Vol 3, Issue 7: Drugs = Bad for Business, but Good for the Soul?

Despite the fatal health risks associated with substance abuse (including, but not limited to death!), not to mention the high probability of finding out that you fathered a child years after a forbidden drug-induced affair and that said child has been told that someone else was her daddy since birth because, let’s face it, addicts don’t make good parents (happened to Steven Tyler, could happen to you), as we learned last week, the “marriage” between drugs and rock’n’roll, although obviously a rocky one, has been longstanding. And as for the sex part of the equation? Well, just as alcohol has the wondrous effect of lowering one’s inhibitions (translation: makes you act like a slut), drugs do even more to get your mojo a-kicking. Hence, all of the stories of weird (and often disturbing) hookups that you hear about, like that of David Bowie and Mick Jagger!

Partly because of the fragile nature of most musicians, but mostly on account of how the industry itself is structured, this unfortunate image of the “true rockstar” continues to be perpetuated from generation to generation creating serious consequences (and pressures) for the up and coming musician. It’s quite a rep to live up to, and of course, the media’s glamourization of this lifestyle as being the epitome of “rock’n’roll” doesn’t help either. However, I would be a hypocrite to assert that all of the excesses of our past rock’n’rollers have left us with nothing of value. In fact, some of my favourite artists including Jimi Hendrix, I know with absolute certainty, have been inspired from drug-induced states and/or written in response to having one too many close calls with The Reaper, himself.

As pointed out by fellow musician, and my close personal friend, Jesse Tomes, there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse, and in Tomes’ opinion, the artists who’ve been successful in mastering intake moderation are those who have been able to utilize the effects of narcotics in a positive way through their art. No one can argue that Pink Floyd or the later records of The Beatles (which some purport as their greatest work) would have ever come into fruition without the assistance of certain illegal substances. The Beatles, for that matter, even came right out to say that they “got by with a little help from their friends,” - the same friends with whom, as the song states a stanza later, they got high.

But on the other side of things, despite Tomes’ arguments, I would still suggest that there are far more examples of drugs gone wrong as illustrated by the ever-growing population cited on what’s been called, Music’s Most Infamous Death Club, a list of entertainers who’ve lost their lives at the tender age of only 27 years. Further, even for the recovering addicts who managed to miss the bullet earlier on, it’s not as though they are shining examples of health today. Let’s be honest, Keith Richards looks like a walking zombie ready to keel over at any minute, and as for Ozzy, no one on earth can understand what the hell he is saying except for his devoted wife, Sharon (bless her for putting up with him). Despite the fact that both of these icons of rock used to flaunt their bad boy images (and everything that these personas entailed), during interviews, I’ve heard both of them denounce their past behaviour(s) because of the crippled states that it has left them in today. Unfortunately, irrespective of both Richards’ and Osbourne’s acts of penance, the image of the drugged up rocker still remains “the image of cool, and this has devastating consequences for up and coming artists; just look at what recently happened to The Pink Spiders, a Nashville-based band who many labels saw as “promising” just a few years back; in fact, there was a bidding war to sign them.

Like so many previous surefire bands, they fell victim to excessive drug use, and royally fucked themselves out of ever having a shot at fame. The all too familiar story went as follows: record exec saw young talented act, and decided to make them an offer of upfront cash that they could not refuse. Being young, idealistic, and unaware of the fact that upfront monies are required by contract to be paid back if their record sales failed to impress their label (information they could’ve read in their contract if they weren’t messed up on drugs), the band then went and blew all of their cash on yet more drugs and other equally noxious vices. The record label pressured the act to put out hit after hit (in shorter and shorter timeframes) and the touring schedule was continually added to until it seemed endless. Shows started to get sloppy, and consequently, ticket sales diminished. Soon, the upfront monies started to run out, and incoming profits reached an all-time low. Inter-band turmoil mounted, members need to be replaced, and finally it all came to a screeching halt when the label decided that they no longer wanted to invest in the act, and that all of the previously conferred monies were to be re-imburst immediately or litigation would be pursued. The remaining members tried to regroup and make amends with their previous business contacts, but the label had already moved on. The band members, are now struggling to find any job to pay the bills (usually, most musicians who fall victim to this circumstance have also unfortunately failed to achieve higher than a highschool education), and will likely remain indebt to their label well into their elder years. All songwriting credits are now owned by the label, and any residuals that could’ve been made from licensing are lost.

If that’s not convincing that drugs are bad for business, I don’t know what else would be! Suffice it to say, drug use makes you vulnerable to manipulation, and clearly record labels aren’t too low to take advantage of this weakness (whatever makes for more money right?)

Irrespective of cases such as the one just described, the problem, in Tomes’ view, is not drug use in itself, rather, it is the fact that we rarely hear about the cases of constructive narcotic use; something he blames on the media’s love for sensationalization and scandal. According to Tomes, because the slant is biased in favour of depicting “rockers of rehab”, drug abuse is normalized, and addiction as a lifestyle comes to be seen as a required component to making music for a living.

Tomes believes that the vast majority of the population (clearly, myself excluded) actually participates in drug culture, in one way or another, including our lawyers, our teachers, and the members of society whom we deem as “functional”, but this remains a little known fact because most people, as a result of moderate drug consumption, don’t do anything wrong while “high” on life. Further, Tomes argues that proper drug use, regardless of whether you are a musician or not, can aid in meditation, spiritual growth and enlightenment - practises that I too agree are positive and important in regards to maintaining a balanced psyche.

Regardless, the choice is clearly YOURS. As demonstrated, there are benefits (if done properly), and consequences (if not) to the practise of narcotic consumption in the music industry. Though, as I stated at the beginning, many of my own favourite artists have been serious doers of drugs, I do wonder whether drug-induced art may limit one’s audience. As someone who prides herself on trying to maintain high esteem for all of the artists of the past who’ve revolutionized what we know today as the music industry, I still myself struggling to really “get” psychedelic artists like Pink Floyd, or their musical offspring, Tool. Maybe I should take a trip down to Kansas with Dorothy while grooving to the soothing tunes of the “Dark Side of the Moon” and consuming a little LSD. On second thought, maybe not. After all, I firmly believe, musical genres exist to appeal to everyone, and clearly, not all genres are meant to be “gotten” by everyone equally.

About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry is the frontwoman for Canadian hard rock band ANTI-HERO known as “The 21st Century Answer to Nirvana”, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services.

Her band ANTI-HERO has toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, their critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase.

Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.For more information on Rose Cora Perry and her band's accomplishments, please visit
http://www.anti-hero.ca/ or http://www.rosecoraperry.com/


Vol 3, Issue 6: The Origins of Sex, Drugs, & Rock’n’Roll

When we conceptualize the lifestyle of the prototypical rockstar, it is one that is associated with excesses in their many forms: namely exorbitant promiscuity, and copious narcotic consumption. While the pop culture expression, “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” didn’t begin to permeate the public consciousness until the 1960s and was further popularized by a ‘77’s single by Ian Dury, this image of the celebrity musician is nothing new.

According to music history buffs, this portrait of the rockstar actually originated in ancient times and is a modern figure of speech derived from the Greek hendiatris (a literary technique in which three words are used to express one idea), “women, wine, and song.” As apparent from its original expression, (which connotes a gender bias in favour of males as the adored performers, and women as the fanatical groupies) sexism within the music industry is nothing new either, but this is a topic we will look more into at a later date.

For the time being, I thought it would be interesting if we attacked the issue of drug culture and musicianship from both sides of the debate. Joined by my good friend, talented lead guitarist, industrial music lover, and extreme sports junkie, Jesse Tomes, in this issue and the next, we will examine the use and abuse of drugs in the music industry and both the benefits and the consequences of this from the artist’s perspective. As an avid anti-drug activist, I will naturally be taking the oppositional stance. But, before we get into the effects of this kind of lifestyle, let’s take a look at why artists and substance abuse have, for so long, gone hand in hand.

As I’ve stated in previous articles, many musicians (not all, but a great majority) first get involved in music as a means to soothe their pain. Whether the sons or daughters of abusive parents, those who’ve struggled with poverty, discrimination, and/or never felt as though they fit in, musicians often come to the table with a great deal of emotional distress, baggage, deep-seated resentment, and bitterness towards the world and anyone who stands in their way, to say the least. While their tortured souls prove beneficial for writing truly inspiring songs, their fragile states leave them in a position in which they are all too easy to take advantage of. In addition to partaking in songwriting as an outlet for their turmoil, before they even get their earliest tastes of fame, musicians are often already participating in semi-regular drug use as an additional form of emotional support and escapism. While smoking the occasional joint will likely not hurt themselves or any of their friends in a major way, their vulnerability as well as the structure of the music industry itself, makes the transition towards harder drugs frighteningly simple to slip into.

For starters, clubowners, irrespective of one’s career juncture, frequently propose alcohol and/or drugs to musicians as the form of payment for a performance, and if they (the clubowners) don’t blatantly try to screw over musicians with this tactic, they will at the least encourage a good snort after a job well done in the pleasure of their company. Not to sound too much like your VIP teacher from grade six, but this is a form of peer pressure that is difficult (but not impossible) to challenge, especially when you are outnumbered by fellow musicians and promoters alike, who embrace this lifestyle. Seeing as networking constitutes an essential part of any successful artist’s life, avoiding these after-show meet and greets could prove detrimental to one’s embarking career. So what’s an artist to do? An old trick that Gene Simmons likes to pull is to drink gingerale at such meetings as its resemblance to beer is rather uncanny, but how he would fake hitting a line of coke, well I don’t think anyone’s figured out a solution to that, as of yet.

Next, because of the incessant touring that is required for any band to establish a decent following, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition become additional battles with which musicians must contend. An easy solution embraced by so many artists of the past comes in the form of amphetamines (aka speed or uppers). Of course, the musicians who begin popping these pills almost always state that it’ll be a temporary thing, just until they are off the road, forgetting that in fact, drugs of this nature do have the potential to become highly addictive, and are known for producing serious withdrawal symptoms. To cope with the same issue in a slightly different manner, other popular drugs of choice are hallucinogens, which allow artists to temporarily escape reality. By no means would I ever support this kind of thing, but in this situation, when you are driving endlessly across the countryside to play a few 45 minute sets which may or may not be worth your while, one’s stress and frustration levels are ridiculously high, and I can appreciate why so many artists feel they have no other choice, but to numb the experience by going on a temporarily vacation (at least, psychologically).

What few people realize is just how unglamourous touring actually is. It is not until you are in the big leagues (and I mean in a seriously major act that’s been around for at least a decade) that you will be provided with the luxury of a tour bus equipped with bunkbeds, a fridge, shower, and a personal driver. For the rest of us lowly indies, it is you and your fellow bandmates splitting up the driving and taking turns spooning each other in the back of your van which will invariably breakdown, and get broken into, at least once on each of your roadtrips.

Finally, and in my opinion the biggest contributor to perpetuating, “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” as the norm and the expected behaviour of rockstars, is the media and its convention of glamourizing musicians who participate in this type of lifestyle, and by doing so, making it seem cool to aspire to be just like them some day. While most music rags don’t outwardly promote this kind of conduct as something desirable, the fact that they are more willing to devote page space to stories about drugged up rockers speaks for itself. As the audience of said magazines is largely composed of young, highly impressionable, and idealistic youth, what kind of message does this send?

It makes drugs seem cool, and makes people such as Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), who was officially pronounced dead for two minutes on Dec 23th, 1987, and then revived by two adrenaline shots to the heart by a Crue-loving paramedic only to return to his house that very same night to ingest more heroin, seem even cooler. In my opinion, considering all of the trials and tribulations that our youth have to deal with today, this is hardly the kind of message that we should be sending them. It shows that the repercussions for substance abuse are trivial, at best, and that playing music and getting high is what will gain them fame, fortune, and of course, in the words of the boys of Crue themselves, “girls, girls, girls.”

About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry the frontwoman for Canadian hard rock band ANTI-HERO known as “The 21st Century Answer to Nirvana”, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services.

Her band ANTI-HERO has toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, their critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase.

Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.For more information on Rose Cora Perry and her band's accomplishments, please visit
http://www.anti-hero.ca/ or http://www.rosecoraperry.com/


Vol 3, Issue 5: Talking Shop with Alan Cross: An Exploration of Music, Making it, & Canadian Mass Consumption

When inquiring among music consumers as to why they enjoy particular “popular” tracks, I all too often hear the heart-sinking reply that it’s because they find said tracks “catchy and easy to dance to.” We’ve gotten to a point in music listening in which lyrical content has sunk to such minimal importance that artists such as Katy Perry (aka Katy Hudson) who began as bible-totting “holier than thou” gospel singers, can take on new last names, and start singing about lesbian affairs. Worst yet, despite these blatant hypocrisies, and obvious marketing ploys, no one seems the wiser.

Back in the hippie days however, musicians, such as Bob Dylan, were not merely considered the producers of a consumable art form, but rather the people looked up to them to be their voice, and to address issues, in their lyrics (among other places), that needed addressing.

This apparent debasement of the musical craft has left me contemplating how it is possible that we have come so far technologically, and globally, yet lost so much of the dignity that the music industry once had, in the process? The only person I felt capable of taking on the challenge of responding to this query of mine was music history guru and host of the infamously popular radio show, The Ongoing History of New Music: the one, the only Mr. Alan Cross.

Though our discussion with each other regarding the music industry’s current state of affairs did enjoy a fair amount of bantering and debate (including a dissection of the character, that is, Madonna) as he took the position of the industry and business expert, and I, the one of the lowly indie rocker, out of our, at times, heated discourse, we came to the conclusion that we have at least three convictions in common:

1) there is no easy or quick solution to the current illegal downloading situation

2) the ease of access with which people can obtain music as well as the over-saturation of the music marketplace has led to a devaluing of the art form coupled with superficial music listening, and finally,

3) the Canadian music industry really needs to bone up and acknowledge all of the talent that it has given birth to, otherwise we are going to continue to lose our best acts to the US of A.

On that final point, Cross went so far as to say that Canada has an inferiority complex when it comes to its artistic offerings; hence the reason why so many Canuck acts have to break in foreign markets, before they get recognized in the True North Strong and Free. He feels our national preference for “egalitarian mediocrity” (as opposed to elite excellence) is also the driving force behind industry standardization regimes such as Cancon which force radio djs to spin a certain percentage of Canadian content on a weekly basis in order to honour quota mandates. Such programs, in Alan’s view, prevent Canadian artists from ever being taken seriously on the world stage.

For those of you unfamiliar with the colossal CV that Mr. Cross has managed to amass for himself, before we get too deep into our interview, I feel it’s necessary to provide a brief (and hopefully entertaining) overview of some of the highlights of his life, thus far:

Alan grew up in a small rural Prairie community in which FM radio ceased to exist and one of the few venues that actually sold music, in a consumable form, was a clothing store named Robinson’s, of all places. It was 1974 and The Ramones hadn’t yet formed. The Beatles had fallen out of favour, and Led Zep and The Rolling Stones were far too exotic for someone who was secluded from urban life, and reared in the sticks. Contrary to the alterna-head image with which Cross is now notoriously linked, the first album that Alan ever set his sights on was the work of, perhaps, the industry’s most ultimate diva.

It wasn’t Madonna (she didn’t launch until ‘83), Cher was still doing her thing with Sonny, Celine Dion was, likewise, still ”in the making”, and though Tina Turner would have been a viable option for the prelude to Alan’s remarkable career, the credit goes to a Sir Elton John and a certain dance variety involving crocodiles who like to rock.

From that point onwards (well perhaps, after puberty set in), Cross bounced from radio joe-job to radio joe-job acquiring as much technical, and media know-how as possible, as well as endeavouring to expand his musical horizons to include everything from highly experimental jazz to bands he describes as psychedelic versions of Jesus & The Mary Chain to straight up unapologetic fuzzy alt- grunge rock like that of, whose origins have been credited to, Nirvana. In fact, Nirvana’s very existence marks a rather important juncture in Cross’ career.

As one of the radio djs burdened with the task of delivering the news of Cobain’s tragic end back in 1994, it is clear that this is a band to which Cross will forever remain emotionally attached. Though he is the first to acknowledge that Nirvana were, in actuality, a fluke, and that their success can largely be attributed to the fact that the world was ready for a bunch of “hard rocking cynical anti-stars”, he is also the first to defend the brilliance of Nevermind, and the important lasting effects of Nirvana’s influence.

According to The Edge 102.1's official website, Alan’s flagship show, The Ongoing History of New Music, debuted in February 1993, and since then, has aired more than 600 episodes, all researched, written and produced solely by Alan, himself. The Ongoing History is currently syndicated through almost a dozen stations across Canada, has spun off four books and more than a dozen CD compilations, and currently holds the title as the longest-running music documentary in Canada. Alan has additionally appeared as a guest on various TV and radio shows, written official biographies for a variety of rock bands including The Making of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine & Downward Spiral, narrated TV shows, documentaries and info-mercials, and written articles for both newspapers and magazines, alike.

In other words, if radio djs were allotted the same degree of celebrity as rockstars, Alan Cross would undeniably be the media world’s James Brown sharing the joint title of the “hardest working man in showbiz”. It’s this astonishing work ethic, and sea of accomplishment, together with his personal ascend from humble roots, that formulates the basis for his perspectives regarding today’s indie musician.

When asked what advice he had to offer to the current independent artist, Alan, unfalteringly, began with “the world doesn’t owe you anything”. Admiring bands such as Oasis, who triumphed despite arising from hidden backdrops of familial abuse, poverty, and alcoholism, Alan believes that being a musician, “is supposed to be hard, and if your stuff isn't good enough, or if the public chooses not to like it, there's nothing you can do about it.” However, in saying that, Cross still maintains an optimistic, if somewhat idealistic, view.

Although for any musician (and media personality like Cross), one’s relationship with the internet is ambivalent at best, Cross acknowledges that the net has provided today’s musicians with a power that none of their predecessors could’ve ever dreamed of experiencing. Without leaving the comfort of one’s home, musicians are now able to record, disseminate, and exploit their art to global proportions. But, there is another side to this coin: because production technology, that is capable of making even the most tone-deaf drowning cat-esque vocalists sound melodic, is so widely available, and because the vast majority of the social networking sites that bands use to campaign themselves are free, the competition is beyond steep. And so, in Alan’s eyes, if you truly want to get the attention of a larger label (which he feels is necessary for success), you need to provide them with a turnkey solution: that being, a product that is pre-packaged and ready to export to the grand stage. The only way to do this (and I can contend) is to work your ass off playing lots of gigs, developing your fan base, and making sure that all of the people who come out to support you are always taken care of so that their loyalty sustains.

Though I think Cross makes a valid point regarding how so many musicians underestimate the work involved in “making it”, I personally believe that he’s missed a central feature to his provided equation for success: as talented and as marketable as your act may be, whether you like it or not, there is still an element of luck involved, and often (more often than they should), connections trump everything.

With his expansive musical knowledge, I’m sure that Cross could list tons of bands that haven’t made it that should have, and equally on the other side of things, tons of bands who did make it who shouldn’t have. But, in his defence, Cross would argue my rebuttal by stating that we require the bubble-gum mainstream artists to appeal to the masses in order to generate new capital that can be invested in underground acts that are really doing something interesting. The problem with this formula however, is exactly the fact that it has become too formulaic, and almost invariably, once a unique indie gets picked up by a label, they are transformed into the hit making machine that began the whole process, therefore never allowing mass consumption of, in my opinion, “good” music. But obviously, this is clearly a matter of tastes, and neither one of us can be more right than the other.

Putting our differences aside for the time being however, I think its important for me to express my high degree of respect for Mr. Cross and to acknowledge, that myself, as well as all of you, my fellow musicians, could learn a great deal from what this man has to offer, and so we ought to respond to his benefactions in the only way that is appropriate in the realm of wireless telegraphy: that being, all ears.

Mimicking the aims of the great musicians of the past who made this industry what it is today, Cross himself is an artist in his own right as it is clear that his mission is both to educate and inspire.

Taking this into consideration, his loyalty to the radio waves makes perfect sense because when people need to know if things are safe, and/or want to keep in touch with the rest of the planet without having to be tied to the computer, it is the FM dial to which they naturally turn.

Though he’s been almost 30 years “in the making”, I think its fair to assert that Alan Cross has most certainly made it. Long gone are his days of broadcasting out of what he terms an “elevator-music” radio station situated between a wheat field and a mental hospital. Cross has worked diligently throughout his career to open up our minds to music that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, he has resurrected lost artists from the past, and embraced new artists of the future, he has sparked debate regarding the music industry, and Canada’s place within it, all while managing to stay true to his homeland roots giving hope to the rest of us that are proud to call this great nation our home.

And with that said, I, on behalf of Alan, have but, one final note that deserves to be said: Alan Cross believes that, “headphones, in public, are a blight on the development of society” further contributing to the modern-day phenomenon of “ego-casting”. According to Cross, “technology now allows us to shut out any material, concept, sound, or sight that we find disagreeable so much to the point that we can cocoon ourselves in a warm bath of just the things that we like, unencumbered by the stuff we don’t.” With this kind of control and impenetrable mindset, he begs the question, how will people ever grow as music fans? This is a question, I will leave all of you to contemplate.

*For more information on Alan Cross, check out the Edge’s official website located at and be sure to catch the debut of his latest buzz-generating endeavour about which he remains tightlipped: ExploreMusic (launching Oct 6th). *

About the Author:

Rose Cora Perry the frontwoman for Canadian hard rock band ANTI-HERO known as “The 21st Century Answer to Nirvana”, as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services.

Her band ANTI-HERO has toured extensively across North America playing notable festivals such as Warped Tour, Canadian Music Week, NorthbyNorthEast, Wakefest, and MEANYFest.

Voted “Best Rock Act of the Year” by numerous industry publications, their critically acclaimed debut album, "Unpretty" is available worldwide for purchase.

Rose Cora Perry is a dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians.For more information on Rose Cora Perry and her band's accomplishments, please visit
http://www.anti-hero.ca/ or http://www.rosecoraperry.com/