Best of 2015 – Guests and Friends

94 - Best of 2015 – Guests and Friends

by Ryan Meehan

This year was another great year for us here at First Order Historians, and we had the chance to talk to some interesting visionaries in the world of entertainment and news. This year’s Guests and Friends list is a little bit shorter, but still well worth the read. Let’s get right into it…


Brett Netson

Guitarist – Built to Spill / Earth

Boise, Idaho

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:  The Echoplex EP-2 schematic.     

Best album or music release:  Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension  

Most disturbing news story:  GMO Salmon   

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  Facts mean nothing. Resource scarcity causes fascism. 

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:  The Rockford Files

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  Stopping short of civil war/fascism. Vandalism of corporate infrastructure.  


Bobby Ray Bunch


LeClaire, Iowa

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:  I read Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ which was the longest book I’ve ever read, about 1200 pages. I love post-apocalyptic movies, TV and books so it was a great read. 

Best album or music release:  I love B0RNS album “Dopamine”. I got to see them live at a very intimate show a few months ago and was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time. 

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  Life is better when I set goals and achieve them. It’s fun to be a piece of shit and lay around on the couch, but it’s more rewarding to try and better myself in multiple ways. Whether it’s my health, stand up comedy, guitar playing or love making, it’s always fun to see yourself making progress at things you love. 

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:  I loved Narcos and season 2 of The Leftovers. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Narcos because of the subtitles, but nevertheless it was great. 

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  I hope we stop teaching our kids it’s okay to be a pussy. We should teach them to stick up for themselves or become funny, that’s how I stopped getting beat up…yesterday. 


Matt Donaher


New York City, New York

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:   What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Best album or music release:  Art Angels by Grimes

Most disturbing news story:  Oh, boy, take your pick. 

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  Pursue happiness.

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:  Fargo

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  Less disturbing news stories, more stuff like Grimes!


Paul Blomquist

Drummer – Chrash / Them Som’ Bitches

Rock Island, IL

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:  Bob Dylan – “Chronicles – Volume One” 

Best album or music release:  Low – “Ones and Sixes”  

Most disturbing news story:  The Paris attacks  

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  That it’s not so much what happens to you, but how you handle it…”Gotta Keep On Keepin’ On!”

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of: True Detective Season One – I watched the last five episodes in one sitting…amazing show!!!  Runner up would be Bloodline

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  A serious decline in radical hate crimes


Derek Clifton

CNC Operator

Gilchrist, Illinois

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:   This piece regarding Hunter S. Thompsn’s daily routine –

Best album or music release:  Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings

Most disturbing news story: (I’m aware this is a fake story and that this is the “National Enquirer” of the web but it always draws me back)

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  No matter how bad your day is going, there is always someone who is having a worse day than you.  You can’t put a price tag on good health.

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:  Drugs, Inc.  National Geographic

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  The regression of radical Islam and order brought back to the ISAL State. 


Christie Chiello


New York, New York

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:  

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I’m a sucker for self help books! I don’t like to read so much so when I do read, the book better change my life. 

Best album or music release:    

Justin Bieber. What can I say? I’m a belieber. 

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:

I’m late with these but Friday Night Lights took me on the ride of a lifetime this year. What a show!!! And… Wait for it…The Sopranos. I am OBSESSED.

Most disturbing news story:    

It makes me sad that I have so many to choose from. The children in Syria upset me the most. 

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  

To try to be in the moment more. To be “present” and also to practice acceptance which is challenging for me sometimes. 

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  

I pray everyone is kinder to one another. More listening. More nice words. Less finger pointing. Realizing at our core we all want the same things and it’s possible to work together to achieve them. I hope people have faith again.


Zippy Vidmar

Video-Editor Photojournalist at Local Television Station

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:  

I haven’t read them yet, but I came across these weird-ass books that came out in the early 90’s that were basically Christian propaganda warning of the dangers of popular kids cartoons and toys. One was called Saturday Morning Mind Control, another called Turmoil in the Toybox (both by some nut named Phil Phillips). The basic idea of these books was that cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Smurfs were exposing kids to occult symbolism and anti-Christian stuff. This idea that entertainment/pop-culture from my childhood might have been trying to brainwash kids into worshiping Satan or indoctrinating me into some type of secret, sinister world-view/conditioning intrigues and amuses me to no end. My girl got me Turmoil in the Toybox for Christmas.

Best album or music release:     

Atari Teenage Riot-Reset-This album is a fucking beast, front to back. The guitars samples in the rocker tracks are super in-yo-face and the beats on the danceyier (my word) tracks are hard as fuck. I could see how fans of their older stuff might not dig it, but this is my favorite release of 2015 (as of today). I’d also rate the production on this album as my favorite of 2015, as well.

High on Fire-LuminiferousI know a lot of people were probably nervous that Matt Pike lost some of his edge after he got out of rehab, but I wasn’t one of them.  

When they released Slave to the Hive (which ended up making it onto this album) as a single, there was no question that this band was still down to pound. And then there was the new Sleep single with that epic, ripping-ass solo that got released by Adult Swim in Summer 2014. A couple years ago I came across this interview with Matt Pike on YouTube where he’s asked “what is heavy music”, to which he responds that it’s about being pissed off and being a warlord and taking an axe to an enemy’s head in battle and basically taking that mentality to create a riff that’s the equivalent. The first time I watched this everything suddenly made sense. Why High on Fire rules. Why other bands suck. And this album is a perfect example of Pike’s axe-to-the-face mentality.  I found a few live videos of songs from this album from a show they did last January and would hear that sick-ass riff from The Sunless Year when I’d be walking from my apartment to University of Iowa all throughout January/February/March as I marched across the frozen tundra. I became convinced Pike was some kind of metal wizard. Then I started reading all the press they were getting leading up the release of the album. I knew he’d dabbled with some conspiracy theories, but apparently he’s gone off that deep end. Which is fine. I used to believe most of the ones I’m not seeing him talk about. But the point I’m getting at is this is a truly inspired piece of work by a band that “gets it” and I’m convinced we’ve yet to hear their best work…

Faith No More-Sol InvictusIt’s like they never went away. Just picked up exactly where they left off. I thought it was fantastic. Might have been a disappointment for some Patton devotees, but they should have expected as much when they decided to reunite.

Deafheaven-New BermudaI know these guys get a lot of shit because of the shoegazey moments. People think they’re trustfund hipsters. I know some people just like pissing all over North American black metal bands in general. Whatever. I thought they got the balance right on this one. I didn’t like the drumming on the last album, but dude stepped his game up on this one (still think they’d be better off with a different drummer). But this album kicks ass. They definitely get an A-for-effort.

Napalm Death-Apex PredatorIt’s inspiring to see a band that’s been around as long as Napalm playing as fast as they do on this album. The riffs are fucking sick. Also inspiring that all the GOOD metal being released today is from guys in their 30s/40s/and even 50s. Can’t remember the last time I heard metal I liked made by anyone younger than 25.    

Fear Factory-GenexusRead an article a month or so ago bitching about how many metal bands don’t take chances and always stick to the same formula. You could definitely argue that Fear Factory fits in that category. But I’ve never cared. I dig their style. Even if they’re just putting out updated variations of it. I even liked the albums they did without Dino. But I like this one because it feels like the melodic elements are taking priority over the heaviness. Not a total departure from their sound by any stretch, but the songwriting sounds fresh.

Dr. Dre-ComptonDre’s always been one of my favorite producers. His drum beats have always been outstanding. I’ve never been a fan of “socially conscious hip-hop with a message.” To me, rap has always been hood music. The more hood the better. Historically, any socially redeemable qualities expressed in GOOD rap music has been incidental (see: Tupac). That’s not meant to be dismissive of the genre, that’s just how it is. The more ghetto the message, the better the music tends to be. Dre helped start that and he made it sound smooth and pretty. I wouldn’t call this his best album, but he’s still a master of his craft and still retains the sound that made me a fan in the first place.

Kylesa-Exhausting FireBeen a fan of them for years now. But this one has some outstanding songwriting. Kinda reminds me of the Smashing Pumpkins before so, so many things went wrong. But heavier.

Torche-RestarterAlways thought these guys sounded like a looser, happier Mastodon. Like, this is how they would sound if they went off in a less serious direction 10 years ago. I still like Mastodon, but Torche sound like they smoke more weed.      

Sumac-The DealI loved Isis. I can see how some would roll their eyes at this band because they’ve got 10 minute long songs and think “same old shit!” But they’d be wrong. Isis was a tight unit. Sumac’s a different beast. They’re only a two-piece and the music is a lot looser and sounds more improvised. Still inspired, though.

Coal Chamber-RivalsI never liked Coal Chamber when they were together. I dug it for a bit when they first came out, but I thought the music was kinda lightweight. Not heavy enough. I didn’t really start to appreciate them again until they broke up. I still don’t think they’re outstanding, but if they made this album when I was in high school, I might have dug them. It’s never too late.  

Sunn O)))-KannonIt’s starting to sound more and more like music. More in-line with what I expected them to sound the first time I popped in one of their CDs. This is a good thing. 

Bloodhound Gang-Hard-OffApparently they quietly released a new album last week. Guessing they’ve had problems with the record label. Or the singer-dude has had issues with drugs. Either way, it’s good. Catchy. Need more time to let this one settle in, but I like what I’ve heard so far. Give it a chance.  

Poison Idea-Confuse and Conquer-I don’t know why, but the first time I gave it a spin, it sounded kinda flat. I realized it wasn’t going to be the same (with Pig Champion being gone almost 10 years now), but it just didn’t seem to have the same zing as Kings of Punk or Feel the Darkness. But then I forced myself to listen beyond the first song. Poison Idea still got it. The production grew on me. Fast and Furious riffs aplenty. Dead Cowboy is a nice surprise, too. 

New Order-Music CompleteI remember playing their 2005 album (Waiting for the Sirens’ Call) when I had my old radio show at St. Ambrose. It was cool, but it wasn’t the same type of music that made me a fan in the first place. This album isn’t exactly a throwback to that era, but it’s a nice update on that sound. Sounds great.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed-Not a DaughterSingle from their upcoming Arc E.P. This sounds like Scott Hull trying to write an Eyehategod song. Or even Down. Good old sludgy, doomy Sabbath-worship. I’m sure people will hate it, but he almost does it better than both of the bands just mentioned. I always what it would have been like if bands like Pantera or Slayer didn’t tour at all and just made records. I wanted more. Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed convince me the bizzaro world where that scenario took place could have been amazing. 

David Bowie-BlackstarSingle from the upcoming album. I don’t know what he’s doing but I like it. Good stuff, as always. 

Whatever Nevermind: A Tribute to Nirvana’s NevermindGreat cover album. Fresh renditions. Hate to beat a dead horse, but you can’t help but listen to the album and wonder what he’d be doing if he’d stuck around a little longer.

Adult Swim Singles 2015-I love everything Adult Swim does. The original programming, the promos, the video games. Even the stupid commercials they air. I like that they do these Singles series every year. Makes it easier on me to find out what the hepkats are into this year. The songs by Peaches and Thou are probably my favorites (Thou sound sick as fuck; need to check out more of their stuff).

Danzig-SkeletonsI know this is a “Best Of” list, but I’m including this on the list to make it known that it’s a piece of shit.  

I love The Misfits/Samhain/Danzig. I was intrigued when I found out he was doing a covers album. But it sounds horrible. Terrible production. Just like his last few albums.  I love his music, but Glenn Danzig is a stupid fucking asshole. To me, it’s just like his whole thing about not wanting to be photographed during his concerts. I could understand if this was 1994 and VHS bootlegs were selling at $30 a tape. But it’s almost 2016. Damn near every single person in the world has a fancy computer phone. They take pictures and video very, very easily. This isn’t a battle Glenn’s going to win. He’s not as buff as he used to be, his hair’s thinning, and I’d imagine he has to dye it. It’s hell getting old.  

BUT NONE OF HIS FANS GIVE A SHIT. He can still sing like no other. That’s what they came to see. Not some wannabe tough guy midget that wants to throw tantrum everytime someone at his concert does what every other single person with one of those phones does from time-to-time. I saw him once and it was awesome (this was before smart phones and we got patted down at the door for disposable cameras), but I don’t know if I’d go again. Suppose someone in the audience is checking there text messages and he mistakes them for Andy Warhol and walks off-stage (as I’ve heard he does)? That’s a waste of money.  Just like this covers album. It sounds like shit.  

I’m not suggesting he get back with Rick Rubin (although that wouldn’t be a bad idea), but he’s got to let someone else produce and mix his shit. He’s got Tommy Prong playing guitars for him and Johnny Kelly on drums for him. Prong’s awesome and Type O Negative were one of my favorite bands. There’s no excuse for this album sounding like this. My guess is that he’s such an egomaniac that he refuses to listen to anyone else’s input or suggestions, or he’s just a big cheap-ass who doesn’t want to spend the money. Probably both.

Slayer-RepentlessThis is another one I’d like to take time to shit on. I was curious to hear what this album would sound like, now that Hannemann is gone. I wanted to hear what an album written entirely by Kerry King would sound like (I’ve always been able to tell the difference between King and Hannemann’s solos). Especially with Paul Bostaph back on drums. Did that mean we could expect another Divine Intervention (probably my favorite album by them)?  And Terry Date producing? Date’s produced some of my all-time favorite albums. Would it be super fast? Or more emphasis on thrash riff? A bunch of super noisy, bendy, whammy bar solos? Answer: It sucked. Songwriting sounded generic and uninspired. Plus, I think it’s curious that they included all this Satanic artwork on the album cover, but none of the songs are about Satan. Not that I’d give a shit, but it just looks like someone’s propping up an old, tired act. Like they’re just going through the motions so they can have an excuse to tour. I think it’s probably about time they give it up.

Most disturbing news story:     

Trump. How? Why? It makes no sense. And it makes me fear that civilization might be a few bad decisions away from total collapse. Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  I started the year working a cushy, high paying TV gig while living in swanky downtown Des Moines, moved to Iowa City a few weeks into the year to start attending University of Iowa (a plan that finally came to after two years of hard work and planning) and found myself attending classes at a fancy Big 10 university (the school also being my first choice after considering many others). It ended with me living in the ghetto in Davenport with a girl 12 years younger than me, whose daddy plays in a grindcore band I enjoyed before I’d met her, and now the proud parent of 3 cats. It also ended with me finally landing somewhat of a dream job working as a video editor/photojournalist at a news station covering general assignments and breaking news. There’s much more I could say, but I guess the thing I learned was there’s no telling what’s around the corner or what you can do when you don’t have much choice.

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of: 

Better Call Saul 

The Americans 

Mad Men 

Halt and Catch Fire 

True Detective  


The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:   

I think it’d be awesome if every dipshit in this country had their phones taken away from them. If there was ever an omnipotent source of enlightenment and information available to humanity, it surely exists today as Google. That so many simpletons have it on their phones, yet either choose not to use it or are unable to use it properly shows how slowly (in real time) evolution really does work. I just think if you’re going to ignore it, you should lose your phone so the rest of us can recognize those people as the helpless, wandering zombies they truly are… 

….But I’d settle for Trump not getting elected.


John Di Domenico

Celebrity Impersonator / Comedian

Henderson, Nevada

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:

There was an STD pamphlet at my doctor’s office that was riveting, but that was just a trifold…For a real book I have to go with “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink” by Elvis Costello. The Elvis Costello autobiography is amazing. Unlike his very concise and efficient lyrics this book is a sprawling, epic, rambling account of his life. It is very entertaining. The sections on collaborating with McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint, the Roots, the Brodsky Quartet is worthwhile reading for any artist.

Best album or music release:    

I think One Direction is doing some really innovative…Who am I kidding? They suck…On the other hand Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love is an excellent album. This album is on a lot of Top 10 lists and there is a reason…it rocks. It captures lightning in a bottle which does not happen that often.

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:

I realize I’m a little behind the curve on this but I binged watched all of Mad Men. Everything about that show is amazing, the concept, writing, casting, acting, attention to detail. Dom Draper is as a douche bag and he is the heart and soul of this show. John Hamm somehow makes this character just accessible enough that you want to know him more and follow him top some very dark places. It’s the finest series I’ve ever watched. It sticks with me on an emotional level that is only matched by the BBC’s The Singing Detective which was also emotionally intense.  

Most disturbing news story:    

The Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks and cold blooded murders. These were specifically attacks on fun, attacks on having a good time. In Paris it was people dining at restaurants and outdoor cafes, going to a concert, attending a football game. In San Bernardino it was a holiday party. They are attacking the simple pleasures of life: food, music, sports, parties, shared experiences, being with friends. All things where you have fun, enjoy yourself on your own or with a group of people. It’s horrifying that it’s come to this.

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  

That I’m stronger than I realized, but not as disciplined. I withstood a great deal of stress and pain this year. I also learned I need to do more work on myself to meet my full potential.

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:

That world leaders get it together and actually LEAD not blame.


Cone McCaslin


Sum 41

Best piece of reading material I had the pleasure of ingesting:     

I’ve kinda become a producing, recording and mixing nerd lately so I did a lot of reading on recording gear this year…I know, super boring…

Best album or music release:    

Well I did produce an album that came out this year that I’m really proud of called “Northern Lies” by the band Sun K from Toronto. Other than that biased opinion (even though the album is really good!) I am really into the Nathaniel Rateliff + The Night Sweats new album as well.

Television show I couldn’t take my eyes off of:

The 2nd season of True Detective kept me going for a bit. Even though I thought the 1st season was better I still was pretty into  the 2nd season too.

Most disturbing news story:    

The terrorist attacks in Paris…….. We (Sum 41) lost a great friend and merch guy Nick Alexander in those attacks who was doing merch for Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan Club at the time where too many people lost their lives. Still obviously emotional about that and so that without going on too much about it and getting too heavy, that is the most disturbing and upsetting news story of the year and many years to come for me.

Most important thing I learned about myself or life in general:  

I had “a” kid (a boy) last December so I learned that I don’t function very well with no sleep, but I also learned I’m a pretty awesome Dad!

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:  

For people to stop supporting Donald Trump in his bid to be President……….


Greg Thompson

Drill and Bore Operator – John Deere

East Moline, Illinois

Best Book – Boy On Ice, The Derek Boogard Story. 

Record – Frank Turner, Positive Songs For Negative People

Most Disturbing News Story:

Tie between all the police violence against blacks or the hatred spewed at Muslims. The Jared Fogle of Subway story falls into it too.

Biggest Lesson About Myself: 

I can’t do life on my own. I need the help of both a psychologist & psychiatrist or I will end up dead.

TV show can’t not watch: 

The First 48 or LockUp, both rule

The biggest change I hope for the world to see in 2016 is:

Americans to think logically and not straight party issues. To realize that the white man stole this land from the Native American’s and the hypocrisy of Muslim hatred. 

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.



  • Hi there! I know this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask. Does running a well-established blog such as yours take a lot of work? I am brand new to blogging however I do write in my diary on a daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

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