Music Articles

Punk Icon Spotlight: John Feldmann

-Originally published on DyingScene.com

Punk Icon celebrates the brilliant musical minds that have shaped punk rock as we know it. In this edition we look at the life and times of rabid vegetarian, super producer and Goldfinger front man John Feldmann.

Who is John Feldmann?

John William Feldmann was born on June, 29th of 1967 in beautiful San Diego, California. It was here where he spent a few years as an innocent child before hearing the one album that would change his life. At the age of 13 he listened to Mommy’s Little Monster, the first album by Social Distortion and became so inspired by the music that he decided to start learning the guitar and it was then that a legend was born.

At age 21, John relocated to Los Angeles where he started the short lived funk metal band Electric Love Hogs in ’91. During their brief three year stint, the Love Hogs went on tour after releasing their one and only album. More importantly it is at this point that Feldmann met bassist Kelly LeMieux who would later join Goldfinger. A point of interest is that during their short tenure, the Hogs were kind of a big deal and some of their opening acts included Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Korn and Rage against the Machine1 who all went on to become major players in the music scene.

Goldfinger

It was 1994 when Feldmann met bassist Simon Williams while working in a local shoe store and after teaming up with drummer Darrin Pfeiffer and guitarist Charlie Paulson, Goldfinger was born. When the guys started playing together, Feldmann had only modest goals for the band, stating years later “The band was just something we thought we could have fun at, do a few shows, I never expected it to go this far.”

Goldfinger’s first order of business was creating and releasing the EP Richter, which did well on college radio stations and led the band to sign on with Universal Records with whom they released their self titled album in 1996 which was full of ska-punk goodness. Now a wonderful thing was happening in the 1990’s and thanks to bands ranging from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones to Rancid to Reel Big Fish and then ska band No Doubt, third wave ska was at an all time high and ska music was actually on the radio! Due to this short lived fad, Goldfinger was able to fit right in with their first radio single, Here in your Bedroom which achieved heavy radio airplay.

As the years went by, Goldfinger continued releasing albums including Hang-Ups, Stomping Ground, Open Your Eyes, Disconnection Notice and their latest Hello Destiny as well as cover and live albums, all of which were released with varying success. Not that John Feldmann didn’t put his all into the band, he was even inducted into the Guinness Book of World Record by playing 385 gigs in a single year. The band also had success in the video game market, appearing in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Burnout Revenge and their songs have appeared in motion pictures including Eurotrip, Not Another Teen Movie and The Waterboy.

While the band is still together, Goldfinger has not released a proper album since 2008 due to Feldman’s love of production work amongst other reasons. Most recently they released the song ‘Am I Deaf’ and plans for a new album are still rumored.

Animal Rights

Anyone who has listened to any of the more recent Goldfinger albums has no doubt noticed John Feldmann’s incredibly strong connection to PETA and animal rights in general. Feldmann allegedly became a vegan at the age of 29 after seeing the family film Babe and the rest is history. He certainly isn’t quiet about his opinions either and he can often be found handing animal rights materials out at shows while often speaking out for PETA and even making an appearance in Behind the Mask, a 2006 animal rights documentary.

Over the years John has become one of the loudest voices in the animal rights moment. After Goldfinger released their album Open Your Eyes, the folks at PETA held a ceremony for him at the groups headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia where they honored him as one of PETA’s heroes. If that isn’t enough, he also has set lobsters free from supermarkets, organized a protest at a popular circus and recorded a message years ago asking people to shave and donate their unsightly back hair, thus donating their unwanted fur coats to PETA. All very noble stuff, after all there’s nothing better than a punk rocker with a cause.

Production Work

Much to the dismay of hardcore Goldfinger fans such as myself, other than a small tour here and there, Goldfinger has basically taken a six year break as Feldmann focuses on producing music for other bands. He does this in a professional capacity as a past and present A&R representative for companies including Warner Bros. Records and Maverick Records among others. During the making of Goldfinger’s first two albums, Feldman was very interested in the creation process and helped with the production and engineering work on those two records.

After he took a lead role in the production of a demo for the Chicago band Showoff in 1998 which ended with the band being signed to Maverick Records, John’s fate was sealed. Since then he has either mixed, produced or written on albums for rock bands ranging from The Used, Story of the Year, Mest, Black Veil Brides, Escape The Fate, Papa Roach and Four Year Strong among many, many others. In addition to the harder stuff, Feldmann has also produced albums for mainstream pop acts including Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff and Neon Trees.

His success in this arena is no secret; John Feldmann works his ass off to produce the best albums possible. Feldmann is self-taught but has learned volumes along the road and his work ethic is beyond comparison. He is willing to try everything and work anywhere from recording in a studio to a sandy beach, whatever is necessary to get the best sound for a particular track. Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco praised his dedication, mentioning the man working up to 19 hour days and for you audio nerds out there, John uses Pro Tools for most of his mixing. So next time you see John on the street, shake his hand and say thank you, chances are he’s helped create one of your favorite albums.

His Legacy Continues

At age 46, although his first love is his family, John Feldmann continues to work non-stop, producing and making rocking music for fans of all genres. Next on the production side of things, Feldmann will be producing future albums for Set It Off, The Used, We Are the in Crowd and 5 Seconds of Summer among others and that’s only in 2014! 

As for Goldfinger, well, let’s just say you better hold on to your hats. Over the years since their last release, Feldmann has hinted at potential aspects of a future album, stating that he wants to stay true to the bands classic ska-punk vibe while also maybe adding in other sounds, once stating that he wants to “push the boundaries as a producer as much as a writer and performer” on their next record. Optimistically in the same interview he also stated that 2 new songs have been recorded and another 8 have been written for the new record so sit tight! 

In the end, it is clear how much John Feldmann has done for the alternative music community as well as for animal rights and no matter where you stand on the topic, his efforts must be applauded. In the end his dedication to the arts, his gusto for standing for what is right and the fact that he is a kick-ass musician are all reasons why John Feldmann is a true punk icon.

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10 things you probably didn’t know about Sid Vicious

-Originally published on DyingScene.com

Sid Vicious played hard and lived life on the edge during his short 22 years in this life and during the ride he managed to be a part of the Sex Pistols, one of the most influential punk acts in history. Although punk fans may be well versed with his legend, we thought it would be fun to test the extent of your knowledge with a list of 10 things most people probably don’t know about Sid.

1. Sid Vicious was born John Simon Ritchie

2. You may know that Vicious was romantically involved in a relationship punctuated by bouts of domestic violence and drug abuse with 70’s punk rock figure, Nancy Spungen. Not long into their relationship, Spungen was found dead in their hotel room’s bathtub from a single stab wound to the abdomen. Vicious was charged with the murder but never made it to trial due to his death from a heroin overdose. However, many authors and filmmakers have speculated that Vicious may not have been the murderer and they believe that a drug dealer who frequented their room may have actually killed Spungen.

3. Johnny Rotten gave him the nickname Sid Vicious after his hamster Sid. After being bit by the pet he proclaimed: “Sid is really vicious!” and a famous stage name was born.

4. Sex Pistols Manager Malcolm McLaren stated on one documentary that if he had met Vicious before hiring Johnny Rotton, he would have chosen Vicious to be the front man of the Pistols instead, stating that Vicious had “the most charisma of anyone in the band.”

5. Vicious’s abilities on bass guitar were sometimes questioned. In one interview, when asked why he instead of Vicious recorded the bass parts for their album Never Mind the Bollocks, former guitarist Steve Jones stated, “Sid was in a hospital with yellow jaundice and he couldn’t really play…not that he could play anyway.”

6. It is very possible that Vicious’s own mother, Anne, was responsible for the heroin overdose that led to his death. Years after his passing and soon before her death, Anne admitted to a journalist that she had purposely administered the fatal dose of heroin to her son. The question remains of whether Vicious wanted her to administer said dose.

7. Vicious is credited with inventing the Pogo move where you bounce up and down with the music.

8. Before joining the Sex Pistols, Vicious was previously the drummer for punk bands: Siouxsie and the Banchees and The Flowers of Romance.

9. Vicious did time in an England remand centre (prison) for an instance that happened during a show at the 100 club where intending to throw a glass at a member of the band The Damned, he instead blinded a young girl when the glass shattered. After this incident, the 100 club went on to ban all punk acts at the club.

10. In 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame with the inclusion of Sid Vicious. In typical punk rock fashion, the band rejected the honor with guitarist Steve Jones saying quote: “Once you want to be put into a museum, rock and roll is over.”

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