EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mike Cessario, founder / CEO of Liquid Death THE THIRST KILLING MOUNTAIN WATER IN A CAN

Tell us a little about your punk rock/heavy metal experience playing in bands.

I grew up in the punk/hardcore/metal scence outside Philadelphia in the late 90’s. Went to see bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Lamb of God (when they were Burn the Priest), Snapcase, Lifetime, Boysetsfire, Propagandhi, NOFX, Botch, and tons more. I played guitar in a few different bands from punk to hardcore to metal, but none of which actually toured or did anything special. But playing in bands is where I got my start of being a creative entrepreneur. 

Why would you say it is that the initial market of metal/punk fans would get your brand of humor?

There’s an incorrect assumption out there that the health and wellness demographic is not interested in weird, tongue-in-cheek entertainment. In an industry that normally uses “aspirational” fitness models and airbrushed celebrities, we’re using our brand to support weirdos and entertainment that generally get ignored by traditional wellness brands. People would be surprised that there’s a huge portion of the alternative/punk/metal culture that actually cares about health and the environment, and that tends to be who instantly connects with our brand mission and humor. 

Your “sell your soul” to Liquid Death campaign is irreverent, genius, and hilarious.  Where did the idea spawn from and how has the response been?

At the end of the day, every brand has to use marketing. You need people to sign up for your newsletter, or join your membership club, or be a bigger part of your brand. We just always look for funnier ways to do it. Most marketing and advertising is toxic waste because it is created in boardrooms and takes itself way too seriously. We try to be very clear that we do not take ourselves seriously. Our goal is actually entertain people and be one of the cool fun things they interact with that day. We often start our ideation with “What would be the dumbest thing we could do for this?” And that is essentially where Sell Your Soul came from. What is a soul really? It’s fun to think about and play around with. We now have almost 40,000 people who have sold their souls to Liquid Death.

How did you snag Pittsburgh boy Joe Manganiello to sell his soul?

Joe is actually one of our favorite humans on the planet. He is a long-time lover of heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons. He was thrilled when he discovered Liquid Death and loves our sarcastic, rock’n’roll approach to wellness and sustainability. We couldn’t have asked for a better brand ambassador, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work together. 

What other artists are you developing relationships with?

We’ve been getting social media love from all kinds of artists from metal to EDM to hip hop. Artists like Gojira, High on Fire, Gwar, Gatecreeper, Red City Radio, Rob Zombie, Dirtyphonics, Best Coast, 6Black, Nuclear Blast Records, Relapse Records, and more. 

Speaking of art…who is responsible for the design of the can?

One of our early partners in the brand is Will Carsola, the co-creator of the Adult Swim cartoon “Mr Pickles”. Will is our main creative partner in the Liquid Death and he created a lot of our brand assets like the skull on the can (and the funny copy on the side) and our recent animated commercial. I was a huge fan of the show, and I actually just DMed him on Instagram, told him I’m a big fan and have a project in the works that I thought he’d be interested. Luckily, he actually responded and dug the concept for the brand. He’s been amazing to work with and we have so much other fun Liquid Death stuff in the works for the future. 

Is your company pursuing getting involved with concert venues to sell Liquid Death?

We’ve partnered with a few music festivals and events so far, and it’s something we’ll definitely keep doing. Our next appearance will be at FEST in Gainesville, FL early Nov and Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles in mid-November. 

Do you envision that in the near future we will stop using plastic for water packaging?

I think that’s the direction we’re headed. Since we launched in May, our presence and #DeathtoPlastic campaign has put increased pressure on the water bottle industry to think more sustainably about its packaging. In just a few short months, we’ve already seen our work lead to big brands like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola announce the plan to put some of their existing water brands in cans. 

Your company is obviously environmentally conscious.  Besides infinite recycling and the money donated, how else are you active regarding the environment?

We’re proud to work closely with the Thirst Project and 5 Gyres, donating $0.05 from every can sold to helping people access safe drinking water in communities around the world where it’s not immediately available, and cleaning up plastic garbage out of the ocean. We’re continuing to look for new ways that we can do our part in helping the environment. 

To what do you attribute your success at finding investors and becoming such a fast growing incubated company?

Having a 10 year career in advertising definitely helped hone my skills of how to sell “crazy” creative ideas in boardrooms to business people who are not creative. But the biggest thing I’ve learned as an entreprenuer, is you have to care more about what you’re building than anyone else. You have to have insane passion for your idea/product in order to be better at building it than everyone competing against you. Liquid Death was essentially the perfect combo of my passion for alternative culture, music, art, comedy, and health, along with my passion and experience for pushing the boundaries of marketing and advertising to make it suck less. And I spent so much time dialing everything in. Investors, VCs, and incubators will always respond to well to passion and people with very clear visions for what they want to build. 

Has there been any discussion about diversifying the product into other products or beverages?

We do have a Liquid Death merch store on our site, but right now our main focus is still getting Liquid Death in more retail locations across the country. We’ve only scratched the surface with our water and we’ll keep growing it more before we start thinking about other versions. 

Can you tell us some of the biggest musical influences in your life?

So many to list, but how about I list some of the most influential albums of my life?

Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss

Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake

NOFX – White Trash, Two Heebs, and Bean

Propagandhi – How to Clean Everything

Bad Religion – Suffer

Screeching Weasel – Boogada

Boysetsfire – The Day the Sun Went Out

Jay Z – Reasonable Doubt

Eminem – The Eminem Show

Jimmy Eat World – Clarity

Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

Sturgil Simpson – Metamodern Sounds of Country Music

Any current bands that you are really into right now?

Gatecreeper, Power Trip, Sturgil Simpson, Dave Hause, Baroness, Teenage Bottlerocket, Gojira, Miguel

How often do you perceive you will have events or offer new merch for “Country Club” members?

Not sure. We like to keep things special, which means not trying to do too much. 

How would you explain what a creative is and how did you get into it?

A creative is really just someone who enjoys finding unique ways to solve problems. Writing a song is essentially a problem you have to figure out. Or building a brand or writing a film or making a piece of art. The most important part is enjoying the very long creative process of solving whatever thing it is you are trying to crack. That is 99% of being creative. The shiny end result is maybe 1%. I eventually found the kinds of problems that I was best at creatively solving, which was design and branding and marketing. I sucked at figuring out how to write hit songs. 

CHECK OUT LIQUID DEATH HERE AND MURDER YOUR THIRST AND MAYBE EVEN SELL YOUR SOUL…

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: JJ WILDE: “Wilde Eyes, Steady Hands”

photo: Alan Welding

Interview by Tess Casto

Hi JJ. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule for an interview with me! I caught you on tour with The Struts during their Pittsburgh date. How was it like to be on the bill with such amazing acts?

Pittsburgh was such a fun show. Touring with The Struts was great! They are kind genuine people and of course incredibly talented.

Any notable memories you made on that tour?

The start of the tour was pretty crazy. We couldn’t join the first few dates as planned because of some issues, so we were waiting for the call to give us the go-ahead and once we got it we drove from 6pm to 10am to get to Nashville to play the show that night. It was incredible!

It must have been so cool getting started out on a journey of your own when it comes to music, especially this year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it true you were working multiple jobs at one point. Then it kind of hit you to follow your dreams and passion?

Yes and no. I was working three jobs plus playing gigs 2-3 times a week and it was very tiring. But I had always wanted to follow the music and make it into a career, I just wasn’t having any luck with the way I was doing it. It wasn’t until I almost gave up the thought of it being a career and went to a local college to see what my options were that I realized I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It did hit me then that even if I wasn’t making any money if I was doing music I’d be happy. So I went forward with that mindset and met my manager a week later.

It really shows on your first EP release how much rawness is included in your material. I absolutely relate to your content as someone who’s only 23 and working her butt to make her dreams a reality. The response seems to be amazing since you’ve released this EP!

The response had been great so far. It truly makes me happy to know that people are relating to the same things I go/ put myself through. If I can inspire even one person to do what they want I’d be happy.

You also recently released two music videos. One for “Wired” and “State of Mind”! How cool was it to record your music videos?

I had a great experience doing those videos. Both were very different from each other, one in Toronto, and the other in LA. One in an apartment, the other in the middle of the desert. I’d say State of Mind was my favorite shoot so far, how can you argue with a desert sunset?

Although you’ve only recently released your debut EP, are there any more tracks coming out this year?

Yes, I have many more tracks coming. I’m constantly writing. It’s a way of self-reflection and almost therapy for me. The album is currently in the mixing/mastering phase.

Lastly, are there any tour dates coming up for you? 
Yes, I’m doing a few more shows with The Struts in Toronto and Cleveland, playing in Buffalo October 12th and then I start my first headlining tour October 30!

Shots from JJ Wilde’s performance opening for The Struts at Stage AE Pittsburgh by AWeldingphoto © 2019

Interview: Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper Band)

photo: AWelding

Talk about tough conditions for an interview! After Ryan’s performance with his Alice Cooper bandmates (sans Nita Strauss) as The Goon Squad, Ryan was kind enough to hang out with us for a few minutes. Ryan and I had been exchanging emails for weeks but just could not carve out a good time for a phone interview that fit our schedules (Ryan was in Sweden prior to the Alice Cooper Tour). As I introduced myself after the show, Ryan knew we had less than optimal conditions since there was no backstage and no tour bus for this small intimate show, we made due as voices screamed right next to us. So we both apologize for the lighting and audio, but we did not want you to miss out on hearing from one of the most genuine dudes in the business…

Makaya McCraven talks Eastern Europe, the “magic” of live music, poly-rhythm, and vulnerability

In June, I reviewed drummer Makaya McCraven’s performance for Pittsburgh’s Jazz Festival. I caught up with him as he prepared for a jazz festival in Ghent, Belgium and gears up for a European tour. We talked about his most recent album, musical political resistance, and how vulnerability in music allows for authenticity and emotional energy.

Jack Austin (JA): You played a lot of music from Universal Beings (2018) at the August Wilson Center for the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival. What were some of inspirations for the album? 

Makaya McCraven (MM): Inspirations for the album. It’s really kind of born out of a process that came about with the record in the moment and that kind of started the whole thing. I mean I guess like if I wanted to talk about influences, you know some of my parent’s records you know I definitely have been influenced towards kind of this project and some of these concepts of travelling and playing with different musicians in different locations and the kind of music, right. Music traveling with people.

JA: Which of your parents’ records influenced you most? 

MM: All of them, I mean definitely the record for “Song of the Forest Boogaraboo”, my father. It features Archie Shepp, a lot of great Nat Reeves, a lot of great musicians on there. And then some of the works of my mother’s collective “Calinda”. There’s a few records, I’m trying to remember the name because it’s in Hungarian, but I can picture the cover and the cover is a similar hue to Universal Beings, but the band [my mother’s] was a band out of Hungary that was politically active using Eastern European folk music and across Eastern European culture, across the Eastern Bloc. So they were playing Gypsy music and Jewish music and they were pretty politically active. This was in the 70’s in Hungary. 

JA: In what ways were they politically active? What were some of their goals?

MM: Well you have to look at the historical context of Hungary after the war while the Berlin Wall was still up. So people weren’t able to travel. There were lines drawn with country boundaries as you know, and it’s culture. Culture isn’t divided by the lines that are imposed by different states. And so by playing music of of people that was a similar folk music and using instruments from the larger region that was beyond just [state borders].

JA: That album seemed epic in scope, and I picked up a spiritual, cosmic vibe throughout. Are you a spiritual person? What draws you to this type of music? 

MM: I mean you know spirituality is a very kind of individual thing and you find it kind of in all aspects of life. I think the practice of music in itself is simply a practice of spirituality in some sense. You know I think one thing that I know about music is like one of my favorite times in music is when the audience becomes completely quiet. I love that moment when we’re a full room of people and then you can hear a pin drop and in those moments you have a sense that there’s something there, you know, something else. There’s a feeling that we’re sharing you know in silence or a shout together. There’s something about this experience of live music and people coming together and focusing on something together that’s magical. You could describe it using a variety of words but that’s a place that I like to go to in the music that we have. I feel like we are transcending time. You know, the feeling, you go into a movie theater and watch a movie and you come out and it’s like ‘oh my god it’s night’ and it didn’t feel like it… [it] felt like you were in there for half an hour you know because your sense of time was being warped by this experience. And I think that that’s really some of the magic in the music that I like to try to bring to my shows and to my recordings.

JA: What artists do you listen to? 

MM: I try to keep my ear to the ground and listen to a lot of music that’s that’s coming coming out currently. You know, I listen to a lot of classic records from everybody in the jazz world, from Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock and you know Max Roach to Tony Williams to you know Wu Tang Clan. So like Radiohead and Fela Kuti. All sorts of stuff, my ears are always open, I’m always searching for whose music to learn about and to inspire me. The pursuit of being a musician to me is a lot about being a student and about professional growth and the pursuit of mastery in the craft is ever fleeting. You know, there’s no real rival for it [the pursuit of mastery]. So you know as a listener, sometimes it’s you know I don’t have as much [time to do] as much casual listening, either I’m working on stuff or I’m studying or I’m keeping up with what’s happening. I’m interested in music my peers are making as well as what’s been there. And it’s trying to say something that would mean something to myself now and in a way that I feel like I can connect with the world around me.

Music and especially instrumental music can communicate things in ways that words can not, you know.And that’s what’s beautiful about it. You know instrumental music. You have to interpret it. And you know, as you know as a music journalist, writing about it is difficult because you have to figure out how to describe this thing that [is] in an abstract form that we can experience together and interpret and we can get meaning for. To use literal language to bring it, you know to really describe it is very difficult. And that’s one of the magic parts of music. It’s that we can communicate with each other in abstract forms you know. That music is like a language because we can be both playing tennis. I can have vocabulary and I can communicate with people that know that vocabulary in different styles. But it’s also like a language [in that] I can communicate feeling an energy to an audience that might not really depend on their knowledge of that said vocabulary you know. It’s not a language in the sense I can ask somebody to go pick up a glass of water and bring it or something like that. You know, it doesn’t function in the literal sense unless you add lyrics. Instrumental music sits in this place that we are communicating in an abstract form of interpreting individually and collectively and I think it’s really special and cool… Neato.

JA: You played with a quintet in Pittsburgh. What are the benefits of using a larger band like that as opposed to a trio? 

MM: Well I would say first and foremost it’s the textures. You know, being able to have a harp and piano,guitar, all these lush textures, you know, in colors just like a painter or something that to me is a really beautiful and lush sound. I also love to play with a smaller group where we… It’s a little bit more vulnerable or we can we can be more spontaneous where there’s less people to consider you know. So really I love it all. The more that I’ve you know, really [done] my own work as a leader, the more I want to continue to allow myself the opportunity to be in a lot of different playing environments and and really explore just the challenge of textures and ways of playing, you know. I enjoy be[ing] able to work with a trio and then span to a sextet, you know. Or say I can have I can have harp or maybe strings on this night, you know, or play with a percussion ensemble.

These are all different things I have of the variety of shows coming up through the year where I would do all sorts of different things and that’s really exciting to me and really kind of falls in line with my goals as a student of music to put myself in two different situations, challenge myself, work with great people that I can learn from and I respect as well as provide opportunities to a wide array of musicians through the work I can maybe provide. And you know it’s all good it’s about supporting the community, if the community can help support you. And that’s really been my concept as a musician. I don’t believe any artist is truly singular. I think we come in cohort and we come in groups and we come from mentors that we share among each other or jam sessions that we went to or small programs that we shared in our different scenes or different areas or different towns. 

So you know that’s a big part of the In the Moment (2015), Universal Beings records was to acknowledge that there are a variety of scenes in the world. So this record is not totally global it’s you know it’s U.K. and U.S. in terms of its contributions but within the kind of larger global scene there are many different places that are supporting artists and groups of artists and artists have cool things going on. You know I always wanted to kind of be growing up in a small kind of music scene. I always wanted to you know highlight that you know that there’s amazing talent around us. So hopefully you know people can realize that you know they should support the musicians that are playing in their towns, you know, because we need you, you know. And that’s the heart of every community. 

JA: What do jazz festivals like the one in Pittsburgh do for the genre? 

MM: Every major city in the world has a jazz festival and they provide a lot of opportunity both for the fans and the artists to have a place to come together meet and share the music and the culture. And I think that’s important. And if we don’t have platforms we festivals and clubs to play at, then what are we going to do. You know, the music can’t live. You know and we need to be able to sustain [ourselves] by having an economic engine that helps provide for artists. I really love the fact that so many festivals are outdoors, they are free to the public, and you get a much wider range of people that can come and get to enjoy the music than who can just come in and pay 40 45 bucks and a drink minimum to go see some music. So I you know I appreciate I really appreciate that public aspect of it because that’s one of the things for me and I want to bring my music to the people and I don’t want to have to be only playing for a small or elite group of people, you know. So I really think of it as “Folk music”, you know music for folks.

JA: How did you get to be known as a “beat scientist”? I think I know what you are getting at, but what does that term mean to you? 

MM: It maybe started as colorful language but you know in a really simple sense as a drummer I studied rhythm. Rhythm is what I work with primarily in my medium. And that of course is poly-rhythm, I’m very interested in poly-rhythm and mixed meter. I’ve got a lot of that from looking at the nuts and bolts of how rhythm works and really dissecting it. Poly-rhythm you know looking at it culturally to West African poly-rhythm or the music that my mother was making from Eastern Europe that used a lot of five/eight, seven/eight, nine/eight, eleven/eight, in a dance setting, in a cultural setting. And you know I find that time and rhythm is a really expansive field that is quite deep if you want to, if you really want to go into it, I mean. Keeping a pole and playing rhythm is basically the only way that we know how to record time passing by. The ticking of a clock. We have to give. We have to give that. That’s how we interpret. We all feel rhythm, and time, and also frequency of sound. Any pitch is a pulse which is also dealing with time rhythm two pitches, two frequencies going at a different rate that are in a perfect ratio. They equal a harmony. There’s science, there’s ethno-musicology, a lot of stuff. And you know, that’s what that means to me. You could break it down as just like a colloquialism, like you make hip hop beats. 

I study the electronic media. I’ve been teaching masterclasses for Ableton, an electronic music program that is pretty innovative. I’ve been teaching some masterclasses for them, I did it in Rotterdam, I’ve done it in the Hague, Portland, Oregon and Chicago and on the East Coast as well.

JA: How long are the sessions?

MM: Well anywhere from an hour to four hours. I did a four hour masterclass in Rotterdam last year which was brutal. But that’s what they asked me to do.

A lot of this goes again to time and rhythm. You know I do a lot with loops, right, loops again being some form of pulse, how to make loops. You dissect them using the hardware the Ableton has got called Push 2 as well as the concept of sampling and chopping time and repurposing recording to make new music new, sounds you know. There’s a lot to go in there. I’m just basically out here trying to learn some stuff. I wrote that “Beat Scientist” thing, you know I said it once. And that really took off. And in the end you know as I thought about it, it really was applicable to what I’m doing. So you know. Voila here we are.

JA: Pretty much all of your albums have a live component to them. What draws you to live music? 

MM: It’s the spirit of the music, the people there become part of the vibe in the energy you know. And I think a lot of these records that we’re talking about excluding a couple other projects that have out but the ones that are in this live context I feel like the musicians get activated in a different way and there’s another kind of energy in the room and that comes across in the recording. And it’s a different type of energy or space you know. We’ve recorded in some smaller acoustic spaces. I liked the feeling of the band playing in one room. There’s no headphones. We’re playing with our ears and not  as of a controlled setting. And I like to allow there to be some chaos in there in terms of allowing the unknown to be possible, you know, allowing something greater than we can plan to happen.And there’s danger in that, when you leave God open and there’s people in front of you and you can’t go back. And I think some of that danger thing is it manifests itself as the enemy, energy sometimes and excitement and vulnerability as well because you are more vulnerable in that setting and vulnerability I think is a powerful tool. 

Greg Stiller on piano, Brandi Younger on Harp, Matt Gold on guitar, and Irvin Pearce on sax. Photo by Jack Austin.

JA: Why do you think vulnerability is important to artists and musicians?

People want to feel things. People need to feel things. There are many purposes that we can live here for, but one I like to really think about in music is to really connect with the human experience and spirit. Music to make you laugh, make you cry. Make you think, make you dance or jump, it makes you want to cover your ears. You know it makes you want to jump around, elicit some sort of emotion. And when the source of the energy, when we’re putting that out to people you know people don’t want to be phoning it in. They don’t want to see you faking it. 

And I don’t think it’s always as deep or just content to just be able to execute what it is you have to play. When there’s real feeling and emotion in it, it’s powerful. A lot of feeling, emotion comes when you’re honest and that takes some vulnerability you know, and you have to, as an artist, you’ve got to, put yourself out on a stage in front of people and have the world warts and all judge you. That takes some vulnerability and I think when you show that and you step into it I think people respond to. I think it’s real. I think you know we’re connecting with some other human elements. You know that’s what they’re like- Charlie Parker. You can hear him going forward. He was stretching. They were pushing themselves you know that to me is on it. If you’re pushing yourself you run the risk of falling over, a failing. But then it’s how you respond and how you go and to me that’s firing you know to not just be playing it safe. That’s really what I mean. We’re not just playing safe. You’re putting yourself out there you know and that’s exciting. Nobody wants to watch anybody walk on a wide platform instead of a tightrope. It’s not as exciting, you know what I mean. That’s not exciting. [It takes] skill, challenge, and difficulty [to] do something difficult. There’s something about that in today’s music as well. You know what it was like watching you walk down the sidewalk or I could you know watch you like it’s like with skill and challenge and difficulty do something amazing. You know I think there’s like there’s something there’s something there’s something today in music as well.

JA: Do you think you are a better producer or a better drummer? 

MM: I wouldn’t like to engage with “better this, better that” I mean I like to consider myself a musician first. I’m not just concerned with mixing hip hop and jazz, or doing this, or breaking this band you’re breaking that boundary or whatever. I want to make great music that moves me and moves people around me, you know. And you know those are different skills and different things I study I practice to be able to do that. For other composers I just do it my own way and things I’ve found through experimenting and I’ve been fortunate like that. The music has connected with people and I have this platform and I’m grateful for that, you know, but I just want to make good music with great people. And put something meaningful out into the world, you know, and try to make a decent living doing that. I want to be able to take care of my family. 

JA: What makes something that you put out meaningful? 

MM: I think great art is provocative often. So something that makes people think, you know it’s something that engages with what’s happening. You know what, I don’t know. I think that’s a hard thing to define. That’s what we’re searching for. You know what I mean, I would hate to just say I have that figured out. The journey is the journey is where it’s at.

JA: What projects do you have planned for the future and what have you done in the past week or so since the festival?

MM: I’m working on a variety of projects that I don’t want to get too deep into, but I always have several things kind of going at once. You know I’ve been trying to keep up a relatively brisk schedule. I’ve definitely [been] helped by my wonderful label International. So we have a few projects in there, a lot of touring material, we’ve been doing a lot of my compositions that have been part of our shows for a long time that haven’t really been on record. And so last week I toured around Canada. We just played Montreal Jazz Festival. Let’s go, the concert was a really amazing experience, really great support from everybody it was really special. We did Vancouver Victoria Jazz Festival, Saskatoon [Saskatchewan] Jazz Festival. I just landed in Brussels and drove up to Ghent, Belgium where I’m sitting here in front of the water canal [which is] really beautiful and we play mainstage Ghent Jazz Fest tomorrow to kick off a 20 day, 15 show tour in Europe.

Q+A with Stanley Clarke after Pittsburgh Jazz Festival

Stanley Clarke is a 4-time Grammy winner largely known for his pioneering work in jazz fusion with Chick Corea and their Return to Forever band. As a leader, Clarke is unique in having songs dominated by bass licks. I caught up with Clarke after he played the last show of the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, electrifying an enthusiastic crowd as he played “School Days”.

Jack Austin (JA): You are considered one of the founders of jazz fusion because of your work in the 70s for Return to Forever with Chick Corea. Do you feel this designation ever limits you to playing that type of music? 

Stanley Clarke (SC): No, I don’t think a genre necessarily limits anybody. It depends on what your boundaries are, you know what I mean. If you’re a country musician than your boundaries are some chords or some lyrics, that’s what it is. It depends. Genre doesn’t control the music, people control the music, so what we do, we do a lots of different types of music. Some things require more exploration, some things like our encore, we’re only interested in what makes people feel happy. So it’s also important to experiment.  

JA: You have worked with a number of artists I appreciate, like Pharoah Sanders, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, and Horace Silver. To you, who was the most impressive bandleader you worked with? Who was the most fun to tour with?

SC: My favorite band leader was Art Blakey. He had a band called the Jazz Messengers and many of the great[s] of jazz came through his band. So we are all very proud to call ourselves Jazz Messengers. It’s one of the things me and Chick Corea have in common. Wayne Shorter. Freddie Hubbard. Reggie Workman. I learned a lot playing with Art. I think that in jazz that is my greatest achievement, playing with Blakey. 

JA: How would you say your music has evolved over the years?

SC: You know, it all evolves. The degree that it evolved, I leave it up to the people. It’s always evolving. It’s hard to quantify something like that, that you can’t measure. We’re not, you know, playing sports, where it’s 4 seconds more or something, you know. It depends on who is listening, how much it will evolve with them. 

JA: What is the key to longevity as an artist, as a musician? 

SC: I think it’s have a good diet, exercise, always practice, remain humble, and keep as many weird people as you can, away from you. 

JA: So you looked like you were having a lot of fun out there on the stage. What were you feeling in that moment? 

SC: I was having fun, I always have fun. The day I stop having fun, I’ll stop [performing]. I doubt that that will happen cause I enjoy it, it’s what I do, it’s my life. And I enjoy making people happy. 

JA: Forever, the second album since Return to Forever reunited won the Best Contemporary Jazz album in 2011. What did that mean for you?

SC: You know, those awards are always nice. They aren’t the end all of everything for someone’s career, but it’s a nice accolade. It’s a nice acknowledgement. 

JA: Who have you heard at this festival that you really like? 

SC: I’m a big fan of Charles Lloyd. I was hoping to see him, but we got here, we took a red eye from Los Angeles last night so I was just sleeping all morning. Literally got up from my hotel, and came over here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Q+A with North Carolina Rapper Mallz –

We talk his latest EP, Spike Lee, and the future of rap

Jack Austin (JA): When did you first begin rapping?

Mallz: Oh man, I started way back when I was 10 years old, it was just for fun and making parodies of songs and stuff. I just kept doing it throughout the years. But I got really serious about it in high school and then actually decided to pursue it as a career option towards the end of college. I started recording probably when I was in middle school. I just had a boom box, and plug in headphones, and a mic set and just rapped into that, trying to make pause tapes but just really wasn’t good at it. And then in middle school I met a friend of mine named Nim. And we became really tight, and we just met because we were both friends, we were both into comic books, and liked to draw. And we both found out we rapped. So we sort of formed a rap group in high school, and he had a recording set up so all my high school tapes were recorded at my friend Nim’s house.

JA: Growing up, who did you listen to?

Mallz: I’m a little bit older and I also have an older brother who introduced me to hip hop, so my memories of hip hop go a little bit further back than a lot of other people. My earliest memories are of listening to Run DMC, Fat Boys, LL [Cool J], Public Enemy, I started to get my own taste in music around the time when I was like 7 or 8, and it was when I heard Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, and De La Soul, and later on A Tribe Called Quest. I grew up within the culture.

PublicEnemy
Public Enemy, one of the first rap groups Mallz listened to.

JA: Who do you listen to now? Who influences your music the most?

Mallz: Who I listen to now, I still listen to all the old stuff, as far as hip hop goes, all the stuff I grew up listening to. Current artists that I listen to Kendrick, Open Mike Eagle, I listen to a lot of non-hip hop stuff like Hiatus Coyote, I’m a big jazz fan, I love Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, kind of all over the place.

JA: What do you think the biggest differences are between this EP and earlier albums like Hustler of Culture and Subject to Change?

The big difference is that this one wasn’t all my idea, it wasn’t all my control. The new EP Radioheads started out from this producer I know named Steve Skyline who actually worked on my previous album Subject to Change. He’s been in a bunch of beat battles in the area, and he would always come in second or he would lose to the eventual winner in some of the early rounds. And so finally he won, and part of his prize was an interview on the radio show that I co-host with DJ Samps. While we were doing the interview, and during the time we were off the air just playing songs, live songs on the air, he just came up with the idea DJ Samps will make the samples, you’ll [Skyline] chop up the records and make the beat, and then I’ll rap on it. DJ Samps kind of acted as executive producer and all I did was just rap, I didn’t have to worry about the direction of it or anything. It was a team effort. Musically, I would say there is more of what I like to say flexing on it. I have one song which is about a topic and theme of me being an introvert and a loner, and being on my own but the rest of it is just fun, boastful hip hop, you know ‘I’m good’ type stuff.

JA: In the past were you more involved in production aspects?

Mallz: Not yet…. I’ve been kind of learning it but haven’t really fully committed to sitting down and getting those 10,000 hours to become proficient. I haven’t totally immersed myself. I have my toe in it [production]. It is coming.

JA: How did you like working with DJ Samps?

Mallz: He is the homie. He is a staple and huge supporter of North Carolina hip hop going back about 20 years. Like Little Brother and  Justus League,, all those guys came through his radio station. He played all of their records, any up and coming artists in the area, or the state, really. He played their records. So I met up with him, it’s been a few years since I first moved out to the Triangle Area which is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. When I first moved out here, he invited me up to the radio station, and I just kept coming. I ended up co-host [of a rap show]. We would always talk about music, we had similar tastes and attitudes towards it. He managed a group called Third Day, so he knows what he’s talking about. He was definitely somebody I trusted and why I would be a part of this project.

JA: Earlier you mentioned a lot of Radioheads is flexing. Beyond that, what are you trying to say with the EP? Is there a unifying message?

Mallz: In all of my music I do try to put in some medicine with the flashy stuff. I do try to have some stuff, if I’m bragging on the mic, I will try to have something you can take and keep with you, where you’re like “Ah man, that’s good.” So I have references of people who I admire like James Baldwin, Huey [Newton] and Malcolm X [on “Super Saiyan”]. I kind of came up in the days of Public Enemy and X Clan, and artists and groups that had the party records and they had fun, but at the same time you were getting something from it. I don’t necessarily have one specific message that I try to get out there. I just want you to take something, learn something about a reference to a person or a book, or anything you’ve never heard of. Maybe it will inspire somebody to go look it up and check it out. They might like it, they might not, but that’s giving you more than “hey, I rap good.”

JA: I noticed that line about James Baldwin and Malcom X. Could you elaborate on why they are important to you?

Mallz: Just reading their work, reading about their lives, and being a black man who grew up in the South, knowing about your history and American history and the truth about American history, I think it is very important. For me personally, I try to give a piece of me in my music and put in things that I was influenced by whether its music, literature, art, or whatever. I reference Salvador Dali, he’s my favorite artist. It’s giving a picture of me, the things I’m into. I think it’s important to have that human element in music and especially in rap. A lot of people get caught up in the material things or just the ‘I’m better than you’, and it’s okay to be human. And these are the things that make me human.

Mallz
Mallz pictured above.

JA: Do you think coming from North Carolina affects your music at all? If so, how?

Mallz: I think so, but North Carolina is in a funny position that it is right in the middle between New York and Florida. And a lot of people from New York have family in North Carolina. I’m from the country, like I grew up in a one traffic light town. So I’m country, but there is still that connection to New York, and with my age, all the rap I listened to at a certain point was New York rap. So I have those Southern sensibilities, taking my time, and the whole Southern hospitality thing, but the fact that we are right in the middle between the Deep South and Up North, you kind of get everything. And also, I’m from Northeastern Carolina. I’m currently in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area which is kind of central, a little closer to the east, but kind of central. So I-95 is in between where I’m from and where I am now. You get this amalgamation of all these people, not to mention with all the universities in North Carolina, Duke, UNC has branches all across the state. You get people from all over, so you have grown up, from when I was a child to high school, in a small town, I was isolated. Then going to college and meeting people from all over it gives you a more rounded sensibility. That’s why I tell people who aren’t from North Carolina, that as far as music goes North Carolina doesn’t really have a sound because we are influenced by so much around us. We are close to the DC Maryland area, so we are no strangers to Go Go music. There’s part of North Carolina that really gets down with what is now the Southern Trap family. Then there’s the traditional boom-bap sound. And West Coast and Midwest and everything. We don’t have a sound you can pinpoint like ‘Ah, that’s the North Carolina sound.’ We are the sum of all of these regions.

JA: You’ve mentioned your age a couple times. How old are you?

Mallz: I’m 38. So I’m in a weird position where a lot of the up and coming rappers look at me as an OG, but my OG’s are still active so it’s kinda weird.

JA: So your album cover uses an iconic image of Radio Raheem from Do the Right Thing who is known for blasting Public Enemy throughout the film. I know you mentioned you listen to Public Enemy earlier.  Why did you choose this image? Was there something that particularly resonated with you about that character?

Mallz: Well Spike Lee is one of my favorite directors, Do the Right Thing is one of my favorite movies. My middle name is Raheem, so when I first saw Do the Right Thing I just automatically connected with Radio Raheem, cause how often do you see characters with the name Raheem. The fact that he loved his music, everywhere he went he had his box playing music, and I was the same way. So it just made sense to go with Radio Raheem, and also with the passing of Bill Nunn not too long ago I felt it would be a nice tribute.

JA: How would you describe your sound overall? Do you see that changing in the future?

Mallz: So I would describe it as traditional East Coast hip hop. I’m very, I’m not necessarily punchline oriented but I like witty rap. Things that you might not think of at first, I try to be not so complex that you just don’t get it til later, but you listen and you’re like “Ah!’. I don’t like to consider myself Old School just because there are connotations with that phrase, but traditional hip hop is how I like to consider myself…..

Well yeah, I feel growth and change is inevitable. Throughout my career I like to switch up the way I rap from song to song, but I feel it… will be an evolution rather than a change, like a quick turn. In college I rapped with a lot of punchlines and a lot of similes, and I kind of moved away from that. But if you listen to me then and listen to me now you can tell how I got there. So I definitely see myself growing into something similar, but not necessarily a stark change.

JA: What are your goals for the future?

Mallz: Honestly if I could just maintain my creativity, continue to reach people, to reach more people, obviously to reach a wider audience. I’m good with that, I never wanted to be a superstar rapper that can’t go to the store, like I’m in Walgreen’s right now, and nobody is bothering me, and I like that. Even when I was a kid, I never wanted to be that guy that had to have security to go to the store. Just to be the blue collar, who has his lunch pail and his hard hat, hits the road, hits the studio, does his work, and chills. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, and on some level I’ve achieved that. That’s something I tell younger guys coming, and first off, know what you want, and if you are shows at bars and pubs that’s okay. If you want to continue to do that that’s okay too. If you want to be doing stadium shows and everything, alright, you’ve got a goal. What are you going to do to progress to that? I would like to have myself touring a little bit more, overseas, across country, right now I”m pretty much up and down the East Coast and a little in the Midwest. I would like to expand my reach. The music is out there but my physical self hasn’t gone to the West Coast yet or to Europe or Asia or anything like that. I definitely would love to have that happen.

JA: What’s the toughest part about making a living as a musician?

Mallz: It’s fighting through the noise and the clutter. Because everyone is doing it. And I have to remind myself. There are a lot of good rappers out there, why should someone listen to me? The hardest part is just making your way among all the other people doing the same thing. Cause when I started there wasn’t that many people rapping, and now every third person you bump into raps. To distinguish yourself from all the other people doing it, and now you have this thing with everyone being on the internet and things going viral. Things go viral, things that people don’t like go viral. I tell people if you want to be famous you have to be really really good or really really bad, because people will share the bad stuff. And they may not be around for a while. To rise above all that stuff is probably the hardest thing.

JA: What’s the most rewarding part about making music for you?

Mallz: Just creating something. At the base, the core of it, is just the joy of creating. I still write pen and paper, I start with a blank page. And how ever long it takes me to make a song. I record myself, I open up my program, and then boom there’s a song there. Just creating is very rewarding. Also when I perform to see the response of the people in the crowd, whether they like it or not, it’s rewarding cause it let’s me see alright, that’s one to keep, that’s a good one.

JA: How do you see rap evolving in the next 30 years? How long do you think it will remain the most popular genre?

Mallz: It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But all things do change. So I do feel like in the next 30 years it will go back to how it was where you have to be actually good. Because people move on from stuff. And I don’t know what will cause it. But it will happen. I don’t think rap will just stay the Number One genre, but I think what replaces it will be influenced by it.

JA: Anything you would like to add?

Mallz: Buy the album. That’s about it.

Exclusive Interview: Tarek of The Blue Stones (@StageAE 105.9 The X Kick Ass Christmas Party)

The Blue Stones have been featured on Spotify playlists’ Rock This (4.3M), Pure Rock & Roll (862K), Totally Alt (389K), Rockin’ Vibes (274K), Dirty Rock (247K), Beer & Wings (185K).  They are only one of few bands that have officially charted at Alt & Active Rock Radio. Some other artists that have done this are, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, Greta Van Fleet, and Badflower.  The Blue Stones are one of TWO bands on both charts that are on an indie label with over 10 million W.W. Spotify streams across just 2 singles and 376,000+ monthly Spotify listeners.

“Black Holes (Solid Ground)” is currently sitting at 34 on the Alternative Chart and 25 onthe Mainstream Rock Chart, a feat not many artists get to claim and even fewer claim on an independent record label.
“It’s amazing how quickly everything is happening for us right now,” says the band.“Charting at both Alternative and Mainstream rock radio formats, doing a European tour alongside Welshy Arms with several sold-out dates, playing a bunch of summer festivals, and now releasing the video for our debut single – it’s a lot to take in, but we’re super grateful”

We sat down with singer/guitarist Tarek at the Stage AE 105.9 The X Kick Ass Christmas Party and spoke about their explosive year…

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thebluestonesmusic
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thebluestones

All photos AWeldingphoto 2018

INTERVIEW: Pittsburgh’s Icarus Witch Continues to Cast Their Spell

iw

15 years into the business and still going, that’s quite a testament.  At this point in your lives and careers, what is the driving force behind continuing?

It’s purely for a love of creating and performing music at this point. When you’re starting out it’s easy to get swept up in the rush of the business and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes along regardless of consequences or whether it makes sense. But being more of a veteran band now we can appreciate the power of being more selective, patient and enjoying the journey as the destination. Ultimately, the same thing that motivated us to form the band is what drives us still, once music is in your blood, it’s like a drug.

You have stated that you took a different sonic approach to this record.  Can you go more into depth into what type of sound you were looking for and how you achieved that with Neil Kernon producing?

Well, to clarify, Neil did not produce the album. He helped us in the preproduction phase when we were putting our demos together. So his role was more about arrangement and songwriting suggestions. He did mix the single version of Goodbye Cruel World which is what you hear on the video.

We were looking for a bigger sound this time. Previous productions have leaned more toward a stripped back, classic rock approach and Quinn wanted more of a stacked “wall of guitar” sound. Bigger drums, dirtier bass, layers of vocal harmonies, just a larger, nastier more over-the-top version of our sound.

We tracked the bulk of the album with Shane Mayer at Cerebral Audio here in Pittsburgh. Shane’s a highly sought after engineer in the extreme metal scene so we were a pretty tame blend of metal compared to what he’s used to and I think it helped each of us think outside of our usual perspective. The tracks were mixed in Atlanta by Brad Cox who is Mike Clink’s go-to mixer these days. Quinn had worked with Mike and Brad on some other projects so it was cool hearing Brad mix our album because he’s got a really strong rock and pop ear and our focus on writing this time was on loading each track with hooks, a trait more common in pop than most modern metal.

The final set of ears on the songs was Erik Martensson who mastered the album at Blowout Productions in Sweden. Erik’s work with Eclipse and many of the bigger Frontiers Records albums was an awesome opportunity to have one of the world’s best melodic rock producers give it the finishing touch.

What has bringing Andrew in as the vocalist added to the songwriting and performance?

Andrew was a pleasure to work with. He took our rough demo ideas and instantly turned them into highly polished, pro-sounding melodic gems. It’s easy to see why he’s so in-demand in the metal scene, producing and performing with a variety of bands ranging from doom and power metal to folk and black metal. But it was his classic rock vocal styling that impressed me the most once I heard his original take on our demos. We were immediately speaking the same language and from there, things moved quickly. The fact that he’s also a producer with his own studio helped immensely as he was able to record his vocal parts while Quinn and I were tracking at Cerebral Audio.

Your one appearance for 2018 is your very own record release party at Get Hip Recordings.  Can you tell us more about the event and what plans you may have for 2019?

After spending so much time working on this album we wanted to celebrate with our Icarus+Witch+at+home+in+the+studio+L-R+Quinn+Lukas,+Andrew+D'Cagna+&+Jason+Myersand family in a low-key but festive way. So we booked a room that’s a bit more chill than the standard rock clubs and theaters in the area. We wanted a more intimate room where we could control the environment better, have conversations with people, talk about the songs, see some old friends we haven’t hung out with in a while. You don’t get that level of control with most clubs where it’s often hard just hearing the person next to you over the whatever music the DJ is blaring. Our first show ever was at a record store so this is a way to restart the new phase and pay tribute to our beginnings.

As for plans for 2019, honestly, we’re keeping our options open at the moment. We just booked our first show for the spring but aren’t permitted to discuss the details just yet.

Can you talk a little about why we have not heard from you guys since 2012?

After Rise was released we went back on the road, got plugged back into the regular cycle of promotion. But eventually, for whatever reason, the machine just started to run out of gas. We’d been going hard for the better part of a decade and it was time for a short break. The short break just turned out to be a little longer than anticipated. I moved to Salem, Massachusetts for a little over a year to step away from the business and hang out with some different types of witches. Quinn became involved in some serious studio projects in Los Angeles and the rest of the band explored other musical endeavors as well.

When I returned we started talking about getting the new album writing sessions back on track. Our second guitarist Dave left the band due to other commitments so we decided to carry on as a four-piece and played a one-off show with Amorphis to knock the rust off. Shortly after that our drummer Justin told us he had to leave for other reasons as well. Then Christopher left the band and Quinn and I found ourselves in a tricky situation. Was this the universe telling us it was time to pack it in or was it merely testing our mettle.

We had so many cool song ideas brewing that ending the band seemed foolish, even though we had our work cut out for us to rebuild and relaunch. So we made a pact to each other and continued writing. We actually got into a really killer groove writing together and the songs began coming together very organically and relatively quickly considering we were programming drum ideas and demoing vocals ourselves at that point.

Then we brought Andrew in and once we heard his vocal ideas on our songs we instantly had a renewed faith in the band and got fired up to take this album to new places that we’d not previously reached with the first 5 albums. But we’ve all got lives outside of Icarus Witch at this point so the final studio recordings took a bit longer than the old days.

How has Pittsburgh been an influence on your sound?

We’ve always written and played the type of music that comes naturally to us, regardless of what trends are happening in the industry. The particular flavor of any given record is a reflection of the other musicians who are in the band at the time we’re recording. As for how Pittsburgh influences the sound, we tend to do a lot of writing over the long, gray winters. So there’s always a slight element of gloom, even in our more AOR songs. I think more than affecting the sound, Pittsburgh has affected our work ethic. The blue collar, nose to the grindstone, do your job mentality is something that permeates the culture and has kept us honest and moving forward, even in times of great adversity.

What made you go with Jon Rice to track the drums on Goodbye Cruel World?

As I mentioned before, Justin wasn’t available at the time. He was in the middle of finishing his schooling and had previous commitments to another band so we decided to look for the best available player for the sessions. As fate would have it, David Gehlke, the same friend of ours who recommended working with Shane, also recommended working with Jon. Jon was in living in Pittsburgh at the time and between tours with Behemoth and Skeleton Witch so he had just enough time to learn our songs and track them before heading back on the road. Those sessions blew my mind. There’s a reason that guy is one of the most in-demand drummers in heavy metal today. We’re blessed to have his playing on such an important album for us.

You seem to pull from many classic rock and classic metal influences.  Are there any modern bands that you consider influences as well?

No, not really. We all listen to a wide variety of music new and old but when it comes time to write and record we just write what’s in our heart. Nine times out of ten our classic influences come out naturally. It’s not a conscious effort, it’s just who we are.

Does  ‘Misfortune Teller’ have any current political undertones that you intended?

It may, but generally speaking, I like to let the listeners draw their own conclusions on what a song means to them. As a rule, we keep politics out of the band. Everyone has their own opinions and view of what’s happening in the world. We’re here to provide some escapism from the grief. But lyrics are a form of bardic poetry so even when speaking metaphorically, there will always be certain messages between the lines.


 

The video for “Goodbye Cruel World”  is fantastic, providing a bit of that in-studio experience that many of us crave.  Have you ever thought about producing some in production videos from the studio as a means of promotion or just documentation?

Thank you. The inspiration for that video was those old Rush videos at Le Studio. We wanted to do something a bit low-key at first because until that point the studio really had been our home for so long. I think Quinn and I will be shooting some play-through videos soon in case any guitar or bass players want to geek out with us on isolated tracks and stuff like that. But we have some cool plans for a few more production videos as well. If I had my way we’d do a different video for every song. Who know knows, maybe we will.

Despite our desire for perfectionism in the studio, in life, this band is 10% preparation and about 90% fly by the seat of our pants. It drives some people insane but it keeps things interesting for us. And after being in a musical relationship with the same people and project for so long, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep it exciting and creative so that you don’t stagnate.


First Angel Media covered the release party…read all about it here

https://www.facebook.com/icaruswitch

iw2

Mark Hunter of CHIMAIRA Stars in Upcoming Documentary About Mental Health, “Down Again”

Out October 10, 2018, World Mental Health Day, at https://downagainfilm.com/
 
Read an In-Depth Interview + View Teaser Clips via Loudwire
 


 
“I have dealt with depression and bipolar for a good part of my life,” says Mark Hunter, vocalist for iconic Cleveland, Ohio-based heavy metal band CHIMAIRA“It’s probably safe to say that most CHIMAIRA fans understand that the band’s music, lyrics, and live performances were my cathartic outlet.”
On October 10, 2018 – World Mental Health Day – Mark Hunter will share his personal story about utilizing his art to battle personal struggles and bipolar disorder in a heartfelt upcoming documentary, Down Again. The film is directed by Nick Cavalier – also recognized for directing Derek Hess’ award-winning Forced Perspective documentary – and will be free and available to stream at this link on October 10: https://downagainfilm.com/
Read an in-depth interview about Down Again and view clips of the film via Loudwirehttp://loudwire.com/down-again-explores-mental-illness-via-a-metal-frontman/
Mark Hunter and director Nick Cavalier met on a panel speaking about Mental Health and Creativity monitored by Dr. Patrick Runnels (featured in the documentary) during the Acting Out! festival in Cleveland – a festival put on in 2017 to raise mental health awareness. After hearing his story at the panel, Nick approached Mark to create a short film around his ability to cope with mental illness in the public spotlight through the art. Down Again juxtaposes CHIMAIRA‘s history with Mark’s life events and lyrics, presenting an intimate timeline through the rise and fall of the band and Mark’s ability to channel it into art. The film also explores the catharsis created by the act of making music and art and how the end result affects the fans.
“I was a bit apprehensive [to do this documentary] at first,” continues Mark Hunter. “Not because I am unwilling to share my story, but more so because there are thousands of people infinitely more interesting than me. And worse off than me. But in the end, I am thankful to have been a part of this short documentary. It captured an extremely critical moment in time. The rekindling of friendships with my former bandmates was one of the most significant healing moments of my entire life.”
Mark adds, “It’s unfortunate to note the past couple of years have been tough on the music community. We lost a lot of talented people to their struggles with depression. I hope the viewers of our film will take away a story of healing and feel the impact of dealing with mental health issues head-on.”
 
In addition to interviews with Mark Hunter and those in his life about his mental health, upbringing, and the formation/rise of CHIMAIRA, the documentary also includes high-quality video footage of the band’s 15th Christmas show at the Agora in Cleveland (2017), featuring the band’s original line-up – marking their first performance together after nearly seven years of separation.
Mark Hunter explains, “This is not a story about CHIMAIRA, although fans of the band will be excited to see familiar faces and hear some of their favorite songs. The audience will get a glimpse into my personality and how I use art to better deal with the harder moments of life.” 
 
In addition to the direction of photography by Tyler Clark, the film also features a devastating live audio mix by CHIMAIRA guitarist Rob Arnold.
Not only does Down Again explore Mark’s art via CHIMAIRA, but also his photography – visiting Mark’s world not only through his figurative lens but his literal one. He adds, “Since the band ended in 2014, photography has been my passion and a great way to fill my time with positivity.”
Down Again was made possible by a generous donation from The Centers for Family and Children, and marketing support via Hope For The Day.
To learn more, visit the film’s IMDB page here, or www.nickcavalier.com.
About Nick Cavalier:
Nick Cavalier is a director of films, commercials, branded content and music videos. A visual and character-focused storyteller, Nick is known for his high production value docu-driven films with poetic hero-centered themes. Nick has been honored with awards and selections at festivals such as SXSW, Palm Springs, and Cleveland International. His work is featured in multiple national publications including New York Times, VICE, Shorts TV, Devour, HYPEBEAST, Alternative Press, Funny Or Die, G4, MTV, Fast Company, Juxtapoz Magazineand many more. In addition to the praise received for Forced Perspective, Nick is lauded for his short film about vinyl record resurgence, Gotta Groove Records.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HENRY ROLLINS, LANDING IN PITTSBURGH 9/22 AT THE WARHOL MUSEUM

3112819423_49c1b1121bHenry Rollins has been a major influence since he first became a known name as Black Flag’s lead singer.  Since then he has continued wowing people as the singer in The Rollins Band, a writer, a publisher, a dynamic speaker, an actor, and now a photographer.  Locally, we are lucky enough to hear him speak and talk about his world travels with his poignant images to enhance the performance on the Slide Show Tour that will locally hit Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Rollins became an influence in my life in the early eighties when I was in high school.  The first time I heard Black Flag, I dug them, but when Henry took over vocals, there was a new element to the music that captured me.  I continued to devour all his artistic endeavors as he fronted his own band, published books, did speaking engagements, and even acted in some huge movies (i.e. “Heat”…still a favorite that is sacrilege to turn off when it pops up on cable).  I’ve seen Rollins speak numerous times and have dragged along students, my wife, and my best friends, converting them all into fans of the man who just speaks “real”.  I’ve asked for interviews numerous times but it never seemed to work out for various reasons, mainly Henry’s schedule, he is a super generous guy when he can be.  So, when his assistant told me that I could email questions and he would get back to me from the road, the fanboy in me rose up and did a little embarrassing dance internally.  These are just some of the questions I wanted to ask the man; if I could ask them all he would probably have to write an autobiography!

When did you start taking photos of your adventures?

I think I stared in 1998 in Egypt. I had been to the African continent before but didn’t want to haul camera gear around with me but after that first time there, I figured I better bring a camera, even if it was a point and shoot.

What type of equipment do you use?

I try to keep things as simple as possible. I use a Canon 5D and a couple of lenses. The more I travel with camera gear, the less I take. I would rather travel with two bodies but often I’m carrying things on my back for long periods of time, so I try to keep it light.

Do you have any idea of how many miles you have logged?

I travel internationally every year. Multiple times to Europe and Australia in 2018, with one more trip to Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and Iceland still to go. I’ve been traveling like this for decades, so I don’t know how many miles. I know there are people who fly internationally like someone takes a taxi across town.

rollinsI’ve seen you perform many times before and it always had the feel of being fresh and not canned.  Will you use different photos to speak of different experiences each night?

During the show, I put up a photo on the screen, talk about it, perhaps some historical information. The stories I tell onstage are often driven by travel. This time you will have the image of what I’m talking about.

Can you tell us a bit about the VIP experience you are offering? (note: not all cities)

 I meet a few people post-show. Do photos with them and answer some questions and that’s it. It’s not a big deal. I can no longer stand out by the bus for 90 minutes and sign things and then seem them on eBay, so it’s a way to hit the middle.

Will you avoid politics speaking in front of mixed audiences, or project your opinions and let the cards fall where they may?

No. I never avoid politics. You can’t take photos internationally and not be political. The world is political. Water is political, almost everything is political. There isn’t anything I would say politically or otherwise, that is in any way controversial.

What you consider being called a renaissance man a compliment or an insult?

Mainly it’s a mistake and an insult to all those hard-working renaissance people out there. I’m not a renaissance man. I’m an opportunist. I’m adverse to boredom and mediocrity, so I try to make things as interesting as I can. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. I do like to get things done, so I say yes to a lot of different kinds of work.

What would it take for you to play live with a band again? Is it a never or only if that becomes what you are passionate about at the time?

HenryRollins_Performing_1993I’m not a musician. For me, it was a time/place thing. One of the reasons I know it was real is because I never really liked being in a band but it was in me and it had to come out. When there was no more left, I stopped. It was never about art or a career. It was like having a flu. It’s in you and then it’s gone. The idea of going out and doing old music to me is fighting wars that have already been fought. If I can’t do new music, then I’m just a war reenactor. It has to be real or I can’t do it. Like I said, it was a time/place thing. If I can’t hit it hard, then I don’t hit it at all.

What prompted you to get into podcasting?  Do you have favorite podcasts? (The I did some fanboy flattery over him being on The Joe Rogan podcast, so, Please check out his appearance on Rogan it’s fantastic)

Thanks. Mr. Rogan is great. My manager, Heidi said to me several months ago, that there were a lot of stories I’ve told her that I’ve not done onstage and that we should do a podcast so I could tell them. So, we started doing them and apparently, people seem to like them. I have not listened to many podcasts. I’ve heard a couple that Marc Maron did. He’s great.

Are you still in love with bands like Black Sabbath and The Misfits today as much as you were as a kid?  What was it like hanging out with Sabbath in Birmingham {Rollins got to be with them on their last tour}?

I listen to both bands all the time. They are core listening experiences. They’re like part of me. When Sabbath was planning to do their reunion shows in 1997, I think it was, I went to their band practice in Wales and then to Birmingham for the two shows. It was an amazing week. I was with the band pretty much every day. I sang Paranoid at soundcheck with Geezer, Tony and Bill playing. That was a great moment. The shows were fantastic. The day after they were done, I flew to Kenya. I used some of the leftover food from their dressing rooms for days while living in a tent.

When you worked in the ice cream store did you ever have an inclination (or even a desire) to travel the world like you do now?

When I graduated from high school, I had no plan. So, when I was working at the shop, I thought a version of that would be the rest of my life. I had no idea of anything. All I knew was that I was crazy, it was going to be very hard to be in the regular world and it was going to be all I could do to maintain. I truly thought the rest of my life was going to be a grind. I knew it wasn’t right for me but I didn’t think I had any choice.

Is there someone that influenced you to retain the humility, curiosity, and creativeness that you embody?

Not really somebody but some thing, yes. The reality that I’m nobody from nowhere. I was given a chance and to not make the best of it, would be betraying the break I was given. This truth keeps me fairly grounded. I don’t expect any of this to last more than the end of the next tour or whatever task is at hand. I’ve always felt this way.

You have been to Pittsburgh many times, what are your impressions of the city and do you have any favorite spots within the city?

Actually, I’ve always found the people to be great and very honest. It’s a very good audience. It’s a tough town but if you’re real then I reckon you’ll be okay. Pittsburgh was one of the first cities I played when I started out. I did a lot of two set nights there. Not easy. As to favorite spots, I can’t recall any, although I’ve had some great meals there. What’s that place where they put the French fries in the sandwich, that place is amazing (for those of you who do not know, he is speaking of Primanti’s).

You are speaking at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh…did Andy have any influence on you or fascination?

No influence but he’s a fascinating artist. When you go to the museum and see the pieces full size, it’s almost too much to take in. Incredibly powerful.

You can check out Henry on any of the dates listed below and use the link for tickets…

 

TOUR DATES

9/17/2018    Royal Oak Music Theatre – Royal Oak, MI    BUY TICKETS

9/18/2018    Southern Theatre – Columbus, OH    BUY TICKETS

9/19/2018    Ohio Theatre – Cleveland, OH    BUY TICKETS

9/20/2018    Music Hall Ballroom – Cincinnati, OH    BUY TICKETS

9/21/2018    Kentucky Center for the Arts – Louisville, KY    BUY TICKETS

9/22/2018    The Andy Warhol Museum Theater – Pittsburgh, PA    BUY TICKETS

9/23/2018    Egyptian Room at Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN    BUY TICKETS

9/24/2018    Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL    BUY TICKETS

9/25/2018    Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL    BUY TICKETS

9/26/2018    Turner Hall Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI    BUY TICKETS

9/27/2018    Ames Center – Burnsville, MN    BUY TICKETS

9/28/2018    Barrymore Theatre  –  Madison, WI    BUY TICKETS

9/29/2018    Hoyt Sherman Theatre  –  Des Moines, IA    BUY TICKETS

9/30/2018    Icon Lounge – Sioux Falls, SD    BUY TICKETS

10/1/2018    Rococo Theatre – Lincoln, NE    BUY TICKETS

10/2/2018    The Pageant – Saint Louis, MO    BUY TICKETS

10/3/2018    The Englert Theatre – Iowa City, IA    BUY TICKETS

10/4/2018    Liberty Hall  – Lawrence, KS    BUY TICKETS

10/5/2018    Orpheum Performing Arts Center – Wichita, KS    BUY TICKETS

10/6/2018    Gillioz Theater – Springfield, MO    BUY TICKETS

10/7/2018    Revolution Music Room – Little Rock, AR    BUY TICKETS

10/8/2018    Tower Theatre – Oklahoma City, OK    BUY TICKETS

10/9/2018    Kessler Theater – Dallas, TX    BUY TICKETS

10/10/2018    Heights Theater – Houston, TX    BUY TICKETS

10/11/2018    Jefferson Theater – Beaumont, TX    BUY TICKETS

10/12/2018    KiMo Theatre – Albuquerque, NM    BUY TICKETS

10/14/2018    Boulder Theater – Boulder, CO    BUY TICKETS

10/15/2018    Avalon Theater – Grand Junction, CO    BUY TICKETS

10/16/2018    The State Room – Salt Lake City, UT    BUY TICKETS

10/17/2018    Egyptian Theatre – Boise, ID    BUY TICKETS

10/18/2018    Bing Crosby Theater – Spokane, WA    BUY TICKETS

10/19/2018    Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA    BUY TICKETS

10/20/2018    Capitol Theatre – Yakima, WA    BUY TICKETS

10/21/2018    Aladdin Theater – Portland, OR    3PM BUY TICKETS   8PM BUY TICKETS

10/22/2018    McDonald Theatre – Eugene, OR    BUY TICKETS

10/23/2018    Rogue Theatre – Grants Pass, OR    BUY TICKETS

10/24/2018    Cargo @ Whitney Peak Hotel – Reno, NV    BUY TICKETS

10/25/2018    Herbst Theatre – San Francisco, CA    BUY TICKETS

10/26/2018    Crest Theatre – Sacramento, CA    BUY TICKETS

10/27/2018    Rio Theatre – Santa Cruz, CA    BUY TICKETS

10/28/2018    Visalia Fox Theater – Visalia, CA    BUY TICKETS

10/29/2018    Fremont Theater – San Luis Obispo, CA    BUY TICKETS

10/30/2018    City National Grove – Anaheim, CA    BUY TICKETS

11/28/2018    TivoliVredenberg Grote Zaal  –  Utrecht, Netherlands  BUY TICKETS

11/29/2018    Christuskirche  –  Bochum, Germany  BUY TICKETS

11/30/2018    Schouwburg  –  Kortrijk, Belgium  BUY TICKETS

12/1/2018     Arenbergschouwburg  –  Antwerpen, Belgium  BUY TICKETS

12/3/2018    Rival  –  Stockholm, Sweden  BUY TICKETS

12/4/2018    Parkteatret  –  Oslo, Norway  BUY TICKETS

12/6/2018    The House of Culture  –  Helsinki, Finland  BUY TICKETS

12/7/2018    Studio 2 (DR Concert House)  –  Copenhagen, Denmark  BUY TICKETS

12/9/2018    Muffathalle  –  München, Germany  BUY TICKETS

12/10/2018    Schlachthof  –  Wiesbaden, Germany  BUY TICKETS

12/12/2018    Im Wizemann  –  Stuttgart, Germany  BUY TICKETS

12/13/2018    Kampnagel  –  Hamburg, Germany  BUY TICKETS

12/15/2018    Gartenbaukino  –  Vienna, Austria  BUY TICKETS

12/17/2018    Moscow Hall  –  Moscow, Russia  BUY TICKETS

12/19/2018    Caribbean Club  –  Kiev, Ukraine  BUY TICKETS

INTERVIEW: GEOFF TATE (OPERATION: mindcrime/ former Queensryche vocalist)

by Ed Thompson

I had the opportunity today to sit down and talk with a music legend. Arguably the 11th best metal voices in the world per some publications. Personally, I think he’s much higher than that and has such a rare and unique voice, that any some he sings on you can instantly tell it’s him. With all of this, I was nervous as hell having the opportunity to sit and talk with him. The anxiety is REAL.  But really, once he called and we small talked for a few moments, it was like talking with a good friend.

So this vocal legend is none other than Geoff Tate. The current vocalist and founder of the band Operation: Mindcrime.  Formally the lead vocalist of the band Queensryche. He’s also been a part of a few other small and solo projects.

I had to ask the obvious question. Where can I get a bottle of your wine “Insania”  here in the United States? The wine has just recently become available at some locations across the states. However, if you are planning to attend any of his shows coming up, you WILL be able to get a bottle or two at the show. With the way folks are talking about the wine, I’d bring a few extra dollars to this show and buy a couple bottles. You can see some of the discussion about the wine on Geoff’s site GeoffTate.Com.

We talked about the concept that this upcoming tour will be the 30th anniversary of the album “Operation: Mindcrime” that was released in 1988. I asked him if he ever dreamed that 30 years later we would be celebrating the album with a tour for it alone. He said he could never even think that it would be like this. Actually, he said he’s “Shocked”.  Geoff said the album to him and the fans is such a unique album and one that you can listen to in it’s entirety from start to finish. With the tour being solely for the album itself, he said they will play the album in its entirety with a few “surprises” here and there.  Geoff obviously would elaborate on the surprises; however, I did try to get at least one of them out of him but had no luck.  He did say that some “other crowd favorites” will be played following the and into the encores. From his description of the tour and knowing what songs they’re going to play ahead of time, I truly think this is a definite show you don’t want to miss.

With such a unique and powerful voice like Geoff has and has had for over 30 years now, I asked Geoff what he does to maintain it? I asked about vocal warm-ups and vocal warm downs much like many great tenors like Steve Perry did in the 1990’s when he started to have vocal issues.  Geoff simply states that he takes care of himself. Tries to eat healthily and exercise each day. He says he doesn’t really baby it as some vocalists do.  The eating healthy and working out has always worked for him. And said that is truly his secret.  I was hoping for hot tea with lemon and some type of super special herb, but that’s all I got. Oh well,

Sticking with talking about his voice, I reflected with him about being “ranked” as the 14th BEST metal voices of all time in “Hit Parade”. I wanted to get his thoughts on the ranking and how he felt. This was where I fell in love with the artist Geoff Tate. He was so humble and just so lackadaisical about being called one of the best voices of all time.  He did say that it’s EXTREMELY honorable and he thanks the fans and writers for ranking him that high. But it was just the calmness and easy going way that he described the honor and ranking.  Just something I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect him to be arrogant about it, but the way he talked about it was incredible.

After this tour, Geoff said he has some solo work he wants to work on and get out. He said he was going to do some solo shows in the latter part of 2018 (Fall 2018) here in the states and then some addition concerts in Europe in November and December. What was great to hear is he said he was planning Avantasia dates in late 2019. Which to me is exciting to hear!!

,I wanted to hear what a big artist thinks about all the cell phone recordings and photos that happen at each show these days. More so along the lines of what I see at each show which is about 200 cell phones up and taking videos of the show and not really “watching” the show but recording it to put on YouTube. I did bring up the “cell phone incident” that he was involved in years back. Which he still to this day says it was an accident. And hearing his version of the story with my own two ears, I BELIEVE HIM!! But back to the fans recording the shows, Geoff said he really doesn’t mind it. He said with the way the lights are set up at most venues, he can’t see past the first few rows.  SO he really doesn’t see the fans nor their phones.

I closed out the interview with a rewording of the question about the show rehearsals going on and about any special treats he has for us. He still would not answer. So, I guess we will all have to head to Jergal’s out in Warrendale on June 18th and just see what he has in store for us on the Operation Mindcrime’s 30th Anniversary Tour. I know that I will be there. Will you?

I had to, I just had to take a look at the setlist from the first few shows. All I got to say is WOW!!  We knew what it would be for the most part, BUT THAT ENCORE??? Yikes.  Seems he’s blowing the roof off places so far too.  Can’t wait. Hope to see you at the show!!

  1. I Remember Now
  2. Anarchy-X
  3. Revolution Calling
    Operation: Mindcrime
  4. Speak
  5. Spreading the Disease
  6. The Mission
  7. Suite Sister Mary
  8. The Needle Lies
  9. Electric Requiem
  10. Breaking the Silence
  11. I Don’t Believe in Love
  12. Waiting for 22
  13. My Empty Room
  14. Eyes of a Stranger
  15. Anarchy-X
  16. Encore:
  17. Best I Can
  18. Silent Lucidity
  19. Empire
  20. Jet City Woman

INTERVIEW: BILLY DUFFY OF THE CULT (REVOLUTION 3 TOUR W/ BUSH & STP JULY 21 IN PGH)

photo: AWELDINGPHOTO ©2017

It’s always a humbling experience when you get the opportunity to speak with a legend.  Billy Duffy, the legendary guitarist of The Cult has worked with the likes of Jagger, Morrissey, and Iggy.  He has seen and survived in one of the most tumultuous industries that exist.  The man has probably done it all and he just keeps raising the bar.  Fortunately, Pittsburgh (and a host of other cities/click for dates) will be able to catch The Cult as they embark on a revolving headlining tour this summer with Bush and Stone Temple Pilots July 21 at Key Bank Pavilion Listen in as PMM speaks with Billy about the tour, The Cult’s vast history, finding the Duffy sound, and much more!

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO VERSION

 

PMM:                                   How are you?

Billy Duffy:                          I’m good. How are you, mate?

PMM:                                   I’m good. I want to wish you a happy belated Birthday.

Billy Duffy:                          Thank you. You’re very kind.

PMM:                                   We just got the news not too long ago that you were going to do this Revolution Three tour with The Cult, Bush, and STP.   We’re pretty excited about it. How did that all come about?

Billy Duffy:                          I think, initially, it might have … I think there was talk … as often happens, as you know. Generally, they try and pair bands together. Initially, I believe, it was The Cult and Stone Temple Pilots, firstly. And then, they were looking as a way to do that. And then, the initial concept, somebody at Live Nation really like that idea. And then, they were like, “Well, how can we make this work?”

So, Bush came in quite late to the picture. As an idea of making it a three band thing. Initially, I believe it was going to be The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and then a younger band, and then an opening band. There is an opening band on the tour as well. It’s a young, cool little up and coming band.

I think that’s how it came about. I think somebody just … It’s amazing really when you think about it. All the managers, agents involved in getting three bands to agree to rotate their headline spot. And, all the show closer. We’re all headlining, but you know, it’s a package. But yeah, you know what I mean?

PMM:                                   Yeah. It’s a pretty cool concept that you have a different order each night with full sets.

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s the idea if we can pull it off. Some are going to be a few minutes short, then if you were to see it in a theater or something. Because just to fit each band in. I don’t think that’ll be too terrible.

PMM:                                   No. Your first date coming up, is in about 10 days at Rocklahoma. Then you’ve got San Diego, and you go back to Spain, the UK, and then back here to Vegas. How do you feel about these festival shows? Do you like playing festivals?

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah. I enjoy it. Once there’s a band, and you’re tight enough and you’ve got your band unity, in that tightness together. I think it’s great. You can just be parachuted into virtually any situation. As long as you have a really good road crew. Obviously, nobody’s flying amplifiers and cabinets from America to Spain these days. Unless you’re on a major world tour.

So, you’re using rented equipment, you carry in … it’s a whole thing these days. What we call “fly dates.” So, if you’ve got a really good crew and the band are tight. Which, we’ve been touring for the last couple years on Hidden City. Then, it’s great. When it’s not great, is if you’re a little unsure as a band. And perhaps, you’re not as rehearsed as you need to be. Or, you haven’t done enough gigs. That can be challenging because there’s just so much distraction and stuff going on. And, so many things that you can’t control. It’s a bit like you roll the dice, you know what I mean?

PMM:                                   Sure, sure.

Billy Duffy:                          You get out there … I’ve seen it be horrible for some bands. Particularly the ones (un)like The Cult, we’re all organic. Meaning, there’s nothing on tape. There’s nothing on an iPad, being played in the background. What you see is what you get. Five guys, that’s the noise.

Other bands rely on all this stuff to make their music sound good. And if that goes awry, then it can be a real mess.

PMM:                                   Yeah, absolutely. You’ve been with The Cult, or what it was then, The Death Cult, since the early 80s. You’ve seen a ton of industry change. How do you feel about the state of the music business today?

Billy Duffy:                          I’m not deeply philosophical about it. I just think that it evolves, times change. And I think if there’s enough … There’s always going to be enough young people. If they’ve got something to say, they’re going to find a way to say it. I don’t always subscribe to, “it was better in our days” thing. I just make sure I have as much fun and as good a time as I could when I had my window of youth and opportunity.

I just think young people will do the same. They’ll find their own route. Nobody wants to listen to some old geezer whine, “It was way better in my day.” You know what I mean? You just become your parents. And nobody wants to listen to that.

They all find a way, and things change. Fewer people are playing guitars. I would imagine that we’re in more of an immediate culture. I’m sure everybody rolls around life with their eyes open, there lies the gap. So, there’s a tendency to think that machines can take over from human endeavor. Therefore … and they can, in certain ways. But then people are like, “Well, why do I really need to train learning an instrument? That’s really tiresome. Why do I actually need to try and write a song? Why don’t I just take somebody’s song and change it?” That’s, sort of, a shortcut. And, people want shortcuts in their lifestyle. The perceived cash and prizes of success, rather than do the work that rewards itself in time. You know? It’s just different.

PMM:                                   Yeah, yeah. The first time I ever saw you guys, I think, it was about in ’84. And, the last time I saw you was the Hidden City Tour in Cleveland at the Rocksino.  And, I don’t think you’ve aged. How do you guys keep that … and you said you’re tight. Obviously, you’ve been playing with each other, you and Ian, for a very, very long time. But, how do you keep that energy each and every night?

Billy Duffy:                          It’s a struggle. It’s a struggle, and the best bands manage to make a wet Tuesday night in somewhere unglamorous, feel like it’s playing Rock in Rio. That’s why the best artists, because they make everybody feel that the concert they’re going to is special because it is. I just try and remind myself of that. That might be my 5th concert in a row, and I might be a bit short on sleep, and the food might suck. But, to the people who are showing up, it’s an event for them. You just have to try and keep that in your mind. Do you know what I mean?

The only thing I can say about, between 1984 and now, is when I do the shows now I get a lot more joy out of seeing people really enjoying the music. You see them light up. I like to think The Cult is like nostalgia with a lower case “n.” It’s not all about the past. We make current music. The last album was as well received, critically, as any record we’ve ever made. So, through all this, I know it doesn’t matter so much. We live in a different age. But, it’s good to challenge yourself. And also, to see the fans respond to the new music as well as the classics, you know.

PMM:                                   Have you guys discussed going back into the studio for another record?

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah, we have. It hasn’t got much further than the discussion stage. We know we can do it. It’s not just a question of getting the vibe right. It’s that intangible … when it just feels right to do it. But yeah, we’ve talked about it. Sometimes you look at a blank sheet of paper and you think, “Are we ever going to be able to come up with something?” But yeah, it’s been talked about but there’s nothing concrete, at the moment.

What we’ve been doing is looking at a producer and trying to find somebody who can help us get to where we need to be. Because both me and Ian, kind of, write the music together. So, we require a strong producer to help us, you know.

PMM:                                   Yeah. You talk about a producer. I know you’ve discussed that if there was one record that you would redo, it would be Ceremony. You guys had such a huge shift on Electric. Do you … Is that the producer who really pushed? Because, I’ve heard both versions, obviously. Is it the producer that really brings that out of you?

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah, well, you have to be willing. You can lead a horse to water and all that. You know what I mean? But, the band has to be willing. But, sometimes you need somebody outside of the band who you both trust or all of your trust to give you some direction. Kind of lead … Every orchestra needs a conductor. And, sometimes that can be strong … For us, it’s usually a strong, opinionated person who is better. We (don’t) respond better to that kind of a wishy-washy approach.

I think that … Well, we were very willing with the Electric album. Because the first version, whilst it had some charm, I think our careers would have been very different, had we not re-done it with Rick Rubin in the way that we did. I think we might not be having this conversation right now.

PMM:                                   Yeah. You guys just blew up from that record.

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah, it just changed a lot of things. It wasn’t that it was just of its time. Rock was making a comeback. Like, straight ahead, honest, clean, unadulterated rock. And, that’s the kind of album that we made with Electric. I think that the Love album did a great album, for what it was. It’s actually still my particular favorite.

But, I think that logically we try to go and apply the same techniques for Electric, and it just didn’t work. The songs we were writing had changed. The band had toured a lot. The music was getting heavier, and the same production approach wasn’t working. So, it took something radical like us recording and mixing the whole album, and then binning it, for Rick Rubin to come in … with his kind of very … I think I described him as the Pol Pot of music production.

There’s our way, and there’s Rick’s way. And Rick’s done that with great success over the last 30 years, hasn’t he?

PMM:                                   Yes.

Billy Duffy:                          He makes the same record, pretty much. “These are the rules of rock. And they never change.” The pillars of rock music … and Rick. Because we could have not done that, I could not have got that simplicity in the music. Because I don’t hear music like that when I write it. I hear it more layered and more complex … not complicated. Just more layered and textural, more melodically complex. And Rick was at the other end of the spectrum.

He knew we had good songs. He just felt there was too much going on. So, the famous quote, “I didn’t produce The Cult as much as I reduced The Cult.” The noise that was going on, the extra bits. And, that’s what Rick did. He pulled us out of that muck. We could never make that record again. You had to live it. We were living the pirate lifestyle. We were young guys with our first rush of success off the Love album. And we were just … It was authentic because we were living it. You know? It was somewhat of a hedonistic lifestyle.

PMM:                                   You also have such a unique guitar sound. How did you develop that, your particular sound?

Billy Duffy:                          It was, in essence, it was just looking for something different after Punk. Having watched all the Punk bands and being in love with Johnny Thunders, and Steve Jones, and Nick Jones and The Clash. All the great Punk guitar players from The Damned. There was all that, and I was in the fan perspective, looking at those bands. When I got in my own band, I was trying to find my own style. Initially, I couldn’t … until we could get to the glitch, which was funny to find my own way. You know, I always got in bands pretty easily. And I always was … people wanted me to join their bands. But, it took me joining Theater of Hate, with the singer Kirk Brandon, who played Gretsch as well, part-time.

They all just came together. We were searching, a bunch of musicians were searching for a means to make us sound different than the bands that we grew up loving. We didn’t want to just copy them. Where’s the value in that? It’s been done.

So I think, in the simplest way it was part of the search. And all of the early 80s bands, we were just going for playing tribal music, or disco beats, or weird echo with guitars, or anything that would not make us sound like the Punk, stuff that had gone before.

That sort of statement had been made, and we were moving on, and trying to reach. And, that’s why I ended up with the Gretsch.

It was a sonic thing. And a lot of other guys did it in their own ways. They didn’t only get a weird guitar to do it. But, that was the thing. That was accumulative of guitar players, they were pre-eminent in the early 80s. You could see we were all reaching.

PMM:                                   Absolutely. I don’t want to keep you too long. I’m going to ask you one last question. The biggest mistake you think you guys have made over 30+ years.

Billy Duffy:                          The biggest mistake?  Oh, that’s a good one. Let me think about that. There was … man, I don’t know. We’ve made a lot. We’ve made a lot. Well, we were allowed to kind of … We, sort of, have been quite strong-willed. We had a … I don’t know, I don’t know. That’s a good question. Apparently, deal one. But, I’ve never been asked that question before. That’s a good one. I’ll have to get back to you on that one on the next interview.

PMM:                                   Perfect. I appreciate that. Well hey, we’re really looking forward to you being here in Pittsburgh on July 21st. And, I’ll be in the front looking for you.

Billy Duffy:                          Yeah man, thank you, great interview. Thanks, nice talking to you. Take it easy out there.

PMM:                                   Same to you Billy. Thank you so much.

 

EXCLUSIVE: BLACKCRAFT WRESTLING DEBUTS IN PITTSBURGH/INTERVIEW WITH BOBBY SCHUBENSKI OWNER OF BLACKCRAFT CULT

Every once in awhile the universe speaks to us. I had one such experience this past Wednesday with the owner of Blackcraft Cult, Bobby Schubenski. Turns out, Bobby is a Pittsburgh native who also lives in Orange County, CA where his business is based. If you have never heard of Blackcraft you must be living under a rock. The amazing brand created by Bobby and Jim Somers has gone from a clothing company to branch out into furniture, whiskey, coffee, makeup, and creative collaborations with famous people of various genres (to name just a few things). Now they are rolling out a really cool concept that combines the philosophy of Blackcraft with wrestling and music. As I spoke to Bobby pre-interview, we have so many crazy connections it was definitely a sign we were meant to become friends, it was the cosmos at work. Genuine, heartfelt, and charitable Bobby sat down with PMM to give us the exclusive interview about the newest venture, Blackcraft Wrestling. There are a lot of surprises in store and some huge announcements coming. Tickets: https://m.bpt.me/event/3429869 So without further adieu…

INTERVIEW: JOSH JAMES OF STICK TO YOUR GUNS

Just before the Stick To Your Guns and Parkway Drive show, we had a chance to catch up with guitarist Josh James of STYG.  Josh discusses topics ranging from their newest offering True View, to guitar influences, touring, and the creative process.  Check out the enlightening interview here:

photo AWelding 2018

Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity Storm Stage AE Pittsburgh (w/ guest Red Fang)

Entering Pittsburgh’s Stage AE, “Zakk Wylde may be the last true Guitar God on this planet,” was overheard within the enthusiastic crowd.  Wylde may have made his fame from being Ozzy‘s on and off guitar player, but he has forged a loyal group of followers and fans with Black Label Society.  And why wouldn’t he?  The man consistently tours either with BLS, Ozzy, Zakk Sabbath, or solo.  He plays the guitar like it’s another appendage and he has the strut and attitude of the old regime of metal gods.  The fact that he is built like a brick shithouse and looks like sasquatch stole a biker’s outfit only adds to his persona which includes being one of the most serious guitar players to not take himself seriously.

Pittsburgh is lucky enough to be on BLS’s tour list for quite some time and their performance (Feb 6, 2018) proves why the crowd keeps coming back.  Opening with Genocide Junkies from 1919 Eternal, the band just kept ripping it up from there as they dove into Funeral Bell and Suffering Overdue.  Wylde continued to let his guitar do the speaking as John (JD) DeServio (bass), Jeff Fabb (drums), and Dario Lorina (guitar) pummeled their individual instruments with abandon.  Watching Zakk get up on his riser, skull and cross adorned mike stand and all, and whip his hair in a frenzy as he plays more notes than your fingers can air guitar to in mere seconds is a rush each and every time one might see him live.  The fact that he consistently has put together a very tight band to work with him adds to the appeal of BLS, for the members are a traveling family of sorts.

BLS are touring their latest release, Grimmest Hits. Grimmest Hits, the highly anticipated follow up to Billboard Top 5 charting titles Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010).  It reached #1 on the Billboard Hard Music, #1 Independent, and #2 Rock Charts. The LP was also the #1 selling album at Best Buy for the week of its release, beating out Grammy nominated, Fall Out Boy by a considerable margin.  Upon its release last in January, Grimmest Hits landed at #1 spot on iTunes Top Rock Albums Chart and #7 on the Overall Top Albums Chart. Full setlist here.

One of the favorite parts of any BLS show is the inevitable solo by Wylde as he plays behind his head and every which way in between passing through the crowd and even into the balcony.  Add to this BLS hits such as Suicide Messiah (inspired by Scott Weiland’s life), the Dimebag Darrel tribute In This River (with piano solo), as well as the classic Stillborn (that features Ozzy doing backing vocals on the record).  As always BLS brought the goods and distributed them freely and viciously, keeping us wanting more.

 

A special treat to the show was the edition of Corrosion of Conformity.  COC has been on a tear recently as they have reunited with Pepper Keenan on guitar and lead vocal.  Pepper has become a fave due to his role in Down with ex-Pantera frontman Phillip Anselmo.  But, before he graced that band, he became known in the COC crowd when he first joined the band as a guitarist and was asked to do the vocals on 1991’s Blind song “Vote With a Bullet” which started their first mainstream attention.

The true four among fans of COC are considered Pepper, Mike Dean (bass), Woody Weatherman (guitar), and Reed Mullin (drums).  Unfortunately, Reed was out for part of the tour (he stuck out the first month), including Pittsburgh, as he nurses a knee injury that required surgery (filling in has been John Green, Mullin’s drum tech).  Mostly intact and with a formidable stand-in drummer, COC absolutely destroyed Pittsburgh.  The combination of stoner metal-punk that was unleashed is comparable to repeatedly getting punched in the face and getting intoxicated from it instead of feeling pain.  Keenan’s vocals were perfectly steel reinforced with just enough of that signature Pepper gravel to make them stand out.  His guitar playing is diverse and masterful as well, with a touch thrash, country rock, and true NOLA sludge blended together.  Add to this Woody’s crunchy and perfectly timed rhythm guitar in the vein of Malcolm Young, as well as Mike Dean’s solid low end, and the conglomeration leaves one with a distinct sound that can carry many variables to keep it interesting and evolving.

COC’s set was tight and powerful, not relying on spectacle but prowess and panache.  Their new effort, No Cross No Crown, is no less punitive to the ears as it hearkens to a “Black Sabbath-esque” formula containing slowed down sludge scenery.  It was released January 12th via Nuclear Blast Entertainment, toppled Billboard charts upon its first week of release earning #67 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart making it the highest charting album of the band’s career.  Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, No Cross No Crown marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and has reaped critical accolades from fans and critics alike both stateside and abroad.  Please check out our interview with Mike Dean on YouTube.

If you missed it, check out the band’s recently-released new video for “The Luddite” HERE as well as their animated clip for “Wolf Named Crow” HERE.  No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

Portland rockers Red Fang opened the evening touring with their latest, Only Ghosts, out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records (Physical packages and digital orders are available via Relapse.com HEREand Bandcamp HERE).  Red Fang has been around since @2005.  Often put under the moniker stoner rock, the band has become a staple go-to for band fans like Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan.  Interestingly enough the band has announced a special wine collaboration with Teutonic Wine Company, a small urban winery in their hometown that makes wines in the style of the Middle Mosel Valley in Germany and France’s Alsace region. The wine, aptly called “Red Fang Red” is a blend of varieties that have never been done before: Pinot Noir, Tannat and Gewürztraminer.  To celebrate, Teutonic and the band teamed up for a wine release party like no other on January 13th at the Teutonic headquarters in Portland. Attendees got get to enjoy a DJ set from drummer John Sherman, a wine tasting with the band, munch on house-made corn dogs and much more.  By all means, Red Fang is a must-see for any KYUSS-style loving rocker.

Hanging with DOYLE WOLFGANG VON FRANKENSTEIN…a misunderstood MISFIT

The question I most often hear from people when they learn that I have had the experience of meeting and interviewing Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein multiple times is typical, “Is he really that huge?”  The answer is more complicated than yes or no.  “Is he a mass of super tight muscle?”  You bet and he works hard at maintaining that physique at 53 years young and maintaining a vegan diet.  “Is he really that tall?” He is tall, some list him at 6’3″, but honestly it is hard to tell with those massive boots.  “Is he intimidating?”  Sure, he is a big dude with crazy makeup, but if you do your research and avoid the same old questions, he is downright awesome and very approachable.  In fact, when asked what I take away most from hanging with Doyle, it’s his humility.

Doyle will be the first to tell you that he ‘only plays 3 chords’ or that he can only play the ‘songs that he created (or is associated with)’, but if you study his work well enough, that is not exactly true.  There is a reason that his guitar playing with the legendary Misfits is one of the most widely influential from the punk era, just ask Metallica.  Doyle tends to downplay his abilities when it comes to writing songs, creating riffs, surviving in a cutthroat business, and in essence re-inventing his career to make it his own.  Since he partnered up with Cancerslug vocalist Alex Wolfman Story, he has produced some extremely hard-hitting thrash punk that borders more on the extreme metal side than the heyday of the devil lock.

Now with two full albums in the can under the Doyle moniker, the guitarist is taking the heavy music world by storm, one town at a time if he has too.  The band’s set is no longer beefed up with Misfits tunes, but Doyle’s own.  Opening with the brutal “Abominator”, Doyle, Alex, and company took no prisoners as they pounded the audience with songs like “Beast Like Me” and “Run For Your Life” and “Valley Of Shadows” in a relatively short, but killer set.  Alex kept with the running sarcastic joke of, “this is sort of a love song that you can dance to if you want’ as an intro to every song.  It did not take long for the crowd to become an entangled sweaty mess of humanity and was an amazing, if not overpowering, opening for Ghoul and GWAR.  The newest album, Doyle 2: As We Die picks up where Abominator left off, most of the guitar written and recorded actually at the same time as Abominator.  But, Doyle is a perfectionist, and definitely took his time until he was satisfied with the mix.  It paid off and is once again an awe-inspiring piece of savage songwriting.  His partnership with Alex and his giving over of lyrical/story content to him shows how much trust he has in him.  When asked how they hooked up, he talked about ads he placed on the East and West Coast and that Alex’s work, “was the only stuff where I listened to every song, the other stuff went immediately into the garbage”.  The pair play perfectly off of one another, Story having just enough Danzig in him to fit, but being a man completely of his own as well to create something entirely unique.

Doyle is a lot deeper than people give him credit for and personally, I think it has a lot to do with his humility and often times standoffish personality he uses as a deflection of attention, he certainly is more at home on stage than in front of a camera.  On his tour bus after his set while opening for GWAR in Pittsburgh, we started talking about the recent “concert shootings”, namely Las Vegas and the Eagles of Death Metal show in Paris, he is downright introspective, “Actually, I’m surprised it did not happen earlier, I mean look at what happened to Dimebag.  It’s taken a long time and tragedy to finally get metal detectors (wands as a normal procedure).  Glenn (Danzig) will not and has not performed anywhere in a long time without it for safety reasons.”  He also added, “we are vulnerable on stage as well and people don’t know if it’s part of the show or real when it happens”.

Our conversation took a darker turn when we discussed all the musical legends lost in the past year, “David Bowie probably personally affected me the most…Chris Cornell really impacted my girlfriend (Alyssa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy).  Delving deeper into the subject matter, Doyle brought up Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and how serious the problem of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation can be and how it needs to be discussed openly.  But, we did not stay mired in the very heady and weighty topics the whole time.  We also got into an unexpected influence, that of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, “if you are not a musician you don’t notice the underlayer that is going on there.  His use of feedback specifically.”  Not expecting a primarily blues-based player like Perry to be on his list of major influences, it just makes one think that there is a lot more to the man than the surface value, you just have to dig a little.

Being a private man, one does not want to go too deep into Doyle’s private life, but he will talk about Alyssa a bit, with enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, their touring schedules do not jive often.  In fact, before each of them headed back from just completed tours and headed off to new tours, they only had about three days together (listen to Alyssa and Michael of Arch Enemy guest on “Kiss Me As We Die”).  Their vegan lifestyle has been much chronicled and discussed as well as their respect and love for animals.  Doyle does not have any pets of his own but Alyssa has a ‘big orange cat’ that he thinks is cool and his mother has ‘like 20 cats’.  When he can he would like to get a Chinese Crested dog, “the ones without any hair except on the top of their head.” It’s not hard to search his Instagram and find Doyle with a dog in his massive arms with that big grin of his.  One is not nearly as intimidating with a chihuahua in their lap, and Doyle could give two shits if it is a dichotomy to his “image”.  But the page is also filled with fan art he receives playing off of that beloved image.  He gets a ton of stuff given to him and finds it hard to store it all.  Thus when we got into his love of “horror-themed art” (i.e. Basil Gogos) he spoke enthusiastically about his love for it, but his inability to collect anything, “I just don’t have anywhere to put it!”

And that image is not easy to maintain.  It can take as much as three hours for him to put his makeup on and style his hair, a whole hour for just the white face base.  Add to that the weight training,  (he actually has a sponsorship with an adjustable dumbell company that ships them to Europe just for his use), his dieting, interviews, soundchecks, etc…it is a pretty hectic schedule.  He definitely has knowledge when it comes to training and even follows The Pittsburgh Steelers own James “DEEBO!” Harrison on Instagram, to see what outlandish weights he throws around like toys.  It is hard for me to believe that no fitness magazine has not tapped Doyle for an in-depth article about what he personally does to stay in shape (and if any mags want to commission me for this I’m pretty sure Doyle and I could talk training all day!).  By the way, don’t bother asking him about his upcoming role in the “Death Warrant 3” movie, though he is fairly certain they will be respectful to his look, he really does not know much about it.  Doyle has been in some movie productions before and he is always amazed, “how some actors just become different people when the camera comes on, it’s incredible.”

Since The Misfit stuff is so often talked about, out of respect we did not get into it too much, but let’s just say the sold-out reunion shows coming up in LA and Vegas are going to be beyond special and he is pretty pumped. “They just call me and tell me where to show up,” just another example of Doyle’s deflection away from himself and his legend, making the man that much more endearing.

 

All photos AWELDINGPHOTO © 2017

 

Pittsburgh Warped Tour 2017 Wrap Up

Each summer, Vans Warped Tour makes its rounds throughout the country as the largest travelling music festival and attracts millions of rockers and music enthusiasts. This year, Warped Tour made its annual stop to the KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown on Friday, July 14th.

warped
Image courtesy of Vans Warped Tour.

Continue reading “Pittsburgh Warped Tour 2017 Wrap Up”

INTERVIEW: MATT SOTELO OF DECREPIT BIRTH

BY DANIELLE EVANS

Danielle: What are you most excited about regarding the new album?

Matt: What I’m most excited about – um, well the fact that it’s been about seven years since our last album. We just did the tour not too long ago but before that, we also hadn’t toured in like three years so I’m just excited to get back out there and start touring again with new music and to finally have a new album after seven years.

 

Danielle: Yeah, for sure! What are some similarities and differences between the new album and your previous albums such as polarity?

Matt: Well, there are some similarities actually to all of our records with our new stuff. But really it’s a lot, we really tried to kinda go back to our first album a little bit which is “… And Time Began” and kinda throw some of that over the top, just brutal heaviness. And there is a little bit less of the melodic tech stuff that we did on the last couple of records. I mean it’s still kinda, it still has some of that, […] but we’re combining the old with the new and I would say the new stuff is definitely, […] heavier than the last couple of records, so that’s the difference.

Danielle: That’s awesome. So, I understand you did most of the songwriting for the new album. What were some of your inspirations while writing?

Matt: My inspirations, well you know, just the others that have come before me basically, all the original bands. I get a lot of influence from the early 90s Florida death metal scene. I really like that stuff a lot. So, I mean that’s what I was into when I was a kid when I was first getting into death metal in the 90s, was a lot of the Florida bands, New York bands and so that still is my inspiration to this day but, you know at the same time, all the music I listen to is an inspiration and I don’t just listen to death metal. I listen to all kinds of stuff, like weird 80s pop stuff and like Depeche Mode and stuff like that. You know just random stuff. I don’t really like too much modern pop per se, I’m not really into the new, brand new stuff on the radio today, but, I’m really into the old especially 80s and 90s stuff. And I love just any, you know, progressive stuff like Rush and stuff like that. Anything that is cool, it doesn’t need to be heavy at all times and we take a little bit of that and put it into our music even if it’s not necessarily obvious.

Danielle: Yeah! That’s cool. And, do you guys have any tours lined up following the release?

Matt: Finally, yes! I just confirmed a tour two days ago! I was doing all these interviews and everyone was asking “do you guys have a tour” and we kept having to say no and it kinda bothered me a little bit because we are normally on tour when an album comes out!  This time we won’t be on tour while the album comes out but we do have something planned for fall and I can’t say exactly what it is, but it’s, it’s gonna be a banger!

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: VÉRITÉ…@REXTHEATER 4/19

VÉRITÉ is currently working on her highly anticipated debut album, due out on Kobalt this summer 2017 following the release of new single “Phase Me Out,” which originally premiered on Entertainment Weekly and already has2.8+ million streams on Spotify. Interview Magazine just premiered the video for “Phase Me Out” – PRESS HERE to watch. A Spotify darling, VÉRITÉ‘s recent cover of The 1975’s “Somebody Else” has over 60+ million streams and counting and she just made her television debut on TODAY – PRESS HERE to watch.

The alt-pop songstress’ back-to-back acclaimed EPs (LivingSentiment, Echo) garnered multiple Hype Machine #1 hits, a sold-out headline North American tour and praise from Buzzfeed, Time, Interview, Harper’s Bazaar, W Magazine, V Magazine, SPIN and more.  We caught up with her just before her Pittsburgh appearance on April 19 supporting Betty Who at The Rex Theater in Southside Pittsburgh.

Interview by: Stephanie Connell *You’ve been a musician since you were young.  At what point did you decide that music would be a full-time career?  Was it a goal from a young age?

I always hoped it’d be my career, but I had no context for what that could look like. At 23, when I started self-funding the first EP was when the decision was made.

*While you do not strive to fit into a specific genre, is there something that draws you to the sound that is labeled “indie pop” and “alt-pop?”

I just want to have an impact. The name of the genre or how people hear it is less important to me. I’m sure my sound will shift as I do.

*While Betty Who does have a pop sound, her music definitely has some hip hop and electronica influences.  What makes her band and style a good fit to tour with?  Do you think your different music styles changes the crowds you bring into shows?

It’s good to tour with and be around artists who are different than you. We have slightly different audiences, so I get to introduce myself to her people, and she’ll introduce herself to some of mine. It’s going to be good.

*”Phase Me Out” was your first music video.  Walk me through the process.  What made you pick “Phase Me Out” as your first?  What was it like on the set?  What inspired the music video for the song?

This album is going to have some visuals with it. Phase Me Out is just the first chapter of this. On set, everyone was like a well oiled, insanely amazing machine. It’s humbling to work with people who are motivated and have such a vision. I wanted the music video to be slightly surreal. I wanted people to see this mundane setting and question it.

*What inspired “Phase Me Out?”

Phase Me Out is about the lines I draw between myself and others and the idea of not being a necessary part of my own life–feeling like being “phased out” wouldn’t change anything.

*You are beginning a tour as Women’s History Month comes to a close.  How do you feel that being a woman in the music industry affects your experiences?  Are there aspects that are easier or more difficult?

I think it is a beautiful time to be a woman in the music industry, but there are still sometimes moments where it’s assumed I’m “bossy” because I’m decisive, “demanding” because I translate my ideas with certainty or it’s merely assumed I’m not capable of doing what I do without someone else being the mastermind. There will always be ways to push forward and I look forward to spending the time pushing.

*What do fans have to look forward to in the new album?

I hope the album is building upon the EPs. I wanted it to be heavier, more dynamic, more aggressive. I wanted to push myself lyrically to be more transparent and honest. I hope people love it.

 

DON’T MISS VÉRITÉ AT THE REX THEATER TOMORROW!!!

 

“Her breathy soprano is spellbinding…” – NPR

“Brooklyn’s VÉRITÉ [confronts] inevitable heartbreak and disappointment with icy synths and explosive hooks” – Entertainment Weekly

“[VÉRITÉ] has set herself up to release one of the most profound debut albums of this year” – Line of Best Fit

The synth pop crooner has a sound all her own, with layers of lethargic grainy vocals and energizing guitar riffs” Nylon

“…NYC newcomer mixes the pristine with the genre-shunning” – DIY

“[VÉRITÉ] has an ethereal indie pop sound and a perfectly complementary NYC cool-girl look” – Who What Wear

“One of the best artists in alt-pop” Buzzfeed

“An exotic oddity – a true indie artist” W Magazine

Reel Big Fish Celebrate 20 Years of ‘Turn the Radio Off’ in Pittsburgh

Wednesday night in Pittsburgh brought together all of the hardcore punk and ska fans in the entire area just to see the hometown boys Anti-Flag and the legendary Reel Big Fish all in one night.  This was the first really big show in Pittsburgh this year, and what a way to start it off as both Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish were both celebrating the 20th anniversary for two of their most famous, well known albums.

 

As Reel Big Fish hit the stage, there was no time wasted in starting their set, but they didn’t want to go straight into “Turn the Radio Off” just yet, so they played a few classics to kick off the night like: I Want Your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend, Kiss Me Deadly, Another F.U. Song, and Your Guts (I Hate Them).  Shortly after, they started to play “Turn the Radio Off” in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

 

While Speaking with Aaron Barret earlier about how the crowd reacts to playing the whole album, it was mentioned that most people just stare off into space because they don’t know the other songs on the album besides the major hits.  Well Pittsburgh definitely did not just die out when the not so popular songs were being played.  Everyone was singing and skanking (dancing) along the whole night from start to finish.

 

Of course though, after the album was finished, we get an encore with some more of their greatest hits like “Where Have You Been?” and without a single doubt, “Take On Me.”  All and all the performance was great as always; Reel Big Fish just never seem to let anyone down when playing a show.  Walking into Stage AE on a Wednesday and it is just about sold out shows that no matter what, they have an amazing and committed fan base located here in Pittsburgh that isn’t changing anytime soon.

 

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Billy Kottage and Aaron Barret of Reel Big Fish (Click here)!

BILL & PHIL: Horror Icon Bill Moseley And Metal Legend Philip H. Anselmo Unite To Release Songs Of Darkness And Despair Via Housecore Next Month; Video Interview Posted

Horror icon Bill Moseley – most notable as Chop Top in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and Otis in Rob Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects – recently joined forces with extreme music legend Philp H. Anselmo (Down, Pantera, Superjoint, Scour, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Arson Anthem etc.) for a very special collaborative release entitled Songs Of Darkness And Despair.

unnamed-2Set for official unveiling on January 20th 2017 via Anselmo’s own Housecore Records, the five-track offering was produced and performed by Anselmo and Stephen “The Big Fella” Berrigan (Down, SYK, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Eyehategod, haarp, Classhole, etc.), and mastered by Scott Hull of Visceral Sound. Songs Of Darkness And Despair includes guest appearances by Kevin Bond (Superjoint) on guitar, Squizzy Squires (King Parrot) on bass and guitar, and José “Blue” Gonzalez (Superjoint, Warbeast, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals) on percussion.

From preppie journalist to Satanic serial killer, Bill Moseley’s taken a long and unusual road to cult stardom, firmly cementing his place in the annals of horror history along the way. Having released his Spider Mountain record, and collaborated with Buckethead on their Cornbugs project, Moseley expands his musical endeavors by teaming up with Anselmo. BILL & PHIL‘s Songs Of Darkness And Despair is a brilliant trip that will give everyone a thrill.
Comments Anselmo: “Working with Mr. Moseley was an awesome experience! Bill brought the lyrics and Stephen [Berrigan] and I just improvised directly on the spot, and squeezed out six tunes in three days. All the songs have a different vibe because I wanted the music to represent Bill’s lyrical vision(s), and we needed to, because Bill does indeed have a unique, visual element within his choice of words and phrasing. I love Bill Moseley, and can’t wait to work on the next one! Be cool and enjoy this one!”
BILL & PHIL‘s Songs Of Darkness And Despair preorder bundles (including limited edition air fresheners and face masks) are available at The Housecore Store RIGHT HERE.

Additionally, you can check out a hilarious interview with Moseley and Anselmo courtesy of Little Punk People at THIS LOCATION.
 
Songs Of Darkness And Despair Track Listing:
1. Dirty Eye
2. Corpus Crispy
3. Catastrophic
4. Widder Woman
5. Tonight’s The Night We Die
6. Bad Donu

Interview: Robert Schwartzman of Rooney

“Robert is free now,” The text message said.  I confusedly searched for a contact whose face I did not know.  I wandered, asking the staff if the stairs in the showroom led to the so-called Green Room.  I found my in-between person, who led me up the stairs to a room with a few musicians.  Sitting there was a man with gentle brown eyes and flowing hair hidden by a hat.  This man shook my hand and introduced himself as Robert Schwartzman of Rooney.

Robert began has the founder and lead singer of Ed Rooney in 1999.  The band opened their first show for his brother’s band in California.  Robert had stage fright.  “I wasn’t trying to be a singer in a band,” Robert recalls as he got up to search the fridge for the perfect lager, “I was terrified to sing in public.”

After watching his brother, he began writing songs.  It was then that he discovered his true passion for writing music.   He says, “I started to catch that bug that you catch when you just become really addicted to [writing songs].  So I just started writing songs, and then I wanted to perform them.  And then once I got over that hurdle of ‘I’m afraid to do this.’  I felt way more addicted to it.

Listening to Robert talk, I could imagine the shy twenty-something getting on the stage the first time.  His quiet voice led me to believe that the person I saw during our interview would also be the person who would take the stage later that night.  I could not have been more wrong.

That night, as the lights dimmed and the headlining musician prepared to take the stage, the spirit of the many rock stars by whom he was inspired entered him, and his personality changed completely.  Once the guitar was in his hands, he was no longer Robert Schwartzman, he was the single remaining member of Rooney.

The vibe he gave off was contagious.  Even the musicians accompanying him could feel his energy, and they fed off of one another.  Schwartzman bounded around the stage dipping and swaying as he sang originals like “Not in My House” and “My Heart Beats 4 U.”  In between songs, he would thank his fans for coming to see him play, and he would thank the other musicians for playing as well.  The entire show was so energetic, not a person there could stand still during his set.

When the show was finished and the encore, “Stay Away,” was played, the band, Schwartzman included, took some time to talk to fans one-on-one.  People were happily taking pictures and asking for hugs, while Schwartzman’s gentle smile remained on his face.

While Robert Schwartzman is the only remaining member of the original band, Ed Rooney, he does not plan to stop performing under the band name Rooney anytime soon.  “I could start a new project tomorrow, and I’ve experimented with that.  But I don’t think I’m fully happy giving up Rooney because I’ve had a long history with it.  I don’t feel comfortable just walking away from this.  I think it’s going to take the time to rebuild this project into something people care about, but I’m willing to do the work to get there.”

It is very apparent that Robert is proud of his work, and the fan base, as well as his charisma on stage, is proof that Rooney, for now, is very much what it needs to be.

Rooney’s newest album washed away, was released in May of 2016.

Interview and photos ©  2016 Stephanie Connell

Interview: Royal Teeth (with Rooney @RexTheater in Pittsburgh on October 27)

af361916-f196-4cad-8920-cb33b2bb7a0cWhat is it to be an amateur?  Is it to be inexperienced?  Is it to lack the knowledge of how to do something at an expert level?  This is not what Louisiana-based Royal Teeth thinks when they hear the word.  Their new EP Amateurs, due to release on November 18, has a sound that is far from that of an amateur.

Formed in Louisiana, the band, with varying members, have been playing since 2010 and have been touring for about five years.  They have an upbeat sound that, according to Gary Larsen, is inspired by the music that is common to the New Orleans area where most of the members now reside.

The band has released two albums previously, all of which carry an upbeat sound similar to that of American Authors.  The band has been writing for a while, as their last album was released three years ago.    Singer and guitar player Larson would agree that it has been a long time, saying, “When you have that much time off and you still try to be busy, you end up writing way too many songs and we just have way too many ideas to know what to do with.  We have to start getting these flushed out as soon as possible.”

The latest release, a single with the same name as the album, is a fast-paced song with the pop sounds of today that also resemble the synth-heavy sounds of the 1980s.

The inspiration for the song, according to Larson and guitarist Josh Hefner, came from the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  The book has a chapter titled “Everyone is an Amateur.”

The two members explain that Amateur comes from a French word meaning passion.  Larson talks about an amateur passion.  It comes with the idea that passion has moments that aren’t sugar coated, and those moments are just as important as the moments of success that musicians experience.  “Life goes on. It’s nice to talk about the follow your dreams moment, but there’s more to it than that. . . You can follow your dreams, but you can still acknowledge that things can suck.”

The word amateur is to be looked at from a more vibrant perspective.  The band is passionate, and writing music and playing shows is still fun.  They don’t see themselves as virtuoso musicians, but rather a group of friends that truly love what they do in the same way they did when they first began their musical journeys.

How does the band keep the amateur mindset?  Adventure.  They have toured across the United States and into parts of Canada; they like to find something new to explore in every city no matter how many times they have visited.  Larson admits that, as a musician, this is not hard.  “You get really used to the interstate and a bar,” he says.  “You want a second get out of that, to, on some level, live there for just a small period of time.”

The band is currently half-way through the first leg of their tour, and is expected in Pittsburgh on October 27.  The second leg of the tour will continue near the west coast, and Hefner excitedly talks about some new cities on the tour.  “We’ve never played Vancouver before, and there is a Vancouver stop on the second half of this tour that I’m really excited about.”

Royal Teeth has also begun discussing the possibility of returning to the studio soon.  They promise fans that it will not be another three years before the release of an album.  For now, they will continue touring across the country, keeping lead singer Nora Patterson’s words in mind:  I have dreams, and they are gigantic.

Royal Teeth recently announced a new EP, Amateurs, set to drop on November 18th via Round Hill Music (American Authors, Bruno Mars)  — check out their recently released title track, “Amateurs.” The band has gained a ton of attention in the past with their hit single Wild,” including a performance on American Idol (by personal invitation of Harry Connick Jr. himself!).  Check out appearances on Last Call with Carson Daly and American Idol.

Interview and piece by Stephanie Connell

Official Site

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Brett Berhoff Making Impact with Paul Reed Smith Interview

Brett Berhoff Making Impact with Paul Reed Smith Interview

SAN FRANCISCO When two thought leaders come together for a feature on the front page of the Huffington Post, there’s a genuine opportunity for enlightenment. A recent example took place when entrepreneur and influencer Brett Berhoff decided to interview Paul Reed Smith, master luthier and founder of PRS Guitars.

PRS guitars are played by countless musicians of different genres, including guitar legends Carlos Santana and John Mayer. After a private tour at PRS headquarters, Berhoff spent quality time with Smith in the factory’s exclusive wood vault for hisLegends of Music Series. For Berhoff, a contributor to the Harvard Business Review, it was the opportunity to introduce his audience to a highly specialized industry where passion, above all, drives profits. For Smith, it was an opportunity to discuss his thoughts on the business of music while sharing personal stories the world has yet to hear. Accompanied by exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, the historic interview reached a mainstream audience via The Huffington Post, where Berhoff is a front page contributor.

A seasoned keynote speaker, Berhoff builds on the new series and will expose the music industry to the world in a way that everyone can understand. Millions of people share a passion for music, and millions more share a passion for business and brand-building. There’s an excellent conversation to be had deep inside these two worlds, and Berhoff presents it in his unique form for all to learn and enjoy.

To listen the full audio, visitwww.BrettBerhoff.com.

About The Brett Berhoff Experience

Brett Berhoff is an entrepreneur and influencer. He is sought after by corporations and individuals for his innovative thought leadership and strategic expertise.  The Brett Berhoff Experience introduces the world to the most influential and pivotal people on the planet.To learn how Berhoff can be a positive influence on your business or brand, visit him on the web atwww.BrettBerhoff.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/ in/brettberhoff.

Tonight: Watch Neil Young on The Big Interview with Dan Rather

TheBigInterview EmailHeader

The Season Premiere of The Big Interview!

Music legend Neil Young sits down for a rare and candid interview about his career, his music and his environmental activism. More info.

Preview Tonight’s Episode: Click The Photo Below

NeilYoung EmailImage
***

AXS TV Partners:

email facebook instagram tumblr twitter youtube
1px

BRAIN TENTACLES Shares New Music Video For “Fruitcake” Via Clrvynt

BRAIN TENTACLES Shares New Music Video For “Fruitcake” Via Clrvynt
[photo by D. Randall Blythe]
Rising avant-garde trio BRAIN TENTACLES has just shared a new music video for their new single “Fruitcake,” taken from the band’s forthcoming self-titled debut. The clip is currently playing at Clrvynt observing of the band overall, “This collaboration between Bruce Lamont, Dave Witte, and Aaron Dallison makes music that veers from sinewy and crushingly loud to surreal and carnival-esque and back again at breathtaking speeds. Given its members’ musical reach, though, the expansive sound heard on their self-titled debut comes as no surprise.”
Comments Dallison of the visual accompaniment to “Fruitcake,” “We are super stoked at the visual splendor that Don Tyler brought to the table in the creation of this video! We hope everyone else enjoys as well.”
View the “delightfully ludicrous” “Fruitcake” video alongside an in-depth interview with Lamont and Witte who talk “great beer, great bars, and the range of music they’ve played” at THIS LOCATION.
The first new song from the album, “The Sadist,” recently premiered via Decibel Magazine and can be heard at THIS LOCATION. You can also stream the album trackKingda Ka” (which was previously released on a split with labelmates Ringworm) HERE.
Brain Tentacles will be released September 30th on CD, LP, and digitally via Relapse Records. Physical and digital preorders are available at THIS LOCATION.
The self-titled debut album from mind-melting metallic jazz trio BRAIN TENTACLES is a journey in improvised and structured experimental sound from three venerable scene veterans. Featuring Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest, Corrections House etc.) on horns, voice, electric piano, and synth, Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste, Deny The Cross etc.) on drums, and Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul) on bass, voice, and synth, Brain Tentacles sees the three-piece weaving their way through twisted, seizure-inducing compositions that call to mind the insanity of John Zorn’s storied project Naked City and Mike Patton’s most erratic experiments. The BRAIN TENTACLES collective are masters of tension with the album moving unpredictably from mathy chaos to ponderous, juddering grooves that warp time in their wake, darting from one extreme to the other via insane rhythms and truly progressive, expansive songwriting. Occasional vocals (including a guest appearance from Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson) lend an even sharper edge to the album, which is sure to blow away fans of instrumental and vocal-driven music alike. The record was produced by Sanford Parker (Minsk, Yob, etc.) and features artwork by Jef Whitehead of Leviathan!
BRAIN TENTACLES will be supporting dissonant death metal legends Gorguts and stoner/prog heavyweights Intronaut on a month-long tour of North America this coming October. The tour will kick off in Boston on October 3rd and run through October 30th. Check out a full itinerary below.
BRAIN TENTACLES w/ Gorguts, Intronaut:
10/03/2016 Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
10/04/2016 Les Foufounes Electriques – Montreal, QC
10/05/2016 Maverick’s – Ottawa, ON
10/06/2016 Hard Luck – Toronto, ON
10/07/2016 Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
10/08/2016 Subterranean – Chicago, IL
10/09/2016 Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN
10/10/2016 The Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
10/11/2016 The Exchange – Regina, SK
10/12/2016 The Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB
10/14/2016 Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, BC
10/15/2016 Studio 7 – Seattle, WA
10/16/2016 Panic Room – Portland, OR
10/19/2016 DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA
10/20/2016 The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA
10/21/2016 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
10/22/2016 Club Club Red – Mesa, AZ
10/24/2016 Rail Club – Fort Worth, TX
10/25/2016 Dirty Dog Bar –  Austin, TX
10/27/2016 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
10/28/2016 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
10/29/2016 Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA
10/30/2016 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY

INTERVIEW: JEAN PAUL GASTER OF CLUTCH (CLUTCH @STAGEAE OCT 1)

Every time that Clutch rolls into Pittsburgh a few things are guaranteed: 1.  The show will be packed  2.  There will be mass quantities of beer consumed at said show and 3. drummer for Clutch, Jean Paul Gaster will put on a drum clinic just by playing with the band.

No matter how many times I have had the opportunity to speak with JP, there always comes across a sincerity and thoughtfulness that you do not get from every “rockstar”.  The Clutch guys are different; they are blue collar Maryland men with amazing work ethics.  JP is no exception.  In fact, when I first called him he was unable to answer because he was practicing drums.  First off, one does not hear that often from a seasoned pro and secondly, he called me back right away and apologized.  Trust me this is an anomaly when it comes to interviews.

Clutch plays Pittsburgh’s Stage AE October 1 with guests Zakk Sabbath and Kyng.  Before one of the most killer line ups of the year comes here I had the pleasure of chatting with JP.

You have a tremendous work ethic and constantly work on your craft.

I spend a lot of time practicing.  I very much enjoy it.  It’s the kind of thing that the more I do it the more I’m working at it.  Its kind of a process.

Do you still take lessons from people?

I have not taken lessons for roughly year or so.  The last time was when I got together with Johnny Vidacovich we spoke in great detail about brushes and that was pretty eye opening for me.  I’m always checking stuff out paying attention to stuff, maybe even getting on YouTube.  You can pick up a lot of stuff and I try to take advantage of it.

Your style is very much “less is more”, serve the song.  Is that the type of playing that you are attracted to looking at those videos?

Very much.  When I was younger I may have tried some pyrotechnics, but I was never really drawn to that style of drumming.

now-availablePsychic Warfare has been out for around a year and Clutch played Pittsburgh just before the album was released.  You have just returned from Europe and have been on the road for a long time.  Does it get tedious at this point?

Well, there is an element of that but I don’t think tedious is the right word.  It gets draining, it can be difficult.  In fact this last tour was physically tough.  There were a lot of fly-in dates, going to the airport, get a couple hours of sleep, do a gig and then go right back out to the airport.  You know if you do that several times in a row that will kick your ass.  There is a lot of downtime too in between shows, that;s tough being away from home on a tour bus with a ton of other guys, but more often than not its a blast.  You know give me a break, you get to play music for a living, you get to go all around the world, that’s an amazing experience.  It’s the best job in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Psychic Warfare is your 11th record, how have you evolved with this album?

Well, each record is a different snapshot of where the band is at any given moment.  What I mean by that is musically, personally, business wise too.  So each one has its own identity, we make a point not to repeat ourselves, challenge ourselves, experiment with sounds, sometimes you get way way far out there because that’s where the creativity is.  But then again having said that, we are the same four guys playing the same four instruments, there is going to be that element that at some point it’s going to sound like Clutch.  We might be writing something and I’ll say well it sounds like this or this sounds like another song from a particular record.  But at the end of the day it’s all four making music, I think we got those fucking terms down and you just accept who you are.

You guys just put out a video for A Quick Death In Texas.  A pretty fun video, but did you have fun making it?

Well, yeah.  It’s the closest thing to acting that any of us have ever done and we had great costumes and got a little “pissed” at the office, that helped us get into character.  It was a good experience, it was fun, its something we hadn’t done before.  We tried to make it tongue in cheek and we got to play cowboys, kind of ridiculous!

Classic Rock Magazine has Psychic Warfare as a nominee for album of the year.  How does it feel to get industry awards like that?

There are two sides to that, it’s a bit demonstrative. We struggled for many years and it maybe has not been until the last three records that people have really taken notice of the band, but we have also had a lot of loyal fans since the beginning and for that we are grateful. The fact that we can attract that kind of attention and release on our own label is sweeter, for so many years we had to be on other labels.  We are able to have our own label and for the fans to perceive Psychic Warfare as well as (they have), that’s incredible for us as a band.

What do you think the biggest mistake Clutch has made in their career?

I remember clearly having gotten the Pantera tour in like 1998.   We were all fans of Pantera at the time.  We really compared ourselves at that time to more of a heavy jam band.  Rather than get up there and play our heavier songs and try to make the best of it crowd, we found ourselves jamming and probably we should have played a more straight up kind of a set.  The fans were spending a lot of time trying to accept us and we spent a lot of time trying to be like The Band of Gypsies. And as much as I love that style of playing I think it kind of got lost on some of the fans, maybe we could have done a better job.

Kyng and Zakk Sabbath are coming out with you for this tour.

Kyng are friends of ours, great band out of California, very talented guys who just made a record with Machine who is our producer that we have worked with several times.  I’m anxious to hear their new album.  And Zakk Sabbath, give me a break!  Zakk Wylde is one of the premier guitarists of our generation and him playing those songs (Black Sabbath) is going to be so great to see, he’s an incredible player and his band…Joey Castillo is playing drums and he is one of my favorite drummers from the Sugartooth days and Blasko (Rob Nicholson) is playing bass and we have been friends with him back to his band Drown, I think we toured with them back in ’98.  We’ve known Blasko for a long time and I think it’s going to be a great tour with a great line-up.

What is going on with your side projects?

Yeah, I’m always trying to stay involved in different things.  I just did a blues gig in Maryland.  Next week I’ll be working with Mark Morton (Lamb of God), Yanni Papadopoulos (Stinking Lizaveta) and Chris Brooks (Lionize) on new material (for Mark Morton’s solo album).  If things come up I try to do them because for me, it’s my passion.

You are known for your love of vintage gear.  Is there a “great white whale” out there that you seek?

Well, I love the 1920’s era Ludwig Black Beauty. And they can be found but they are just very expensive.  I need to stay off of Ebay.  A couple beers and Ebay pretty much guarantees I am going to buy a new snare drum.

Really looking forward to the tour coming Oct 1 in Pittsburgh.

We’ve been playing Pittsburgh for many, many years.  I’m thinking the first time we played there was in 1994 with Sepultura.  Pittsburgh has been good to us.  There is some great halls there and some great food.  It’s kind of hard to beat.

  • Clutch – Psychic Warfare World Tour 2016

    STAGE AE — PITTSBURGH, PA

Clutch1

Artist Link

http://www.pro-rock.com/

More Info

General Admission – All Ages

This show is indoors

Presented by PromoWest North Shore and Opus One

– See more at: http://promowestlive.com/events/1687#sthash.dJpZScCY.dpuf

 

 

Interview: pop-punk emo band from Canada, Marianas Trench

Marianas Trench: the pop-punk emo band from Canada that has been around for the better part of this millennium.  The group has gone through its ups and downs, with the most recent of downs resulting in the high that lead to the creation of Astoria.  The band has been touring for about a year, and has gone through the 10 year anniversary of their album, Fix Me.  In a recent email interview, we had the chance to talk to Mariana’s Trench guitarist Matt Webb about Astoria, the 10 year anniversary of Fix Me, and what it is like to tour around the world with the other members of the band.

Webb remarks that it did not feel like 10 years since the release of Fix me.  He also notes that the band’s sound has very much evolved since then.  He says, “We have a lot of respect for artists that continue to reinvent themselves, it seems to be an integral part of a lengthy career in the music business.  For that reason you’ll notice that Astoria doesn’t sound much like Fix Me.”  (Webb, 2016) The band has taken on a very 80s sound, basing the latest album, loosely, on “Coming of Age Adventure Movies.”  One such movie being The Goonies which takes place in the town Astoria.  Matt talks about how he and the rest of the group keep the 80s vibe going on tour.  He says the band watches a different 80s movie on the bus every night.  He admits that they do find other ways of keeping it up as well, stating, “I find you can keep the 80s vibe going as long as you’re wearing tight pants, rocking a keytar, and exposing your man-chest whenever possible.” (Webb, 2016)

As mentioned, the band has been on tour for about a year, travelling to multiple countries outside of Canada.  This means keeping occupied with activities, that, according to Matt, usually involve food and disinfecting the tour bus.  The band also stays at some interesting places on tour.  They find everything from dead rats in showers to kind old ladies offering to do laundry.  He says this doesn’t usually affect their shows though.  “We’re gonna rock the f*&k out anywhere we go, but somedays we smell better than others.” (Webb, 2016)  The band truly believes that the travel is well worth it, as Matt mentions the incredibly rewarding feeling of packing a venue.  An incredibly rewarding feeling is generated from filling a venue with fans that know every single word to their songs.  Lastly, he left with some advice for young musician who look forward to one day celebrating 10 year anniversaries for well-known albums.  Matt says, “Concentrate on writing badass songs.  Then work as hard as you possibly can to get them in the hands of as many people as possible.  Whether it’s through endless touring, online hustling, hand-billing, yelling them from the top of a mountain, ain’t nobody gonna get big if no one hears your shit.” (Webb, 2016)

Marianas Trench headlined at Mr.  Small’s Theatre in July of this year.  This was the second time they have played at the venue in 2016.  They are currently touring in the United Kingdom.

Interview: Stephanie Connell

Multi-Platinum selling Canadian pop-rockers Marianas Trench have released their official video for “This Means War” – the track is off their most recent album, Astoria. Check out the video below. 

INTERVIEW: MAX AND IGGOR CAVALERA (CAVALERA CONSPIRACY) DISCUSS THE ROOTS TOUR

Max and  Iggor Cavalera are the original founding members of influential RIAA Gold-Certified Brazilian heavy metal legends Sepultura, and specifically the team behind the band’s early albums, including seminal releases AriseChaos A.D. and Roots. Since the band’s formation over 30 years ago, the Cavalera brothers have each seen unparalleled successes in the music industry. Max’s more recent work with SoulflyCavalera Conspiracy (also featuring Iggor) and Killer Be Killed, in addition to Iggor’s project MIXHELL, proves the lasting power of the Cavalera legacy.

Later this year, Warner Music will release a special vinyl edition of Roots, in addition to a CD/vinyl box set of classic Sepultura records, with more surprises in store.   In celebration of Roots twentieth anniversary, Cavelara Conspiracy will play the entire Roots album front to back.  It’s going to be an amazing must see event.  Select dates will have sets from The Black Dahlia Murder, Combichrist, Allegaeon, All Hail The Yeti & Oni and the tour will hit Pittsburgh Oct 9 at The Rex. Full tour itinerary below.

We had the pleasure of talking to the two founding brothers, Max and Iggor, just before they head out for the momentous tour.

As founders of Sepultura and this being the twentieth anniversary of Roots, is there any increase in your emotions regarding this particular tour?

Max: IT’S GREAT TO BE ABLE TO PLAY THE WHOLE ROOTS RECORD 20 YEARS LATER!  THE ALBUM HAS BECOME A CLASSIC METAL ALBUM AND I AM PROUD TO PLAY IT ALL OVER AGAIN 20 YEARS LATER.  IT’S GONNA BE GREAT.

What are the challenges to playing the full Roots record that non-musicians may not realize?

Max:  THE ALBUM IS MORE MINIMALIMax-_horizontal-620x409STIC AND MORE SIMPLE THAN OTHER SEPULTURE RECORDS, BUT BEWARE OF THAT, IT’S GOT MORE IMPACT AND POWER.  STUFF LIKE CUT-THROAT, SPIT, AND STRAIGHTHATE ARE GONNA BE AMAZING LIVE.  PURE ENERGY!

Will audiences hear anything else besides Roots?

Max: I DON’T THINK SO.  ROOTS IS QUITE A LONG ALBUM AND WE PLAN TO PLAY THE WHOLE THING FROM BEGINNING TO THE END.

In an interview, Max, you stated that Roots, “changed the face of metal”.  Could you explain how you think Sepultura and Roots did that?

Max: THE MIXING OF WORLD MUSIC AND METAL WAS NONEXISTENT UNTIL ROOTS, SO I THINK ROOTS CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE A METAL RECORD WITH AN ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT.  I FEEL THAT ROOTS INSPIRED BANDS LIKE SYSTEM OF A DOWN, SLIPKNOT, MELECHESCH, ACYL, ETC., OR SO I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY MANY OF THESE MUSICIANS.  IT OPENED THE DOORS FOR ME AS AN ARTIST TO CONTINUE TO EXPLORE METAL WITH WORLD MUSIC.

We have heard that you found the original backdrop and will be using it on the tour.  Have you found anything else audiences may find of interest and what type of stuff do you hold onto?

Max: YEAH, WE GOT THE ORIGINAL BACKDROP!  I WILL ALSO BE PLAYING THE BERIMBAU ON THE BEGINNING OF ATTITUDE AND I LOVE THE TRIBAL MERCHANDISE WE HAVE.

Sepultura was founded when both of you were in a very tough situation with your family and finances being slim.  How do these experiences slip into your music and become a cathartic method?

IggorWE ALWAYS BELIEVED IN OURSELVES AND WORKED VERY HARD, SO THE FINANCIAL PART; IT WAS ANOTHER WAY TO RISE WITH MUSIC.

Max: MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING.  WHEN YOU HAVE NO MONEY YOU GOTTA BE INVENTIVE AND ON THE EDGE.  WE MADE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING.

The tour kicks off in Vegas 9/12, just a little more than a week away.  Has there been a lot of prep with rehearsal and pre-tour work?

Iggor:  WE DID A FEW REHEARSALS FOR THE AMNESIA FESTIVAL IN CANADA GIG, SO WE WON’T NEED AS MANY REHEARSALS THIS TIME BEFORE VEGAS.

Max: WE WILL PRACTICE FOR A COUPLE DAYS BEFORE GOING ON TOUR SO WE CAN GET THE SONGS JUST ABOUT READY TO JAM.

You have a unique meet and greet opportunity for fans available at the merch table.  Can you tell us more about this?

Max: WE LOVE TO MEET THE FANS AFTER THE SHOW.  THIS TIME IT WILL BE MYSELF AND IGGOR.  IT SHOULD BE A LOT OF FUN MEETING AND TALKING TO THE FANS.

Iggor:  THIS IS SOMETHING THAT ME AND MAX, WOULD EASILY DO IF WE HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET OUR IDOLS. ITS FROM FANS TO OUR FANS.

Did the Olympics interest you more due to being in Brazil?  And do you think all the publicity was a good thing or a bad thing?

Iggor: OLYMPICS ARE ALWAYS A WAY TO BRING DIFFERENT PEOPLE TOGETHER, SO IN BRAZIL IT WAS NO DIFFERENT, (IT WAS) A VERY SPECIAL EVENT.

Max:  I AM HAPPY WE (BRAZIL) WON THE GOLD IN SOCCER AND THAT THE OLYMPICS TURNED OUT QUITE GOOD FOR BRAZIL.  IT WAS QUITE AN AMAZING FEAT TO PULL THIS OUT.

What is going on with Killer Be Killed or any other projects?

Max: YEAH, NEXT YEAR I WILL WORK ON ANOTHER KILLER BE KILLED RECORD!  THIS WILL BE OUR 2ND AND SHOULD BE GOOD!

Iggor: I HAVE BEEN DOING DRUMS FOR SOULWAX, ALSO PLAYING WITH MIXHELL AND HAVING FUN WITH PROJECTS LIKE LIVEWIFE, AND DOGDICK.

We heard you plan to go to Istanbul to play.  With the current climate in Turkey and what happened in Paris with Eagles of Death Metal, does this concern you at all?

Iggor: WE LIVE IN VERY TURBULENT TIMES, BUT WE CANT STOP PLAYING OUR MUSIC IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

Max: NO, MORE THAN EVER WE NEED METAL SHOWS IN PLACES LIKE THAT OTHERWISE THE ASSHOLES WIN AND THATS NOT GOOD.  PEOPLE NEED TO RELEASE THEIR ANGER THROUGH MUSIC.

You are playing Oct 9 in Pittsburgh with All Hail The Yeti, Combichrist and Oni opening.  Any Pittsburgh memories?  

Max:  I LOVE PITTSBURGH!  IT’S GOING TO BE ONE HELL OF A SHOW AND A HISTORIC EVENT IN METAL.

Igor: PITTSBURGH ALWAYS ROCKS!!! I STILL REMEMBER THE ELECTRIC BANANA CLUB.

We can’t thank Max and Iggor enough for spending time with us and we intend to spend a lot more when they hit Pittsburgh Oct. 9!

10/9 – MAX & IGGOR CAVALERA: RETURN TOROOTS” @ THE REX THEATER 

1602 EAST CARSON ST

AGES: 21+

$25 ADV/$27 DOS

*W/ COMBICHRIST, ALL HAIL THE YETI & ONI

9/12/2016 Las Vegas, NV @ LVCS w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/13/2016 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/15/2016 Nashville, TN @ Exit / In w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/16/2016 Louisville, KY @ Diamond Concert Hall w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/17/2016 Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/18/2016 Philadelphia, PA @ Rock Allegiance Festival (line-up)
9/19/2016 Knoxville, TN @ The Concourse w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/20/2016 Athens, GA @ Georgia Theater w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/22/2016 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom w/ Combichrist, Allegaeon
9/23/2016 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey w/ Support TBA
9/24/2016 Houston, TX @ Houston Open Air Festival (line-up)
9/25/2016 New Orleans, LA @ Southport Music Hall w/ All Hail The Yeti
9/30/2016 Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/1/2016 St Petersburg, FL @ State Theater w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/2/2016 Ft Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/6/2016 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/7/2016 Detroit, MI @ Harpos w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/8/2016 Dayton, OH @ Oddbodys w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/9/2016 Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/10/2016 Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks w/ The Black Dahlia Murder, Allegaeon, Oni
10/11/2016 Toronto, ON @ Opera House w/ The Black Dahlia Murder, Allegaeon, Oni
10/12/2016 Montreal, QC @ Les Foufounes Electriques w/ The Black Dahlia Murder, Allegaeon, Oni
10/14/2016 Quebec City, QC @ Imperial Theatre w/ Allegaeon, Oni
10/15/2016 Worcester, MA @ Rock N Shock Festival w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/16/2016 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/17/2016 Sauget, IL @ Pop’s w/ Combichrist, All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/20/2016 Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent w/ All Hail The Yeti, Oni
10/21/2016 Tempe, AZ @ Club Red / D-Low FEST w/ Soulfly, Incite, Lody Kong, Oni