Free rock music - Stolen Name, a project by Alex Ayones

As you will already know if you have read this web’s first post, at this moment a rock band called Stolen Name no longer exists, it only remains as my musical project’s name. When more than 10 years ago I moved back from music I did it with big resentment and frustration. I couldn’t understand how music that was drinking from the sources of what for me is the best music of the world (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Guns N' Roses, Megadeth...) wouldn’t work out well in a musical panorama that wasn’t offering practically anything in this niche. The answer came slow and distressing in the shape of silence: In my country (exceptions made such as AC/DC or Metallica in his day) most people never liked this kind of music. They don’t listen to much rock here. Besides, in those days Spain was dazzled with the great revelations of contemporary music as Bisbal or Bustamante, things we call “triunfitos” in my country (like ‘lilte stars’ from Star Academy), created for the purpose of avoiding that the musical criterion of the average Spaniard doesn’t overcome the level of a 5 years old child. So I kept away from the world of music for many years until finally I decided to profit from new technologies and to make my music available for anyone that might like to enjoy it. I’m glad to verify that few months after this web and the YouTube channel have been functioning, many of you already listen to my music and from here I want to thank you all for your comments and support.

I was born in Madrid on December 1974 and from the start I was well tucked in music. My mother was Beatles and my father was Stones. Both music-lovers, eclectic and curious. This way, due to my mother’s influence I grew up listening to Supertramp, Men at Work and Police while my father is responsible for the fact that, when youngster, I could enjoy Deep Purple or Black Sabbath. I remember Elvis Presley being my favorite artist who didn’t belong to “infant” music. It amazed me that he was called “King of Rock and’ Roll”. As time went by I realized that I really didn’t like all his music, actually, the only theme that truly fascinated me was Jailhouse Rock. In fact, what I enjoyed best was when his voice went husky just before the guitar’s solo.

Being an Elvis mini-fan had its consequences: I wanted to learn to play the guitar. So my parents bought me a Spanish guitar and signed up for guitar lessons at school. For nearly two years I got the most out of learning and playing simple blues (veeeery simple), but afterwards the teacher was changed by another one who taught us “malagueñas” (Southern Spain traditional music) weather we liked them or not. I quit the classes.

Some years later I made what would be my biggest musical discovery up to then. I must have been 6 or 7 when, exploring my parents vinyl mountains, I found a jewel that would mark me forever: Hello by Status Quo. I heard it so many times that I learned every melody of the record, solos included. I remember starting it up and humming it up to my mother from the start to the very end (really patient, mom). I couldn’t have imagined till then such a rock explosion could ever happen.

As years went by my musical curiosity increased as well as my capacity to poke around. When I was 9 or 10 I had a classmate with adaptation disorders. It seems his parents had separated and he lived with his mother. His purchasing power was lower than that of the average pupil. In fact they ended up by sacking him out for stealing coats supposedly on his mother’s behalf. The question is that Carlos came to school clad in skinny pants and leather jacket, which wasn’t precisely the habitual thing. His heavy aesthetics never hit hard on me, but there’s another aspect that did impact me. The guy spent the whole day through boasting about the groups he liked with a passion such that didn’t look like anything I had seen before. He lived to listen to Kiss. Such ardor picked my curiosity. So I asked my mother to take me to a disco shop and buy me my first Kiss tape. DestroyerDestroyer is so superb that any assessment I could do about it would fall short behind. I was astonished at the aggressiveness of their harder tracks such as Detroit Rock City or God of Thunder Neither was I accustomed to the strength of songs like King of the Night Time World or Do you love me, whose final bells sent a shiver down my spine, even after listening to it hundreds of times. And of course I was trapped forever when I realized that such a “hard” band could make soft songs using classical instrumentation as in Great expectations and Beth.

Of course that was a turning point that, along with the natural curiosity that some of us perceive just by growing up, initiated a long and fruitful search for music to fill my life with. Certainly Animalize came fast. Another great album by Kiss that though harder and less eclectic also fascinated me. In was at that time and in the following years when I really started to poke about the records my parents had. Presence and In through the Out Door had been waiting for me for many years but though my mother played them from time to time and I gave them some chances they didn’t just convince me. The same thing happened with Never say die Black Sabbath: my hearing hadn’t developed enough yet. However from the age of 10 till 15 other softer marvels came into my life. Zenyattà Mondatta and Ghost in the machine by The Police taught me you can get a colossal strength without distorting guitars. Moreover, Steward Copeland was the first drummer I paid attention to – it’s difficult not to do it if you don’t have an ear in front of the other. On the other hand Business as Usual and Cargo showed me music could be plain, complex, fun, moving and stylish, all in the same song. If to that, you add a vocalist to whom nature has endowed with an astonishing voice timber you’ve got Men at Work. From those days also Talking Heads come into my mind, which I knew thanks to my aunt Helen. There was a time when I daily went through a curious ritual when I got home from school. I put Little creatures in the record player, took the lyrics from the album cover and sat to read them as the music sounded. I used to hear the whole album minimum once a day. Nowadays nobody listens to music that way. I see how kids download tons of music and cast aside anything they don’t like at the first listen. The album concept is lost. Some time ago, an album was (or could be) an integral whole, a closed piece of work. Nowadays even solos have been abandoned because the listener’s capacity won’t resist instrumental moments for more than few seconds. Mr. Oldfield chose a good moment to make his bells ring, ‘cause I fairly doubt today anyone would listen for more than a minute. Anyway I’m quite sure The exorcist would have also looked great accompanied by some brilliant and innovative instrumental song by Lady Gaga.

Let there be rock, Powerage and Back in black had always been waiting for me at home. When I was 5 I didn’t pay them much attention and till I was 10 I gave them some chances. I never got to really like them but I kept on trying; The Powerage cover with Angus’ hands turned into wires was absolutely hypnotizing. Besides was the fact that I didn’t understand how could the singer’s voice change so much in Back in black. The truth is I don’t quite remember when and how I started to like AC/DC, but what I do know is that I had to copy those three albums to cassette tapes before the grooves on the vinyl would split the records. One day I walked into a record shop, I found out how many albums they had already edited and I took a decision: since that there couldn’t exist a better band than AC/DC in the world, I’d had to dose their material in order to make sure I was paying them the attention they deserved and that I would enjoy them for many years. And so I did. I kept buying a record a year for a lot of time. It worked. Today AC/DC are simply a part of me. One of the best parts.

As the rest of Spain (except some lucky one) I didn’t know U2 cwhen The Joshua Tree came out. I listened to the songs on the radio and I couldn’t understand the success of the new band that was impressing the world. Nevertheless, a bit more than a year later, when I was about 13, I listened to the live version of I still haven't found what I'm looking for from Rattle and hum. The song didn’t seem anything from the other world to me and it had already passed unnoticed in The Joshua Tree. But there came the chorus and Bono said 'But I still haven't found what I'm looking for' and all of a sudden and without warning, a gospel chorus coming out from nowhere answered him back with the same phrase. I was petrified. It may not seem anything special, but it was. I had never listened to anything similar in my life. U2 was my favorite band for years. I got all their recordings. I apologized to The Joshua Tree and became close friends with War, October, Boy and other wonderful albums. When Achtung baby, to me they stopped being the spiritual Irish to become some other thing that didn’t suit me at all and our relationship was over. Anyhow I’ll always be grateful to them for all they gave me, which is a lot.

When I was 12 or 13 I had a best friend named Rafael, to whom without doubt I owe a lot, because Queen are enormous. I had never liked them much but I was compelled to pay them due attention if I wanted Rafa to do the same with U2. This way he accepted God part II was one of the most brilliant pseudo-blues ever written and that Bono was genetically designed to break his voice, while I admitted Gimme the price made me feel like wanting to behead someone (in the good sense). I think that at the end we both profited by the deal. On my side I owe him getting to know one of the greatest records of all times, A night at the opera, together with many other astonishing songs by Queen.

When I turned 15 I had already learned that things must be listened more than once to get to know them as they deserve. By this time I had succeeded enjoying Killers by Iron Maiden, another of my father’s vinyls, though he didn’t listen much to it. Afterwards I got more Iron Maiden material and could enjoytheir first epoch as it is meant to be. With Live after death I learned a live album can have more strength than a recorded one. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I used to take the double album and look at the photos as it sounded paying special attention to the number of concerts they gave during their tours. I was really impressed.

Alex Ayones from Stolen Name - Classic rock music

At that age I had managed to get the best of the Led Zepelin and Black Sabbath albums that were at home. In fact, I spent a summer in the States and I didn’t lose the opportunity of coming around a second hand record shop and buying all the Led Zeppelin recordings. They taught me you have to explore without fear and to try to make new things. That music is something that must come from inside and must try to say something. Partly I am what I am due to all the groups I’m mentioning, though maybe Led Zeppelin’s share is a bit bigger. I’m not talking about liking them more or less than others, but just how inspiring they were for me.

It’s a bit sad for me to verify that in Spain there’s always been a 20 year delay concerning modern musical development of genres like pop or rock. If there was to be a survey about the people that know e.g. Led Zeppelin, the results would be painful. If we asked for Mahler or Korsakov, the answer would be similar. It’s not a question of the musical genre. There’s no musical education here, not even a basic one, so most people come to adulthood with the musical criterion of a 5 year old boy (I know I’m repeating myself but I don’t care). This provokes the average listener to be more susceptible than usual to marketing interferences, creating consumers that are convinced that they fancy something without being able of realizing that what happens is that by listening to it 5 times a day it sounds familiar. Quality in promoted musical products is the most insulted parameter of them all, in favor of others such as cost, political correctness, not to compose music but chanted lyrics (hummed or even dribbled in the case of masculine vocalists) keeping a deliberately low musical level (avoiding any effort to the average listener) and other similar ones whose conjunction provokes the ascension to the skies of things like Bebe, Estopa or Amaral.

In general people aren’t much concerned about music and even less about finding something new. Even my two best friends (and their wives, friends as well) have been unable of making any comments (as I write these lines, more than a year after creating this site) about my project to share my music. Even when I had phoned expressly to inform them my project was underway and even when one of them had never heard my music. Another example: a close relative told me he had accessed to my YouTube channel and heard the 8 songs that I had there at that moment. He told me he thought they were incredible. “Outstanding!”, he said. I’ll make it short: I asked him a couple of questions to find out what song or songs he had liked most and in a while it was made clear that he hadn’t really listen to them. The man had just clicked play in the playlist and had gone into the kitchen to cook his meal while the music sounded through the laptop’s loudspeakers in the other room. No comments. He didn’t even get to know if the songs were instrumental or not. Does this mean that this relative and my friends are bastards? That they don’t esteem me? That they are ill-bred? Not at all. Well, they have certainly been a bit ill-bred. But their attitude isn’t dictated by malice or contempt. I mention them as examples because their behavior on these issues is similar to most people. They don’t give a damn. People think that listening to music is the same as having background music. People think that if the chorus sounds familiar is because the song is good. People aren’t interested in music (obviously otherwise nobody would listen to Enrique Iglesias) they simply listen to what they have been told to; they set their tastes based on this, to afterwards defend them to death with the tough determination that only ignorance confers closing the door to whatever is new since they’re 20.

Other example: I’ve got another friend that has never listened to my music, for when we met I had already withdrawn and this isn’t a subject I usually bring up. However not long ago I mentioned I had composed a symphony (yes, dear reader I have written a symphony that I will show and talk about when the moment comes). Well, do you know what his reaction was? He said “Nice!”, and he went on speaking of something else. Maybe he finds himself surrounded every day by people who are able of writing symphonies and he is sick and tired that they all make him listen to them. Or maybe he is a reincarnation of the great Ludwig Van (paraphrasing Alex DeLarge from “A Clockwork Orange”) and he logically thinks I’m not gonna be up the challenge. I wouldn’t reproach him if that were the case but, as most people, the nearest he usually approaches art is when he passes near the Prado museum.

I repeat what I said before: they’re not bad people. They’re victims of an endemic problem my country has: the absolute lack of musical education. This doesn’t mean that if they had that education they’d like my music but it does mean, almost with total certainty, that their tastes wouldn’t be the same and that at least they’d be more conscious of what they are listening to. Many might vomit facing what they currently listen to.

Diego Pons and Alex Ayones from Stolen Name - Classic rock music

Appetite for destruction by Guns N' Roses came to Spain and I wasn’t aware. Until one day we were about to watch a film my father had recorded from the TV in his VHS video. I was preparing the tape looking for the spot where the film started, for the recording had started 10 or 15 minutes before, when I saw a black and white musical video was starting. There was time, so instead of fast forward it I let it play. A relatively soft music accompanied fast images of some guys preparing themselves for a concert and setting up the stage in an empty stadium. Fine. Suddently Axl traces a wide violent arc with the mic stand, the guitars turn powerful and the camera moves back to show an impressive multitude. All of it targeted at giving way to one of the best songs ever written. That changed my life. If they’d ask me what ten CD’s would I take to a desert island my answer would have been obvious: 10 copies of Appetite for destruction.

Alex Ayones from Stolen Name - Classic rock music

I resumed guitar classes when I was 16. There were two great differences this time: the guitar was an electric one, classes were private and in the Escuela de Música Creativa (EMC - Creative Musical School). I had lots of luck for my teacher wasn’t other but Claudio Gabis, an Argentinian rocker member of the Manal band, great guitar performer and master, that lately became head teacher of the school, which was practically the most important one in Spain regarding modern musical teaching. A few years of private classes with Gabis whetted my appetite, so when I was 19 and studying third year of Economics I gave everything up to study the complete training program at the EMC. The decision didn’t precisely please my parents, but even though they never stopped supporting me. At school I received classes from many teachers, most of them were very good, among them I would like to highlight Eva Gancedo (amongst other things she was awarded with a “Goya” award to the best soundtrack for La buena estrella (The good star)) who I consider directly responsible for making me understand music as no one else had managed to before. When years later, after many time struggling, the EMC could start to grant their studies certificate, I was the first to receive one for they really owed it to me since two years back. Afterwards, I specialized in composition and arrangements. I did it for pleasure and not because I thought it would help me in my musical career. In fact in Spain normally those things are better not mentioned. What’s hip is the street musician’s innate talent rocketed to the stars, no need to talk about the pleasure taken from the social background this sort of stories bear. I don’t say this can’t happen, the problem is that those who seem street musicians are majority.

Alex Ayones from Stolen Name - Classic rock music

The truth is I’ve never been able to fan a band for its first work, for the simple reason that most times those albums came to Spain (let’s remember there was no Internet in those days) when they had already succeeded, which didn’t usually happen with their first album. Nirvana wasn’t an exception. I got to know them when Nevermind was already changing the planet’s face. It didn’t offer anything special to me referred to guitars, but as for the voice… buff. I thought Axl was the only specimen nature had created exclusively to sing rock till Curt Cobain arrived. In due time I got the rest of Nirvana’s works and I have to recognize that Bleach and In utero provided me with unknown pleasures up to the moment. I was lucky I could see them live before Cobain decided to deprive us all of his talent.

My friend Julio was a privileged one for he could get the EMTV channel at home. Thanks to that he got to know Ugly kid Joe, he got his first mini-lp As ugly as they wanna be and he made me a copy. For me it was a discovery as big as Megadeth more or less at the same time. They were simply brilliant: they composed well, played well and Whitfield Crane did whatever he wanted with his incredible voice. For me, America’s least wanted and Menace to sobriety are two masterpieces.

Starting to receive guitar classes implied starting to compose almost immediately. I created instrumental songs trying out and applying what I had learned with Claudio. My radio-cassette had a failure so that if you duplicated a tape while the sound was coming in through the mic-in port, it recorded not only the sound that came from the original tape but also what was sounding in the mic-in port. This way I could record several “tracks”. This enabled me to learn to combine several guitars, to include a bass guitar using the sixth string and even drums with a manual pad I bought for those needs. It sounded terrible but it sounded. I composed more than fifty instrumental themes before daring to sing for the first time when I was 19.

Once I had sung a few themes I added singing lessons to the signature’s list that was imparted at the EMC. Before starting up the group my schoolmate Hector and I played for a time with a drummer whose name I don’t even remember. He was the most informal guy I ever met and he didn’t play excessively well, but he had a garage where we could rehearse. The point is that he was a Megadeth fanatic and he obliged me to listen to them. No comments. From Countdown to extinction to Risk putting up with the previous, the intermediates and the later ones, they’re all brutal.

When I was 21, with 33 having written and sung 33 themes, I considered it was already clear that music was my life and I started up Stolen Name.

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