Scott Weiland and Alternative Nation owner Brett Buchanan
2015 has been the most eventful year in the 6 and a half year history of Alternative Nation, and unfortunately not all for positive reasons. Scott Weiland has been one of the flagship artists on the site since I launched it under the name GrungeReport.net in May 2009. His face was the first thing seen next to the logo on this website until we changed our name and layout in June 2013, as seen on the site’s original banner below.
It was depressing to have to write about Scott’s struggles with alcohol and drug use this year. I know many labeled me a ‘hater’ (after calling me a kiss ass for my review of Stone Temple Pilots’ 2010 album and much of STP and Weiland’s works in the first few years of this site) but the truth is I didn’t want to see the guy die, and it saddened and angered me to see one of my musical heroes slowly killing himself in front of all of our eyes.
I’ve spoken to many people who knew Scott, and people with behind the scenes knowledge, and it breaks my heart even more knowing about the passionate man he was when he was just breaking into the music business, and then the terrible things that were happening in the last couple of years of his life. I’m not sure when I will really write about the last couple of years, but we do have an exciting feature coming up soon with one of Scott’s earliest musical partners, who was also one of his best friends.
When it comes to Alternative Nation, this year we had our best year ever. I interviewed two of my favorite musicians, Scott Weiland and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Interviewing Weiland and a member of Pearl Jam (McCready specifically) had been long time goals of mine, and it was great to finally accomplish them. Especially with what happened to Scott, it was an honor to get to interview him and help out with his social media accounts. The interview really felt like the culmination of 6 and a half years of hard work.
Jeff Gorra wrote some of the greatest pieces in the history of the site this year, in particular on Silverchair’s 20th anniversary. He also did great interviews with Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, a really personal interview with Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon, 311, and Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti.
Mike Mazzarone booked us two huge interviews with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and former Smiths frontman Morrissey. Doug McCausland, Elias Fulmer, and Charles Peralo did a great job with the interview, getting the site some crossover political coverage for the first time with a controversial statement Morrissey made.
Seattle Grunge era musician Tim Branom also contributed a few huge articles to the site, debuting unreleased 1989 Alice In Chains footage and conducting a rare interview with Layne Staley’s mother Nancy McCallum. I also can’t thank Greg Prato, Jeremy Neugebauer, Anthony Carioscia, Cindy Slade, and Hanna Graf enough for their great contributions to the site.
When it came to the news, one story that really touched me this year was when a friend of Pierre-Antoine Henry, a man who was killed by ISIS in the terrorist attack on Eagles of Death Metal’s concert in Paris last month, contacted me. He had seen my article on Eddie Vedder’s tribute to Pierre-Antoine at a Pearl Jam concert, and wanted audio of it for his funeral. I contacted Pearl Jam’s people, and they quickly sent the audio to Pierre-Antoine’s friend. I get cynical about a lot of the dumb stuff I have to write about, and a lot of the dumb criticism I get, but a story like that made it all worth it. It’s terrible to have to write about tragedies like what happened there, but it was touching to see the way Eagles of Death Metal fans united after what happened.
When it came to music released this year, I’ll be quite honest with you, I didn’t like much of it. There were some songs here and there, but there’s a reason the top 10 rock albums of 2015 list was fan voted. Any list I would have put together would have been contrived. There are still songs that came out this year that I really liked, but like I said, they’re few and far between. There’s a lack of exciting new bands coming out that really write incredible hits with lyrical substance, and our heroes of the 90’s are obviously hitting a point where their best days creatively are behind them, and the excitement is more based around great live shows.
But when it comes to original music, I’ll take Adele’s 25 over anything that came out in rock. I still do discover music I haven’t heard, but I find more in artists I dig deeper into from the 80’s that I hadn’t before like Phil Collins and The Cure than I do from much in modern rock or legacy acts putting out new material. I do think there are more great songs to be written though.
Live wise, like I mentioned, many of the 90’s rock acts can still bring it live. The Smashing Pumpkins were totally re-energized this year by the return of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin to the band, turning the band back into a true powerhouse. Dave Grohl kicked off the year playing a birthday show with an all star lineup featuring everybody from David Lee Roth, to Slash, to the late great Lemmy. He later broke his leg at a Foo Fighters show, and somehow managed to push through and have a huge North American tour, and make the dreams of 1,000 fans in Cesena come true. Dave Grohl’s year was truly tailor made for clickbait headlines. While I do not ever create outright lies with my headlines on here, I pick the most interesting thing in the story (if I didn’t the site wouldn’t exist, Facebook only give impressions to appealing headlines), the Grohl headlines were just easy to write.
2016 will seemingly get off to an exciting start with the Guns N’ Roses reunion. We have a lot planned here tentatively on Alternative Nation as well, including some new sections that should broaden the appeal of the site, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with the flow of the content we already have. I don’t want to reveal specific dates as I’ve learned before from doing that, you can have Chinese Democracy situations. I’ve learned from the successes and mistakes, and I think the way we’ll broaden the site now will help compliment what we already have without current coverage being affected at all. The last few months have been our most successful traffic wise ever, and we hope to keep that going in 2016 with some great content. Thank you for the support, and have a happy new year!