Although the final album that Frank Zappa worked on before his death came out earlier this year, the rock legend’s family has many more releases planned. A new partnership between the Zappa Family Trust and Universal Music Enterprises will allow for new product releases, film and theatrical productions and trademark licensing.
Some of the items in the works include Joe’s Garage, The Musical, the long-fabled Roxy Movie and an orchestra performance of 200 Motels featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The first release will be a remastered edition of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s 1974 album, One Size Fits All, which will come out on August 14th on 180-gram vinyl.
The new partnership spans Zappa’s creative canon and includes a long-term, global licensing agreement for the artist’s entire recorded catalog, as well as a rights-management agreement that covers everything else. Zappa’s son, Ahmet – who will be taking over daily operations of the Zappa Family Trust from Frank’s widow Gail – has been working closely with Universal Music Enterprise’s President and CEO, Bruce Resnikoff, on the partnership.
“This is literally an opportunity of a lifetime for me,” Gail said in a statement. “I am universally thrilled with this partnership because the fans will have unparalleled access to Frank Zappa’s works. The doors to the vault are now officially wide open.”
“The fans of Frank Zappa will have more music and more access – when they want it and how they want it,” Ahmet said. “With Universal as our partner, I look forward to bringing to life Joe’s Garage, The Musical, the release of The Roxy Movie, the release of the Disney Hall performance of 200 Motels under the baton of [conductor] Esa-Pekka Salonen and so many more projects of this caliber. I couldn’t be more excited about the future.”
In addition to the One Size Fits All 40th anniversary reissue, the new union hopes to put out more releases before year’s end. The Zappa Family Trust began remastering the artists’ works from analog masters for vinyl reissues when the rights to his masters reverted back to the family in 2012. That same year, the family also put his discography on iTunes for the first time.
The Zappa family put out Dance Me This, the final album Zappa worked on in his lifetime and the artist’s 100th release, last month. A Frank Zappa documentary, helmed by actor-director Alex Winter, is also in the works for a planned 2017 release.
It took two weeks but Neil Young finally expunged the vast majority of his catalog from streaming services. On July 15th, the rocker issued a pair of Facebook posts deriding the audio quality of streaming services and alerting fans that he’d pull all of his albums from Apple Music, Spotify and the like. “It’s about sound quality. I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” Young wrote. At some point over the weekend, Young made good on his promise as his albums began vanishing from streaming services, Variety reports.
As of this writing, only Young’s five Geffen LP from the Eighties – 1982′s Trans, 1983′s Everybody’s Rockin’, 1985′s Old Ways, 1986′s Landing on Water and 1987′s Life, as well as the Geffen era rarities compilation Lucky Thirteen – are all still available on multiple streaming services. Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, released via Vapor Records, also remains on services, but everything else, including his latest LP The Monsanto Years, has been stripped from streaming libraries.
While Young may be anti-streaming, Geffen’s parent company Universal – which no longer has ties to the rocker since he rejoined Warner Music’s Reprise in 1989 – likely didn’t feel obligated to grant Young’s wishes regarding his streamed catalog. (Young and Geffen infamously sparred in the Eighties, with the label accusing him of handing them “musically uncharacteristic” and “not commercial” albums that were unlike his Seventies catalog. Geffen later sued Young for $3.3 million; Young countersued for $21 million. They eventually settled out of court.)
In Young’s anti-streaming posts, the musician stated that while his catalog removal wasn’t about the money, he acknowledged – like Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke before him – that his share of royalties were “dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.” However, Young hinted that he’d be willing to return his albums to services if the audio quality was improved.
“AM radio kicked streaming’s ass. Analog cassettes and 8 tracks also kicked streaming’s ass, and absolutely rocked compared to streaming,” Young wrote. “Streaming sucks. Streaming is the worst audio in history. If you want it, you got it. It’s here to stay. Your choice.”
Drake has fired another salvo in his feud with Meek Mill after that rapper called Drake’s “Charged Up” diss track ”baby lotion soft.” Three days later, Drake has responded again with “Back to Back Freestyle,” and there’s nothing soft or vague about this diss track as the Toronto rapper lays into Meek Mill.
Drake then takes aim at Meek Mill’s decision to beef through social media. “Trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers,” Drake raps. “You’re getting bodied by a singing nigga.” Drake then warns all his “boss bitches” – but likely Minaj especially – “make sure you hit him with a pre-nup.”
The feud between Drake and Meek Mill stems from Mill’s accusations that Drake employed a ghostwriter for his guest verse on “R.I.C.O.,” a track off Meek Mill’s new album Dreams Worth More Than Money. An Atlanta rapper named Quentin Miller was then identified as Drake’s ghostwriter, though Miller and Drake’s producer Noah “40″ Shebib denied the ghostwriting allegations.
“When I look back, I might be mad that I gave this attention / But it’s weighing heavy on my conscience / And fuck, you left me with no options,” Drake says on the new track. “I’m not sure what it was that made y’all mad / But I guess this is what I gotta do to make y’all rap.”
Meek Mill previously shared his own Drake “diss track” titled “Beautiful Nightmare” which just featured 15 seconds of moaning.
U.K. electronic band Years and Years jumbles together an unlikely mix of sounds, including some that don’t seem particularly fashionable — think Hot Chip and the Wanted covering Savage Garden, with a dash of Jamie Woon. They have several major hits overseas, the biggest being anthemic summer jam “King,” but their next stop is the United States: The single recently charted in the lower reaches of the Mainstream Top 40 and earlier this month, the group released their strong full-length debut Foundation.
Rolling Stone met with the band’s Olly Alexander, Emre Turkmen and Mikey Goldsworthy at their room in the Standard Hotel on Manhattan’s West Side. Black leather covered every piece of furniture, and myriad disco balls hung from the ceiling. The most prominent feature, though, was a large hot tub, which the hotel staff began to fill halfway through an interview in which the group discussed songwriting, making their first big record on a toilet and the pros and cons of orgies.
If you’re telling somebody what you do, how do you explain Years and Years’ sound? Olly Alexander: I’d say, “Have you ever heard of the Pet Shop Boys or Rihanna?” And then, “Maybe somewhere in the middle.”
Mikey Goldsworthy: I just had that experience in the café. She was like, “What’s your music like?” I was like, “Uhhh — like electronic dance?” I just told her to watch The Tonight Show tomorrow. She was like, “Alright, I will!” So I thought that went pretty well [laughs].
How did you guys meet? What did you sound like at first? Emre Turkmen: [In] 2010, me and Mikey met online on a band-website forum and started making music. Mikey went to a house party at Olly’s house through a mutual friend, got drunk, passed out on the couch, woke up, and Olly was singing in the shower. And Olly wanted to join the band. A few days later, the three of us were in his living room, working on this song idea he had.
Alexander: Our first song had a little distorted guitar.
Turkmen: We were very indie.
Goldsworthy: Yeah, indie: Beirut, Fleet Foxes.
Alexander: We only had one synth at that point.
What pushed you guys toward a more dance sort of sound? Goldsworthy: You [to Turkmen] got into making beats, and I got into buying synths.
Alexander: And I got more into dance music. Because I’d started listening to it when I was a teenager. And U.K. dance music just exploded at that time — SBTRKT.
Goldsworthy: Little Dragon, as well, really pushed us towards that.
Alexander: And Emre was recording our stuff, and brought a laptop and software, and you were like, “Oh, I can make music this way.”
Turkmen: With the laptop, it was like a sandbox. Whereas I’d been writing guitar music since I was, like, 14, and every time I would pick up the guitar I would feel really — I couldn’t even put two chords together without thinking, “This is just so boring; I’ve done this before.”
How did you arrive at the current Years and Years sound? Turkmen: We just started making music in a certain way, got bored with some of the ways we were doing things before, guitars and things. And then started getting lost — because if you’ve ever played a synthesizer, you’d know that it never ends; you can buy a new one every week and you’d still want another one, another one. Olly started getting into clubbing music, I started getting into making beats, because we didn’t have a drummer at the time, and it just sort of came that way. I think the way it works now is, like, genre is less and less relevant. And it’s less relevant to us. We were quite keen to have our own sound, but we didn’t know what that sound was until we did a song called “Real.” And it’s kind of been quite natural, unforced.
How did you put “Real” together? Alexander: I had the song on the piano, and I had this kind of four-chord verse, and it became a slightly altered four-chord chorus, and a hook, and I just thought it was good, and you [to Turkmen] had a beat —
Goldsworthy: Which you made in a toilet—
Turkmen: [Laughs] Yeah…
Alexander: And a synth sound, and we put the two things together and it seemed to work: This is how the music should sound. It had come together. Your production idea and my songwriting.
You made the beat on the toilet? Turkmen: Oh, shit, yeah [laughs]. Well, I was at work. I wasn’t actually [just] on the toilet — I made it at work. I went to the toilet and made it because I was bored, on my phone, then under my desk while my boss was trying to tell me stuff. And then I went home and added the synths on the iPad and put a sidechain on it. It just happened really quickly, a cute little thing, and Olly played me this song. We were in this rehearsal studio. Put it together, and he liked it. It happened pretty quickly, and then Mikey came and did his weird jazz bass solo [laughs].
Goldsworthy: I’d just bought a jazz bass. So I decided to put a jazz bass solo in it [laughs].
How did you put “King” together? Alexander: When we recorded it, no one felt good about it. It sounds lame! And we could never fix it. We shelved it for awhile. When we came back to it, we just took a different approach: ”Let’s try to make it an Eighties dance-pop track.” And we just started out with that, cut it all up, arranged it. Used that balearic flute vibe, like a bird in the forest.
Goldsworthy: That’s actually Olly’s voice sampled and fucked up.
The “King” video is very unique. Were you heavily involved in making that? Alexander: We always try to make the videos ourselves.
Goldsworthy: We wanted dancing.
Alexander: We always wanted dancing. Ryan Heffington, the choreographer, just got in touch with me on Instagram. He taught “Real” in one of his dance classes; they danced to it.
Olly, who are your songwriting influences? Alexander: I love so many different genres of music, and I love pop music, but I went through a really big singer-songwriter phase. I really fell in love with Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. That’s how I learned to play piano, as well; I was playing their songs. Some of them are really complicated — Stevie Wonder loved key changes. But all the best songs are simple. I just love all those late Nineties, early 2000s RB songs: Aaliyah, TLC, Destiny’s Child. Even though Years and Years isn’t really like that, for me they were pretty perfect pop songs. Or even a Rihanna or Beyoncé song. I think there’s a tendency to think if something’s hooky, it’s not cool. But I think the opposite.
Turkmen: I grew up listening to the Beatles and stuff like that, and kind of taught myself music by listening to the Beatles and copying it. We have very varied tastes. I love rock music and Nineties grunge. Mikey loves the jazz and shit. But it also filters through in the way you work, not necessarily the way you sound. We don’t sound like grunge, but when we started, we were like a band, an indie-band ethos, even though we make pop music. That sort of way of thinking sticks with us.
Goldsworthy: My dad was a music teacher. He taught Latin music, a lot of Cuban stuff. He used to take care of me when I was young, I used to go to his lessons. He forced me to learn piano when I was four, so I got into it at a very young age. I absorbed every music genre you could until I was 16. A jazz phase, classical, blues. I kind of missed out on RB. The whole Nineties is like a black hole in my mind. The only bands I can remember are the Offspring, Korn, Papa Roach.
Alexander: Do you remember Staind?
Goldsworthy: Staind, Slipknot, Crazy Town.
One of the most beautiful songs on your album is “Memo.” How did you put that together? Alexander: I was sharing a dressing room with this guy who I thought was really fit. I used to sit in front of the mirror on my side, he would sit in front of the mirror on his side, and he would always look at himself, and I would look at him looking at himself in the mirror from my mirror. And that’s just what that song was about, fancying that guy. I totally built up this fantasy — nothing ever happened.
Alexander: I was going off those four chords that were in the chorus. They’re the same chords to, like, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Changes.”
Alexander: Tupac! [Bruce Hornsby's] “The Way It Is.” I love that chord progression; that chord progression’s great. I was just using that and singing over it. And I sent it to you [to Turkmen] on a voice memo, because on the old iPhones you used to record and save as memo.
Turkmen: That’s why it’s called “Memo.” A lot of our songs are like that. “Real” is called “Real” because of a synth patch I used.
Goldsworthy: “Foundation” is called “Foundation” because of a synth patch.
Turkmen: “Border” is also an app I used on the iPad called Borderlands.
This hotel room feels a little like the kind of place where someone would have an orgy. . . Turkmen: But maybe not the kind that you’d feel good about.
Alexander: Do you ever feel good about an orgy?
Turkmen: I’ve never had an orgy. But I would suggest that they are better in here [points to head] than they are in the real world.
Alexander: Because you have a fancy orgy expectation.
Turkmen: I think I’d feel terrible about myself. . .
Alexander: I’d worry about hygiene.
Turkmen: I would worry about splashback.
Alexander: I think I’d throw away my clothes. But at least once in your lifetime. . .
Turkmen: You should have an orgy.
Alexander: As long as it’s safe. Safe and consensual. Very important. I think we’ve gone off-topic.
Seattle rapper Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, admitted in a new cover story for Complex that he relapsed into taking pills and smoking weed following the monumental success of his 2013 LP with Ryan Lewis, The Heist. His recovery, however, was crucial in inspiring the duo’s new album, slated to arrive later this year.
“I was burnt out,” Haggerty said. “I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping — doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media, I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame — everything. All the clichés, man — like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of [12-step] meetings — all of that put into one pie was just… I just wanted to escape.”
Haggerty copped to sneaking around to get high and promising to get clean but never following through. Lewis said he noticed a change in his partner’s behavior, too, especially when progress on their new album stalled. But it wasn’t until his fiancé Tricia Davis learned she was pregnant that the rapper again embraced sobriety.
“And, as it always works, the minute that I start actively seeking recovery — not just sobriety, but recovery — music is there,” Haggerty said. “It always has been. Songs write themselves. My work ethic turns off-to-on in a second and I get happy again. I get grateful again.”
The duo said they’re three-quarters done with the follow-up to The Heist, with Lewis drawing inspiration from the methodically textured records of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd and the Beatles, while a larger budget allowed him to indulge his production whims.
Haggerty, for his part, didn’t reveal much about the album’s lyrical content, though he did hint at a quasi-sequel to “White Privilege” off his 2005 solo record, The Language of My World. While the original, Haggerty said, was more of a cultural observation, he acknowledged his vantage point is significantly different now that his detractors have accused him of being an example of cultural appropriation and white privilege in hip-hop.
“How do I participate in this conversation in a way that I’m not preaching, where I’m not appearing like I know it all?,” the rapper said. “‘Cause I don’t know it all… How do I affect change? How do I not preach to the choir? How do I authentically initiate discourse without co-opting the movement that’s already happening? You are constantly having to check your intention as a white person doing any sort of antiracist work.”
To bolster his understanding of racism and how he can help inspire honest, earnest change, Haggerty attended a daylong seminar about the causes and effects of institutionalized racism. Beyond music, he said, he hopes that his next tour with Lewis can incorporate a series of town hall meetings in various cities with the help of local artists.
“A concert’s not going to do it,” Haggerty said. “Regardless of the song that I write, or that ends up coming out, it’s not going to do it. It’s going to be a tiny piece. This needs to be part of my life’s work if I’m going to be authentic in the discourse.”
Visitors to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will soon be able to walk through the life and career of Eric Church. The “Like a Wrecking Ball” singer has been tapped as the subject of the venue’s next cameo exhibition, opening September 18th.
Dubbed “Eric Church: Inside the Outsider,” the exhibit will span the musician’s childhood in North Carolina to his platinum-selling, boundary-pushing present. Artifacts hand-picked by Church will include guitars, handwritten lyrics, stage attire and personal photos, among other memorabilia.
Also sure to be on hand are at least a few awards from the singer-songwriter’s burgeoning trophy case, which started accumulating hardware in 2011 on the strength of his game-changing album, Chief. Church was already a radio success before the LP, with six of his seven singles from previous projects Sinners Like Me and Carolina reaching the Top 20. But it was Chief that made him a household name beyond country music, with the album reaching platinum sales certification, topping several critics’ lists and winning both the CMA and ACM awards for Album of the Year.
“All of a sudden we went from the act that was a couple from the headliner, to headliner, and it’s just weird,” Church told Rolling Stone last year of the status boost that accompanied Chief. “I try not to overthink it.”
A fourth studio album, The Outsiders followed in 2014, marking Church’s most sonically adventurous project to date. The rock and metal-tinged LP took home Favorite Country Album at the American Country Countdown Awards and has spawned two Number One singles (so far).
Church’s Hall of Fame spotlight follows recent exhibits celebrating Glen Campbell, Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Rogers, Miranda Lambert and most recently, Luke Bryan. “Eric Church: Inside the Outsider” runs through February 2016.
Farm Aid is coming to Chicago. The annual event, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be held on September 19th at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island near downtown Chicago. In addition to board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, the show will feature Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Kacey Musgraves, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mavis Staples, Holly Williams, Lukas Nelson Promise of the Real, Insects vs. Robots and Blackwood Quartet.
“We organized the first Farm Aid concert in Illinois in 1985 to respond to the people suffering during the Farm Crisis,”Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson said in a statement. “Thirty years later, in Chicago, we’ll bring together so many of the people — farmers, eaters, advocates and activists — who have made the progress of the Good Food Movement possible. At Farm Aid 30, we’ll celebrate the impact we’ve had and rally our supporters for the work ahead.”
“In 1985, alternatives didn’t exist for most farmers and people didn’t understand that there was a role for them in changing the system,” Farm Aid co-founder John Mellencamp said in a statement. “The Good Food Movement didn’t exist. People thought the farm crisis was a rural problem. But after that first concert, people listened. They realized that if we lost family farmers, we lost Main Street and we lost our food. They stood up with family farmers and now things are changing. We’ve got a lot more work to do, but the connection between rural and urban communities is more real and important to people.”
The first Farm Aid was held September 22nd, 1985 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. It has been held nearly every year since, raising $48 million for family farmers. Over the past 30 years, everyone from Phish to Elton John to Guns N’ Roses to Jerry Lee Lewis and the Allman Brothers have performed. Young played with Lukas and Micah Nelson at last year’s event at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh, North Carolina, a spontaneous decision that led to him recording The Monsanto Years with them a few months later.
Tickets for this year’s Farm Aid — ranging in price from $49.50 to $189.50 — go on sale Monday, August 3rd at 10 a.m. CDT at FarmAid.org.
Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein helped revolutionize DJing before his tragic 2009 death, but his life was also filled with tragedy and depression. Kevin Kerslake examined Goldstein’s rise and fall in the 2014 documentary As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM – and now fans can help fund the project’s wide release through an Indiegogo campaign featuring numerous donator rewards from the DJ’s personal collection.
Rewards include a signed Banksy art piece, titled “Jack And Jill (Police Kids)”; Goldstein’s own Daft Punk full leather jacket and replica of Thomas Bangalter’s helmet (worn in 2008 at HARD Haunted Mansion on Halloween); a dog tag-style USB drive filled with 25 DJ AM mixes (two of which are previously unheard); access to AM’s personal collections of 900-plus collector sneakers and signed albums, vintage T-shirts and art.
Contributions to the campaign will help fund the movie’s music licenses and costs of self-distribution and marketing. Proceeds from the documentary’s online, TV or theatrical distribution will benefit MusiCares, the charity for the DJ AM Memorial Fund.
DJ AM was a crucial player in the expansion of DJ culture into a major commercial movement. As I AM traces Goldstein’s life story, using never-before-seen footage, his own photos and music and an autobiographical speech from the performer. The documentary includes interviews with friends and peers, including Mark Ronson, Steve Aoki, Diplo, Jon Favreau, Dr. Drew, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mix Master Mike and A-Trak.
Kerslake also details Goldstein’s battles with substance abuse – after surviving a deadly plane crash with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, the DJ grappled with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, which played a role in his fatal 2009 relapse.
As I AM premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and will close out the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on Friday, July 31st.
Run the Jewels, Al Green, Primus and Sturgill Simpson are among the artists who will issue pink vinyl versions of their albums on September 29th as part of Ten Bands One Cause, a RED-led effort to raise cancer aid and awareness. Joey Bada$$, Ingrid Michaelson, Clutch, Chet Faker, Between the Buried Me and Pierce the Veil will also reissue their LPs on limited edition vinyl, with all proceeds benefitting Gilda’s Club NYC. The organization, which provides communities for those diagnosed with cancer, is named after comedian Gilda Radner, who passed away from the disease at the age of 43 in 1989.
Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 2, Primus’ 1990 debut Frizzle Fry and Green’s 1977 LP The Belle Album will get the pink vinyl treatment, with the special reissues available at retailers nationwide. This is the second year for the Ten Bands One Cause program; last year, Against Me!, Courtney Barnett, Jason Isbell and more aligned with the cause, which raised $30,000 for Gilda’s Club NYC.
“I lost my mother to cancer last year and want to do all I can do to help those affected by this cruel disease,” Michaelson said in a statement. “I am honored to be a part of 10 bands One Cause benefitting Gilda’s Club NYC.”
Check out the 10 albums available on pink vinyl below:
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$ Al Green – The Belle Album Between The Buried Me – Coma Ecliptic Chet Faker – Built On Glass Pierce The Veil – Collide With The Sky Primus – Frizzle Fry Clutch – La Curandera Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out
Since May 9th, Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” has reigned as the biggest country song in America, sitting atop the Billboard charts for nearly three months straight. It couldn’t be a better time for the band to hit the road. Unfortunately, the bulk of Little Big Town’s summer tour — which was scheduled to resume this Friday at the Delaware State Fair — has been canceled, with the band remaining at home until late August. The goal? To give bandmate Jimmy Westbrook, who underwent surgery in late June to remove a polyp from his vocal cords, enough time to fully recover.
“We have missed you,” Phillip Sweet told the group’s fans in a Facebook video, while the rest of the band — including a mute Westbrook, his mouth covered with painter’s tape — sat beside him on a couch. “As you can see,” Sweet added,” Jimi’s still not talking. He just got back from the doctor and he just needs a little bit more time to heal up, so he’ll be 100 percent and [can] get back on the road. So hang in there with us! We’re gonna be back up there really soon.”
Little Big Town’s Pain Killer Tour kicked off last November, then received an extension once “Girl Crush” topped the charts this spring. By early June, Westbrook — who sings lead vocals on four of the new album’s 13 songs — was regularly losing his voice after the shows, leading the group to cancel a six-week stretch of gigs while he flew back home to meet with the same doctors who treated Keith Urban’s vocal issues in 2011. Surgery followed later that month. Now, with an extra three weeks of recovery time thrown into the mix, Little Big Town are scheduled to return to the stage on August 22nd, when they’ll join Lynyrd Skynyrd and David Nail at the Eastbound Hoedown in Avondale, Canada.
In the meantime, Westbrook is expected to keep quiet, allowing his vocal cords the chance to completely heal. He’s been communicating via an iPad that hangs over his chest, attached to a pair of suspenders.