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'Tour Stop(ped)' But The Show Must Go On: Laura Jane Grace, Lzzy Hale & More

Lzzy Hale of Halestorm

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'Tour Stop(ped)' But The Show Must Go On: Laura Jane Grace, Lzzy Hale & More

MusiCares & the Recording Academy Florida & Chicago Chapters host a candid discussion between top rock acts on mental health and adapting to life without the rush – or revenue – of touring.

GRAMMYs/Oct 30, 2020 - 04:27 am

"I miss airport coffees. I miss sleeping in a bus bunk. And I miss being part of a team," Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace said with a melancholy smile, followed by knowing nods from her colleagues. Even before the pandemic sent countless hearts and minds into a heady darkness of isolation, the importance of frank discussion of mental health for musicians had come to the foreground. Suddenly taking away sources of revenue, of connection, of support, of stability, of routine, from people already facing the challenges of the life of an artist. Presented by Recording Academy Florida and Chicago Chapters with MusiCares and bringing together a variety of Recording Academy members to share their perspective on it all, Tour Stop(ped) opened the floor to the essential conversation regarding the value of self-care and strategies for thriving as an artist unable to hit the road.

"You're basing your life on connection to people," explained rising English rocker Yungblud. "I want to be out there causing chaos but now I'm just looking at the walls, watching the paint dry!"

Stephen Gibb served as the perfect moderator for the conversation, a familiar face in a cozily familiar studio setting, keeping the conversation focused and spirited. As a member of hard rock bands such as Black Label Society, Crowbar, and Saigon Kick, Gibb is intimately familiar with tour life. And as current host of the podcast Addiction Talks, his deft hand with sensitive conversations encouraged openhearted conversation, first focused on a general sense of how everyone was coping with this strange new reality. In addition to Yungblud, veterans Grace and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, and new wave experimentalist KennyHoopla contributed an array of perspectives on Tour Stop(ped), both in terms of their careers and their personal experiences, offering viewers a variety of valuable lessons.

Hale found herself stumped by the first chunk of time without a gig on the schedule since the band's founding. "Even when I was 13 I had a gig at the bowling alley lined up," she laughed, framed in her home studio by racks of her distinctive Epiphone Explorer guitars. From her home in Chicago, Grace reiterated the confusion that comes from utter stillness after decades of constant movement, but with a sense of contentment. "This very well might be one long manic episode," she laughed. "I've been doing this for 20 years, and in a way it was 20 years of wondering when it was all going to go away. And that it did, but not because of anything I did, something totally out of my control, was calming."

A large part of the conversation focused on strategies to ensure that musicians can feel creative and fulfilled in this time, to keep from falling into unhealthy ruts. As an artist still early in his touring career, KennyHoopla has seen the inability to perform as an opportunity for reflection. "I'm just trying to catch up to myself," he said. "To use this time to hone the fragile parts of me and make them stronger."

Grace, meanwhile, compared the time to Bob Dylan's self-imposed years off from touring, saying she was similarly using the pandemic as a period of woodshopping and working on her craft. "Being an artist is about being creative, and we're in a situation right now that's asking us all to be our most creative selves to make this work and to make the best of this," she mused.

Gibb and the panelists elaborated on the importance of maintaining a connection with fans—as a way of keeping the audience engaged, of garnering financial support for new projects while tour revenue is gone and of maintaining the necessary emotional support. When the pandemic necessitated canceling gigs, Yungblud was already in the midst of a global tour. When he got home, he immediately knew he'd need to put together a livestream event and to stick close to his social media accounts. "Luckily, I love being online and I love social media. That's our stage right now," he said. "Everybody's in the same boat, feeling that need, like, ‘I'm going to mosh my head off, I'm going to go crazy, I'm going to release my energy even if it's in my bedroom with my cat.'"

Read More: Yungblud Talks Turning His Tour Postponement Into An Online Rock & Roll Variety Show

While the panelists were all musicians, the entire music industry, Gibb noted, are struggling through this pandemic. Countless individuals are having their livelihoods hit hard by the inability to work in crews, sell merch, and promote tours, among countless other outlets. "My heart is breaking for my friends and family, the techs, lighting guys, riggers," he said, holding back the tears. "We're in the fun business, the happiness business. We bring joy and we connect with people on a visceral, emotional level. It's heartbreaking for there not to be any end date to this."

The panelists provided fascinating and refreshing perspective on what might happen when touring does start to kick back into swing. "If everyone is going to try to tour at once, then the market will be completely flooded and it's going to be just as much pandemonium," Grace insisted. "[We need to be] figuring out a strategic way through this and a strategic way out of this for the community that we have spent so long building that is collapsing around us."

As life, and this year, have shown us difficult times can manifest surprising moments. Two surprise guests dropped into the conversation as well in order to ask questions that hit close to their hearts. Frontwoman of legendary LA hard rockers L7, Donita Sparks popped in first ("I don't know if I'm a guest or a Zoom bomb!" she grinned). Her question centered on what the artists missed most; for Sparks, it was her tour family, the larger crew beyond the band, and how artists can keep that connection while at home. "I always feel invincible because I know they have my back," she said.

On top of lamenting the inability to connect more personally with his fans, Yungblud encouraged everyone on the call to let out their most raucous shout, a release of pent-up punk-energy inspired by Sparks' iconic spirit. Experimental songwriter Grandson popped in later (first thanking the "music Illuminati" for the invite), and then offering a succinct and powerful explanation of the importance of gratitude. "Set your goals internally to make the best art you can, be the best friend you can, and let the things that are out of your control remain that way," he said.

Naturally, the conversation wound its way through to coping mechanisms, strategies which the individual musicians would recommend for keeping their mental health strong. Aerobic exercise as a replacement for long nights on the stage were a common refrain. Hale added that an herb garden had become a centering activity and Gibb extolled the virtues of meditation, while Grace vouched for long baths with epsom salts and apple cider vinegar. Yungblud's solution was endless jamming at the exasperation of his neighbors, while KennyHoopla's suggestion for boosting spirits focused on one word: love.

"Having time to elaborate on my love for everyone in my life and loving myself... just putting out love as much as I can and continuing to give myself to the universe," he said. "When you give yourself to the universe, it will always return."

In addition to the panelists' discussions of their own experiences, the event featured video interludes. In the first, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman highlighted the Academy's collaboration with MusiCares, noting that the organization had already assisted nearly 20,000 individuals in the music industry and dispersed over $19 million, whether for helping cover rent, fixing broken instruments, organizing doctor's appointments for uninsured members, and even establishing cyber support groups and addiction and rehab counseling.

Later, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Recording Academy Daryl Friedman led a conversation regarding how artists can help in the fight to sustain independent stages. Throughout, short videos from Academy members sharing stories of their favorite venues and what they missed on the road reinforced not only the community aspect of the music industry, but also the Academy's commitment to bringing everyone together in the fight to make lives better until things can get back to a relative normal.

But then even this very panel showcases just how important that community feeling can be, the four panelists exchanging their own biggest takeaways. "Laura said earlier, you have to do things quickly [because] when you have time you can overthink things," Yungblud reiterated. "Right now, what the f*ck do I have to lose? Why not push my boundaries?"

KennyHoopla had been meant to open for Yungblud on a series of tour dates, and the two naturally bonded during this time over their joint focus on pushing boundaries during pandemic. "There's this sense of urgency because people are relying on you to give them a sense of escapism and a high," he said. "I've gotta keep going and keep providing art and putting myself out there."

As the conversation neared its end, Hale insisted that when they were all back out on the festival circuit, they'd need to find a way to get together for a hug and a beer -- a simple pleasure that's somehow turned into a transformative dream. And after all of the sage advice dispensed throughout the evening, Grace offered perhaps the most important three-word signoff: "Just stay alive."

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track

Iggy Pop

Photo: Harmony Korine

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Iggy Pop Announces New Album, 'Free', Shares Title Track

"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained… I wanted to be free," the Godfather of Punk explained

GRAMMYs/Jul 18, 2019 - 11:47 pm

Today, GRAMMY-nominated punk forbearer Iggy Pop revealed the details for his forthcoming 18th solo studio album, along with its short—at under two minutes—yet spacious title track, "Free." The 10-track LP is due out Sept. 6 and follow's 2016's GRAMMY-nominated Post Pop Depression.

"This is an album in which other artists speak for me, but I lend my voice," Pop explains in a press release.

The statement notes jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas and L.A.-based electric guitarist Noveller as the "principal players" collaborating with Pop on this exploratory new project. On "Free," Thomas' horn and Noveller's guitar add layers of depth, somberness and exploration, as Pop's echoing voice cuts through twice to proclaim, "I want to be free."

Pop adds that his last tour left him feeling exhausted but ready for change, and the shifts eventually led him to these new sounds:

"By the end of the tours following Post Pop Depression, I felt sure that I had rid myself of the problem of chronic insecurity that had dogged my life and career for too long. But I also felt drained. And I felt like I wanted to put on shades, turn my back, and walk away. I wanted to be free. I know that's an illusion, and that freedom is only something you feel, but I have lived my life thus far in the belief that that feeling is all that is worth pursuing; all that you need—not happiness or love necessarily, but the feeling of being free. So this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen."

Post Pop Depression earned the former Stooges frontman his second GRAMMY nod, at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for Best Alternative Music Album. It was produced by GRAMMY winner Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and as a tribute of sorts to David Bowie, Pop's longtime friend the producer of his first two solo albums, and was released shortly after Bowie's surprising passing.

As the press release states, "While it follows the highest charting album of Iggy's career, Free has virtually nothing in common sonically with its predecessor—or with any other Iggy Pop album."

You can pre-order and pre-save the new album now for the Sept. 6 release here. You can also check out Pop's new book, 'Til Wrong Feels Right, on Sept. 26.

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