Music World Happenings

So you spent the past week of break in a drug-dazed stupor? Drank so much you couldn’t manage to find your way to a record store, television or computer? Well, you’re probably not the only one, and you’re certainly not the only one who hasn’t been keeping an eye on the news lately.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is the latest Homme histrionics and much more. Don’t say that The Vanguard isn’t looking out for you.

-Perhaps the most surprising news of the last few days is an anti-piracy bill introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy. The bill, dubbed the “Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation,” or “PIRATE” Act (ooh, clever …), would involve the Justice Department in entertainment industry piracy cases.


Essentially, this would enable copyright infringers to be sued not only by the original copyright holders, but have a case brought against them in federal court. Many people, including musicians and entertainers, have spoken out against the bill, which they see as the latest in the recording industry’s line of strong-arm legal tactics to assert their dominance of entertainment media. The dual-suit attack could also bankrupt and financially ruin anyone that its full power is brought against.

-On the topic of file sharing, a study that came out recently by professors Felix Obeholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina has indicated that illegal downloads really have little effect on CD sales.

By tracking downloads on P2P network OpenNap, the two found results that contradicted the recent claims by the RIAA about their decreased profits due to piracy. The study found that in a “worse case scenario,” it would take more than 5,000 downloads to reduce album sales by even one copy. “If this worst-case scenario were true, file sharing would have reduced CD sales by two million copies in 2002.

To provide a point of reference, CD sales actually declined by 139 million copies from 2000 to 2002,” the researchers claimed. This study challenges the basis of much of the industry’s argument, and could prove influential in the court battle that has now spread from America to much of the rest of the world, with anti-piracy legislation popping up everywhere from Europe to Australia.

-British rockers The Darkness are to have a street named after them in their hometown of Lowestoft, Norfolk. City councilors want to honor the spandex-clad, Les Paul-wielding international sensations with a road, although receiving most honor would be vocalist/guitarist Justin Hawkins, as the city felt that “Darkness Way” was unsuitable for their needs. At this point, the town’s leaders are “keen on Hawkins Close or Hawkins Way,” according to Councilor Wendy Mawer.

-British music rag NME has decided to give away a “Kurt’s Choice” CD with their next issue. Usually, the phrase “Kurt’s Favorite,” or anything similar, signals a huge red flag for a shameless cash-in but the track listing was, surprisingly, a bunch of Cobain’s actual favorite songs.

Pearl Jam and other such sellout “grunge” bands are absent, replaced by Vaselines, Slits, Iggy and the Stooges and Rites of Spring, among others. With the anniversary of Kurt’s death nearly upon us, it is wholly unsurprising that this CD exists, but at least it doesn’t dishonor his memory by insinuating that Alice in Chains was one of his influences.

-MTV got a huge slap in the face last week as independent labels told the giant music network that they needed to start paying more to their cash cows such as The White Stripes and The Strokes to air their videos.

Furthermore, the labels posited, if MTV doesn’t make with a fairer agreement for the distribution of royalties, they can expect to have videos from the over 300 indies involved removed from circulation. Some labels have already pulled their content as of today, when their contract with the network expired.

-Thom Yorke’s middle finger? Who could pass up the chance to own that? Certainly not anyone who participated in the Ebay bidding frenzy that climaxed in the digit selling for 248 British pounds. Unfortunately for the winning bidder, the finger turned out to have never been attached to Yorke himself, but to his NME Award, the middle finger of which he apparently broke off, calling it “offensive.” Who knew Thom had such Victorian sensibilities?

-50 Cent, in the grand tradition of his mentor Eminem, has made a bunch of homophobic comments, but this time they weren’t protected by being part of his art. Now his ass is wide open for attack by anyone offended by his idiotic statements, which is likely to be a lot of people.

In an interview with bastion of progressive thought Playboy magazine, Cent opined “I ain’t into faggots, I don’t like gay people around me, because I’m not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I’m not prejudiced. I just don’t go with gay people and kick it – we don’t have that much in common. I’d rather hang out with a straight dude. But women who like women, that’s cool.” We applaud his honest effort to reach out to the lesbian community.

-There’s been a huge twist in the soap opera called Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme has dropped the “number of incidents” story, instead making a statement that bassist Nick Oliveri’s destructive and irresponsible behavior had led to his ousting from the group.

“He’s a tornado, and a tornado just destroys and goes on to the next city. I’m in the tornado cleanup crew, and all I ever see is his detritus and I’m sick of it,” said Homme.

He went on to clarify, saying, “Our whole band is full of hard partiers. We have put more people in rehab than Mardi Gras. But when you get drunk, you either get drunk with class, or you get drunk like a slobbering, toothless fuck. And that’s just an analogy. It’s not just drinking, it’s how you live your life.”

Although the implication that his childhood friend Oliveri lived his life like a “slobbering, toothless fuck” seems a little harsh, Homme gets bonus points for using the word “detritus” correctly in his statement.

-A conviction has been reached for the murder of Mia Zapata of Seattle punk band the Gits. Zapata was beaten, raped, and strangled to death with her hoodie on the way home from a show in 1993. DNA evidence led Seattle’s King County Court to find Jesus C. Mezquia guilty of first-degree murder last Thursday. Sentencing is not due to take place for another month, and the court is likely to sentence him to between 22 and 30 years in prison, angering many who hoped he would be put away for the maximum sentence after pointlessly torturing and murdering the brilliant musician.

“It’s not going to bring Mia back,” said her brother Eric, “but at least somebody is going to pay.”