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Pete Townshend's First Rock Novel Covers "Craziness Of The Music Business"

Pete Townshend

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Pete Townshend's First Rock Novel Covers "Craziness Of The Music Business"

This is the musician's first "rock novel," but he has previously written rock operas and other fiction.

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2019 - 12:55 am
GRAMMY-winning musician and songwriter Pete Townshend from the British classic-rock band The Who has written a rock novel that embodies the "craziness of the music business" to be released Nov. 5, publishers Hachette Books and Coronet announced Tuesday (March 5.)
 
The Age Of Anxiety, Rolling Stone reports, will be a part of a greater three-part project featuring an art installation and an opera. Rolling Stone adds that this is Townshend's first "rock novel," but has previously written rock operas and other fiction.
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Announcing a great rock novel from one our greatest and most influential musicians. The Age of Anxiety by The Who’s Pete Townshend will be published by <a href="https://twitter.com/CoronetBooks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CoronetBooks</a> on 5th November. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/theageofanxiety?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#theageofanxiety</a><br>Pre-order your copy now <a href="https://t.co/qOqXZRWHco">https://t.co/qOqXZRWHco</a> <a href="https://t.co/j9pOhCt3fe">pic.twitter.com/j9pOhCt3fe</a></p>&mdash; The Who (@TheWho) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheWho/status/1102887037093507077?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 5, 2019</a></blockquote>
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In a statement, the musician spoke about his excitement for finishing the novel he decided to create ten years ago.
 
"Ten years ago I decided to create a magnum opus that would combine opera, art installation and novel,” he said in a statement. “Suddenly here I am with a completed novel ready to publish. I am an avid reader and have really enjoyed writing it. I am also happy to say the majority of the music is composed, ready to be polished up for release and performance. It’s tremendously exciting.”
 
Hachette Books and Coronet noted the novel was first conceived as an opera and highlighted Townshend's writing. 
 
"The novel captures the craziness of the music business and displays Townshend’s sly sense of humor and sharp ear for dialogue. First conceived as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes including a maze, divine madness and long-lost children," they said. "Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.”
 
For more information on how to pre-order the book, visit the publisher's website
Everything We Know About Twenty One Pilots' New Album 'Clancy'
Twenty One Pilots

Photo: Ashley Osborn

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Everything We Know About Twenty One Pilots' New Album 'Clancy'

Three years in the making, Twenty One Pilots are returning with their seventh album, 'Clancy.' Take a look at all of the details they've revealed so far, including the release date and track list.

GRAMMYs/Feb 29, 2024 - 10:57 pm

In a year that's seeing the return of alt-rock gods Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend and the Black Keys, Twenty One Pilots are ready to join the party, too.

The GRAMMY-winning rock duo announced on Feb. 29 that their seventh studio album, titled Clancy, will arrive in May via Fueled By Ramen. Along with unveiling the project's cover art and lead single, "Overcompensate," Twenty One Pilots declared in the first teaser that "a new chapter begins" with Clancy which will also bring a close to the ever-evolving narrative they started in 2015 with Blurryface.

Below, get all of the details Twenty One Pilots have revealed about Clancy.

It's Arriving On The 9th Anniversary Of Blurryface

Clancy will be released on May 17, which is a special day in Twenty One Pilots land. On that day in 2015, the duo released their now multi-platinum breakthrough album, Blurryface. (May is also seemingly a favorite month for the pair, as Clancy marks their third May album release; their last LP, Scaled and Icy, arrived on May 21, 2021.)

The First Single Is Here

A few hours after announcing Clancy, Twenty One Pilots unveiled the album's lead single, "Overcompensating." After a nearly two-minute synth intro that builds over a racing beat, the song sees singer Tyler Joseph return to his signature rap-inspired delivery. Its swirling production and echoing vocals feel reminiscent of Trench — but more on that later.

It Has 13 Tracks

Though the duo didn't post the Clancy track list, the song titles can be found on Apple Music. Kicking off with "Overcompensate," the track list is as follows:

1. Overcompensate 
2. Next Semester 
3. Midwest Indigo
4. Routines In The Night
5. Backslide 
6. Vignette
7. The Craving (Jenna's Version)
8. Lavish
9. Navigating 
10. Snap Back 
11. Oldies Station
12. At the Risk Of Feeling Dumb
13. Paladin Strait

It Takes Fans Back To 'Trench'

Despite the fact that TOP's first album teaser noted that "a new chapter begins" with Clancy, the cryptic clip proclaimed, "I am returning to Trench. I am Clancy." As the duo's fans know, Trench is the name of their 2018 LP; the project was the most conceptual and ambitious album to date, which could mean the same for Clancy. (In fact, the bridge of "Overcompensate" even features two references to two Trench tracks; "Welcome back to Trench" mirrors the outro of Trench track "Levitate," followed by lyrics taken from the bridge of "Bandito.")

Perhaps uncoincidentally, the red, yellow and black cover art vaguely calls back to the Trench cover art, which featured a smoky yellow color and a vulture.

It's The Finale To An Album Series

A press release revealed that Clancy "marks the final chapter in an ambitious multi-album narrative" which kicked off with Blurryface in 2015. What that means for the Twenty One Pilots' future is unclear, but neither their posts nor the release noted that it's their final album altogether.

It'll Be Available In Many Formats

For those who still love to buy physical albums, Twenty One Pilots have quite the array of options. Clancy will be available in a variety of physical formats, including two limited-edition deluxe box sets, four vinyl variants with additional retailer exclusives, an exclusive CD and Journal Book, and a Cassette and Photocard Wallet. 

You Can Pre-Order It Now

If any of those pique your interest, you can head to Twenty One Pilots' official store, as everything is already available for pre-order. You can also pre-save/pre-add the album on streaming services to stay up to date as the pair continues to take fans deeper into the world of Clancy.

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5 Reasons Why 'Quadrophenia' Is The Who's Ultimate Rock Opera
The Who onstage during the Quadrophenia tour in 1973

Photo: David Redfern/Redferns

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5 Reasons Why 'Quadrophenia' Is The Who's Ultimate Rock Opera

When you think of a Who rock opera, your mind might immediately go to 1969's 'Tommy,' and fair enough. But 'Quadrophenia' is arguably the purest distillation of Pete Townshend's psyche across four sides.

GRAMMYs/Oct 26, 2023 - 03:41 pm

First, a clarification: the Who's 1969 double album Tommy was a watershed for rock music — one that introduced a plethora of possibilities for the young artform.

It features one of the band's quintessential singles, "Pinball Wizard" — that immortal paean to a "deaf, dumb and blind kid," where Pete Townshend's acoustic guitar is an ingot of white heat. It's not seamless. But it succeeds.

After the monumental triumph of 1971's Who's Next — itself whittled down from a prospective rock opera, Lifehouse Roger Daltrey, Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon took another big swing. And it connected — arguably harder than similar swings before or since.

1973's Quadrophenia, which turned 50 on Oct. 26, develops on what they achieved with Tommy — as well as their earlier mini-opera "A Quick One, While He's Away," from 1966's A Quick One — in virtually every possible way.

The album tells the story of a disillusioned, working-class mod named Jimmy while plumbing Townshend's tortured psychology. The protagonist is emblematic of the youth culture that spawned the Who themselves. He "rides a GS scooter with his hair cut neat," pops amphetamines and spoils for fights.

But before too long, Townshend's character begins to unravel. Finding no relief from chemicals nor his shrink, feeling disoriented and unmoored, Jimmy sails away on a stolen boat, lies down on a rock by the seaside, contemplates the end, and — by the closer, "Love, Reign O'er Me" — finds spiritual redemption.

As you revisit this magisterial work of cerebral, emotional, narrative-driven rock, consider these five reasons that Quadrophenia might stand on top of the Who's rock-opera mountain — with zero shade on the inspired stabs they took prior.

Pete Townshend Wrote Every Song

Make no mistake: the Who were dynamite due to the contributions of all four members.

And after the deaths of Entwistle and Moon, despite the Who's successes in their wake, the Who are quite literally half a band. The essentiality of this quartet is demonstrated by the album title, which represents the four personalities of the Who, as well as the four sides of the album.

But while Entwistle and Moon's writing credits on Tommy are welcome and beneficial — the former for "Cousin Kevin" and "Fiddle About," the latter for "Tommy's Holiday Camp" — Quadrophenia benefits from Townshend being the sole writer of every song.

With one man holding the pen, Quadrophenia becomes a far more laser-focused, undiluted and personal statement — a clean transmission from a troubled, brilliant, ambitious brain to yours.

It's Light On Vignettes, And Heavy On Songs

As towering as Tommy is — as well as 1967's The Who Sell Out, their classic parody of pirate radio programming — the average listener might be waiting impatiently for the hits.

Chances are, you didn't pick up The Who Sell Out because you really wanted to hear faux advertisements for Heinz Baked Beans and Odorono; the prize is "I Can See For Miles." 

Similarly, Tommy is full of interstitial trifles like "Sparks" and "Underture" — which are very nice, thank you, but please give us "Pinball Wizard."

While it would be a stretch to call Quadrophenia an album of hits, highlights are lurking around each corner. Sure, there are instrumentals, like "Quadrophenia" and "The Rock," but they only help the story along to its crescendo.

By the time you're halfway through Quadrophenia, you've digested a number of stone classics: "The Real Me," "Cut My Hair," The Punk and the Godfather," and "I'm One" among them. And by the end, you've experienced jewels like "Sea and Sand" — as well as the epochal "Love, Reign o'er Me."

The Atmosphere Is Impeccable

Quadrophenia begins and ends out at sea; opener "I Am the Sea" is a foreshadowing agent, as vocal snippets of ensuing songs seep through mightily stormy sound effects. And, of course, "Love Reign O'er Me" is a hand outstretched in the darkness, for salvation from the briny deep.

Between these bookends is all manner of scene-setting, apart from lyrics and melodies themselves.

The whirling synths in "Quadrophenia" effectively illustrate a mind divided; the rough, street-ready sonics of "The Punk and the Godfather" are all pomade and motor oil; Townshend and Daltrey's piano-pounding rant "Helpless Dancer" sounds like they're twin Phantoms of the Opera.

In the gorgeous "Sea and Sand," you can practically feel the salt in your hair, as the story rushes to its epic conclusion.

The Narrative Is Legible

Granted, it's not like any of us listen to Sgt. Pepper's or Ziggy Stardust or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway for the story rather than the songs. In fact, without ancillary materials, most concept albums are, if not hazy, totally opaque.

But while the story of Quadrophenia is a bit of a blur, it has a consistent narrative rush, a graspable Campbellian arc. The arc of Jimmy the mod is much more linear and legible than that of Tommy; in fact, one critic thought a Townshend Rolling Stone interview told the Tommy story lightyears better than the music did.

Quadrophenia Is A Living Document

Like Tommy, Quadrophenia got a stoner-friendly cinematic treatment, and has hit the stage in various iterations over the years. But after a 1992 Broadway musical based on Tommy, the band hardly touched it in its full glory — save a solo tour by Daltrey performing it in full.

Perhaps due to its concision, focus and memorable-song quotient, Quadrophenia still has meat on its bones; after a one-off performance of Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010, the Who took it on the road for a fiery U.S. tour, billed Quadrophenia and More. And its onstage afterlife has stretched on from there.

"Can you see the real me?" Townshend pleaded as Jimmy, in "The Real Me." "Can ya? Can ya?" The album it belonged to was the clearest-ever window into his soul — and a half century on, the view remains extraordinary.

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How Las Vegas Became A Punk Rock Epicenter: From When We Were Young To The Double Down Saloon
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs a"not-so-secret" show at Las Vegas' Fremont Country Club

Photo: Fred Morledge 

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How Las Vegas Became A Punk Rock Epicenter: From When We Were Young To The Double Down Saloon

Viva Punk Vegas! It might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago, but Sin City is "the most punk city in the U.S." GRAMMY.com spoke with a variety of hardcore and legendary punks about the voracious vibe in Vegas that lends itself to punk spirit.

GRAMMYs/Oct 25, 2023 - 04:28 pm

These days, what happens in Vegas, slays in Vegas when it comes to the harder side of music.

It might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago, but as Fat Mike of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords has been putting out there for a while now, Sin City is basically "the most punk city in the U.S." at the moment. Some might find this statement debatable, but Vegas has long attracted subculture-driven gatherings, from Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekend to the all-metal Psycho Las Vegas to the mixed bag that was Las Rageous. The latest slate of huge punk and punk-adjacent music events (from Punk Rock Bowling and When We Were Young to the just-announced new lineup of Sick New World 2024) back his claim even further. 

Mike’s own Punk Rock Museum, which opened in April of this year, has cemented the city’s alternative music cred — even as it’s still best known for gambling, clubbing, and gorging at buffets. 

In fact, A lot of the audacious new activity is centered away from the big casinos and in the downtown area and arts district of what is known as "old Vegas." Just outside of the tourist-trappy, Times Square-like Fremont Experience, there’s a vibrant live music scene anchored by a few key clubs, and an ever-growing slate of fests.

*Attendees at 2022's When We Were Young Festival┃Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic*

Live Nation’s second annual When We Were Young Festival brought out a largely Millennial crowd to see headliners Green Day and blink-182 this past weekend, alongside over two dozen more recognizable openers from emo/pop-punk's heyday. Tickets sold so well when it was first announced, that a second day was added to the schedule.

Green Day didn’t stop with their fest gigs; the band played a "not-so-secret" pop-up show last Thursday night at one of the most popular venues in town for punk, alternative and heavy music: Fremont Country Club, just blocks from festival grounds. The show served as a warm-up gig as well as an announcement by Billie Joe Armstrong: His band will join Smashing Pumpkins, Rancid, and others for a 2024 stadium tour. The band also debuted a timely new track, "The American Dream Is Killing Me."  

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"People who like punk and other heavy music want to be in a club environment like ours, not a big casino," says Carlos "Big Daddy" Adley, owner of Fremont Country Club and its adjacent music space Backstage Bar & Grill. Both have become live music hotspots not unlike the ones Adley and his wife/partner Ava Berman ran in Los Angeles before they moved to Vegas over a decade ago. 

"Fremont East," as the neighborhood is called, will soon see a boutique hotel from the pair. Like everything they do, it will have a rock n’ roll edge that hopes to draw both visitors and locals.

*Outside Fremont Country Club┃Photo: Fred Morledge*

The duo told GRAMMY.com that a visit to Double Down Saloon, Sin City’s widely-recognized original punk bar and music dive was what first inspired them to come to Vegas and get into the nightlife business there. Double Down has been slinging booze (like Bacon Martinis and "Ass Juice" served in a ceramic toilet bowl mug) and booking live punk sounds since it opened back in 1992.

"It's kind of a stepping stone for a lot of bands," says Cameron Morat, a punk musician and photographer, who also works with the Punk Rock Museum as curator of its rockstar-led tour guide program. "People always assume that Vegas is just the strip, but that's only like four miles long. There's a lot more of the ‘‘other city.’ There are people who are just into music and into going to local shows who don't ever go to the main strip."

In addition to the Double Down, Morat says Vegas has always had a history of throwing local punk shows at spaces like the Huntridge Theater, which is currently being remodeled and set to re-open soon for local live music. He also points to The Usual Place as a venue popular with local punk and rock bands now, and The Dive Bar — a favorite with the mohawk, patched-up battle vest scene, featuring heavy music seven nights a week, including a night promoted by his partner Masuimi Max called Vegas Chaos.  

*Cameron Morat┃Photo: Kristina Markovich*

While glitzy stage shows from legacy artists and mega-pop hit makers like Usher, Elton John, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga still get the most media attention, raucous local shows are starting to factor into a new generation’s vacation planning, too.

"There’s a really good scene here," Morat proclaims. "It's funny because a lot of people, the sort of gatekeepers of punk, ask ‘why is the punk museum in Vegas?’ But it is a punk city, and not just because you've got all the local bands and the venues."

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Morat, whose own band Soldiers of Destruction, plays around town on occasion, also notes other acts such as Gob Patrol, Suburban Resistance, and Inframundo as having fierce local followings. He says there’s a certain voracious vibe in Vegas that lends itself to punk rock creation, performance and attitude. "A lot of the anger from punk rock — like the disparity of wealth, for instance, is here," he says. "Five minutes down the road, you've got people throwing away a million on the roll of a dice. But you've also got people who are doing like three jobs just trying to pay their rent." 

Over at the Punk Rock Museum, Morat, who moved from Los Angeles to Vegas about seven  years ago, is keeping busy booking big-name guests to share inspirations and war stories, both weekly, and specifically timed with whatever big festival or event happens to be in town. He says he wants to feature artists that might not be thought of as traditional punk rock, but who have relevant backgrounds and stories to share. 

"A lot of these people have punk history the public doesn’t know about," he says. "I think if we just stick to a very small well of people, it's going to get pretty boring. So I'm trying to open it up for a bigger cross-section." 

*Imagery from "Black Punk Now" | Ed Marshall*

The museum is already showing the breadth of punk rock’s influence on music in general. During WWWY, the museum held events tied to its new exhibit "Black Punk Now," curated by James Spooner, director of the 2003 documentary Afro-Punk. As Spooner spoke about the film’s 20th anniversary and his new book of Black punk authors, musicians playing the weekend’s festivities from Sum 41, MxPx, Bayside, Less Than Jake came through to talk too. Warped Tour’s Kevin Lyman and Fat Mike himself also took part in the museum’s new after-dark guided tour series.

Bringing in a wider audience and a new generation of rebellious kids who seek to channel their angst and energy into music is part of what the museum — and, it seems, the myriad of events in Las Vegas these days — is all about. Despite what some punk rock purists and gatekeepers might say, the inclusion of tangent bands and scenes is in the original punk spirit. He’ll be booking guests tied to next year’s Sick New World, the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly bash and even EDC in the future (electronic bangers are not unlike hardcore ones and even Moby was a punk before he became a DJ). 

"I think that the museum is great for the punk scene here," he adds. "People will literally come to town just to see the museum, and then if there's a band playing in town in the evening, they'll go. So it's broadening the support for all the bands, local and touring. Some punk bands used to skip Vegas completely on their tours, but not anymore." 

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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