Foreigner, Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham tour set to launch July 11th in Syracuse, NY

FOREIGNER, CHEAP TRICK AND JASON BONHAM TOUR SET TO LAUNCH
JULY 11th IN SYRACUSE, NEW YORK
TICKETS GO ON SALE JANUARY 13 AT LIVENATION.COM
FOREIGNER’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY ALBUM SET FOR RELEASE MAY 5th
FOREIGNER, the band behind these classic and iconic songs, is turning 40 this year and they’re bringing their friends along for the year-long celebration.
First up is a mammoth worldwide tour, set to launch in Syracuse, NY on July 11th. For the US shows presented by Live Nation, Foreigner will be alongside Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick — who are also celebrating 40 years since the release of their self-titled debut album — and special guest Jason Bonham who will be bringing the music of Led Zeppelin to great night of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets go on sale January 13, 2017 at www.livenation.com.
To coincide with the tour, FOREIGNER–Mick Jones (lead guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass, vocals), Tom Gimbel (rhythm guitar, sax, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums)– will be releasing a celebratory 40th anniversary album that features forty FOREIGNER tracks throughout the years entitled 40 – Forty Hits From Forty Years (RHINO). This album is a comprehensive compilation of original hits and several tracks from the current lineup with Kelly Hansen on vocals including “Cant Slow Down,” “Too Late,” and the Top 20 AC hit “When It Comes To Love.” The album also features two new songs, “The Flame Still Burns,” and “Give My Life For Love,” a brand new song by Jones. Rhino is kicking off a year-long catalog promotion with the January 24th picture disc release of Head Games.
Since the 1977 release of their first hit “Feels Like The First Time” and their self-titled debut album on Atlantic Records, FOREIGNER has been universally hailed as one of the world’s most popular rock acts with 10 multi-platinum albums, 16 Top 30 hits, and worldwide album sales exceeding 75 million.  Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold as Ice,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent,” “Head Games,” “Say You Will,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Long, Long Way From Home,” and the worldwide #1 hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” FOREIGNER continues to rock the charts more than thirty years into the game.
Recent albums like Juke Box Heroes, a new compilation of digitally recorded Foreigner hits, and The Best of Foreigner 4 & More, recorded live from The Borgata, Atlantic City, both entered the Billboard Top 200 chart. Foreigner also featured strongly in every category in Billboard’s recently released “Greatest of All Time” listing.  Catalog sales often eclipse those of Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Def Leppard, Van Halen and most of their Classic Rock peers (Source: Nielsen SoundScan 2/11/16 – 2/3/16).
Check out the tour at any of the following stops, with more dates to be announced in the coming weeks and posted on the band’s official website. Fans can check out livenation.com for updates on tour dates and news.
DATE
CITY
VENUE
Tue Jul 11
Syracuse, NY
Lakeview Amphitheater
Thu Jul 13
Camden, NJ
BB&T Pavilion
Fri Jul 14
Bethel, NY
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Sat Jul 15
Hershey, PA
Giant Center
Mon Jul 17
Boston, MA
Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Tue Jul 18
Saratoga Springs, NY
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Thu Jul 20
Wantagh, NY
Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Fri Jul 21
Darien Center, NY
Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Sat Jul 22
Holmdel, NJ
PNC Bank Arts Center
Tue Jul 25
Bristow, VA
Jiffy Lube Live
Wed Jul 26
Virginia Beach, VA
Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach
Fri Jul 28
Nashville, TN
Ascend Amphitheater
Sun Jul 30
Pelham, AL
Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
Tue Aug 01
West Palm Beach, FL
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre
Wed Aug 02
Tampa, FL
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Sat Aug 05
Charlotte, NC
PNC Music Pavilion
Sun Aug 06
Raleigh, NC
Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek Amphitheater
Tue Aug 08
Cincinnati, OH
Riverbend Music Center
Wed Aug 09
Chicago, IL
Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
Fri Aug 11
Clarkston, MI
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sat Aug 12
Burgettstown, PA
KeyBank Pavilion
Sun Aug 13
Noblesville, IN
Klipsch Music Center
Tue Aug 15
Kansas City, MO
Starlight Theatre
Wed Aug 16
Maryland Heights, MO
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – St. Louis
Sat Aug 19
Woodlands, TX
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sun Aug 20
Austin, TX
austin360 Amphitheater
Wed Aug 23
Albuquerque, NM***
Isleta Amphitheater
Thu Aug 24
Phoenix, AZ***
Ak-Chin Pavilion
Sat Aug 26
West Valley City, UT***
USANA Amphitheatre
Tue Aug 29
Chula Vista, CA***
Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Wed Aug 30
Los Angeles, CA***
Greek Theatre
Fri Sep 01
Marysville, CA***
Toyota Amphitheater
Sat Sep 02
Mountain View, CA***
Shoreline Amphitheatre
Mon Sep 04
Morrison, CO***
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Fri Sep 08
Ridgefield, WA***
Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
Sat Sep 09
Auburn, WA***
White River Amphitheatre
*** Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience not on this date
Additional dates and support to be announced

Blu-ray Review “Jason Bourne”

Actors: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles
Directors: Paul Greengrass
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Run Time: 123 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

My issue with the “Bourne” franchise is that ALL the films just feel exactly the same. I can’t tell you a difference between any of the films. Universal realized they failed without Damon with “The Bourne Legacy”, so they brought him back but its just not enough to make this film memorable. Now that I have seen it and let it settle I still can’t tell you the difference between the other three films (with Damon). Either way, it made money, so I am sure… coming soon: Bourne 6.

Official Premise: Matt Damon returns to his most iconic role in Jason Bourne. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, once again joins Damon for the next chapter of Universal Pictures’ Bourne franchise, which finds the CIA’s most lethal operative drawn out of the shadows.

“Jason Bourne” Blu-ray comes equipped with a DVD and also a UV/iTunes digital copy. The 1080p transfer looks great, no complaints really at all. Dark scenes are also shot well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sounds amazing with the action packed score and sequences. So U/V doesn’t let down. The special features though are not as impressive.

There are really one three (multi-part) featurettes included on this Blu-ray. The first “Bringing Back Bourne” features cast/crew discussing on bringing back Damon and Greengrass to the series. There is a three part feature “Bourne to Fight”, which focuses on the action/choreography. Last extra is a two parter “Las Vegas Showdown” focusing on showing in the sin city….and that’s all folks.

Jason Becker talks about new signature products and collaboration with Guitar Player Magazine

Jason Becker took the guitar world by storm in the mid 1980’s with the guitar duo Cacophony which along with Becker featured future Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman. Also during this time Jason released his first solo album titled “Perpetual Burn”. Cacophony disbanded in 1989 with Jason going on to join David Lee Roth’s band for the album “A Little Ain’t Enough”. Sadly Jason’s success was greatly impacted when at age 20 he was diagnosed with ALS and given only 3 to 5 years to live. Today at age 45, Jason has beaten the odds and is showing no signs of slowing down. Media Mikes had the great pleasure of speaking with Jason recently about some of his recent work, several new signature products and his recent collaboration with Guitar Player Magazine.

Adam Lawton: Aside from your 2012 documentary what do you think has made people stand up
and take notice of your career and talent over the last few years?
Jason Becker: Well, I would like to think it is my music. I think that is partly true. A whole new generation is getting into my stuff, both the old guitar music and the new compositional music. I also think that it has to do with the fact that I have had ALS for so long, which is a tough thing to ignore. Guitar Player Magazine putting me on the cover helped a lot as did having many well known guitarists playing on my tunes. The Not Dead Yet concert’s played a big role as well. I am really active on Social media as I run my Facebook pages. This is something that is really cool and it’s nice to be able post personal things. John Mayer responding to my Ice Bucket Challenge with his own video talking about me, playing over one of my songs, and asking people to donate to my trust, didn’t hurt either!

AL: You recently have had both a signature/tribute guitar and a signature pickup come out. What has that experience been like and how did those partnerships come about?
JB: My friends at Carvin, Richard Cruz and Albert Comas, saw the documentary and got us back together to make my old famous blue guitar available to fans. Both myself and Carvin had been getting a lot of people asking if that guitar was something that could happen. It is so well made, and it sold so well, that they decided to make my numbered guitar available too, which is selling incredibly well. Jeff Kiesel and I are working on a few more design ideas now, which is a total blast! It also helps my family and me out financially in a big way. As for the pickup back when I was with David Lee Roth, Seymour Duncan and I were working on a signature pickup together. My ALS started getting bad and affecting my voice, so we stopped working on it. Recently I was trying out a perspective signature amp with my friend Michael Lee Firkins. He kept trying different guitars, and the best sounding one had the test Duncan in it. I contacted Duncan and they wanted to make a signature Becker pickup. We spent months testing many different pickups with Firkins and my buddy Chris Barnett, until we got it exactly how I wanted it.

AL: Being that you are physically unable to play how involved were you with the creation/testing of these products?
JB: With the guitar, Carvin had made my first blue guitar, so they just copied the specs. The original had a Kahler bridge, but I prefer the Floyd, so we went with that. For the numbered guitar, Carvin took my original Peavey for a year, so they could pretty much copy it. Michael Lee Firkins always helps me when I need fingers and another set of ears. He also did that on my song “End of the Beginning.”

AL: Can you tell us about the column you have recently started writing for Guitar Player?
JB: It is about creativity. People often ask me how I come up with unusual ideas or melodies. This column attempts to tell how some of my ideas come to me, and the stories behind them. The first column talks about non-musical inspirations. The next two talk about my time with Marty Friedman, and some of the things we did to open our minds and think differently. My dear friend at Guitar Player, Matt Blackett, helps me remember those times.

AL: You have a very unique way of creating music. How has that system developed from when you first started using it to now?
JB: When I first started using the computer to compose music, I could still use my right hand a little, so I used a synthesizer. Once I lost my arm movement, my dear friend Mike Bemesderfer set me up with a headset that I could control with little head movements. That was cool, but my neck was weak, so I couldn’t do it for long. I only wrote one piece using that method – “Electric Prayer for Peace” from my Collection CD. Now I can’t move my head, so I just use the communication system that my dad invented, to instruct my caregivers what to put into the music software program called Logic Pro. I can then dick with every aspect of each note until they have feeling. I layer tracks and instruments in this way, then bring my friend/producer, Dan Alvarez over to give his input, and play the keyboard parts. Then if necessary, we record live musicians.

AL: Are you currently working on any new solo material and are there any plans to make a follow up to “Not Dead Yet”?
JB: I am working on a new album, which will have new pieces, some old guitar stuff, and many special guests. That’s something I am going to do with a Crowd Funder campaign. There are no plans to do another documentary, although the Japanese equivalent to HBO did a documentary last November about the making of my new album. It was really cool and people will want to check it out if they get the chance.

Author Jason Offutt talks about his latest book “A Funeral Story”

Depending on who you ask, Jason Offutt is one of the leading journalists on things that go bump in the night, or he’s the helpful professor for hundreds of future journalism students at Northwest Missouri State University. Both can agree though, he’s a damn good writer. Avid readers of Jason’s work might be surprised by his next release, “A Funeral Story”. Instead of providing a good non-fiction scare, and a need to leave a nightlight on, Jason has crafted a fiction book that will have people snickering and laughing as they turn the page. Jason Offutt took time during a busy finals week at Northwest to talk with Media Mikes about his first novel.

Jeremy Werner: Alright Jason, tell us about “A Funeral Story”
Jason Offutt: “A Funeral Story” is a story about a 30-year-old man that still lives at home, plays dungeon and dragons with his old high school buddies every Friday and nobody knows that he likes to pick up and have sex with strange women at funerals.

JW: (laughs) Where does an idea like that come from?
JO: I have no idea, actually, where it came from. I was sitting at Kansas City International Airport waiting for a flight to Houston and it just popped into my head. I carry a notebook everywhere and I probably wrote three chapters as I was waiting on a plane.

JW: So this isn’t based on anyone?
JO: No. Nobody at all.

JW: Do you see any of yourself in this character?
JO: No. I never picked up any strange people at funerals…I think lots of writers do this, they try to put people in ridiculous situations and see how they react. And somebody trying to pick up sex at a funeral is probably the most extreme I could think of. That’s probably where it came from.

JW: I’ve read the book and it can be pretty filthy. Was there any part of you that was worried about publishing something like this?
JO: Well…a little bit because what I’ve written before is family friendly. So to that extent, yes. I am going to put a warning out there for people who are use to my non-fiction that this is not family friend, but one of the things that I’ve been known to do is take things to a level that people probably shouldn’t go to. (laughs) That’s what I did with this.

JW: Now, if someone who doesn’t know you was to look at your previous writing examples, and even people who’ve read all your works, they’ll notice you usually write about the paranormal. Were you starting to get burnt out on writing about the paranormal or did you just want a change of scenery?
JO: Right. I’ve been finding that out. I’m going to be on a Travel Channel show this season because I’m the go-to paranormal guy. But…I’ve always wanted to write novels. Ever since I was 10-years-old, I remember telling my parents I’ve wanted to write novels when I grew up and of course they laughed, rubbed my head, and sent me off to play. But that’s something I’ve wanted to do forever. I’ve been stuck with the non-fiction mainly because I was a journalist for 17 years and that’s what I’ve done. And I finally decided…if I want to write novels, I should probably do it because if I don’t now, I’m going to regret it later.

JW: Is this your first novel?
JO: It’s my first novel being published. I wrote one before it that’s being published in a year from January. I got two novels coming out in 2016. They’re a book series on…it’s an apocalyptic type series.

JW: Are you going to stick with fiction for a while or do you see yourself going back to writing about paranormal occurrences and what not?
JO: If the right subject, the right book hits me, yeah, I’ll definitely go back to non-fiction. But I’m having a lot of fun right now writing fiction.

JW: In terms of your fiction writing, do you ever see yourself straying away from humor and going more for a serious tone?
JO: No matter what I write, something funny comes out because that’s just what I’m use to. I really, really want to write a horror story. I really want to write something terrifying. So that’s something I got going on in the future.

JW: I assume you’ll pull some inspiration from some of the real-life horror stories you’ve heard from people.
JO: Oh yes. I’m definitely going to heavily rely on the non-fiction work that I’ve done on the paranormal and on ghosts, spirits, monsters. I think that’ll help…lend it a lot of realism.

JW: I know you’re always working on something. Do you have anything that you’re piecing together and working on now?
JO: I’m working on something. I’ve got a lot of notes down. My wife and I just had a baby about a month and a half ago.
JW: Oh wow. Congratulations. I didn’t hear that.
JO: Well, (laughs) it was a bit of a surprise because I had vasectomy six years ago.
JW: Oh. Holy crap.
JO: (laughs) Yeah…I was OK six years ago, everything went well, but I was one in a couple of thousand people that found out my super power is I can heal myself. So I took notes throughout the pregnancy and wrote a bunch of funny stuff that happened. The tentative name for the book is “The Vasectomy Diaries”.

JW: I know you’ve written about your kids and being a father before. Do you still do that?
JO: I still write a weekly humor column and I write funny stuff about the kids, once and a while when they do something ridiculous, which is quite a bit. So I still do that kind of writing.

JW: I know you have a lot of different projects and there was a monster killing book you were working on. How’s that coming along?
JO: I found a publisher and it’s coming out in January.
JW: Tell us about it.
JO: The book’s called “How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items”. It’s a book about what would happen if the monsters took over and invaded your house. What do you have if a werewolf breaks into your house? What do you have lying around that you can use to kill it? And I go through just random things around your house that could kill a werewolf, vampire, demonic clown, gnome, killer robot from the future, velociraptor, lots of other different types of monsters.

JW: Is this another humor book or could it be considered real advice?
JO: It’s more humor, but you know what? You could seriously beat a zombie to death with a prosthetic leg. So it’s pretty handy.

JW: How many monsters do you cover in this?
JO: 14. Including reanimated corpses like Frankenstein’s monster, dragons and your evil twin from an alternate dimension.

JW: Do you ever see writing as your full-time gig?
JO: That…I think that is about every writer’s dream, to do it full time, but realistically…there are only about 120 writers in the country, that’s all they do is write books. I could see that if I got successful, but you know what? I really enjoy teaching college students. So even if I did get to the point where I could write books for a living, I don’t know if I would. I think I’d keep teaching.

“A Funeral Story” is available December 19th.
You can check out Jason at his website, http://www.jasonoffutt.com, or follow him on Twitter: @TheJasonOffutt
You can also read his writings, at jasonoffutt.blogspot.com and at from-the-shadows.blogspot.com

Win Advance Passes to The Kansas City Premiere of Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women and Children” [ENDED]

Media Mikes has teamed up with Paramount Pictures to give (50) readers a chance to win a pass for (2) to attend the Kansas City premiere of the new film “Men, Women and Children.”

All you have to do is go to http://l.gofobo.us/M150z27Y and register. On October 12, 2014, (50) random entrants will be selected and notified by email. Good luck!

SCREENING INFORMATION
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Tivoli Cinema
Kansas City, Missouri

Opening Date: Friday, October 17, 2014
Official Website: www.MenWomenChildrenMovie.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MWCmovie
Twitter: @MWCMovie #MWC
Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue throughout-some involving teens, and for language.

Synopsis:
MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.

Jason Momoa talks about his latest film “Road to Paloma”

You might know Jason Momoa from his amazing role of Khal Drogo in the first season of “Game of Thrones” and for playing the lead role in the 2011 remake of “Conan the Barbarian”. He is also rumored to be playing Aquaman in DC Comics’ upcoming films like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his latest film “Road to Paloma” and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: “Road to Paloma” is your first film as director, writer, and producer and you also star in the lead role; how was it wearing all these hats?
Jason Momoa: It was one of my greatest achievements. It was also one of the funniest things that I have done. I work on so many sets where there are just tons of people. We did this film with a very small crew and a bunch of my best friends. We went out bought all the equipment and just did it. I just wanted to show the world my vision. The acting wasn’t really a stretch for me but putting the movie together was the main challenge for me. I loved doing it on this very small level. It was almost like doing theater. We would rehearse and rehearse and once we had the right light, we were ready to go. Stanley Kubrick once said you can spend 10 years writing a script and then you have to shoot it in 10 days. I just wouldn’t want to do that. I would rather take less money and have the freedom.

MG: This is a road movie, so let’s talk about the journey as an actor/filmmaker that you took with this film?
JM: It was crazy. I just want to go back to acting…I will be in my trailer [laughs]. No but, it is like having a child, really. We called it the never ending movie. It has taken up 3 1/2 years from start to finish but most movies do. It was still an amazing experience for me.

MG:I was hoping to see you all set up with full war paint…
JM: You will see it! You see a glimpse in the trailer. We chose not to put it in the film. The scene really grabs you and puts you in the edge of your seat. But the pacing didn’t work well in the film. It will be out on the Blu-ray release though, so at least you can see it.

MG:How was it getting to work with your wife Lisa Bonet?
JM: It was great and also very hard. It is scary because these are characters you are playing and you don’t want to give too much of your personal life but at the same time you want it to be real. She killed it though and I was a wreck [laughs]. She is amazing.

MG:How did you get involved with WWE Studios?
JM: They have a huge fan base and they thought there fan would really dig this. It is a beautiful film and really has something to say. I think that is why Michael Luisi and WWE got behind it because it has a lot of heart. It has a little bit of everything action, love, passion, fighting and I like that a lot.

MG:What else do you have in the cards coming up next?
JM: I am working on the passion project of my life. Right now, it is called “Enemy in the Valley”. It is a true story, based in the 1890’s taking place in Kauai. Back in the day, when someone got leprosy, they would just drop them on an island and leave them. There wasn’t proper law. So this is his story about how he defends himself and his family and became a hero in Hawaii. It is a drama period piece. To me it is like “The Last of the Mohicans” meets “The Proposition”. It is definitely my “Braveheart” for my people. It is a dream role for me and I will be directing also. So I can’t wait to get started.

Jason Baldwin talks about being one of the The West Memphis Three and film “The Devil’s Knot”

At the age of sixteen Charles Jason Baldwin was arrested, put on trial, and convicted for the killing of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The killings were viewed as ritualistic and Satanic. The only evidence against Jason Baldwin was his long hair, black heavy-metal t-shirts, and his friendship with Damien Echols. In 1994, he pled innocent, yet was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In August of 2011, after eighteen years and seventy-eight days of incarceration, in what is known as the Alford Plea, Jason pled guilty to the crime: and was released from prison. Jason Baldwin is one of The West Memphis Three.

B.C. Allen: It’s been two-and-a-half years since you were released from prison; do you feel fully acclimated to current-day society at this point?
Jason Baldwin: I don’t know if anyone ever gets fully acclimated to current-day society or not. With that being said, I am putting my life together, with a wonderful woman of my dreams. I recently married the love of my life, Holly. We’re building a life together. We have two kittens and a bunny, who act as our babies. I mean, life… life is wonderful. Everywhere we go people are just so gracious and caring, and warm and helpful. It’s been a wonderful experience.

BCA: When were you two married?
JB: We were married in December. I proposed to her in Toronto at AIDWYC, which is the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. AIDWYC is an organization Rubin “Hurricane” Carter – who just passed – started twenty years ago. Anyway, I had been carrying this ring in my backpack for maybe eight or nine months… like I’m carrying a baby. [laughs] I wanted to get her dad’s permission before I asked her. Long story short, she said “Yes”, and we are having an amazing life now.

BCA: In an alternate world, had you not entered the Alford Plea, where do you think you’d be with the case at this point?
JB: Well, you hope the courts would do what they are supposed to do… and follow the evidence and follow the procedures as they’re set down. The procedures are in place to free innocent people. The evidence was there to free us, but… since I’ve been free I’ve had some college and I had a logic professor who’s also a computer programmer, and he told me “Law is like computer programming. Law is for people and society like computer programming is for computers. But where the difference is, is that the computer has to follow that programming, and it’s going to do whatever the programming says. Whereas people are different; they don’t always do as the law has prescribed. Even though I had every hope and the law was supposed to be on my side to help me be free… I don’t know if they’d have succeeded in murdering Damien or not. And even then, the State didn’t give us the opportunity to save our names, like they should have, and thrown the case out, and opened it up. No matter how long it takes to find whoever really committed the crime. It was a hard position… a horrible position… to be put in, but ultimately, I couldn’t make the decision for Damien. He’s facing death for something he didn’t do. I couldn’t make the decision to stay for him. No one knows what it would be. But the good thing is now there’s still hope, because they didn’t execute Damien. He’s free now, Jessie’s free, I’m free. Even though we still have this Alford Plea hanging over us, there’s still hope. Even though the State officially says the case isn’t open, there’s no statute of limitations on murder. So when we do find who committed this crime – and we will – it’s a matter of time, because we’re not giving up. I believe, I hope, they’ll overturn everything now. I believe they will. And in the meantime I’ll just live my life like I have always lived it. Just do the best I can, and enjoy it. And try and carry myself with a little bit of grace and dignity, and treat everybody the same, and just love this short, precious time we all have here.

BCA: Obviously, to Arkansas the case is closed, officially. But I presume there is still an investigation going on?
JB: My attorney is still working diligently. Doing everything he can as an attorney with private investigators and stuff like that. But he’s not a State’s attorney, he doesn’t have subpoena power and things like that; so there are things he can’t do. We’re doing what we can. The State can do more and they should do more. I like to think that everybody would respect people, or a position, who would admit a mistake and try to correct that mistake and move forward, rather than just to say that there has been no mistake, and just try and hide. The big thing to do is admit that a mistake was made in convicting Damien, Jessie, and myself; and go ahead and move forward and try to find who really did this. That’s the only way that society or any of us are going to be able to heal completely.

BCA: There is almost a weird irony to me, that during your 1994 trial you only spoke three words, you said, “Because I’m innocent.” And now twenty years later you seem to be one of the most vocal of the three of you. Can you say anything about that?
JB: I could have been vocal then too, but everyone, you know… you’re in court and the Judge tells you that you can’t say anything, you can’t have an emotional outburst. No matter what you hear. No matter what type of lies are being said, or you won’t even be able to be permitted to be there at your own trial. So you sit there and you hear all these things, and you try to put the bravest face on that you can, and you hear all of these horrible things. Then you tell your attorneys and everyone who would listen where you were, the people you came into contact with, in full faith. In full faith, that your mom, my uncle, my brothers, my next door neighbor Ms. Littleton, my high school art teacher, the lady who ran the county jail; all these people who could testify for me are going to be given that opportunity, as well as myself. And then, to do everything I am told to do, and come to the trial’s conclusion and never be given those opportunities and to only be able to say, “Because I’m innocent,” it was hard. Never had a chance. Never had a chance. But no one was able to see that aspect.

BCA: I went back and read “Devil’s Knot” again recently – after having viewed the film – and I always catch something new when I read it. I noticed this time through that Dan Stidham, Jessie Misskelley Jr.’s lawyer, was only twenty seven when he took on this case. I mean, that’s what, ten years younger than you are now. Could you imagine taking that on at such a young age; or even now, knowing what you know about the law?
JB: I couldn’t.
BCA: Do you feel that your defense attorney Paul Ford did a decent job, when looking back on it all these years later?
JB: There are so many factors that played against him. I wish he would have let me testify; I wish he would have let all of my alibi witnesses testify, but even if I would have, or everybody would have, we wouldn’t have been able to combat the jury foreman who was convinced he was going to convince the rest of the jurors that we were guilty no matter what was offered, or not offered, in court. So we were up against things like that. Literally, we never had a chance. Never had a chance. From the minute the fingers were pointed at us, we never stood a chance. And that’s the saddest part of it. And that’s because, I think, it was an honest mistake that they lost the evidence from Bojangles, that was collected that night. From that point on we lost evidence… I don’t know that it would have led anywhere, but to me, a guy coming out of the very bayou that the boys would be found in the next day… Come out of there during the time that they are missing… that’s very suspicious. If that person didn’t have anything to do with it, they possibly were a witness. That evidence was very crucial and important, and it’s lost.

BCA: You believe that it was an honest mistake? That wasn’t something deceptive on Bryn Ridge’s or someone else’s part?
JB: Yea.
BCA: That’s your personal belief?
JB: Yea. I always try and give people what was supposed to have been given to me at my trial, and that’s the benefit of a doubt. I just think it was an honest mistake.

BCA: From your interviews, and the hours of footage in the documentaries, you get the gist that you are a relatively positive person – which I have always admired about you – and you’ve always had a positive outlook on everything. That’s interesting to know that you think it was a legitimate mistake.
JB: Thank you.
BCA: With this narrative version of “Devil’s Knot”, this dramatized version of the story, what do you think it will bring to light that Berlinger & Sinofsky “Paradise Lost” Trilogy of films, or Amy Berg’s “West of Memphis” didn’t show? What do you think the appeal is going to be?
JB: I think we’re making a mistake if we try to pit them against each other, or compare them, in that sense. What we should do is look at it like this; there are a lot more people out there who watch movies and don’t view documentaries or read true-crime novels. So this is going to reach a broad base, and hopefully the people who hear of the case for the first time through the film will go back and watch the documentaries, as well, “Paradise Lost” one through three, and “West of Memphis”; read Mara’s book, “Devil’s Knot”, and Damien’s memoirs, do everything. Ultimately, it’s saying this, it’s saying, to whoever did this, if they’re still alive out there – wherever they are hiding – if they’re out there, they’re paying attention. It’s saying to them that even though the State of Arkansas says the case is closed, it says to them, we are not giving up. There is no statute of limitation on murder: the people are not giving up. We all know that Damien, Jessie and I are innocent, we all know someone did this, and we are all looking. No matter how long it’s going to take. And ultimately, the best part… for Pam Hicks, it shows her that no one is giving up; her son is not going to be forgotten. I know the hardest part for her was that Alford Plea, because the State was kind of saying to her, $60 million for wrongful imprisonment money is more important than your son; more important than knowing what happened to your son. And that’s wrong. For us, making this film was sort of a way to give that hope back to her. I witnessed that on set. Meeting all the actors and everybody that worked on set. Everyone I came across there would say that when you get a script and you get a job, you do your best at it, because that’s just what you do. But they said there was something different about this script and this story, because everybody just cared about it; and cared about the people they were representing and the people touched by the case. And to see Reese Witherspoon, who everybody loves, aside from the serious nature of this case; but to see her take Pam in her arms, and hug her and tell her everything is going to be all right. To see that love, all that healing love, that right there made the film being made worth it, just that alone.

BCA: After your release it seemed like you moved immediately to the Pacific Northwest, what is it about that area that attracted you?
JB: I had no idea where I was going when I first got out. When you grow up listening to rock n’ roll, and one of the last cassette tapes you had – before you got locked up – was Pearl Jam’s Ten… He (Eddie Vedder) looks a lot different than he did as a sixteen year old, I mean as you know, we’re both the same age. But when you’re looking at this rock star – who’s not only a rock star, but has given so much of himself when he didn’t have to, and cared about you enough to put his name out there to get you some justice and get you free, and he’s like “Hey, we’re hopping on a plane and going to my house”, you don’t say, “Oh, well I have other plans.” You get on the plane and go to Washington and try to figure things out. I didn’t know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do; because I wasn’t expecting the Alford Plea, I wasn’t expecting to get out right then. I’m looking forward to the December hearing and how long the trial is going to take; I’m just trying to face that, and then I can figure out what I am going to do when I get out. Then all of a sudden I’m out, and at a rock star’s house. In hindsight, Holly and I talked about this a lot… right then I probably could have been flown to the Sahara desert, and after what I had experienced I would have been jumping up and down “Oh, sand! Let’s stay here, I love it!” But it was very fortuitous that we landed in Seattle, because now two-and-a-half, almost going on three years now, after freedom, I’ve had a chance to travel the country, and see a couple of places in the world. And I’ve been amazed, I love every place. But honestly now, after experiencing many places, Holly and I agree, we both choose Seattle. So it’s really awesome that Seattle was the first place we went.

BCA: Do you still have family in Arkansas? Have you traveled back there since your release?
JB: Yea. Holly and I have been back several times. Her dad lives in Arkansas, and my dad lives in Arkansas; we see both of them. My mom goes back and forth between Missouri and Mississippi, and her family lives in Mississippi; so we’ve been to see them as well. She (Holly) grew up in Little Rock, went to high school there, and college; so she’s got a million-and-one friends, so every time we go back it’s always amazing. I meet people who have supported the cause… it’s just always good.

BCA: This past fall you did a Kickstarter campaign – which I gladly pledged to – how is the book coming?
JB: Thank you.
BCA: Is there a release date for that?
JB: I am hoping to have it wrapped up by the end of the year. I’ve got quite a bit written and got a lot more to write. I’m working on a chapter right now, I’m calling it “Jessie’s Girl”.
BCA: Nice.
JB: You know, like the song… [sings] “Jesse’s Girl.” Anyway, working on that chapter right now. I don’t have any chapters finished, because I’m kind of writing them all simultaneously, and just going back and forth. I’m really in the writing phase, just getting it out of me.

BCA: Just getting out the main gist?
JB: Yea, yea. Just putting it all down; then I’ll go back and get an editor and put it together in a book format, ya know, so we can get it to you, since you funded the Kickstarter. Thank you so much for the Kickstarter, because that’s what is paying the bills right now, so I can write it. I’ve never written a book before, it’s hard work. I usually get up around four in the morning, after I feed the cats and everything, then I usually get started on it around six, and work on it throughout the day.

BCA: Is the founding of Proclaim Justice going to be a part of the book?
JB: Definitely yea. I haven’t written any of that yet, I’m still experiencing it, and I’m not limiting it.

BCA: What can you tell me about Proclaim Justice?
JB: My friend John Hardin out of Texas, and I, we started this foundation called Proclaim Justice, and we’re trying to get it off the ground to help innocent people who fall through the cracks for institutions like The Innocence Project, who don’t take their case because they specialize in DNA cases. It’s for innocent people who don’t have DNA in their case; we’re trying to bring those people hope.

The author of “Devil’s Knot”, Mara Leveritt, and Jason Baldwin, worked together on a book entitled “Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence”, which is set to be released in June. “Dark Spell” is the second part in Leveritt’s “Justice Knot” Trilogy; with a third book, “Justice Knot”, currently in the works.

“DEVIL’S KNOT” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 10, 2014.

Jason Brubaker talks about his graphic novel “reMIND” and “Kung Fu Panda 3”

Jason Brubaker is a visual development artist at Dreamworks Animation. He spends his free time though making graphic. In fact, he, at the time, had the highest funded graphic novel at more than $95,000 called “reMIND” and “reMIND, Vol.2”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his graphic novels and his work on the upcoming “Kung Fu Panda 3”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of “reMIND”?
Jason Brubaker: That’s a long story. It started out as a song that my friend and I wrote about a cat that would always come and hang out at our apartment all day. The song spawned ideas of a music video which I storyboarded. At the time my job was a storyboard artist so that was just how I thought. I storyboarded a rough concept of a cat building a robot suit and teleporting to an underwater Lizard world to fight a Lizard King with a toaster. Yeah, it’s weird but I really wanted to learn to animate so I thought this would be a good place to start. Years later after spending all my free time animating clips for this music video about a cat, I started getting animation jobs. The project was never going to get finished because every time I saw dramatic improvement in my animation ability I would reanimate entire scenes and it became a mess. At the end of 8 years I only had about 3 minutes of animation that I liked and a story that had no ending. Eventually I scrapped the idea to make a graphic novel. I pretty much just started from scratch and threw out years of stuff that just didn’t work but the design of Victuals, the robot suit and the lighthouse were pretty much untouched. I figured out a complete story to tell and the characters finally clicked into place.

MG: Tell us about some of your major influences for these graphic novels?
JB: Victuals was loosely based on the cat that would wonder into our apartment long ago and Sonja was loosely based on my wife. I’m not sure either look or act like my characters though. So I guess you could say they are VERY loosely based on them. I’ve always loved stories with really strong female characters much like Miyazaki’s work and I was hoping to get that same sort of feeling that Miyazaki’s movies always give me. Chris Bachalo (more of his old stuff), Joshua Middleton and Christian Schellewald are the big influences right now.

MG: Are you surprised by success of Kickstarter?
JB: Yes, very much. In fact I still don’t understand how it made as much money as it did.

MG: What was your biggest challenge with “reMind Vol.2” compared to the 1st volume?
JB: The biggest challenge with Volume 2 was just sitting down to put in the work. I was so busy fulfilling orders and keeping up the online hype for the first book that I didn’t have time to make any progress on the second one. Eventually I had to just lock myself into a room and turn off all communication in order to get it finished in a reasonable amount of time.

MG: Take us through your day to day work with Dreamworks Animation; what are you currently working on with them?
JB: At Dreamworks, I’m working on “Kung Fu Panda 3” as a Visual Development Artist. I pretty much just paint pictures all day on the computer in Photoshop. Sometimes I need to make a 3D model so everyone can look at a set from any angle they want to decide what will work best. Sometimes I have to paint “color keys” and sometimes I just create simple props. It’s a pretty fun job because I get to work on many visual aspects of a large production.

MG: Tell us what you have planned next after “reMind”?
JB: Honestly, up until a few months ago I would have told you about my big comic plans for the future but at this time in my life I don’t really know what is going to be next. I might take a break from starting a new comic because I have a few other ideas that I feel are important to me now. But for the time I’ll just have to keep it vague.

Jason Newsted talks about playing with Metallica and his new album “Newsted”

Jason Newsted’s body of work reads like a who’s who of hard rock and metal acts but he is most widely recognized as a former member of Metallica who along with Newsted were inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Jason’s newest project simply titled “Newsted” released their debut EP in January of this year and is set to hit the road in support of the release this month. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Jason recently about the EP, the recent addition of Staind guitarist Mike Mushok and if he really is the new lead singer of Slayer.

Adam Lawton: You have worked with a number of amazing artists and bands. Was doing a self tilted project something that was always in the back of your mind or was it a more recent thought?
Jason Newsted: I have been doing projects for a long, long time. My studio Chop House has been going now for about 21 years. Over that time I have had the privilege of playing with lots of people. During some of those sessions we took things further like with Echobrain and Papa Wheelie where we actually released material to the fans. “Newsted” is a much different project than those in the past. I never had a thought of putting my name on a band but it was something that just sort of transpired. I am now quite happy that it turned out that way. Things really came out of doing a few shows with Papa Wheelie where I had a lot of fun just singing and playing. From there I went and did the 30th anniversary shows with Metallica and that lit my fire in a big way. I was completely overwhelmed by the reception I received from the fans as it was not something I had expected. I have certainly heard the crowds cheer a few times over the years but this was fucking overwhelming! I realized then that music was what I should be doing. I had never really stopped creating art and music but those performances really got the fire going again. About 5 or 6 weeks later I got together with the original line up of Flotsam and Jetsam and we did some weekend shows. We just kept looking at each other in disbelief as we all were still alive and smiling. 31 years later we were all still rocking stuff we hadn’t played in ages. That was a lot of fun and gave me time to sort of exercise my options and see who would be the best fit for me to chase things with again. The Flotsam thing was cool however logistically it wasn’t going to work out. I had been playing with Jesus Mendez Jr. and Jessie Farnsworth for about 5 years prior and we had quite a few chops under our belt and I really took pride in those guys. I ended up writing a bunch of songs from top to bottom with my IPad and then sent them out to my boys. They brought those songs back and that is sort of what you hear on the EP. We started off as a power trio and since recording those first 4 songs Mike Mushok of Staind joined the band and now we are a 4 piece. Mike has been in the band for about 7 weeks and we have already completed our LP. We will be delivering 13 songs to the record company in a few weeks and starting this Friday we have a bunch of shows lined up that will take us to 17 different countries.

AL: How was it that Mike was asked to join the band?
JN: Everything with this band has been very positive and because of that good things keep happening to us. Mike came recommended from a few people who I really have a lot of respect for in the business. I had been putting together a short list of people who I wanted to audition and I definitely had an idea of who I wanted in the band. I was looking for someone who was a hard working, honest and an accomplished musician. This band was not something I had to do. I could have just stayed at home and sat on the porch all day. I am doing this because it is something I want to do and it is something the people want me to do.

AL: What have you done to get yourself back in to the mind set of going out on the road again?
JN: Physically you have train like you would for a marathon as that’s what life on the road is like. Being the front man now I am fulfilling a lot of new roles. I now am not just playing bass but I have a bunch of other stuff going on that I must do on the stage. That part of things is both exciting and challenging for me. Mentally the thing that is getting the best of me now is the thought of being away from my wife. We just got married 6 months ago and things are still very fresh. To have to leave her now is kind of fucked up. Before I may have just had a cat or a dog so the only thing that was on my mind was just going for it. Nothing came before the band or the music and I had gotten used to that thought process. Things are a little bit different now with the new responsibilities I have. Plus I have grown up a little bit. Not much but a little. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and being able to see everyone.

AL: What has been the biggest change for you since stepping in to the front man position?
JN: I have to do so much micro managing now. I like to be in control like everyone does but in the big band there were two very serious control freaks. In that situation I just assumed my role as the dude who was the live guy/people person who took it to the fans. In the new band I am responsible for everything. From booking hotels and travel arrangements to making sure I am represented in the media correctly. I am responsible for all of that. How I am represented when I am not around is very important to me. This is a really giant thing for me so the people I have put together to help me are still learning how I work and how I want things done. Hopefully in a year or so I will be able to step back from a few of these roles and let those people take over a little bit. In Metallica I never knew about all the detail stuff as there were tons of people handling that stuff. Things are considerably different these days and there are a lot more roles to handle other than just having my name on the thing and being the lead guy.

AL: What type of creative process have you taken on the material that has been recorded thus far?
JN: All of the seeds are mine. The skeletons of the songs were all created on my IPad with the Garage Band app. I build everything and then give it to my boys. They will bring it back and then we all work on it collectively. This newest batch of songs Mike got to work on from the inception. It has been equal parts all the way around and everyone puts in everything they have.

AL: Can you tell us about the first group of tour dates the band has booked?
JN: The first batch of 14 shows is to bust the rust off and to help the band get warmed up. We want to get things together in front of our core audience before we take things to the big stages over in Europe. Anybody who gets to see one of these 14 shows will be very lucky. I would love to be playing and watching from the crowd if I could. These shows are going to be really fun. After these 14 shows in smaller venues we go to playing Sonisphere and gigs like that. We are hitting all the big shit so we have to get ready. (Laughs)

AL: Has there been any talks of performing at the Orion Festival this year?
JN: Not this year. We will be in the middle of France during that time. I would really like to get firing on all cylinders and then some before doing something like that. If we ever get the chance to do something with Metallica I want to make sure that I am ready to fire it off. I want to be strong! I would like to have 90 shows or more under my belt before playing with those guys. I have something to prove in that way. If those guys ever notice that I have this going on and they decide to listen to it for a minute or two I want them to take notice. That’s not a vengeful thing it’s a brotherly thing that I want them to know I am alive and well.

AL: In the past year or so you have started appearing off and on with Metallica. How did those communication lines re-open allowing for you guys to work together again?
JN: We are still business partners for the rest of our lives. We all worked together to create this giant thing together. As far as talking on the phone together that’s something that won’t happen and never did happen. When I was in the band I think I may have talked to Hetfield on the phone 10 times in 15 years. Talking on the phone is something that just doesn’t happen. I talked to Lars way more than that as we had a different line of communication. As of right now we aren’t really talking. We sort of get our information about each other and our families through different people.  I am more interested in how their families are doing and that type of stuff. We are probably better friends now than we have ever been. Everyone is very chill and sort of found their place. Things are all good.

AL: What type of reservations did you have when it was first mentioned about appearing with them again?
JN: At first I had thought I would just get up there and play a few songs and then Robert would come up and play some new stuff with them but when I heard that we would both be up there playing together I wasn’t really in to the idea but, things did work out. For me things were only sour in the very beginning. Maybe the first 4-6 months of sour and then I got so busy with my own stuff. 12 years have now passed and we both are doing great. I feel I did the right thing and made a serious sacrifice in order for everything to continue. I hope someday those guys will realize that my sacrifice was for Metallica to remain in the world. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given and I will always be supportive of them.

AL: Can you put any of the claims made to rest about you replacing Slayer front man/bassist Tom Araya?
JN: (Laughs) That is something that was so funny. I had fans and friends coming up to me the day after that was announced cheering me on and congratulating me. I had no idea what was going on. We are doing some shows with Slayer in Europe so I thought they were just excited that we were going to be on the same bill. Then I find out that they thought I was actually joining Slayer. This all started because some of our fans think our drummer Jesus looks like Tom. So then it turned in to me leaving my band to front Slayer because Tom left Slayer to drum for my band. (Laughs) It’s fucking awesome!

Click here for Jason’s official website

Newsted Tour Dates:

4/19 & 4/20 Walnut Creek, CA @ Red House

4/23  San Jose, CA @ San Jose Rock Shop

4/24  Fresno, CA @ The Starline

4/26  Sparks, NV @ The Alley

4/27  Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades

5/1  Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy

5/3  Las Vegas, NV @ Vinyl

5/4  Mesa, AZ @  KUPD Ufiesta / Quail Run Park

5/15 Battle Creek, MI @ Planet Rock (w/ Wilson)

5/17 Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot (w/ Wilson)

5/18 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge (w/ Wilson)

5/21 New York, NY @ Highline Ballroom

5/22 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East Downstairs (w/ Wilson)

5/23 Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony (w/Wilson)

Also be sure to check out our review of Jason’s EP titled “Metal”

Five Finger Death Punch's Jason Hook talks about new album and his signature M-4 Sherman guitar

Jason Hook is the guitarist for the heavy metal group Five Finger Death Punch who in the coming months will be releasing their 4th as yet untitled studio album.  More recently at this year’s NAMM convention held in Anaheim, California Gibson Guitars unveiled the Jason Hook signature M-4 Sherman guitar which is the first guitar to bear Jason’s name. Media Mikes was able to talk with Jason recently about the creation of the guitar and several of its aspects.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Gibson guitars?
Jason Hook: I remember reading the back of the Kiss “Destroyer” album where it said that Kiss uses Pearl drums and Gibson guitars because they want the best. I think that was in 1976. At the time I think the whole band was using Gibsons. I didn’t get my own Gibson until I was in my late 20’s. I bought it in Canada sight unseen. I think I paid about $900 for a used custom. I didn’t know anything about the guitar before I got it. I probably should have held on to that one.

AL: How did the opportunity come about to do your own signature model Gibson?
JH: I know several people who work at the company so I would periodically check in with them. I play explorers which not a lot of people play. I thought that this would be a good lead in to help push this through. It took me a little while to get that point to the right person. Everyone wants something from Gibson so they are very selective about what they give away and who they help out. I had to be patient.

AL: What was it that drew you to the Explorer model?
JH: I own several Les Paul models and they are great guitars however I developed a nerve issue with my right arm. On the Les Paul model there is a hard binding that comes across and falls under that right arm. This was causing my arm to burn while I was playing and really bummed me out. Idecided to try the Explorer and it was perfect.

AL: How much of the design process were you allowed to be a part of?
JH: Surprisingly they wanted to do exactly what I wanted to do. I started off asking them if I could do certain and things and they told me it was my guitar I could do what I wanted. They didn’t resist any of my crazy ideas.

AL: Can you give us the specs on the guitar?
JH: Everything is based off the stock Explorer. I changed the rosewood fret board to a granadillo fret board as it is a very hard and dense wood with not a lot of grain. I wanted a lower profile fret that was also wide. I looked all through the factory but couldn’t find what I wanted. After asking if they had anything else they showed me the wire that’s used on the Zakk Wylde Les Paul’s which was perfect. I literally stole the fret wire out Zakk’s material stash. (Laughs) We are using locking mini Grover tuners which is something different. We also did a bevel on the upper wing of the body as well as

scooping out a portion of the lower wing which allows the player access the higher frets. For pickups we are using a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Duncan 59 in the neck. Other than the special paint scheme the last thing we did was this special wiring harness. This idea came out of when I was still painting guitars in my garage. I would take the pick guards off to paint the bodies and there is  this channel that the wires sat in. I looked pretty gnarly the way it was so I started looking around and found some plastic conduit that I got at Home Depot to wrap around the wires.

AL: When you showed them the wiring what did they think?
JH: They told me that I didn’t have to have that in there as they could route the guitar differently so there would be no channel. I wanted to make it interesting. I think the more bizarre something looks cause people to take notice. I am a big fan of Eddie Van Halen and the stuff he did in the eighties. He was using these pieces of shit guitars that he was making in his garage but, he still played better than everyone else. (Laughs) That I thought was really unique and I said that if I ever got to operate on a professional level I was going to do something similar. My explorer was supposed to be the most unique, ugliest, beat up thing I could create.

AL: Can you give us an update where you are at with the new album?
JH: We are about 65% done. We are shooting for a deadline that is at the end of April, early May. We are working hard every day on this thing. I am at the phase now where I am laying down solos here at my home studio. Generally the first portion of the recording process I am writing and working on rhythm stuff. It’s not till the last quarter that I switch over to doing the other stuff.

Jason Christopher talks about slasher "Nobody Gets Out Alive" and upcoming "Monsters Within"

Jason Christopher is the writer/director of the 70/80’s slasher inspired “Nobody Gets Out Alive”. The film is in-your-face and will leave hardcore horror fans very happy. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason to chat about the film and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: You handled everything from editing to producer to writer and directing “Nobody Gets Out Alive”, tell us about the origin of this project?
Jason Christopher: The flick came about with my producer and I making a small no budget movie. We made this movie where we were the only crew and hired three actors and had a solid story. With no budget the movie didn’t turn out how we really wanted it to but we screened it sold out in 45 min and turned away 200 people. That’s when my producer was like, “lets get a real budget and make a real movie, what other scripts you got?” I wrote “NGOA” when I was 17 years old. Always wanted to write a slasher flick paying homage to the flicks I loved. It wasn’t until my Dad passed away randomly that I actually sat down and wrote it. I had a lot of hate and anger wrapped in my head from the incident so it motivated me to make the Hunter Isth character. We got 36k bucks and made the movie.

MG: Out of all those tasks which was the most challenging for you?
JC: I consider myself a director and editor. I like writing but I’m not a good writer, I’ll admit. I have more of a vision with my eye through a camera than I do with my hands on a laptop writing. I do the fun side of producing, putting things together. My producer does the money and business side of things. That’s just not my thing. But with writing it’s a draft of your story, directing you’re seeing the story come to life and another draft, and editing is the final draft to me.

MG: The film is a nice homage to 70/80’s slasher pics, tell about your inspiration?
JC: I was born in ’87 so I didn’t get to witness first hand of all the best slasher flicks. But I watched them all when I could. “The Prowler”, “Black Christmas” (74), “Friday The 13th Part 3”, “Halloween 2″(82). Those are my favorites and I think they show in the flick.

MG: The gore in the film is solid and doesn’t cut away; I commend you for not being afraid to offend!
JC: My Dad always told me to make something controversial. I did a lot in “NGOA” by trying to be unique with the kills. There’s a lot more I wanted to show but I didn’t. Was thinking of how a distributor would feel because I definitely didn’t want the movie to sit on a shelf and never get picked up. After seeing “A Serbian Film” I was like, “damn this dude really didn’t care”. Love that flick for that reason.

MG: Do you recall what was the film’s final body count?
I think there’s a total of eight on screen. In earlier drafts there were a bunch more but I took them out due to not having money in the budget. *Spoiler* Originally the two convenience store victims weren’t supposed to be in but after a few cuts of the movie we decided to go back and put them in.

MG: How did Clint Howard get involved with the film?
JC: My producer set that one up. We had enough money to get a small cameo in the flick. We were tossing around names and I randomly said, “Clint Howard!” He took it and ran with it and set the whole thing up. Clint was great, he’s such a smart-cool dude.

MG: What do you have line-up next?
JC: This script I wrote titled, “Monsters Within”. I really can’t say much, don’t even know if I’m allowed to announce the movie title but whatever. It’s what I’m definitely working on getting off the ground. Money is always a bitch and we’re definitely aiming way high for the budget. Got a great name for the lead attached and I’m so excited for this movie. It’s everywhere – sci-fi, horror, slasher, mystery. It’s pretty cool.

Jason Vivone talks the Blues and touring with his band the Billy Bats

Photo by Heather McKenzie

I first met Jason Vivone in 2000 when, after a mutual friend introduced us, he cast me in a film he was shooting locally in Kansas City.  A year later he cast me as Dave Moss in his stage production of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.”  One day while reading lines at his apartment I couldn’t help but notice a nice selection of guitars displayed in one room.  A guitar player myself, I jokingly asked Jason if he was any good.  “I get by,” was his reply.  Like a fox!  This week Jason, along with his band the Billy Bats, will be representing Kansas City at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  Before he and the band headed to the Bluff City Jason took some time to talk with Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: What inspired you to pick up a guitar?
Jason Vivone: My grandma had a Gibson acoustic guitar she always kept in the case. When it was time to play there was this whole ritual – I had to sit down first, then she would take it out of the case, then she would play. I don’t know why this is but she had a piano ,too and there was no ritual to the piano. It was just a piece of furniture you could walk by and make sing and then go on with what you were going to do – go to the kitchen, feed the cat, whatever.

MS: Was there a certain kind of music that you wanted to play?
JV: I liked songs with stories. You could close your eyes and invent a movie just by the music and the words and the feel of the thing.

MS: What drew you to the blues?
JV: I liked the emotion of blues. And that doesn’t mean just the sad stuff. I liked the swaggery stuff. The upbeat stuff, too. The tunes I fell in love with all felt like the singer walked into your house and took a chair and said “Lemme tell you about my baby…”

MS: You’ve also had success in filmmaking and theater. Have you put those on the back burner for now?
JV:  I suffered a pretty serious concussion and whiplash from an automobile accident a while back. It can limit my physical endurance sometimes. That’s why I’m playing the cigarbox guitar so much. A regular six string guitar gives me an incredible headache after a couple songs. Right now, I wouldn’t have the stamina or daily concentration to direct and produce a theater piece. We are, however, fortunate that a local burlesque artist, Sophie Sassafras, has decided to use a few of our tunes in an upcoming show. It feels like I am back in a theater production again. As far as film work, there are a few video projects in discussion for the Bats this upcoming year.

MS: How did the Billy Bats come together?
JV: I had played guitar all through high school and college. I got a job in Branson and it killed my taste for playing. It seemed like everywhere I went there were rip off artists. I thought the problem was me. I quit playing for ten years. In 2005, I was directing a play and we needed some guitar music. I just hired myself to save some money and found the guitar still loved me.

MS: You’ve competed as a solo artist at the International Blues Challenge in the past but this is your first time with the Billy Bats. What do you remember about your first time there?
JV: It was fun. Lots of talent. Great food. And a rich history. I highly recommend it.

MS: How did you earn this shot in the Challenge?
JV: We competed in the Kansas City competition facing off with – I think – a dozen other bands. Some great musicians all around. The judges gave us the nod of approval.

MS: Are you familiar with any of the other bands you’ll be competing with?
JV: We’ve been checking out the other bands at the IBC home page at blues.org. We really enjoy the folks who are putting their signature on a sound. And you have to hand it to the International bands — always a high degree of talent from them.

MS: What do you have planned after Memphis?
JV: We have some new things we want to incorporate into the act. The blues world has a wide influence and there are motifs and sounds we really want to explore. New Orleans feels. String band traditions. Vocal groups. We have some new material to start work-shopping and hopefully we will record this year.

Jason Trost & Lucas Till talks about "All Superheroes Must Die" & "#WetAndReckless"

Jason Trost & Lucas Till are the lead stars in the superhero film “All Superheroes Must Die” (formerly known as “Vs.”) Jason besides star in the film is also the Director, Writer, Producer, Editor. He also co-directed the recent cult film “The FP”. Lucas Till is known best for his role of Alex Summers/Havoc in “X-Men: First Class” and its upcoming sequel “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with both these actors about this film and what each of them have planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: With the overflow of superheroes taking over Hollywood, how do you feel that “All Superheroes Must Die” fits in it?
Jason Trost: We are definitely like the bastard step-child of all of those. We had the budget that probably cost the others to drive the actors to the set for like a week [laughs]. Because of that we are able to take more chances and go a bit darker. We were pretty much able to do whatever we wanted with them. When you make a studio superhero movie, there are so many cooks in the kitchen. There is not just one person directing, it is more like a committee of 40 people all with different ideas. We are very not inhibited by what we had to do, which is nice.

MG: Jason, tell us about your inspiration when you created these characters?
JT: They are all characters of things that I like. I grew up with “Batman: The Animated Series” and that has really been a bit inspiration for me with this. All of the characters are offshoots of Batman, Robin, Bat-Girl and the Riddler etc. It is really all derivatives of “Batman” for me.

MG: Lucas, how was it going from Alex Summers/Havoc in “X-Men: First Class” to Ben/Cutthroat in this?
Lucas Till: It’s was pretty cool. When we originally scheduled my scenes, we had to shift them so that I could do screen test for Havoc while I was playing Cutthroat. So, that was an interesting situation. I was able to provide a lot of input with Jason on Cutthroat. That is a little bit different with Havoc because it was a superhero that people are already are familiar with and expecting from it. When you are working on a $100+ movie, they tell you want to do and you listen. I was certainly lucky to have done both though.

MG: Due to the low budget of this film, what were each of your biggest challenges?
JT: Probably the most challenging part for me was the whole sequence in the bar. It was when Lucas and I have our big fight scene and there was also this big emotional scene and we had to shoot all of it in like 1.5 days. We are doing everything ourselves. Not only are we choreographing a fight while also acting. We had to the do whole five minute fight scene in one take. We didn’t have time for different angles. Then we had to go help people get food or write something or move lighting equipment. There was no one job for any of us on this film.
LT: I was just thinking, what was one of those rough nights were we came back and thought that this wasn’t going to work. I don’t think we ever had any. I think we were too busy to think about it.
JT: Probably for you it would be the night we did both of the explosion scenes.
LT: Oh yeah. I remember we jumped away from an explosion. I think it was one of the last shots before a weekend. I get up and everyone is cheering since it was the weekend and we can relax for a day or two. I just walked away and thought I hope you got it because it is not going to happen again [laughs]. It was mostly as rewarding as it was tough though. We also lived in the bar the whole time we made the movie. We each had our own personal tents and were really roughing it. The bar had this little scorpion/spider hybrid creatures all over. We shot it up in the mountains by Frazier Park. There were tons of critters crawling around. So that was a challenge also for sure.

MG: The ending hints plans for a sequel; any interest in pursuing that?
JT: We would love to do one. Just have to see the response to this one first. There definitely are more stories. I hope we can keep pursing the timeline of these superheroes. We already have a script for the sequel and hopefully we can make that some day.

MG: Have you been approached at all from any comic book company to do a series on these characters?
JT: No, I haven’t but I would like to make one at some point regardless. I could see having one bridging the events between the first and second films, as well as giving an origin story to this characters.

MG: You guys are reuniting in “#WetAndReckless”, tell us about that and what can we expect?
JT: Right [laughs], I do not think if anyone is ready for this one yet. This movie is insane, it is about a reality TV show that goes horribly wrong. It is like “Jersey Shore” meets “National Treasure”. We get into some crazy treasure hunting antics in Thailand. We are finishing up the movie now and then will try and figure out distributing after that. We had a screening for “All Superheroes Must Die” and showed just the opening of this film. People laughing hysterically but they didn’t get the dichotomy between a movie like “All Superheroes Must Die” and “#WetAndReckless”. We are playing assholes. I am not even sure how to describe it. They are ridiculous characters. We treat woman terribly and have no consequences for their actions. They are two completely different beasts.

MG: Jason, tell us about your role in “Hatchet III”?
JT: I play Deputy Hamilton. I am the main man at the scene for the aftermath of “Hatchet II”. It is just me and the sheriff trying to go back and figure out what is going on. The sheriff was playing by the main kid from “Gremlins” (Zach Galligan), so that was really awesome. But now that kid is a 47 year old man, so that was interesting. “Gremlins” was one of my favorite movies as a kid, so it was awesome.

MG: Jason, can you tell us about reprising your role of JTRO from “The FP” in “This is The End” this year?
JT: I don’t really know how much I can say about that. But I definitely appear in one form or another as JTRO.

MG: Lucas, any word on “X-Men: Days of Future Past” or anything else you got coming up next?
LT: I will steer away from that question [laughs]. Maybe if we were a few weeks down the road, I would have a more definitive answer for you. As far as the demographic will recognize, I just finished up a movie with David Hayter, who wrote “X-Men” and “X2: X-Men United” and is actually the voice of Snake from “Metal Gear Solid, if you like video games. He is making his directorial debut with a film called “Wolves”. Jason Momoa is in it also amongst a great cast. it is really cool and hopefully it will be out within the year.

Jason Mewes talks about films "Noobz" and "Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie"

Jason Mewes is known best for playing half of the comedic duo team Jay and Silent Bob with Kevin Smith. He has worked on with Kevin Smith on his films from “Clerks 1 & 2”, to “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back”. Jay is starring in the new gaming film “Noobz” with Blake Freeman, Matt Shively, Moises Arias, Casper Van Dien and Zelda Williams. Jay and Kevin Smith also recently announced the new animated film “Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat movies, video games and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s talk about how you got involved with the project “Noobz”?
Jason Mewes: The director, Blake Freeman, said he was thinking about me when he wrote the character. When they were getting ready to go into production, he contacted me and sent me the script. I thought it was awesome and that was that man!

MG: This is a really fun role for you. What did you enjoy most the role?
JM: Awesome thanks man. I am really psyched about the movie and how it turned out. I will always love the Jay character. It is me playing me. It is working with Kevin (Smith) and we have been doing it for so many years now. But besides those things, I definitely have to say I really had a lot of fun on it and really felt strong about the whole concept. Hopefully people dig it as much as I have.

MG: Are you a gamer in general?
JM: Yeah man, I probably play a little too much. I go through phases. I get addicted to gaming. For a while I was addicted to “The Lord of the Rings: Battle from Middle Earth” on the PC. Back then, I was with my girlfriend (now wife) and we would make plans to go out but I would be caught up playing and completely space. So I stopped playing for a little bit. Then I started playing “Call of Duty” and “Halo” and that got me back into it. Now I try to keep it at a happy medium…but I still get yelled at by my wife [laughs].

MG: You are currently touring with Kevin Smith with “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old”; what do you enjoy most about this?
JM: I love doing this. For one it has been a big help to keep me sober. I talk about 20 years of working together with Kevin. 25 years of our friendships with all the ups and downs. I talk about things that are going on in my life. And talking about it helps because it reminds me that I don’t want to go back to the way I was. Not to mention, it helps because when I walk into a Starbucks and people tell me they watch the podcast and ask how many days that I am up to now being clean. I like that. No one wanted to hire me because they thought that I was messed up and now I am getting out there and talking about it. It is really great and helping me stay sober. Most people seem to respect that. Also we have been traveling all over for it, so that has been great as well. We went to Australia and I have been there before. I have never been to Scotland, Ireland, Vancouver and we went there with this show. We have just gone all over the place and it has been awesome.

MG: Let’s talk about your new cartoon movie “Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie”, what can we expect?
JM: We are hoping to have that done by April. This started as something I told Kevin about when I first got sober that I really wanted to try directing. So I went out and directed a music video and I would still love to direct a short film or small independent movie. But I told him I would also like to get into producing. He then told me that he had a script that was sitting on his shelf and he gave it to me thinking that I would go home and just toss it on my table. But I read it, started calling some animators and began figuring out how much it would cost. My wife and I got a sound stage together and put together a group of people and then showed Kevin the first ten minutes. He loved it and then started giving us a list of people that we needed to get. So that was how he became part of it and it is really coming together. So hopefully April, we will be able to start showing it to people.  We want to tour with it like Kevin did with “Red State”. So hopefully people are going to dig it.

MG: Also now with “Clerks III” on the horizon, did you ever think that while making “Clerks” almost 20 years ago you will still be playing this role today?
JM: No, definitely not man! Definitely not with “Clerks”, Jay and Silent Bob are not even on the poster. Kevin is on it but he is in normal clothes as the director not his character. It wasn’t really till “Mallrats” that people really started asking “Hey, who are these characters?” Even after “Mallrats”, “Chasing Amy” and even “Dogma”, I had no idea that too this day we would be having all these plans, including doing the cartoon film and more comics.

Jason Gann talks about season two of FX’s “Wilfred”

Jason Gann is the co-creator and star of FX’s hit comedy series “Wilfred”. The show begins its second season on Thursday June 28th, 2012. “Wilfred” was adapted from an Australian series, also created by Gann. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his role in the show, how he feels this differs from the Australian series and also what we can expect this season.

Mike Gencarelli: If you had to explain “Wilfred” to a person that hasn’t watched season one, what would you say?
Jason Gann: I would say it is like Mr. Ed on crack-cocaine. It is a messed up story about a suicidal dude that sees his next door neighbor’s dog, as a talking man in a dog suit who smokes bong and terrorizes him, though at the same time aims to save his life.

MG: Do you need to see the first season in order to enjoy the second?
JG: No, I don’t think so. That is why we did the special preview episode with Robin Williams prior to our season two opener. We needed to tie up the loose ends from the season one finale. We also wanted to reintroduce the show to a new audience. With the season two premiere episode, it is a nice introduction to the show. It is always a challenge to match each episode for people to be able to join on mid-way through. I am very aware of that though while working in the writers room.  If I feel that something going to alienate our new audience then I will try and steer it back. It is challenging as well because there is an arc that is happening with Ryan and Wilfred’s journey. So hopefully it is funny enough and then people will go back and watch the first season and catch up. It’s almost like every episode needs to be self-contained in its own right yet.  Though we still wanted to entertain and give a little more to the fans of the show. We tried to always leave little Easter eggs throughout the episodes for big fans of the show.

MG: Creatively for you, what is your process with developing season two? Are you looking to recreate from the original Australian series or start fresh?
JG: I didn’t want to do the same show again with American accents. I was very trepidatious about even playing Wilfred. Originally, I wanted someone else to play him. It is really the brain child of my manager Jeff Kwatinetz, who solved the dilemma. I play the role again but it be a different type of show. We met with show-runners and David Zuckerman came back with this fresh take which focused on Ryan’s psychiatric issues. That is something that we never really addressed, mentioning it maybe only one of twice in the Australian version. In the American series, it is really more about Ryan but the stories are still driven by Wilfred. Now that the show is in its second season, the Australian series seems like a high school version of the show to me. David told me, when he pitched us, that he was a big fan of the original and didn’t want to remake it. He wanted to make a different gig with the characters he loved and so that they can stand each side-by-side proudly. I think we used like 4 or 5 jokes in the pilot that came from the Australian series to help us set it up. We also only did 16 episodes of the Australian show and already we have done 26 of the American show. So I am really proud of this series.

MG: How has it been working with Elijah Wood this season?
JG: Elijah and I have always had this great chemistry from the beginning. It is funny because we are very different individuals and do not have a lot in common as men. But when we come together and work with these characters something really special happens. It is a bond that feels like family, really. In season one, I was a lot more polite. In season two, [laughs] well we all have a lot more fun. I don’t know if its because we can relax since we have an audience that loves our show already but we have purpose now and this great confidence. Originally, we really didn’t know who the character of Ryan was. But Elijah brought some much depth to his role. During our final screen tests with Elijah, I got into costume as Wilfred to give him an idea of what it would be like. While I was standing behind him, due to our stature, David said to me that it looks like Wilfred was his bodyguard. That really inspired me to bring out more of this protector in Wilfred that didn’t exist in the Australian version. Where as now Wilfred is trying to help Ryan become a man and survive in the world and it gives it more purpose. We just have fun and I hope it shows.

MG: Tell us about wearing your dog suit? Any behind-the-scene stories?
JG: People ask me if it is hard. I always say that it is as hard as it looks. Sometimes when I realize it is hard, I go through this euphoria…like this crazy state. People are telling me to take the suit off that I must be hot and I am just like “No, let’s do another! Let’s do another!”. Probably some semi-masochistic part of me, as I am losing my mind. It is like the pain when you are at the gym, it hurts but feels good.

MG: You guys must have massive amounts of outtakes, you ever find it hard to keep it as serious as you do?
JG: Actually last year Elijah only broke once and I think it was on the last day of shooting.  This year on season two, I think he broke on like day two and a couple of dozen times after, as did I though [laughs]. There is one thing in particular that happens between Wilfred and Ryan in episode seven, which I can’t say unfortunately. I couldn’t do a take without laughing. I had to shoot it separately without him. I told them we could do that scene 100 times and I will laugh 100 times. That was pretty funny!

MG: What do you enjoy most about working on this show?
JG: When Wilfred was with Raffi (the toy Giraffe) in season one, he was massaging her neck, then bending the neck backwards in order to give a blow job [laughs]. When we came up with that in the writers room, I said “I think we can safely say that nothing like this has ever been on TV before.” When we have moments like that I get really excited…and luckily we have several this year.

MG: Robin Williams, Rob Riggle, Steven Weber and Allison Mack all guest starred in season two’s preview episode, who else can we expect from season two?
JG: Unlike last year, when we just had one guest star per episode, Robin Williams and Allison Mack will also come back for a few episodes. We also go into Ryan’s work environment for a while, so that is different. We also have returning guests from season one like Chris Klein and Mary Steenburgen back. It is really humbling to get people that one our show. Also it wasn’t our intention to make this season more dark, even though I think it is funnier.  But it does get a little dark and I look forward to seeing that as well. I hope everyone enjoys it.