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/

Book Review: “I Am Brian Wilson”

“I Am Brian Wilson”
Author: Brian Wilson w/ Ben Greenman
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 307 pages

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

In October Da Capo press released “I Am Brian Wilson” the in-depth story of Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson. Together with writer Ben Greenman the enigmatic Wilson documents the poetic lyricism, inspiration and creativity behind his vast discography while at the same time showing a man who is over-time coming to terms with his past.

After reading just one chapter of “I Am Brian Wilson” I wanted more. Over the course of the books 307 pages Wilson and Greenman delve deeper than anyone has ever been as they recount the life and times of one of music’s most reclusive figures. This book is simply not a tell-all as it relates to the Beach Boys. Though that might disappoint some readers for others it will be a breath of fresh air and shine the light on a number of areas related to Wilson and his music. The writer is extremely candid about all subjects ranging to his relationships with Beach Boy members past and present, the failed and subsequent revival of the album “SMiLE” and also about his long struggle with mental illness. No stone is left unturned as the man who penned such classics as “I Get Around”, Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Good Vibrations” talks about some of his biggest insecurities and how he has been able to battle his internal demons during several rough patches in an effort to be able to keep doing what he loves to do.

You aren’t going to find any other story like that of Brian Wilson’s. Very rarely if ever will you find a person with Brian’s notoriety be as truthful and forth coming as he is in this book. “I Am Brian Wilson” is an emotional roller coaster for both the story teller and the reader making this one ride that is definitely worth the price of admission.

CD Review: Brian Fallon “Painkillers”

“Painkillers”
Brian Fallon
Island
Producer: Butch Walker
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Gaslight Anthem front-man Brian Fallon steps into the solo spotlight with his debut release titled “Painkillers”. The album which is being released via Island Records features 12 brand new tracks from the Springsteen esk front-man which were produced by Butch Walker (Weezer, Fall Out Boy).

Brain Fallon’s first attempt as a solo artist comes off completely genuine and harkens back to the singer/songwriter era of the early 60’s but with a modern twist. Tracks such as the albums opener “A Wonderful Life” and the title track “Painkillers” are similar enough to Fallon’s previous work with his band The Gaslight Anthem that they will appeal not only to long time fans but also usher in a new fan base for the charismatic singer. Other tracks worth mentioning are the gravelly voiced “Smoke” with its jangly guitars and sing-a-long choruses to the upbeat “Rosemary” which is one of the few songs on the album to feature electric guitar and provides a nice break up mid way through the album which is almost entirely acoustic. Along with Fallon the album features some great performances by Brian’s backing band consisting of Mark Stepro-drums, Catherie Popper-bass, Alex Rosamilia-piano, Josh Keller-pedal steel guitar and Butch Walker who along with his producer duties lends his hand playing a variety of different odds and ends instruments.

When a debut solo album comes out and is as strong as one such as “Painkillers” it makes me wonder if the artist left any ground to cover for future albums. With the diversity shown by Fallon and company that question was quickly answered as the album runs the gambit of music styles which will certainly help pave the way for future releases from the seasoned front man.

Track Listing:


1.) A Wonderful Life
2.) Painkillers
3.) Among Other Foolish Things
4.) Smoke
5.) Steve McQueen
6.) Nobody Wins
7.) Rosemary
8.) Red Lights
9.) Long Drives
10.) Honey Magnolia
11.) Mojo Hand
12.) Open All Night

Brian Kevin talks about his book “The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America”

Brian Kevin is a writer who contributes to magazines, websites travel guidebooks. He is also the associate editor at Down East magazine and the author of “The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America”. Media Mikes had the chance to chat with Brian about his journey through South America and how Hunter S. Thompson inspired it.

Mike Gencarelli: When did you first find the work of Hunter S. Thompson?
Brian Kevin: I came to Thompson via Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas back in 1998, which I think is true of a lot of people my age (I’m 34). In the book, I describe the film as kind of a dorm room standard during the late ’90s, when I was a college student, and I’ve since praised it in other forums (http://goo.gl/kL3jl2) as really one of the more faithful literary adaptations in recent cinema. So that kind of piqued my interest in Thompson’s work — who the fuck is this guy? what could this possibly look like on the page? — and I spent the next couple years catching up on the Thompson canon.

MG: Tell us what made you decided to take this yearlong journey across South America?
BK: I’d read enough to know that Thompson had spent this year abroad in the early 1960s, reporting on Cold War issues from South America, and it occurred to me this must have been a pretty pivotal time in the life of a writer I admired. But for all the unauthorized biographies and oral histories and documentaries and other materials out there about Thompson’s life and work (particularly after his death in 2005), his year as a foreign correspondent hardly warranted a mention. I was curious enough to dig through a couple of microfiche archives and unearth the articles he wrote from South America, most of which hadn’t seen the light of day for fifty years. The more I looked into it, the more I admired Thompson’s gall for just up and hitting the road, trying to will himself a writing career. I had kind of gone a safer route — some entry-level magazine jobs, then grad school — and I was feeling like it hadn’t gotten me anywhere. Around the same time I was digging up Thompson’s forgotten South American reportage, I suddenly found myself divorced, functionally unemployed, and sitting on a mountain of student loan debt. So I did the only rational thing and traded in a bunch of frequent fliers miles for a ticket to Colombia to follow the Thompson Trail.

MG: What was it like to revisit the places where HST lived and worked?
BK: A lot of people see the title of the book and kind of assume I was carousing my way across the continent in some kind of wanna-be-gonzo fog, but I actually couldn’t be less interested in that. To me, it was all fieldwork — I wanted to revisit the topics that Thompson wrote about for the National Observer fifty years ago and, in the process, get some insight into what he learned in South America that shaped him as a writer and a human being. For all his later gonzo persona, Thompson at 24 was whip smart and super disciplined about understanding the forces shaping Latin America during the Cold War. So traveling in his footsteps meant giving myself a crash course in Latin American history, culture, politics, and ecology. And yeah, that fieldwork sometimes involved drinking heavily with miners, capsizing a boat in Colombia, and patronizing a Paraguayan brothel (sort of), but it really was all in the name of education.

MG: What did you find was the most interesting find of your exploration of twenty-first-century South American culture, politics, and ecology?
BK: Well, the surprising thing was the extent to which the issues that Thompson reported on fifty years ago are still very much shaping the continent. Thompson wrote about Peru’s struggles to overcome a powerful political oligarchy, for example, and that’s still very much the story of Peruvian politics today. He wrote about Brazil as this sleeping giant shackled by inflation, and fifty years later, that’s still arguably the biggest economic story playing out in South America. He more or less predicted the rise of the FARC in Colombia and the ascendancy of cambas in eastern Bolivia and a bunch of other story lines that are still unraveling in 2014. In a nutshell, the interesting thing in country after country was how present the ghosts of the Cold War still are — and that made Thompson’s ghost feel very present as well.

MG: Do you feel that you yourself have changed after this exploration?
BK: You know, I reflect on this a little in the book, and the answer is tricky. A lot of the book ends up being about travel itself — about the reasons people give themselves for picking up stakes and about their expectations of what they’ll come home with. Often, this includes some kind of transformation. People want to come home changed in some profound way, and I’m not convinced this isn’t kind of a bullshit goalpost. My time on the Thompson Trail gave me an education, which is really what we should be after anyway.

MG: What do you think it takes to be a “gonzo journalist” in today’s world?
BK: I think this is a term that starts and ends with Thompson. I don’t think “gonzo journalism” is a form or a genre that a writer can just opt into. It’s one specific writer’s style — Thompson’s — and while it can certainly be imitated, the results are almost uniformly shitty. But I do think that the best nonfiction writers working today approach their subjects with the same fearlessness and unorthodoxy and humor and personal investment that were all critical components of “gonzo.”

MG: Do you have a follow up planned for “The Footloose American”?
BK: Yeah, there are a couple of projects in the hopper. One is a deep profile of this globetrotting, nineteenth-century Forrest Gump-type character who destroyed everything he touched, and the other is a sort of a combination road trip tale and education expose. I realize both of these sound a bit weird and cryptic, but you’ll just have to take my word that they’re fun and interesting, and I’ll be all for saying more when they’re a little farther along.

Brian Regan talks about his Summer Stand-Up Comedy Tour

Brian Regan started off in the comedy business after his 1997 CD, “Brian Regan Live” took off and became a huge success. Since then we have been non-stop touring, has worked with Jerry Seinfeld and has appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” over 25 times. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about up summer comedy tour, which makes a stop in Orlando FL on June 21st. and about his amazing career as a stand-up comedian.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your current tour this summer with upcoming stops in Orlando, FL?
Brian Regan: If people like music and dancing and comedy, come on out because I offer one third of that [laughs]. I never know how to sell my own show. It’s me just doing my comedy and that is kind of it. I love the simplicity of it. It is also fascinating to me being off stage before the show starts and you look out and see a microphone stand, a stool and a bottle of water…then you go “Wow, that’s it…that is all I got out there” [laughs]. The simplicity is beautiful and I love the challenge of it.

MG: What do you do to prepare for each show?
BR: I am not like some people that have a crazy routine they have to follow. I will re-tie my shoes though. I know it sounds goofy but the thought of having a shoe untied on stage kills me for some reason. I had a shoe untie when I was on stage a couple of years ago and it just felt incredible awkward, you know? I had to try and put the mic under my armpit and tie my shoe…and you have a thousand people watching you [laughing]. They are thinking “This is supposed to be entertainment…not watching a guy tie his shoe”. It just felt wrong.
MG: …Wow, I can’t believe that he double knots [laughs]
BR: [laughs] Yeah, maybe I should invest in those kids’ Velcro shoes or something, I don’t know.

MG: How do you blend your classic work with your new material when you perform a live show?
BR: When I first come out, I do about an hour and that is the most recent material from the last few years. This is the show that I am working on, so to speak, is the more recent stuff…the fresher stuff. Then usually, I will say “Goodnight” and then come back out and do a little encore. During that time, I might do a handful of bits that people are more familiar with and they will be able to shout out and so on. I like having that line in the sand to delineate between the two. It would be awkward for me to just do old bits. I would feel a little stale.

MG: I saw one of your shows a few years back and people kept calling out for classic bits…
BR: It is an interesting dilemma. I am honored that people know my stuff and want to hear it. My fans are very cool. They usually know that for my first hour they let me do my thing and they know they will have an opportunity at the end to shout out. You can get some people shouting out in the middle of the show “Do Donut Lady! Take Luck!” I usually just smile, nod and go back to my new stuff [laughing]. I try and nice guy it and usually they get the hint. Some people don’t get the hint and they keep yelling and then I have to tell them the process and how I will get back to that stuff once I plow through this new stuff. Then if they heckle a third time…I have them shot with a BAZOOKA! [laughs].

MG: Congrats on recently making your 26th appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman”, the most of any comedian; how does this feel for you?
BR: Thanks man, I am very honored by it. There was a day that I couldn’t even get on the show. I had auditioned a couple of times. They were intrigued but never pulled the trigger on me. When I did get on the show, it meant the world to me. Doing the one means everything and the moment you are done, you think “Wow, was it good enough to get a second” [laughs]. Automatically you have a new goal. It is like crossing the finish line at a marathon and wondering where the next 26 miles go to. I obviously did well enough that I was brought back a second time and I was able to just get some traction on that show. Clearly Letterman and the show seemed to like me and it just feels tremendous to have this constant national booster shot that I can get on the show about every nine months.

MG: Along with David Letterman, you have many big named celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld and Patton Oswalt praising your work; does that add any pressure to how to perform?
BR: Nah, listen I am incredibly honored by it. When you have people who do what you do like what you do. It is like the ultimate compliment. I don’t put any extra pressure on my shoulders. What is the expression…”you dance with the one that brung you”. I just do what I always done. I just try and come up with stuff that I think is funny. I just do my thing. What I like is turning the material over. To me, that is one of the thing that has really helped me along the ways. Every couple of years, I feel like I have another hour of material under my belt. So people tend to keep coming back. So I try not to worry about what other comedians will think. I am honored that they like what I do but I think they like what I do because I do what I want to do [laughs].

MG: How do you feel that stand-up has changed since starting back in the mid-90’s?
BR: The technical side of things have definitely changed. It gives the average Joe Blow out there in the entertainment world a fighting chance, especially if the powers that be aren’t inclined to give them a fighting chance. Back in the day when it was just TV, you needed to convince “The Late Show” or “The Tonight Show” that you were funny. Then getting on one of those, I am going way back here, was sort of being knighted. It put you into the forefront. Now things are much more fractured, there is many ways to get content out there. Anybody can tape themselves and put it up on YouTube. If they have some jets then they might be able to get some traction, which could lead to the higher ups taking notice. So for the most part it is good but there is just a sea of content out there and in some ways makes it harder to break through. There are a million people with a million clips.

Brian Henson talks about Syfy’s “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” and the Sequel to “Dark Crystal”

Brian Henson is the son of Jim Henson, creator of “The Muppets” and the current chairman of The Jim Henson Company. For years Brian has been working with his family in the company as a puppeteer in roles like Jack Pumpkinhead in “Return to Oz” and directing//producing “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “Muppet Treasure Island”. He was also behind the TV series “Farscape” as the Executive Producer. His latest venture is in reality TV on Syfy with the series “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge”, which is similar to other Syfy shows like “Face/Off”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about the TV show and also get the scoop on upcoming projects like “The Power of the Dark Crystal” and “Fraggle Rock: The Movie”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did the idea come about to do this show, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge?
Brian Henson: We were trying to think if there is a show that would make sense for The Jim Henson Company in the reality side of television programming. There aren’t many…because we are The Jim Henson Company. Almost everything we do has an element of fantasy or science-fiction in it. In many ways we are the opposite of reality. We make things that reflect on reality and allow you to objectively compare it to what we are presenting. But we decided that one area that is particularly exciting of our company is in the creature designing area. These artists, who are designing, conceiving and then building these creatures, really are like magic. They are extraordinary artists. We thought that doing a show around that aspect would be the most interesting area to the general audience. It is sort of like this secret world. There are no Academy Awards for creature designers. There are some creature designers who have won Academy Awards for costuming, make-up or special effects. Joe FREID, one of the Executive Producers, really shared the same enthusiasm in that area of our company and also has a strong background in reality TV programming. We went out to pitch it and Syfy loved it. We made it pretty close to the “Face/Off” format or even the “Project Runway” format. But what is different about it is that it is going into an area and a type of artist that is much different than anyone has ever seen. It is taking place in the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the prize really is a job with us.

MG: How do you come up with the challenges for the show like the first episode’s undersea creature?
BH: We basically kept making lists of creatures that we thought would be interesting. For season one, we said that none of the creatures should be allowed to use any compositing, puppeteer removal or some of the techniques that we would normally use in television or feature films. So that closed us up a little bit and kept us focused for season one. Then we had about 15-20 good ideas on the board and we basically produced what we thought was a good wide range of creatures. One thing that is great about creature making, which perhaps is not true of some of the cousins to our TV show, is they are very different depending on what kind of creature you are looking for and what kind of screen test you presenting at the end of the episode. It means that every episode is able to stand alone and be unique from the one before it, which is a lot of fun. You should also expect the challenges to be more and more ambitious as we go forward, which I think is pretty great.

MG: What are you feelings on CGI versus practical effects like puppet work?
BH: My take on it reflects my background and where I come from and where my dad came from, we are a performance oriented company. So what excites me is performing creatures and puppets. We do some CGI but we call it digital puppetry. The way we do CGI, is that we real-time animate 3D creatures using performers. So if it comes from performance and creating a real moment for the characters then that is what excites me and our company. So in that sense, I prefer the animatronic creatures to the CGI creatures. But that is also due to my background. If someone comes from key frame animation, they may prefer CGI to stop-action animation. But I think there is wonderful space for every technique. There is clearly a sacrifice you make when you decide to go CGI with a creature is that you are not actually creating a real moment that you then photograph. With most of our stuff besides the digital puppetry that we do, what you see has really been created and has been photographed and is now in the movie or TV show. It really happened and was really there. You can’t underestimate the value of that. It may mean that things are not quite as slick or accurate as CGI but it really happened and there is something really delicious and exciting about that. Certainly we have been seeing a big move towards CGI creatures but I think with films like “Where the Wild Things Are”, we are starting to see a movement back towards practical effects. But like I said there is definitely a space for both.

MG: I feel that this show actually brings this type of work back into the spotlight…
BH: Yeah, it’s been like a secret world. Nobody knows how these creatures are built and created. Nobody has done a show like this and it is really interesting watching them work.
MG: Yeah, one thing I would love to learn more about myself is the actual mechanics behind-the-scenes with these creatures.
BH: Well as you watch more of the series you will be more of that as well.

MG: Tell us about choosing your co-judges including Kurt Thatcher and Beth Hathaway?
BH: Initially we weren’t sure if we wanted to go with an all internal panel. Kurt is really an inside guy. Most of the work he has done in his career has been with our company. We wanted it to be as credible as possible because like I said the prize really is a job in the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Kurt is the type of person who would do the hiring along with me who would also be making those judgment calls. At a certain point, we realized it was just too much Henson. So we reached out to Beth Hathaway, who is also a very experienced creature builder but her background is along the lines of Stan Winston and Rick Baker. It was actually really fun bringing her in since she is kind of an outsider but we just love her. It was good having her point of views and opinions on the judging panel.

MG: What do you see that the future has planned for this type of practical effects and for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop?
BH: I think there is a lot of opportunity for us to do more creature work. I think we are coming out of a time where the industry has been in a flux. I think people are now starting to stabilize and spend more money for cool fantasy/science-fiction characters. I think you will start to see more practical effects…but probably mixed in with some CGI, which is like what “Where the Wild Things Are” was. I think the best creatures yet to come are going to be a little bit of everything used to bring that creature to life.

MG: Do you have any update on The Power of Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock movie?
BH: The truth is that it took me five years to get “Farscape” on the air. These things take time. Some of that time feels like you are just waiting around. There is a lot of things that need to come together in order to make these projects work. You need to have the right talent, financing and distribution partners. But I can tell you that these both in active development currently within our company. We are determined to get them made. It is big though and a lot of elements need to come together to get a movie made.

Photos courtesy of Syfy

Book Review “27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”

“27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”
Author: Howard Sounes
Hardcover: 360 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Named one of Publisher Weekly’s Top 10 Music Titles for Fall 2013 “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” written by Howard Sounes is a book that takes a look at music’s “27 Club” and the artists who comprise it. Told over the course of 360 pages Sounes looks not only at the artists lives but also at their deaths and from there attempts to compare the artists in an effort to find similarities in these 6 subjects.

When I received my copy of “27” I thought to myself why hadn’t someone thought of writing about this sooner? This so called “27 Club” isn’t just made up of meteoric artist who only experienced a flash of success. Instead the members of this club include influential musicians who during their careers impacted millions of listeners and helped shape their respective genre’s for years to come. The thing I enjoyed most about how Howard Sounes approached this rather speculative topic is fairly interesting. The book is broken in to two parts with the beginning chapters being devoted to the life of each musician and the chapters toward the end of the book relating the deaths of these individuals. It was kind of nice as having followed the careers of both Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse I was able to sort of jump around a little bit as a portion of the material here has been widely documented and I think I am still recovering from the media coverage of both these events even though they were some time ago now.

Those looking for definitive answers on what ultimately ties these musicians together in death might not be too surprised with the information contained in this book nor will the reader find a lot of new or undocumented information on the subjects as I don’t feel that was the authors intention with this book. Instead for the first time the information about these six people is available all in one place combined with one person’s perspective on the events which are surprisingly similar. Combine that with 16 pages eerily fitting black and white photography and “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” makes for an ok read.

Brian Tee talks about his roles in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2” and “The Wolverine”

Brian Tee worked on projects like “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and TV like “Grimm” and has a busy year a head of him. He is playing the role of Liu Kang “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2” and Noburo Mori in “The Wolverine”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about his roles and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you ended up taking on the role of Liu Kang “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2”?
Brian Tee: I heard about “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2,” while I was shooting “The Wolverine” in Australia. I knew of the Series through one of my best bro’s Ian Anthony Dale. He plays Scorpion in the “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” Trailer and in Season 1 & 2… he’s a brilliant actor and crushes it as the Scorpion. He’s perfect for the role. So I called him and asked about his experience on the shoot and working with Kevin Tancharoen. He had such high praise and I was already a huge fan of Kev’s work, so I had to be a part of it. BUT, I have to admit, at first I was like “hell no, I won’t play Liu Kang!” to be honest, as a kid popping quarters in the MK video game, I hated playing Liu. He just seemed to me to be a caricature of the stereotypical kung-fu guy. So when the role was brought up, I was the first person to think I wasn’t right for the role… I love playing characters with depth and complexities that at first glance, Liu never had… UNTIL, I read the script and talked to Kevin about it. The script blew me away and completely transformed Liu into something I’d love to sink my teeth into. And as we spoke, Kevin and I were on the same page, with what we wanted and didn’t want Kang to be. So with Kev’s genius vision we created this now anti-Hero character and took Liu to a completely new image and darker place, with the grounded visceral justice that this version of Liu Kang deserves.

MG: How did you prepare to play such an epic and important character?
BT:  Pleasantly surprised, this character really pushed me as an actor in so many ways, both emotionally and physically. Because you’re right, Liu Kang is an already iconic figure, so it’s harder for fans to relate to him. And that was my focus… I worked on connecting to the being, not the figure. I really wanted to delve deep within the soul of the man, not the image of character… Not to get too “actor-e,” I wanted to bring a grounded reality and create the person, not the persona… so that fan’s can connect to him as I did. Physically, I knew there were huge shoes to fill playing this epic character. I know I had to step up my game in order to successfully pull off what I wanted to withLiu, in the series. I was pretty adamant that I wanted to try to do the majority of the stunts the character demanded… but that respect is earned, not given. So I knew I had to prove myself. You don’t just go up to the greatest stunt coordinator in the game, Garrett Warren, and say “yeah, I can do that”… you have to work for it. So with the help of Garrett, the amazing stunt choreography Larnell Stovall created, my stunt double Kim Do training me personally, and along with some of the best stunt guys in the business… I had the good fortune to work my way into the fights, and be worthy enough to do the majority of them… which inevitably helped me embody Liu even more. I’m really proud of the Liu we created… and hope the fans enjoy him as much as I do!

MG: What can we expect from your episode in the web series?
BT:  I am actually in quite a few episodes throughout the series, but I’m really looking forward to episode 1. It’s the first of this season and sets the series off… so there is a lot riding on it. I know there are a lot of expectations from the fans out there considering how awesome Season 1 was. But I got gotta tell ya, I can’t wait for the fans to see whats in store this season. Episode 1 establishes Liu Kang like you have never seen him. I think it will go beyond the expectations they might be used to with Kang… because we completely turn this character upside down. And not to mention, the fight scene is just jaw dropping! This episode moves you in ways fan’s won’t soon forget and I hope will keep them wanting to come back for more!… because that’s just the beginning!

MG: What is your favorite move or fatality for the character?
BT:  My favorite Liu Kang fatality has to be the “double flip kick into the uppercut”… I’m old school.

MG: You’ve done films like “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and TV like “Grimm”; how does a web-series compare?
BT: This Web-Series was pretty much shot like a feature film, so in comparison there is no difference. Though it was a much smaller budget compared to other mediums, what Kevin, the cast and crew did with the limitations, is unbelievable. It looks and feels like a major studio feature separated into episodes for the web.

MG: Do you think we will be seeing more of you as Liu Kang, perhaps in the upcoming feature film?
BT: I hope so. Though nothing is set in stone, I think if the fan’s come out to watch the Series, they’ll be the judge.

MG: Tell us about your role Noburo Mori in “The Wolverine”?
BT: Noburo Mori is the character I play in “The Wolverine.” He is a politician that I feel, rides the line between good and evil, and will do whatever it take for political gain… But I guess that’s most politicians. 😉 Without giving too much away, he is arranged to be married to Logan’s love interest, so you can imagine it won’t end pretty. But also… this installment of “The Wolverine” is epic! Fan’s are really going to enjoy James Mangold’s mastery in bringing a side of “The Wolverine” fans have never seen. Along with the unbelievable action at the biggest scale, James has brought new layers and a depth fans will appreciate and relate to. Logan is vulnerable both physically and emotionally, its a war against his own nature and he must finally embrace who he is. It’s actually not to dissimilar to our take on LiuKang… both have demons inside of them that they have to overcome in order to find their true self.

MG: What else do you have in the cards for 2013 and beyond?
BT: Well, I just finished a new TV pilot called “Anatomy of Violence,” starring Skeet Ulrich, Amber Tamblyn and David Harewood, directed by Mark Pellington. Its from the creators of “Homeland,”… which I love, so it was great to work with the creatives and to be a part of this amazing cast and show. I’m also wrapping this incredible art house indie, called “The Beautiful Ones,” starring my good buddy Ross McCall and directed by Jesse V. Johnson. Ross is awesome in it and Jesse’s vision is remarkable. I’m also up for this dark suspense thriller with some legendary actors… fingers crossed. And of course, I’m looking forward to reprising the role of Liu Kang in the feature… but we’ll have to wait and see. In the mean, I’m pumped for the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2” Web-Series to come out and see the response of the fans!… maybe they’ll decide.

Brian “Head” Welch talks about reuniting with Korn and Love & Death's first album "Between Here & Lost"

Brian “Head” Welch is a founding member and former guitarist of the multi-platinum selling hard rock band Korn. Welch left the group in 2005 and embarked on a solo career releasing his first album “Save Me From Myself” in 2008. More recently Brian is back with a new band called Love & Death who recently released their first full length album titled “Between Here & Lost”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Brian about the new and as well as the recent announcement of him re-joining Korn for several shows.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the process of the new album?
Brian Welch: I and our bass player Valentine started writing and working with producer Jasen Rauch in 2011. We worked off and on until we finished it last year. The album came together in bits and pieces but it was more of a group effort. When I started as a solo artist I hired the band and we just became friends. From there we all talked and decided we wanted to make an album together and have things be more of a group project.

AL: All the songs were written collectively then?
BW: Yes we all wrote them together. We also had some help lyrically from a few outside writers as well. This was the first time I had ever brought in someone from outside the group to work on songs. I have to say I loved it! There are times when other people hear different things that you didn’t and a lot of the time it’s really good. I enjoyed the experience. Lyrics aren’t my strongest thing so bringing in some other guys really helped a lot.

AL: For you personally what was the hardest part about transitioning back to a group setting after being a solo artist for a few years?
BW: Letting the producer take over. The solo album was all about what I was feeling and what I wanted out of the album. With “Between Here & Lost” I just handed everything over as I didn’t want that producer type role. Jasen was just awesome and I would highly recommend him to anybody. He is really good at making good things great! Everything was new this time around which made for a really creative environment.

AL: This was the second time you had worked with Jasen correct?
BW: Yes. We did an EP with him last year that came out in April. Things were very comfortable being that we had worked together before. Jasen is a guitar player also and has this great ear for making riffs sound up to date and tweaking them to sound really great.

AL: What prompted the idea of covering Devo’s “Whip It”?
BW: I was trying to think of the weirdest New Wave song I could do and that one came to me. I remember those guys as being the weirdest guys on MTV back in the day. It seemed like everyone knows who Devo is because they are so weird and those hats. I wanted the song to be something everyone was familiar with. At first the other guys in the band thought the idea was pretty stupid. When I played them the music and the idea it changed their minds and they thought it could work. It was really fun.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands new video for the song “Abandoning”?
BW: The video just came out within the past week or so and it was cool shooting it as we got to work with Daniel Davison from Underoath/Norma Jean. Being he is a musician he just gets it so the shoot went really good.

AL: Can you tell us how things came about for you to be joining Korn at this year’s Rock on the Range Festival?
BW: I went to a show of theirs last May and ended up jamming a song with them on stage. It was very last minute but it felt so good and it was very emotional. Right after that Munky, the other guitar player asked me if I wanted to come back and do some shows with them. I told him that I didn’t think now was the right time but I would think about it. I just started thinking about how awesome and emotional it was for everybody. I started getting advice from other people and they were all leaning towards this being the right time. This door obviously opened for a reason and there will be some reconciliation going on that needs to happen. I went back to the guys and said let’s do it. Everyone was very agreeable and things came together pretty easily.

AL: Is there any chance drummer David Silveria will be back as well?
BW: No. David has really said some crazy things online about personal things and he’s not in a place where people would really want him around. That happened before I talked with them but I guess the things he said were really crazy. Those guys were in a band together for so long so I don’t know, but for now it’s just not going to happen.

AL: Have you and the guys from Korn started rehearsing yet?
BW: We have been getting together off and on but we will be starting to get things going more in the next couple of months. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play those old songs again. The times we have been together so far have been nothing but positive between everyone. It’s like nothing negative ever happened between any of us. Things were never really crazy between any of us as there were just a few things said here and there. We never had hate for one another as I love my old friends and it feels good to connect again.

AL: Is thing going to be just a short run of shows or will you be fully re-joining the band?
BW: We are going slowing with things right now. We don’t want to rush things and we also aren’t sure how far we want to take it. Anything is possible at this time but we are being really careful not to move to fast and have something happen. Even if I was to fully re-join Korn I will still keep doing Love & Death.

AL: Does Love and Death have any shows lined up in support of the new album?
BW: Yes. We will be heading out on the road starting Feb. 22 for a month long run with Thousand Foot Krutch. We will be hitting everything from Texas to the east coast. After that we have some weekend shows planned and after those there is a chance we will be doing some opening slots for Korn over in Europe. Those details are still being worked out.

AL: In the past few years you have done things like releasing a solo album, writing a book and now you are doing Love & Death and working again with Korn. What do you think has been the most rewarding thing to come out of your time away from Korn?
BW: I would probably have to say my faith. That is really the foundation of my life and it helps me in every way. My book was very liberating and cleansing to my soul. I was able to poor out all of that garbage and live the new life I was given. It’s funny when you find faith like I did as everything turns around for good. Even the bad and ugly stuff gets turned around to use for good purposes. It’s so cool to be able to think back about all your past screw ups and see how now they are now being used to help people. It’s the coolest thing ever.

To check out Love & Hates new video “Abandoning” and to also see a full list of tour dates be sure to check out Brian’s official website at www.brianheadwelch.net

Brian Austin Green & Melora Hardin talk about new show TBS’ “Wedding Band”

Brian Austin Green and Melora Hardin are starring in TBS’ new comedy series “Wedding Band”, which debuts on Saturday, November 10 at 10:00 pm. “Brian plays Tommy, the life of the party and lead singer of the band who is also the star on the stage and the bedroom. Tommy’s a bad boy with a good heart. And Melora plays Roxie Rutherford who is the owner of Rutherford Events. She’s no- she’ll do nothing more for her clients, she’ll do anything from shipping sand in from Fiji for an island themed party. Roxy is the person behind the most important moments and the best nights in people’s lives.” Brian Austin Green is known best for his roles in “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Melora is known best for her role on NBC’s “The Office”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian and Melora about this new show and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Brian, your the lead singer for “Wedding Band”, were these all songs that you knew ahead of time or did you have to learn some of them?
Brian Austin Green: Whew. For the most part I knew the melodies. But most of the songs, I got to be honest, when I got the lyric sheets my first thoughts were, oh, those are the words, (that’s not what) we’ve been singing. When you have REM’s “End of the World as We Know It” and you go what is he talking about? I think the only thing anybody ever knew was “it’s the end of the world as we know it”…and the rest of the words were completely unknown. I’ve always had a bad habit of that, just in I’m a huge music lover. I grew up listening to it, but I’m one of those just because I play, I play piano and drums, I connect way more with melodies usually than the lyrics. So the lyrics are usually the last thing that I learn, whereas a lot of other people I know really sit and study the lyrics first and the melody is kind of the last thing. So, I knew pretty much none of them.

MG: Before I watched the pilot, I was kind of expecting the band to be funny in itself, like the performing, but I was actually impressed and thought you guys were really a solid band. Can you reflect on that important element of the show is that we’re not actually laughing at your guys’ talent because there is talent there?
BAG: Well, I think the answer lends itself to what we were just talking about. We can play comedy songs, which only kind of last for so long, or we can stick with the element of what the show is, which is that our job is to make this believable, our job is to make this band honestly the most kick-ass wedding band anybody has ever seen. I’m just saying that alone there’s comedy in that. They’re a stadium style wedding band. You never hear or see anything like that, let alone sit at a wedding, hear these amazing grand songs, and have pyrotechnics and confetti cannons going off. And throwing guitar picks out to the crowd.
Melora Hardin: Right, and they’ve got my character Rutherford breathing down their neck that it better be damn good. And they are. That’s why she takes them on in the first place. They care so much about the event in a whole other way than Roxie cares about the event, but I’m glad you recognize that because they are awesome. It’s not like we’re breaking into song, you know, like Glee does, like musical style. But it’s just using music in the storyline in a truthful, honest way. So yes, anyway.
BAG: And on top of that, too, Adam Schlesinger who does our music is so gifted at what he does.
MH: Amazing. And Steven Gold.
BAG: Yes, and Steven Gold. They have an amazing ability to take something like a KISS song at Oktoberfest, so you’re singing these party anthems but with a kick drum and a trombone and an accordion, but still doing it in a serious enough way as a musician that aside from laughing because we’re wearing lederhosen and you’re still thinking this song is awesome. I kind of want to hear this version again. It’s really fun. And that’s what music does. The music carries so much emotion to it. And when it’s done by people that really enjoy doing it, I think it comes across just in watching and listening to it. And that’s what we strive for.
BAG: It’s scary when you pick up a script and you see something worded that way. Roxie Rutherford in a jazz club singing Get Ur Freak On. And then all of a sudden you get the CD from Adam and Steve and you hear it. And it was really a nice experience to put in a CD for every episode and hear what they had been working on because it really kept the excitement going.
MH: You just wait, we got so many more coming.
BAG: Oh, I think we have 29 or 30 songs.

MG: What songs should we be looking out for the most this season?
MH: Well, Brian has a lot more to choose from, but I think I mentioned earlier, but I did a version of Get Ur Freak On, which I think they are going to release on iTunes, which is a pretty phenomenal arrangement and pretty spectacular because it’s a Missy Elliot song which they made into a jazz trio. So that was pretty spectacular. But the band has some pretty spectacular ones too.
BAG:  Yes, I honestly don’t want to give any away. I think one that’s really fun and it kind of comes up early on, so I don’t feel so bad, is we do a very sort of Indian version of Party Rock, which is just really amazing  There’s an entire dance number, like Bollywood kind of dance number that goes along with it and it’s pretty genius.

MG: Melora, your character is really tough but also have a fun side; what would you say for you was the most challenging part of preparing for her?
MH: Brian Austin Green [laughs]. No, you know what, she’s so much fun. I mean, she’s – I don’t know if I would say that there was like a challenging part of the character. It’s always exciting, I would put it that way, to try to, you know, to try to kind of get all the different colors running through a character like her because she’s multidimensional and there’s a lot to bite into there. And she’s similar to Jan in that respect in that she’s rich.

MG: There is a little bit of tension between you guys in the first episode and I’m wondering if you think there’s any chance of any romance between Tommy and Rutherford.
BAG:  I think there’s a chance of anything between Tommy and Rutherford.
MH:  I do too.
BAG:  I wouldn’t take anything off the plate. I think anything is possible.
MH: They could kill each other, they could fall in love with each other.
BAG:  They could. Yes.
MH: No, there’s a lot there for sure. It’s an interesting little dynamic.
BAG:  Yes. I think it’s one of the things that makes the relationship fun. It’s kind of like, the Moonlighting aspect of the show. It’s the thing I always loved about that show is you can sort of have that underlying sexual tension, but never even have to go there and it plays really well. And then if we finally do, then it’s explosive and it’s sexy and it’s daring and, you know, we win Oscars. I want to be the first…
MH: We win Oscars even though we’re on TV. We win Oscars. Thank you.
Brian Austin Green: No, I want to be the first television star to win an Oscar.
MH: That’s a first.
BAG: That’s my goal. I want it to be that good and sexy.
MH: Let’s go for it. I like it.

MG: Brian, you starred in hour-long dramas and 30-minute comedies and of course. Melora, you were on “The Office”, which is another 30-minute comedy. The Wedding Band is different. It’s an hour long comedy. How is that different from anything you both have done before?
MH: Well, I’ll start. I think Brian and I both have done sort of sitcom stuff. “The Office” isn’t filmed like a sitcom, but I’ve done that traditional sitcom way of making a comedy. That’s sort of like the crème de la crème is in terms of lifestyle for an actor because, you do all these rehearsal days and then you have one long day. When you’re making a drama, an hour-long drama, you have very long days and but you also have to be funny. So I think to me, what’s nice about the show, and one of the really, really wonderful elements in it being an hour, is that you get the comedy, but you also get that fabulous arc of the dramatic arc. You have time to get into the characters, you have time to get into the storyline, and it doesn’t just have to be (joke, hit, joke, hit, joke, hit, joke, hit). So I really like that a lot and I enjoyed it. But you do have that drama schedule of having to be there for very long days.
BAG: Yes, the thing though that I really enjoy about our show especially is that coming from dramas first. I did do a sitcom and it’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy comedy. I’ve always loved watching even growing up, was I love comedy that are real, their real dramatic, you know, honest moments in funny situations. I like seeing people struggle through situations that are just absurd and laughing at them. I feel like our show is written in a very serious way. We’re honest about the things that we do and our lives are just crazy enough that it’s entertaining and it’s funny. But it’s never setup, punch line, which is hard to do.
MH: Yes, and it’s a whole different style of comedy.
BAG: It’s a hard thing to do for an hour especially.
MH: Yes. Exactly. No, it’s all based on truth.
BAG: And you guys were the best at it on The Office. That was like the absolute bar of delivering.
MH: Well, it was unique in that it really was the first one to kind of come along that was really, since like Cheers, that was sort of like really based in reality and sort of that mockumentary style. That really worked well for me, too. Brian and I have had similar backgrounds in that we both really believe that great comedy, just as great drama, definitely comes from the truth of the moment and it’s always funny, truth is always funnier than fiction and trying to get to that truth is always going to make the best joke.

MG: Tell us about how to was working with your wife, Megan Fox, on this show? How did that come about?
BAG: Honestly, she kind of stepped in and saved us at the last minute. There were a couple other people that they were discussing bringing into the episode at first and schedule wise and timing wise it didn’t work out and I had already spoken to my wife about the episode and kind of what was going on and she graciously said that, you know, if nothing else worked out that she would step in and kind of rescue us and she did. I thought she was great. I thought she kicked ass.
MH: Yes, she totally kicked ass.

Brian O’ Halloran talks about the future of “Clerks”

Brian O’ Halloran is best known for playing Dante Hicks in the “Clerks” series. He also recently appeared in the horror film “Mr. Hush”. Brian took out some time to chat with Media Mikes to discuss the future of the series and also his love for working in theater.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the film “Mr. Hush”?
Brian O’ Halloran: I met the director, David Lee Madison, at a horror convention and he was finishing up the edit for the DVD release. He told me about the film and asked me to be apart of the teaser for the sequel. I said sure that sounds fine. So we shot my scene earlier this Spring and he edited in to the end for the DVD release. It is kind of a tease of the tease.

MG: What do you enjoy most working in the independent horror genre?
BOH: The reason I like working with independent filmmakers is that you are not dealing with a studio and them telling you what you can/can’t do. Yes, there is a struggle with independent that you have to do out and find distribution and sell your piece. Don’t get me wrong I like that studios can bring in everything you need to make your film. But with independent films, I find that the storylines are stronger personally because they don’t have the money to do the flashy special effects and giant budgeting for A-list celebrities. You have to count on a better script to bring people to your project. These writers and directors really put in their heart and soul. As far as the horror genre, there is no other fanbase that I find that is well as hardcore fans. They are like the Howard Stern fans of film. Horror fans don’t let you slide either, they are not afraid to let you know when something sucks. But that also keeps the genre honest, if you think about it.

MG: Looking back on “Clerks”, almost 20 years, how can you reflect on its cult status?
BOH: What is great about it is that it is this timeless piece of filmmaking. It is about this guy that gets calls in on his day off and everybody can relate to something like that. It speaks to generation after generation. I am glad the fanbase has followed along these characters and are still asking “when is there going to be another?”. They are still interested in it.

MG: What’s the word that I hear about Kevin Smith resurrecting “Clerks: The Animated Series”?
BOH: You are hearing the say thing I have been hearing [laughs]. I should be talking to Kevin soon about this. But I would love to bring this back. I think it is a lot easier and cheaper to produce something like that then it was to do back in 2000, when we first do it. At the time it wasn’t really the right outlet for us, especially since ABC screwed us and only aired two episodes. When he twitted about a few months ago, I got blasted with emails asking if this was true. To today that was still one of the easiest and best jobs I have had. We also had such great guest stars the first time like Alec Baldwin, Gilbert Gottfried, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Woods and Michael McKean. I know that still today so many people love it. So I would love to do it again.

MG: Smith also recently teased “Clerks III” on Broadway, care to comment?
BOH: I saw that also. I saw that someone recorded his saying that during a recent book signing. He say that I would obviously be on board since I come from a theater background, which is true. It is going to be Jeff (Anderson), who is going to be difficult to get on board. He was also difficult when we did “Clerks II”. Until he saw some of the footage and was satisifed that we were going to do it right, then he was on-board. To get him to do a movie, where it is five weeks of shooting and then done, is one thing. But trying to get him to do seven-eight performances a week for six months, that is going to take a big bulldowser. I think if he is not on-board, no one would do it. It would be impossible to replace him. So if it happens, I do theater all the time and it would be the highlight of my theater career. To get to hang out on Broadway, I would be completely down.

MG: Besides film you do a lot of theatre, what do you enjoy most about stage?
BOH: I enjoy most the live feedback from the audience. If it is a comedy, you are earning their laughter and that is awesome to feel that energy. The opposite side is that while working it each night you are able to correct or improve on your performance. Each night is a new adventure. It get’s my blood going.

MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
BOH: I am working right now on a comedy web series and right now it is called “New Jersey Theatre Players”. There will be a website, NJTheatrePlayers.com but is still under construction. We are just getting a bunch of friends together and just having fun. It is based on a community theater in New Jersey and the kookiness that happens with that. We just started shooting it at the end of August. Hopefully we will have the first few episodes completed by December and ready to launch by the beginning of the year.

Founder/Owner of Metal Blade Records’ Brian Slagel talks about 30th Anniversary

Brian Slagel is the founder/owner of Metal Blade Records. This year marks the labels 30th anniversary and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Brian about the labels history and what it has planned to celebrate this monumental occasion.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what initially led you to putting together the first Metal Massacre compilation?
Brian Slagel: I was in Los Angeles and saw so many really great metal bands playing around. At that
time there was no way for them to get heard. I was a huge fan of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in England and its DIY attitude and from there I got the idea to do a compilation of local LA heavy metal bands. I was also working at a record store and I asked the import distributors I bought from if they would buy a compilation if I put one out. They said yes and the album became a reality.

AL: Did the success of that release plant the seed for you in starting Metal Blade Records or was starting/having your own label always something you wanted?
BS: I never intended to start a label. I was working at a record store and also doing a fanzine. After the album was released, I was offered a pressing and distribution deal from one of the importers. That is when it started to become a label.

AL: You gave Metallica their first real exposure with the Metal Massacre release. Was there a specific reason the band did not sign to Metal Blade?
BS: Yes I had no money as did they. So with no money there was no way to record an album. They came to me first, but no money meant it never happened.

AL: What do you feel has been the labels biggest accomplishment in its 30 years of existence?
BS: Probably just being around for 30 years and still going strong. It is a difficult business, but we have been lucky to still be around and doing what we love.

AL: With the 30 year anniversary of the label is their going to be any special edition releases or re-releases from the label?
BS: Yes we are doing special versions, vinyl, picture discs all year long. Also we are doing special sales around the world as well tied into the 30th.

AL: When signing bands to your label are there any specific qualities or characteristics you look for?
BS: There is nothing specific. We always look for bands that sound a bit different and also are willing to work with us. Getting signed these days is the easy part, and then the work really begins. It’s always helpful if the band has something happening before they ever sign with us.

Brian Doyle-Murray talks about TBS’ new comedy series, “Sullivan & Son”

Brian Doyle-Murray is the older brother of actor Bill Murray.  He is also a “Saturday Night Live” veteran and has appeared in many films including  “Groundhog Dog”, “Wayne’s World & “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”.  Brian took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about co-starring as Hank in TBS’ new comedy series, “Sullivan & Son” and what we can expect from the first season.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to work on TBS’ new comedy series, “Sullivan & Son”?
Brian Doyle-Murray: I had worked with Rob Long, one of the executive producers, on the TV show “Love and Money”. I really like him and thought he was a sharp guy. He is really good at what he does. when I read the script, I thought it was time for a show like this. I worked with TBS before also and I really liked them as a network as well. They give shows a chance and also willing to take a chance on shows. Once I did the pilot, I knew it was going to be great. The chemistry was just so fantastic.

MG: Tell us about working with this amazing cast?
MG: Steve Byrne is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Dan Lauria is just so great. I had no idea how hysterical Jodi Long was. She has some of the funniest lines. Dan and her both are theater mavens, they got the chops. Christine Ebersole and I worked together on “Saturday Night Live” doing the news, many years ago. She is such a classy chantoose. She has two Tony’s and here she is playing this cougar tramp and is just hilarious. Vivian Bang and Valerie Azlynn are beautiful and also really knock it out of the park. We also have more stand up’s per square inch for any show on television [laughs]. Besides Steve, we have Owen Benjamin, Steve Wood Jr., Ahmed Ahmed and Brian Scolaro. Brian is so subtle, it is like he is not even there and then he just kills it. Owen has some of the most amazing energy…for a slacker [laughs]. Roy does these great prank calls, which are very funny. He is real understated but very powerful and when he hits it, he does it right on the head. Ahmed has been all over the world and is a great addition to the cast. We have also had some great guest cast as well. Billy Gardell pops up in the show. I worked with him on “Yes, Dear”. So I believe we are really lucky to have such a great round cast.

MG: Being a veteran actor on the show, you find you are able to fit in among all the young cast?
MG: They were very kind to an old man. I enjoyed working with them. What settles it for me is “Am I having a good time doing this?” and “Do I like who I am working with?”. There is a lot of laughter on the set. People really enjoy coming to work. Believe me I have been on some when they don’t [laughs].

MG: What do you feel that your character Hank brings to the show? What do you like most?
MG: He is like somebody we all know I think like an Uncle or something. He is kind of unaware that he is offensive. His bias is so ingrained though that even when the people he offends are his friends, he doesn’t get it. He will use a term for his friends ethnicity affectionately so the friend instead of punching him out just kind of sigha and saya “That’s Hank”. I think there are a lot of people out there like that. They just kind don’t get it.

MG: What do you like most about working in front of a live audience?
MG: Well that is instant gratification for something that is funny. I have a pretty good idea what is funny but if you do it twice in one day in front of a live audience. They will let you know if they like it or not. We honed it in by the time we do it finally. So it works well.

MG: Sticking with TV, tell us what you like most about doing voice work like on shows like “Motorcity and “Spongebob Squarepants”?
MG: You don’t have to shave [laughs]. You don’t even have to take a bath. The mic doesn’t know if you stink or not. You just show up and don’t even have to memorize anything [laughs]. No, it is really fun work. I really enjoy voice work.

MG: Starting with “Saturday Night Live” to iconic roles in “Groundhog Dog”, “Wayne’s World and “Christmas Vacation”, what do you enjoy most about comedy?
MG: Well nothing compares to getting a laugh. You have to assume it on something like voice work. On “Sullivan & Son”, you know you are getting the laughs. It is very rewarding and very satisfying. Working with these people, the process is more enjoyable than the result even. Just the act of doing it. Cracking each other up is fun.

MG: What else do you have in the cards upcoming?
BDM: Besides this? Well, we just wrapped. I am trying now to match the circadian rhythms of my cats. That is I am trying to sleep 22 hours a day [laughs]. So, that is my goal.

Brian Krause talks about “Camel Spiders”

Brian Krause is known best for his role in the TV series “Charmed”. He also recently starring in the Roger Corman produced creature feature “Camel Spiders”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about the film and what we had planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “Camel Spiders”?
Brian Krause: I am friends with Matt Borlenghi, who was already cast in the film. He told me the project was going forward and they were looking for a guy for this role. They threw my name in a hat and I was fortunate enough to be picked up. Jim Wynorski thought I was decent enough [laughs].

MG: With the film being presented by Roger Corman did you have the chance to meet him?
BK: Unfortunately, No I did not. We were out in the middle of nowhere during shooting.

MG: Can you tell us about the production of the film?
BK: We shot non-stop for 12 days. Everything was fast and furious. We tried to shoot as much as we could in a short amount of time. We had a minimal crew so everyone had to be ready. It was very windy and cold in the high desert. It was tough.

MG: What did you like most about working on this type of “creature feature” film?
BK: It’s fun! Everything is done with a wink and it’s not super serious. All the actors are having fun with each other. It was great seeing a guy like Jim Wynorski get things done. Jim and Roger have a working formula that is just impressive. It’s an honor to be a part of that.

MG: Do you have any specific highlights from the production?
BK: I became good friends with Kurt Yaeger who plays Joe in the film. He is an incredible guy that is a former BMX X-Games star. Kurt is just killing it! To see his motivation and how he has become an actor is impressive. It was a great experience.

MG: Can you tell us about your return role in “TBK: The Toolbox Murders 2”
BK: I have worked with Dean Jones a couple times now. He penned the script and directed the film. He has made a different version of the film that is like a prequel. I know he has finished the film but it is tied up in editing.

Tell us about your upcoming online series “The Unknown”?
I just finished that the other day. It is being put out by Crackle. This will be a direct, original content television show and is being produced by Sony. It is in the vein of “Twilight Zone”. I play one of the main characters in the first 6 episodes, which were directed by Martha Coolidge. These episodes have a high production value and I think the same audience will love to check these out on Crackle.com. The stories are so good that they could make their way on to network television.

MG: Any other projects you can tell us about?
BK:I just did a film called “Gabe the Cupid Dog” which is an ABC type family film. I also am working on a couple of my own projects and trying to raise funding for those.

MG: Will those include you directing?
BK: Yes. I directed the teaser which is being used to help raise funds. If I can keep myself on as director once all the funds are raised that will be great. If I have to bring someone else in that would help us raise the money I would definitely relinquish that spot.

Interview with Shadows Fall’s Brian Fair

Brian Fair is the lead singer of the metal group Shadows Fall. The band has released 6 full length studios and is set to release their as yet titled 7th album sometime in 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Brian about the upcoming album and the bands tour plans for this year.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the upcoming album?
Brian Fair: The band always tries to cover a good amount of ground with each record and we have a wide variety of influences. I feel this album is a further extension of us. We are getting more comfortable with putting all those influences into great songs. There are songs on the album that are on the real heavy side, some that are more classic metal and some that are full on thrash tunes. We try to cover a variety of styles without sounding schizophrenic.

AL: Do you guys have an album name and release date set?
BF: Everything is still being wrapped up. We have just started getting the mixes. Until everything is really mastered and finalized all of our release dates are just hopeful. Everything is best case scenario. (Laughs) It’s looking like by early May we should have the album out.

AL: Did you guys take any different approaches to the recording process this time around?
BF: Yes. It was a real different approach. We recorded with Adam D. of Killswitch Engage for the first time. That was a new experience in general bringing him in. Adam was involved from the demoing stages. He wasn’t helping us write or anything but he helped with the structuring and editing of the tracks. It was cool to have him involved and suggesting different twists and turns. With Adam on board we could step back and look at the songs as a whole. He was very easy to work with. Adam is like a comedian so it was really fun working with him even though we were there for hours at a time.

AL: How do you guys go about the writing process for your material?
BF: Usually Matt or Jon will have sort of a frame work of riffs that they are working on. They will put together a general song structure. From there we start jamming on it and add each of our own tweaks and suggestions. We will make a rough recording and then take it from there. Some songs fall together within the first few practices. Some take shape over the course of a month or so. The last song on the new record we wrote on the spot in the studio. That has never really happened before so it was kind of cool. Once there is a general idea for the song is when I start writing lyrics. I usually don’t get to that point until the music is about 80 percent there. Once I see where the songs going I can start to add lyrics.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming Australian tour?
 BF: It’s going to be sick! This will be our third time doing the Sound Waves festival. It’s always unbelievable. This year the line features bands like Slipknot, System of a Down and Hatebreed. It’s going to be like summer camp. We also will be doing some off dates while we are there with Machine Head and Chimaira. I can’t wait.

AL: Are you going to be playing any songs from the upcoming album during those shows?
BF: We have one new song that will be in the set. We have really only had time to rehearse that one new track. We were thinking about slipping in another one but we are only playing short festival sets. We don’t want to spend a lot of time playing songs people don’t know yet but, we do want there to be a preview of what’s to come.

AL: Are there any plans in the process for more shows in the states?
BF: Yes. When we get back we will have a lot of set up and promo type stuff for the new album going on. We then will be taking a break from shows until about mid-April when we have some shows booked in Mexico City with Anthrax. Right after that we will be starting our own tour. Everything will start to be announced in the coming weeks after things have been confirmed.