Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tell us about some of the artists, bands who really influenced you…
Brendon Urie: Weezer… huge influence on me. I learned to play drums to the blue album [Weezer]. When I got that… I took it from my sister; I just had the cassette, and I remember just popping it in my boom box (that was still a thing, kids) and… I would just put on my really shitty headphones, and just kind of try to like… I had to tape them up, just so that they didn’t move, and just playing along for six hours. I would just listen to that album constantly. So, I mean every one of those songs… I wanted to start surfing, because of [“Surf Wax America”]… I wanted to live how they were describing their songs… how Rivers was, you know… and then later I would learn like, he’s this English major, went to college for literature and stuff… just a super smart guy. So, everything he’s singing about is a personal experience that’s true, and that really, truly affected me and songwriting as I got older. I wanted to do that, I wanted ...
For over three years, the Milwaukee quartet Vinyl Theatre have been growing a loyal fan base with frenetic live shows driven by the group's imminently danceable rock. With clear reverence for post-punk sounds of the 80s and earning comparisons to such contemporaries as the Killers and Death Cab for Cutie, Vinyl Theatre released their debut full-length Electrogram on Fueled by Raman in 2014.
The Rock Hall caught up with Vinyl Theatre drummer Nick Cesarz on the eve of his group's live Sonic Sessions concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on July 21, 2014.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to make music or play in a band?
Nick Cesarz: I was very young, maybe 8, and I saw the Blue Man Group for the first time. I even got to meet them. After seeing the show, I wanted to try playing drums. When I reached the 5th grade, my name was picked of a hat to play percussion in the school band. I had some good luck that week!
RRHOF: What was the first album you bought with your own money?
NC: Led Zeppelin ...
Chris Squire changed the way rock musicians thought about the bass guitar – taking the melodic style established by the Who's John Entwistle and pushing into an entirely new level. His bass had a clean sustained tone that frequently moved back and forth between the high and low registers of the instrument. And all the time Squire was singing beautiful vocal harmony with the rest of the band (and with a completely different melody from the bass).
I'm the Rock Hall's senior director of education, and I'm also a longtime fan of Yes. I can tell you with ultimate clarity the first time I heard the music of Yes on the radio while I was in high school. I imagine it was the same way that many fans of my age did, through the sound of “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” in 1983. That song has always sounded so modern to me (due in part to the stellar production of Trevor Horn), and a key feature of what hooks you in is the foundational bassline played by Squire: it’s simple, memorable and slides right into the groove. When it finally changes up at the two-minute mark ...
With the patriotic pageantry, fireworks, barbecues and neighborhood gatherings that come with the 4th of July just around the corner, Rock Hall staff crafted the ultimate playlist as the soundtrack to all things Americana and celebrations of summertime fun.
The 50-song list covers a lot of musical territory, from 50s to today, blues, pop, punk, R&B, jazz and some classic rockers, of course. Inductees feature prominently – Alice Cooper, Sly and the Family Stone, Young Rascals, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Ramones, among many others – but so do other artists who've made their mark with sunny revelations: Kool and the Gang, Chicago, the Undertones, the Surfaris, Lovin' Spoonful, Billy Idol, Afrojack and, yes, Katy Perry.
Get the Rock Hall's Ultimate 4th of July playlist via Spotify.
In the meantime, here are three tracks that are so routinely misinterpreted – and we included some deliberately in our list! – we just had to give the backstory.
Arguably the most misappropriated song in rock and roll history, "Born in the USA" has been the anthemic backdrop to countless episodes of fist-pumping demonstrations. Anti-Muslim protestors chanted the chorus while picketing the site ...
This month, the harrowing story of the deeply troubled life and wildly creative musical mind of Brian Wilson comes to the silver screen, in Love & Mercy. An ambitious undertaking, the film is directed by Bill Pohlad who tidily splits the entire narrative arc into two distinct epochs: the musically fertile period in the 60s that produced Pet Sounds (with Wilson played by Paul Dano) and the fraught psychosis of the 80s-era rebound (with John Cusack as Wilson).
It's a fascinating glimpse into a well-documented life, and the troubled man who gave rise to among the most memorable and celebrated rock and roll of the past 50 years. So musically speaking, what is Brian Wilson most proud of?
The leader of the Boys has cited the opening bars of "California Girls" as his proudest achievement: "['California Girls'] is something I’m very proud of in a sense because it represents the Beach Boys' really greatest record production we’ve ever made."
Released the summer of 1965, the track's intro is stately, almost lethargic, as it blends muted horns and keyboards before slipping into perky-pop song mode. It was also reportedly conceived during among Wilson's first acid trips.
"Everything you guys do is punk rock in the sense that you’ve never gone the easy route, the obvious route, the safe route," said Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz inducting Green Day. "You’ve never repeated yourselves, you’ve never done anything to please the suits… Like Queen, the Who or the Clash, the best bands go on to defy and define the labels they get saddled with…the best bands are legend on record and onstage.
"This is a band that’s so in tune with their audience that they let a random kid onstage and play in the band, in arenas" added Wentz. "They literally fulfill that improbable daydream every kid has playing onstage with their favorite band."
A confessed diehard fan, Fall Out Boy singer and guitarist Patrick Stump said: "Billie Joe’s signature snarl and strong, sarcastic lyrics, that eternally youthful voice, those bright, open chord structures. The way a silhouette of him playing guitar would be as recognizable a posture to any punk rock kid as Michael Jordan's mid-air dunk is to sports fans."
After accepting their Inductee honors, the guys from Green Day – Tré Cool, Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe Armstrong ...
The studio and live LPs released during the last seven years of 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Stevie Ray Vaughan's life ensured his place in Stratocaster immortality and influenced the next generation of blues guitarists. With Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon on bass, Chris Layton on drums and Reese Wynans on keyboards, the Texas-born blues-rock powerhouse forged a sound that influenced and inspired countless players around the globe.
“Love Struck Baby”
The first song on the debut album from Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Texas Flood, released on June 13, 1983 – it was also the first single from the album. But don’t be fooled if it sounds too good to be a new band; Stevie Ray formed the band in 1978, and the final lineup had come together in 1980 consisting of SRV, Tommy Shannon (bass), and Chris Layton (drums).
“Pride and Joy”
This song is a great example of a Texas Shuffle (in which the guitar plays a triplet pattern over the quadruple meter of the band). Listen to how in the opening Stevie Ray plays all the off beats with an upstroke on the guitar to emphasize them. It makes for a great ...
In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, but left a lasting legacy, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. Here are my picks for essential Bill Withers songs.
“Ain’t No Sunshine”
A breakthrough hit from Just As I Am (produced by Hall of Fame Inductee Booker T. Jones), “Ain’t No Sunshine” set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct, no-frills lyric and in the pocket groove. It was also a bona fide hit, reaching Number Three on the Billboard 100 in 1971.
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you." This song is a tribute to those healing hands.
“Who Is He (and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone ...