80s (and Sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ WARD

(All photographs copyright (c) Elk Road)

Once again, it has been my good fortune to be contacted by a musician who is promoting his band’s music. I say “good fortune,” because when I pulled up Christopher Ward’s music to preview, the band had me at the opening bars of “Liars.” These hungry ears were fed a heaping helping of lyrical, melodic nourishment that makes them want to go back for seconds, thirds…heck, how about just plain binge-listening.

Christopher Ward

Everything that I’ve heard so far from the Los Angeles-based band WARD embodies the absolute best of pre-grunge, pre-shoegaze, post-punk power pop 80s. What a combination! It’s a more-than-welcome trip down memory lane, and a testament to the fact that great music genres never die—they just get re-purposed. Some artists are gifted to do that more successfully than others, and WARD is one of the best.

Christopher Ward was gracious enough to be interviewed for this article. Take a few minutes to get to know him and his supremely talented band, and put your support behind them to give them a much-deserved push into the spotlight.

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MissParker:  How long have you been making music in the L.A. area?

Christopher Ward: It’s been a whirlwind. I think it’s been six months, max…yeah, we’ve been a band only since Dec 1 (2016). A short time; we’ve played 14 shows for almost 1000 people.

MissParker:  Who exactly is the band and what brought you together?

Christopher Ward: Up until about a year ago (Summer 2016) I was a corporate vice-president for a global technology company working in the Empire State Building in New York City. I had played in many bands in the long-ago past, but had hung up on my dreams perhaps 10 years ago. For many reasons, I did what many people do, what they think they should, what will be safe, what will be secure. My life was increasingly successful, but also increasingly unsatisfying. One day I plopped down at my desk and flipped on my music player. The Joshua Tree came on Pandora and I just started crying. Bawling. Nostalgia is a greek word meaning, ‘the pain of a homesickness.’ In that moment, I knew surely that I wasn’t home, where I needed to be. I had forgotten for many years, until that moment, how much I wanted to play rock music, was meant to play music, and how much my heart yearned to be back home: writing music, singing, and performing on stage.

I left New York last summer and got a place in Culver City, CA. I wrote most of our songs in a couple of weeks over the summer…they all poured out quite fast. In late fall, I started putting ads out on Craigslist and a few other places. It was tough sifting through the respondents, but I ended up with a great band that has come to be WARD: Darren Edwards on drums, Karim Elghobashi on bass, and Mauricio Munguia playing guitar, along with me signing and playing guitar. WARD played our first show Nov. 30, 2016 and haven’t stopped since.

WARD @ Lexington Bar (Feb 2017)

MissParker:  You mention in your promo that Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, and The Stone Roses are all influences. I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I actually hear a bit of early U2 and the British band Ride, among others. Who else do you feel has influenced your music?

Christopher Ward: It’s so funny, everyone seems to have a different take on who we sound like; everyone from The Ramones to Ryan Adams. The early 80s (80-85) has been a target for me, simply because that’s where I’m starting and it’s where I have been harkening back to for a more raw, earnest and live rock sound that I feel is missing from L.A. stages. Tom Petty was the first artist I adored, and always will: His defiance of the establishment and the music industry itself. His songwriting, melodies, and chords are very apparent to me in my music, even if the ‘sound’ is quite different. I love the swagger of The Doors and Echo and the Bunnymen. But more than any other band, I will always adore the ambitious hopefulness U2 continues to dare to bring to music. No band is cooler at being uncool; and yes, their sound is certainly a thread through everything I do.

MissParker: I’m really curious as to what makes a contemporary band go “retro.” Not that it’s a bad thing—on the contrary, I love the trip back to what I feel is the world’s best era/genres of music. But you have veteran musicians like the late, great David Bowie who made it a point to keep pushing forward, pointedly avoiding the past. And another favorite of mine, Gary Numan, has been very vocal about his dislike of being funneled into “nostalgia acts,” preferring to evolve instead of looking back. Yet, as a contemporary band, you do it very well. Why?

Christopher Ward: I adore David Bowie. And in fact, he described himself as a “tasteful thief,” and admitted he would steal happily from other genres, artists and histories. Bowie would be the first to tell us we should readily take ideas from other places, as long we create something unique with that material. The live and raw ‘sound’ from early 80s music, the idealism and arena ambition is incredibly inspiring to me right now, amidst a quite polished and subdued indie rock climate, especially in L.A. I aim to create something new from the known. While WARD is starting with these sounds, I know we will end up someplace else. Our best music is yet to come, and I have no idea what that will sound like. I admit that I started this band on a note of nostalgia, and am happy giving overt nods to the bands that started me down this road. That said, I’ll definitely keep borrowing to make it my own.

WARD @ TRIP (DEC 2016)

MissParker: Who writes the lyrics? Do they deal with a central theme, or are they born of a current state of mind?

Christopher Ward: I write all the lyrics. Love, drugs, and sex cover the themes of many of my favorite songs. Right now, I’m more inspired by introspection about our life choices. Many of the songs have a ‘carpe diem’ sentiment: why we so readily choose safety over the love of our souls, why we are lulled into thinking we have time to waste. I suppose in that way my lyrics obtain more to the introspection of 90s grunge: apathy, confinement, and freedom.

MissParker: I always have to ask this, as trite as it sounds; but as a writer, I’m naturally curious: which typically comes first, the lyrics or the music?

Christopher Ward: Music comes first. Always. I work better as a sketcher than a planner. I think the tone of the songs write the lyrics. I have a book of words I am always looking to insert into great melodies. I’m always trying new things, so that may change some day.

WARD @ Silverlake Lounge (Jan 2017)

MissParker: I know traveling is a huge expense, especially when you have to drag equipment along with you. I am of the (possibly mistaken) impression that cross-country bus trips are turning into a thing of the past.  Do you play anywhere outside of the L.A. area, or do you solely rely on the Internet to get your music out worldwide?

Christopher Ward: We have over 30k fans online, who watch videos, purchase music and give us great feedback. But while the Internet is a powerful thing, nothing will replace live show experience. Live videos can work well to reach more people, but still, the reality is that videos are a sad replacement for the real live show. I think that’s because there’s a very real aspect of theater that goes along with live music: what is special is the moment and space shared between artist and audience. This can’t really be replaced with video. We are still quite new, but very hungry for festivals and live tours outside the L.A. area. And I’m very thankful for your interview with me today. Hopefully, press and interviews like this will help us to connect with the right professionals and start playing outside of L.A. very soon.

MissParker: Your site mentions that you’ve recorded an EP and that the full album is coming soon. When do you expect that to happen?

Christopher Ward: Oh, well good news! Since we first chatted, the EP is now live and available! You can download for free or pay any price you want for it here: http://ward.band/ep. Enjoy!

MissParker: I have come to know a lot of musicians who spend every waking moment trying to get their music played and heard by others. It takes a certain amount of bravery to throw all that you have behind your craft, to the exclusion of everything else. What motivates you to do that?

Christopher Ward: After too many years of my life spent trying to do anything else, giving it my all doesn’t really seem like a gamble anymore.

MissParker: I’m sure we haven’t covered nearly enough territory in this brief interview to give a full picture of the creative force behind WARD, and its ongoing journey. What else would you like to add?

Christopher Ward: Simply to say, that the world needs more people to live the life meant for them and to be who they are, instead of the lives others want them to be. I can certainly thank Bowie for that sentiment, and finally, I feel I am doing my best to live that life. Right now, I think all of us in this band are that, more than anything. It was truly a pleasure to connect with you. Thank you.

~Resources~

Website

Get the EP

Facebook

Instagram

Velvet Walls: Official Featured Video

Live Concert Video Footage

Link to more Videos 

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Life Without David Bowie

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Photograph (c) Mick Rock

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be a year since David Bowie passed from this world into the next–nearly as difficult as imagining, back on that darkest of days in January 2016, what the world would be like without him. Well, we’ve all since gotten a taste of life without Bowie over these past 11+ months, and it hasn’t been pretty. In fact, the whole of 2016 was very much like a poorly behaved child who acts out when he doesn’t get what he wants.

Oh, 2016 you’ve gotten way more than you deserved.

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Bob Masse limited edition giclee

For me, the past year was spent stuffing the recesses of my empty life with music and memorabilia; a futile search for something to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside–for the psychological spackle that would fill the huge gaping holes in my soul. I busied myself replacing original Bowie vinyl with CDs, building a humongous digital playlist to play over and over, day and night, in an effort to soothe the inner pain and immense feeling of loss. While that helped a tiny bit to take the edge off of the all-consuming grief, I continued my quest for peace by acquiring (somewhat) affordable artwork to display throughout the house, and am currently toying with dedicating a room (my home office) to all things Bowie.

I’m obsessed, much like I was several decades ago when I first discovered this incredible being who made such an impression upon me that it led to the life-altering decision to clean up my act and become a productive part of the human race. A small cog in a big machine, perhaps, but I didn’t end up killing myself, which is what my abusive habits would have surely yielded. And the ultimate prize was being smacked upside the head with the fact that it was OK to be “different.” Not only OK, it was downright cathartic. All because of one impossibly talented and other-worldly creature named David Bowie who flounced into my life on red patent leather platform boots, dressed in the finest of glam, and adorned with the most exquisite make-up palette ever. Even when he eventually eschewed the glam accoutrements, and let his inner Bowie shine brightly, he was always a vision of beauty, peace, and artistry untouched by any other.

tattoo_finishedI’ve spent hundreds of hours poring through YouTube videos, watching classic David Bowie performances, interviews, and cameos and collecting photographs from the Internet. I’ve invested in limited-edition artwork heralding Bowie’s physical beauty, in an effort to always remember him in a perfect light, frozen in time. My first-ever tattoo, inked last May, is a Ziggy caricature along with Blackstar, signifying the “beginning” to the “end.” I even brought Ziggy Stardust photographs to the nearby hair salon and asked for a Ziggy-esque shag. I’ve not yielded quite yet to the ginger color, but that may be achieved in the not-too-distant future.

Even though I continually strive to acquire Bowie-related “things,” something is obviously missing–because I still feel like shit. I felt much the same way when my husband Dan died over 4 years ago, and I should have known from experience that it never does get better, no matter what the “cure” appears to be. But, I honestly thought that with Bowie the hurt would ease up much faster because, after all, I didn’t know him personally. Or perhaps I did–more than I could ever have imagined.

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Photograph (C) Jimmy King

David Bowie laid himself open, raw and uncensored, physically and spiritually, for all to see and to share. He let us glimpse into the darkest reaches of his soul through his music, his numerous interviews, his recollections, his personal relationships, his vast collections of books and art, his collaborations, his frustrations, his passion, and his unequaled genius. We all knew him intimately, because he allowed us into his life. It was a bit of a shock when he backed away from the spotlight for nearly a decade, but we also understood, because he made us privy to how much he loved his family and wanted more time with them. The only thing he decided not to share with us was that he was dying. Why? Only David Bowie knows for sure, but I think he wanted to spare us, and him, the worry and despair that such news would bring. Instead, he decided to throw himself into everything he had the strength to tackle, and allowed us to go along blindly and naively with our own lives, without the burden of opening the news each day to see if the end had come.

So, when it came, it hit us hard. We weren’t prepared. But even if we had known, it still would not have prevented that huge, sucking hole that opened up in the universe and swallowed our Starman, catapulting him out of our lives and into a dimension that we, the living, can never fully comprehend. He may be physically gone, but his legacy lives on–through his vast music catalog, his images, both video and still, his band mates, his friends, his family, and of course, through us, his devoted fans.

And, I’ll continue to build my own personal collection of Bowie memorabilia, knowing fully that it will never make me feel completely whole again; but also understanding that if I can’t have the flesh and blood Bowie in my little corner of the universe, the tangible mementos of his brilliant life will just have to do.

80s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Nu Shooz

I’m so excited to share this interview from the 80s funk group Nu Shooz. John and Valerie are funny, warm, interesting, and downright amiable–an interviewer’s dream. Sit back and enjoy their journey that began nearly 40 years ago, and promises to continue on for many more rollicking years to come.

Source: 80s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Nu Shooz

When life interferes with good intentions…

December_21_2014-Sunrise_4It has been a painfully long time since I’ve written anything about “criminally underrated 80s music.” When I started this blog 10 years ago (3 years on Blogspot and 7 years here on WordPress), it was with the intention of showcasing at least one underrated 80s group/artist per week.

Then Dan got sick and passed away.

In all honesty, the same music I tried to systematically memorialize in words has gotten me through the past almost 3 years post-death, plus the several years prior spent being a caregiver. For that, I am deeply grateful. I am also so very grateful for DJs David MarsdenEd Cooke, musician/DJ Rob Stuart, and musician Bobbi Style. These cherished friends waved their collective magical wand of music to help keep me from being suffocated by my grief.

Music, to me, is as essential as food and water. For that reason alone, I know I have to try to get back in the saddle and write once more about 80s musicians and bands that were tragically overlooked when they deserved to be catapulted to success. I make no promises however, because I despise breaking them, but I will do my best to shake off the cobwebs and start writing again.

In the meantime, another way that I’m dealing with my grief is to dedicate a photoblog to Dan called “URSA Photography.” Photography has been another outlet of mine for many years. Since Dan helped me to hone my skills as an amateur photographer, I thought it made sense to dedicate my photography to him.

Thanks for your understanding and patience as I figure out my way through the maze of grief that has surrounded my entire life.

Marsbar Playlist ~ 11-29-2014

November 29, 2014

David Marsden on the Rock.FM every Saturday and Sunday night from 7 p.m. until midnight. Streaming live via the Internet. Join the fun and get some interesting (and always entertaining) information at the new forum on Marsden Global. Miss a previous podcast? They are archived by Neil here: http://www.marsdentheatrearchives.com.

The complete list, thanks to help from TheBarron:

54-40 – Love You All
Arcade Fire – We Exist
Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (12” Remix)
Beautiful Nothing – Come Color Me
Blancmange – Blind Vision
Blue Peter – Video Verite
Boomtown Rats – Windchill Factor (Minus Zero)
Boys Brigade – Into The Flow
Church – Under The Milky Way
Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Concrete Blonde – Joey
Cure – The Caterpillar (Flicker Remix)
Darkroom – San Paku
Echo & The Bunnymen – Silver (Tidal Wave)
Electronic Dream Factory – So, What Of Tomorrow
Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart
Fixx – Red Skies At Night
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Rage Hard (Broad)
Gang Of Four – Is It Love
Hidden Cameras – Gay Goth Scene
Howard Devoto – Rainy Season
Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Wake Up & Make Love With Me
Icehouse – Crazy
Images In Vogue – Rescue Me
Jerry Harrison – Man With A Gun
Kissing The Pink – One Step
Living Colour – Glamour Boys
Midge Ure – After A Fashion (Live)
Morrissey – Everyday Is Like Sunday
Motors – Airport
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – If You Leave
Pink Floyd – Talkin’ Hawkin’
Pretty Lights – Prophet
Prodigy feat. Pop Will Eat Itself – Their Law
Project Pitchfork – Orange Moon
Raine Maida – Montreal
Rob Stuart – A Beautiful Thing
Rockets – On The Road Again
Scissor Sisters – Filthy/Gorgeous
Silencers – Painted Moon
Simple Minds – Someone, Somewhere (In Summertime)
Sisters Of Mercy – Dominion/Mother Russia
Skatt Bros. – Walk The Night
Slave To The SQUAREwave – Seven Day Saturday Night
Slave To The SQUAREwave – Texan Thugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll
Supreme Beings Of Leisure – Last Girl On Earth
Tin Star Orphans – Dead Man’s Suit
Tokyo Police Club – Hot Tonight
Trust – Sulk
Tubes – White Punks On Dope
Violent Kin – The Honesty

Marsbar Playlist ~ 11-23-2014

November 23, 2014

David Marsden on the Rock.FM every Saturday and Sunday night from 7 p.m. until midnight. Streaming live via the Internet. Join the fun and get some interesting (and always entertaining) information at the new forum on Marsden Global. Miss a previous podcast? They are archived by Neil here: http://www.marsdentheatrearchives.com.

The complete list with post-10PM help from JerusalemSlim:

Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield – Albert’s Shuffle
Art Of Noise (feat. Duane Eddy) – Peter Gunn Theme
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland – Stormy Monday Blues
Brave Shores – World Beneath The Sea
Broken Bells – Perfect World
Chalk Circle – April Fool
Cliks – Nobody Else Will
Cliks – Savanna
Colin Blunstone/Dave Stewart – What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
Comsat Angels – On The Beach
Conjure One – Sleep
Craig Robinson – Waking Up Tired
Dee Long – Good Night Universe
Dee Long – Space Station (Departure)
Elliott Murphy – Rock Ballad
Fixx – Deeper & Deeper (extended)
Garfield – Play It Again Boys
Gary Numan – Cars
Haircut 100 – Love Plus One
Happy Mondays – Hallelujah
Hunters & Collectors – Talking To A Stranger
Jake Bugg – Broken
Jill Godin – Miss America
John Cooper Clarke – Beasley Street
Kinks – Lost And Found
Lewis Furey – Top Ten Sexes
Midge Ure – If I Was
Moms Mabley – Abraham, Martin & John
Moody Blues – Melancholy Man
My Morning Jacket – Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt II
Nik Kershaw – The Riddle
Parachute Club – Boys Club
Perth County Conspiracy – The Americanadian Way
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Pink Project – Disco Project (Medley: Mammagamma/Sirius/Another Brick In The Wall Part III)
Placebo – Pure Morning
Reuben & The Dark – Rolling Stone
Rialto – Monday Morning 5:19
Rock & Hyde – Dirty Water
Roger Waters – Perfect Sense (Parts I & II)
Royal Canoe – Bathtubs
Rymes With Orange – Home House Flower
Scissor Sisters – Mary
Slave To The SQUAREwave – Casino
Sound Of Contact – Beyond Illumination
Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
Steve Hackett (feat. John Wetton) – Watcher Of The Skies
Thomas Dolby – Spice Train
Traveling Wilburys – End Of The Line
Unheilig – Unter Deiner Flagge
Willy DeVille – Across The Borderline
Wintersleep – Experience The Jewel
Xprime – Closer

Marsbar Playlist ~ 11-22-2014

November 22, 2014

David Marsden on the Rock.FM every Saturday and Sunday night from 7 p.m. until midnight. Streaming live via the Internet. Join the fun and get some interesting (and always entertaining) information at the new forum on Marsden Global. Miss a previous podcast? They are archived by Neil here: http://www.marsdentheatrearchives.com.

The complete list thanks to much-appreciated help from TheBarron:

54-40 – Ocean Pearl
69 Eyes – Gothic Girl
Arcade Fire – We Exist
Beautiful Nothing – Never Found What You’re Looking For
Black Keys – Psychotic Girl
Blue Peter – Don’t Walk Past
Brave Shores – More Like You
Carole Pope – Landfall
Chameleons – Swamp Thing
Church – Reptile
Colourbox – Just Give ‘Em Whiskey
Colourfield – Castles In The Air
Comsat Angels – I’m Falling
Cure – Lullaby
David Bowie – Sound & Vision
David Usher – Black Black Heart
Depeche Mode – Route 66 (Nile Rogers Remix)
Diamond Rings – I’m Just Me
Evermore – It’s Too Late
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes (Annihilation Remix)
Front 242 – Headhunter (Front Line Assembly Remix)
Gang Of Four – I Love A Man In Uniform
Goddo – So Walk On
Golden Dogs – Saints At The Gates
Hidden Cameras – Origin:Orphan
Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Iggy Pop – Play It Safe
Intaferon – Get Out Of London
Japan – Rhodesia
Jesus & Mary Chain – April Skies
Jona Lewie – (You’ll Always Find Me In The) Kitchen At Parties
Ministry – Lay Lady Lay
Moev – Alibis
Muse – Uprising (King Kornelious Remix)
Neil Young – Sample & Hold
Nine Inch Nails – Closer
Nursery – This Wild Heart
Peter Schilling – The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime)
Pink Floyd – Talkin’ Hawkin’
Primal Scream – Loaded
Project Pitchfork – Orange Moon
Propaganda – Dr. Mabuse
Raine Maida – Montreal
Richard Strange & The Engine Room – Damascus
Rob Stuart – A Beautiful Thing
Secret Service – Flash In The night
Simple Minds – Love Song
Sisters Of Mercy – Gimme Shelter
Slave To The SQUAREwave – Johnny 3:16
Status Quo – In The Army Now
Stranglers – Skin Deep (12″ mix)
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Alternative mix)
Teenage Head – Let’s Shake
Tokyo Police Club – Beaches
Zee – Confusion