Saturday, 15 February 2014

Heavy Metal Solidarity

That was the only message that Australian fans received that a band they'd paid to see wouldn't be turning up. No apology, no other explanation.

Megadeth fans watched the drama unfold as the band pulled out of the Soundwaves/Sidelines tour in Australia due to a spat with a promoter.

Let me reiterate:


I don't often swear on this blog but what the fuck?! Can you imagine if we told our bosses we weren't turning up to work because we didn't like them and we weren't coming in until they apologised for who they were or what they'd said?! We'd get fired!

The band demanded an apology from the promoter and received one. However, the pleas of the fans fell on deaf ears and the band have continued with their tour, including a date in New Zealand (in the last few days, Megadeth have also rescheduled an Indonesian date, leading to speculation about the rest of their 2014 dates).

So why is everyone pissed about this? Let's go through it:

  • Australian fans see Megadeth once every 3 or 4 years, while the US and Europe will see them at least once a year.
  • The Australian fans get none, or very few, of the extras that US and European fans get (meet and greets, signings, clinics, fan club extras etc).
  • Only one portion of their $150+ tickets is refundable (the Sidewaves tickets. From what I can gather, Soundwave tickets are non-refundable unless a headliner cancels.).
  • Many are travelling distances which a lot of us would shun. This also means that they've paid out for travel, as well as accommodation which may or may not be refundable depending on the hotel/airline.
  • No formal apology or explanation, bar the brief Twitter and Facebook messages, has been issued leaving fans feeling like unwanted children.

People have said “Oh, it's a festival. There are other bands to go and see.”. Let me try and put this into perspective. Here in the UK, we see Metallica once every couple of years. They play a single festival date (normally Download or Knebworth if there's something happening there) and that's it. There's no other stadium dates, no other venues. One date and they're gone again. So we do what good fans do and we'll buy a ticket to see them, and only them, play because it's the only chance we get (unless you can get time off work during the busy school holiday period to go trotting around Europe). If Metallica pulled out of this single UK date there would, understandably, be uproar. If they gave the same piss poor “explanation” that Megadeth have given then there would probably be anarchy. Admittedly, because they're a headliner, we'd probably get a refund on those tickets, but you can see where I'm coming from. If a band you really want to see is ONLY playing festival dates, then you go to those to see them. You don't have any other choice. And if that band then pulls out, you have every reason to be mad because you can't just pop down to the local music venue to see them play and will probably be waiting another 3 or 4 years before they return (of they do).

I've worked with shitty promoters. I've wanted to pull out of events I've been working on because I've been treated like shit. But you know what? I go and do what I have to do because there's people there who want to have some fun and who'll be really fucking happy to see you. And that's what I live on. I live for the the hugs and the smiles and being able to make people laugh. It brings me massive amounts of joy to have someone come up to me and offer me a hug because they've really enjoyed something I've done. There is nothing better in this world. But obviously this band can't see that. They don't see the messages from people whose last chance to see them play was this festival. They don't see the minimum wage workers who've scrimped and saved to go to this concert only to have their hard work thrown back at them. They don't see the people who've rearranged their entire lives to go. They don't see the people who've had to beg for time off work in a tough economic climate. They don't see the people who are battling through illnesses and had decided on this show to help them deal with what they were going through. All they can see is some promoter who may or may not (depending on who you believe) said something which they didn't like.

I'm siding with the Australian fans on this one. I'd be pissed off and angry as well. And, on their behalf, I am. I'm a minimum wage worker who's glad to have a job in these tough times. Concerts are one of the ways I relieve some of the pressure and to have years of loyalty and love thrown back in your face because of something so stupid is downright offensive. And if Megadeth's current behaviour continues, then the show I'm going to see in April will be the last one. There'll be no more merchandise, no more albums, and no more concert tickets. I can think of bands far more worthy of my money than one who doesn't have an ounce of respect for their fans (and before anyone starts, yes, I know this may be “typical Mustaine behaviour” but it's still piss poor and uncalled for).

While I'm hoping these “Unforeseen circumstances” aren't something bad, I'm also hoping for an explanation for everyone down under who's been left out of pocket and feeling left down. Keep the faith, Australian metal fans, and may all your love and loyalty be rewarded.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Things We Can Learn From The Minions

Recently I watched Despicable Me and, like many people, I became an instant fan of the small, yellow, and extremely cute, minions. With their boundless energy and never ending love, it's no surprise that so many of us have fallen so hard for these cute as Hell creatures. There are so many things we can learn from them and use in every day life.

Unconditional Love

It doesn't matter that their boss is a villain, the minions love him with all their little hearts. They cheer whenever he appears, do whatever he asks, and queue up for goodnight kisses. Their love knows no boundaries, extending beyond Gru and to whoever else crosses their paths.

Do Your Best

It doesn't matter if they're working for the world's worst villain or trying to find a toy for a sad little girl, the minions go above and beyond the call of duty to do what they need to.

Unending Happiness

The simplest things make the minions happy, from music to bananas to going to the store. Words we consider childish send them into fits of laughter.

Stay Healthy!

Their love of fruit borders on the almost obsessive, to the point where they have a song about bananas.

They Wear Their Hearts On Their Sleeves

Their emotions are completely on display, whether they're happy, sad, or angry, they let everyone know what's going on. And they tell the other minions if they're angry with them, normally with a punch to the arm!


 Rae is the author of the award winning Veetu Industries series. She's also been involved with a number of creative projects, including the Brilliant Books scheme which encourage reluctant readers to pick up books.

All of her books are available at Torquere Press.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

It Started As A Sketch In My Notebook

Another funky radical bombtrack
Started as a sketch in my notebook -
“Bombtrack” - Rage Against The Machine

“I can't write long stories!”

That's something I've heard a lot. People get the core image they want to use but can't expand on it. They want to write something long but find themselves stuck after a couple of chapters. Or write a single scene story rotating around that kernel of an idea.

Do you want to know what I started with?

The body was laid out on the hard wooden floor, naked, limbs and torso delicately curling as they tried to reach each other in some far off dreamland. Fingers, splayed and broken, spread over the varnished floor, bloody trails left in their wake as the body's occupant tried to pull itself into a different, less awkward position. Across one hand swirled the unmistakable image of a mouse crouched in a claw.

But that would not happen. Never would the lithe creature on the floor walk tall and proud again. Never would its face twist into the smile that had dazzled a million people. Never would its eyes gleam with the innocent charm of the forever young. And never would its childlike laughter fill a room. Instead, it would remain the discarded toy, only picked up when its owner needed something to shake and break.

The fingers slowly inched through the pooled blood, making grotesque curls and swirls as they spidered closer to the leather bound book. What was written upon its crisp, white pages had once been a secret between it and the person on the floor.

But no longer. Once the snarling menace that ruled the secluded house had found it, the special bond between writer and written had been snapped like a twig. Pages, as pale and as bloodstained as the whimpering human's skin, were scattered about the empty room. Some lay in piles while others, jagged tears separating words from their partners, had been thrown to the wind, escaping through the room's one broken window. The window that now hid its healing light behind heavy, bolted shutters.

A tiny, kitten-like whimper left the child-man's mouth as his fingers swept over the supple leather, imprinting and marking it with his fingerprints. It was the only thing which linked him to a life long forgotten.

That's the prologue from “Mars on the Rise” and that's what I started with. That was written on a train and was intended as an inspiration piece for a friend to illustrate. That's the tiny seed which has so far spawned three books.

What happened next is what I call the “Particle Collider Method”. One tiny idea breeds another. Which breeds another, and so on. After I'd written that short piece, I was sitting at Crewe train station. The station has a number of bricked up arches. I wanted to know what happened behind the arches so I began making notes as I sat on the next train.

And then?

My destination that day was Brighton (a city I love dearly). I was already writing short pieces of gay fiction and it had been an age since I'd attempted anything over a couple of thousand words. But as I was walking around this beautiful seaside city, I found myself wondering what would happen if the arches of that city were bricked up. And what was going on behind them. So that night I started sketching more ideas, which slowly built in to the first novel (very slowly! It took nearly two years before I had anything resembling a finished story. I also didn't know what I was working on was called “Steampunk”. I called it “Science fiction from another era”.).

Building a story doesn't happen overnight which, in this world of cheap entertainment and instant gratification, can be frustrating. I know it's frustrating for any kind of artist whose fans want the new thing RIGHT NOW!

There's one idea I've been working on since 2007. It started as a scene in my mind, set at Heathrow airport, and I couldn't do anything with it. So I made a bunch of notes and put it to one side.

Then, in 2010, I had another idea which was completely different. It was set in a snowy, sleepy little town in America. Again, it was a scene I couldn't do anything with so I made a bunch of notes and put it to one side.

In 2012, after listening to a radio show, those two ideas came together and have become the basis of another novel. But that's still not without it's problems. There's still a lot of other little ideas which need to be put into place to make it work. There's still a lot of “colliding” to be done yet.

If you want to write something longer, make notes. Obsess on an idea (although my kind of obsessing right now is playing with flight simulators and staring at the London Underground map). Do things which are related to your idea.

One thing I do is keep “style books”. These are blank notebooks filled with ideas, photos, quotes, postcards, snippets of scenes. Whatever comes to your mind. Flicking through them is fascinating and, slowly but surely, those tiny little seeds of ideas begin to grow into great trees.

Never give up!