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

Bassist Pete Griffin talks Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and their “The Walking Dead” connection.

Pete Griffin is a Grammy Award-winning bassist who has worked with everyone from Dweezil Zappa and Steve Vai to Edgar Winter and Dethklok. Griffin’s latest musical endeavor is that of Giraffe Tongue Orchestra a group whose members also include Brent Hinds of Mastodon, Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan and William DuVall of Alice In Chains. The group released their debut album titled “Broken Lines” in September and is hitting the road this month in support of the release. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Pete recently about the bands formation, the creation of the album and what fans can expect from the upcoming tour.

Adam Lawton: How did the group initially come together and what is the story behind its unique name?

Pete Griffin: Ben and Brent had been touring together off and on for a decade with their respective bands Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon. Even though their sounds are a bit different there groups are both heavy and are very forward thinking. They have been friends and co-workers for some time. Those guys started kicking ideas back and forth and they ended up being better than the average ideas one might pass along. This all started back about eight years ago. The idea for the group has been around for some times and there have been various rhythm sections and recording sessions that didn’t yield any solid results. Last year I got a text from Brent after meeting him while I was out with Dweezil Zappa. I got asked to come and jam with those guys and we started working on a song that would end up being titled “Crucifixion”. They had already started working on things before I got there so I just walked in and just started going. It was at that moment that I think we all agreed there was something there. A month later we tracked the rest of the record with no vocalist. During that time Ben and I were having some pretty hilarious text messages back and forth about who we should get to sing. We were throwing out names like Sting and Paul McCartney which were just pipedream ideas. Around this same time Brent ran in to William in Atlanta and asked him if he would be interested in doing the record. The name of the group was already in place by the time I came along. I think it was one of those flash in the pan ideas where they saw a nature documentary about giraffes and you got to have a band name so there you go. On the flip side you have the abbreviation GTO which when you read it often gives people thoughts of the muscle car which is a hard driving automobile. I think that is a pretty accurate description of our sound as well so in a silly backhanded way it became a good moniker for us.

AL: Are the songs that make up “Broken Lines” ones that were already put together before you joined the group or is this an entirely new group of tracks?

PG: About seventy five percent of the songs were blocked out before I came in. The parts were all there but the bass lines may have needed some tweaking. We also may have done some arrangement changes but Ben had demos for three quarters of the album. When we got together we wrote three more songs as a band and things went from there. The last song we did was put together from three different jams we had recorded. We came up with a way to put them all together and make them work as one song. The interesting thing about that was going back and learning that song in its new form. Now that we have done it a few times its one of the more fun songs to play as it jumps around quite a bit.

AL: The group made some ties recently to “The Walking Dead” television series can you tells us how that all happened?

PG: Bear McCreary who is the composer on the show is a good friend of mine. I have worked with Bear for many years now on a number of his other projects. Have yet to work on “The Walking Dead” but I have done stuff for “Black Sails” and a bunch of other movie score stuff. I had let some of my music friends know about the new album when it came out so they could check it out and a couple weeks letter Bear made a post telling people to go check it out as well. It was cool to get the praise from him.

AL: What can fans anticipate from the upcoming live shows?

PG: So far I know we are going to be performing the full record. With the record being only forty five minutes I am sure we are going to be looking to add some other material or do some extended jamming but we will have to see. At this point we are still experimenting with who we are live. We did two festival shows in England but other than that this is all still very new. It’s definitely going to be a great show though every night we get up there. I am really excited to get things going. A couple days before the tour starts we are all heading out to Ben’s in New Jersey to put everything together so it’s going to be a lot of fun.

AL: This tour runs through mid-December. Have there been any talks of what you and the band have planned for the remainder of the year and into 2017?

PG: Currently after December there isn’t anything else booked for Giraffe Tongue. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything else as I would love to keep doing this but nothing is scheduled for right now. Personally for me after this tour wraps up I have a pretty quite rest of the year. Going in to next year I will be working with Paul Gilbert in January and February as we will be going down to Brazil which I am definitely excited for. Ben will be out with Dillinger in Europe promoting their last album and Brent has a new album with Mastodon coming out. It’s going to be a busy 2017 for all of us. That’s something fans should consider when thinking about coming to see Giraffe Tongue Orchestra is this could one of the few times you will get to this project live. That fact also will make the shows even more special.

Bassist Ricky Phillips talks working with Styx, Reo Speedwagon and Ted Nugent

Ricky Phillips is no stranger to world of rock music. Over his 30+ year career Phillips has played bass for a number of successful groups. He is probably best known for holding down the low end for the legendary classic rock band Styx. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Ricky recently about the bands current tour with Reo Speedwagon and Ted Nugent as well as about the bands recent Blu-Ray release titled “Styx: Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight- Live”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the bands current tour with Reo Speedwagon and Ted Nugent?
Ricky Phillips: Both Styx and Reo Speedwagon have some incredible history that goes way back. We are both from Illinois and have toured together before but this is the first one we have done together in about 3 or 4 years. We did do some one off shows here and there but the idea came up to put us together and have Ted Nugent open. It is sort of a collaboration of Mid-West rock bands. The attendance at these shows has just been amazing. When you go out each year you never know what the shows will be like. The first leg of the tour went well and was sort of business as usual. This second leg has been sold out every night which just blew us away. It’s really crazy how it’s caught on. This success may lead to us doing a similar tour sometime next year. The fans seem to really enjoy the line up and if you think about it each group is quite different so we are trying to put a different slant on mid-west rock.

AL: What has been the biggest difference in the crowds as of late?
RP: There are so many young people now that have discovered classic rock bands. They seem to be at a point in their music listening lives where they are looking for what came before. We are those guys. When I and the rest of the guys in the band were younger and at this point we were heavily influenced by the British music movement. From there we looked back and found artists like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Guys like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were into these acts so we started searching them out as well. It is pretty cool seeing these new young faces as they watch and sing along. We have a great cross section of fans.

AL: Can you tell us about the DVD/Blu-Ray the band recently released?
RP: The “Styx: Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight- Live” came out really great. The Blu-Ray did amazing and I couldn’t believe how many people were waiting for that. I think we were actually number 2 in sales for the first couple weeks on Amazon.com. Those two albums go together so well that the discs came out beautifully. Doing those shows was like going back the vinyl era where you dropped the needle and boom the music kicks in. We did each album in its entirety the way it was recorded so fans could have that feeling of knowing what the next song is. They could get wrapped up in the songs. We would then take an intermission and come back and play “Pieces of Eight”. It was just so much fun. When we first did those records and you were trying to get them on the radio you would pack one side with what you thought were going to be the hits. You were trying to foresee the future. When you do a live concert things are exactly the opposite. You generally start with the B cuts then the hits and close out with your encores. It was a bizarre way to do a live show like an album but it seemed to work really well. The Blu-Ray version of the show is definitely the way to see it.

AL: Was it hard going back and playing some of the material that you hadn’t played in awhile?
RP: At first it was a little tough. We worked pretty hard on the material and once we got in to it we knew we weren’t turning back. We did a lot of switching off between vocals parts as there are just so many stacked vocal parts on those albums. We even threw a microphone back to our drummer Todd Sucherman who is a great singer. Getting those extra voices were crucial and probably the biggest challenge. We like challenges like that and we welcomed it. Things turned out really well.

AL: VH1 recently did a re-mastered episode of the “Styx: Behind the Music” episode. What was it like having to delve once again back in to the bands history?
RP: Personally I am not a fan of those kinds of shows. I am a bit of a weirdo. I don’t like people knowing my bands business. I liked the concept of not knowing about a band until you went and saw them live. You might see a picture or two of a band in a magazine or something but that was about it. I loved that mystique. Watching these types of shows is a little difficult. I know fans like them and we are in a different age now. With reality television and things I guess these types of shows fit right in. The episode is pretty well represented I think. They shot some footage of me while I was in England and I was a little afraid to watch the show. After seeing I thought it was good and gladthat it was out there for fans to see how the band came about and how we have evolved.

AL: What other plans are in the works for the band?
RP: The band will continue to tour and live its daily life. As that happens things are always evolving and stuff start to tell their own stories. We have been writing new material and talking about getting it recorded for some time. I have started to hear more and more about it as of late. We may find some time in our schedules to actually do that. For us it’s really about the touring business. After this tour wraps up I think we have about a week off and then we go back out doing “An Evening with Styx”. I kind of know what parts of the country we will be in but I don’t know the exact venues.