Category: Misc.

“…only things that are creative and not destructive… hatred is wasted energy.”

The secret of happiness and purpose endures as our highest aspiration. From its science and psychologyto its geography to its empirical application, we go after it with ceaseless zeal.

In this brilliantly wise and articulate short excerpt from an archival interview, the great Alfred Hitchcock shares his definition of happiness — a definition that makes my own heart sing, and harks back to this morning’s meditation on kindness and the lack thereof. Read more here:

A clear horizon — nothing to worry about on your plate, only things that are creative and not destructive… I can’t bear quarreling, I can’t bear feelings between people — I think hatred is wasted energy, and it’s all non-productive. I’m very sensitive — a sharp word, said by a person, say, who has a temper, if they’re close to me, hurts me for days. I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions, but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something — I think that’s as happy as I’ll ever want to be.”

Beautifully said, with a blend of personal vulnerability and firm conviction worthy of profound respect.

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars. Image: Warner Bros

Nearly six years after the cancellation of the whip-smart television show about a teenage private eye in a California town deeply divided by class (and murder!), the Kickstarter for the Veronica Marsmovie ends later today, after breaking fundraising records and taking in over $5 million on the crowdfunding platform. The tremendous success of the Kickstarter, launched a month ago by creator Rob Thomas and actress Kristen Bell, has even inspired talk that this could change the way films get made — particularly for properties with devoted followings willing to put their money where their fandom is.

So what are the implications of Kickstarter resurrection and fan-funded film? What could this mean for other beloved (but cancelled) series like Freaks and Geeks or Chuck? And what happened to Veronica and her father after the cliffhanger at the end of Season 3? Wired talked to Thomas to find out or read more the interview here:

Wired: Do you think the success of your Kickstarter could be the start of a new business model for film? How do you see it working for other people who aspire to make movies?

Rob Thomas: I think it will be an important pioneer for a certain type of film. I’m not convinced that this will revolutionize how most movies get made, but I think there’s an opportunity now for projects that are similar to ours – that have some bit of public support behind it before they launch on Kickstarter… For something like Veronica Mars, where there’s a bit of a cult following and people are really emotionally invested in it, I do think this is a new avenue. There is no other way that this movie was going to get made.

Warner Bros owns the title Veronica Mars. I don’t… The lowest-priced movie Warner Bros tends to makes is a $30 million, and it goes up from there. They make Lord of the Rings. They don’t make theVeronica Mars movie, typically. So trying to convince Warner Bros to make a $30 million Veronica Marsmovie just wasn’t going to happen, for understandable reasons. When I took this project in, I didn’t take it in through their feature division. I’m making the movie with Warner Bros Digital; they do a lot of the smaller budget [projects]. I think we’re only going to be their second movie with a theatrical release; they typically do things straight to digital and digital download.

With this model, it’s almost a marketing device, a way to judge if there was enough interest in a movie this size. For a Friday Night Lights movie or a Freaks and Geek movie or a Chuck movie, I think it could be a possibility. I think this opens up a door. What I’m interested in as a writer is [if] a writer optioned a book and brought on an actor with some name value – if that combination could raise the money on Kickstarter to make a movie.

Wired: What would you think about Kickstarting a totally new movie project from scratch that didn’t have that preexisting recognition?

Rob Thomas: It would be so gutsy to do that. I started as a novelist, and I have novels. So I wonder, what if I took one of my books and maybe attached – not Kristen Bell … but an actor with that sort of renown and said, “We’re going to try and make this [movie] for $1.5 million dollars.” That would be such an interesting experiment. And I may try it. No one learns as much as when they do anything the first time, and I feel like I’ve learned so much that I have this knowledge that very few people in the world do about running a really big Kickstarter project. And if I never do it again, it’s wasted knowledge. But it’s also a lot of work. Having gotten TV shows on the air, that’s so much less work that trying to get theVeronica Mars movie made.

Wired: How does the financial model of the movie work, and how is the money being allocated?

Rob Thomas: It’s all going to the budget of the movie. We get to make a bigger movie the more money we make … The back end of the movie is divvied up like any other movie that gets made. The stars of the show will get a piece of the back end; the producer will get a piece of the back end. Clearly Warner Bros will own a big part of it. And I hope Warner Bros does well on it, because if not, they won’t make any more of these. I think there’s a scenario where everybody wins: where Kristen and I get to make the movie we’ve been hoping to make; where fans get to see the movie; and where Warner Bros makes money on it as well.

Wired: So in terms of the film’s plot, what’s happened to Veronica since the last time that we saw her at the end of Season 3?

Rob Thomas: Not only that was the last time she worked a case, but she left Neptune shortly there after. She ruins her father’s career as an officer of the law, and he gets indicted.

Wired: No!

Rob Thomas: Yes. Veronica transfers to Stanford, graduates, and goes to Columbia Law School.  And as we pick up the movie, it’s sort of like Tom Cruise at the beginning of The Firm. She’s finished law school, is waiting to take the bar, and interviewing with law firms. But then something happens in Neptune that pulls her back, and makes her metaphorically pick up her magnifying glass again.

Wired: A lot of Veronica’s appeal came from this sense that she was an underdog, but presumably in the adult world she’s getting recognition for her talents in ways that she didn’t from her cliquey high school classmates. Has her character outgrown that underdog status, or is that something you wanted to continue in the film?

Rob Thomas: It was certainly what I was working towards at the end of season 3. If we’d had a season 4, I wanted to get Veronica back into an underdog state. I think we liked Veronica best as a pariah of sorts.

Wired: How do you think fans’ attitudes and expectations about the show have changed since the show ended? Do they’re looking for nostalgia or growth in Veronica and the rest of the cast?

Rob Thomas: I think they’re looking for both. I know there’s something just automatically hook-y about a 17-year-old girl who’s a private eye. There’s less of a hook when it’s a 27-year-old woman. It’s a little more normal, a little more inside-the-box. … You have to make it work as a PI movie. And I understand the cons of nostalgia, but there are some Veronica Mars pleasure zones that I want to hit. If there were a [James] Bond movie and there wasn’t a martini scene – there are just certain things where I’d be cheating the audience if I didn’t include them. But I want it to work as a standalone movie as well for people who have never seen Veronica Mars, and just heard buzz about it and want to check it out finally when it’s a movie. I had never watched Firefly, but I’d heard the buzz so I went and saw the movie. I hope there are plenty of people who will give the Veronica Mars movie that chance.

Wired: One final question for you from Twitter: Any chance that the Party Down crew could cater the Neptune High 10-year reunion?

Rob Thomas: [laughs] There’s no chance. What’s funny is most of the members of the Party Downcrew have already played people on Veronica Mars. Adam Scott was a creepy teacher; Ken Marino is going to be in the movie as Vinnie Van Lowe. Someone like Martin Starr hasn’t been in Veronica Mars, so you might see him – but he won’t be catering it.

Image by Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Margaret Thatcher served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. Nicknamed the Iron Lady, Thatcher was known for her steadfast conservative politics. Thatcher’s term coincided with a boom in English music in the wake of the punk movement, and much of this music harshly criticized her policies or straight up attacked her on a personal level. Bands tapped into the atmosphere of anger and discontent in Thatcher’s England, singing about everything from high unemployment rates to the Falklands War. Here’s the list made by Angela Meiquan Wang for  

1. The Not Sensibles, “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher” (1979)

Though most songs about Thatcher make her out to be a villain, this song, released shortly after she was elected to office, is rather lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek.

2. The English Beat, “Stand Down Margaret” (1980)

Two-tone ska legends The Beat were among the first to condemn Thatcher in song with this cut from their album I Just Can’t Stop It.

3. The Blues Band, “Maggie’s Farm” (1980)

This tune rewrites Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” — itself a rewrite of the folk standard “Penny’s Farm” — as a commentary on Thatcher’s government.

4. The Specials, “Ghost Town” (1981)

Another ska classic about Thatcher. “This town’s becoming like a ghost town / Government leaving the youth on the shelf.”

5. Poison Girls, “Another Hero” (1981)

Maggie Thatcher‘s patching up her makeup in the broken glass.” From the albumTotal Exposure.

6. Klaus Nomi, “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” (1982)

NYC-based New Wave eccentric Nomi turned a song from The Wizard of Oz into a commentary on Thatcher’s politics.

7. Newtown Neurotics, “Kick Out The Tories” (1982)

This underrated punk band’s third single focused on working-class struggles in Thatcher’s Britain.

8. Pink Floyd, “The Fletcher Memorial Home” (1983)

Roger Waters envisions “The Fletcher Memorial Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings” in this song from The Final Cut, naming Margaret Thatcher as one of the tyrants in residence.

9. The Varukers, “Thatcher’s Fortress” (1984)

Fast and loud, The Varukers rage against Thatcher in this cut from their Massacred Millions EP.

10. The Larks, “Maggie Maggie Maggie (Out Out Out)” (1985)

This charged punk anthem is based on the English Miner’s Strike protest chant, “Maggie Out,” and is featured on the Miners’ Benefit LP Here We Go.

11. Crass, “How Does It Feel?” (1986)

These anarcho-punk legends are famous for their scathing critiques of Thatcher’s regime, and this song from Best Before 1984 is a prime example. “How does it feel to be the mother of a thousand dead?”

12. Thatcher on Acid, “Guess Who’s Running the Show” (1987)

Formed in 1983, this anarcho-punk group chose to reference Thatcher explicitly in their band’s name.

13. Morrissey, “Margaret on the Guillotine” (1988)

This song from Morrissey’s debut solo album Viva Hate, which calls for Thatcher’s death, made him the subject of an official investigation by British police.

14. Elvis Costello, “Tramp the Dirt Down” (1989)

Costello fantasizes about stomping on Thatcher’s grave in this harshly condemning cut from Spike, singing “And when they finally lay you in the ground / I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.”

15. Kitchens of Distinction, “Margaret’s Injection” (1989)

“Never relished violence, but Margaret, it’s time for your injection.” From the albumLove is Hell.

16. Sinead O’Connor, “Black Boys on Mopeds” (1990)

This sobering song from I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got digs at Thatcher in its opening verse, before going on to assert that “England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses.”

17. VIM, “Maggie’s Last Party” (1991)

Thatcher’s own words are used for a darkly comic effect on this ironic rave track.

18. Billy Bragg, “Thatcherites” (1996)

Billy Bragg comments on Thatcher’s legacy in this song released after she left office, which jabs at succeeding Prime Minister John Major. “Your leader she has gone, but she’s left us little John.”

19. Hefner, “The Day that Thatcher Dies” (2000)

“We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies, even though it’s not right,” Darren Hayman sings in this song, which went on to become one of his band’s most famous tunes. This song also calls back to “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.”

20. Frank Turner, “Thatcher Fucked the Kids” (2006)

Turner reckons with the lasting influence of Thatcher in this cut from Campfire Punkrock singing, “Blame the folks who sold the future for the highest bid / That’s right, Thatcher fucked the kids.”

21. Pete Wylie, “The Day that Margaret Thatcher Dies” (2011)

Not to be confused with the Hefner song of the same name, this party-rock tune revels in its hatred for the former prime minister: “She’s gone! And nobody cried!”


The sale of t-shirts and other merchandise is expected to be at the core of a revival plan for the collapsed high-street music retailer

HMV and Fopp branches sold to Hilco in new rescue package, saving 141 stores

Photo: PA

Restructuring specialist Hilco has announced that it has bought 132 HMV shops and all nine branches of its Fopp sister chain.

The deal is expected to be worth £50 million and will save around 2,500 jobs. Hilco already owns HMV Canada, and its chief executive, Paul McGowan, said the company hopes to turn around the fortunes of the UK branches in the same way: “We hope to replicate some of the success we have had in the Canadian market with the HMV Canada business which we acquired almost two years ago and which is now trading strongly.”

HMV – the UK’s last remaining high street music retailer, collapsed in January after several months of financial uncertainty. Documents from administrator Deloitte show that the chain owed £347 million when it failed. The loss includes £237 million owed to unsecured creditors, which Deloitte has said will go unpaid. Read rest the story here:

Despite the deal, 80 HMV stores will remain closed. Hilco is also in negotiations with landlords in Ireland in a bid to re-open stores which were closed several months ago after HMV went into administration.


Thom Yorke was recently guest at Alec Baldwin’s radio show ‘Here’s the thing‘ (WNYC). Baldwin interviewed Radiohead’s frontman for one hour. Click here to listen:

The album was signed by the Fab Four in 1967, and shattered the previous selling price for such an item.

Even Lucy and her diamonds can’t compete with these riches. A rare, signed copy of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has brought $290,500 at auction, shattering the previous record for such an item.

The item signed by all four members of the legendary band was purchased Saturday by an unnamed buyer from the Midwest. An anonymous seller parted with the album through the Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which ahead of the bidding estimated the album would sell for $30,000.

The Fab Four are believed to have signed the cover near the June 1967 release of Sgt. Pepper’s. The previous record for a signed Beatles album cover was the $150,000 paid for a copy of Meet the Beatles. Ahead of the auction, Beatles expert Perry Cox said of the piece: “With my being thoroughly immersed in Beatles collectibles for over 30 years, it takes something extraordinarily special to excite me, but I consider this to be one of the top two items of Beatles memorabilia I’ve ever seen – the other being a signed copy of Meet The Beatles.” The album is a U.K. Parlophone copy with a high gloss cover and gatefold. Read more here:

To celebrate QT’s 50th birthday, Ali Gray from countdown his greatest characters. Oscar-winning screenwriter, foot fetishist and shutter-down of buttsQuentin Tarantinoturns 50 this week; a birthday that ages all who remember him being labelled “the hottest young director in Hollywood”. Tarantino has gifted cinema dozens of classic characters in his half century, from Reservoir Dogs through Django Unchained – plus, of course, via movies he wrote, like True Romance and Natural Born Killers. It’s easy to forget the wealth of talent that has at some point agreed to be QT’s mouthpiece – Pitt! Clooney! Willis! De Niro! Oldman! – so whether or not the quality of Quentin’s output decreases as he begins the backslide into old age as he predicted, let’s just be grateful that for now, the Tarantino universe boasts an unforgettable cast of heroes, villains and everyone in between.


50. Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) – Pulp Fiction

First we have a quintessential single-serving Tarantino character: one scene, four minutes of dialogue and buckets of charisma. Koons, a decorated Vietnam vet, tells little Butch the story of how he and the young man’s father hid a watch up their asses for seven years. It could come off as crude, but Walken sells the scene with laser-beam intensity.

49. Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) – Inglourious Basterds

Impossibly glamorous with charm to spare, German film star Bridget is actually on the side of the good guys. A double agent working with British intelligence and the Basterds, von Hammersmark escapes with her life from the bloodbath at the La Louisianne tavern, but later dies at the hands of Hans Landa (technically the hands of Tarantino himself).

48. Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) – Kill Bill

A cartoon character villain in essence, complete with her own unique weapon (a chain whip-cum-rope dart), O-Ren’s bodyguard Gogo makes a brief but memorable appearance in Kill Bill. First she disembowels a guy for making a drunken pass – her being 17 and all – then she engages in a scrap with The Bride, losing her life to a chair leg.

47. Floyd (Brad Pitt) – True Romance

Permanently stoned and probably fused to his dirt-encrusted sofa, Dick’s horizontal roommate in True Romance is none other than mega star Brad Pitt in an early role. He might look like a useless, unkempt waste of space, but… well, he is. But once you’re out of earshot, he’ll tear you a new one: “Fuckin’ condescend me, man… I’ll fuckin’ kill you, man.”

46. The Gimp (Stephen Hibbert) – Pulp Fiction

A mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in studded tight leather, The Gimp resides in pawn shop owner Maynard’s basement – and we’re guessing he’s not dusting down there. Killed by his own kink, he’s hung out to dry when Bruce Willis‘ Butch wriggles free and cold-cocks him, leaving him hanging by his own leash. We bet he loved every second of it.

45. Max Cherry (Robert Forster) – Jackie Brown

Frosty cool with an unflappable demeanour, Jackie Brown’s bail bondsman is that rare Tarantino creation: a quiet, reserved man who’ll use one word where most others use ten. That said, he’s still a textbook QT badass, teaming with Pam Grier‘s drug smuggler for the mother of all double-crosses. Also, he likes big butts.

44. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) – Inglourious Basterds

Til Schweiger truly puts the ‘glorious’ in his Basterd as a defected German sergeant with a penchant for murdering Nazis in the sickest ways possible. Quickly recruited to the Basterds’ cause, Stiglitz is most notable for mercifully ending the epic La Louisianne face-off, giving Dieter Hellstrom a killer kiss-off: “Say auf Wiedersehn to your Nazi balls!”

43. Vernita Green (Vivica A Fox) – Kill Bill

One of five assassins on The Bride’s hitlist, the woman otherwise known as Copperhead is living a quaint suburban lifestyle when Beatrix Kiddo comes calling for revenge. The domestic scuffle between the two women sets the tone for the two volumes to come: bloody, brutal, backstabby and bitchy: “I should have been motherfucking Black Mamba!”

42. Pumpkin & Honeybunny (Tim Roth & Amanda Plummer) – Pulp Fiction

Opening Pulp Fiction with – you guessed it – a lengthy diatribe, this one about the relative safety of robbing banks over liquor stores, petty thieves Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (aka Ringo and Yolanda) eventually kick off the action by pulling out their guns and yelling: “Everybody be cool!” The rest of the movie duly complies.

41. Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) – True Romance

It’s not difficult to see where Christian Slater‘s chancer Clarence gets his big clanging balls: his old man Clifford laughs in the face of death. With gangster Vincenzo Coccottinursing a bullet with his name on it, Worley Sr at least exits this life with a smile, spending his last minutes on Earth insulting his killer’s DNA: “You’re part eggplant!”

40. Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) – Jackie Brown

Feckless criminal Louis is the antithesis of the gangsters Robert De Niro usually plays. Slow-witted but quick to anger after Bridget Fonda‘s sun-worshipper mocks his manhood, Louis shoots his partner in crime in a parking lot and ends up suffering the same fate at the hands of Sam Jackson’s heavy. De Niro bad at crime? Who’d have thought it!

39. Mr Brown (Quentin Tarantino) – Reservoir Dogs

Tarantino’s token cameos in his own movies tend to draw focus, given that they’re usually awful, but we’ll forgive him his turn in Reservoir Dogs. Mr Brown opens the film, and indeed Quentin’s entire career, with a discussion on the meaning of Madonna‘s ‘Like A Virgin’; apparently it’s a metaphor for large penises. So now you know.

38. Lt Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) – Inglourious Basterds

Fassbender’s Basterd is perhaps the coolest of the bunch, thanks mostly to his cut-glass English accent and his love of good scotch. He’s also handy with white lies, spinning a convincing yarn about his upbringing to throw off a nosey Nazi – alas, he was three fingers away from avoiding the stickiest of pickles. Nonetheless: damn good stuff, Sir.

37. The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) – Pulp Fiction

“I’m Winston Wolf. I solve problems.” Not only does Pulp Fiction’s fixer possess the unnerving ability to bend space and time, travelling a distance that should take 30 minutes in ten, The Wolf is a man capable of un-screwing any situation, lickety split. He also dresses like he’s en route to his own wedding.

36. Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) – Kill Bill

“Your so-called Kung fu is really quite pathetic!” Pai Mei is a stern teacher indeed, but he’s earned the right to insult his students, what with being able to use his beard and his crotch as a weapon. Creator of the infamous Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, Pai Mei will have you writhing in agony while he’s stroking his moustache and laughing.

35. Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) – Jackie Brown

ATF agent Ray Nicolette is one of Elmore Leonard’s good guys, later popping up in Out Of Sight – one of those rare occasions in which the same character appears in two separate movies. Ray shines brightest in Jackie Brown, turning Pam Grier‘s stewardess onto Sam Jackson’s villain Ordell. Few men can wear black leather as effectively asMichael Keaton.

34. Mickey & Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson & Juliette Lewis) – Natural Born Killers

In the media circus of life, they were the main attraction: lovers Mickey and Mallory knew the value of a good killing spree, and milked the attention for everything it was worth. Two of Tarantino’s most despicably heartless characters, you still find yourself rooting for them – that’s the strength of Quentin’s writing in action.

33. Drexl Spivey (Gary Oldman) – True Romance

Gary Oldman pulled off his chameleon act once more in his role as True Romance’s racially-befuddled pimp, rocking dreads, gold teeth, a cloudy eye and a stormy temper. “It ain’t white boy day, is it?” he asks, unaware that every day is white boy day for him. Still,  perhaps Drexl can take solace in the fact his name is worth a hundred points in Scrabble.

32. Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) – Django Unchained

Leo DiCaprio’s cackling madman Calvin Candie is the obvious villain in Django Unchained, but there’s something even more insidious about his house slave Stephen; a man who’s seemingly turned his back on his entire race. He won’t take his eyes off Django and Broomhilda, and in turn, you can’t take your eyes off him.

Every QT cameo has an element of wish fulfilment, but none moreso than in Tarantino’s vampire thriller. Quentin’s serial killer Richie drinks tequila from the long leg of snake-fondling exotic dancer Santanico, right before she morphs into a hellbeast and kills him. Totally worth it, as brother George Clooney yells: “Now that’s what I call a fuckin’ show!”

30. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) – Inglourious Basterds

Possessor of possibly the coolest entrance scene in all of Tarantinoland, you hear The Bear Jew before you see him, bashing his baseball bat off the underpass walls to intimidate his prey. Eventually he emerges, grinning, knowing full well he’s going to hit a home run and spray the rest of the Basterds with Nazi brain. And the crowd go wild!

29. O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) – Kill Bill

Another Deadly Viper on The Bride’s to-do list, O-Ren gets the most fleshed out of Kill Bill’s back-stories: orphaned by the Yakuza, she exacts revenge, becomes a master assassin and heads a Tokyo crime syndicate, complete with her own Crazy 88 army. Alas, she can’t best The Bride in blade-to-blade combat, tasting the steel of her Hanzo sword.

28. Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) – Pulp Fiction

We’re first introduced to the back of crime boss Marsellus’ head as he gives boxer Butch his orders. The front is no less intimidating; Rhames gives Pulp Fiction its greatest presence with his gargantuan frame and deep voice. When he threatens to “get medieval” on the asses of the men that raped him, you’re grateful he spares the grislier details.

27. Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) – True Romance

This hooker gives True Romance its heart of gold. Call girl by trade, she packs in the prostitution after meeting devoted Elvis fan Clarence, marrying him the very next day. The wrath they face from assorted pimps, gangsters and hitmen is horrendous, but Alabama makes it all worthwhile. Who wouldn’t snap up a girl who loves Kung fu movies?

26. ‘Nice Guy Eddie’ Cabot (Chris Penn) – Reservoir Dogs

Perennially decked out in the finest casual tracksuits the 90s could offer, Nice Guy Eddie is the only Reservoir Dog not to be given a coloured codename, given that he’s the son of the heist organiser, Joe. That family connection is the reason he’s so cocksure of himself, but daddy can’t protect him in the Mexican stand-off to end all Mexican stand-offs.

25. Zoe (Zoe Bell) – Death Proof

Tarantino gave stuntwoman Zoe Bell her first big break – as herself. Quentin’s half of Grindhouse saw Bell prove that she was the one who was Death Proof as she shackled herself to the bonnet of her girlfriends’ car for shits and giggles. Stuntman Mike attempted to make her death-wish a reality, but you can’t frighten a girl with no fear of dying.

24. Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) – Assorted

Along with Mr Wolf, Earl McGraw and his son Edgar are the only characters that can traverse between Tarantino’s ‘Realer than real’ universe and his ‘Movie movie’ universe – that’s why you’ll see him pop up in Death Proof, From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill. Each time, Parks’ sheriff brings the same tobacco-chewing grit to the role: he is the law.

23. Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) – True Romance

The real big bad in True Romance, Coccotti is the most charismatic of criminals. Fully aware his reputation precedes him, Sicilian sleaze Vincenzo introduces himself as “the anti-Christ” and gets more intimidating from there on in. Catch him in a vendetta kinda mood and he’ll waste you, but not without sharing a Walken-esque laugh with you first.

22. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) – Django Unchained

Sporting a gob of yellow teeth and a wardrobe of the best duds 19th century Mississippi affords, Candie is a chilling villain indeed. The plantation owner makes his slaves fight to the death for fun, like a child playing with his toys – those that escape, he hunts down with dogs. Django learns the hard way: you never take away a spoilt child’s toys.

21. Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) – Pulp Fiction

“In the fifth, your ass goes down.” Except boxer Butch ain’t nobody’s bitch. Fleeing from the scene after accidentally killing his opponent in the ring, Coolidge is still the closest thing Pulp Fiction has to a good guy. Butch later embraces his bloodlust by slicing and dicing his would-be rapists, who couldn’t have picked a worse guy to screw with.

20. Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) – Reservoir Dogs

Mr Pink is a quibbler. He’s not happy with his codename; he’s insecure enough to suggest ‘Mr Purple’. He doesn’t tip; apparently “the words ‘too fucking busy’ shouldn’t be in a waitress’ vocabulary’”. He is, however, an utmost professional, and come Reservoir Dogs’ cordite-scented climax, Mr Pink is the only man smart enough to escape with his life.

19. Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson) – Jackie Brown

When you absolutely positively have to kill every mother in the room? Ordell Robbie is your villain. A gun-runner extraordinaire and a devious bastard to boot, he’s also the owner of Sam Jackson’s funkiest facial hair to date; a braided goatee which you suspect no one has ever survived mocking. Bad to the bone.

18. Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) – True Romance

There’s more than a hint of Tarantino about hero Clarence, the fast-talking, Elvis-imagining lover of Kung fu flicks. Upon meeting love-of-his-life Alabama in a movie theatre, Worley moves heaven and earth to ensure their union – drug deals, shoot-outs and a room full of pimp corpses are a small price to pay for true romance. It’s what The King wanted after all.

17. Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) – From Dusk Till Dawn

Of all Tarantino’s movie cameos, Richie Gecko is the most significant, and the weirdest by quite a long margin. The sick and twisted brother to George Clooney‘s tattooed outlaw, little Richie can’t even be trusted to look after a hostage without splaying her guts all over the bedsheets. This is as creepy and perverse as Tarantino gets.

16. Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) – Inglourious Basterds

Revenge is a dish best served cold, or if you’re war survivor Shosanna, a dish best served roasted and marinaded in Nazi blood. Narrowly avoiding being massacred, she sets her sights high and with the help of the Basterds, brings down Hitler and his Third Reich with a fiery massacre of her own, set – where else? – in a movie theatre.

15. Mr White (Harvey Keitel) – Reservoir Dogs

His name is White, but even he can’t make a clean getaway. A white knight of sorts to the fatally-wounded Mr Orange after their diamond heist went pear-shaped, White shows himself to be loyal to a fault. Stoic and composed, Keitel’s criminal displays chinks of humanity that the rest of the Reservoir Dogs fill with greed.

14. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) – Pulp Fiction

With a wit only as sharp as her bob, Mrs Mia Wallace is a very modern gangster’s moll: a livewire thrill-seeker whose actions are even more irresponsible than her husband’s. If you ignore the overdose, she’s a delightful dinner companion, able to alleviate any awkward silences and capable of tearing up the dance floor. Just remember: look but don’t touch.

13. Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – Kill Bill

The coolest of Bill’s hit squad, Elle Driver also has the nattiest accessory: a patch covering the gaping socket from whence Pai Mei pulled her eye. A direct rival with The Bride for the affections of their master, the trailer tussle between them is a super-charged cat-fight. Alas, she loses and ends up another eye down, but out? We wouldn’t count on it.

12. Lt Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) – Inglourious Basterds

Head Basterd and Apache descendant Aldo is in the killing Nazi business, and friend, business is booming. Each and every man under his command owes him one hundred Nazi scalps, and they duly deliver: Lt Raine’s campaign of fear ends up helping turn the tide in Tarantino’s alternate take on World War II. Long may Aldo reign.

11. Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) – Django Unchained

A bounty hunter par excellence, Tarantino’s Dr King is also a righteous campaigner for racial equality, teaming up with ex-slave Django to free his wife from tyrannical rule. A man of tall tales and multiple coats, Schultz is a sharp-shooter but a sharper dresser. Above all, King is a man of principle, even when it costs him the ultimate price.

10. Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) – Death ProofTarantino has amassed quite the rogue’s gallery of wrong-un’s over the years, but few feel as downright depraved as Kurt Russell‘s Stuntman Mike. A psychopath hard-wired on murdering innocent female passengers by crashing his ‘death proof’ stunt car, kinky killer Mike is even madder than Max when it comes to disrespecting the rules of the road.

9. Mr Orange (Tim Roth) – Reservoir Dogs

Tim Roth spent half the filming of Reservoir Dogs covered in blood and making wailing guttural noises, but it was worth it to convey the damage and suffering a single bullet can cause. An undercover cop all along, he was a wolf in Dog’s clothing, but he should have known better: as in The Godfather, the colour orange was to be the death of him.

8. Bill (David Carradine) – Kill Bill

Kung fu master, expert swordsman and excellent sandwich maker, Bill was nonetheless destined to be killed the moment he pulled the trigger on his pregnant Bride. “Do you find me sadistic?” he asks, proving over the course of two movies that he’s no Samaritan. Climatically, he dies a fitting death: The Bride explodes his black heart.

7. Vincent Vega (John Travolta) – Pulp Fiction

John Travolta pulled a dramatic career U-turn as Vincent Vega, the icy calm at the centre of Pulp Fiction’s manic universe. Whether shooting up or shooting perps, Vincent remains the picture of coolness, even when he’s on brain detail or administering a shot of adrenaline to a prone Mia’s chest. Travolta’s career would recover almost as swiftly.

6. Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) – Jackie Brown

Nowhere is Tarantino’s love of blaxploitation cinema more evident than in Jackie Brown. His heroine, Pam Grier, is a blaxpolitation legend in her own right (Foxy Brown, Coffy etc), and her stewardess/smuggler checks in that baggage to her advantage. Expertly playing off the cops and the criminals, Jackie is one of the baddest asses in Tarantino’s oeuvre.

5. Django (Jamie Foxx) – Django Unchained

The ‘D’ is silent, but Django’s payback was anything but quiet: off the freakin’ chain thanks to Dr King Schultz, Jamie Foxx’s slave-turned-slayer was a man on a mission. Crucially though, it wasn’t pure vengeance driving him but the love of his woman, making Django one of the most well-rounded and sympathetic Tarantino characters yet.

4. Col Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) – Inglourious Basterds

The role that introduced Christoph Waltz to Hollywood – and to Oscar – Hans Landa is a once-in-a-lifetime part: a comic-book bad guy with a silver tongue and a nasty streak a mile wide – a bastard among Basterds. Waltz gave him character to spare, plus a childlike outlook on some very adult situations. As Landa himself would say: “That’s a bingo!”

3. Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) – Reservoir Dogs

“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?” Of all the Reservoir Dogs – none of whom are remotely puppy-like – Blonde is the blackest of the black: a man for whom torture is an activity to be set to music. Madsen nails the queasy tone, adding style and swagger to ear-slicing sadism, becoming Tarantino’s most vicious villain to date.

2. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) – Pulp Fiction

It’s tough to define cool, particularly in a Tarantino movie that’s cooler than a deep freeze, but hear this: Jules Winnfield is the coolest cat of all. A Bible-spouting, burger-eating, jheri-curled hitman, every syllable the man utters is quotable and every look he gives could stop you in your tracks. Sam Jackson’s sparkling performance makes Jules a cinematic gem.

1. Beatrix Kiddo aka The Bride (Uma Thurman) – Kill Bill

Introduced via the dulcet tones of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’, we first meet Beatrix Kiddo at her most vulnerable: pregnant, beaten, shivering and at the mercy of her former lover, she’s staring down the barrel of a gun that’s about to go off. Thus begins the epic journey of The Bride, who never made it down the aisle: left for dead by Bill, she miraculously survives – her unborn baby too – purely so she can embark on what Tarantino calls “a rip-roaring rampage of revenge”.

Beatrix Kiddo is unlike any other Quentin character, in that her arc spans two movies – room enough for Uma Thurman to create Tarantino’s most relatable hero yet. Showing a much broader range than we might have expected from the star of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Thurman – whom her director called “my Dietrich” – is astounding in the central role. Tarantino’s zig-zag narrative throws The Bride all over the emotional map, tossing her from heartbreaking loss to heart-racing action in a matter of minutes, but Uma is more than up to matching the colossal task at hand.

Volume 1 sees her channel Bruce Lee via his yellow jumpsuit and his ‘take on all comers’ attitude, memorably cutting the Crazy 88s into eighths. If the first movie had an Eastern vibe, Volume 2 cast Kiddo as a gunslinger in her very own Western, tasting the bitter dirt like every outlaw should as she escapes being buried alive. It’s The Bride’s second resurrection and typical of a character who doesn’t know when to die – a vengeance-seeking, justice-dealing, Bill-killing girl who just wants to live the life that was so savagely taken from her. That she succeeds is no surprise – the clue’s in the title after all – but The Bride remains Quentin Tarantino‘s greatest character to date. Great work, Kiddo.

(Chris McGrath/Getty Images) and (Danny Martindale/Getty Images)

(Chris McGrath/Getty Images) and (Danny Martindale/Getty Images)

On Saturday, March 23, 2013 at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Britpop wars were finally put to rest when Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon (with modfather Paul Weller on drums) performed Blur’s “Tender” together at the fourth night of the Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concerts, as curated by Gallagher. The event has generated a much-shared photo that is making the Facebook rounds on the pages of people of a certain age, who are reacting with what could only be called glee that is tempered with at least a dash of disbelief. For those not initiated into or too young to remember the halcyon days of Britpop, here’s why it matters just like reported by Courtney E. Smith for wrote:

To put it in context, Oasis singer/songwriter Noel Gallagher asking Albarn and Coxon to join him on stage for a song is the musical-world’s equivalent of signing a Middle East peace accord. Theirs was the last great feud in the history of British music — unless One Direction and The Wanted agree to really have a go at it, like proper rock stars, for their next promotional cycle. Things went to such extremes in the darkest days of their ‘90s press-driven rivalry that Noel Gallagher told a reporter he hoped Damon Albarn and Blur guitarist Alex James would “catch AIDS and die.” Retracting that comment in 2006 didn’t quite settle the Blur vs. Oasis feud for the media but this single song, or more accurately a single happy face photo during a charity gig, seems to have finally done the trick, a mere 20 years later.

While America in the ‘90s was in the throes of grunge adoration, with the media pitting Nirvana against Pearl Jam in a grudge match that didn’t actually exist (Nirvana vs. Guns N Roses was the real hatefest), across the pond they were celebrating Oasis vs. Blur. The outspoken Gallagaher brothers formed Oasis, which was more of the working man’s band who were devotees to the sound of the Beatles and the hedonistic swagger of the Rolling Stones. They were music industry outsiders, hailing from Manchester in the North of England. In a country where class and caste still matter, the Gallagher brothers are from a family of plumbers with a mother who worked as a lunchlady in the school cafeteria. Noel started in music as a roadie for Inspiral Carpets. Not long after Oasis formed they signed to the indie label Creation, backed by Alan McGee. He was the A&R man behind beloved bands like the Jesus and Mary ChainPrimal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. But the Gallaghers had, and constantly stated, bigger ambitions that were immediately realized when their first album,Definitely Maybe, entered the UK charts at No. 1.

Speaking to MTV in an undated (but clearly shot in the ‘90s) red carpet interview, Gallagher said, “Are you asking me if I’m happy? Listen, I’ve got 87 million pounds in the bank. I’ve got a Rolls Royce. I’ve got three stalkers. I’m about to go on the board at Manchester City [Football Club]. I’m part of the greatest band in the world. Am I happy with that?” Gallagher pauses to creep closer to the lens and begins screaming, “No I’m not! I want more!”

It’s the kind of bloviating the Gallagher brothers were known for the the ‘90s. An interview with Oasis would always generate an off-the-cuff comment about something – be it another band, ill-advised weigh-ins on politics, the Gallagher brother’s mutual hatred, or the Gallagher brothers mutual agreement that they are geniuses and Oasis are the greatest band ever. Their quotes make up dozens of web slide shows. They’re so numerous and free-floating that Wikipedia has a page made up entirely of unattributed things Noel Gallagher is reported to have said, including the underrated gem: “We are the biggest band in Britain of all time, ever. The funny thing is, that f****** mouthing off three years ago about how we were gonna be the biggest band in the world, we actually went and done it.”

But before Oasis, there was Blur. Read more here: Don’t Look Back In Anger: Why The Oasis/Blur Feud Mattered « News.

Blur were the polar opposite to Oasis: they were art school students from the University of London who  had been childhood friends, they were all from middle class families and concocted a clever sort of music and lyricism that was more in line with the pretty boy faces of the Kinks but appropriated mod imagery from the Who and they were very, very proud of being clever. They’re the band who refused to recut their second record with Nirvana and Sonic Youth producer Butch Vig to make it appeal more to American audiences in 1993. Their breakthrough 1994 album, Parklife, is widely credited with opening the door to alternative rock radio and press in America for a generation of British indie bands. Albarn himself was never one to shy away from giving a wry media quote, which came in handy when the press-fueled rivalry between Oasis and Blur kicked off.

There was plenty of room on the UK charts for both Blur and Oasis, along with a boatload of other guitar bands, in the ‘90s as the public’s appetite was whetted by their sounds. But the mercurial, mercenary British press couldn’t help setting the two top-selling groups in opposition to each other. But unlike the days of Beatles vs. Stones, these weren’t two groups who socialized together and could make a joke of the black & white roles the press cast them in. If they were on good terms from the start, the so-called “Battle of Britpop” might never have happened.

While most of the NME buying public had already proclaimed themselves to be a fan of either Oasis or Blur, Blur’s camp decided  (in a move that the 2010 documentary No Distance Left To Run would make clear was entirely Albarn’s idea) to take advantage of the media circus, moving the band’s release date for “Country House” to August 14, 1995 – the same day as Oasis’s “Roll With It” was scheduled for stores. With music magazines urging young fans to go out and support the band of their choice in this head-to-head sales competition, the marketing ploy became overhyped and far eclipsed the newsworthiness of the singles themselves – both b to c level moments in the catalogs of the bands. In the end, Blur outsold Oasis by about 50K singles, amid strong objections from the Oasis camp disputing the sportsmanship, unfair advantage of a lower price point and actual barcode fraud in relation to the final tally. Oasis had their feelings further injured when Blur started touring at the same time they did and using a light projection of the number 1 to mark their status.

The sniping continued, with Gallagher making and then apologizing for his infamous AIDS comment. In the 2003 Live Forever Britpop documentary, Albarn summarized the wars in a surly quote, saying, “How did I feel [about it]? I felt stupid and I felt, I just felt very confused. Basically I didn’t really realize that my kind of flippancy was going to have such profound resonance in my life. I changed quite dramatically after that period.”

But that flippancy and the hard-hearted pot shots both bands took at each other in the press were exactly what supremely confident, successful and rich rock stars should do. It is the stuff that rock ‘n roll legends are made of and the emerging American rock bands at the top of the charts in the mid-’90s (think Foo FightersGin Blossoms,Collective SoulStone Temple Pilots) were either faceless or guileless. Coming out of the excess of the Sunset Strip hair metal scene of the ’80s, the rockers of the ’90s were the dullest bunch of drips possible. Nirvana and Pearl Jam fashioned themselves as anti-rock stars, taking the polar opposite pose of the self-indulgent excess of the L.A. scene that dominated before them. With the lone exceptions of the Smashing Pumpkins and Hole, whose singers Billy Corrigan and Courtney Love rarely met a microphone they couldn’t say something petty into, rock music in the ’90s was marked by a parade of dull rock stars with derivative hits. At least Blur and Oasis were willing to go balls to the wall about it.

If anything, Blur and Oasis could be compared to the hip hop wars happening in America. They were not Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G., as no one quite took it to the lengths of having a shoot out, but they were ostensibly the Jay-Z and Nas of the rock universe. The posturing and rock star behaviors that had marked stars of the ’60s and ’70s were being taken over by hip hop stars in the ’90s. Blur and Oasis were the last men standing on the “bad behaviors allowed only by rock stars” mountain — to epic proportions we have not seen since.

1996 would bring Oasis their greatest success in the form of their enduring single “Wonderwall” and turning their album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory into the biggest selling British album of the ‘90s. The band who had not considered themselves part of the Britpop movement had cut the definitive, best selling and most critically lauded Britpop album of all time. Both are regarded as the pinnacle of Noel Gallagher’s career.

Blur would see a major overhaul when “Song 2” from their 1997 self-titled album became a world-wide hit and the noose with which the band almost hung itself. While the album was a step away from the British-centric songs that defined their early career, it was also a reinvention.

The song Albarn, Coxon and Gallagher played together is from Blur’s 1999 album, 13 – an ode to Albarn’s failed relationship with Frischmann and one of the best in their catalog. “Tender” is a ballad with the same enduring sing-along quality of “Song 2” for very dour people. That this particular group of people would collaborate on any song is a miracle, but naturally the choice would have to be a song released well beyond the days of their Britpop rivalry.

At this point in their lives, the men of Oasis have gone their separate ways. Noel Gallagher left the group in 2009 and Liam rechristened them Beady Eye. Blur took a well-documented break after their 2003 album Think Tank, with Albarn leaving to create two supergroups: Gorillaz and the Good, the Bad & the Queen. Blur reunited in 2008 and have focused on festival performances, releasing only a few new singles and killing off a recording session for a new album for the time being.

Time heals all wounds. Noel Gallagher has undoubtedly become more tolerant, possibly owing to the removal of Liam the instigator from his life and his arrogance certainly took a backseat after critical and sales reception to Oasis albums tapered off in the 2000′s. Albarn has spiraled off from Britpop into more obscure musical endeavors, with forays into African, world and electronic music under his belt. Neither seem keen to hold on to that Mick Jagger swagger “rock star for life” pose. But for a decade, they were the picture perfect examples of a rock star feud.


roger waters israel boycott
Roger Waters wants you to lend him your ears / Photo by Getty Images

Pink Floyd singer convinced Stevie Wonder to cancel gig

In what’s becoming an annual tradition for the curmudgeonly former Pink Floyd frontman, Roger Waters has once again asked his fellow musicians to refrain from performing in Israel. For years, Waters — who is at the forefront of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement — has raged against Israel and its allies over their treatment of Palestine. While Waters initially hoped music would help mollify this ancient turf war, he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon, so instead he’s called upon musicians to boycott the country altogether. “They are running riot and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect,” Waters told Electronic Intifada (via Rolling Stone).

This isn’t Waters first time running afoul with the country. Back in 2006, Waters relocated a tour date from Tel Aviv to the small town of Neve Shalom, where Palestinians and Israelis peacefully coexist, to voice his disapproval of the Israelis’ handling of Palestine. He also spray-painted the lyric “We don’t need no thought control” on the Israeli side of the West Bank wall. In 2010, during his tour celebrating The Wall, Waters’ concert projected imagery of Star of Davids morphing into dollar signs and dropped bombs, which drew the ire of the Anti-Defamation League. Then in 2011, Waters asked his fellow musicians to boycott playing Israel until the West Bank barrier came down. While that plea was largely ignored, Waters’ latest effort to get an artistic boycott of Israel going has convinced at least one person to refrain from playing there: Stevie Wonder.

Wonder was scheduled to perform in front of the Israeli Defense Forces this past December, but Waters convinced the singer to cancel his appearance. “I wrote a letter to [Wonder] saying that this would be like playing a police ball in Johannesburg the day after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. It wouldn’t be a great thing to do, particularly as he was meant to be a UN ambassador for peace,” Waters told Electronic Intifada. “It wasn’t just me. Desmond Tutu also wrote a letter.” Waters  said that he hopes E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who penned the all-star Artists United Against Apartheid‘s protest track “Sun City,” will join him in his crusade.

While Waters is probably pumped that Lollapalooza Israel was canceled, he might be bummed to hear that Barbra Streisand and Alicia Keys have elected to perform in Israel this summer despite BDS pressure. Read more here:




The two legends come together to worship at the altar of Sound City – LA’s greatest, dirtiest, most rock’n’roll studio

When Nirvana pulled into the parking lot of Sound City in May 1991, they couldn’t exactly remember how they had chosen this crumbling recording studio nestled deep in the beige dystopia of Van Nuys, Los Angeles. A couple of things struck them immediately about the former Vox amp factory: one, they’d played in dive bars that looked cleaner; and two, the fumes from the Budweiser brewery down the street made them gag every time they inhaled. But reason prevailed: if it was good enough for Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead and Neil Young, it was good enough for them.

Sixteen days later, the three Seattle punks piled back into their van for the long drive home. They didn’t know it then of course, but within six months the Nevermind sessions would ignite a global youth revolution and go on to sell an estimated 40 million copies. The album would also reverse the fortunes of Sound City, which went from the verge of bankruptcy to being overrun with bands like Rage Against the MachineTool and Weezer, each keen to take a sip from the grungy golden chalice.

Three years on, Rick Rubin made the 15-mile drive from his Hollywood chateau to the Sound City stronghold. The Def Jam co-founder was already firmly established as the producer of his generation, thanks to sonic skirmishes with Slayer, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he had never experienced this particular studio’s grimy charms for himself. After conquering his fear of sitting down on the crusty furniture, the 31-year-old bearded guru fired up the vintage Neve 8028 console, gave southern rock royalty Tom Petty the thumbs-up and pressed record. It kickstarted a relationship with the accidental hit-factory that would see him return time and time again to craft jams with titans such as Johnny Cash, Metallica and the Chili Pepper crew.

In 2011, when Sound City’s owners finally surrendered to the Pro Tools revolution, they had no option but to sell off their vintage analogue equipment. Dave Grohl, whose nostalgic emotional attachment to Rupert Neve’s sound desk overrode any professional concerns about the amount of archaic cocaine clogging up its faders, decided to take the console off their hands. More than just a token gesture, it galvanised him to direct Sound City, a feature-length documentary about the studio’s history that in turn inspired Real to Reel, an allstar tribute album featuring Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, Lee Ving and other assorted alumni.

A few days before Grohl’s cinematic debut premiered in Hollywood Boulevard, Rick Rubin, one of the film’s most enlightening interviewees, made a rare pilgrimage back up the 405 Freeway to reminisce with the former Nirvana drummer about LA’s unintentional musical mecca. Turning the lights down low in the control room of Grohl’s Studio 606, the two friends sat once more in front of the coveted Neve 8028 and invited Dazed to pull up a pew…

Dazed & Confused: Mick Fleetwood describes Sound City as ‘a church’. How would you both describe it?
Rick Rubin: I spent a lot of time there. I wouldn’t describe it as a church. We had spiritual things happen, but it was really not a nice place to be. It was filthy. It felt like it didn’t have to be that bad. It almost seemed like you had to really be an edgy person to let it be like that. It was like, how do we make it more funky?

Dave Grohl: When Mick Fleetwood first went there it was state of the art… in 1973. They had just built it, and had this new brown carpet and a new couch, so he was like, ‘It was great.’ That’s why they decided to make a record there. The further you go down the line, the more people’s first impressions turned into exactly what we experienced. The owners made a million dollars from producing the Rick Springfield record, but when you watch the film you’re like, ‘Where the fuck did all that money go? What the fuck did you do with that? You didn’t even paint the fucking walls!’ When Nirvana first got there, they were really close to closing down. They had a manager that was dealing drugs and nobody knew what the fuck was going on. It was cheap though.

D&C: Were the owners scared to change anything in case it ruined the sound?
DG: No one was going to re-floor the room, because everyone was afraid that they would lose what was awesome about Sound City. It might also be total neglect.

RR: It looked like neglect. In places where the sound didn’t matter, say the bathrooms, there were 20 sockets for light bulbs. And I don’t remember at any point more than, like, three light bulbs in those 20 sockets. That had nothing to do with the sound in the studio. (laughs)

DG: I always felt like it was a specific type of person that went to Sound City. And because of that, there was something specific that it represented. You wouldn’t go there and find fucking Lady Gaga making a record. You would find a band like Rage Against the Machine. We found a video of them making (their self-titled debut) in there with a bunch of their friends watching them. In the film we go from the audio of the album and fade into the audio from the one mic on the video camera and it’s the same fucking take. That rawness was exactly what Sound City was about.


D&C: Do you think that its griminess also helped to ground the egos of the world’s biggest rock stars?
RR: I think everyone was willing to put up with being at Sound City because of how good it sounded. It’s a hard thing to find, really; where you can set up in a room and have it sound like how you sound. Someone said that it was because it was so poorly built. The studio didn’t add anything to the sound. It was like a barn. It wasn’t built to studio standards. It’s just sort of a big, empty space that was flimsy enough that it didn’t really contain the sound. So it allowed the music to breathe. It wasn’t on purpose.

DG: A block away there’s a Best Western hotel next to a Taco Bell. When Metallica made an album there, James Hetfield stayed at the Best Western. James fucking Hetfield stayed at that fucking shithole hotel so that he could be two blocks away from the best-sounding room in the fucking world, you know. People go to great lengths. My studio, where we are now, might be the only one that’s farther out.

RR: Unless you were going to Sound City you would never go to this place, this area. It’s in the middle of nowhere.

DG: I live nearby, but that’s the only reason I have my studio here. Otherwise you wouldn’t come to the Valley. But there’s something to be said for working in studios that aren’t in the middle of everything. I’ve never made an album in New York City. I can’t even imagine turning off the world and walking into a room knowing that on the other side of that wall is Fifth Avenue. I like to be somewhere where I’m a little bit isolated. I don’t need to go to fucking Hawaii to make a record. That wasn’t one of the things I did like about Sound City: I felt like once I was there I had to work because I couldn’t go take a break. It almost amplified that work ethic because, what are you gonna do? Hang out there all day long? Not really.


RR: Absolutely. It was a place to come, do your work and get out as quickly as possible. Another part of it that drew us in was the equipment. As technology continued, in theory, to improve, things kept changing and the changes weren’t always for the better. And it didn’t always suit rock’n’roll, which was more often than not what we were recording. So it was hard to find studios that were more traditional. It wasn’t really production; it was about documenting a moment. Sound City was a really great place to document a moment.

DG: The first song we recorded there was ‘In Bloom’. We set up, tuned up and got big sounds. I’d never heard my drums sound like that before. It was the first time we’d heard Nirvana sound like that. It didn’t sound like Bleach, you know. It didn’t sound like the Peel sessions we’d done. It didn’t sound like any of the demos. It sounded like Nevermind. And when I heard the toms, the kick and the snare on ‘In Bloom’ – it was an instrumental take, I don’t even know if Kurt did a guide vocal – our jaws dropped, because it sounded real, it sounded aggressive, it sounded really powerful. After what first day we knew it was gonna be alright. We blew through everything in 16 days. That made the greatest impression on me.

RR: Sound City had such a limited amount of gear that there wasn’t much opportunity to change the way anything sounded. It was pretty much limited to microphones and this Neve console, which, luckily, doesn’t change stuff much. You don’t really have an option but to sound like what you sound like.

DG: There’s a really great quote from (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist) Benmont Tench in the movie where he says, ‘It’s cruel, because you’d go to the control room and listen to yourself and just think “I suck”, which pushed you to be better’ That was a good thing.

D&C: When you have one of those days when you suck, how do you get over it?
I can’t even imagine your job, Rick! When I go in to record something, I’ll do it until I get it. I have a hard time walking away from things, so if I’m trying to get it, I might want to throw something through a fucking window but I work hard until I get it. I’ll sit there and look at whoever is producing us and I feel so sorry for them ’cause I know they just want to take my hands and make them do what they need to do.


RR: I just have a lot of patience. You have to, becausewhat we’re looking for isn’t in anyone’s control. It’s like everyone’s there with the same intention to make this great thing happen but none of us can make that great thing happen. The closest comparison I can make to it would be fishing. When you go fishing you could fish all day and not catch anything, but you have a much better chance of catching fish if you’re fishing all day than if you’re not fishing all day. Some days we’ll play it three times, and it’s all great. Sometimes we’ll play it 100 times and it never gets great. Waiting is kind of the job.

DG: A lot of musicians get red-light fever; they get scared.

RR: It’s anxiety.

DG: You could sit through a song and do a perfect rehearsal, and then hit record and everything changes.

RR: Stage fright.

DG: When we were kids and we knew someone with a studio that had a reel of tape, you couldn’t wait to get over there to record something. You weren’t afraid to hit record when you were 16. It was like, ‘Fuck, we’re gonna record, this is amazing. I get to record a song.’ I still feel the same way.

RR: Usually when I start a new project there’s a fear of the unknown; maybe it’s a band I’ve never been in the studio with before.People are so different. It’s almost like you need to go through the process, discover and unlock what it is that makes that band that band. And a lot of times they don’t know it. More often than not they don’t know it. But over time you start seeing patterns of things that work and don’t work and why. It does seem like the more prepared you are before you go into the studio, the better the experience. If the band really knows what they’re doing, you save a great deal of time. The idea of going into a studio to write an album seems like a bad idea. You’re never focused on getting a great performance because you’re still trying to figure out what you’re going to do.


D&C: On the flipside, someone like Jay-Z has it all in his head. It must be amazing to witness, but as a producer you can’t really prepare for that, can you?
RR: It’s about getting the music right, and then that inspires him to do the vocals. He’ll sit back in the corner and he’ll play the track over and over and over again, probably for a half hour, 45 minutes, an hour – almost to the point where you don’t even realise he’s there. It’s just like this monotonous thing going on, and then all of a sudden he jumps up and he’s like, ‘I got it,’ and he runs in the other room and does a complicated verse. It’s really unbelievable. And then he’ll do it, and then he’ll do it again and it’ll be different. The words will be pretty much the same but the phrasing will be different and the accents will be different. Imagine that you’ve written a solo and then you play it, like, different ways; that’s kind of what he does with his vocals. Unbelievable.

D&C: Rick, you have a stuffed bison in your home studio. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve both encountered in other studios?
RR: This guy called Alan (Dickson) from Grandmaster in Hollywood.

DG: (laughs) I remember walking into a studio at Grandmaster and it had a calendar up on the wall. It said ‘Korn’ on it, and they had just been in the studio for a week. I said, ‘Wow, what did Korn record here?’ And they said, ‘Korn didn’t record here.’ So I replied, ‘What’s this you’ve got on the fucking calendar then?’, and they said, ‘No, that’s “Porn”. We film porn here.’ All of a sudden I didn’t want to touch anything. I saw one of the pornos, it was called Cum Bandits, a parody of Time Bandits. They had a bathtub in the studio which turned into a portal to another dimension. That was a little weird.

D&C: Do you think any babies have been made on this beloved Neve desk of yours?
DG: Dude, when we brought this over here, my poor friend Lou had to spend about a week going through this thing with a toothbrush just to get the cocaine and the fried chicken out of it. Fuck, yeah. It’s funny, I didn’t want to modify the board. All I wanted to do was yank it out of there, plug it back in, and make sure that it was good to go. You get worried that the years of filth might have something to do with the way it sounds. Mike from the Heartbreakers emailed me to say, ‘Oh, by the way, if you find any white powder in that board it’s my medicine. Return it immediately.’ (laughs)

RR: I can’t even imagine how many things I spilled on this board. have sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll disappeared from today’s studio culture?

DG: No.

RR: Not for The Foo Fighters. (laughs) They fly the flag.

D&C: Rick, were you upset that Dave got his hands on SOUND CITY’s Neve board?
RR: Not at all. I’m glad that he got it and a movie got to be made about Sound City because of it, which never would have happened if I had bought it. I already have a couple of similar boards. I was tempted but then felt like it would be a disservice because, as Dave says in the film, he knew that if he got it, it wouldn’t sit bubble wrapped in storage somewhere, and if I did, it probably would. I have an extra Neve sitting up on its side in my garage, so this would be next to that and it would be doing a disservice to what this is.

DG: It’s one of the funny things about a board; you look at this board and it seems so archaic, considering what people use to make albums now. A lot of people consider it obsolete, but it still fucking works. This thing will probably work longer than I’ll be alive. In 30 or 40 years from now you will probably still be able to make an album on this board. And as much as it might seem impractical and it might seem obsolete, it still does what it’s supposed to do.

RR: And it will probably sound better than anything new that comes out and replaces it.

DG: Things that try to emulate or simulate what this board does, you know, they are more practical and they are more accessible and if you can’t fit one of these into your living room it’s probably the closest thing you’re going to get. But still, what this does is what only this really does.


D&C: Do you think that the fabric of a studio – the building and equipment – hold a sound memory that affects subsequent recordings?
 For sure. How formal or how casual the space is can really influence everything. We recorded Johnny Cash in my living room. It couldn’t have been more casual. And I feel like that lack of pressure creates a certain feeling, and the same I’m sure is true with concerts. If you do a concert in the middle of nowhere and that’s one gig, and the next night you’re playing at Madison Square Garden…

DG: It’s different.

RR: …because it’s Madison Square Garden. The Royal Albert Hall is different to playing somewhere in the Midlands. Even if it’s just your perception of it, everything changes. DG: I really believe that the experience of making an album influences the end result. On our second Foo Fighters album I was going through a fucking divorce, I was living in my friend’s back room, getting pissed on at night by his fucking dog, in a sleeping bag, and I would go to the studio and write a song that was so fucking heartbreaking that I can’t even listen to some of that music because it brings me back to how miserable I was. So that experience totally influenced that album.

RR: Plus the fact that it was recorded at Grandmaster (laughs)
DG: (laughs) That definitely influenced a lot of shit in itself. Whether it’s the history of a room, or whether it’s the ghosts in the fucking room, whatever you choose to believe, if you want to capture a moment, something real, then you just have to be open to everything.

D&C: Who’s made you BOTH step up your game in the studio?
DG: It’s hard to top Paul McCartney. When Paul comes in to your studio and he’s brought his Hofner bass, ‘The Bass’, and he’s brought his Les Paul, ‘The Les Paul’, and a guitar made out of a cigar box, and he decides to play the guitar made out of the cigar box, you realise, ‘That’s badass. I have to be badass, too. I can’t just play it like I’m playing with my friends down the street. I have to be great right now.’ I’m lucky, I’ve jammed with some crazy fucking wicked musicians.

I’ve gotten to work with amazing people. I would say usually we get to a point before we get into the studio where there isn’t that sense of anxiety or nervousness of who they are because I don’t think it would be as productive in the studio if that was the case. But maybe meeting someone like Neil Young for the first time made me anxious. But then when you get to hang out with Neil Young it’s all good. We were supposed to record together and then he cut off a piece of his finger and couldn’t play guitar. But he still had the studio booked, so we went in and played this harmonica through his guitar amp…

Read more here: Dave Grohl Vs Rick Rubin | Dazed Digital.

Photos by John Kilar

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