Thursday, December 18, 2014

DEAD SERIOS: Celebrating 30 Years of Rock!


DEAD SERIOS: 
Celebrating 30 Years of Rock!
      ___________________________________________________ 

The year was 1985. New Wave was  winding down, hair bands were revving up, 
and the time was right for a rock revolution.
____________________________________________________

An early Dead Serios gig.
(Stop laughing. It was 1985, okay?)
As an aspiring young musician influenced by an eclectic mix of Van Halen, The Ramones, Frank Zappa, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, John Denver and KISS, I was searching desperately for my own artistic identity during the mid '80s. At just 22, I'd already had my fill of playing in cheesy Rock / Top 40 cover bands. I wanted to form an original band something different, something unique.

So in 1985, I stashed away my drum kit and took on the persona of D.L Serios frontman for my new (original) band, Dead Serios. Fueled by blind ambition, and armed with little more than a fistful of marginally adequate hard rock tunes about chicks and cars, we set out to conquer the world — or at least the Central Florida music scene. BTW, we spell "Serios" without the "U" simply because the guy who designed our first logo smoked a lot of pot and he simply ran out of space on the paper and reasoned that the "U" was the word's most expendable letter. True story.

Our first year was a bumpy ride, indeed. Our songs were weak, I was rather awkward on the mic and the band's mismatched original line-up offered a less than compelling live presentation. But we followed every letter of the rock and rock wannabe playbook, and we pressed on diligently. In 1986, we opened for a fledgling little New York-based combo called Anthrax — and they "spanked" us, plain and simple. But that gig proved to be a bona fide game-changer. There was a new rock revolution on the horizon — and Dead Serios clearly was NOT part of it. I realized that night that I could AND should throw out the "playbook." We had to stop being so serious (so to speak) and start taking some risks if we were to stand even a remote a chance of breaking out. 

Our 1987 Ralph Rules record defined the
future Dead Serios sound and direction.
Master of Puppets and Spreading the Disease soon replaced Metal Health and Pyromania as my favorite LPs of the day. I faced considerable resistance from certain early band members who clearly lacked my vision. However, this new-found energy and attitude was still reflected quickly in our music — and our sound and line-up soon "evolved." Then  I saw Alice Cooper in concert for the first time — another HUGE game-changer. And the light bulb goes off!  Hmm, if Dead Serios could merge our developing punk-meets-metal sound with an outrageous stage show and streetwise lyrical content, we just might be on to something. Kinda like a hardcore version of Saturday morning T.V.  

It was in 1988 when I first noticed that things finally were starting to happen for Dead Serios. We had just won our first Battle of the Bands competition at a local club one night. While I admired the four-foot-tall trophy perched on the front passenger seat of my pickup truck, I decided to turn on the radio for a little music on the ride home. Wouldn’t you know that at that very moment, a track from our then current record, Blow Chunks, was playing on WFIT. It was pretty surreal.

Finally on target - Dead Serios circa 1988.
(Me, guitarist Phil Billingsley, drummer Bill Erwin and bassist Joe DelCorvo)


By the summer of 1989, we were packing every local venue that we played. In fact, Dead Serios was drawing bigger crowds on Monday and Tuesday nights than most other area acts were drawing on the weekends. Even national level rock stars were coming to our shows. It wasn’t odd to be onstage and look out to see Deep Purple co-founder Ritchie Blackmore or UFO’s Paul Chapman in the audience. One night, I recall peeking out the window of a little club we were playing in Indialantic, Florida. It was just before show time, and standing at the front of the line out on the sidewalk was Slayer guitarist, Kerry King. I nearly wet myself right there. I rushed to the back of the club to alert our bassist, Joe DelCorvo, but by the time we could get back to the front door, King was gone. I asked the doorman where the angry-looking guy with tattoos had gone. “He didn’t have an I.D. so I sent him away,” the doorman replied.

On a bare bones budget, my independent LSR label
moved 10,000 copies of Possessed by Polka in '89-'90.
The Dead Serios machine was revving on all cylinders in 1989. Featuring our concert staples "Psycho Dyke," "Skid Marks In My Shorts" and the rap-meets-rock College Radio track "Butterbean Queen," our indie album Possessed By Polka became a popular underground release that year. And with an over-the-top live show, we were gaining cred where it counts on the road. 

We played a Florida rock festival during the summer of ‘89. Throngs of fans packed in near the front of the stage, sweltering in the July heat. At one point, the crowd became so unruly that our show had to be stopped while security guys pulled people out of the crowd — placing some into squad cars and others into ambulances.

But there was one particular show that I’ll never forget. We were performing at a club, also during the summer of ‘89. I noticed a girl in the front row who was trying to get my attention. As I kneeled down to hear what she was saying, she pulled down her shirt to reveal a cartoon caricature of my face that she’d had tattooed between her breasts. To say the least, it was pretty freaky. 

Guitarist Doug E.G. (L) joined me, Phil, Bill and Joe in 1990.
(Photo: Ramon Scavelli)
Dead Serios live onstage in 1990.
JAM! magazine named Dead Serios,
"Entertainer of the Year" in 1991.
(Photo: Christopher Lee Helton)
From alterno darlings, Hootie and the Blowfish to thrash kings, Nuclear Assault to punk purveyors, Circle Jerks to Christian rockers, Barren Cross, we were competing nose-to-nose with many of the mightiest contenders of the day by 1990. In her Billboard magazine feature, music journalist Perry Gettelman described us as "a hardcore band with a locker room sense of humor." And Orlando's JAM! magazine would soon crown Dead Serios, Florida's "Entertainer of the Year." 

We had certainly "arrived" by 1991, and we couldn't be denied  or could we? From Marilyn Manson to Saigon Kick to Genitorturers, all the "top dogs" on Florida's original music were seemingly getting signed to major label record deals — and Dead Serios was the next in line. However, L.A. and New York-based record executives clearly didn’t embrace us like our fans and the press. An Interscope Records A&R rep once went so far as to tell me flat out that our music “sucked.” 

Although it features such fan faves as "Who's On Oprah," 
"Pizza Face" and "She Wants It All," our 1995 album
Face Rake  met with little fanfare at the time of its release.
Despite our lack of major label interest, we knew that we were on the verge of becoming “the next big thing” — when our days were actually numbered. The Seattle grunge movement was about to consume the entire rock world, and there would be little room in that "new rock" world for a band like ours. We stuck it for a few more years, and our last two records, Dead Serios (1994) and Face Rake (1995) represented some of our best work. But by 1997, there simply was no point in pressing on any further.

I spent the next couple of years as frontman for the hillbilly / glam band, Glitterhick — an outrageous project in which I first worked with drummer, Scooter Greenbud. During this time, Doug and Joe also dabbled in their own new bands. In the early 2000s (along with Scooter on drums), Doug, Joe and I began staging well-attended, annual reunion concerts. But in 2011, I was pursuing Christian ministry, and despite continued fan interest, the Dead Serios story finally had come to a conclusion. Almost.

Dead Serios reunions were still packing Florida venues in 2008.
Like they say, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." And as our 30th anniversary was rolling up, I was approached in 2014 by the newly-formed Florida indie label, GhoulTone Records regarding the possible production and release of a Dead Serios tribute album. Although I thought that they were completely nuts, I gave GhoulTone my approval to move forward with the project. But the story gets more surreal. Last September, Dead Serios was snatched from the jaws of retirement when we were invited to perform alongside such former chart-busting MTV acts as Great White, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z'nuff at Florida's annual outdoor '80s In The Park festival. 

Along with the typical arsenal of props and our full cast of live characters,
Dead Serios returned to the concert stage in September 2014.
Scooter and Doug, "getting down" with "Oprah" at '80s In The Park - 2014.

Bassist Joe DelCorvo, back onstage with Dead Serios in 2014.

Tickets for the 1.24.15 Dead Serios 30th anniversary
concert are on sale NOW at KingCenter.com
Now at age 52, I'm uncertain regarding the long-term future of Dead Serios at this point rock and roll is a young man's sport, ya know. However, two things are certain — on January 24, 2015 we will celebrate our 30th anniversary live onstage at Melbourne, Florida's renown King Center for the Performing Arts. And in March 2015, the long-awaited Dead Serios tribute record will be finally released. Entitled, They're Not Joking, the 12-song collection will feature the cream of the Dead Serios crop, covered by various major label and indie level artists. Proceeds from the tribute album will benefit Genesis House, Inc. STAY TUNED! 

-Christopher Long 
(December 2014)
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Find Dead Serios on the web:
Facebook - ReverbNation - Email
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Vintage Dead Serios clips now on YouTube:
"Butterbean Queen" (1989)

"Lawn Care Studs" (1990)

"People Need Ozzy" (1991)

"Who's on Oprah?" (1995)

"Pizza Face" (1995)

2014 interview (Just added!)

More Dead Serios video concert clips...
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The latest from author Christopher Long
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Queen "Forever"

QUEEN
Forever
Hollywood Records

Britain's iconic
combo delivers its
second (semi) new
release in just two
months. And for 
diehard fans, it's
a must-have.
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Featuring three previously unreleased tracks and a slew of re-tweaked and re-mastered classics, this 20-song single CD and 36-song double CD Queen set arrived in stores and at online outlets on November 11th via Hollywood Records.

Demoed originally in the early '80s and slated for the band's 1984 album, The Works, "There Must Be More to Life Than This" brings the legendary late vocalists, Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson together in a chilling, long-lost treasure.

Another recently uncovered gem is co-founding guitarist Brian May's, "Let Me In Your Heart Again." Also first recorded during the 1984 "Radio Ga Ga" / "I Want to Break Free" era, the song is touted as showcasing Mercury's "timeless vocals" and features newly-recorded contributions from May and drummer Roger Taylor.

"Freddie sounds as fresh as yesterday."
-Brian May

Composed by Mercury and famed German producer / songwriter Giorgio Moroder, "Love Kills" is the final new selection included in Forever. Not to be confused with Mercury's high-energy 1985 solo dance version, this is the original recording, featuring all four Queen members.

The balance of this new collection features an array of such much-loved hits as "You're My Best Friend," "Somebody to Love," "Spread Your Wings" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," as well as career-spanning album tracks, including "In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited" (1974), "Love of My Life" (1975), "You Take My Breath Away" (1976), "Play the Game" (1980), "Who Wants to Live Forever" (1986), "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (1991), and "Too Much Love Will Kill You" (1995).

In sum, Queen Forever is an impressive and comprehensive must-have collection  just in time for the holiday shopping season. (QueenOnline.com)

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)


The latest from author Christopher Long
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
is available NOW on Amazon.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2014 (Guest Post)

THE TOP TEN 
RECORDS OF 2014

It's been quite awhile since 
Jesse Long graced my site
with his spot-on content
But as 2014 winds down, 
and 2015 revs up, he's 
finally returned with 
another of his popular 
year-end Top Ten lists. 
Looks good, son — you
know I love me some
Pink Lemonade, but you
totally forgot to include 
the new Chicago record.
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10.
MANCHESTER 
ORCHESTRA 
(Loma Vista Recordings)






9.
THIS 
WILD LIFE
(Epitaph Records)






8.
HAIL THE SUN
(Blue Swan Records)







7.
YOUNG 
THE GIANT
(Fueled By Ramen)






6.
PVRIS
(Rise)






5.
MAGIC!
(Latium)






4.
POLYPHIA
(Indie)





3.
ANIMALS 
AS LEADERS
(Sumerian)







2.
SECRET BAND
(Blue Swan Records)






1.
RUN THE 
JEWELS
(Mass Appeal Records)





Honorable Mention:
CLOSURE 
IN MOSCOW
(Sabretusk)


-Jesse Long
(December 2014)


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BE MY "GUEST"
Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com 
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Friday, December 12, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: She & Him "Classics"

 SHE & HIM
Classics
Columbia Records
     
The tunes 
are timeless.
The duo 
is dynamic.
And the record 
a delightful treat.
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While not quite as snappy as the duo's 2013 effort, Volume 3, the 2014 offering from pop sensation, She & Him, certainly is engaging, and possesses an ample portion of the charm and full-bodied flavor that fans have come expect. A fabulously heartfelt 13-song retro set, vocalist Zooey Deschanel and guitarist / producer / arranger  M. Ward succeed in serving up a savory slew of standards — a compelling collection that also showcases an array of legendary songwriters. Let's peruse a few hot buttons — shall we?

The 1964 Carole King / Gerry Goffin-penned classic,"Oh No, Not My Baby," is one of the livelier tunes of the set — another (slightly) upbeat winner being the remake of Dusty Springfield's 1964 debut hit, "Stay Awhile." Driven by Deschanel's angelic, sugar cookie vocals and Ward's signature groovy-sounding guitar style, these tracks make for two of the record's shiniest highlights.

Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, "This Guy's In Love With You" was a colossal #1 chartbuster for Herb Alpert in 1968  and it remains one of the greatest pop love songs of all time. And by putting a female spin on the lyrics, "This Girl's In Love With You" is a bona fide gem  easily making Classics worth every penny that I paid. In fact, this is the track that Deschanel and Ward should be hocking on the TV talk show circuit.

The latest from She & Him makes
me happy that I'm not dead.
Taking a (much) "less is more" production approach, the painfully over-covered "Unchained Melody" merely offers Ward's soft and subtle guitar accompaniment pinned against the honest and pure vocal union of Deschanel and The Chapin Sisters. Truly a unique and chilling interpretation.

Oddly, the BIG payoff comes early  in the record's opening track,  "Stars Fell on Alabama." Deschanel's performance on this 1930s jazz standard, particularly during the song's last 25 seconds, proves why she is one of the greatest female pop vocalists of the last half-century  second only to perhaps Karen Carpenter.

In sum, Classics is a treasure — one of the year's best. (SheAndHim.com)

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: The Supercats "A Very Super Christmas Vol. II"

THE SUPERCATS
A Very Super 
Christmas Vol. II

_____________________
  
Ah yes, this record is 
truly a heart-warming 
holiday treasure — 
snappy Christmas 
collection created 
for people who don't
dig Christmas records.
_____________________


Florida's award-wining indie pop / rock combo, The Supercats, return this month with their first new holiday release in five years — and it's a tasty treat, indeed.

The "Cats" kick the record off in a fun and festive fashion with the tried and true seasonal favorite, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Frontchick / guitarist Simone Star's eggnog-soaked vocal combined with keyboardist Bryan Kezer's cocktail lounge production make for an engaging intro that segues quickly into a more super-charged, go-go pop arrangement — a high-energy highlight, to be sure.

By smearing their unique artistic fingerprints all over "Wonderful Christmastime," the band transforms Paul McCartney's classic 1979 stinker successfully into a bona fide 2014 winner. Well done kids now it doesn't suck anymore!

The 1950 standard, "Silver Bells" oozes such warm gospel authenticity and charm that you can easily picture "brother" Ray Charles banging away in the background as a traditional church choir offers praises from behind the pulpit — this one's a real gem. Additional kudos are also due to drummer Daniel Lunde for keeping it all nicely in the pocket.

While The Supercats' remake of Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" is a smooth and sultry delight, the band's techno-fueled version of "Joy to the World" is a slick-sounding, modern-day reminder that Jesus IS the reason for the season   BRAVO!

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)

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A VERY SUPER CHRISTMAS VOL. II 
- Stream it on SoundCloud / YouTube -
- Download it FREE from SimoneSongs.com -
__________

Find and "Follow" The Supercats:
_________________________________________________________________________________


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

PINK TUESDAY 2014

PINK TUESDAY:
My Holiday Classic Returns!

"Black Friday" what a sad social 
commentary — Americans from
coast-to-coast, poised to pulverize
their fellow man in order to score
sweet deals on iGadgets that will
be obsolete before next Easter.
Thank goodness I created and 
launched an annual shopping
alternative way back in 2011 
 a truly fabulous celebration. 
And that day is TODAY!
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I discovered this Hannah Montana Christmas
collector's set while thrifting recently.
Please, Santa! Oh PLEASE, Santa!
'Tis the season to be jolly, right? Well, what's so gosh darn "jolly" about being trampled and pepper-sprayed on the day after Thanksgiving? Not much. Hence, I launched my PINK TUESDAY celebration four years ago. What's PINK TUESDAY, you ask? It's a truly "jolly" and fabulous celebration that I've designated to take place each year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But instead of converging on silly supercenters that offer virtually nothing swell, I've called for my peeps to swoop down on their fave local thrift stores to score super-groovy early bird deals on the truly cool swag that friends and family really want for Christmas — for instance, '80s cassettes, 90s fashions and / or Hannah Montana collector's sets.

WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE: Nicaragua 2014
I enjoyed the PINK TUESDAY experience thoroughly in 2011 and 2012. However, like last year, I find myself in 2014 once again kicking off the holiday season while in the jungles of Nicaragua — praying for sick babies, blessing families in need, and just generally spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout one of my all-time favorite Third World nations. 

I hope to partake in belated PINK TUESDAY festivities upon my return to the U.S. next week. But for today, in my absence, I encourage my readers everywhere to go out into the world — go in peace, go in love, and (thrift) shop 'til ya drop — heck, it's PINK TUESDAY for goodness sake — MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)

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Previous PINK TUESDAY Installments:  

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The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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