Blu-Ray Review “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Director: Michael Schultz
Rating: PG
Shout! Factory
Run Time: 113 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles groundbreaking album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Shout! Factory will release the film of the same name on Blu-Ray. Sit back and let the evening go with the 1978 musical spectacular featuring stunning reinterpretations of over twenty classic Beatles songs. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a magical, musical tour through some of the greatest songs ever written, and an astounding time capsule of the late 70’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard.

Classic 70’s presented in stunning hi-definition audio and sound. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is brimming over with everything from the bi-gone era. Starring Peter Frampton and The Bee Gee’s the film follows the story of Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and his friends the Henderson’s (The Bee Gees) as they leave their small town in hopes of stardom. Along the way the group run into a variety of unique characters and themes pulled from the iconic Beatles album that spurred hits songs like “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamond” to name just a few. Also included are some cool performances by Aerosmith, Earth, Wind and Fire and the late great George Burns. The film definitely serves as a time capsule as you don’t see productions as quirky as this happing today but that’s what makes this film so appealing.

Included in the Special Features section of the Blu-Ray is an audio commentary by Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball, Picture Galleries and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Though I found this portion of the release to be lacking the film provided just enough campy moments to make it enjoyable. The film looks and sounds great which for me is the most important part so if you’re a fan of the Beatles album and some of the other great performers featured here you’re going to be in for a treat with the latest release from Shout! Factory

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

Guitarist Phil Sgrosso talks about his new band Poison Headache

You may recognize Phil Sgrosso as the guitarist for bands such as As I Lay Dying and Wovenwar However, not one to sit idle for any length of time Phil is back with yet another new band, Poison Headache. The 3 piece power trio is set to release their self-titled debut album in June via Metal Blade Records and Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Phil recently about the group’s formation, the albums creation and the status of his other projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band how everything came together?

Phil Sgrosso: Andy Kukta the bands other guitarist/co-vocalist and Kyle Rosa our drummer had been friends for quite some time and this sort of started up when I was with As I Lay Dying. Andy is a fellow riff writer who was looking to put a band together after his previous one broke up. He reached out to Kyle and I and we would jam off and on when I wasn’t out with my current band. Nothing serious really came of it until we had enough songs to make up an album. We decided that’s what we were going to do and got Metal Blade Records on board and they were super supportive of the whole thing which was great. Things were a bit slow starting out but we are now ready to kick things into the next gear and get going.

AL: Where did Poison Headache fit in during that period of time where As I Lay Dying was ending and Wovenwar was beginning?

PS: It was something we wanted to do and during that time I actually had the time to do it. We were just waiting for that window to open. Now that we are making a go of this we have to make the most out of it. I don’t for see Wovenwar being as busy as it was when we first started. It will still be an active band but I want to be doing as many musical projects as I can be. I don’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket because if I have another band that I really love doing that’s something I want to be able to go out and do. So far this year I have the Poison Headache album coming, we are finalizing the second Wovenwar record and I also have been out on tour with the band Saosin as well as one called Nails who I also have been touring with. I try to fill my schedule with as many musical things as I can to keep me busy and going.

AL: What type of adjustment period did you have to allow yourself for going from playing/writing in 5 piece bands to now doing the same for a 3 piece band?

PS: It is a very different animal. With all the bands I have done I tend to like being the overseer of things. When I have someone like Andy writing a lot of stuff and I can play the producer role on the songs he has written which allows me to hone in on his vision within that role. In a way its easier being in a three piece but there is still a lot of work. You have to take on more roles that may be delegated to another member in a bigger band. Knowing that I have that type of control over things I can process things the way I do. There is a little bit of a different mentality especially with gear and such. We both want to play guitar live so we have to be creative with our tones and things like that. Once we start moving into the live stage of things we will have all that stuff figured out. Vocally it takes a lot of practice to build up your stamina to be able to do a whole song and not just backup vocals and then to take it further being able to perform an entire set.

AL: How do you separate your roles as Producer and Performer?

PS: You have to really rely on your band to produce you when you are in that type of situation. What’s nice about a three piece is you ask the other two guys what they think and their cool with it that’s really it. I really trust Andy and Kyle’s opinions so I think that’s what keeps me in check when I am trying to oversee the big picture of things. I feel trust and respect is the foundation of any relationship so the fact that we have that together along with being on the same creative page has made things very easy.

AL: Is a majority of what makes up the album material Andy had written or is there new material you all contributed to on here as well?

PS: I would say probably a third of the album is stuff Andy had written with another third of it being stuff I had written. The other third was probably pieced together from things the three of us had written together. Andy and I are both capable of writing a complete song and seeing its vision so we bounce a lot of ideas off of one another. I can say that Andy’s approach and style has been the inspiration behind the sound of the band.

AL: The album has a very hardcore meets thrash sound to it. Was this sound something that evolved over time or was it present from the very beginning?

PS: I think having that hardcore type feel or groove is something completely Andy. When I hear the album and a part like that comes on, I can say that’s totally Andy. Kyle is a very dynamic drummer that is able to adapt to that which is certainly a strength. That’s the type of music that we like and want to play so when we can include those elements we enjoy that. There is one track on the record called “Be Numbed” which is an instrumental track that I wrote to break things up a little. That track has more of a shoe-gazing, post metal vibe. We just sort of threw in things here or there which we may have not done yet. I don’t think there was ever an instance where we said “no we can’t do that”. If a song called for something we went for it. This really helped push our creativity.

AL: What types of touring plans are in place for you guys at this point?

PS: It’s tough for any new band to get out there on the road. We could do that but being older now we have more responsibilities. We just can’t go jump in the van for a tour and come home with no money and be ok with that like we did when we were teenagers. We all want to have jobs and security for our families so with Poison Headache we plan to build gradually within out scene in Southern California. I also co-own a venue with two of the other guys in Wovenwar with my wife acting as the promoter so we know a lot of bands and we feel that’s a smart way for us to start. From there we will see what opportunities come our way.

AL: Where are things at with the upcoming Wovenwar album?

PS: Things were a bit different when we shifted from As I Lay Dying to Wovenwar. We had become this machine and had gotten used to a certain way of doing things that when we had the rug sort of pulled out from under us we tried using that same design with Wovenwar. We had to step back and realize that we were still a new band despite our previous work together. The business side of things is a bit different and where we are at with life now is all different. We have to be smart about what we do. We are all at different stages in our lives with having kids and being married and what not so we all had to look at what we wanted to do and how we could make the band work. We did all of the production ourselves and it is currently being mixed by Nolly from Periphery. Everything is just now entering the final stages.

Testament’s Alex Skolnick talks about new band Metal Allegiance and their debut album

Alex Skolnick is probably best known as the guitarist for the legendary thrash metal band Testament. When not performing with the group Alex keeps busy with numerous side projects such as The Alex Skolnick Trio and, his latest endeavor Metal Allegiance, The group which features a laundry list of some of today’s top heavy metal performers is set to release their debut self titled album on September 18th and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the album and the group’s formation.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get involved with the Metal Allegiance project?
Alex Skolnick: It all happened pretty fast. I was on the “MotorBoat Cruise” playing with Testament and that’s where the very first performance under that name happened there. There were a bunch of us guys hanging out during dinner one night and some of the guys were talking about set lists. They wanted to add in some classic Van Halen and I was the guy who was pretty up on that stuff. I wasn’t really planning on playing and Mike Portnoy sort of threw it out there as a joke and I went along with it and everyone went nuts. We ended up having this great jam and afterwards we were talking about more shows in the future and I said I would be for it any time. I get a call one day asking if I would be interested in doing an album. I had never worked with any of these guys before but I was willing to give it a shot. I went in thinking it was going to be mostly an album of covers with possibly two or three original songs. Up until this point all we had played together was covers. When we got together the writing process just took off. We started off with just a couple songs we felt great about and it just sky rocket from that point on.

AL: Being that you all had never worked together before what was the creative process like for the group?
AS: We all are fans of this music and we wanted to make an album that we would be excited about putting out. We all had ideas as to what makes great album and we wanted to make sure that we captured the performance of each player involved with the record. There’s a lot of great stuff being recorded these days digitally but we wanted to take a more analog approach and incorporate elements from areas that inspired us to become musicians.

AL: Was a majority of this album created separately and sent back and forth via email or was there a point where everyone got together and recorded as a group?
AS: We worked in a couple different phases. The first phase involved the three core guys of the project. Myself, Dave Ellefson and Mike Portnoy were brought together by our mutual friend Mark Menghi. The four of us got together during the holidays and did our first session. A few weeks later we got together again for a second session. Those sessions were all done in a traditional band type recording session. In February we went out and did the “ShipRocked” Cruise and after getting back we began the next phase of work which we did in Long Island at Mike Portnoy’s home studio. There was some stuff that got sent back and forth via email but a majority of the album was done the classic way with everyone being present in the same recording space.

AL: When it came time to bring in the various guests who appear on the album who was the person making those decisions?
AS: The four of us myself, Dave, Mike and Mark made all of those decisions together. We call ourselves “The Core Four”. There was a constant stream of text messaging that we all would reply to where we all made suggestions related to the music. We decided that we would all have to agree as to who was going to be asked to be a part of the project. There were some ideas that didn’t end up happening as ultimately we felt they just wouldn’t fit and some of those may have helped sell more records but this wasn’t about that. Everything was about the feel of the track and how each piece fit and worked together.

AL: With the project taking on almost a life of its own is this something you guys hope to continue to expand on or, is this album the closing piece for the group?
AS: I believe we would like to keep this going indefinitely. There is no reason not to. We don’t want to be limited to just performing on cruise ships or at large events. We do have plans to do those types of events but we also want to do more. We have the album release show in New York at the Best Buy Theater which is going to feature most of the personnel from the album. That’s something that is going to be hard to duplicate on a tour but we are figuring things out as we go. We just announced our first international show in Mexico City which will feature the core group along with Mark Osegueda from Death Angel on vocals. There are a number of different levels that this project can work on which I think is going to be really great.

AL: Outside of the Metal Allegiance project what else are you currently working on?
AS: I have a lot of stuff going on. I have my first acoustic album out which is called “Planetary Coalition”. This is a world album and is something that I always wanted to make. I have a bunch of great artists featured on there including Rodrigo y Gabriela. Last year the trio recorded a live concert and it came out really well. We also recently wrote a few new songs and I think we are going to release that as a live album. I’m going to be a part of the “Axes and Anchors” cruise which is a cruise for guitar enthusiasts. Zakk Wylde is going to be there along with Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker and a bunch of other great players as well. Testament has mostly one off shows booked as of right now and in between those we are writing new material with hopes of having a new album out next year.

Austrian crossover band Kontrust talks about new album “Explositive”

As I imagine many of us do, I dabble in late night encounters with the YouTube wormhole. I start by looking up some silly video of a cat riding a Roomba, or pull up a music video for one of my favorite bands. On September 28th, I was watching a DevilDriver video on the Napalm Records YouTube channel and an image on the side bar caught my eye; some oddly costumed farmer looking fellow screaming into the camera and the band name “Kontrust” with a song titled “Hey DJ!”.

Throwing caution to the wind, I clicked the link and the video started. The aforementioned farmer pulled out a vinyl and spun it on an antique phonograph. A female voice screamed “Don’t play me a punk song!” and a barrage of metal power chords followed. I’ll admit, I’m very selective about female lead singers in metal music, but once Agata Jarosz’ powerful voice hit on the first line of the verse, I was hooked. What followed was a seamless, intricate blend of funk, metal, and industrial music. I was sold. Kontrust had just made its way onto my play list and I hadn’t even made it through the entire song.

The follow up video to my Kontrust introduction was a song called “Sock N Doll.” Extremely unique, the video features a venue filled with sock puppets, and the band represented in the same fashion, but dressed in traditional Austrian garb. A quick yodeling lead in by Agata and then the vocals of Stefan Lichtenberger took over. Mixing elements of Korn, Pink and Buju Banton, this was one of the most beautifully diverse and energizing songs I had ever heard! I couldn’t get enough – so I took my crusade to eBay and secured a copy of Kontrust’s “Secondhand Wonderland.”

Song after song, my interest for this band and its musical prowess grew. I had Secondhand Wonderland playing non-stop in the Camaro, at work and at home. It was an obsession because the music made me feel good. It was the ultimate “Party Metal” album, without the after effects of a hangover. Much to my delight, I found out that there was going to be a follow up to this masterpiece – and extremely soon! “Explositive” is due to be released by Napalm Records on November 7th, 2014. I wanted desperately to get a hold of the band to talk about the successes of “Secondhand Wonderland” and what fans (and new listeners) could expect from the new album. I was fortunate enough to be granted a live Skype session (from Austria!) with three of the band’s members: Agata (vocals), Mike (guitar) and Gregor (bass and synth).

Eric Schmitt: So how was Kontrust formed? As far as where did the members come from and how did you decide on the direction to go in?
Gregor Kutschera: In the beginnings it was a band from the countryside in upper Austria – you may know it from “The Sound of Music” musical. We three, are actually from Vienna. The other guys, they are from Up-Austria. They formed the band, like 10 years, 12 years ago or something. We joined in 2005, mixed Up-Austria with Vienna, the big city, you know? They moved to Vienna to work and to study. They played mostly in a hardcore band, you know, before Agata joined with her clean vocals.
Agata Jarosz: It was really bad (bad-ass) and really {growls}. Then Agata came and said, “I’m sorry, that’s not my way. You have to come with me and go my way.” {laughs}So Kontrust started!.
Mike Wolff: It all started around 2001, then in 2005 the major change was applied. Agata joined and the whole band structure changed – it’s gotta have a little more “pop” factor in there.
GK: Or melody.
MW: Yes, melodies, to go a little bit in the pop music direction. Well, 9 years later, we’re still here and the last 3 albums, Time to Tango, Secondhand Wonderland and Explositive channel what we’ve been doing for those 9 years. Explositive is definitely something to more of the essence to what we are doing; reduced to the maximum if you want.

ES: The mix of musical genres is really successful with the albums, it works. The way you go from pop to metal to reggae. So I wanted to get an idea of what kind of musical influences brought everything together. In particular, personal influences that drove you to mix the genres together.
AJ: There is one band that every one of us was hearing when we were younger – it was Rage; Rage Against the Machine.
GK: Yeah, that’s the band we can all agree on. It’s the only act we can all agree on. {laughs}
AJ: I think the 90’s – we are all kids of the 90’s, so this is our music.
MW: Well, Rage Against the Machine was the only band that we agreed upon, that each of us likes. I mean there is so much other stuff in there that adds to it. From Skunk Anansie to even Iron Maiden. {Laughter} I have to say that! I’m the biggest Iron Maiden fan.
GK: Run to the…… {Laughter}
MW: We’ve got to leave that in the interview! Anyways, I guess it’s just – I don’t know – It’s kinda hard to say. I think of Kontrust basically being something where all of the musical influences we have where we can agree on those things.
GK: Some of us like some songs more than others.
MW: It’s diverse, but I guess that’s what drives us. There’s always so much tension when we’re writing the songs, it doesn’t just happen. You have to convince the others in the band-
GK: It’s fighting, it’s struggling, it’s pain….. And it’s awesome!

ES: As far as the new album, Explositive goes, what were the driving forces behind the tracks that you decided on?  What factored in to actually choosing the tracks to go on the new album?
AJ: Good question.
GK: We did lose some of our best parts (of tracks) along the way because they didn’t fit into songs. In the end, we all took the best the songs that worked. Every part fits perfectly well. It’s hard to say, I just have the feeling we lost some good parts and heavy parts along the way, but that doesn’t matter. The song was the focus.
MW: We write like 120 ideas and lose so much along the way. It’s just because we find something to start the song, then everything else has to fit. In the end we find it doesn’t fit Kontrust, so that song is going to get thrown out. Then we go back into the archive and digging for material, then start putting that (material) together. So basically, it’s all about an idea – is this Kontrust? Or could we sell this, say to Megadeth? {Laughter} When you work together as a band, with us being six people, there’s so much input you have to filter. Then it ends up with ideas that everyone is happy with.

ES: What are the tour plans once the new album is released?
AJ: The dates are in progress. We are planning a tour next year in the Netherlands, Germany and in Europe. This autumn, we will only play in Austria, in every major city. Next summer is festival season, and that’s the most important part (of the year) for us.
GK: So we take a slow start in the winter, then start out in spring and summer for festivals. There are a lot of big festivals in Europe, so we’re looking forward to that.
MW: We’re thinking about coming over the pond (to America), it all depends on how the album is perceived in the States.

ES: Are there any differences (from Secondhand Wonderland) in the new album that you would like to elaborate on?
Mike: Everyone is looking at me! {Laughter}
GK: We will give this to Mike, because he is our Minister of Propaganda. {Laughter}
MW: First of all, this album has been the easiest for us.
AJ: I think that we all like this album more than Secondhand Wonderland. It’s more “back to the roots,” that’s a very big reason why I like the album. Secondhand Wonderland was very over-produced. We wanted to over-produce the album, it was something special and different. (But) it was too much “pling pling”. Explositive is more “in your face”.
MW: It’s more in your face, it’s kind of reduced. All the stuff you hear, there’s almost no added artificial samples or anything, (as) compared to Secondhand Wonderland. It’s us playing, a little bit of synth, which Gregor plays,  and everything else, all the effects, are all natural. The reverb you hear is real. It’s basically this room here.
AJ: We recorded the album in this room (a slow turn of the phone shows me Kontrust’s spacious studio).
MW: The album, we think, is straight forward, in your face, has the party mood and has the feel of “bang your head on something hard and see what happens.” I guess when people who already like Kontrust will like this album a lot because it’s more of essentially what Kontrust is. Less of  the added stuff. And people who don’t know us yet will probably have an easier time to get into us just because the album, at least we think, is really “simple”.

If Explositive is Kontrust’s idea of “simple,” I would be intrigued to hear what “complex” would sound like to them. Napalm Records posted a preview of all of the songs on the new album, which can be heard by clicking HERE, or see above, as well as the first release on the album “Just Propaganda.” The new album sounds just as diverse and intricate as Secondhand Wonderland, but offers more of a raw appeal. Explositive can be pre-ordered through the Napalm Records Webstore as well as Secondhand Wonderland, which this author HIGHLY recommends! I am personally looking forward to November 7th and the release of Explositive, and have high hopes that 2015 will bring this extremely talented, energetic and most of all, friendly band stateside, so that Americans can see what we’ve been missing out on all these years!

Concert Review: Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band “Songs from St. Somewhere” Tour, Tampa, FL

Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
April 19, 2014

It was a rather chilly and on and off rainy night, April 19, 2014 in Tampa, FL but that didn’t mean anything for us hardcore Jimmy Buffett fans. I do not think I have ever been to a concert with as much energy and excitement that this show at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. The last time I saw Jimmy and his band perform was in Orlando, FL at the Amway Center and I have to admit thinking back on it now it just felt so claustrophobic being in that closed arena. Now the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre was a open arena that really gave Jimmy and the band a chance to open their wings and really soar higher than ever. The band was in fine form at this show. You can honestly just look at Jimmy’s face and know that he is honestly and genuinely having fun. Just plain fun. I may have said this before but the guy seems to really love what he is doing and I swear he only seems to be getting better and better each time I see him.

When you look at this stage, there are literally so many people up there that I didn’t know where to look first. In fact, I counted and including Jimmy his Coral Reefer Band adds up to twelve members. Now the reason why that is unique is that you could literally pick out the role of each person throughout the entire person. If you were listening out for Michael Utley on the keyboards you can clearly hear him jamming. If you were looking out for Mac McAnally (I mean you can’t miss the guy with that hair but…) you can easily pick out his voice on each song. To be that is so very important. You can tell that there was a lot of time put into making sure that each member of the band was equally balanced and sounded just right. Congrats to the sound engineer for this sound because it was an outstanding performance.

What I really loved about this show was that from the moment it started it was just hit song after hit song. We were on our feet literally the entire show. If we got tired after at any point, the excitement of the next song just completely took over and drew us in. Some highlights as usual were “Boat Drinks”, “Come Monday” and “Southern Cross”. Since this is the “Songs From St. Somewhere” tour, we got to hear the new hit song “Too Drunk to Karaoke”, which was just such a blast to hear live. The band’s cover of “All Night Long (All Night)” got such an outstanding response, I looked around at one point during the song and didn’t see a mouth not moving and anyone not dancing like crazy. They not only play the songs that they want to play, they play the songs that fans want to hear and they were right on queue!

The “Songs From St. Somewhere” tour took a break in December but picked up this month to close out the tour. This show actually was one of the last one of the tour before the band (taking only a month off) kicks right back into touring with the new summer tour, “This One’s For You”, which starts in May. So even though that this was the “end of the tour”, you could have easily told me that it was the kick-off because like I said the energy was insane and the band was in rare form. I don’t know how they tour for most of the year and never take a break…but I guess it just goes back to my original statement of how much fun these talented performers are having on the stage.  I hope that it is not too long before they decide to take over the state of Florida again because I already feel the itch to take a trip to Margaritaville again soon!

Set List:
1. Kinja
2. Landfall
3. Brown Eyed Girl
4. Boat Drinks
5. Weather With You
6. Pencil Thin Mustache
7. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
8. Son of a Son of a Sailor
9. Rhumba Man
10. Come Monday
11. Too Drunk to Karaoke
12. Cheeseburger in Paradise
13. Cultural Infidel
14. Piece of Work
15. Somethin’ ‘Bout a Boat
16. Southern Cross
17. Volcano
18. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
19. A Pirate Looks at Forty
20. Back Where I Come From
21. One Particular Harbour
22. All Night Long (All Night)
23. Fins
24. Margaritaville

Encores:
25. We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About
26. Knee Deep
27. Defying Gravity

CD Review: Thomas Nicholas Band “Security [EP]”

Thomas Nicholas Band
Security [EP]
Tracks: 4
Length: 13 minutes
Produced by Thomas Nicholas & Matt Kennedy

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Last summer, I caught a concert with Thomas Ian Nicholas here in Orlando, FL and being a fan of his earlier four albums, I remember hearing a few amazing new songs that were not yet released. During the show, Thom discussed exploring a more “indie rock” sound with these new songs and I have to admit, they are probably some of his best songs. Along with Thom on this album are three of the original members of The Graduate including Matt Kennedy, Tim Moore & Jared Wuestenberg. I hope Thom continues to explore this genre because these songs are absolutely amazing.

These songs were written by Thom and Caleb Turman (from the band TEAM*) and produced by Thom and Matt (from The Graduate). There are four tracks on this EP and each song is better than the one before it. “Security” is one hell of a catchy, powerful and all around fun as hell song. I can see this being a huge hit on the radio! I challenge you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for days (especially the chorus). “Don’t Stop” has this real indie feel and features some great guitar work. Having heard these songs a few times live, they are quite different (but not in a bad way at all).

“Terrified” is my wife’s favorite track. This was the song that stuck out the most when we heard it live last summer. This track sounds the most different live than the produced studio version, in my opinion. I personally prefer it live but I still really dig this song since it is jam packed with energy. The last track “It’s Over” is a track that has really grown on me since first hearing it. After listening to it a few times, I love the constant beat behind it and the overall tone of the track. My main issue with this EP overall is the fact that it is an EP, I want more songs and I can’t wait to see what Thom and his band comes up with next.

“SECURITY EP” is now available on iTunes (for ONLY $3.96)
You can also order a CD directly from the band’s webstore.

Concert Review: Thomas Nicholas Band, Mulligan’s Pub – Celebration, FL

Thomas Nicholas Band
Mulligan’s Pub
Celebration, FL
April 23, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

You might recognize Thomas Ian Nicholas from his film roles in the “American Pie” films or the baseball classic “Rookie of the Year”, but he is also a singer/songwriter and has a band, TNB aka Thomas Nicholas Band. I had the privilege of meeting Thom back in 2010 and have become friends over the years. I never really knew he was into music until that time, I was just a fan of his films. Let’s just say that besides being a talented actor…this guy can fucking sing! I have been to tons of concerts and I really haven’t had an experience like when I go to one of Thom’s shows. He not only sings songs from his five albums, he also does a ton of amazing (and spot on) covers. He just got finished touring the UK and if you can get a chance to catch one of his shows, you will not be sorry.

At this particular show, it was a stripped down acoustic solo act but he had such presence behind him that it felt far from a one-man show. Throughout the show he used a looper pedal to add to his songs and I can’t even tell you how amazing it was. I first saw him live last summer and I was blown away then with his performance. This time we brought some friends along and when he looped his guitar and voice on songs like “Security”, our friends literally whipped around to us and were flipping out. He literally sounds like he has a whole band along with him and if you just walked in from outside you would have thought the same.

I am a big believer in inspiration behind music and really getting into a song when listening and you can tell when Thom is up there jamming that he also escapes into his music. With songs like “Heroes Are Human” and “Terrified”, there is so much heart poured out into these songs. His vocal range is really impressive as well especially on his covers of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling”, Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So” and (my favorite) Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”. Thom if you are reading this bro, you need to get these recorded! This guy also has the endurance of a bull (even while drinking) playing for for nearly three hours with only a short break. I am not just saying this either as a friend, I literally will go out of my way just to catch a show of Thom’s because he is such a talent artist and his shows leave you pumped.

“Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band” Book Giveaway [ENDED]

Media Mikes is teaming up with Full Moon to giveaway a copy of “Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band” book. This is a must for any true horror fan. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Full Moon film. This giveaway will remain open until April 18th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

The ‘Pulse-pounding’ saga of the Charles Band Empire…

Charles Robert Band is one of the last great B-movie survivors–a genuine pioneer who, over four decades, forged such a unique path through the no man’s land of independent genre cinema that many thought him more than capable of seizing legendary producer Roger Corman’s long-held crown as ‘King of the B-movies’. The 1970s through to the late 1980s was the last great ‘golden age’ for the B-movie community, and with a non-stop series of grindhouse classics like Laserblast, Parasite, Re-Animator and Dolls for his own company Empire Pictures, it was the era that saw Charles Band take his rightful place in the indie hall of fame as Emperor of the ‘B’s.

FOREWORD by Stuart Gordon

Empire of the ‘B’s written by Dave Jay
377 pages

Click here to purchase of copy of “Empire of the B’s: The Mad Movie World of Charles Band”

Monte A. Melnick talks about his book “On the Road with The Ramones” and 40th Anniversary of the band

Monte A. Melnick worked with the legendary band The Ramones since the group’s inception in 1974 and served as the group’s tour manager up until the bands last show in 1996. Monte’s book “On the Road with The Ramones” which was co-wrote with Kevin Meyer and released in 2007 garnered rave reviews and has gone on to be released in several other languages. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Monte recently about his time with the band, the success of his book and the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Ramones formation.

Adam Lawton: How did you initially start working with the Ramones?
Monte A. Melnick: I grew up with Tommy Ramone and we went to school together. We had also played in bands with one another along with setting up studios with each other. I was there at the very beginning when Tommy first got involved with the Ramones and that’s really how I became involved with them as well.

AL: Were you still looking to be in a band at this time or were you looking to move more towards the management side of the business?
MM: By this time Tommy and I had already built Performance Studios and we were also managing it. While doing all of that we still had time for our own bands and my band Thirty Days Out put out two records on Reprise Records in 1971 and 1972. Tommy had his own stuff going on at the same time as well but he was mostly doing engineering. When it started Tommy was really only looking to produce the Ramones however after a couple showcases they couldn’t find a drummer and Tommy ended up becoming the drummer. Eventually the studio had to close down because of noise problems and the Ramones started to get jobs here and there and they asked me to go along with them. Sometimes when there’s a fork in the road you just have to take it and that’s how I transitioned.

AL: What was your first impression of the Ramones?
MM: When I first saw them I was playing in bands that did three part harmonies and had already done some album work myself. At the beginning the band was incredibly raw. I didn’t like them.  They had to develop and grow which took them awhile. That wasn’t my kind of music to start with but working with them and watching them develop I got used to it and they grew on me.

AL: What was it like dealing with Johnny and some of the other stronger personalities in the group on a daily basis?
MM: John was a difficult personality however he kept everyone in line and was very good at that. John had a very good business sense. We weren’t really friends but we were co-workers. I was more friends with Joey and the other guys as John kept to himself around me. Its part of the tour manager’s job to be able to not only handle the personalities of the band but also those of the crew as well. The tour manager has double the people he has to account for. That was a big part of the reason I wrote the book was to show both sides of what I was dealing with on a daily basis.

AL: Did you notice a big shift in the band with the addition of members like Marky, CJ and Richie?
MM: Most of the changes that happened were very good. There have been eight different Ramones but basically the members dealt with the changes and tried integrating the new members as best as possible. Guys like CJ filled some remarkably big shoes helped elevate the band to the next level. Richie was another guy that was a great addition to the band as he wrote songs and sang. It was terrific. Sadly he left on a bad note which I have the whole story about that in my book.

AL: How did the idea for your book “On the Road with the Ramones” initially come about?
MM: People kept coming to me and telling me to write a book. I’m not a writer so I didn’t think there was any way I was going to do something like this. Joey had released a solo album on Sanctuary records and at the time they were doing publishing as well. They dragged me in to this thing and gave me a ghost writer by the name of Frank Meyer. Frank was a huge fan of the band and is a great writer so when he came in things just fell in to place and I ended up giving him a co-writing credit because he did such a great job. When we started I didn’t know how things were going to turn out. I submitted around 250 images for the book and they all made it in which is very rare for a biography. I have a room full of stuff and they let me put in all of this stuff. The book had a great art director so when you look at the pages everything just flows together. I am very happy how it turned out.

AL: Do you have plans to release another update anytime soon for your book?
MM: I have done one update already so fans who haven’t got the book yet will want to make sure they get the updated version as it has everything in there. Lately I have been focusing on releasing the book in different languages. We are currently working on our 7th language right now which is going to be in Italian. It’s great to be able to spread the book out around the whole world.

AL: With a lot of the recent commercialization of the band do you feel they would still be around today recording and touring had Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey not passed away?
MM: I think it’s great that stuff like the t-shirts and what not is available. The Ramones were never against commercialization which is why they tried so many different producers. They wanted to make money. The band just tried so hard to make it through out their career. After Joey’s death, the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and then Johnny and Dee Dee’s deaths the Ramones have become bigger than ever. If the Ramones were this big when I was working with them I would have gotten a raise. (Laughs) They are iconic and it’s a shame that they all can’t see this.  I think if they were all around and in good health they still would be playing. They probably would have played passed 1996 just how far though I don’t know. Joey was not in the greatest of health at the time they decided to call it quits and Johnny figured if Joey wasn’t going to be in good health then he would quit also while he was ahead. They had tons of offers to keep the band going.

AL: Looking back on the bands 40 years of existence/history what is your fondest memory and have there been any talks of a 40th anniversary celebration?
MM: That’s another reason I wrote the book was to tell all of those fond and not so fond memories. There was a lot of stuff going on during 22 years on the road. I loved traveling and seeing the world. After awhile the band got big enough to where traveling became comfortable because in the beginning it was not always the easiest. I miss being out there and experiencing all of the different cultures. As for celebrations I haven’t heard of anything yet. Joey’s brother Mickey has his Birthday Bashes in New York and Linda, Johnny’s wife has her thing in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery where Dee Dee is buried and they have the statue of John. I am not sure what else they could really do.

Dren McDonald talks video game music and his band The String Arcade

Dren McDonald is a musician/composer since and runs the website, nerdtracks. He currently also creates music and sound design for video games. Recently he came together to form a band, The String Arcade, and has an album coming out on February 11th. “The String Arcade” spans a few decades in video game history from arcade classics including “Galaga”, “TRON” to 8-bit eras with “Legend of Zelda” to more recent hits with “Portal 2” and “Minecraft”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat video games with Dren and his album.

Mike Gencarelli: How did The String Arcade come together?
Dren McDonald: The creation of The String Arcade didn’t come from one singular “really big idea”, but more like a recipe of several idea ingredients that came together at the right time. The initial spark came from a personal challenge. After working on a lot of client music for the past few years, I wanted to really work on a project that was meaningful to me and that reflected the idea “what music would I make right now, if I could make anything”. Clearly I wasn’t thinking about doing an album of cover songs with that initial thought.

However I’d always been completely obsessed with the music from the film Stranger Than Paradise, by John Lurie. I bought the soundtrack album back when the film came out, hoping that the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tune, “I Put a Spell on You” would be on there. It wasn’t. But the first side of the record was the entire string quartet soundtrack from the film, and it’s one of the few pieces of music that I continue to listen over the years, ever since the first listen. So I wanted to do something like Stranger Than Paradise: a bunch of string quartet music.

So I started working on this idea, and the first tune I completed was ” Optimism For an Improvement in The John Situation” (a reference to the fact that Lurie hasn’t been playing/writing music due to an illness). This tune served as a blueprint for the other music, and I began to start rearranging some of my own music from games…and in all cases, appending and expanding all of those pieces with the intention of having them played by musicians.

Concurrently, a local project called the Alameda Music Project (alamedamusicproject.org) was starting to raise funds in order to begin their after school music program, a K-5 El Sistema based classical music program with strings, chorus and percussion. So we decided to make this ‘recording project’ a fundraiser, with all sales going to support the new music program. But a CD of all Dren McDonald chamber music wasn’t going to move the fundraising needle too much, so more thought was put into the project.

I started listening closely to some of my favorite game music from my youth (Altered Beast, Legend of Zelda, Galaga) and wondered how those might sound if arranged for string quartet. And how might they sound by using Stranger Than Paradise as a model for the mood? It was a clash of very disparate worlds, but the juxtaposition was one that got my musical brain excited. Soon after we launched the Kickstarter.

MG: How did you choose which games and specific songs where chosen for the album?
DM: I chose games that 1) I was a fan of, 2) that I could see fitting into this musical blueprint some way, so that the recording didn’t come off as a novelty album and 3) games that would reach out to kids with the hopes that they’d be inspired to play music. The recording is a fundraiser for a music program, so some thought was given to the song selection with that in mind as well.

Back to this “musical blueprint” idea, I did want to pick songs that would lend themselves towards being moved, twisted, rearranged and manipulated in a way that spoke to me. Really creative music arranging can be just as rewarding as composition, (in some of these charts there’s a lot of added composition), so I didn’t want to simply ‘cover’ the music, but inject it with emotions or musical turns that moved me.

MG: What is it about 8-bit games and their music that still resonates today?
DM: Sometimes we hear discussions about how 8-bit or 16-bit games had more memorable music than games of our current generation, and I think that’s largely due to the fact that game design has changed so radically due to technology. With the NES, you basically had music or you didn’t. There was no ‘ambience’ really, so it was on or off. So it ‘had’ to be memorable, or catchy so that it wouldn’t make us insane while we played. So if we played Legend of Zelda, or Ecco or Altered Beast in our youth, that music has definitely carved a way into our brains and made a home there. Last year I remember play the Tron arcade machine, which I hadn’t played in many years, and was astounded at how well I remembered all of the little musical pieces that played during game play (especially when you die!). I’m no psychologist, but I think there’s something about that association with a game that comes from playing it, and having a great experience that sticks with you. Hearing the music outside of the context might just bring back those good feelings.

MG: What games didn’t make the cut from this album?
DM: There are certainly games with wonderful soundtracks that I love that I considered…Journey, Dear Esther, Bioshock (1). But I didn’t feel like the contribution that I might make to that music would resonate. As I said, I wanted run these tunes thru my ‘blueprint’ and after thinking about some of this other music, I’m not sure I would have been successful with that approach. When you are interpreting music that had been previously represented by synth or chip sounds, there is a little more freedom there. Even in the case of something like Outlaws or Plants Vs Zombies, the change in instrumentation and musical style was enough to unlock that freedom. Those other soundtracks I mentioned were already created with live string players, so any attempt to cover them in the manner that I approached the other music would have probably fallen flat. Listeners have already heard those soundtracks with strings, and a ‘new’ version would likely be judged as an inferior one.

MG: Tell us about what happens with the proceeds of the album?
DM: 100% of the proceeds goes to the Alameda Music Project (alamedamusicproject.org) with is an after school, K-5 music program for strings, percussion and chorus. It’s a tuition-free program in a Title 1 school, so that kids who might not be able to afford to study music, will have that chance. It’s 5 days a week, after school care (homework, snacks and music) and it’s based on the El Sistema model, which was the music program that began in Venezuela 40 years. The same program that Gustavo Dudamel (creative director/conductor of the LA Phil) had gone thru as a child.

MG: Can we expect follow-up albums or a tour in the future?
DM: Good question! There are no tour plans, but depending on how this record does, and how the music program does this year I’m sure we’d love to do a follow up. There will be a CD release party, with the quartet, and lots of video games to play (include arcade machines, old consoles and several indie game studios who will be there showing their games.) That is March 7th at Rhythmix in Alameda, CA and we are planning to stream video from that show as well. We’ll put details on thestringarcade.com

Michael Orlando talks about new band The Killing Lights and 2014 UK tour

Michael Orlando is the founder and lead singer of band The Killing Lights, which was formerly Vampires Everywhere! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael to talk about the band’s new name and their upcoming 2014 tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you explain the name change from Vampires Everywhere! to “The Killing Lights?
Michael Orlando: I felt it was time to move on. VE was my brainchild for over 4 years and through it i got to meet so many amazing fans & people. However, over the last 4 years I have grown as an artist and as a person. I am definitely not the same person I was 4 years ago haha. I’m definitely more positive and I feel my eyes are now open to the world around me. The Killing Lights brings a measure of closure to both the person I was & the horrid events I went through. TKL represents the new me and my new hopes and dreams.

MG: Do you feel fans of the band will be confused at all by the change?
MO: At first this was my greatest concern! I had many anxiety attacks about the name change and leaving a project I had built from the ground up! However, my fans are amazing and have embraced the change with open arms! I have recently changed back to my birth name Michael Orlando as well. Fans really seem to respect the fact that I did this name change & I love them for it! I am sure things will continue to be a bit confusing but over time everyone will eventually catch on! I have to stay true to myself and what I believe in.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new line up?
MO: The Killing Lights consists of myself on vocals, DJ Black on Guitar, Frankie Sil on Bass, & Joshua Ingram on Drums. I am beyond happy to be surrounded by talented determined individuals that can see the big picture. We have been working hard to make sure everything is true to our heart and Rock n’ Roll!

AL: Can we expect any other stylistic/musical changes with the band?
MO: With VE we were overly theatrical and prided ourselves on making a statement. TKL is way different both musically and stylistically! We are basically being ourselves. We don’t go out of our way to be “Rock n’ Roll” we just bring ourselves as we look everyday. Whether that’s a bit of the 90’s or a bit of the 80’s it is who we are and what we represent. You can expect rock n’ roll music from rock n’ roll people.

AL: What does the band have currently scheduled for 2014?
MO: There is so much going on with TKL! As of now we are gearing up for our first UK Tour in February! I am so excited to finally meet my UK fans and show them the new band. We also plan on releasing a music video and a couple of singles. There is so much in the works and I couldn’t be more happy about whats going on!

Richie Kotzen talks about new band The Winery Dogs and debut album

Richie Kotzen is a singer/guitarist who along with an impressive solo career has played with bands such as Poison and Mr. Big. Kotzens newest endeavor is the trio known as The Winery Dogs which along with Kotzen consists of Billy Sheehan on bass and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. Together the trio is set to release their debut album titled “The Winery Dogs” and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Richie about the album and the group’s formation.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the formation of the Winery Dogs?
Richie Kotzen: I had gotten a phone call from Eddie Trunk who I have been friends with for a few years now. He called to tell me that Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan were looking to start a power trio and that he mentioned my name. The guys were in to it so we got together and did some jamming. From jamming together we came up with ideas that would turn into songs that appear on the record.

AL: What was that first jam session like for everyone?
RK: I have known Billy for 20 years now so it was familiar territory with him. Mike and I hit it off right away when we met and we just started jamming in my studio. We started playing and creating these ideas that I recorded. From there we went our separate ways for awhile. I went back and listened to what we had done and sang on a couple and added a few other things. I sent them off to the guys to listen to and they liked them so we decided to see things through. We did this a few times and that developed into an album.

AL: What is your take on the power trio?
RK: This has been the standard for me since I started making solo records. For the most part I have always played in that type of format and I am very comfortable playing in that type of scenario.

AL: From a tonal stand point did you try anything different with this recording?
RK: I don’t think so. What your hearing on the record is the collaboration of what we sound like when we are together writing. No one’s identity got lost on this record which is something that I think is really cool. When you listen to it you know who’s who and it’s really great. Yes the record is a collaboration but it still sounds like us as individuals.

AL: The songs on the album are very accessible. Was this done on purpose or did it happen naturally?
RK: That’s kind of my nature being a singer/guitarist. Everything I am involved in revolves around the vocals. When you add the fact I am playing guitar while I’m singing I probably won’t be shredding at the same time. That’s not to say the record doesn’t have shredding elements to it. The crazier lines that you do hear came out of improvisation. A lot of times Billy and Mike would start improvising parts and I would go back and listen to the r ecordings and either double what Billy was doing or something along those lines. When it was all done we had this track that sounded like we spent a lot of time orchestrating it. Things were very much improvised and I like the spirit of that.

AL: Being both a singer and guitarist do you find your approach to songwriting favoring one or the other?
RK: The song always comes down to the vocals. It’s the lyric and the melody. Everything is built from that at least in the style of music I perform. When you strip everything down the melody is the song. Anything else you put in a song can be altered or changed be it by using different chords against the melody or what have you. In the end that melody is what it is.

AL: What are the group’s tour plans for the release?
RK: We are doing our first show in Osaka, Japan. Then we have two shows in Tokyo before heading to South America. After we play Brazil and Chile we will be playing in New York and a few other places on the east coast. After a little break we head over to Europe for about 3 weeks and then were back in the states to hit the west coast.

DVD Review "Charles Band Presents: Death Comes in 3s – 9 Film Collection"

Actors: Gary Busey, Tim Thomerson, Trent Haaga, Logan Alexander, Debbie Rochon, Angeles Vargas, Jackie Beat, K-Von Moezzi, Robin Sydney, Selene Luna, Tracy Scoggins
Directors: Charles Band, Peter Manogian, Sylvia St. Croix, William Butler, Craig Ross, Tammi Sutton, John Lechago
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R / Not Rated
Studio: Echo Bridge Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 5, 2013
Run Time: 671 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I don’t know what it is about Charles Band and his crazy movies at Full Moon but they always draw me in.  I have been a fan of these films since I was tall enough (and probably too young) to see them on the video store shelves. This collection comes with nine horror films from three different franchises: Demonic Toys, The Gingerdead Man and Killjoy series. I mean how can you say no to killer toys, cookies and demon clowns? It is really a no-brainer if you are a fan of cheesy yet fun horror films.

Includes the films “Demonic Toys”, “Demonic Toys 2”, “Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys”, “The Gingerdead Man”, “Gingerdead Man 2: Passion Of The Crust”, “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver”, “Killjoy”, “Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil” and “Killjoy 3”. The main concern I have with this release is that it is technically not complete. “Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys” was released in 2004 and is not included here but that is most likely due to the fact that Echo Bridge does not own rights. Also missing is the new “Killjoy Goes to Hell”, which was just released late last year. Nonetheless, it still contains some very fun films and is a real great collection for any fan of Full Moon and Charles Band’s madness.

DEMONIC TOYS: A botched bust on a pair of arms dealers inadvertently leads to the awakening of a demon with the power to bring toys to life as his personal minions. DEMONIC TOYS 2: When an oddball group of characters gather to inspect an ancient puppet, strange things begin to happen. DOLLMAN VS. DEMONIC TOYS: Officer Judith Gray seeks the help of miniature-sized cop, Brick Bardo, and his equally small girlfriend, Nurse Ginger, when she runs into trouble with the evil Toys.

THE GINGERDEAD MAN: When the ashes of a deranged killer make their way into a secret gingerbread cookie mix, a mini-murderer is born. THE GINGERDEAD MAN 2: THE PASSION OF THE CRUST: The deranged cookie murderer “The Gingerdead Man” crashes a movie studio and leaves behind a trail of bloody murder and hilarious mayhem. THE GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER: The Gingerdead Man travels back in time to a 1976 roller-boogie contest where he causes more chaos than ever before.

KILLJOY: When an outcast is bullied to death, a killer clown exacts revenge in his honor. His name is Killjoy and he thinks murder is a laughing matter. KILLJOY 2: On a wilderness rehabilitation trip, a group of at-risk youth find themselves in the home of a voodoo woman where Killjoy’s spirit is summoned. KILLJOY 3: A group of unsuspecting college students accidentally open the portal to Killjoy’s demon realm and get trapped in a strange funhouse world with the killer clown and his friends.

When it comes to the “Demonic Toys” series, I have always enjoyed each film equally. They are all micro-budgeted but I love the use of the puppets throughout.  The first is the best in the series but I do have a special place for “Dollman vs. Demonic Toys”, even though it is barely an hour and focuses a lot of flashbacks.  The “Dollman” series has always been one of my favorites and it is fun to see him go against these killer toys! “The Gingerdead Man” is something that cannot enough be described to anyone without being looked at funny.  For this series, the best film is the first – did I mention that Gary Busey stars in this?  The second and third are both fun but very silly and over-the-top but don’t forget we are talking about a killer gingerbread man. Lastly, the “Killjoy” is a lot of fun.  Who isn’t afraid of clowns…even just a little.  Killjoy is a great character.  The first one is also the best but the second and third are a whole lot of fun as well.

Echo Bridge packed all nine of these films onto to two DVDs, which is quite a lot and I feel that the films themselves do suffer a bit.  “Demonic Toys 2” is a pretty rough copy of the film, probably the worst of the bunch.  It has a lot of transfer issues throughout. Though that is kind of expected these are not high-def films and where shot very low-budget. Besides the nine films, there are no other special features included on this release but that is expected with a massive 9-film collection like this.  Is it worth the price of less than $15? You bet you ass! Don’t miss this release for sure!

Kevin J. Anderson talks about working with the band Rush on the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”

Kevin J. Anderson is the co-author of the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”, which is based on the band Rush’s latest album. The novelization is co-written with Neil Peart, who is the drummer and lyricist for the band. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about this collaboration and his work with Rush.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up collaborating with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart on “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Neil and I have been friends since around 1990; I’ve always been a Rush fan, and he reads my novels. My first novel, Resurrection, Inc., was inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure. Over the years we’ve toyed with the idea of doing a novel/album crossover project, but the stories and the schedules never synched up. As Clockwork Angels began to take shape, though, it had that right set of ingredients. As he developed the story for the songs, he suggested that I do the novel.

MG: Since Neil wrote “Clockwork Angels” as a concept album, did that make the adapting process easier?
KJA: He’s always given me props for my worldbuilding skills, and when he started putting the songs and the story together, he turned me loose to let me develop the world, to see how the pieces fit together (like “Clockwork,” naturally!). Neil had most of the framework for the story, which is set out in the songs, but I helped connect the dots, added extra characters, fleshed out the scenes. But I didn’t change anything in the album or the songs—Neil wrote what he wanted to write, and I developed a story that captured it as best I could.

MG: What was your inspiration for the dystopian fiction featured in the story?
KJA: Oddly, we consider this a “nice” sort of dystopia. Yes, the Watchmaker controls a lot of people’s lives, which is a bad thing if you’re a square peg and the rest of the world is made of round holes, but for the vast majority of the population, this really is an idyllic sort of world. But our character is a dreamer and wants something more.

MG: How did you end up merging this story with the steampunk subgenre?
I’ve been writing steampunk since 1989 (before the term was ever invented, I think), and Neil liked that aspect. He had the idea of a steampunk motif from the very beginning, and it was always part of the canvas as the story and music took shape.

MG: Tell us about your work with artist Hugh Syme?
KJA: Hugh had already done some of the paintings for the CD booklet before I started writing. I used his artwork for details and inspiration, and he read the drafts of some scenes as I delivered them. Hugh had an uncanny knack for taking a detail or a metaphor at the core of the story (something even I didn’t realize) and pulling it to the surface, which would send me back to the draft to emphasize that part and add new scenes. We worked closely together for the illustrated booklet that accompanies the unabridged audiobook (which Neil Peart narrates), Hugh and I getting the finished content, design, and layout done for Brilliance Audio in only a few days!

MG: I think that this novel would make a great movie…(Hint Hint)!
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Some movie producer has to get that idea in his or her head!

MG: Do you feel that there will ever been another additional chapter to this story?
KJA: Not as an endless series of book after book. But Neil and I love the world and the characters, and we feel that some of the side tales might be worth exploring. Not in the immediate future, though. I have two massive books I’m writing, and Rush has this tour thing they’re on…

MG: What is your favorite song on the album “Clockwork Angels”?
KJA: It often changes as I keep listening to the album. Right now, the one that seems closest to my heart is “Headlong Flight,” which means so much to the story and means so much to me about my life.

MG: What do you have planned next? Any plans to work with Rush again?
KJA: Right now I am editing MENTATS OF DUNE with Brian Herbert, my next major novel in that series, and I am beginning a new trilogy in my gigantic “Seven Suns” universe, THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS. It’ll probably be a thousand pages long, and as of today I hit the halfway point! And I have two other novels ready to be cued up in the new year. It’s too soon to think about doing anything else with Rush —they’ll be touring for quite some time yet.