The Ex Man Podcast Ep. 02 – Angel Vivaldi (ex-Black Market Hero, Vext)

Doc talks with virtuosic, solo instrumental guitarist, Angel Vivaldi, about his humble beginnings in New Jersey playing with Black Market Hero, how he launched and built his solo career using social media, how he dealt with the traditional music industry, his role as a gay man in the heavy metal world, his dedication to environmentalism and worthy causes, and his recent tour with Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Gus G.

Listen and subscribe to The Ex Man on iTunes HERE!

Doc Coyle Launches The Ex Man Podcast

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After several years of guesting on other podcasts like Metalsucks, Danko Jones, and 100 Words podcast, I had been contemplating starting my own show for quite some time. As a huge fan of the medium, I wanted to take my time, and put something together that is hopefully unique and reflective of my experience and personality.

This inaugural episode features my good friend John Boecklin (ex-Devildriver). John and I discuss John’s exit from Devildriver, life after the band, his artist management career, his new band I of Tongues, and his relationship with Phil Anselmo.

Listen and Subscribe to The Ex Man Podcast on iTunes HERE.

Vagus Nerve Announce EP Release Date; Debut Music Video

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Starting as a passion project of ex-God Forbid guitarist, Doc Coyle, and Phyllotaxis singer-songwriter, Ravi Orr, Vagus Nerve became fully realized as a band in 2014 when they enlisted the talents of drummer, Moe Watson (Shai Hulud), bassist, Aden Oxenreider (Cosm), and guitarist, Mike Gowen (MoTHER).

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the atmospheric rock band is ready to take the next step. Everyone’s hard work and dedication has been leading to this moment as the band announces the official release date of their debut EP, VisceralFriday, September 30th 2016 – Digital & Physical Pre-Order available HERE.

The band have also debuted their 1st music video for the song “Pull Me Out”, directed by Douglas Henderson for Bold Creative Media out of York, PA. Like the songwriting, music production, and album artwork before it, this video falls in line with the elegance and beauty that characterizes Vagus Nerve.

HOOP LOGIC – The NBA’s Ageist Problem

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Everybody knows that professional athletics are a young man’s game. As sage Charles Barkley has lamented, “Father Time is undefeated.” While this is true, I’ve noticed a trend in the NBA media to send our aging veterans off to pasture before their skills have expired.

When Dwight Howard forced himself out of Orlando in 2012, everyone in the world would have killed to have D12 on their team. He was the NBA’s smiling, lovable good-guy. He was 26 years old, a 6-time All Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and even led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals.

Fast-forward 4 short years (or long years if you’re Dwight), and you would think this guy has the basketball equivalent of leprosy. He is viewed as a problem-child in the locker room, injury prone, and his stats have steadily fallen. The peculiar thing is if you compare his Per 36 numbers for the ’15-’16 season, they aren’t much different than his last season in Orlando, except points per game, but Dwight only had 8.5 FGAs per game in 2015-16 – the lowest since his rookie season.

2011-12 – Per 36 Minutes – 19.4 PPG 13.7 Rbs 2.0 Blks .573 FG%
2015-16 – Per 36 Minutes – 15.4 PPG 13.2 Rbs 1.8 Blks .620 FG%

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HOOP LOGIC – Kevin Durant to Golden State: Villainous or Virtuous?

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I was in stupefied disbelief when I woke up to text messages and tweets learning of Kevin Durant’s exit from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area. KD re-upping for 1 year in OKC just seemed like the prudent maneuver. They were 5 minutes from the Finals, and showed the Warriors a unique type of athletic challenge that even the Cavaliers couldn’t replicate, despite winning it all. Golden State is 1 year removed from a title, and a couple months removed from the greatest regular season in history, and led by the first unanimous MVP in league history. There’s no way an historically great team that was a sniff away from it’s second title in as many years needs a generational talent like KD to tip the scales further in their favor.

But I guess it’s the same reason Coca Cola, McDonalds, and Budweiser still run countless ads on TV and billboards despite being ubiquitously well known; you have to stack the deck to insure market dominance.

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Are Metal Musicians Doomed to a Life of Poverty?

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This is a subject I meant to address a few months back when Thy Art Is Murder vocalist, CJ McMahon, quit the band due to claims of horrific financial living conditions that he could no longer accept. He claimed to only have made “$16k-$18k each over 6-7 years”. It was not made clear if that is in US dollars or Australian dollars, or if he meant $16,000-$18,000 per year or the total amount earned over a 6-7 year period. It’s worded in a way to insinuate that he was only making $2,200-$2,500 per year, which seems a bit far-fetched, but I’ll push forward with the notion that whether he made $18,000 per year or $2,200, either amount was insufficient for leading an independent adult lifestyle.

The first thing that baffled me by the online reaction to this story was the surprise from non-musicians that extreme metal bands might not make a lot of money. When I started with God Forbid in the late ‘90s, I didn’t know you could even make a living doing extreme music. In that time, an assumption has grown that metal musicians should or deserve to make a living solely from making albums and touring. I don’t know exactly where that assumption came from, but it just strikes me as an odd, if not overly idealistic stance.

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Time For A Reckoning: Examining The Phil Anselmo Controversy & Backlash

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By the time I even viewed the damning video of Philip H. Anselmo, the legendary vocalist of Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual, performing a forceful “sieg heil” Nazi salute followed directly by adamantly shouting “white power” to the crowd at the end of a star-studded Dimebash fundraiser concert at Lucky Strike in Hollywood, CA, the internet had already exploded with outrage, responses, defenses, theories, and excuses.

In just the few days after the event, it appeared that Phil Anselmo outrage fatigue had already set in. People were already sick of talking about it, hearing how offended people were, or even acknowledging that the heavy music world might have a race problem. Despite this fatigue and the fickleness of the social media news cycle, more than a few people reached out to me asking if I would write some type of response considering my track record of dissecting heavy metal culture and openness to discussing race and politics. I consider it my responsibility to weigh in, so here it is:

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Vagus Nerve Launches Kickstarter + Releases Brand New Song

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Although I announced Vagus Nerve a couple years ago, it’s been mostly quiet with the band because there were no live performances to announce or music to showcase. Now, we have HUGE news!

  1. We have launched a Kickstarter Campaign to help fund the mixing & mastering of the forthcoming Visceral EP by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus). Click HERE to check out the campaign and support the band. We need your help!
  2. We have released the bands 1st song to the public, and the 1st material I’ve written since leaving God Forbid entitled “Do You Know Who I Am”. Test Mix by Forrester Savell.

This is a big deal for me, and I couldn’t be more excited. I know it’s way different than God Forbid and might not be old fans’ cup of tea, but I really do hope you guys enjoy it!

Anti-Flag

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about the controversy involving the Confederate Flag. Every news or media outlet that had someone with an opinion threw their hat in the ring. I had some discussions with a couple of my best friends whose viewpoints were both vague indifference: that they had too many other problems in their real life to really care. I took that as a slight frustration by being inundated with yet another controversy for people to be outraged by. The PC police had run amok…again. I can empathize with some of their frustration considering how many “false flag” (pun intended), “boy who cried wolf” outrages over Don Imus, Alec Baldwin, or Tracy Morgan saying inappropriate things. In my gut though, this was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The truth is I never thought anything would ever change about a certain sector of this country’s infatuation with the stars and bars. I knew the real history. Or most of it at least. If I saw someone displaying it out and loud, it made me a bit uncomfortable. But that was rare; I lived in New Jersey for Christ’s sake. I remember seeing  the flag in a well-to-do kid I went to high school with’s room in semi-rural New Jersey. To me, it always seemed daft to see a northerner with the flag of the south. I mean, you could just move down south if you wanted to. What exactly are you pining for?

Over time, it just faded into the brush of Americana. I didn’t take it personally. I guess it was maybe a racist thing to some people. But I just took it as a redneck thing. I don’t love using that word, but I’d imagine if someone was proudly sporting a big ol’ Confederate flag, they probably don’t shy away from self identifying as a redneck. That might be presumptuous, so sorry if I’m wrong. But I just took it as one of those things that southerners, self-identifying rednecks, and maybe a some white supremacists would just have forever. Like guns or perpetual war. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve just gotten used to it.

I was extremely surprised when there was a public and political push to remove the flag from state grounds across the south after the massacre in Charleston. I’m cool with it, but I can understand how southerners and republicans would be freaked out.  There’s a black President, gay marriage just got legalized, and now your favorite flag is being marked for obsolescence. Like I said, it’s kinda like guns for me. In a perfect world, I’d love people to maybe not have so many guns, but with that whole “from my cold, dead hand” bit, I understand how attached to them you are. I’m just gonna concede that one. I mean, you gotta gun. Hang on to it. Don’t mind my idealistic ass.

I have to let people vent, but I saw this on my Facebook timeline.

Racist Meme

First, I was confused. Then, I was angry. Then, I just got sad. Maybe that’s what being offended feels like. Just being really hurt in your heart by something. I’m never really offended, so I didn’t really know.

It should also be said that I guess no one ever thought for a second that these black people could physically excrete American flags from their butts, which would basically make them the most patriotic people in the country. National treasures, really. In all seriousness though, this meme is like Rorschach test for the deeply racist and dimwitted. It’s misdirection is simultaneously ingenious and paradoxically stupid. This is a powerful piece of propaganda. Let me break it down:

1. Misdirection: The oldest trick of propaganda. To get you to stop thinking about one issue, they present a completely different issue with the lie that they are connected. If you already have a distrust of black people and hate lefty flag burners and anti-patriots, then alarm bells are going off. It’s red meat for the hungry.

2. False choice: No where on the meme does it say you can dislike both. Like most things involving this kind of thinking, it lacks grey area or nuance. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!”

3. Breakdown of Logic: You can’t say the above symbol is not racist, or at least that the way you use it and what it means to you is not racist, and then CLEARLY choose a picture of 2 idiotic black people as your example of villains. Meme maker, why did you choose these examples? I’m sure you could have found white people desecrating the American flag. I hate to say it, but at least racist people back in the day had the balls to be honest about it. (By the way, I get that black people can be racist. We all have the capability)

4. Breakdown of Logic #2: You can’t insinuate people wiping their ass with the flags  are “traitors”, and not label the entire Confederacy trying to leave that country “traitors”. How is that not the most obvious thing in the world? I mean, is this thing on? You can’t call yourself a patriot for the USA when you are more loyal to the part of the country that didn’t want to be part of the country. Thinking about the lack of reasoning that goes into that thought process is literally making me dizzy. It’s cognitive dissonance, and complex mental compartmentalization in it’s purest form.

5. False equivalency: If you think going to war to maintain keeping black people as property and decades of Jim Crow oppression is an equal sin to a couple jackasses wiping their ass with the flag, then I’m…speechless.

The person who I saw post this, I’m not gonna name. I’m not gonna unfriend you. But I hope you read this. I hope you know that this made me sad and confused. I’d rather have people with whom I disagree in my personal sphere. I know we don’t disagree about everything. You are angry, so you want to lash out. If hurting people is what you wanted, then it worked. Vengeance works sometimes, but know these public forms are supposed to be amongst “friends”. That’s not how friendly people behave.

I’m gonna wrap up my opinion on the Confederate flag in one anecdote:

One time in 2010, I was having lunch with my friends Tommy Vext and Jenn City to talk about some band stuff. I casually used the word “gay” to describe something. Jenn called me out. Jenn is a lesbian. She called me to task. “What did I mean by ‘gay’?”  I didn’t have a good answer. That’s just the way we talked. My brother and I, guys in the band. “Damn. Taco Bell is closed. That shit is gay.” “I am broke is fuck. This is gay.” Never once had I thought about actual gay people when I said it. I grew up as liberal as can be, and still even I had a blind spot. At first, I was a little annoyed because I meant no harm. But, my friend was hurt by this.

Over time, I broke the habit. For me, not to use the word, is a small thing. But for my friend, not to hear the word used in that way, is a really big thing. There’s nothing politically correct about being courteous and respectful to my friend; it’s just correct. It’s the right thing to do, because I give a shit.

And, it’s the same way with the flag. I’m sure most the people who flaunt it aren’t racist. It probably does mean heritage and southern pride and good ol’ boys and all that stuff. But compartmentalizing what it means to you, and ignoring it’s origins, and ignoring how it makes other people feel…is just a purely selfish act. You don’t want to change. I get it. It’s part of your identity. Being told virtually over night that it’s not kosher is jarring and disruptive. I’m not saying people shouldn’t sport the Confederate flag. This is America. Americans are free to express themselves however they want. Just understand that others who don’t see eye to eye with you on the flag will now look at you with that much more discomfort when it is in sight. It will make certain people sad, confused, scared, and angry. I hope you can live with that. I hope you are ok with the fact that freedom of speech does not grant you freedom from criticism of that speech.  These events have polarized us even more, and that saddens me even more.

What surprised me most is what Phil Anselmo from Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual whose bands sported the Confederate flag on more than one occasion, said, “These days, I wouldn’t want anything to fucking do with it, because, truthfully…I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want much to fucking do with it all, and personally, you know I never…The way I feel, and the group of people I’ve had to work with my whole life, you…You see a Confederate flag out there that says ‘Heritage, not hate.’ I’m not so sure I’m buying into that, you know?”

If this man, a man who has a somewhat checkered past when it comes to racial politics, can evolve to a dramatically self aware place on this topic, than what does it say about us all? When the dust settles, think on it, allow your soul to search. These symbols shouldn’t matter. Like my friends, I should have better things to do, but I can can’t stop thinking or soul searching. Now if only this fucking dust would settle.

Sour Grapes

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Sometimes, you reach a point when you realize you’re just….done. And now, I’m just plain done listening to musicians complain. Amateurs complain about how people don’t support the “scene”, or woefully contemplate why they aren’t breaking through when the truth is that they aren’t contributing anything special or innovative. I am done hearing mid-level bands bitch about how band “X” is inexplicably selling tons of records and selling out shows, but they can’t even land a decent support slot. “That band sucks! We crush them! I don’t get it.” Damn right, you don’t get it. I am really done listening to rich rock stars of yesteryear’s glory days whine about downloading and how kids today have ruined the music industry.

Whether you are in a local band trying to build any kind of audience, or in a signed, touring, established act trying to stay afloat in constantly changing times, or a millionaire dejected that music alone will not afford you that 2nd vacation home or 3rd Bentley, I’ve noticed that musicians do lots of fucking complaining. Maybe it’s a rock and metal thing. You guys love complaining so much, that people complain for me. After I wrote my piece about the demise of NWOAHM, several people scoffed at the idea that I postulated that maybe God Forbid wasn’t good enough. I didn’t say we weren’t, but just entertained the possibility that we weren’t. They have to assert a lack of fairness is built into the system so that the truly “great” bands will be periodically overlooked. That sounds like Conspiracy Theory 101 to me.

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