Singer Michael Monroe Talks New Compilation Album “The Best”

Legendary Hanoi Rocks singer and solo artist Michael Monroe is set to release “The Best” a 2 disc retrospective compilation showcasing tracks from the Finish rockers 10 album solo career along with a handful of unreleased tracks and a new single. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Michael recently about the release and also about the work he and his band are doing for their next studio album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your new collection release titled “The Best” and how you went about selecting which tracks from your catalog would be included?

Michael Monroe: There was a time limit to get everything figured out so basically what I did was choose two songs from each of my solo releases. I did choose to include 4 songs from “Demolition 23” as that material has not been available for almost 20 years now. From that record alone we included “Nothings Alright”, ”Hammersmith Palais”, “You Crucified Me” and “Deadtime Stories” which is a very special one. That song is dedicated to Stiv Bators and the lyrics and everything are in homage to him. A lot of the songs that appear were originally released as singles with accompanying videos. The “Nights Are So Long” album didn’t have either of those so I chose “It’s A Lie”. The version included on this compilation was originally recorded in 1985 and features a duet with me and Stiv. This was done right around the time that I was thinking of starting a solo career. It previously had only been released as a bonus track in the States and Germany with the “Piece of Mind” album. This is a much better version that one I did by myself for the album due to Stiv not being able to make it to the studio. That stuff is all included on disc 1. Disc 2 of the set features tracks from my three most recent albums “Sensory Overdrive”, “Horns and Halos” and “Blackout States” as well as a few other tracks including a cover of “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf which features Slash. Slash is someone who has always been great to me and was really significant during my solo years so I wanted to include a piece of that. Ultimately fans will get a two disc set featuring 29 tracks including the new single “One Foot Outta the Grave”, 4 unreleased tracks, a handful of bonus songs and a few songs from each album. I think fans will really enjoy what we have put together.

AL: Was this material all remixed and re-mastered or are these the original versions of each song?

MM: We really didn’t do much in the way of re-mastering. We did bring up levels on some of the older recordings and we tweaked things a little here and there so each track matched. When you’re pulling songs from different albums for a compilation like this you have to make sure they are all have a consistent sound. Svante Forsback who masters a lot of the records made in Finland did a great job with this. He wasn’t trying to make something sound like a certain era he was just out to get the best sound possible for each song.

AL: What was it like revisiting a lot of this material?

MM: I think it was a healthy thing to do. I got to look back at my career thus far and it put things in perspective for me. I think “The Best” is a really great representation of what I have done as a solo artist. It in a way was like doing an autobiography. Looking back I may not be the biggest or most famous but not everyone has to be that. As long as I have my integrity and never compromise for the wrong reasons and keep making quality material that’s all I need. I think a lot of this material really stands the test of time unlike today with a lot of things where after 20 years or so it just doesn’t hold up.

AL: Were the unreleased tracks ones that you have had for awhile or are they fairly recent compositions?

MM: We had “Fist Full of Dynamite” and “Simple Town” left over from the last album sessions. They were supposed to be used as bonus tracks before now however that weren’t needed. “One Foot Outta the Grave” is a pretty fresh song. That was recorded in February in Helsinki. The others material was stuff I had around on tape.

AL: Can you tell us about the new studio album you are currently working on?

MM: We have a lot of creative energy in this band. I have given everyone the freedom to write as much as they would like and then we pick the best material to record. We don’t let any egos get in the way. This band has been together for seven years now and we all know each other really well. Steve Conte and Rich Jones are really great songwriters. I don’t have to be the only one writing lyrics as these guys are capable of writing stuff that I instantly relate to. Depending on the situation we may write together or alone as we each live somewhere else in the world. There is never a lack of songs which makes things easy when it is time do a new record. We write then we pick the best songs and go in and record.

AL: Are there any plans for you and the band to tour this year?

MM: We are going to be doing some date in the UK in December. At the moment we’re going through a management change as in the past few years I haven’t had proper management. Hopefully by making these changes we will be able to tour more. We have done some smaller shows in the States over the past couple years but to really get noticed outside of New York or Los Angeles you have to be on one of the bigger tours. The plan is to keep doing what we are doing and hopefully we will catch some breaks. I have had some pretty bad luck throughout my career but I don’t let that get me down and am looking forward to the future.

For more info on Michael Monroe you can visit www.michaelmonroe.com

M.O.D. Vocalist Billy Milano Talks About the Bands New Album “Busted, Broke & American”

Billy Milano is the outspoken vocalist for the legendary hardcore/thrash band M.O.D. On July 7th the group will release its 10th full-length studio album titled “Busted, Broke & American” via Megaforce Records. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Billy recently about the album which was an extremely personal record Milano as well as his thoughts on the current state of hardcore and the possibility of this being the group’s final album.

Adam Lawton: M.O.D. went through a couple rough patches during the making of the new album which was originally slated to be released a couple years ago. Can you tell us about that?

Billy Milano: I have never been one of those guys that say’s I “have” to do something because of music. A lot of people know me from music but that’s not all of who I am. I did the “Red, White and Screwed” album in 2007 and then toured it for a year and a half. During that time one of the things I realized was that I had been forcing myself into a position I didn’t want to be in. I needed some time for myself as I just didn’t care anymore. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the band it’s just that I generally do about a two year run with a group of guys and then that’s it. People change and I tend to get angsty unless, they bring something to the table. I don’t agree with people being involved in my life that are all encompassing. I am an adult and want to be able to go and live my life how I want to without any interference. When I came back from California in 2012 after the first sessions for this album there was a myriad of problems. There were guys in the band I was tired off, the producer I was working with wasn’t the right guy for the job and what we ended up with didn’t work for me. I took about a whole year off after this. Also at this time my dog Buster was very sick. To watch him go through what he did was heart breaking and I couldn’t leave him. I started playing guitar again at this time and that’s when this record started to come to life.

AL: The band is back with Megaforce Records. Can you tell us how that relationship came back together?

BM: I had started working on the record again and it was starting to turn out special. I had a couple labels that were interested at the time and out of nowhere Missy the owner of Megaforce calls me up to talk about doing a 30th anniversary edition for the “U.S.A. for M.O.D.” record. I thought that would be really cool and while we were talking I asked her if she would be interested in hearing the new record. I played it for her and she liked what she heard. From there we decided to work together on this record and also to re-release three M.O.D. records from our back catalog. Megaforce has been very good to us and the packaging has come out amazing.

AL: What are your thoughts on the recent upswing that hardcore music is experiencing right now and, where do you feel M.O.D. fits in with today’s music scene?

BM: A lot of people have always looked at M.O.D. and wondered what is it? If you listen to the records it’s not hardcore, thrash or punk. It’s got a little bit of everything in it. I think it has a hardcore punk attitude which is something I myself have always been, a New York Hardcore Skinhead even as hairy as I am now I still consider myself that. (Laughs) When we would start putting together a tour I would think to myself about bands who we could tour with and it was hard because there was no one else really like M.O.D. We just didn’t fit any one specific category. M.O.D. has a core group of fans and I accept that because that is what I have offered. I have only offered a cursorary involvement with M.O.D. live around the world because I feel there are other things in my life that take precedent. That’s not what musicians who are successful think like. In my case growing up in an Italian family with 11 brothers and sisters with tight nit community around us gave me a different attitude towards things. As to addressing where M.O.D. fits on the tooth of the gear to this day this is something I still can’t answer. I know we have a great record coming out to go along with some of the other great records we have put out in the past. “Busted, Broke & American” is a very memorable record. I think it’s coming to a point where it wasn’t the timing of other things going on that might be good for it as much as it was the timing of where I am at. Things are coexisting together and that’s something you just can’t plan. It just happens. I have always just been Billy Milano. There are a lot of hardcore bands out there doing reunions and playing shows right now and I think a lot of that has to do with the vinyl market. Bands are able to release their back catalogs for the first time on vinyl and getting deals based on that which allows them then to put out new music. The anniversary of “U.S.A For M.O.D” and the history M.O.D. had with Megaforce Records certainly helped me get this new record out and I am grateful for that.

AL: You stated in a press release that “Busted, Broke & American” very well could be M.O.D.’s last album. Is that still the case as we get closer to the July 7 release date?

BM: Yes, Absolutely! Do I think I could write another record like? No. Too much pain went into this record. Watching my dog die while writing this and learning how to play guitar again was just awful. At my age the stress that comes along with doing a record is not something I want to deal with. This was a very personal record to me and I put a lot into it. I mixed this thing seven times because it was so personal. It was Busters record. I don’t think I am doing another record. Will I do a single or an EP? Sure. I think I can write a few great songs every one or two years and put out an EP with somebody. It would be cool to do something with M.O.D. and maybe some unsigned punk bands and put that stuff out and expose people to new music. For me that would be a better legacy than a follow up record. I have always tried to help unsigned people. I have brought in unknown musicians to my records because I wanted to bring people into that pool of the music industry.

AL: Are there any plans to perform the new album live?

BM: I have no live shows planned at this moment. We haven’t even been able to rehearse as we are minus a drummer at this moment. I had a guy lined up but due to some personal things he was not able to keep going with us. We will find a drummer eventually. There are always guys out there that want to get paid to play. Our music isn’t Rush or Dream Theater. Maybe more like “Mystery Science 3000 Theater” but not those other groups. (Laughs) When we are ready will be out there ripping it. In the mean time I am focusing on two books I am writing. The first one is my personal book and the second is a cook book which I am doing for my mom. I have another band I am working with called “Billy Be Damned”. I play rhythm guitar in that band. If I had to describe it, it would be a mixture of The Pogues meets Stiff Little Fingers meets the Clash and Foo Fighters. It’s heavy but it’s not metal.

Be sure to check out our exclusive review of “Busted, Broken & American” here. And for more info on Billy and M.O.D. head over to www.milanomosh.com

Waylon Reavis discusses his new band A Killers Confession

Former Mushroomhead vocalist Waylon Reavis has returned with an exciting new band, A Killer’s Confession. Never being afraid to speak his mind or shy away from certain topics Reavis and company come out swinging with their debut release titled “Unbroken”. Media Mikes caught up with the singer recently to discuss the new album prior to the bands performance in Syracuse, NY.

Ryan Albro: How did A Killer’s Confession come together?

Waylon Reavis: Last year, I told everybody I wanted to sing on other band’s albums. What people didn’t realize was is I was actually scouting for talent. I had started working on some things and got to the absolute last track I was going to record from a Dark Lit Sky. It’s called A Killer’s Confession. This is the song Brian “Head” Welch from Korn ended up playing on. I had said to Brian if I could make this into a band would you produce it. Brian said he didn’t have the gift of producing but he’d play on it. In my mind I said, “that’ll work!” That was what told me this was the band. I’ve got the best group possible. I love this band. I’ve known JP since Three Quarters Dead. He was my first bass player. The bass player I have now was my bass player since day one. I can’t love those guys enough.

RA: What inspired you to blend so many styles of music into your own music?

WR: A lot of bad shit has happened to us. A lot of people are trying to stop the band from happening, but I don’t think you can. A.K.C. is doing it’s own thing. We are not really against any band, my former band included. Some people might see it otherwise, but we’re not here to cause drama. We’re here to just be a band. The fans are speaking for themselves. We’re not out here begging for nothing and you either like us or you don’t. People like what we’re doing because we’re bringing back Nu-Metal with elements of new school. We took everything we loved from the 90’s and then everything we love in modern music and put that stuff together. We want to take every genre and put it together to make a brand new sound. Taking aspects of say Math Metal and Thrash Metal and combining it to create a cohesive metal band. I’ve always been a chameleon with my vocal style. Everyone knows what I sound like when I’m singing, but I also can do a lot of other styles. Metal has branched off to so many different sub-genres; it’s time for a band to bring those all together. It’s great to have Korn’s stamp of approval on us, but that’s not enough. We want to go out there and do it like Korn did back in the day and speak our message. We want to speak against social media and inspire people to be more of an individual. We’re going to push all boundaries. We’re not afraid to say what’s on our minds. We’re going to teach people how to be tough. If you lose, you need to learn and come back even stronger. America’s divided right now. We’re a multi-racial band. We’re against anything separating people, race, and gender. We love everyone but we want people to understand that we have message. We want people to be tough Americans again.

RA: What inspires the raw energy in your music?

WR: My songs are reality; they’re what plague me from day to day. For example, the song “1080p” is about my problem with social media. A Killer’s Confession is about me and my other personality. That is the battle of Ying and Yang. That song is about those conversations and battles that you have with yourselves. These issues come to the forefront in my writing. These are real emotions on this album. My mother always told me that strength lies in the dark. If you’re shoved into the dark learn and become stronger from it and that’s what I’ve done for the last year.

RA: What drives you to put on such a great live performance?

WR: I love the fans. I understand what it’s like to go out there and work 9-5 for nothing, just to pay your bills. You give me an hour out of your life to take that away. I owe it to you to take that burden off of you. I have to, you made my dreams come true.

RA: What can we expect coming next from the band?

WR: We have started writing for a new and we have some more tours coming up. You’re going to see a lot of A Killer’s Confession. We’re putting out an album in 2018 and after that, an album a year for the next ten years. We’re going to do ten albums, ending in 2027. We’re also going to have a new live show coming that’s something nobody else has ever done before.

For more info on A Killers Confession head over to www.akillersconfession.com

CKY Bassist Matt Deis Discuss The Bands New Album “The Phoenix”.

Photo By: Jimmy Hubbard

Matt Deis is the bassist for the recently reformed CKY. The band is set to release a brand new album on June 16th titled “The Phoenix” and will performing on this year’s Warped Tour. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Matt recently to discuss the band getting back together, recording at the legendary Rancho De La Luna studio and what fans can expect from the band during this summer’s tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the reformation of CKY?

Matt Deis: A couple of years ago I stepped away from the band. This was around 2009/2010. I was having trouble juggling things at the time and just couldn’t do the band anymore. A couple years went by and during that time Chad and Jess had started working with Daniel Davies on vocals. Matt Janaitis who replaced me in the band wasn’t going to be able to work with the band anymore so the guys who I had never stopped being friends with called and asked if I could fill in on a few shows. We did some shows with Daniel but ultimately he chose to step away but suggested Chad should sing. From there things just kept going I was glad to be working with them again?

AL: Was doing a new album pre-planned or did this evolve over time?

MD: Things kind of evolved out of doing those shows together. We didn’t really have a set plan outside of knowing that we wanted to play again. Music is something I just know and having worked with the guys for so long everything felt very natural and we just went from there.

AL: Being this is the bands first undertaking as a three piece. What was the writing and recording process like?

MD: We got in a room and just starting jamming as a three piece band. When we were a four piece things were kind of very, cut and paste. Ideas were just sort of thrown out and pieced together. For “The Phoenix” we went to into this dirty warehouse with a very minimal amount of gear and wrote songs that fit the three of us. We didn’t try to get too crazy with the layers or anything like that. We just tried to make things sound good as a three piece. That was the real focus throughout recording. Chad had a lot of song structures figured out going in but there were holes that we all helped to fill in. We locked ourselves in the studio we rented for pre-production and just played. Everything was very natural.

AL: What was it like recording at the legendary Rancho De La Luna?

MD: For me personally I was just amazed that we got this opportunity. I had always seen it as this magical place for a select group of musicians so to be able to step foot there was a childhood dream. A lot of albums I grew up listening to were recorded there. Needless to say I was geeking out quite a bit. How it initially came about was Chad had gone out there with some friends and ended up falling in love with the place. When he brought it up about going out there both Jess and I were quick to say yes.

AL: The bands previous album “Carver City” had a unique concept to as it does “The Phoenix”. Can you tell us about that?

MD: The past albums did have a number of lyrical ideas and concepts attached to them. We didn’t do that consciously with “The Phoenix”. The phoenix in its most open interpretation is a mythical creature that rises from its ashes. That was sort of us as a band. We all had some things we needed to work through so there is a lot of re-growth and us individually over coming what we each had going on.

AL: Tell us about the bands first single “Days of Self Destruction”?

MD: We hadn’t intended on that song to be a single of any kind really. After meeting with our record label they felt that would be a good track to give out to fans. There really was no plan to give it the treatment like you would a single however the reception it received was so good that we just went from there. That song definitely has all the classic elements of CKY. It’s probably our most straight forward track off the album as it has big riffs, a big chorus and a big guitar solo at the end. For someone who has never heard CKY before the song is a good primer as it kind of showcases what we are all about.

AL: Can you tell us about the plans for the bands run on this year’s Warped Tour?

MD: I am really excited as I think this is one of the only remaining traveling tours of this size still happening. I remember being in High School and trying to see CKY on their first Warped Tour run in 1999. Things came full circle as Kevin Lyman the tours founder brought it up as he wanted to bring back bands from years past. We were in the early stages of recording at that point but the opportunity was too good to pass up. We figured everything was going to line up with the album release so we said yes immediately. The tour starts in Seattle so we are going to do a run through Canada before hand and just work our way over. We have such great Canadian fans so it should be a lot of fun. Coming off such a great UK run where 12 of the 13 shows sold out we really can’t wait to get out there here in the States. I think there are going to be a lot of people who get to see that maybe up until now only knew of us from an older sibling. Warped Tour tends to be a younger crowd and we aren’t sure who likes us these days (laughs) so this is going to be a great opportunity for us to meet a lot of new fans.

For more info on CKY head over to www.facebook.com/ckyalliance

Night Flight Orchestra Guitarist David Andersson talks “Amber Galatic”

Guitarist David Andersson is probably best known for his work with the Scandinavian metal band Soilwork a band which he has been a part of since 2012. Prior to joining the Soilwork Andersson was hard at work with his classic rock tinged group Night Flight Orchestra who recently released their third album titled “Amber Galactic”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with David recently about the album, its sci-fi theme and the bands plans to perform the album live.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how Night Flight Orchestra initially came together?

David Andersson: Me and Björn (Strid, also in Soilwork) first met in ’06, when we did our first Soilwork US tour together. We soon found out that we shared a mutual love for classic rock, so we started bonding over all those classic records, and before the tour was over, we’d decided to start a classic rock band ourselves. It took us a while to find the right people, but eventually we succeeded.

AL: What can you tell us about the upcoming release “Amber Galactic”?

DA: “Amber Galactic” is a concept album in a way, although it doesn’t have a straight narrative. It’s more a collection of stories that takes place in the same universe. “Amber Galactic” is set in a future where humanity is exploring and conquering space, but all the space commanders are women, just like the leaders back on Earth, and the men are mostly concerned with providing the ground service and idolizing and falling in love with those superior women that are always slightly out of reach.

AL: Where did this concept come from?

DA: The space theme was my idea. I’ve always read a lot of sci-fi books, mostly because in science fiction, anything is possible, and the things that you never thought would happen actually do happen. And, in a way, all those classic bands and artists from the 70’s and 80’s had the same totally over-the-top approach to everything that they did that was very science fiction-like, where everything was possible and there was no self-irony or “less is more“-thinking involved. Although the music industry was very different back then, and there was a lot more money, resources and drugs involved, I still felt that it is a shame that no one does those kinds of things anymore, at least not in rock music. It’s always been a dream to do something really epic, and what can possibly be more epic than space? So we decided to give it a go at it and just try to do the most epic, outrageous album possible.

AL: Was there anything new this time around with your writing/recording process?

DA: Nothing changed in the recording process, we’ve always produced and recorded everything ourselves. We don’t have any formula as such; we just meet in the studio, throw up some microphones, have a few drinks and start playing. But I guess we’ve gotten better at playing to our strengths and emphasizing the elements in our music that sets us apart from other bands. Though it’s nothing we’ve talked about, more like something in our collective subconscious.

AL: The band recently released a video for the song “Gemini”, can you tell us about that and why that song was chosen for a video treatment?

DA: Our label, Nuclear Blast, wanted to have “Gemini” as the first video release. It’s a song about a female space commander lost somewhere in space on a secret mission, and a love struck man back on Earth trying to get in touch with her to find out if his feelings are reciprocated. I’ve always dreamed of having an 80’s-style animated video set in space, so when we found Elia Cristofoli, an Italian animator/producer, it was fantastic to get a chance to finally do it.

AL: Are there plans to perform the album live/tour?

DA: Yes, we’ll do an exclusive show at the Rock Hard festival in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on the 3rd of June, and then we’ll hopefully do some sort of European tour in the fall. After that, we’ll see. It’s really fun playing live with The Night Flight Orchestra, and we’re always open for suggestions.

Amber Galactic is available for purchase now: http://nblast.de/TNFOAmberGalacticNB

 

STRIFE Guitarist Andrew Kline talks about 20th Anniversary of “In This Defiance”.

The iconic Los Angeles hardcore band STRIFE is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their landmark second LP “In This Defiance”. To commemorate the release the band has put together an extremely limited vinyl release and to find out more about the album Media Mikes spoke with STRIFE guitarist Andrew Kline.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the limited LP package you have coming out commemorating “In This Defiance”?

Andrew Kline: I wanted to do something special for the 20th anniversary of In This Defiance. We teamed up with WAR Records to produce a bubble gum pink colored record that comes in a hand numbered and hand silkscreened cover. There were only 100 made and were sold with a limited edition long sleeve.

AL: What was it like for you looking back and revisiting the album?

AK: “In This Defiance” is my favorite Strife album and we still play a lot of the songs live. It’s a record that I feel doesn’t seem outdated and still fits in with what’s going on within the current hardcore scene.

AL: How do you feel the album relates to the world we are living in now in 2017?

AK: Lyrically, In This Defiance is a pretty personal record. The songs “Grey” and “Blistered” still resonate with me as those songs really relate to the world now.
“Blistered by a raging sun’s flames
Mankind sealed its fate in its haste
Warning signs sent time after time
We just sit back in all this waste”

AL: There seems to be sort of a resurgence of hardcore bands from that late 80’/90’s starting to happen what do you feel has sparked that?

AK: I think that every few years there are a new crop of hardcore kids. They get involved with the scene and they start looking back and getting into bands from different time periods. I think this really created the demand. We’ve definitely seen more than a few bands reunite over the past few years, and I am ok with that.

AL: Are there plans to do some shows where you perform the album in its entirety?

AK: We are hoping to do some shows to support the anniversary of “In This Defiance” at some point before the end of the year. Fans can check out http://strifelahc.comto keep up to date with what is going on.

Jeff Caudill talks about his new EP “Reset the Sun”.

Former Gameface front man Jeff Caudill is back with a new EP titled “Reset the Sun”. The six track EP is a bit of a departure from Caudills emo/rock sound and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jeff recently about the new sound, the special Record Store Day release of the EP and his summer tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about the new EP set to release on Record Store Day?

Jeff Caudill: It’s a concept record, an alt-country road record. The story is about about guy who made some questionable life decisions and is struggling with forgiveness and starting over – and the idea that no matter how far away you go, you can always come back.

AL: Was this release originally designed to be for RSD?

JC: No, but I’m really happy that it worked out this way. I’m a total vinyl nerd and I love Record Store Day so this is kind of the best thing ever. I’m releasing this EP on my own label, Fortunate Son, but my friends at Revelation Records are helping with distribution. They submitted it for RSD and it seemed that the stars aligned.

AL: Being this project is quite different from your work with Gameface were you nervous about exploring new genres?

JC: Well, I’ve always loved this kind of music. Even in Gameface I kind of leaned into the ‘twang’. I put out a couple solo records before this that have a more singer-songwriter vibe so I’ve been working towards this. But yeah, if people are expecting Gameface, they might be wondering what’s going on.

AL: What was it that appealed to you to go the way of the singer/songwriter as opposed to starting a new band?

JC: I’m always writing songs. It’s what I do. I just don’t get paid to do it. The way my life is these days, it makes more sense to just keep going and let the band members come and go as they may. Keeping a band together is tough. I’m enjoying playing with new people, and I enjoy playing solo. I think the solo artist thing allows for more versatility and freedom.

AL: Are there plans to tour behind release?

JC: I hope so. I have some tentative summer plans for some solo acoustic shows on both coasts. I’m also getting a backing band up to speed now too so who knows? As long as I’m playing music in some capacity, I’m happy.

Guitarist Brian Bell talks about The Relationship’s new album “Clara Obscura”.

Photo Credit: Renee Carey

Brian Bell is most notably known as the rhythm guitarist of the band Weezer, a group he has been a part of since 1993. Bell’s latest side project The Relationship released their debut self titled album in 2007 and are back with a new full length album titled “Clara Obscura” which will be released on April 18th. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Brian recently about the group’s formation, the new album and their plans for touring.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how The Relationship first came together?

Brian Bell: It originally started out as a song writing partnership between Nate Shaw and me. That started basically right after high school when I first moved to Los Angeles to attend music school. I had actually already graduated and was working in the cafeteria during the time that hair metal was the big thing. Guitarists at this time were more into flash and speed as opposed to the emotion and where music has gone today where you do have a lot of soloing. My style of playing has always been more about the emotion and texture which is what drew me to alternative music at an early age. One day I am in the cafeteria wearing a Butthole Surfers shirt and this guy comes in wearing a Chameleons UK shirt. With us both being so different from the other people at the school we connected and started jamming. We wrote our first song immediately after that. At the time we didn’t know how to shop songs or anything like that but we did know how to start a band so that’s what we did. That’s when we came up with name The Relationship. It was something that can have a lot of meaning and was also something that I knew could stand the test of time throughout all the trends in music. It’s a powerful name. In 2007 both Nate and I were going through some big personal changes and we needed something to make sense of our lives at the time so that’s when the band really came together and those changes played a bit part in the writing of our first album.

AL: What can you tell us about the new album “Clara Obscura”?

BB: The title of the album is a play on words about a fictional character named Clara who maybe inspired these songs. The songs are actually a collection of many things and hypothetical/fictional situations. After we had all the songs done I was looking for a word or phrase that summed up the sound of the record. Listening back I felt there was a balance between dark and light both lyrically and modally. I started looking for words that meant what I was feeling. I kept coming across a lot of art themes so I put a few of those together and came up with “Clara Obscura” which basically means clear and obscure.

AL: Did the changes in the bands lineup impact the writing of the new record in any way?

BB: I don’t know how much it impacted the writing as I was the primary songwriter on both records but as far as the band I had more opportunities this time around. I used studio musicians for the first album and they were all great players but one thing I have noticed about studio players is that they are there for the day and not necessarily there after they leave. They aren’t like a traditional band member who might go home and continue to work on things such as nuances and textures. With this second record you get a lot more of that I have a dedicated line up now made up of Jon LaRue, Justin Goings and Brandon Graham. Nate had left the band prior to the recording on the new record so we didn’t use any of his material or performances.

AL: Do you notice any differences when you are writing for The Relationship as opposed to when you writing for Weezer?

BB: With Weezer I submit songs and ideas. I will generally record an acoustic guitar and vocal and that’s it. These days I try not to over demo as I think an iphone recording of just me playing and singing is enough to sell the song or idea. If Rivers or management is drawn to it then he runs it through what I like to call “the Rivers computer” or simply his brain. After, it comes out it’s in its own unique way. I am just happy to be involved at all in that process. If it’s for The Relationship I may expand a little more on things and give space for the other musicians to fill up.

AL: Are there plans to tour outside of what has already been announced?

BB: I would certainly like to tour more however I don’t think anything has been booked yet aside from what has been announced. My schedule is very full at the moment so it’s hard to think outside of the two month blocks I set for myself. I have these two dry erase calendars which are super helpful in making sure I know what is going on from day to day. In this business you have to be able to roll with the punches so if something comes up and we are available we will do it.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

BB: The Relationship is really the only one right now. Last year I took some classes at UCLA for orchestration and arranging which you get a taste of on this new record but I would love to some more of that. In sort of tying in with that film scoring is something that seems intriguing to me as of late and something I think I would enjoy doing.

For more information on The Relationship you can check out http://www.therelationshipband.com/

Singer Amy Lee of Evanescence talks about her new single “Speak to Me”

Amy Lee is the co-founder/lead singer for the Grammy Award winning rock group Evanescence. Lee has also participated in numerous other musical projects and has performed as a solo artist. Amy’s latest release is for the film “Voice From the Stone” starring Emilia Clarke and Marton Csokas. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Amy recently about the film, her experience at Skywalker Ranch and what’s in-store for Evanescence this year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your new single “Speak to Me”?

Amy Lee: This was quite different for me. Writing a song comes from a lot of different places. This one has a really cool and unique story. It was written for the film “Voice From the Stone” which I got to actually see before writing the song. I really loved the film as it made feel so many different things. Being a new mother I was really able to connect with the film main theme as it centers on the bond between mother and son. For me to watch that and relate it to the new huge inspiration in my life I instantly knew it was something I wanted to do. I spoke on the phone with the film’s director Eric Howell and Michael Wandmacher the films composer and we had a great talk about the directional idea and once we were off the phone I went straight to the piano and came up with the initial idea. That doesn’t always happen with me. Sometimes I can go months waiting for an idea to come that I feel is good enough to move forward with. Working on this track was a very inspiring experience.

AL: Were you basing your idea on a portion of the films score or
was it something completely separate from that?

Amy: When I saw the film the score was there but it wasn’t completely finished. They weren’t looking for me to do anything related to the score. They wanted me to write the one and only song in the film which has lyrics. It was helpful to see the visuals and hear some of what was going on as it helped me envision the finished product.

AL: Was this your first time writing for a film?

Amy: I have actually written quite a few things for movies however, most of the time it hasn’t made it through all of the different doors you have to go through to get to the final product. (Laughs) There have been several things that have made it though. In 2014 I did my first score which was a much bigger undertaking as opposed to doing just one song when I worked with David Eggar on the movie “War Story”. There’s another film titled “Blind” coming out later this year that I worked on the score for as well. My experience working on this latest film was very unique as I was able to travel to Italy and visit the filming locations and I was also invited out to Skywalker Ranch in California while they were mastering parts of the film. That was just a dream come true!

AL: Do you ever find differences between writing solo/Evanescence material and music for films?

Amy: Definitely. When I am writing for Evanescence or for my solo stuff and I am writing something that is supposed to represent me. I have these expectations I set for myself to ensure that whatever I do represents who I am. From the lyrics to the music I want it to showcase me. Luckily there are lots of sides of who we are so I get the chance to go down a lot of roads. When you are writing for something like a movie where you are trying to represent the emotions of a character you have to put yourself in that place and try to speak artistically from that view point. Even though it’s someone else’s emotions you are their voice and vehicle. This is different but it’s a nice change as you are allowed to make other choices

AL: What was it like being able to work at Skywalker Ranch?

Amy: After showing my idea to everyone a couple days after our initial talk and them really liking it I was invited to the Ranch to record. I had never been away from my son at the time as he was only thirteen months old. I had to really think about things as it was such a great opportunity but living in New York I would have to fly across the country to California and leave my baby for the first time ever. We hadn’t even had just a single overnight away from one another at this point. After deciding to do it things really couldn’t have been more perfect. Being away put me emotionally in the right place to write the song as I was dealing with separation which was something the song needed. It was just perfect. The ranch is such a great place for creation. There recording studio is the most immaculate place I have ever seen. I actually stayed there and when you are a guest you get stay in your own private cottage with a bike you can ride from place to place on. The one night I was there I had this idea in the middle of the night so I rode my bike down to the studio and just started working. It was the perfect free space to work. Any chance I get to work there again I will certainly take it.

AL: Can you give us an update on your solo work and what is going on with Evanescence?

Amy: About a month ago I released a new solo song called “What Exists”. Looking at my solo releases I feel like I have released more than I actually have. (Laughs) I certainly feel like I have done a lot. I have done a lot of covers. Doing covers is something you can put your own style to without the pressure of having to write a song. I did some of those covers for Disney a few years back. Evanescence has started touring again and we are gearing up to start next month. We will be in South America for a few weeks then we go to Europe. We are working on a bigger project right now which I can’t talk about just yet but we will be releasing something this year. I am very excited!

AL: Any other projects you would like to mention that you have been working on?

Amy: I worked on the score for an independent film titled “Blind”. The film stars Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. I am not sure of the exact release date for it but I believe it should be coming out this summer, possibly fall. It was a different type of project for me. I didn’t do the soundtrack but as there was a need for music David Eggar would call me. It’s a very different film than “War Story”. For me it’s really fun to be able to work on different things as I get to learn about different genres of music or how to play a different way. There are different feelings which come along with all of that. It’s great to be able to find new collaborators and projects as you are giving yourself the space and a reason to try new things which I think can only be good for you.

Guitarist Alex Grossi talks Maps to the Hollywood Scars and their new EP “Vol. 1”

Alex Grossi is one of the busiest guitarists in today’s music scene. Some of his projects include the bands Beautiful Creatures, Hookers and Blow, Hotel Diablo and most notably Quiet Riot which he joined in 2003. Alex’s newest project Maps to the Hollywood Scars” recently released a new EP titled “Vol. 1” featuring former American Idol contest James Durbin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the new project and the recent addition of James to the Quiet Riot lineup.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the new project Maps to the Hollywood Scars and, how you and James Durbin came together?

Alex Grossi: I had met James back in 2011 through a mutual business acquaintance when he was doing American Idol. We became friends during that time but lost touch for a few years. It wasn’t until James was doing a residency in Las Vegas recently that we reconnected and I started sending him demos. He was recording some great melodies and lyrics and the more we worked the better things kept getting. Eventually we have almost a dozen songs done. We decided to put out an EP to see how things would go and that led to us doing a second one and so on. Things happened very organically and we are very happy where things are at.

AL: What was the process like for working on the new EP titled “Vol.1”?

AG: I had been working on songs as they came to me for about a year prior. When I sent them to James he immediately got it and was inspired. There was really no set plan for anything but I had been demoing songs for about a year and finally found the right outlet for them. Having James come in has been great and also working with our producer AJ St James and Dizzy Reed who played piano and strings.

AL: How did Dizzy Reed become involved with the project?

AG: I have been playing in a cover band we do called Hookers and Blow for the past twelve or thirteen years. When we wrote the song “Death” I could just hear the string parts and piano parts. I sent him the song and asked him what he could add and what he sent back is what you hear on the record. He did a great job and nailed it.

AL: Are there any plans to tour behind this release?

AG: There have been some offers that have come in but with the both of us now being in Quiet Riot we have to work around that schedule and we would have to put a band together. Right now we are only going to do what makes sense for everyone as it’s hard to schedule something for spring and summer when we already have commitments with Quiet Riot. There has been talk of doing some late night television appearance but as far as a full blown tour we will probably only do a show here or there. It’s a side project and something that we want to keep special. We have plans but we just have to wait for the right time when everyone’s calendars line up.

AL: Can you give us an update on the recent Quiet Riot line-up change?

AG: We just announced James as our new singer and we are currently recording the new album with him titled “Road Rage”. We have bunch of new tour dates that just went up on the Quiet Riot website which will taking us all over the country and also to Canada. More shows keep getting added to it hard to keep up with them all. (Laughs) We are very grateful for the support which keeps us going.

AL: How instrumental were you in bringing James into the Quiet Riot fold?

AG: I was demoing the songs with James and during that time I was sending the tracks over to Frankie to check out. He has been very supportive of the project since I started it so when it came time make a singer change I offered to call James up and see if he would be interested. I called him up; he said he was interested and about two weeks later things were on their way. We did rehearsals and a photo shoot and that was it. It all happened very quickly. James is such a pro in that he came in prepared knowing all the songs and was ready to go. I am very blessed to play with such a great group of guys. We all get along great and I am really excited to get out there with this new lineup.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

AG: Back in 2002 I joined Beautiful Creatures replacing DJ Ashba. We recorded an album called “Deuce” which we just got the rights back to. We remixed and re-mastered that album along with adding a few new things. That is going to be released March 31st. We are calling it “Deuce Deluxe” it’s going to have a bunch of new stuff on it and it sounds really great. I also do a fun cover band with Dizzy Reed called Hookers and Blow which we will be doing some shows here and there. I also am working still with Steven Adler. Getting to see him play with Gn’R this summer was amazing.

For more info on all of Alex’s projects visit: www.alexgrossimusic.com

Heath Fields of Shallow Side talks about the bands new EP “One”

Sarah Carmody Photography

Voted by Loudwire.com as “Best New Artist of the Year” Alabama rockers Shallow Side have just released a brand new six track EP titled “One”. The release not only showcases the group’s unique blend of high energy modern rock but is laying the ground work for the bands full-length release later this year. MediaMikes.com had the chance to talk with drummer Heath Fields about the release, the bands upcoming tour and their connection to rock legends STYX.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background info on the band such as how the band came together and its members?

Heath Fields: Shallow Side formed in November of 2010. Seth, Eric and I went to school together in a small town outside of Cullman, Alabama. Cody was introduced to the trio at a local rock show and the four of us began writing and touring nationally almost immediately. We still have yet to slow down.

AL: Tell us about the decision to release an EP ahead of your full length release which is slated for later this year?

HF: The writing process is a very tedious one. Coming out of the studio we had a very mixed bag of songs. Ultimately we decided it would be a better to release that material in our EP format for our future endeavors.

AL: Will the tracks which make up the EP also be included on the full length or will that feature a different group of songs?

HF: The full length release will be totally new material separate from the EP “ONE”. We are excited about our freshly released EP, but as you can imagine, we are also looking forward to getting back to the studio in the near future to prep for new material.

AL: How did the bands connection with Styx frontman Tommy Shaw come about?

HF: It started from our respect and appreciation for the band, and the decision to cover one of their classic smash hits, “Renegade”. Through mutual friends and cyber handshakes, we were privileged to introduce our cover of the song to Tommy, and the rest of the band. It is an honor for the guys to have given us the thumbs up and stamp of approval, as it is a band we have always taken inspiration from.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands upcoming tour in Feb and are there any plans to tour past these announced dates?

HF: We will be hitting the road with our friends in Seasons After and Guns Out At Sundown for the “Rebels & Renegades” tour which starts February 1st. We basically live on the road and consider it a luxury when we are home for short periods of time. We are going to be touring for the majority of 2017. All dates and future tour announcements can be found at www.shallowside.net

Stephen Pearcy talks about his new solo album “Smash”.

Stephen Pearcy is the founder of the heavy metal band RATT a band whose songs “Round and Round” and “Lay It Down” dominated the airwaves throughout the mid 1980’s. Since that time Stephen has released a number of solo albums with the newest one titled “Smash” slated for release in late January. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Stephen recently about the album, its creation and the group’s upcoming tour.

Adam Lawton: How much time was put into the creation of the new album “Smash”?

Stephen Pearcy: Quite a lot went into the album actually. We started this project well over a year or two ago. Originally it was called “Sucker Punch” and it was going to be a four song, four EP type thing. Beau Hill did the mixing and mastering on the first batch of songs and it sounded amazing. During this time I was on and off the road and we just kept writing. I finally decided to take the band in the studio to start tracking and ended up getting a call from Frontiers Records. They really liked the song “Take It” which I felt was a good schematic to start with. Things took off from there and we started re-writing some of the previous songs and also write new ones as well. Eric my co-writer was coming up with some really great stuff and at the end of the day we had enough material for a double album. We took the best ones from there and started recording about six months ago. We really wanted to make sure we had the best songs possible for this album. We didn’t want a lot of studio effects on the tracks so when we thought they were good enough we left them alone. We wanted the album to have both light and dark subject matter along with tings they wouldn’t expect. At the end of the day I think things really worked.

AL: How many songs from the first writing/recording session made it on to the finished album?

SP: We took thirteen songs. We re-recorded one as an acoustic track similar to “Led Zeppelin III” but there were actually seven more songs that we started tracking that we didn’t use. It was very hard to pick which songs were going to be on the album because there were so many good ones. I picked what I thought was crazy and different. Each of these has something different going for it. For the mixing and mastering we also did some different things as we mixed it so that even turned up to eleven it’s not going to squash out. No matter how loud you go with it your still going to be able to hear everything.

AL: Was the albums diversity something you planned or did that happen naturally over time?

SP: That was done deliberately. I wanted a lot of the songs to start off with choruses which just would get nailed into people’s heads. Some of the songs have a more laid back approach. There were times in the writing process where I would finish the lyrics for a song and decide to start over because I felt it didn’t express what the song was actually about. I was writing all the time and practically on everything I could find. From burger bags to napkins and match books I was writing on it. There wasn’t a minute that went by that I wasn’t working on these songs. Eric was writing really great stuff also and sometimes I didn’t even want to tap into my stuff because his was so good. Everything we were doing was relevant to the Smasher character which is on the front cover of the album. It’s all in retrospect to him because that’s what the record is about. What people think is good is not and what is light is dark. If people really read the lyrics they will get the idea. Normally I don’t like putting lyric sheets in albums but I am glad I did with this one as I wanted people to understand what I was saying as its all pretty heavy.

AL: Being a producer yourself can you tell us about the decision to bring in an outside producer for this project?

SP: This wasn’t the first time I had worked with Beau. When we first started working on these songs I was curious to hear what he could do with this material. He and I are friends and his schematic for producing is what I have used for years. The stuff he did was crazy so I wanted to keep him in the mix. When he wasn’t able to work on the final stuff the band sort of jumped in and we did well. Matt our bassist is an engineer so he was able to do all the recording.

AL: Who did you have play on the album with you this time around?

SP: Eric Ferentinos has been around now for almost fourteen years. He is the lead guitarist and co-writer. Greg D ‘Angelo who played drums in White Lion has been with me for about the last six years, Matt Thorne plays bass has been around since the early days of RATT going back to 1981. We also have Frankie Wilsey back on guitar.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour?

SP: The “Smash” tour kicks off in February and will run through July. We have quite a few offers for shows but I am not trying to interrupt what could happen with RATT. We will be hitting a lot of different places this time out and my motto has always been “We go where most bands fear to go”. It doesn’t matter the size of the place or how many people are there we bring the same show every time. We don’t discriminate so if someone wants there ass kicked we will be there!

For more info in Stephen Pearcy you can check out is official website at www.stephen-pearcy.com

Tommy Blardo and Frank Morin of Enemy Remains talk about their new album “No Faith In Humanity”.

Global Music Award-winning heavy metal group Enemy Remains are set to release their second full-length album on January 20th titled “No Faith In Humanity”. After a lengthy hiatus the band which features original Fates Warning drummer Steve Zimmerman along with Tommy Blardo, Frank Morin, Scott Kadish and Jeff Curtis are ready to unveil their latest creation. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Tommy and Frank about the new albums creation and what it was like reforming the band after their extended break.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the work you have put in on the new album “No Faith in Humanity”?

Tommy Blardo: Funny thing about that, when we signed with Skateboard Marketing we didn’t have one track written for the album, zero, not even ideas. We put a single out, “No Faith in Humanity”, and that’s all we had at the time. It was pretty scary but, I think when you set deadlines it motivates you. Everyone worked really hard on this new album. I wanted to take the band in a whole new direction, new line, new sound, new writing style, new everything! We kind of things a facelift and I think we nailed it.

AL: What were the first couple of writing/rehearsal sessions like after getting back together from your hiatus?

TB: Honestly it was weird, with Steve coming from Fates Warning and playing old prog metal stuff, it was a big change for him, but he was willing to adapt to the new modern style we are going for with hooks but still keeping his roots grounded musically with the off time changes. With the addition of new vocalist Frank “Heretic” Morin, the musical transition seemed to work very well. What Frank has brought to the table just takes so much weight off Steve and I and it really enforces the new sound we were going for.”

AL: At what point did new members come into the picture and, how have they further shaped the new direction of the band?

TB: Frank was added first, I knew we needed a vocalist that could really catch the attention of the listeners with that “radio voice” as they call it – to really fit the new style we had in mind. Scott Kadish (guitars) and Bobby Byrk (keyboards) were added a little later, but were totally involved in the whole writing process. I’ve got to say, this is the strongest line up of professionals we’ve ever had. Band practice has become fun again.”

AL: What can you tell us about the two tracks the band has released thus far from the album?

Frank Morin: I can tell you they were a pain in the ass! Tommy and Steve first approached me with the music to “No Faith In Humanity” and I got really pumped! I had been waiting to jump into a rock/metal project of this caliber for a while, so that song kind of wrote itself based on how I was feeling about the world and the people in it. “Trust in No One” was a little more difficult. It was the first time I played with progressive riffs in a 5 count. It took Tommy and I about an hour to write the hook. Both tracks, like the entire album, touch on personal issues from a singular point of view, though we all share the same ideologies on them. Like the rest of the album we wrote all the music based on the concept, and I just started with the lyrics.

AL: Do you have any touring or performance plans in place to support the release?

TB: At this point we have full press and radio campaigns hitting hard the first week of January and the release of the album is on Jan 20th. After that we have plans to tour the east coast, mid-west and extended dates throughout the west coast by summer. After that hopefully we will be jumping on as a support act for a national artist!

For more info on Enemy Remains you can check out www.facebook.com/enemyremainz

Animals as Leaders guitarist Tosin Abasi talks about the groups latest album “The Madness of Many”.

Tosin Abasi is the founder and co-guitarist of the progressive metal band Animals as Leaders. Earlier this month the group released their fourth full length album titled “The Madness of Many”. The album follows in the footsteps of the bands previous releases which pull from a variety of musical influences which are repurposed into the bands own unique style of Djent. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Tosin recently about the albums creation, the group’s current tour and what the band has planned for 2017.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on where the band was at going into the recording of “The Madness of Many”?

Tosin Abasi: We had done a lot of touring off of “The Joy of Motion” record and we decided it was time to start working on new material. We stopped booking shows and were off the road for about a year. That time off allowed us more time to work on new material while also allowing for change. I think that if you stack your releases to close together things can end up sounding like a continuation of the previous record. We wanted to have a fresher approach so we took a good amount of time off. During that time we were able to just be human beings and practice independent of the band with our own ideas. We then came back together as a group and everything was very collaborative. This was probably the most collaborative we have been as a band thus far.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit more about your collaboration as members and how it has progressed over the bands four albums?

TA: The first album was basically Misha Mansoor and I. I had a bunch of ideas and demos but, I wasn’t really happy with them until Misha stepped in. I had actually thought about canning the whole thing. Working with Misha really set the inner core of the Animals as Leaders sound. When it came time to do the second album we approached things a little differently as we brought in drummer Navene Koperweis who much more of a death metal and electronic background. You can definitely hear that type of production on “Weightless”. For “The Joy of Motion” we did a lot of work with Misha again as well as Diego Farias from Volumes and we had Nolly from Periphery producing and engineering so you can hear again the inclusion of Misha’s sensibilities and his influences. With the newest record there was very little to no outside contributors helping. It was basically Matt, Javier and I. We thought we were going to maybe work with a producer after do pre-production on our own however once we had multiple songs demoed we liked what we heard and couldn’t see what a producer would change or bring to the mix so it started to dawn on us that we could probably complete this on our own. It almost started to feel like we should let this album be just the result of the three of us working together and for better or worse that was the end result.

AL: Was it difficult in any way from a production/producers stand point being that you were all so close to the material?

TA: You have to at some point trust your creative decisions and know what you want the end result to be. I think it’s helpful to have outside ears which is why we have always incorporated outside people but there was something that felt very personal about this material and I think as the bands musical identity has existed thus far it hasn’t been as pure because of those outside influences. We really wanted the only people making musical decisions were the people playing on the album. I think that’s what really shaped how the album ended up.

AL: As a band and individually are you and the other guys always writing or do you have to separate your work between writing time and performing time?

TA: I think we all are always writing. It is more of a matter of would it make sense to do a new album or not. The label doesn’t really dictate to us when we have to make a record but there are certain cycles which make sense. Each of us I think is always in a state of creativity and writing so it’s more of just deciding when is a good time to compile all of that stuff and start on an album.

AL: Does the band set specific goals for each record being from a production or stylistic standpoint or does everything happen more organically for you guys?

TA: Things are totally organic. We really feel like we don’t have any rules. If we want to do a seven minute song that’s strictly nylon string guitar or a really heavy song with nine string guitars or even a classical piece we can do that. We don’t limit our musical expressions. I think Animals as Leaders is deliberately a space of where we can include a lot of our musical influences.

AL: Being one of today’s players who is at the fore front of extended range guitars/instruments, how much more has that opened up things for you from a creative stand point?

TA: It opens up a lot more options. Harmonically you can voice chords in different positions and you also have a much wider range. Technique wise you aren’t limited to strictly guitar techniques. You can incorporate bass techniques as you have access to lower registers. I think that tambour sounds really cool on a guitar. I think of it as we play stringed instruments. I love the guitar and its tradition however I am not a traditionalist. I don’t feel any nostalgia for it or have any need to say “If I add strings to this instrument it’s no longer a guitar.” We definitely embrace all that stuff as it does give us more creative options.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands current tour and what you have planned going forward into 2017?

TA: We are on tour through mid December with Intervals and PLINI who are both instrumental bands. Those guys are all super nice and great players. The shows thus far have all been packed out which has been great! After this run wraps up we will be home for the holidays and then we have some international dates booked which will take us to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and I think Taiwan and Thailand. That will all be starting in February. We are also working on putting things together for the spring/summer concert season as well.

Save Ferris front-woman Monique Powell talks about the bands reformation and upcoming EP “New Sound”

    (photo by Piper Ferguson)

Monique Powell is the lead singer of the Orange County ska-punk band Save Ferris. After a 15 year break the band is set to release a new EP in February titled “New Sound” and embark on a US tour also starting in February. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Monique recently about the bands return, their pledge music campaign and about working with producer John Avila.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background info on the reformation of the group in 2013 and leading up to where the group is now in 2016?

Monique Powell: In 2012, I was diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition that had caused irreparable spinal cord damage in my neck. I was told by doctors that, without emergency surgery I could eventually lose my ability to walk. The catch was that, the surgery I needed was typically performed from the front of the neck, an issue that would have prevented me from ever singing again. I had one doctor say to me “Do you want to sing or do you want to walk?”. At that point, I became determined to find a doctor that could perform the surgery I needed through the back of my neck, a procedure considered far more dangerous, painful, and with far more required rehabilitation. The minute before I went under anesthesia for the difficult surgery, I decided I was going to bring Save Ferris back if I woke up from the procedure with my ability to walk and my voice intact. This is what led to the reincarnation of Save Ferris in 2013. I had to relearn how to hold my head up, how to do simple tasks with my arms, and through it all, I had Save Ferris and the fans to aim for. The response to the shows in 2013 was so positive, I decided to bring us back for good!

AL: What was it like heading back into the studio after being away from that process for so long?

MP: At first, scary. I didn’t eat for days prior due to nerves but then something happened and the magic of John Avila filled the studio, and, I settled in beautifully. It was as if a day hadn’t gone by.

AL: How did the relationship with producer John Avila come together?

MP: John produced the first Reel Big Fish album which was the first album I ever sang on when I was about 19 years old. We had a great time recording “She Has a Girlfriend Now” for Reel Big Fish and I never forget John’s kindness and calm demeanor. When I was shopping for producers for my new stuff, John’s name came up, and I thought, “how crazy would it be if this all came around full circle”. So I scheduled a meeting and here we are.

AL: Can you tell us about the pledge music campaign that is happening around the new EP?

MP: Well, being a band that was virtually inactive for so long, I had no idea how I would finance a new album. Thanks to Pledge and our fans, this new album has been made possible. It has been really fun, we had a studio party with our fans that donated to be on the record it was an epic night for all of us.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming tour and what other plans you and the band have for 2017?

MP: The band and I are all so excited to be finally touring together. It really is a dream come true for us, and I cannot believe it is actually happening. I’ve worked so hard for 3 years to make this possible. As for 2017, after we release the EP early in the year, and the 6 week Fall tour of North America, we will continue working on a full length album. If all goes as planned, we will release the full length prior to our 2017 summer tour so fingers crossed!

For more info on Save Ferris and a complete list of tour dates visit http://www.saveferrisofficial.com/