Honestly, I don’t know if I should be flattered or outraged right now. On Tuesday, the Foo Fighters released their (genuinely excellent) Wasting Light album, a snarling, knotty thing that, as anyone who bought a copy can attest to, also comes packaged with a snippet of the master tapes it was recorded on. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a rather brilliant little marketing ploy, especially since I may have been the one who thought it up in the first place.
See, last month, when I sat down with the Foos for the premiere of their “Rope” video, we spent a fair amount of time discussing Light’s recording process — and the band’s much-covered decision to make the album in Dave Grohl’s garage, directly to analog tape. At one point, Grohl told me that, after final mastering, he cut the master tapes up “into a million pieces,” which led me to suggest — half-jokingly, I will admit — that he should include the fragments of tape with the actual album.
“What a great idea!” Grohl laughed.
No kidding. And while the outrage I felt upon learning the Foos had, uh, appropriated my concept has subsided some (I’d still like a platinum plaque, though), the whole incident got me thinking. Because whether I meant for it to happen or not, over the years, I have been responsible for creating a lot of ancillary rock bullsh– just like the Wasting Light marketing scheme. I suppose I have a knack for inspiring footnotes in the ever-expanding book of rock and roll (as Musical March Madness has proven). So here’s a look back at some of my Greatest Hits:
The Great Killers/Bravery Beef of 2005
Yes, I am the guy responsible for this petty feud, which was a very big deal back when folks mentioned the Killers and the Bravery in the same sentence (or, really, mentioned them at all). It all started when I interviewed Brandon Flowers in March 2005, just as the Killers’ Hot Fuss was gaining traction here in the States, and, flush with confidence, he took the opportunity to lay the verbal smackdown on the Bravery, whom he saw as pretenders to the Killers’ sparkly throne.
“They’re signed because we’re a band,” he told me. “I’ve heard rumors about [members of] that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, ’My heart really belongs to what I’m doing now,’ but you used to be in a ska band? I think people will see through them.”
Oh, snap. The two sides would continue to spar for most of the year (my favorite part was when Bravery frontman Sam Endicott said Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer looked like “a 9-foot-tall, Dutch-girl mutant”) before the beef eventually got too lean for anyone to care about. Though, in a semi-related note, a year later, Flowers told me that the Killers’ upcoming Sam’s Town would be “one of the best albums in the past 20 years,” a quote that would haunt him for the majority of the album’s cycle and, in a lot of ways, doom it completely. Needless to say, we haven’t spoken a whole lot since.
The Fall Out Boy Song “West Coast Smoker”
This is the final tune on their 2008 album Folie à Deux (a.k.a. “the one nobody bought”), and it’s named after me. That summer, I was working with FOB’s Pete Wentz on a show called “FNMTV” (a.k.a. “the one nobody watched”) and had just quit smoking. You know, until I started again during rehearsals. Wentz gave me nonstop sh– about this, which I deflected by telling him that, since I live in New York (and we were doing “FN” in Los Angeles), I was officially only “a West Coast smoker.” Five months later, it was a title on Folie. Oh, and as if that’s not enough, they somehow got Debbie Harry to sing on it. Arguably, this is my highest honor to date.
Everyone Realizing Tom DeLonge Was Sort of Insane
Starting in 2005, just months after Blink-182 announced they were going on “indefinite hiatus,” I began having a series of telephone interviews with DeLonge, who had maintained silence since the split . Those interviews were rather interesting, to say the very least, as DeLonge took the opportunity to declare that, within two years, his new Angels & Airwaves project “will be the biggest rock act in the world” and their debut disc “is going to be something that will compete with the greatest rock records of all time.”
He would subsequently promise that an A&A documentary he was directing would be “epic … it will give you chills” and that the band’s videos would “usher in this entire new culture of youth, obsessed with the future.” And, yes, people took notice — which is probably part of the reason Blink got back together in 2009.
Brian “Head” Welch’s Short-Lived Mission to “Save” 50 Cent
In 2005, when Brian “Head” Welch left Korn due to moral objections to the band’s lifestyle, he began an email correspondence with me that not only covered his religious pilgrimage to Israel , but also outlined his plan to “save” rapper 50 Cent , whom he referred to as “a huge force for the devil right now.”
“God told me to tell you he loves you and playtime’s over,” Welch wrote. “He said he’s been with you, keeping you safe this whole time. He’s the reason you took nine [bullets in a 2000 shooting]. Not because you’re Superman.”
Welch also detailed a song he called “a personal letter to 50 from God” and added that he didn’t fear retribution from the rapper because the tune “is from the Big Guy … Even 50 respects the Big Guy.” Sadly, neither the Big Guy nor 50 Cent ever responded.
The “Blinkerton” Tour
Not necessarily the tour itself, but the name that accompanied it (until Weezer decided to call the trek the Memories Tour). In writing up an interview with frontman Rivers Cuomo — the first where he actually spoke about doing a Blue and Pinkerton tour — I coined the phrase “Blinkerton.” What can I say? I was inspired. And so were Weezer fans who started using my name, even after Cuomo and company christened the jaunt something else entirely. Still, I’m taking credit, especially since it made up for that time I erroneously reported that Weezer were “calling it quits” in 2005 . What can I say? Sometimes even innovators screw things up royally.