Monday, September 30, 2013

"In 1970...people would have called Black Sabbath extreme metal." Talking Heavy Metal with Sam Dunn of Banger Films

Heavy metal music has the most passionate, dedicated, and loyal fans of any genre in the history of modern music. As a lifelong metalhead I can make this bold statement because I’ve spent time with musicians and fans of other types of music, and although they may love it, they don’t live the lifestyle like the heavy metal folks. Fans of the genre have gotten tattoos of their favorite bands, been buried to heavy metal music, and based their lives on a band’s tour schedule. Sure, fans of One Direction may turn out in the hundreds of thousands for a few years, but fans of Iron Maiden have been doing it for a few decades.

Within the realm of heavy metal, certain people function as ambassadors. Two that I’ve interviewed further the same cause in different ways. Bill Peters is the godfather of classic metal in Northeast Ohio and Don Jamieson waves the banner nationally on That Metal Show. My guest this week has helped to dignify the heavy metal culture and protect it from those that like to claim it’s primal and aggressive. It is. But it is also sophisticated and complex and nobody illustrates that better than Sam Dunn. Dunn broke onto the scene in 2005 with Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and has continued to produce professional, educational films about the often misunderstood genre.

Along with Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn runs Banger Films. Over the past seven years they have created Global Metal, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, Metal Evolution, and Rush: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland. Dunn also has a documentary in production aptly titled, Satan. Sam is a Canadian and a musician as well as a film director. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in hard rock and heavy metal, including Bruce Dickinson, Geddy Lee, and the late Ronnie James Dio.

The widely-successful series that aired on VH1 Classic, Metal Evolution, chronicled the history of heavy metal through the decades but did not include the most recent strand, extreme metal. With an IndieGoGo campaign running through October 8th, Dunn hopes to raise enough money to finish the episode on his own. Sam is an intelligent, articulate, metalhead and I enjoyed talking to him about the moms of Slayer, Norwegian church burnings, and Satan. Not necessarily in that order.

I feel like I have somewhat of a personal connection with you because you chose to film Rush: Time Machine 2011 in Cleveland. Tell me about your experience doing that project.

Cleveland is an extremely important city, not only for a band like Rush, but for rock and metal. Generally, it was those northern American towns that were the bread basket for bands like Rush touring in the 70s where they found an audience for their music. So Rush wanted to give a little love back to Cleveland because it was the city that broke the band in the U.S. and they knew it was going to be an amazing crowd. It all worked out really well.

Why the Midwest? What does the Rust Belt mean to Rush?

I think it’s got a lot to do with the fact people in that part of the U.S. feel a really personal connection to the band because they toured early on in the small towns of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, all through the Midwest. So they’re going back and playing where they played in 1973, 1974, 1975 to people who saw them when they were in their early teens. And at that age, those are your formative years. You’re starting to cement your musical tastes. So going back to those places, you see a lot of people who saw them back at that time. In that part of the world, there’s a little bit deeper or personal connection to the band because they have such a long history together.

I couldn’t believe that it’s been eight years since Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey was released. I’m wondering what your thoughts are looking back on that? How do you feel about it these days?

It’s a film we’re still really proud of. It premiered at TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] in 2005 and really opened a lot of doors for us. It was really the first documentary that took metal seriously as a style of music and as a culture, and really tackled the question of why it polarizes people. The film really resonated with a lot of people and did really well around the world. We were obviously pleased. I think that there was this whole world of metal and rock that hadn’t really been paid attention to in documentary or film form with a few small exceptions like Spinal Tap. So it helped us establish a lot of relationships with artists like Geddy Lee and Bruce Dickinson—two good examples of musicians who we went on to make movies about. It really helped us and is still doing something for us now.


I think one thing that sets it apart is that it’s a real cultural study. It’s an anthropological study of not only the music but also of the subculture. Was that something that you had in mind at the outset or did that evolve as you worked on the film?

It was always our goal to make a film about metal that wasn’t just for metalheads, that would connect to a broader audience. One way to do that was not to talk only about the intricacies of the music or do a super-detailed account of the history of metal, but rather look at it as a culture. I wanted to look at it as something that was born in the 70s and is still going strong today. I wanted to ask, “What is the appeal of this music and why does it cause so much controversy with things like the PMRC?” We looked at the church burnings that happened in Norway in the 1990s and bands like Cannibal Corpse getting their records banned around the world. It was about much more than just the music. It was about the culture and the impact. We felt that it was that part of the film that could interest even Kerry King’s mom.

Well, when you can get the moms of Slayer to watch, you must be doing something right. [laughing]

We know a few moms of metal guys that understand their sons a little bit better after our movie, so I think that’s a good thing.

Definitely. It seems like it also planted the seed for Metal Evolution, which to no surprise, did so well because it’s such a comprehensive look at all of the branches of the metal tree. I was wondering if you had a particular episode or sub-genre that you found particularly engaging as the creator of that show?


Metal Evolution was born out of the heavy metal family tree that we created back when we did Headbanger’s Journey because we knew that film wasn’t going to be a detailed history of metal. We thought that maybe somewhere down the line there’d be an opportunity to do something more in depth and that’s what Metal Evolution became—eleven episodes on the history of the music.  When it comes to specific episodes, I’m a big fan of the thrash episode because that’s the one sub-genre in the series that is really close to me and includes a lot of bands that I love. But I think from a storytelling perspective, the shock rock episode was fascinating to make because it allowed us to take a step back before Alice Cooper, who many people attribute to being the godfather of shock rock. We looked at people like Arthur Brown, and even PT Barnum who wasn’t a musician but was an entertainer, that used shock to entertain the public. So it was a lot of fun because it allowed us to do something that touched on things just beyond the metal realm.

It seemed as though you went into the 80s metal episode a bit skeptical but you came out the other side with a new appreciation. That time in metal often gets a bad rap. People call it hair metal or glam metal with a derogatory tone. Would that be a fair assessment? Did you come out of that episode with a different perspective on the 80s metal scene?

Glam metal in the 80s when I was a teenager was not my cup of tea. I was more into the heavier styles. Granted, my first cassette was Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry and Ratt’s Out of the Cellar. But I quickly got into the heavier stuff. When it came to the episode on glam metal, from a documentary perspective, it was great because it’s always more interesting when you have two sides represented. There’s a debate still about whether this should be called metal or not. I am still not a fan of those bands. [laughing] When I come into the office in the morning, I don’t put on Poison to get me going. [laughing] However, I always had the preconception that these bands were manufactured, that they were the products of record executives in skyscrapers. But I learned that’s not the case. In fact, it’s not the case with bands that did quite well. I’m talking about bands like Poison or Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, etc. They were doing exactly what they wanted to do and not solely because they thought it was going to be commercially viable but because it was a bit of a “fuck you.” I learned a lot from Rikki Rockett who said, “People wanted to fuck us or fight us and that’s exactly what we wanted.” So there was a weird twist. They almost had a punk kind of attitude with what they were doing and that’s not what I expected at all. I didn’t come away a bigger fan of Poison’s music but I certainly came away a bigger fan of Rikki Rockett and his attitude. I thought, “That’s fair—I don’t have to love your music but I respect your attitude.”

I think in a way the industry came to them as opposed to the industry creating them, and that’s an important distinction to make whether you like the music or not.

Don’t get me wrong; the hair is ridiculous. [laughing]

It was even so back in the day, wasn’t it? The great thing about Metal Evolution is that the series isn’t quite done. I was wondering if you could talk a little about the Indiegogo campaign you have going on? Me and my band [Threefold Law] have already contributed. Tell us about the campaign.


Well, we did the main series—eleven episodes—and it was always our hope that we could do an episode on extreme metal but the broadcasters thought it was a little too heavy, a little too niche for their market. And that’s fair. I understand that. We were happy that we got to do this massive series on metal and it made a big contribution. Of course, the one glaring omission was extreme metal so we decided to get an Indiegogo campaign started and fund it that way. We know its music that is underground but that has a really passionate fan base. The people who like extreme metal, love extreme metal. They live and breathe it. Once you find a stronger cup of coffee you can’t go back to Folgers and I totally understand that because a lot of the music that I listen to is at the extreme end of the spectrum. We had one campaign and raised almost $40,000 which was amazing and that helped us pay for the first phase of the project. That involved a lot of travel, a lot of equipment, vehicle rentals, a crew, and travelling around the world. We went to New York and Florida. We filmed in Toronto and we went to Norway, Switzerland, France, and the U.K. And so here we are. We’ve got all of this great footage, we’ve got an episode mapped out, we’ve got it planned and ready to go, and now we’re in the second phase fund raising campaign because we’ve got to turn that footage into something. We pay our editors because our editors are some of the best in the business and that’s what’s allowed us to create the good work that we’ve done so far. That’s one part of the cost. The other part of the cost is paying for all of the photos, footage, and music that we use in the episode. That can get quite costly especially if you’re dealing with major labels. So there are still costs. We’re right smack dab in the middle of the second campaign and we’re pushing. We’re releasing little snippets of interviews every week. I’m writing a blog on Revolver on the top five metal albums of all time. We’re keeping the campaign really active, so we hope we can get to the finish line and make it.

And every couple of bucks helps. So I would encourage all the readers out there to go the Indiegogo page and contribute—let’s get that episode made.

In your travels documenting extreme metal, I’m assuming you had an interview with Satan and then you signed him on to do a documentary. Is that how that worked out? [laughing]

If you’ve met Satan, you should be part of our team because I’m still looking. [laughing] Satan [the documentary in production] is something separate, obviously, but it does have a connection to the extreme metal episode. In Headbanger’s Journey we looked at all the church burnings that happened in Norway and covered that part of the story. But it revealed that no one had really looked at the musicality of Norwegian black metal. I think because of all the controversy and the theatricality of the music, people have lost sight of the fact that what happened in Norway musically in the early 90s was pretty important. Extreme metal was getting pretty glossy at that point and the Norwegian scene was reclaiming a more primitive or raw sound that had been lost in metal and then added their own little twist to it. It was kind of like a bit of punk rock meets a bit of KISS with a dash of anti-Christianity in there. I think that’s an important story to tell because I think people have forgotten that this was also music and some really great bands came out of that era. Bands like Emperor, Enslaved, and Immortal who struck this balance between being raw but also epic. Before that you could be one or the other. You were either epic like Iron Maiden is epic or like Dio is epic. Or you had to be raw like Napalm Death or Bolt Thrower is raw. I think what the Norwegians did is they found a way to combine those two things. So from an historical perspective I think it made a pretty big contribution.


So the Satan documentary might hint at some of these misconceptions? I remember back in the day when AC/DC was satanic and KISS was satanic. Was that a label thrown around by conservatives to undermine the music?

The Satan documentary has a longer backstory. It did come out of our conversations with the Norwegian black metal-ers. We were fascinated by their perspective. What we’ve embarked upon for the Satan film is a much broader story. It’s not just about Satanic music. It’s also about Satan in film, literature, media, and pop culture. We’re taking a broader look at why the Devil has made such a big impact in the creative and entertainment world over the past several decades. Satan is a big topic, so it’s hard to wrestle Satan to the ground.

I wish you luck with that. [laughing] Whenever I interview people in the heavy metal realm, I like to ask their opinion on the future of heavy metal. Some of our pioneers are aging and in declining health and it always begs the question. What do you think?

I think the future of heavy metal is bright. It’s never going to go away. I’m going to make the argument in the extreme metal episode that it’s actually the extreme bands that can be credited with really pushing the music forward. It is by far the most adventurous, risk-taking, sub-genre of metal and because of that it’s always carving out new directions for the music to go. It’s like an art. Often it’s the underground, avant-garde artists who are the ones that push it to the next place and then everyone follows. In 1970, if the term had existed, people would have called Black Sabbath extreme metal, right? I think that’s where it’s going. We’ve got the grandfathers of the genre that are still going pretty strong— Maiden, Rush, Sabbath. And in my personal opinion, Sabbath put out a pretty damned good record. At that same time, you have to remember that metal is a breed of the underground and that’s never gonna change and that’s where the real vitality is going to continue to come from. So that’s part of the story we’re telling…

Contact:

Official - http://www.bangerfilms.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BangerFilms
Twitter - https://twitter.com/bangerfilmsinc
Indiegogo - http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/metal-evolution-extreme-metal-the-final-round 

Monday, September 23, 2013

"I want the audience to feel like punching me but they can’t because they’re laughing too hard." My conversation with Chad Zumock.

Chad Zumock invited me to The Funnystop in Cuyahoga Falls to watch the show prior to our interview. Mike Polk and Chad always draw well at their old stomping ground and this night would be no different. The Funnystop is the perfect venue for live comedy even though it’s sandwiched inside a strip mall and near a strip joint. Part of the reason it’s such a fantastic place is because of Peter, the owner. Pete is of Lebanese descent and although he mangles his English with a twinkle in his eye, the twinkle in his tweets are even better. When the owner of the comedy club is tweeting this:


And this:


You know you’re in for a good time. Both Chad and Mike killed it and the laughter in the crowd was proof. Many people in Cleveland know Chad Zumock as one of the original members of The Alan Cox Show on 100.7 WMMS before he was publicly fired by Clear Channel after being charged (but acquitted) of a DUI. For the past nine months Zumock has been busy picking up the pieces and he’s coming back as strong as ever. Chad has his own podcast and has clearly moved on with his life. Zumock’s stand-up is raw, edgy, and unapologetic. Chad does not shy away from sensitive subjects, even his own. He does a bit on his mugshot (and his mother’s mugshot) that would disarm any would-be hecklers from taking advantage of his past misfortune. Zumock’s material is refined and road-tested and he has a rapport with the audience that is exceptional.

On top of a great night of laughter, I thoroughly enjoyed my talk with Chad. He is engaging and genuine. Our conversation felt more like one I’d have with old friends than one with someone I’d had just met. After stripping off his trademark sweater vest and snapping pictures with adoring fans, Chad and I sat down in the back office of The Funnystop to talk about comedy, mistakes, and even a bit of heavy metal.

You have a strong connection with the audience, and as a performer, that’s the tough part. You can have the greatest material in the world but if you don’t make that connection…

Sure. That was always tough for me, because my whole persona—what I’ve always wanted—was for my comedy to be challenging. I wanted the audience to feel like punching me but they can’t because they’re laughing too hard. That’s a fine balance.

But I’m sure that sometimes that approach doesn’t go over so well.

Yeah, like this past Wednesday I had a bad heckler. I did a dumb joke where I was like, “I’m really immature. My new thing is going to Chuck E. Cheese's and making a reservation under the name Sandusky and asking for a table for one.” This guy was like, “Not funny. That’s not funny, dude!”

So he was riding you all night because of that?

Yeah, and I’m just like, “Whatever?”

I guess you have to get used to dealing with those types of situations.

As a young guy you spent time in L.A., right? Didn’t you begin your stand-up career there?

Yes. Mike Polk and I were college roommates and we did a public access TV show that was really popular. This is before the internet blew up. Then we moved to Cleveland and we did public access here for a while and then we did a sketch group called Last Call Cleveland. It was at the old Second City. Mike would dabble in stand-up here and there. He never really did it. I tried it once in about 2002 or 2003, and I hated it. It sucked. Then I moved to L.A. for a girl. She broke up with me two weeks after I moved there and I was so depressed. I’d go to the Melrose Improv all the time and I’d just sit in the back drinking. I saw comics like Chris Rock, Chappelle—all those guys—and I was just like, “I wanna do that!” So I went to the open mic the next day and I never stopped. I just kept going. I was all over it.

I only had seven minutes of material but I was opening for Daniel Tosh and Sarah Silverman. They gave me gigs because I was in the mix. I had a good seven minutes but after seven I stunk. I had a real weird persona back then, too, and I was afraid I was going to get exposed so I moved home to work on my stand-up.

Did you learn from those comedians in L.A.? Were you analyzing their craft and taking mental notes on their delivery, material, etc.?

Absolutely. But I quit watching comedians and now I’m starting to watch them again. Comedians are sort of like magicians—you get to know their tricks and where they’re going. And some comics just don’t impress me but there are some really funny comedians like David Attell, and Sam Tripoli is a good friend of mine. I love him. Nick Swardson is awesome. I love Nick. So I’d watch those guys and take a little from them. It’s like you’re a sponge when you’re a comic. You constantly absorb. An exercise in trial and error.

It seems like the entire entertainment industry is changing in this day and age. You have Joe Rogan with his show on SciFi and Don Jamieson is on That Metal Show. Do you need multiple creative outlets these days or can you focus just on stand-up?

I was just in Dayton with Ryan Dalton and we were talking about it. We were on The Bob and Tom Show and we were talking about how radio used to be so powerful and now it doesn’t have the impact that it used to because there’s so many ways to get your entertainment. You can get podcasts on the Internet which I love. I listen to Rogan’s podcast the Nerdist, Mark Maron’s WTF and you get all kinds of music. There are no record labels well, there are, but they’re not as powerful as they used to be. So you almost have to have something to compliment what you’re doing with stand-up. Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine have That Metal Show which is great. It’s been on like ten seasons, twelve seasons, and what keeps it on is they go out on the road and keep constantly promoting. And another group—Sullivan and guys like Steve Burns on WTBS—they’re all comics and as soon as they’re done taping, they go on the road.  It’s grass roots promoting—shaking hands, kissing babies, kissing hands, shaking babies…[laughing]

I was talking with Jamieson last time he came through town and he said the same thing. He said most of his promotion is through social media. He’s going to every city and he’s shaking people’s hands, talking to them.

Grassroots, man.

At the bar over a beer.

They’re good friends of ours. Jim’s been like my comedy dad. He’s helped me out in so many ways. His podcast is blowing up and it’s just him at the grassroots level. He’s a road warrior. The guy has been very successful with stand-up and he still goes out and he does The Funnystop here in Cuyahoga Falls. You should come out in November when Florentine comes back through town.

I will.

And he loves this club, too. He likes that Midwest audience. It’s dirty. He can do what he does. It’s honest. That’s why I like Pete [owner of The Funnystop]. He lets you be honest.

What a character. [laughing]

He’s hilarious. [see aforementioned tweets at top of post]

How would you describe the impact Kent, Ohio had on you? You grew up in the area. So what’s that about for someone who’s not in Northeast Ohio?

I grew up there and I went to college there. In high school we had a group of guys and we called ourselves the Phat Phive. We were like a sketch group and we used to do videos. We were really bad but we thought we were funnier than we were. We did an independent film called APB. It was a seventies cop film, basically a Sabotage rip-off of the Beastie Boys. We had a big premier in downtown Kent and sold out the movie theater. Chuck Klosterman was writing for the Akron-Beacon Journal and he came and reviewed it. It was before he was THE Chuck Klosterman. We had a mutual friend, Mike Polk, and I. This was about ’98 and a girl named Lindsey says, “You’ve gotta meet my friend Mike. You guys are so much alike, you guys will love each other, blah, blah, blah.” I was like, “whatever.” He came to my show and I asked him to be in my movie. He had this public access show and he asked me to be on his show and we’ve been friends ever since. So if it wasn’t for Kent, I would never have met Mike. Ryan Dalton, who’s a comedian friend of mine, we went to high school together. Our group of friends from college still hangs out. Like Mike, Dalton, our immediate crew. So Kent’s everything. I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for Kent. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. If I didn’t come from Kent maybe I’d be more focused, more adjusted, and I’d be financially stable. So….

I think musicians and comics have a similar approach to their art.

What’s your band?

I’m the lead singer and guitarist for Threefold Law, a heavy original band.

Nice, dude. [making heavy metal face]

Our approach in the band is the same. You’ve gotta build those relationships from the start, create fans one person at a time. But inside the band, in the practice room, it’s all ball-bustin’. We love to take shots at each other. I’d imagine it’d be the same for a group of comedians hanging out together.

Absolutely! Mike and I have been fucking with each other the entire week. I got off stage and I went up to him and I’m like, “Good luck following that.” I’m just being a dick. Yesterday at the show, he said, “Yeah, how about a hand for Chad? Twenty minutes of that was my material.” We’re fucking with each other all the time.

Mike does a bit about dating a 21 year old girl. But guys like us—late thirties, early forties—we’re already performing for another generation coming up. How do you relate to the people that are hanging out in the bar that are 21, 22 years old?


I kind of live in Narnia, in my own world. I’m 38 but my age doesn’t represent my mind. My mind and my age are at war. I have the mind of a 12 year old. The other day I was walking and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I found, like, a thousand dollars?” And I’m looking all around for a thousand dollars that doesn’t exist. That’s how retarded I am. No offense.

None taken.

Then one day, it’s like 11:00 a.m. on a Tuesday and I’m just like, “Oh, man, I want some cookie dough.” So I went to Giant Eagle and I bought some cookie dough. Like a 12 year old.

I can relate.

I’m sitting there by myself, in my studio apartment, eating cookie dough. So depressing.

Let’s talk about your podcast. What are your doing with that? What are your plans for it?

My podcast idea came from Jim Florentine. When I got fired from the radio I was devastated because not only did I get fired, I got charged with a DUI, and I lost my license.

Not convicted. Charged but acquitted. I want to make sure I make that point.

Thanks. It’s been a weird couple of months. When I got fired it didn’t help the reputation much and the media was hesitant. I was seen as really wild and crazy. There’s a bit of an exaggeration when you’re on the air. It’s a performance. You’re not lying—there’s honesty to it—but you’re performing a little bit. I guess I was the “obnoxious heel” of the show [The Alan Cox Show on 100.7 WMMS] and I guess what you put out there, people kind of assume. The media was real cautious because of that and it wasn’t real professional. Then Clear Channel forced the non-compete, so I was in a bad spot. Jim would call me every day like he was trying to save my life. He’s the nicest guy.

A comic intervention?

It really was. He said, “Chad, you need to go, get out of here.” I was like, “I can’t. I have these pending things.” He gave me a ton of writing work. I wrote for the Dee Snider roast for him. He gave me a ton of stand-up work. He was a constant. He was like, “You’ve gotta start a podcast. I’m telling you, start a podcast. That’s where everything is going.”

You’ve got the Florentine voice down, man!

"It’s terrible. What are you doing? Stop. What’s wrong with you? Start a podcast." [Zumock doing his best Florentine impression] He said, “You gotta start that podcast. It builds your following. You’ve got a nice following from the radio. Keep it going. Keep your name out there.” And I did. And I’m glad I did because now I have close to 15,000 subscribers. After the show the other night I had a couple of guys come up to me and tell me that they listened to the podcast and that’s why they were there. I was like, “Sweet!” It was my way of connecting with the people that did like me from the show.


Do you do the podcast from your apartment or in a studio?

I’m working with a group called Frisson Media [Frissonmedia.com]. When I wanted to do the podcast I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to do a shitty one. They’re a production company in a similar situation. They got fired from their job. We kind of gravitated to one another and we built it together. So they help me out and I’m promoting their business. It’s a good situation.

Do you have any plans for expanding to television or visual media?

There’s a video component to it.

Like an in-studio camera?

Yes. But unfortunately it’s not paying the bills right now because it is a new technology. A lot of the businesses I talk to want to meet with me. They’re all curious but they’re still stuck on radio, TV, newspaper. But Mark Maron is making a ton of money off his podcast now. Seems like the West Coast is embracing it more than the East Coast.

With an audience of 15,000, you would think somebody would jump on that.

I’ve got two sponsors. I do get some advertising revenue.

But you need to get listeners to generate ad revenue. Is it that sort of game?

Yes. I’m doing some stuff with Tweetaudio.com where there kind of pay me a little bit, enough to sustain it, keep it going, and maybe pay for the electric bill.

Anything else you’d like share with someone who might be discovering you? Any websites they should visit besides your main page?

What’s your website?

My website is jthorn.net.

Cool. They should check out that website.

Thanks, man. I appreciate that. I’m trying to promote the local talent. I think there is a lot of great stuff happening in Northeast Ohio.

That’s awesome, man. I mean there is a really good comedy scene here. You talk to out-of-town comics like Jim Florentine and they say that Cleveland has a solid scene. It’s really good. It’s starting to get a little recognition on the map and I mean these guys like Mike Polk—any headliner in the world would see that guy and say, “Why is he living in Cleveland? He’s so funny.” I think much like the music scene, it’s something that one should really embrace. Think outside the box a little bit. Go out to a show. Go see a metal band or whatever.

Do you think it’s hard to get people off the couch?

Oh, yeah.

It’s hard to compete with the handheld electronics, isn’t it?

It really is. That’s the thing in this economy—everybody’s trying to save a buck and I get it. I’m the same way. In the past month I haven’t gone anywhere just to save money. But when you do, you always have fun. You go out and have a good time. Like I’d want to see a band and I’ll say, “Ah, I don’t want to go.” Then I go and I’m glad I did.

Right on.

You’re a metal guy…we saw Queensrÿche the other night.

Yeah! Which one? The version with the original singer?

Yeah, Jeff Tate. The guy is awesome. When we were hanging with Jim I got to meet Rudy Sarzo, the bass player who was with Quiet Riot. I got to interview him for my podcast.

Ahhh! Sweet!


And he was the nicest dude ever. So cool. And I wasn’t gonna go and I did and I had the best time and became friends with Rudy. I didn’t really know who he was until that night. He was so fascinated with comedy and they put on a hell of a show. So, yeah, go out. Definitely embrace this stuff. It’s…

It’s the live element.

Exactly.

You can’t get it any other way, right?

Absolutely. We were talking about comedians the other day, and there’s this comedian named Sebastian Maniscalco. My buddy says, “I don’t like that guy,” and I said, “You gotta see him live.” When we saw him live, he got it.

That was Mitch Hedberg for me.

Mitch was the same way.

I saw him on a couple of TV specials and then I went to see him live before he died [duh] and I was like, “Wow.” It’s a whole different experience.

But then there are some comics who TV makes a lot better. And then when you see them live, you’re disappointed. I’m not gonna name names.

Maybe they have good writers.

I’ve burned enough bridges. [laughing]

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.

No problem, man.

Contact:

Official - http://www.chadzumock.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chad-Zumock/24316859013
Twitter - https://twitter.com/chadzumock
Podcast - http://sitdownzumock.com/

I'm trying out a few new tools on the blog. This week I'm using Grammarly's plagiarism checker because talk is cheap and stealing conversation is even cheaper. Don't be a cheap-ass.

This interview is the first of three consecutive ones I have lined up. As the holidays approach and folks get busy, I may not conduct as many so enjoy the shit out of these now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Booktrack - I've amplified my story. What do you think of it?

The method and medium of storytelling has changed but the art of storytelling has not. Whether you enjoy movies, books, television, or live performances, a good story is always worth the investment in time.

Technology constantly changes the way in which stories are told and initially, people freak out. There are fantastic stories, the integrity of some in question, about an early showing of L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat by the Lumière Brothers. Hellmuth Karasek for the German magazine Der Spiegel wrote that the film "had a particularly lasting impact; yes, it caused fear, terror, even panic.” Urban legends describe people running for the exits in the belief they were standing in the path of a real train. Whether or not those accounts from 1895 are true, it does illustrate the way that storytelling can change. Fast forward almost 120 years and our modern 3D movies could be argued to have the same visceral effect.

Art that doesn’t evolve becomes obsolete. Silent reading is still at the core of enjoying a good book but we’ve tweaked that too. Audio books have become fairly common over the past few decades.

Enter Booktrack.com. “Booktrack is transforming reading the way sound transformed silent film.”


In full disclosure, I was one of the first authors invited to “score” a short story which you can see here. The Hunt is a 3000-word dystopian vampire tale that can be read in 15-20 minutes. Booktrack gives the author the ability to not only embed sounds, music, and ambient noises into their story, but to do so in synchronization with the text on the page. A“pinhead” moves through the text and sounds are triggered. The speed at which the pinhead moves is determined by the reader. This idea is not new but I believe the current iteration of Booktrack is the best. All you need is a Google Chrome browser and earbuds. For now, all of the titles are completely free and you don’t even have to create an account. They are currently working on a mobile version and the existing platform should work on any computer/laptop/tablet that has Google Chrome.

Recently, the CEO of Booktrack, Paul Cameron said, “At Booktrack we have been reinventing reading and now we are re-imagining writing too. It is authors like J. Thorn that understand the power of storytelling and the impact that music and ambience audio has to amplify stories.”

Nobody knows how technology will continue to shape our entertainment, but I find what Booktrack is doing right now to be really engaging. What do you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013

"My Summer Vacation" by J. Thorn. In pictures. With captions. Hold the croutons.


1. Eating chocolate at Chocolate World is like shitting in a port-a-potty at a marble toilet convention.


2. The more colored lights hanging above the bar, the more expensive the hotel.


3. The storm clouds over the Capitol Building are literal, figurative, metaphorical, and allegorical.


4. If your Frisbee lands in that yard, forget about it.


5. Backyard fireworks displays are only cool if you can hear the screams of the drunkard getting his hand blown off by an M-80.


6. If you put a bronze plaque in front of a building made out of old bricks, people will take pictures of it. That, and Philadelphia has its own smell.


7. Christ died for your sins so you could sculpt him in sand, dying for your sins.


8. An island of wild horses couldn’t drag me away but the Assateague Island Park Ranger and a set of handcuffs could.


9. Bacon. On donuts. Enough said.


10. None of the video games from 1983 are in there anymore. None. WTF, Funcade Casino?


11. You keep Skee-Ball but not Missile Command? The rest of Ocean City, Maryland is still living in 1983. What gives you the right to change, Funcade?


12. Moonshine with a fancy label is still moonshine.


13. If you put a bronze plaque in the ground where three rivers meet, people will take pictures of it. That, and Pittsburgh smells slightly less disgusting than Philadelphia.


14. Fries and cole slaw on your sandwich always tastes better after 2 a.m.

What did you do on your summer vacation?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Holy Sh*t! Ohio is #1 state for profanity! We also have a hidden gem: Cleveland. Happy Labor Day.

In honor of Labor Day, I’ve decided to do no labor. Today’s post is an excerpt and link to an incredibly enthusiastic description of my home, Cleveland, Ohio. “The American Grandeur of Cleveland” by Sally Fay of the Huffington Post details her experience on a recent visit. As long as you don’t enjoy celebrating professional sports championships, this city could be for you. And Ohio ranks #1 in the entire country for states where people use the most profanity, so we have that as well, goddamnit.

The dog ate my Blogger account yesterday, but next week I promise I’ll have a “What I Did on Summer Vacation” post up along with some quality pictures. Also in September I’ll be entering the Mad Season, taking a closer look at the BookTrack.com launch, and posting several more interviews with insanely talented and quirky folks.

Happy Labor Day and enjoy a virtual jaunt through Cleveland, Ohio!

"On a recent visit to Cleveland, I found myself so taken by the deep American history and cultural sophistication of this delightful mid-western city that sits on Lake Erie. You can see the past in the historic buildings that speak to another era and then turn a corner to find a sleek structure singing to the future. Cleveland has a character that appreciates its past while embracing the renewal of the future. In 2013, the city has a different kind of American grandeur than it did in its industrial heyday of the early 20th century, but rather than get stuck in the past and not learn the lessons from it, Cleveland has aged well into a modern, global and down-to-earth city. There are many reasons to visit Cleveland, enough to swing the vote right into moving there!"

...Read the rest