Blu-ray Review “Life on the Line”

Actors: John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa, Gil Bellows, Julie Benz
Directors: David Hackl
Rated: R
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“Life on the Line” is the latest film starring John Travolta and surprisingly packs a solid supporting cast including Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa and Sharon Stone. Besides the fact that Travolta looks terrifying on the cover with his facial hair and strange hairline. I am still a fan at heart! This film definitely has problems but it also has some decent action-packed moments. So I will call it a toss up for everyone and a maybe for us Travolta fans.

Official Premise: As a huge electrical storm sweeps towards Texas, lineman Beau (John Travolta) is haunted by memories of his brother’s death by lightning years earlier. Bailey (Kate Bosworth), the niece he helped raise, has a secret she needs to share with her boyfriend Duncan. But he and Beau’s brave team are racing to replace miles of power cables before the tempest strikes. Also starring Sharon Stone, Life on the Line is a tribute to the heroes who risk it all to keep us safe.

“Life on the Line” is being released as a combo pack with Blu-ray and Digital HD included here. The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. Both looks and sounds great especially when the action kicks in. The special features aren’t great though. There is a “Life on the Line” Music Video by Fiona Culley featuring Darius Rucker and some Behind the Scenes with Cast/Crew Interviews included.

Blu-ray 3D/4K Ultra HD Review “The Secret Life of Pets”

Actors: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper
Directors: Chris Renaud
Rated: PG
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

From the moment I saw the first teaser for “The Secret Life of Pets”, I knew that Illumination Entertainment had another hit on there hands. The characters are amazing and the film is filled with laughs from beginning to end. It has jokes for kids and parents as well. In fact, my family (no lie) quote this film AT LEAST once a day since the first time that we have seen it. It packs a really solid voice cast including Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart and many others. I hope that they have some sort of plans to follow up with this series because they really have a winner here! Can’t wait to see what Illumination, home of the Minions, does next!

Official Premise: Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debut that finally answers the question: what do your pets do when you’re not home? When their owners leave for the day, pets from the building gossip with their friends, satisfy their sweet tooths, and throw outrageous parties. But when a pampered terrier (C.K.) and his unruly new “roommate” from the pound (Stonestreet) get lost in the urban jungle of New York City, they must put aside their differences to survive the epic journey back home.

Universal released this film in in various formats i.e. Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and 4K Ultra HD. The animation and colors are so vivid and vibrant and this film looks extraordinary with it’s 4K transfer. I was blown away with this presentation. The 3D presentation on this film was also top notch. As we are whizzing through the streets of New York as well as close up encounters with fellow characters like Viper, the effects are spot on! If you can watch this film in either of those formats, I highly recommend it for sure! The audio tracks also are epic with a revolutionary Dolby Atmos track as well as wall shaking Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Universal delivered for sure with A/V presentation here for sure!

The special features are all short and sweet and worth checking out if you enjoyed this flick. Kids can enjoy as well. There are three mini-movies included. One we saw before the film in theaters “Minion Mowers”, which is hysterical. There are also two new ones set within the world of “The Secret Life of Pets”. First is NormanTV, which features the gerbil from the film crawling through the buildings vents. The last one is an animated musical tale of the hot dog brand that Max and Duke end up at. These are a great addition to the film itself and are also available if the film is redeem digitally as well, so that’s a nice bonus.

Next up, we have “The Humans That Brought You Pets” which feature interviews with Producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, Directors Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud, and Writer Brian Lynch. “Animals Can Talk: Meet the Actors” are speed chats with the cast talking about their roles. “All About the Pets” features cast joking on set with animal trainer Molly O’Neill. “Hairstylist to the Dogs” features Duke’s voice actor Eric Stonestreet talking grooming with Stylist Jess Rona. “How to Make an Animated film” and “Anatomy of a Scene” go behind-the-scenes. Lastly there is a nice collection of “The Best of Snowball” and some sing-alongs and trailers.

Need a Holiday gift idea for the Rockstar in your life? Check out Pluginz “Jack Rack”

PLUGINZ ‘Jack Rack’ Now Available via Guitar Center & Musician’s Friend –

The Hottest Music Accessory of 2016!

Take it from Reputable Industry Leaders such as Marshall Amplification and Metal Blade Records + Artists such as Dillinger Escape Plan, Of Mice & Men, Warrant, Atreyu and More…

www.thejackrack.com

Pluginz recently introduced their newest product – the latest musician’s must-have – the “Jack Rack”! Already making a name for itself, this unique, eye-catching wall-mounted keychain holder is the best way to “Hang Your Keys like a Rockstar”. Now, Pluginz is pleased to announce that in addition to their online store at www.thejackrack.com, you can now purchase your very own “Jack Rack” online via top musical gear retailers Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend.

Not only can you buy your own “Jack Rack” via Pluginz, you customize them for your business or brand, too. Artists and reputable companies in the music industry are already creating their own custom Pluginz “Jack Rack” designs after witnessing the personalized nature of the product – allowing them to further promote their brands with a fun and functional twist. To find out more on how to customize your very own “Jack Rack”, email Pluginz at: contact@pluginzkeychains.com.

Pluginz was founded in early 2015 by Mike Stricklin. Stricklin soon partnered up with Rockworld Merchandise owners Dan Jacobs of the band Atreyu, and his brother Joe Jacobs. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $10,000, Pluginz started making a buzz within the music industry. Soon after, the “Jack Rack” went viral on the front page of Reddit, as well as breaking records for post likes, comments, and shares on pages such as Guitar World, Revolver Magazine, Shut up And Take My Money, Celestion Speakers, 100.3 the Sound FM, Alt 98.7, OC Weekly and many more.

Take it from those who have used the “Jack Rack” and branded their own:

Josh Bernstein
Alternative Press
“There are many inventions in the world that I wish I came up with, such as the iPhone, the electric car and most recently, the cronut. But, when I saw the “Jack Rack” by Pluginz, I was truly humbled. I can’t think of a more highly coveted item by both music players and music fans alike. I know how I will be stuffing my stockings this winter!”

David Peterson
Shut Up and Take My Money
“Pluginz has single-handedly revolutionized the wall mounted key holder industry.”

Rick Zeiler
Coldcock Whiskey
“Dan’s been a longtime friend and business colleague of mine. He presented me with a COLDCOCK Whiskey “Jack Rack” and I was floored at the detail and quality that went into it, so much so we welcomed him using our trademark. Pluginz, the company Dan created, makes an instant impact and is a conversation starter, love them!”

Read more about the Pluginz “Jack Rack” via http://www.jackrack.com, and stay tuned for more news coming soon!

Book Review “Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived ‘Forever’: The Legend of a WWE Hero”

Author: Jon Robinson
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: September 8, 2015

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I like to think that I drew up in the heyday of the wrestling. I remember the wrestling greats of that time including Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramone, The Undertaker and my personal all time favorite the Ultimate Warrior. This guy was a absolute nut case when it ran out to the ring! I remember seeing him live at an event probably in 1991 or 1992 and going insane when he came out. His energy was like nothing I had ever seen and probably still unmatched today. He went up against legends like Hulk Hogan in matches like the epic battle of Wrestlemania VI. I vividly remember watching this pay-per-view event in my living room with all my friends at the time as a kid. Times like this are unforgettable. Unfortunately, the legend is no longer with us…but thanks to the WWE, his legend will live in forever. “Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived ‘Forever’: The Legend of a WWE Hero” is an amazing tribute to one of the best wrestlers in the business. Triple H kicks off the book with a great introduction. Even with all the feuds in the business, I enjoyed getting reading this opening. Dana Warrior also gives a heartfelt foreword to the this book giving us an inside look at the Warrior outside of the ring. This book is a must own for any wrestling fan!

Official Premise: With signature moves like the Warrior Splash, epic battles against Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Macho Man Randy Savage, and The Undertaker, and impassioned speeches that struck fear into his opponents and inspired warriors across the nation, the late Ultimate Warrior became one of the most revered figures in WWE history. Here, for the first time, the complete legend of The Ultimate Warrior is told in full, from his humble beginnings as a self-proclaimed “small, insecure kid who wasn’t into any sports” to his rise to WWE fame as the most powerful force in the universe. Through both action and candid photographs, personal ephemera, including original Warrior art and detailed journal entries, insider stories and exclusive interviews with WWE legends, and intimate accounts from the Warrior family, this unique biography brings the legacy of The Ultimate Warrior to life like never before. Relive the Warrior’s most intense matches and rivalries, and get to know the man behind the face paint in this one-of-a-kind volume. Filled with intense action and little-known details, Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever is a celebration of the Superstar who left an inimitable mark on WWE and redefined sports entertainment for generations.

Insight Editions always delivers the most informative and books on the market. They are also innovate with their releases. If you were a fan of the Ultimate Warrior you will recall his ribbons from his wrists. Well this book has ribbons included as a clever way to hold your page (see image). This book is jam packed with information about the former wrestler, his career and his life. I really enjoyed this book since it wasn’t just a flashy biography. It was also has a very intimate feel to it as well. The images in the book are absolutely gorgeous and easily transport me back to my favorite days of wrestling. In fact it makes me want to go back and re-watch old Wrestlemania events! This is a book that I can look through for years to come. There is so much included in this that you would need to go slowly through with a fine comb to absorb everything. Even though the Warrior is no longer with us, it is books like this that are going to carry on his name and keep him in the spotlight that he deserves. I will proudly be displaying this book prominently on my coffee tables for months to come.

Photo provided by Insight Editions. © 2015 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Book Review “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone”

“Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone”
Author: Marky Ramone w/ Rich Herschlag
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Touchstone

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When punk rock reared its spiky head in the early seventies, Marc Bell had the best seat in the house. From his early days with one of America’s first metal bands Dust to CBGB’s staples Wayne County and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Marc was there. In 1978 Marc Bell joined The Ramones becoming Marky Ramone and that’s where the real story begins. “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone” is an honest look inside the world of a punk icon.

Over the course of the books 400 plus pages Marc/Marky takes us on a journey like no other. From his early years growing up on the mean streets of New York City to his countless adventures around the globe with The Ramones it’s all here. Sure there have been several other books from Ramones members recounting their times with the band but for me those stories took more of a back seat as Marky’s tales of getting his first record deal to performing with the transsexual Wayne County during the early seventies when even the mention of transsexual behavior was something that was just not done, were the ones that grabbed my attention and made this book really stand out. T hough I questioned some of the books editing its 15 pages of color photos and the books straight forward approach makes this a must have for not just Ramones fans but for fans of music in general.

Book Review “Not the Life It Seems: The True Lives of My Chemical Romance”

“Not the Life It Seems: The True Lives of My Chemical Romance”
Author: Tom Bryant
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

“Not the Life It Seems: The True Lives of My Chemical Romance” is the story of how a band defied stereotypes and championed uncomfortable subjects. Through unorthodox vocals and stage performances My Chemical Romance helped address often controversial topics head on. Journalist Tom Bryant recounts how the bands personal experiences resulted in some of their biggest hits. Bryant looks at the bands growing success over its four albums and the bands subsequent breakup in 2013. The book delves in to each member’s personal history leaving no stone unturned.

Over the books 384 pages Bryant chronicles the band’s various struggles with addiction, media exposure and issues between the group’s members. With a lot of these stories being told for the first time there was certainly a lot of info included that peaks the reader’s interest to further delve in to the following chapters. The biggest thing that kept weighing on my mind while reading this book was the fact that these stories were being told from an outside source and compiled from a number of unpublished interviews. Now I am certainly not discrediting the authors work however I think the book would have had a more personal feel if it was told via the band members directly and not via an onlooker.

Very seldom do I find biographies of this nature to be as telling as they could be when the actual players are not directly involved. However fan’s of the band will want to check the book out as it does give a fresh look on the events surrounding the groups break up. The book also includes some interesting black and white photos of the band which are worth checking out on their own.

Win a Blu-ray for Rom-Zom-Com “Life After Beth” [ENDED]


To celebrate the release of “Life After Beth” starring Dane DeHaan, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on Blu-ray to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite zombie movie. This giveaway will remain open until October 24th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers worldwide. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. But when she miraculously comes back to life, Zach takes full advantage of the opportunity to share and experience all the things he regretted not doing with her before. However, the newly returned Beth isn’t quite how he remembered her and, before long, Zach’s whole world takes a turn for the worse.

DVD Review “As Dreamers Do: Amazing Life of Walt Disney”

Actors: Olan Rogers, Travis Tritt, Mark Stuart, Walt Disney
Directors: Logan Sekulow
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Vision Films
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

If you are a Disney fan, than you probably have heard of “As Dreamers Do: Amazing Life of Walt Disney”, which looks into the early years of the man behind the mouse. The film features country singer Travis Tritt as the narrator of the story and Olan Rogers plays Walt Disney, who doesn’t a decent job in the role. The film never really takes off for me (limited by its budget) but it is still rather entertaining for the whole family…especially Disney fans. Worth a rent.

Official Premise: Behind every great mouse there is a man. Armed with an ever-growing imagination and eternal optimism, Walt begins to develop skills as an animator early in life. He overcomes a variety of hardships to become one of the biggest icons in the world: Walt Disney.

In case you didn’t know, this film is not the only film based on the early years of Walt Disney. There is also the upcoming “Walt Before Mickey” coming out, which stars Thomas Ian Nicholas and Jon Heder. I am anxiously awaiting that film since I have heard it is a close adaption to the Timothy S. Susanin’s book of the same title. “As Dreamers Do: Amazing Life of Walt Disney” is available now on VOD, online at Amazon.com and Walmart in stores on September 23rd.

Film Review “Life After Beth”

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly and Dane DeHaan
Directed by: Jeff Baena
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 29 mins
A24

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Zac Orfman is in mourning. His girlfriend, Beth Slocum, has died. Bitten by a snake while she went hiking alone, all Zac has now are his memories. And a scarf of hers, given to him by her parents (Reilly and Molly Shannon). His family, especially his older brother, Kyle (Matthew Gray Gubler), are insensitive to his feelings, mocking him for wearing the scarf around his neck. Upset he picks up a tray of Jello and heads over to the Slocum house, hoping to share his grief with those that will understand it. When Mr. Slocum is leery about letting him in he does a little investigating. And in the attic he discovers…Beth?

Not sure if this term has ever been used before so I’m going to call “Life After Beth” a very original “Rom-Zom-Com,” which translates to Romantic Zombie Comedy. Though the Slocums won’t like the word “zombie.” They prefer resurrected. Either way, Beth is back. As played by Plaza, she is unaware of her circumstances, conscious only of the things she knew before she died. Like she has to study for a test. This is how her parents keep her out of sight. When Zac discovers the situation he is sworn to silence, promising to never let Beth know of her circumstances. However, that’s a lot easier to promise than to actually do.

The cast is given some great situations thanks to a sharply written script by director Baena. This could have easily been a parody film or, if you felt for one minute that the cast wasn’t buying in, a disaster. But the actors maintain their characters and the various situations that they find themselves in only become funnier because of their commitment to the subject. DeHaan, who has always played brooding young men shows like “True Blood” and films like “Kill Your Darlings” is quite adept at physical comedy (as is Plaza) and does a fine job here. Reilly and Shannon do their best work together, arguing about what Beth can and cannot do and denying to themselves that something odd has happened. Plaza shines as Beth and her dedication to the role is what makes the film work so well. When Zac meets an old female friend Beth goes into a jealous rage, much worse than usual seeing as that she’s a zombie. As things (and Beth) begin to deteriorate the laughs continue. Yet, while you’re laughing you can’t help but feel sorry for all involved.

That being said, take a chance and go see what is now my favorite ROM-ZOM-COM!

K.Flay talks about debut album “Life as a Dog”

Constantly changing, constantly evolving and constantly honing their craft is the sign of a good musician and K. Flay, is one of them. While in college, K.Flay found she had the chops to rap with some of the best and began to experiment, musically and lyrically. Since 2004, she has put out a myriad of music with everything from singles and EPs to collaborating with other aspiring up-and-comers like MC Lars. Her continuous, hard work has finally paid off as she releases her debut album, “Life as a Dog”. She’s also about to embark on the Warped Tour, a staple of the summer touring circuit. Media Mikes recently caught up with K.Flay about how she’s handling and preparing for these high marks of her career.

Jeremy Werner: When I was getting ready for this interview…I was a bit surprised how much music you had, in terms of singles, EPs, guest vocals, and other things spanning over half a decade. To me it’s crazy because you’re now just able to release your debut album. I’m sure all your fans, die-hard and new, who’ve recognized your hard work and talent over the years are seeing and wondering the same thing I was, which is why has it taken so long to be able to release your debut album?
K.Flay: I was actually just having this conversation with my drummer because we’re working on setlist stuff for Warped Tour this summer. But basically the reason is…I signed to a major label a little over two years ago and while I was on there, I put out a mixtape and a couple of EPs and singles and things of that nature. But I was never able to release an album. I was working on a lot of stuff, but I think they didn’t necessarily feel like anything was single worthy or ready to be part of an album, so I was kind of in this weird limbo while I was there. Which on some level was a really interesting experience in that I was able to do a ton of experimentation and really kind of take time to figure out more about the kind of music I like making and think about the music I was better at making than other kinds. It was sort of a weird process because I signed and wasn’t able to put out enough to show for a debut album, but I left the label in the fall and then worked on this.

JW: I’ve actually talked to quite a few artists as of late who’ve used online fundraising for their music and just like them, yours was very successful.
K.Flay: Yes.

JW: So I’m wondering…with no problems reaching your target goal, do you feel like this is your way of telling potential record labels, “I can sell music if give me a chance,” or is this your way of saying, “Fuck you guys. My music speaks for yourself and I don’t need you”?
K.Flay: You know, I think for me in large part, this is just about a personal goal as a human/artist in the sense of making a statement. And even if albums are becoming outdated in some capacity or whatever, I think having a statement and a body of work that has cohesive quality, to me, is really important on a fundamental level. But on the flip side of it, the experience on the label was at times, kind of frustrating and it felt like I was a little bit stuck. So it feels really good to return to how I began with music which is independently releasing things and having control over all aspects of the creative process. It just feels really empowering, really good and really natural.

JW: Is there anything with “Life as a Dog”, musically, that you’re doing different or for the first time on this album?
K.Flay: Ya know, I think this album is a little bit of shift in that it’s less like rap and it’s a little more…I don’t know…I try to be more conscious of melody a little bit. One of the things I discovered over the last two-three years it that I really do like singing and I like incorporating melodic components into the music. It’s definitely less electronic, less rap, but I don’t think in a super drastic way. It felt kind of like the natural, next step.

JW: Lyrically, when I listen to your music, it feels like there’s a lot of deep personal emotions attached to the music and it’s kind of a dumb, broad statement to say that because yeah…all music is personal. But while some bands like to play with words and allude to different ideas without completely giving themselves away, I feel like you’re more blunt and honest with what you say. What are some of things you draw from when writing lyrics?
K.Flay: Obviously there’s a lot of myself in the music and there’s always gonna be that component, but I think more than ever, especially with this record, I really tried to embody, even just for a few moments in a song, people in my life and people that I’ve met along the way. I think one of the compelling parts of being a full-time musician is the cast of characters, both bad and good, that you run into on a daily basis. I still use the first person pronoun so they feel like they’re about me, but some of them are really about people that I’ve met and experiences that I’ve kind of witnessed second hand. Which is really cool. I think it taught to expand my ideas of how to start a song. Usually for me, it starts with some kind of emotion I’m feeling at that moment. Which is interesting conceptually to experiment from a different perspective a little bit.

JW: Anything you’ve wanted to sing about, but you’re hesitant to?
K.Flay: Umm…not really. I guess there’s nothing in my life that I wouldn’t want to share. Obviously very specific details, but songwriting and performing is such a liberating thing in general and so I think that’s why I feel comfortable talking about a lot of stuff in that
capacity.

JW: Let’s switch gears. You are on Warped Tour this summer. Is this the largest tour you’ve had to tackle yet?
K.Flay: It is, definitely. I’ve done festivals before, but never anything of this kind of length or consistency. I’m really excited. I have a lot of friends who’ve done Warped in the past and literally everyone has great things to say about it. I know it’s gonna be a challenge…*laughs*…not to be covered in sweat constantly, but I’m really looking forward to it.

JW: Besides being stupid hot, Warped Tour is also known for jamming nearly every act they can on to stages. Will it be hard trying to condense what you want to express into a limited setlist?
K.Flay: I think it is gonna be a really interesting challenge. There is such a large catalog and I want to represent the new album and I also wanna represent some of the old stuff. And obviously play music that is emblematic of where I’m at, but also music that will appeal to people. I think it’s gonna be a little bit of messing around once we get started. The live shows have always been a real focus for me and touring is a place where I feel really comfortable and I’m really comfortable with experimenting. I think the first week, we’ll probably test about a bunch of different stuff. More than anything, not like anybody else wants me to, but I kind of wanna play for two hours and go through everything. It’ll be an interesting little experiment.

JW: Have you factored in fans? I mean obviously you have…but the typical Warped Tour attendee is traditionally, a punk rock enthusiast and it’s definitely changed over the past decade.
K.Flay: Totally. The show has always had a punk spirit to it. There’s headbanging and a lot of jumping around and kind of more archetypal rock moments in it. So obviously something within that spirit. I’m kind of excited to try some new stuff.

JW: Big tour…debut album…with all this success…do you see yourself being a music artist for the long haul or is there something you still wanna do or try?
K.Flay: Ya know…I don’t really know. I get asked this sometimes and I kind of have no fucking clue. Which is strange because you’d think it’d be good to have a back-up plan, but I just decide on something and I just do it. So I think I’m still in that mode of perspective where this is what I’m doing and I think if I really started to consider other viable options, it would probably be a bad sign. So I don’t know. I read a lot…so maybe something with books. That’s all I can think of at the moment.

JW: My last question, a bit random, and you don’t have to answer this, but I’ve noticed a couple of other female artists, entertainers and others have said it’s bothersome when they’re told by fans, “Oh you’re my favorite female comedian…artist…”. Things like that.
K.Flay: Right.

JW: I think this boils down to where we’re at in a society right now and how we’re starting to mold how we view gender. But I’m curious, does it bother you if a fan tells you that you’re their favorite female rapper instead of just simply saying you’re their favorite rapper.
K.Flay: I know there’s like something I got sent earlier about Neko Case talking about this, but I wouldn’t say it happens all the time. Usually people say I like you’re stuff or whatever, but I think any time you’re a little bit in the minority, I think that that’s an unfortunate byproduct. Although I am a woman and have a gendered perspective to a certain extent, just like anybody else, when I write, I’ve always just sort of naturally wanted to create music that didn’t feel super gendered, if that makes any sense. But I think it can certainly undermine what you’re doing a little bit. I’m honestly happy anyone listens to it (laughs) I’m just always stoked if anybody’s checked it out and trying to find out about what I’m doing.

Creed’s Scott Stapp talks about new solo album “Proof of Life”

Scott Stapp is probably best known as the singer for the Grammy award winning rock band Creed who’s music dominated the airwaves in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In 2005 after Creed’s initial breakup Stapp began a solo career with the release of “The Great Divide” which was certified platinum within a month of its release. Scott is back with his second solo album titled “Proof of Life” a very dark and personal record that reflects on Scott’s life over the past few years. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Scott recently about the album and his thoughts on the future of Creed.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some of the background that led up to the recording of this album?
Scott Stapp: This album to me symbolizes the next chapter in my life. It concludes the first half of my life and opens up the next. A lot of life was lived in between “The Great Divide” and now. I went through some of the darkest days as a human being between these two albums. I battled depression which led to fighting a battle with drugs and alcohol. That stuff was like a tornado that wrecked a lot of things in my life. This album really symbolizes me coming to grips with those things, understanding them and finding my way out. The school of hard knocks and life had to happen in order to get me to place to where I could write this record. I had to come out of the fog to be able to write this record. I had to realize that the stuff that happened in the past wasn’t going to happen again.

AL: What was it like revisiting some of those more painful memories while writing the album?
SS: It was very cathartic. It was part of the process of getting through and coming out of those periods. It was party of making peace with that and developing incite and an honest reflection on that so I could grow and mature. All though there were things I wish didn’t happen or wished I could forget I was able to repurpose those experiences and see that those things didn’t happen for nothing. There was purpose in those things so that I could pay it forward and share how I made it through. This added a deeper purpose to my life both in and out of rock and roll.

AL: Can you tell us about the song “Break Out” which you wrote with your son?
SS: Jagger actually wrote the first three lines of the chorus a few years ago however we never got around to finishing the song. I just kept challenging him to work on it and finish the song as he was working on being in a band with some friends of his. During the writing process this song kept coming in to my head. I was connecting with the theme and the words so I went to Jagger and told him I was going to finish the song he started. Part of me working on the song became an exercise and instruction to him on how to turn his ideas in to songs. He has some really great ideas and it was definitely a bonding experience for the both of us. When it came time to finish the song I worked with Julia Michaels which was really great. I liked seeing that we could connect over similar emotions.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming tour you have planned?
SS: We just wrapped up our first run of US and European shows which went really good. This will be the second round of shows in the states and I am really excited to be able to bring this music and performance out on tour. It’s a rock and roll show that also encapsulates our journey as human beings. I am very connected to that. The stage performance and my connection with the emotions in each song and how I connect with those things are very important to me. I want the audiences to not only feel the power of rock and roll but also feel the spirit and emotion that each song represents.

AL: You had a number of musicians perform on the CD. Will some of them also be a part of the live band?
SS: I was fortunate that in the studio I got to use the best of the best. I was able to use guys like Josh Freese and Kenny Arnoff to Tim Pierce and Phil X among others. There was a lot of chemistry during those studio sessions and it was important for me to capture that with the live band as well. I am really excited with the group of guys I have behind me. I have Andy Wood on guitar, Chad Szeliga former of Breaking Benjamin on drums, Travis Colmer is my second guitarist and then I have Andy Waldeck on bass. Andy is a really talented guy that has worked with Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and a bunch of others. These guys have such a desire and passion for this band and project. These guys have rekindled that fire and drive to perform. Its great working with like minded guys with that same passion for what they are doing.

AL: Do you feel this new found passion will transfer over to new Creed material?
SS: It’s always there. The door is never closed and we are still together. When the time is right and that fire and organic desire is all there I am sure we will make another record. Until then I don’t think it would be worth it as it would be a disservice to the fans.

Blu-ray Review “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (The Criterion Collection)”

Actors: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe
Directors: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 118 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” is a rather strange film. But at the same time it is also a quite outstanding film. I think this can really be said for all of Wes Anderson’s films. They are all on another level of filmmaking. Some people get it and some do not but they are all brilliant. Criterion has been a big proprietor of Anderson’s films on Blu-ray. I recently had a chance to check out “Fantastic Mr. Fox” on Criterion Collection and was just blown away. Now just a few months later, we are getting “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and this is guaranteed to make fans of the film very happy. Criterion never disappoints and delivers a flawless technical presentation and a ridiculous amount of special features. I am sure that a Criterion release of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not to far behind either.

Official Premise: Internationally famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his crew-Team Zissou-set sail on an expedition to hunt down the mysterious, elusive, possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou’s partner during the documentary filming of their latest adventure. They are joined on their voyage by a young airline copilot (Owen Wilson); a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett); and Zissou’s estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston). Wes Anderson (Rushmore) has assembled an all-star cast that also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Seu Jorge, and Bud Cort for this wildly original adventure comedy.

When it comes to Criterion, you can always expect the best audio/video presentation. In fact, I am just going to quote what the leaflet inside the case says about this amazing Blu-ray release: “Supervised by director Wes Anderson, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Sony Colorworks in Culver City, California. Thousands of instances of dirt and debris were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was for small dirt, warps, and jitter. The original 5.1 soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from the original magnetic track using Pro Tools HD.” The transfer is absolutely flawless, especially the underwater footage. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is just perfect. This is the best release to date for this amazing film.

This release comes with some oustanding special features. Kicking off, there is an audio commentary with director Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach, which was recorded exclusively for Criterion in New York City in February 2005. There is a “Making of” featurette with raw footage from the production with coments from Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and director of photography of Robert D. Yeoman, amongst others. There is focus on the “Designs” and “Photos” with a collection of drawings, sketches, and photographs. “Intern Video Journal” is a behind the scenes documentary shot and edited by Matthew Gray Gubler. “Seu Jorge Performs David Bowie” includes ten performances of David Bowie songs in Portuguese by Brazilian recording artist and actor Seu Jorge.

Mark Mothersbaugh, composer and Devo member discusses the amazing soundtrack for the film, which was conducted for Criterion in 2004. There are seven sets of cast and crew interviews including Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson and many more. “Mondo Monda” is a Italian talk show hosted by Antonio Monda who interviews Wes Anderson and cowriter Noah Baumbach. “This is an Adventure” is a documentary from Albert Maysles, Antonio Ferrera, and Matthew Prinzing that was shot during the shooting of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in Italy in 2003. Lastly, there is a the original theatrical trailer and nine deleted scenes included.

Blu-ray Review “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

Actors: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott
Director: Ben Stiller
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Run Time: 115 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was released last holiday season and basically lost in a sea of films. The film boasts an incredible cast. Ben Stiller is fun yet also inspiring in this film, also takes on director duty as well. I love his more dramatic work. Kristen Wiig is also growing on me quite a bit recently. When you watch this film you are just blown away by the shooting locations. When you find out that this costed $90+ million you easily understand why. For those people that are daydreamers wishing for an adventure daily, this is a great film to check out. It may not be for everyone since it isn’t your typical film but I really enjoyed it and I have a feeling this is going to have a life after theaters.

Official Premise: With sweeping cinematography and stellar performances “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, tells the story of a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams and when a negative goes missing must embark on an incredible true-life adventure. With stand-out performances from Ben Stiller (“Night At The Museum”, “Meet The Parents”), Kristen Wiig (“Saturday Night Live”, “Bridesmaids”), Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) and Shirley MacLaine (“Wild Oats”).

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is released as a combo pack including a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer on this film is absolutely stunning. They really shot this in some amazing locations and it really transfer well to Blu-ray (though I am sure it was more beautiful in theaters). The DTS-HD-MA 7.1 is a nice surprise as well and really adds a lot to the film’s experience. Between the action and the score, I was in love with this track. Also included inside this combo pack is a special gift of a Shutterfly 20-page 8×8 hardcover photo book which is valued at $29.99. Honestly, love the movie or hate it but if you can pick this up cheap at Target or Amazon, it is worth the purchase alone.

In the special features section, there is a nice in-depth look on the behind-the-scenes of the film. It is split up into nine different sections including a look into the following “The History of Walter Mitty”; “The Look of Life”; “That’s A Shark” (my favorite); “The Music of Walter Mitty”; “Icelandic Adventure”; “Nordic Casting”; “Titles of Walter Mitty”; “Sights and Sounds of Production” and “Pre-Viz”. There is also a collection of five deleted scenes, two extended scenes and two alternate scenes. For photo buffs there is an amazing Reference Photography Gallery included. Then wrapping up the extras is an Music Video for “Stay Alive” by José González and a Theatrical Trailer.

Enter to Win “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” on Blu-ray [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” on Blu-ray, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on Blu-ray. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Ben Stiller film. This giveaway will remain open until April 25th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

With sweeping cinematography and stellar performances “THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY”, tells the story of a timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams and when a negative goes missing must embark on an incredible true-life adventure.

With stand-out performances from Ben Stiller (*Night At The Museum, Meet The Parents) *Golden Globe** and six-time Emmy Award*** nominated actress Kristen Wiig (*Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids, How To Train Your Dragon*), Adam Scott (*Step Brothers*) and Shirley MacLaine (*Wild Oats*), the THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY Blu-ray and DVD is loaded with more than an hour of behind-the-scenes special features, including deleted, extended and alternative scenes, featurettes that dive into filming in Iceland and Walter Mitty history, a gallery of exclusive reference photography, and music video “Stay Alive” by José González, and more.

CD Review “Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life” Various Artists

“Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life”
Various Artists
Rhino
Produced by: Wendy Dio
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ronnie James Dio is one of the most beloved figures in rock history. His gifts, both as a singer and songwriter, are instantly recognizable, whether he was with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, or leading Dio. Sadly, Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2010, but his towering voice and legacy live on. To celebrate one of rock’s most powerful voices, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded 13 of their favorite tracks for a tribute album that will raise funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund (diocancerfund.org). Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as Metallica, Motörhead and Anthrax, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dio over the years.

Just the lineup alone with have metal heads clamoring to get their hands on this album. Everyone from Rob Halford and Glenn Hughes to Tenacious D and Killswitch Engage are here covering some of the most legendary songs in heavy metal. The thing I think I liked most about this release is that all the songs were performed in the same vain as the originals. That’s something you don’t find too often in tribute records as a lot of times you get re-workings of the original material which rarely lives up to the original. This was the complete opposite as each of the 13 tracks are a fitting salute to the original recording. Anthrax’s cover of “Neon Lights” is an explosive opening track which gives ways to solid performances of “The Last in Line” by Tenacious D, Straight Through the Heart by Halestorm and the always entertaining Killswitch Engage cover of “Holy Diver. However the real gems come in the way of the collaboration pieces. Corey Taylor and company do an amazing cover of “Rainbow In the Dark” while Rob Halford lends his soaring vocals to “Man on the Silver Mountain”, Metallica, A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King all join forces for the “Ronnie Rising Medley” which is something you definitely won’t want to miss.

“Ronnie James Dio- This is Your Life” has all the classic Dio songs we know and love but with amped up performances by some of today’s top metal artists and with Wendy Dio at the production helm each track takes on a life of its own blending both the new and old. Whether you’re a Dio fan from way back or a newer fan of one of the artists who appear on the album definitely pick this release up as not only will you be getting some really great music you will also be helping out a really great cause.

Track Listing:
1.) Neon Lights- Anthrax
2.) The Last in Line- Tenacious D
3.) The Mob Rules- Adrenaline Mob
4.) Rainbow In the Dark- Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Chrisitian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5.) Straight Through the Heart- Halestorm
6.) Starstruck- Motorhead w/ Biff Byford
7.) Temple of the King- Scorpions
8.) Egypt – (The Chains Are On)- Doro
9.) Holy Diver- Killswitch Engage
10.) Catch the Rainbow- Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11.) I- Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12.) Man on the Silver Mountain- Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13.) Ronnie Rising Medley- Metallica, A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King
14.) This is Your Life- Dio