 p.m. -- he got his own star back in 2006, two years before receiving the Order of Canada -- Shaffer sat down in the bowels of the Ed Mirvish Theatre to discuss kicking off his career in nearby strip clubs, meeting Deadmau5 at the Grammys, what he'll do when Letterman retires and making late-night cool enough for Questlove.

How is it being back in Toronto?

You know, I graduated from U of T. Worked here, at this intersection of Yonge and Dundas. It was always very important to me as a college student and afterwards as the center of that Yonge Street funky music scene that was going on here.

And you worked up the road at [famous strip joint] The Brass Rail for a while, right?

Yes, a little farther north. Of course, they had live combos in the topless clubs at that time. I remember working at the Brass Rail and I also remember the Zanzibar and how they had a house organ installed on top of the bar, and all day long different, cool organ players would slip in behind the organ and play. So besides the dancers, which were very important to me, it was like a cool, sit-in jam scene.

Both those strip clubs are still around, but they're a little scuzzier than I imagine they were back then.

They were scuzzy then...

Were they?

That was part of the musical scene, too. There is always a little scuzz involved.

How much do you think playing all night at the Brass Rail helped you get into proper show business?

Those sets were very rigid at the Brass Rail. I think it was six hours -- 50 minutes on and a 10 minute break. Then you are back on and you bring out the lovely and talented dancers for one number and then they leave and you gotta kinda entertain and then they come back at the end of your set: "Please, again ladies and gentleman, the elegant ladies of the..." That's what I used to do. It was good training.

It must have been good practice also for your eventual role with Letterman in that you are behind the piano, but you have a banter role, too.

How to MC, yeah. A little experience, as you say, behind the microphone, faking it behind the microphone.

In Louis CK's show Louie, they recently had a plot about Letterman retiring.

Oh, funny.

At some point Dave is going to retire for real. Have you thought about what you're going to do with yourself after that?

No. I've never really thought of, in my whole career, about what to do next. Next things have just happened. I don't see any reason to change now. I've had such a long career, most of it with him. That anything that happens now is just a bonus. I've always wanted to learn how to play the bass pedals on the organ, learn how to sight-read on the piano -- so if I don't even work anymore, I've got my work cut out for me.

You created the now-trademark talk show bandleader-slash-sidekick. The Roots, who have your old Late Night gig, are coming from a totally different angle. How have they changed what being a talk show band is?

They had a track record, they had their own albums out, they were recording artists. When they took that job with Jimmy Fallon I took it as sort of validation of what I was doing. I wouldn't want to sound -- well, we're all egotistical, we can admit it -- but it made me feel like I made the job cool enough for them to consider doing it. That's why I loved when they took that job. They added an aura that you couldn't get unless you were a touring band all on your own. They are legit.

But I mean Questlove kind of does your shtick, too, right? He plays the Paul.

He's been very gracious to me. One of the early times they did Letterman he said to me, "You see my keyboard player? wW call him our Paul Shaffer." So we've always had a nice friendship.

Have you talked a lot since they've taken over the show?

No, not a lot. But I see him on things and a number of times we've played together. We played together at the Apollo a couple of times.

So, Canada's Walk of Fame, you've got a star yourself. Obviously, it's going to be compared to the Hollywood one. What do you think it means for Canadians here?

It's got a little extra punch because it is validation of Canadians by Canadians. We are rewarding Canadians who have achieved excellence. It's important to them. It's sentimental to me. I had a wonderful experience when I got this honour and I know they are going to have the same experience.

You had to leave Canada to become a success, but it seems like over the last 10 years, in particular, Canadian musicians like Arcade Fire and Deadmau5 have taken over the world without moving away.

I left in '74 to go to New York and I may not have had to leave if it were now. But yet it's even beyond that, you've got the leaders in all of these fields. It's wonderful.

I actually met Deadmau5 for the first time on the red carpet in Hollywood for the Grammys. I was there with my daughter and he introduced himself to me. He said, "Hey, I'm from Toronto." I had a little conversation with him and then I realized I'm talking to a guy with a giant mouse head.

He was wearing the mask?

He was wearing it, never takes it off and, you know, I'm talking to him like this is normal. He's a huge star now. He knew I was Canadian and we had a little moment.

Sarah McLachlan and Randy Bachman are getting stars at the ceremony. Do you have any personal experiences with them?

Sarah was doing Letterman very early in her career for her first album and played with my band a number of times. I wish I could remember her first song we played with her. I can't remember the title. [Sings] "I would be the one who'll hold you down, kisses so hard." We still play it as an instrumental tribute to her. And I just call it "Sarah McLachlan" when I call it for the band. "Let's do 'Sarah McLachlan'" and we do it. That's why I don't know the title.

It's "Possession" from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.

And as far as Randy, he got me involved in this whole thing because I just recently I did a DVD with him. I appeared on his most recent concert DVD with Turner they did at Roseland in 3D. I did a little guest shot for him. He asked me because when I met him for the first time I explained that back in the '60s I used to see the Guess Who all the time because Winnipeg was the next town over from Thunder Bay.

They used to play Thunder Bay every Christmas to make some money so they could go home and buy Christmas presents. So I saw them all the time as a kid and they were very influential to my development as a rock musician. I learned how to do it from watching the Guess Who. They were, even before they had their own hits, this incredible cover band that showed me that you can provide an evening of very over-the-top, satisfying rock 'n' roll just by playing covers. Maybe that has something to do with why I became a cover musician myself. Also, I didn't go on to write "American Woman."

You always seemed to be at the right place at the right time, even Godspell, when you look at the star-studded cast...

And we are all still best friends. I don't know how such a talented cast came together at that time. But it sure was fun. At that time, we talked about nothing but the show and hung out incessantly for a whole year. And we still do, really. When Marty Short and I get together, I sit down at the piano and play the score of Godspell.

Continue reading Shaffer

Danko Jones blog #5: KISS Names

Danko Jones KISS Spoken Word Wacken 2012 promo vid...

This week was a big week for me for three reasons. First, our band released our new album Rock and Roll is Black and Blue. Second, the book Too Much Trouble: A Very Oral History of Danko Jones by author Stuart Berman was put out by ECW Press. And third, KISS, my favourite band in the whole world, also put out their 20th studio album, Monster. This serendipitous convergence has had me bringing up the fantastically face-painted foursome from Queens, New York this week more times than usual during press interviews, and of course, brought out long-standing lingering conundrums I've always had in regards to the band.

Whatever side of the fence you're on when it comes to KISS is of no matter. KISS are an undeniable tour de force, more popular than ever, and from preliminary listens of the Monster album, in top form.

But there's always one thing that's bothered me about the band. If one could travel through a Rock 'n' Roll Time Tunnel and witness the greatest moments in rock, most people would choose to be in the studio audience when The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show, or when Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival. Not me. I'd choose to be in the room at the exact moment all four original members of KISS chose their stage names. It's a moment in rock history that's never considered but, on closer look, begs discussion.

Their countless gold albums, successful world tours and endless merchandise have not only kept them constantly in the public eye, but helped shape popular culture. The costumes, the makeup, and that world famous tongue have all become iconic and synonymous with the over-indulgent era of the '70s and the self-absorbed '80s. But what's always struck me as peculiar was for a band that strove to be larger than life, they sure as hell chose pretty dull stage names.

When Chaim Witz arrived in the United States from Israel it wasn't long before he became Gene Klein. Gene Klein changed his name again to "Gene Simmons." When Gene formed KISS he decided to change his whole persona and became "The Demon" -- a towering man-monster who spat blood. Despite changing his whole persona to something as menacing as "The Demon," he still kept the name Gene Simmons. And frankly, "Gene Simmons" sounds like a used car salesman, not some blood-curdling demon. It's kind of like if Spider Man insisted on being called "Peter" or "The Amazing Peter."

And that brings us to Peter Criscuola on drums a.k.a. "The Catman" -- half man and half cat. He preceded Andrew Lloyd Weber's Cats musical by almost 10 years. Or maybe Weber got the idea from Peter? Either way, Weber's cats have much more interesting names than Peter, who chose to simply cut the last five letters from his surname and add an "S" to become known as "Peter Criss." Andrew Lloyd Weber's cat characters have wild names like "Jennyanydots," "Grizabella" and "Rumpelteazer." Those are infinitely more enchanting than "Peter Criss." People with first names for last names like "Benedict Arnold," "Dave Matthews" and "Ricky Bobby" bug me. In fact, most people don't know that Peter's full name is actually "Peter George John Criscoula" and by joining KISS he became "Peter George John Criss." That's not just two first names, that's four!

Given the band was founded in 1973 there was still much hype from Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon that pervaded pop culture as evidenced with Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character, and it couldn't help but influence the band, too. Guitarist Paul Frehley, took the most appropriate name out of the four by using his real nickname, "Ace," and altering it to "SpaceAce." But frontman Paul Stanley, better known to his parents as Stanley Eisen, chose a puzzling stage name when he became "Paul Stanley, The Starchild." Stanley's decision to turn his first name into his last name AND THEN take his bandmate's real name, "Paul," as his first name, still seems bizarre after all these years. That's like turning around to your best friend, Bob, and telling him, "Bob, from now on please call me Bob."

Now before I get the entire KISS Army barking down my throat, I have to again state that, yes, I am a huge KISS fan, probably bigger than your fat ass. My KISS fandom extends to rent cheques given to the band in exchange for trinkets that sport their logo and make-up designs. I don't know if that makes me more qualified or outs me as awfully gullible, but regardless, my extremist devotion allows for a certain amount of critical leeway when it comes to the bad boys from Queens.

The fact that KISS are so able to procure both my admiration and ridicule endears them to me even more. They truly are the people's band, meant to be poked at, parodied, and most of all -- worshipped. I love KISS -- Paul, Gene, Stanley, Chaim... or whatever hell they want to call themselves.

Continue reading Danko Jones blog #5: KISS Names

Barenaked Ladies Create Some 'Strong Beer' With Flying Monkeys

By Jason

Barenaked Ladies are joining the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Pearl Jam and Motorhead with their own brand of booze entitled Strong Beer.

The Toronto Star reports ( the band has joined forces with The Flying Monkeys, craft brewers from Barrie, Ontario, to created the "chocolate-flavoured, strong imperial stout." According to a press release on the band's site (, the beer's release will coincide with their "Symphony Barenaked" cross-Canada tour which starts in Vancouver Nov. 30.

Flying Monkeys boss Peter Chiodo -- who said the band were "totally involved in the birth of this beer" -- told the publication he came up with the idea after drinking some of the Pearl Jam beer called Faithfull Ale.

"I thought it would be a lot cooler if there was something where the band actually came into the brewery and helped make it," he said. "It would have more meaning that way."

After touching base with other Canadian musicians, Chiodo said Barenaked Ladies eagerly accepted the offer. Drummer Tyler Stewart also tweeted a photo of himself at the brewery during the visit, described as a "crash course in the brewhouse."

"I worked in the Beer Store when I was younger, but never dreamed I would have my own beer one day," he said in a statement. Meanwhile, Kevin Hearn contributed artwork to the packaging.

The beer is 11 percent alcohol and is reportedly being priced at $13.95 per 750 ml bottle. Choido says the sharp price is the result of using "four times as much of each ingredient as there are in our other beers."

Barenaked Ladies will play two nights in London, Ontario later this month before the Canadian symphony tour begins. The band released their last studio album -- and their first without former member Steven Page in 2010, entitled All in Good Time.

Continue reading Barenaked Ladies Create Some 'Strong Beer' With Flying Monkeys

Maestro Fresh Wes dusts off his "Black Tuxedo"

By Ryan B. Patrick

Even before we get into the discussing his new Black Tuxedo EP released this week, or the almost unimaginable point that we're fast approaching the 25th anniversary of his seminal track "Let Your Backbone Slide," Canadian hip-hop icon Maestro Fresh Wes tells the Huffington Post that he needs get some things off his chest.

One, his recent performance at this month's Public Enemy concert in Toronto was not a "politically-charged" freestyle and were actually lyrics from a new song (titled "Black Trudeau"); two, it was intended as "political satire" and not slamming Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; and three, the internet scuttlebutt on sites like Facebook and Huffington Post confirms that many people don't expect a lot from hip-hop these days.

"Some people need a hug, man," the Canadian rap elder statesman says over the phone.
Part nostalgia, part reverence, Toronto's Wes Williams has rightly been regarded as the "Canadian godfather of rap." He notes that he was just there to take in the show when Chuck D called him onstage to show respect.

"I just went to be inspired then he called me onstage, so I had to spit my hardest bars. And that wasn't freestyle, that was a public service announcement. I was inspired by (comedy shows) This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Rick Mercer Report. Nobody's doing rhymes like that and I thought I would do something interesting," he explains. "But the way people looked at it was like, 'yo I'm slamming the government.' But if you listen to the lyrics, basically what I'm saying is that with hip-hop, not everything we do has to be simplistic. Not everything has to be trivial. There can be humor and intelligence while we're doing it. That was me not playing and showing other emcees that I'm the Rap Prime Minister. And it is funny. I mean, c'mon, 'Stick to nutrition.' That's a funny line. Ford himself would laugh at that. I'm not talking about his policies or anything like that. I'm just trying to show that rappers don't have to be basic when we rhyme."

It's hard to believe that it has been nearly 25 years since Maestro Fresh Wes unleashed "Let Your Backbone Slide" upon an unsuspecting mainstream audience. To this day, the song remains the largest selling Canadian hip-hop track and easily ranks as one of the best Canadian songs ever released. He muses that at age 44, he's been thinking about his Canadian hip-hop legacy -- and the ever-enduring legacy of the 1989 track.

"I was in Vancouver and this young lady from Somalia came up to me saying that she learned to speak English from memorizing 'Let Your Backbone Slide.' So that's big," he says.

At this point in his career he's also an accomplished film and TV actor (currently a regular on CBC's comedy sitcom Mr. D) and motivational speaker/author (he tours schools with his 2010 self-help/inspirational book Stick to Your Vision) and frankly has nothing to prove by releasing new music.

"Every destination you reach there's another set of expectations. A lot of people just know me as a rap artist, so I wanted to use that template and apply the same work ethic as an actor. That's how I made the transition to film and TV," he says. "I look at the book as a 250 page business card. When you think about hip-hop, there are lot of negative connotations and stigmas. It's about taking it to the next level. Hip-hop is the platform."

But the five-track Black Tuxedo EP is a thing that exists nonetheless. Featuring production by The Rezza Brothers, Classified and Rich Kidd, Black Tuxedo serves up Maestro's trademark lyrical wordplay and is something he says is designed to whet the appetite for a full-length project titled Orchestrated Noise due in 2013.

In today's hip-hop era of maximum swag, hip-hop needs to go back to its roots, he offers.

"I ain't trying to wear them tight jeans, man. I just want a balance," he says. "Back in the day with hip-hop, when Public Enemy was fighting the power, Biz Markie was picking boogers. We had a balance. Nowadays there is no balance and I think that's intentional. There's a vested interest to divide our people. By keeping us shiftless, mindless and distracted. And with something like this, even though it was humoros, there was intelligence behind it. The [Public Enemy concert] crowd was receptive because the people want to hear something different, you know what I mean?"

Maestro has "mad respect" for artists that build off the hip-hop foundation he provided, pointing out Canadian rappers and producers such as The Airplane Boys, Classified, Luu Breeze, Rich Kidd and obviously the success of someone like Drake.

"I love Drake. His work ethic is incredible. It's something that we should all be proud of, man. I never had people to look up to when I was recording. I can learn from them and they can learn from me. A black point of reference is something that really didn't exist for me in Canada when it came to hip-hop. I can sit back and say, 'Yeah I did that,'" he says.

Ultimately, he notes, it's about respecting this genre of music and showing its potential -- even if it means speaking truth to political power now and then (and calling out people like Harper and Ford in the process).

"I spit 'Black Trudeau' and that's comedy. I tell these young cats all the time, 'Don't make records, make history.' Anybody can make a record. And that's what I think kids are doing, they're selling themselves short," he says. "I want to inspire them, to make them tap into their own creativity and be leaders instead of following. If I can show that I'm displaying skills that challenge -- no profanity, no n-bombs -- that's creative."

Continue reading Maestro Fresh Wes dusts off his "Black Tuxedo"

Cracker's David Lowery Apologizes To Neil Young After Band Mate Johnny Hickman Calls Him 'Greedy Old Asshole'

By Jason MacNeil

Cracker's David Lowery issued an apology yesterday to Neil Young after bandmate Johnny Hickman slammed Young for his stance about music piracy.

In a Huffington Post article Monday ( Young compared the piracy of music to being the new version of radio.

"It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio," he said. "I look at the radio as gone... Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around... That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it."

Young's comments were taken from the D: Dive Into Media conference he appeared at this past January.

According to (, Hickman took to the band's Twitter account ( to take it to Young.

"Fuck you Neil Young, I love most of your music (some of it sucks ass) that you made millions upon millions of dollars on," Hickman tweeted. The full statement has been removed but had the full statement which continued: " own property all over the world, have 50 antique gas guzzling cars and a full recording have no say in the matter NOW you rich, greedy old asshole. We hundredaire working class musicians DO!"

After the post, Lowery issued a Facebook post which was linked to via Twitter ( but has also been removed.

"Apologies to Neil Young," the statement read. "He is free to think whatever he wants about Piracy. I'm not against casual non-profit sharing of files among fans. I draw the line when it becomes a for-profit business. for example in the case of 'file lockers' or 'cyber lockers' which are for profit businesses that make their money from advertising and 'premium' faster downloads. These companies make millions a year and share nothing with the artists. Johnny got a little over excited."

Early this morning Hickman commented on Lowery's apology and elaborated on his own stance in the comments section following the article.

"Hey, read a little more carefully folks. ( I am a huge Neil Young fan by the way)," Hickman wrote. "David did not say anything about Neil's stance on piracy, I did so quit harshing him about it. I was perhaps a little too hot headed in my post it but still stand by my opinion that a man with a net worth of $65,000,000 that he made SELLING music should not be pontificating about music piracy being a good thing. It hurts every indie band out there. It's actually okay to disagree with your heroes people.

A second post by Hickman added that "I completely agree" with Lowery regarding the statement Lowery made about "file lockers" or "cyber lockers."

Cracker have a handful of tour dates the rest of the year including a run of post-Christmas dates leading up to a New Year's Eve gig in Denver. The band released its last studio album Sunrise in the Land Of Milk and Honey back in 2009. Meanwhile, Young is gearing up for a North American tour with Crazy Horse and a forthcoming new studio album entitled Psychedelic Pill.

Continue reading Cracker's David Lowery Apologizes To Neil Young After Band Mate Johnny Hickman Calls Him 'Greedy Old Asshole'


"Call Me Maybe" hitmaker Carly Rae Jepsen is getting props from an unlikely source -- killer clown rap duo Insane Clown Posse.

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope recently watched the video for Jepsen's hit song as part of their ICP Theater series -- a take-off of Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- and were surprisingly complimentary of the Canadian pop singer in their own special way.

The video tells the story of Jepsen falling for a very attractive and often shirtless boy who lives next door. At one point in the video Jepsen begins to wash her car in a seductive manner in an attempt to get the boy's attention, but she slips off the hood of the car and knocks herself out, forcing him to rescue her in embarrassing circumstances.

While this all unfolds the members of ICP constantly refer to Jepsen as "Carly Simon" or "Carly Simons," debate whether they'd have sex with her ("I want to say she's hot and I'd hit it but I think she's like 16," Shaggy says at one point), suggest the pair should smoke bath salts together, and compare her breasts to "milk duds" and "mosquito bumps."

In the video's closing sequences Jepsen final gets up the courage to perform "Call Me Maybe" in front of the boy with her garage band (who Shaggy says, "look like a Nickelodeon band"). But in a dramatic swerve, when the song ends the boy gives his phone number to the band's male guitarist, not Jepsen. It turns out he's gay.

The ICP guys are all over this finish.

"That was great," says Violent J. "That was good writing, man! Props to them. That was so sweet."

"That was awesome," adds Shaggy. "Talk about a twist at the end. He turned out to be gay, hell ya, dog."

Then Violent J concludes with, "I give props to Carly Simon for putting that twist at the end. That was a clever twist."

Continue reading ICP CRJ

Serj Tankian

System of a Down Frontman Serj Tankian Wishes for a Better Presidential Candidate, but takes Obama over Romney.

By Lonny Knapp

In 2001, George W. Bush won a controversial election to become the 43rd President of the United States of America. Likewise, System of a Down (SOAD), a Grammy-Award-winning Armenian-American band from Southern California, dropped its breakthrough record, Toxicity.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bush launched American's War on Terror, ordered his army to invade Afghanistan, and promised to weed out Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. His approval rating soared.

SOAD infuses its heavy music with heady political messages. Needless to say, in the hyper-patriotic climate of post-911 America, its outspoken criticism of the "War on Terror" and the Bush regime didn't sit well with with some of the Dubya's fellow "Amuricans."

Now, more than a decade later, Osama Bin Laden is dead, America's first African-American president is up for re-election, and SOAD, who went on an indefinite hiatus in 2006, have reformed for a reunion tour.

Still, SOAD's brand of socio-political protest music remains relevant.

System frontman Serj Tankian tells Huffington Post Music that despite huge expectations, President Obama couldn't deliver on the sweeping reform he promised on the campaign trail.

"I think to a certain degree he's tried to make changes, but, he's had a lot of resistance from the right wing, and the Republican Party. There's been a lot of obstructionism in congress. It's made life difficult for progress politically and socially in the US," he says.

Indeed, the key issues in the coming election -- the economy, same-sex marriage, abortion, and healthcare reform -- uncover an American people more divided then when Bush was in office. Unfortunately, there is no sign of a candidate to unite the people. When it's time to cast the ballot, Tankian believes, it's better the devil you know.

"Before we see real change, I think we need a far more leftist candidate that is willing to make those strong decisions," he says. "But if Obama wins a second term, that's certainly better than having Romney in office."

A singer, poet, songwriter, and activist, Serj Tankian is an interesting guy. While most hard rockers are content to swill beer and flip devil horns, he spends his down time meeting with the heads of state, and promoting social justice via the Axis of Justice, the non-profit organization he co-founded with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

Despite his interest in politics, however, Tankian has no design on a political career.

"I hate injustice, and I can't help but speak against it," he says. "But I don't want to get involved in politics. I have a more direct avenue to expression as an artist than I ever would as a politician."

Continue reading Serj Tankian

Massive Attack Halo 4

by Jesse Ship

As video games evolve further into cinematic experiences, their soundtracks have become more and more integral to the experience. No longer are our mental spaces plagued with tinny 8-bit earworms, rather, we're enriched by orchestral masterpieces produced by world class composers, and now even remix albums by chart-topping electronic artists.

In the case of the hotly anticipated Halo 4, which kicks off a new cycle in gaming trilogies, Neil Davidge, Massive Attack's co-producer for the last 10 years has taken over the reins from Marty O'Donnell, the granddaddy of Halo soundtracks. It was a daunting task, but Davidge, an avid Halo player, couldn't wait to get started after being wowed by a life-sized statue of Halo main character Master Chief at Microsoft's 343 Industries Washington studio in late 2010.

In fact, he was so excited that he went straight home to his Bristol studio to get a head start, months ahead of schedule.

"I've been playing Halo since the beginning," Davidge tells Huffington Post Music Canada. "We played the first one a half-dozen times with friends, in the studio and with my daughter. Going back and trying to formulate my ideas for the score, I went back and played them again!"

Equipped with a musical team worth its Hollywood salt, Neil had free range to use a musical team of 40 string players, 12 horn players, a 16-person hand-picked male tenor and bass choir, plus 10 women from the London Bulgarian Choir. So, yes, it's very possible there will be more of the grand orchestration which has been a trademark to the game's soundtrack.

But unlike O'Donnell, who tended to start with the orchestral textures, Davidge worked out the electronic aspects of the various songs and then worked in the instrumentation. He was after all an integral contributor to the Bristol trip-hop sound and the production master behind slinky and sinister Massive Attack hit albums Mezzanine and 100th Window. He's also composed the score to the psychic superhero Dakota Fanning flick Push, among others.

"[Marty O'Donnell] almost single handedly turned the game score into a far more professional cinematic medium," says Davidge. "I didn't have to blank out what he had done and say, 'No, I can't do what he did.' [But] it required a huge leap of faith in terms of committing myself to any piece of music for the game. They would give me stills -- visuals, game capture video, or maybe a sentence or two to description of the theme or mission, and maybe some environmental pointers. I had to go on instinct a lot of the time, immersing myself into the characters, the images, imagining myself in that scenario and then creating them."

Davidge's compositions have also been put through the remix grinder by electronic and rock acts DJ Skee, Caspa, James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins, 100 Waters and Apocalyptica to create an album using 14 different song explorations from the score. It was easy for Davidge to tap these artists, because many of them were players, too.

"As a composer and producer of albums, I would spend a lot of time playing Halo whilst working on an album because there is a lot of downtime, like waiting for the band to turn up, or maybe you don't have any ideas yet, or something technical is going on in the studio or the computers went down," he said "There are bands on tour buses around the world are playing games like Halo so it's great to get them on the project."

Essentially, each remix artist has taken what they were inspired by from the score and then added their own thing to it.

"It's a fun remix album to listen to," says Neil. "It's quite a journey in it's own right, and a good companion to the regular soundtrack."

And if you're incredibly lucky, you might find Davidge on multi-player. While discovering his Gamertag might take some cyber-sleuthing, it's possible you've come across his style before.

"I'm definitely sneaky, more of a sniper. I'll size up a situation before going in. I've been playing for so many years, but my 15-year-old daughter is embarrassingly good, she kicks my ass!"

Continue reading Massive Attack Halo 4

Young Galaxy talk about failed KickStarter attempt, liken it to prostitution

read through Aug 20

When it came time for Montreal's Young Galaxy to record their follow-up to 2011's Shapeshifting, the band was determined to finally take a trip to Sweden and work with long-time friend and collaborator, producer Dan Lissvik. Although the band and Lissvik worked together on the band's last record, they had yet to actually meet in real life -- having done all their work together communicating through Skype conversations and a handful of trust.

"We just knew we had to go," guitarist and co-founder of the band, Steve Ramsay tells Spinner. So, as an idea, the band and their label decided to go forward with a money fundraising website called Rocket Hub, which is essentially a variation of the popular fundraiser site, Kickstarter. "We had a crack at that, but it didn't turn out so great."

Admittedly, Ramsay and everyone involved almost immediately got cold feet about the project.

"By the time we changed our minds, it was too late," Ramsay explains. "I'm still of two minds about the whole thing.

"We're lucky as Canadian artists to be a band that often gets funded and a lot of bands in our position everywhere else in the world don't have that luxury. So to be asking our fans for money, I just didn't want to do that."

Ramsay says that he was originally intrigued by the idea "to figure out what the climate is like to try one of those things because it seems like the biggest growing way for bands to get funding," but even with fans interested in donating money, Young Galaxy decided to pull the project and eventually reimbursed everyone who contributed to the fundraiser.

"In the end, we fell way short of the goal and those crazy packages [that go along with each level of donation] just become gimmicky no matter what," continues Ramsay. "We're left to figure out a way to reward fans for their money and that's just kind of a backwards thing to do."

What Ramsay is getting at, though, is a valid point -- fans should be paying for a product that they want, not necessarily volunteering their money to help fund something. And in Ramsay's case, he just wasn't comfortable with the whole idea and likened it to a shameless way of bands just selling themselves.

"Some bands will, like, take you for dinner," says Ramsay. "And that just takes it to this far out place where it just really sounds a bit too much like prostitution."

He adds that the band did learn something from this experience, though.

"In the end, we got a sense of the people who wanted to contribute to us and we can thank them in other ways. We know a lot of the people on that list and we know they'll contribute no matter what.

"We got to feel out the new changing dynamic between a band and its fans," Ramsay adds. "But I still don't know what it is."

After all the hassle of the fundraising attempt gone wrong, Ramsay and his bandmates eventually forked out their own money for the trip to Sweden and were finally able to meet up with Lissvik. The band are currently in the midst of completing their new album. When that's finally completed, then they will ask you for your money -- in return for a final product in the form of an album.

Continue reading Young Galaxy talk about failed KickStarter attempt, liken it to prostitution

Young Galaxy Compare Crowd-Funded Art to Prostitution, Say it's 'Gimmicky'

Joseph Yarmush

When it came time for Montreal's Young Galaxy to record their follow-up to 2011's Shapeshifting, the band was determined to finally take a trip to Sweden and work with long-time friend and collaborator, producer Dan Lissvik. Although the band and Lissvik worked together on the band's last record, they had yet to actually meet in real life -- having done all their work together communicating through Skype conversations and a handful of trust.

"We just knew we had to go," guitarist and co-founder of the band, Steve Ramsay tells Spinner. So, as an idea, the band and their label decided to go forward with a money fundraising website called Rocket Hub, which is essentially a variation of the popular fundraiser site, Kickstarter. "We had a crack at that, but it didn't turn out so great."

Admittedly, Ramsay and everyone involved almost immediately got cold feet about the project.

"By the time we changed our minds, it was too late," Ramsay explains. "I'm still of two minds about the whole thing.

Continue reading Young Galaxy Compare Crowd-Funded Art to Prostitution, Say it's 'Gimmicky'

Florence Welch vs Caffeine: 'I Feel So Tired, It's Awful!'

Frazer Harrison, Getty

After sustaining a vocal injury that forced her to cancel a couple festival appearances, it's evident that Florence Welch, the central figure in Florence and the Machine, is being cautious about making sure it doesn't happen again. She's afraid that doing too many interviews might strain her voice, she's cut out all alcohol from her system (for now), but the one thing that's affecting her most has got to be the caffeine.

"I feel so tired, it's awful!" Welch tells Spinner. "I don't drink so much on tour anyway so that's okay, but it's the caffeine that's addicting and not having Diet Coke is getting to me!"

Then there's the boozing. Florence and her machines apparently aren't Motley Crue when it comes to partying.

Continue reading Florence Welch vs Caffeine: 'I Feel So Tired, It's Awful!'

Unexpected Musician Cameos in TV and Movies (should be two separate posts, will ask for intros)

by Anne

This year's opening ceremonies may have seen performances by Paul McCartney and the Arctic Monkeys, but it's the Spice Girls reunion during the Olympics' finale that some of us are most excited for.

So until the Fab Five take to the stage and zig-a-zig-ah, let's celebrate them through the legacy Spice World left behind: unexpected musician cameos in movies and television.

And hopefully by the time you finish reading this list, the closing ceremonies will be upon us.

1. The Beach Boys
TV Show: Full House
When Uncle Jesse sat down to play a custom-made ballad for Rebecca during their season four nuptials, few of us diehards thought this moment could be topped. However, as Mr. Katsopolis' music career rose, his collaborations with the Beach Boys led to a special version of the song, as well as a live performance with the band when the Tanners went to Disney World. Even today, John Stamos appears on drums with the group, proving that sometimes cameos continue... forever.

2. Backstreet Boys
TV Show: Sabrina the Teenage Witch
After Sabrina learned that she could not "bottle talent" to win her high school's battle of the bands, she collected the leftover beverages and vowed not to meddle (temporarily) again. However, she left one drink behind, and as five "normal" high school kids shared a sip during basketball practice, we learned they were not only actually BSB, but talented only through the power of witchcraft.

3. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach
Movie: Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me
It wouldn't be Austin Power's swinging '60s without an unwarranted cameo, so to dazzle Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), the agent stumbles upon Elvis and Burt, who serenade them in the London streets. Because of this, some of us may think that this is exactly what's happening right now at the Olympics.

4. Snoop Dogg
Movie: Old School
When Bernard "Beanie" Campbell (Vince Vaughan) throws a raging kegger to help his friend Mitch "The Godfather" Martin (Luke Wilson) get over his ex-girlfriend, he uses his pull as a speaker salesman to recruit Snoop Dogg for a live performance. Adding to the legend of "Mitch-A-Palooza," Snoop's appearance is topped only by Frank "The Tank" Ricard (Will Ferrell), who announces onstage that it's time to go streaking. Snoop doesn't join.

5. Peal Jam
Movie: Singles
Considering Singles revolves around the Seattle scene of the early '90s (and is directed by music-loving former journalist Cameron Crowe), cameos by Alice In Chains and Soundgarden are to be expected. However, nothing says "grunge" like an appearance by Peal Jam, and while they play part of Cliff Poncier's (Matt Dillon) band, Citizen Dick, they're so convincing as rock stars that you'd think they were actual musicians or something. (We kid.)

6. David Bowie
TV Show: Extras
When Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) makes it big after the success of his sitcom, he heads to a club, and bribes a bouncer to get into VIP once he sees David Bowie there. Unfortunately for Andy, the lackluster comedian inspires David, who pens an impromptu song and leads the bar in chants of "Pug, pug!" in tribute to Millman's "pug-nosed face." For the record, even lyrics like "chubby little loser" sound poetic when sung by the Thin White Duke.

7. Letters to Cleo
Movie: 10 Things I Hate About You
After convincing Kat (Julia Stiles) to come with him to prom, Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) "calls in a favor" and enlists Letters to Cleo to be the guest band. Despite Kat being the only attendee to even know who they are, the crowd still cheers and reacts enthusiastically -- likely because it's a reprieve from Save Ferris, whose ska was making it impossible to slow dance.

8. Stevie Wonder
TV Show: The Cosby Show
While most musicians would choose to pay out after crashing their limo, Stevie Wonder invites the Huxtable family into his studio after an accident with Theo and Denise. Perhaps as a testament to his generosity, Stevie even opts to record a track, singing a rendition of "I Just Called To Say I Love You" along with the whole Huxtable bunch. So it just goes to show you: if a limo looks like it might hit your car, let it.

9. Huey Lewis and the News
Movie: Back to the Future
It makes sense to give a cameo to the man who sang the movie's title song (that went on to reach number one and earn an Academy Award nomination), so who better to judge Marty McFly's (Michael J. Fox) audition for Battle of the Bands than Huey Lewis himself. Ironically, he puts the kibosh on McFly's version of the film's anthem, "The Power of Love" for being "too damn loud," and efficiently crushes Marty's dreams. Even more ironically, the band likely felt the same way in 1993 when Celine Dion released a track of the same title, which, unfortunately for everyone, was not actually a cover.

10. Chrissie Hynde
TV Show: Friends
Tensions are high at Central Perk after Phoebe gets replaced with a "professional singer" named Stephanie, who is actually The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde. However, after a failed attempt to busk hate anthems in protest outside, Phoebe warms up to her rival and the two collaborate for a riveting version of "Smelly Cat" at the episode's close. If ever there was a definitive '90s TV moment, this may have been it.

11. Davy Jones
TV Show: The Brady Bunch
After receiving a letter from the Monkees' frontman, Marsha Brady becomes consumed with the thought of getting Davy Jones to sing at her school dance. Of course, despite all campaigning and efforts, her plan nearly fails until the very last minute when she suddenly finds Davy Jones in her living room. Carrying with him his new album, the two agree to go to the dance as dates, and as such, instill a hope in women world-over that writing enough correspondence will end with a Monkee taking us someplace.

12. Michael Jackson
TV Show: The Simpsons
When Homer's pink shirt lands him in a mental hospital, he bonds with patient Leon Kompowsky who believes he's actually Michael Jackson. Voiced by Michael Jackson himself (who went by the alias John Jay Smith in the episode's credits), Leon returns home with Homer, and helps Bart pen the iconic "Happy Birthday Lisa" song for the eternal eight-year-old. Magically, the gift of song allows Leon to return to his actual identity, which is especially ironic considering it's not actually Jackson who sang in the episode.

13. The B-52s
Movie: The Flintstones
It makes sense that once Fred (John Goodman) became a high-paid quarry executive, he took Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins) for a fancy night out. However, what makes more sense is the appearance by The Flintstones theme singers The B-52s, whose live version of "The Bedrock Twitch" became the anthem of a choreographed dance-off between the golden couple. Meanwhile, we apologize to the families who were forced to watch this scene on repeat so some of us could learn the steps ourselves.

14. Jennifer Lopez
TV Show: Will And Grace
Only Karen would ask Jennifer Lopez to sing at her wedding reception after cornering her in a Las Vegas bathroom. But after learning JLo and Rosario were once friends, that's exactly what happens. However, the plot thickens once one of Jennifer's dancers breaks his ankle and Jack ends up taking his place, which ends up resulting in the important question: will Jack join Ms. Lopez on the road? (Answer: Kind of. The two become best friends and after a brief falling out, she gives him a gig with Janet Jackson.)

15. Aerosmith
Movie: Wayne's World 2
Considering how much pull Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) have thanks to their basement talk show, to land Aerosmith for the iconic Waynestock after meeting them backstage seems like almost an under-achievement. However, despite two alternative endings that attest otherwise, the story ends with the band showing up to the festival just before Wayne and Garth must declare it a failure. The best friends are saved, their reputations remain intact and Aerosmith sing "Shut Up and Dance." Nothing else matters.

16. Yoko Ono
TV Show: Mad About You
After finding out that Yoko Ono's in town, documentary director Paul Buchman seizes the opportunity to do something different and tries to convince her to work with him. Expectedly, hilarity ensues once Jamie and Paul arrive to her apartment and Yoko instead suggests he "film the wind." Fortunately, Paul doesn't have to and Yoko saves the project by deciding to collaborate with him in a more realistic sense - but not before we're given a glimpse of the famous white piano John sang "Imagine" at.

17. Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Movie: Clueless
If the '90s should be remembered for anything, it's surprise live performances by bands singing movie title tracks. 1995's Clueless was no different as Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and friends were treated to two Mighty Mighty Bosstones songs at an out-of-town fraternity party that memorably involved Thai (Brittany Murphy) "rolling with the homies." Who knew ska and Beverly Hills were so intertwined?

18. C+C Music Factory
TV Show: Blossom
Like all young teenage girls circa 1992, Blossom and Six camp out at a store called Rockin Records to score tickets to see C+C Music Factory. However, just as it seems like they missed the cutoff, the band shows up in person and Blossom and Six freak out accordingly before the whole gang busts a move to the appropriately titled, "Things That Make You Go Hmmm."

19. Twisted Sister
Movie: Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Pee Wee's shenanigans have lived in infamy, but one could argue that his biggest blunder (or achievement) lied in interrupting Twisted Sister's video shoot for "Burn in Hell." Attempting to escape several Warner Bros. security guards, he rides his bike right onto the Twisted Sister set, where the guards crash into the band's vintage car leaving Pee Wee to escape. Apparently, Pee Wee wasn't going to take it anymore.

20. Chris Martin
Movie: Shaun of the Dead
Ever the humanitarian, Chris Martin and Coldplay attempt to raise zombie awareness through ZombAid, a fictional concert in the wake of a British zombie apocalypse. However, as the infiltration continues to increase, not even a well-meaning music festival can make a difference, and as Shaun (Simon Pegg) continues to outwit and battle the zombies, he comes face to face with an undead Chris Martin whom he must destroy.

Continue reading Unexpected Musician Cameos in TV and Movies (should be two separate posts, will ask for intros)

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