Fat Mike of NOFX talks about the bands new book “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”.

Mike Burkett better know to the world as Fat Mike is the bassist/lead vocalists for California punk rock band NOFX and owner of Fat Wreck Chords. Together with first time writer Jeff Alulis and his band mates Eric Melvin, Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta and Erik “Smelly” Sandin the guys have just released their first tell autobiography aptly titled “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”. The book which is being released via Da Capo Press is a down and dirty tale of punk rock debauchery told candidly by those who lived it. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Fat Mike recently about the book and also about the bands upcoming album and tour.

Adam Lawton: Where did the idea for you guys to do a book come from?

Fat Mike: It was something that we had been talking doing now for awhile. It wasn’t until I read “The Dirt” by Motley Crue that I started to take doing our own book seriously. Once I read that book it got me thinking that NOFX could do a really good book because I think our stories our better. Our stories are a little less rock and roll. I had also read the book “Please Kill Me” which really changed me as I thought the book was just so good. Our story is right up there but totally different so we said “let’s do a book”.

AL: Did the other members of the band have any reservations about doing this type of book being that it was going to go pretty deep?

FM: There were things that I knew the guys were going to be a little uneasy to talk about. Eric Melvin had never talked about being molested before and Smelly never wanted to talk about his times with Courtney Love. Those guys went in and gave it all up for the book. Smelly really told everything which makes the book his in a lot of ways. We had to wait this long to do this because 10 years ago guys wouldn’t have wanted to tell these stories. You have to get to a point in your life where you are comfortable to talk about these things. For me the chapter which talks about cross dressing was something we added at the last minute because as of 2 years ago I wasn’t ready to talk about that publicly.

AL: Was it difficult revisiting some of those darker memories that make it into the book?

FM: The chapter where I talk about killing my mom was from a very hard part of my life but at the same time I think it was one of the best things I have ever done. My mom brought me into this world and raised me and I was able to give her the greatest gift I could ever give by helping her when she needed it. I wanted to put this in the book because it’s a heroic thing to be able to do that when someone needs your help in that way. Just letting the doctors take care of it is bullshit. That’s what a coward would do. My lawyer didn’t want me to put that stuff in the book so there’s a line stating that it’s the only part of the book that’s not true. (Laughs)

AL: What was it like going back and reading some of the chapters written by former band members?

FM: The chapter with Dave Casillas was really funny because he denied a lot of the stuff at first but then by the end of his interview he said “I guess it could have all happened”.  During the older days of the band when everyone was doing a lot of drugs I only drank beer so my memory from those years is really good. I remember stuff no one else does. It’s the past 15 years that I have a problem remembering. (Laugh)  I just remember those early days so well. Nowadays we will do a House of Blues tour or something like that where everyday kind of blends into the next however, when we first started we would stay at some ones house and sleep on their floor for 3 days, get crabs and then get told not come back. (Laughs) Those are the things you remember.

AL: Were there pieces of the book done separately or were there portions that everyone worked on together?

FM: Everything was done separately. That was something that Jeff Alulis wanted so that we would be able to open up more. What I love about the book is that after reading it we all learned things about one another that we had never known. There was one part of the book I had to call Eric Melvin about just to give him a warning about what he was going to read because it’s a pretty hard thing to read.

AL: What was it like working with Jeff in this capacity as compared to the group’s previous video work with him on “Backstage Passport”?

FM: It was difficult and very trying at times. He didn’t change any of our stories but he did change some of the wording to make himself look like a better writer. (Laughs) He used words that I would have never said. It was still the same thing but he just cleaned it up a bit and made it readable. We went with someone who had never written a book before because we didn’t want someone with a lot of experience who would take our experiences and change them. Jeff felt his way through the book and the early reviews have been great so I think we made the right decision. I am really proud how it turned out.

AL: Did you notice any similarities between writing a book and writing an album?

FM: Our new album is I think our most personable album yet. For me it was like peeling off my skin. The new album which will come out in June is the first album that I wrote and recorded a lot of while I was using drugs. In the past I have always gone into the studio and recorded sober. What I found while working on this album was that I cared more. After I would do a line I became extremely focused on making whatever song I was working on the best it could be. A lot of this came from not only writing the book but also from when I was working on the “Home Street Home” musical. With a musical you can’t put in one word that’s not needed as you have 2 hours to tell an entire story. You can’t waste a word. You will definitely be able to tell the influences of the book and the musical on this new album.

AL: With a book and album coming out this year what are the bands tour plans?

FM: When we make a record we tend to not tour like a lot of other bands do. Our schedule generally doesn’t change in that we will do a two week tour, have six weeks off and then we will do another two week run of shows. With having a book out we really want it make the New York Times Best Seller list so we are going to be doing a bunch of signings and stuff like that to help promote the book. The book was already in its fifth run of printing prior to the release on April 12th so we are really excited for everything.

Be sure to check out our review of NOFX’s “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories” in the book review section of the site.

 

Mike O’Meara & Robb Spewak talk about their podcast “The Mike O’Meara Show”

“The Mike O’Meara Show” is a daily podcast available through their website or iTunes. The show is hosted by Mike O’Meara and includes Robb Spewak and Oscar Santana. The show is also streamed via video through their website or Ustream. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike O’Meara and Robb Spewak to chat about the podcast.

Craig Kish: Throughout your careers in broadcasting you were just a W-2 employee of a major corporation, and now you guys are co-owners of your own small business. How has that transition been, going from just worrying about your day to day duties as compared to being concerned with about all aspects of the show?
Mike O’Meara: I can’t speak for Rob, but I had an experience on my own for a very brief period of time back in the 1980’s when I left a small radio station company to run my own production company. I did contract production actually before I started working with Don. So I had a taste of it and I liked it. I liked the fact that I was independent of a corporation, but unfortunately that did not allow me to continue because the money just wasn’t there. So I ended up getting back into radio on the talent side; I had it on the management side. So, I had a taste of it – but this is much different because we are able to do it on our own but still as a collaborative effort. We have such a great group of guys and we kind of narrowed it down in the last year. We have more of a little circle but we all know what are jobs are and our responsibilities are and it’s just a lot of fun. Watching it grow is even more fun because we know that the circle is small – that if the show does well that we are all going to do well. So it’s a tremendous thrill for me.
Robb Spewak: And to add to that. It’s always been an exciting job for me; I love what I do. I think Mike will agree with me that in the past four years it’s probably been even more exciting because we are working so directly with our partners. It’s not diluted by the fact that before we make a decision we no longer have to go through three levels of management in New York City. It’s three guys making a decision and is much more immediacy, much more excitement, and it’s been a lot more fun than the last year we had on the terrestrial side.

CK: How has the change from being just co-workers previously to now being co-owners and running the show yourselves changed your relationship between each other?
Mike: Well, Rob talked about the fact that we don’t run things up the flag pole with management and all the different layers, but at the same time the three of us – Mike, Rob and Oscar – when we come in every morning anybody that had anything that’s great material that they think – not that I think but they think – is great material, it gets on the show and if It doesn’t it’s an oversight on my part because I just forgot it. But there is total creative flexibility with these guys as well as myself. We bring whatever we want into the show on a daily basis and if it’s good material we try to get to it. Sometimes I am guilty of not getting to everything in the 79 minutes or so we do the show. I really love it when one of the other two guys comes in with something special and we can go in a totally different direction. But as far as the content for the bulk of the show, now it really is a collaborative effort as well.
Rob: Having worked with mike the past 20 years I’ve gotten to know him better the past 4 years because of the freedom we have in the show. Sometimes we can really spin out and really be ourselves and show different sides of us that you never saw before.
Mike: It’s not like on the old radio show we didn’t have to pre-approve content. But after the fact you would never know where the fallout was going to be and if you said something. Especially after the whole Janet Jackson incident we were so scrutinized and we had meetings about standards in what we could say and what we couldn’t say and once your trained that way you never forget it and our shows are inherently broadcast friendly. But with just a little more freeform that allows you to relax. We relax; we work hard and always thinking about creating good content. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and we have confidence that the material we are providing is being well received by our audience and that is the most important thing to us.
Rob: It’s almost impossible to be spontaneous and funny when you have to second guess yourself before you say something. That was the environment we left when we left terrestrial. We probably didn’t have to be that way but it was so drummed into us like Mike said and now we are a little more relaxed with our presentation because we are just being ourselves more the less. I think the show is funnier because of it.

CK: We talked about how you guys go through the show day to day and how it’s been a change versus terrestrial radio. I know your broadcast on 1630 (A.M.) in Iowa, and you had another station you were broadcast on and the station just recently dropped off, right?
Mike: That was WTNT here in Washington D.C. The show is formatted for radio so if there is a fit out there that wants us and we felt it would be good for us we would do it. So we tried an experiment with WTNT that was not a fit basically because of the absolutely abysmal signal at WTNT. They had a format change coming up at the same time and they had overtures to go bring us to this other signal they had. I think we are done with that experiment. If we are going to be on in a market I’d rather be on in a market that has better coverage. We tried it with WTNT and do we regret it? No, but I also thought when they said that they wanted to make a change as far as moving us to another signal, I said, “Yea I think that experience is over now.” We always keep the door open to get this particular incarnation of the show on radio. I like radio, but the show from this point forward will pretty much be “they will take what we give them and if they don’t want it, oh well.” There are not a lot of program directors out there that like to do that. They want to do their own thing, and it’s tough to find a fit in this day of right wing talk and sports talk, too. It’s very tough to find the right station, but I am always curious about it and I will always entertain it. We will never shut the door on that at all, but at the same time our primary audience is our online audience and that is the foundation of the show and the way it works now.

CK: So you don’t actively shop the show to terrestrial companies?
Mike: I don’t actively shop the show, but at the same time I am connected, Rob has connections in the business, and you never know – but I can see the show sometimes being on some radio station. If someone got creative again then it becomes a possibility, but as far as actively pursuing – no. The active thing we are focused on is our online following and catering to the online following. That’s why we developed a new website in November and we restructured how we deliver our premium content as well. And, we focused on our business operation – making that better and more customer friendly and improving our customer support. The online community is we really were making most of our efforts.
Rob: To take a step back, I think for myself I was pleasantly surprised after launching the show. My thought was after launching the podcast the next natural step would be to be picked up on radio station. After we stayed at it for a couple of years we realized how much passion and support we received from the online community. The radio tie-in seemed to me anyway less important because the passion that existed for the show was more that I could have imagined. Something that I really come to love and enjoy about doing the show is that being online allows a, for lack of a better word, more “intimate” relationship with the listener we never had a chance to have before. Like Mike had said before, we will never shut the door to radio – but I am much more enthusiastic about our internet presence than I was when we launched the show. I just didn’t realize the passion was there.
Mike: Going forwards in a perfect world I would love to gather more listeners on a daily basis. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to do that. As we move forward we are continuing to focus on doing that. We know we have a great product and we want to expose the product online to as many people as we possibly can and set the hook in as many mouths as we can too. We know we have a fun thing and if we can hook you on it we can make you part of the family. That is really the way we see our listeners – as one big extended family. People communicate with us like we are relatives, not like we are doing a radio show – so that’s what we want to do. We want to try and get the word out, if we can get more and more people to get involved we can keep this thing successful for a long time and keep doing it for a long time.

CK: Where do you see the show going in the future? Are there any projects you are working on, or anything you haven’t implemented in the show yet?
Mike: The future of the show is going to involve some technological changes. It is going to involve a lot more travel. It’s going to involve a lot more location broadcasts, starting with the Consumer Electronic Show (UPDATE: this was in January, and the broadcasting was fantastic!). We are going to be having the equipment installed in everybody’s domiciles. It’s not going to be concentrated in the living room studio and we are very excited about the fact that we don’t really lock in where we are going to travel to. You know where the show is going to be broadcast from but you are going to see a lot more different locations from different guys. We had a lot of fun with Oscar in China, all of us in Maine and me alone in Maine last year. You are going to get a lot more of that. I think that is going to bring a lot more excitement and diversity to the show. We are really looking forward to that!

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington & Mike Shinoda talk about new album “The Hunting Party”

Photo Credit: Brandon Cox

Linkin Park recently released their sixth studio album titled “The Hunting Party”. The album is a departure from the groups more recent electronic-rock style albums however it is still very much Linkin Park. Media Mikes spoke recently with the groups front men Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington about the bands direction shift, the new albums unique sound and the bands upcoming tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the shift in direction the band took with the new album and how it has been received by fans thus far seeing it was your first album not to go to number 1 here in the States?
Mike Shinoda: When we were making the album, I had a handful of demos that weren’t quite as heavy as this. They were a little more electronic-driven, and there was just a day that I was looking for something to listen to and I couldn’t find what it was that I wanted. I wanted something more aggressive and energetic and I just kept finding either stuff that was modern and progressive and the only stuff I was finding that was modern and progressive tended to be a little more mellow and if it was heavier, it tended to sound more progressive. I think we all found that there was just a style that was kind of being underserved that we wanted to hear and that’s what we decided to make. As far as the reception goes it debuted at #1 in 67 countries. Friends of mine here in the U.S. said, “Hey, I heard it. Sorry that you guys didn’t get to number one on the charts” I feel like the billboard chart is for one thing. It’s for the first week album sales, and this is not really a first week album sales kind of album. It’s a statement album. It’s a live album and an album that should be taken to the stage. That’s exactly what we’re planning to do right now with the Carnivores Tour.
Chester Bennington: It’s funny because I think probably more so than any other record, maybe other than possibly “A Thousand Sons” I feel like critically the record’s been overwhelmingly positive. I have yet to read anything negative about the record on a critical level that has been written, which is pretty amazing, and so for that we’re very grateful. But at the same time, almost on a daily basis I run into Linkin Park fans and I’ll take pictures or say, “Hi,” whatever, and every single person that I’ve met since we released this record has told me that they love the record. They are super happy that it’s out like it is. I’ve heard some other guys in the band say that they feel like it is a record that really the genre needed and that they also appreciate the record that we’ve made, that it is progressive and it is something that they want to listen to. I feel like we have accomplished our goal on this album. I think not only creatively, but personally for the band, but also for a lot of our fans.

AL: Was there initially a lot of reluctance or resistance to make a harder record? Or do you feel like the rest of the band bought in pretty quickly?
MS: For me, it was a bit of a process. I felt like Chester was on board from the beginning but it was still, like, figuring out at that point what we were. Conversations were happening mid-tour last album like, what does a louder record mean? What is bringing energy to the album and what does that mean? How do we do that without it sounding throwback or derivative of heavier stuff that we grew up with. At first it fell on me to kind of find the right tone, so that I could take that to, in particular Brad and Rob, and say, “You guys, like, I know this is something that you don’t naturally gravitate towards at this point in your life, but check out these reference points.”

AL: This was your first self produced album which you chose to recorded via analog tape. Is this something that you see the band doing again?
MS: Yes. I think it’s something that we’ve been curious about for awhile but it had to be the right moment to really dive into it. I’ve had a little bit of experience with tape on previous projects, but not really cutting such large chunks of the song and large performances to tape. It’s was so nice because it forces you to slow down and really consider each performance and each recording of whoever’s playing at the time. It’s definitely something we have experience with now and we could potentially go back and use it again, if the song asks for it.
CB: I’ve been recording the drums in this way. It’s really great in that it does give the feel of the song. It’s a more live feel. For us, I think one of the things that’s always been surprising to a lot of people when they come to see us for the first time, especially my musicians’ friends. There’s raw kind of more prompt and in your face attitude about the band when you see us live. Like, even like our mellower songs; there’s an edge to them that you get in a live performance that kind of gets lost in the studio. I think that with this record we’ve captured a lot more of what we’re like live in the sound of the record and I think that’s very exciting.

AL: With there being a two year gap between your previous albums was there ever a time in the recording process that you guys were worried maybe you went too far with the new sound and that it might alienate some fans?
MS: I think since “Minutes to Midnight” we’ve kind of had this conversation. We knew that when we went into “Minutes to Midnight” that it was going to be different. We wanted it to be extremely different. We knew that it was going to be a risk to take and we could potentially alienate our entire fan base.
CB: Our goal is to make good songs and some are great song. If we accomplish our goal, it will be almost impossible to alienate everybody. Luckily for us a lot of our fans have come along for the ride on the last two records and we really did go and stretch our wings to see how far we could take these. For us going through that process of trying things and making sure that we’re creatively excited and energized helps us create music that still sounds like Linkin Park regardless of what vibe the song is. I think for people to get hung up on us not speaking to a specific sound is kind of a silly idea anyway, considering that we’ve never really been a single genre type of band. I think that going through that process is really a lot of being able to be creative on a heavy record like this. I don’t think we could have been as creative with the guitar or the drums 12 years ago because we’ve kind of gone around and tried new things and kind of alienated ourselves and some of our band.

AL: Were the guest performers on the album brought in to counter balance the bands new sound in anyway?
 MS: The addition of those guys was, in most cases, pretty late in the game. I mean, if you’re just talking about from a fan recognition standpoint, then, sure, if somebody sees the guests names on there, they kind of know what they’re getting
CB: I don’t think those who appeared on the record would have been into working with us if that was the goal. though. If we were coming at this from the idea of “Hey, let’s go work with these people and then that’ll make the record even more cool.” But that’s a weird way of looking at what we do anyway and it’s kind of the opposite of what our intention would ever be. When we do collaborations it’s coming from a holistic place. It’s got to come from a very open, spontaneous kind of grassroots way. It can’t be forced or thought of in a boardroom and written down on a piece of paper. That’s just not the way that anything creative usually gets done.

AL: $1 for every ticket sold is going to benefit your organization; Music for Relief. What can you tell me about the organization and why are you guys passionate about it?
MS: Music for Relief started in the mid-2000’s as a response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. We had just been out touring in Asia. When we got home we were watching the news and the whole place had been destroyed. We just felt like we needed to do something. Music for Relief had been around for a year and we realized that we were actively involved in cleaning up messes, but not so much involved in anything preventative. So, we added an environmental component to Music for Relief, and all in all, I mean, we’ve done projects all over the world. We’ve worked with the UN. We’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity and Direct Relief and the Red Cross and put on concerts with No Doubt and Jay-Z. Most recently we did an awesome show with Offspring and Bad Religion. Travis Barker came out with us and it was just so much fun. This is an ongoing effort that we hope to involve more musicians with. Music for Relief isn’t about Linkin Park. Unfortunately there are always disasters to go get involved after and there are also environmental causes that we can get involved in to help prevent the natural disasters or at least keep our oceans and our land and air clean. The bottom line is Music for Relief is being built up as something that creates trust with the fans. We create trust with the musicians and the industry and let people know that this is a group that does work hard to make sure all the I’s are dotted, or the T’s are crossed.

Minutemen’s Mike Watt talks about his latest project with Il Sogno Del Marinaio

Mike Watt is probably best known as the bassist for the influential 80’s punk band Minutemen.  Following the death of the group’s lead singer D. Boon in 1985 Watt went on to form and play with other seminal rock groups such as Firehose, Dos and more recently The Stooges. Watt’s latest project Il Sogno Del Marinaio is a 3 piece Avant-garde group that bends and blends musical genres and instrumentation. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Mike recently about the group’s new album and their upcoming 53 date tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some back ground on Il Sogno Del Marinaio?
Mike Watt: I’m a bit partial to trio’s and this new group is a very traditional trio however lately things been a bit different. With Missingmen and Black Gang I put those groups together to play my opera’s. I asked the guys who made up those groups if they would take direction to help me realize that piece of work. Then for 125 months I helped the Stooges which were the opposite as they were the ones telling me what needed to be done. With Il Sogno Del Marinaio its closer to what I was doing with D. Boon in Minutemen as there is a lot more collaboration going on. The band’s name means sailors dream and the other two guys in the group Stefano Pilia and Andrea Belfi are from Italy. They are about 20 years younger than me so I am like their student. How we came together was a total accident. I was in Italy doing some shows with Secondman and the promoter put Stefano with us to help navigate the area. About 4 or 5 years later I get an email out of the blue from Stefano asking me to come play some shows with him and a friend of his (Andrea Belfi). I didn’t even know Stefano was a musician. I knew he knew about the music scene but come to find out both him and Andrea are schooled musicians whose styles come from Avant-garde. Though our styles are different we share the same punk roots. That’s part of the reason why I feel like I am their student as I am learning a new style of music from them. It’s going to be great to bring these guys over here to the states and show them the landscape and expose American listeners to their playing. Here in the states you don’t get to hear a lot of Italian artists so this run of shows is going to be really special.

AL: The tour is very fast paced in that you are doing 53 shows in 53 days. Can you tell us about that?
MW: Coming from groups like the Minutemen who toured with bands like Black Flag doing shows like this is a tradition. It’s not really too wild or crazy as this is what I have always done. When Stefano asked me to first play with them we had to get the material together. My idea was to do some more shows together so the guys put together a small mini tour of 6 gigs.  Between the 3rd and 4th gig we made our first album. This will actually be our second tour for our second album. The guys know it will be a lot of work but they don’t see the B in burden they see the O in opportunity. If you really want to get out there and do a tour right you have to hit all the places not just the big ones.

AL: Can you tell us about the new album?
MW: This second album is much different from the first. When we did the first album we had just those three gigs together and that was it. The album was informed by just knowing each other and that was it. This new album is definitely formed from a different place. I think it’s important to make something different each time. Albums are almost like diary entries as they almost document what was going on during the time it was made. We worked with Bruno Germano in Bologna at a studio that was built inside a barn. It was such a cool place that the whole time I was there I never left it. Bruno has a more natural direction that doesn’t use a lot of effects to capture the moment. Bruno also brought a fourth man perspective which made the sound much more different. Bruno also was the guy who mixed the album. We did the album in about 8 days and I think it turned out really well. I got put in some interesting places and I thank the guys for that.

AL: Was there ever a time you were asked to step too far out of your comfort zone?
MW: The first thing was that those guys are trained musicians in other forms of playing than just rock and roll. They are capable of playing all these different time signatures very naturally. For me it was a bit harder to go back and forth from 4/4 to a more intricate signature. These guys have an expertise that is more accomplished. I had a similar problem when I worked on the song I did with Miku which was written in 7. In fact the drummer had to pound the rhythm for that out on my back. (Laughs) I got it but I needed a little help. It’s not bad to do things like this though because I think that if you don’t try shit and you always have the training wheels on then I feel it cheats things a little bit. You should always give things a try even if they may frustrate you a little bit at first.

AL: Was the song writing a collective effort or was there one guy who wrote a majority of the music?
MW: We all brought in our own tunes. I think I brought in 4 or 5 things. I didn’t honesty think that we would do all of what I brought in but when it was all said and 4 of my songs made it on the album. We did 12 songs all together. We all have distinctive ways of writing. I write on the bass on purpose and I don’t write anyone else’s parts. Andrea writes for everyone and Stefano writes only the guitar. We all take different approaches to composition. I come in with the bass lines and then give them to other guys to do their thing. I will change structure based on what the other person comes up with.  Stefano likes to put out guitar licks and then watches for what we do. He then will develop a melody right there in the moment. Andrea’s like to map everything out via Midi demos. We did a lot of work right there in the studio. Prior to the sessions starting we all did our homework and were prepared.

AL: Besides this album coming out in August what other releases do you have planned for this year?
MW: I just had an album come out titled “CUZ”. We started that fucker 6 years ago and just by coincidence it came out right now. That’s the problem with doing a lot of projects as things start to overlap yet you want to make sure that you give each project the proper respect. This “CUZ” album was the first time I ever made an album in England. Recording there was a bit different. We did a couple days of jamming and then parts were pulled from those sessions to make songs from. This is a very strange yet interesting album. This is something they want to try and do live which is pretty trippy to think about.

AL: Do you find it hard splitting time between multiple projects?
MW: (Laughs) Look what happened with Il Sogno Del Marinaio. I could even release the record because we couldn’t tour for three years! When I am working with a group I work with them like it is my only band. You don’t want to give a half ass effort. I go all the way with everything so I have to dedicate my time to each project. It’s hard to be in more than one place so I have to plan further ahead than I used to. This tour coming up I started booking back in January. If you want to give people a good shot of what you can do for them then you have to be planning ahead. I just did some shows with Big Walnuts Yonder that have been in the works for a couple years now. Those guys have some really crazy schedules.

Movie Mike to Host 35mm Screening of “Jaws”

Long time readers of MediaMikes.com know that the Mike’s love the movie “Jaws.” So when an opportunity came up in Kansas City to host a 35mm presentation of the Steven Spielberg classic, the people at the Alamo Drafthouse knew where to turn.

Mike Smith will host the special “late show” screening of “Jaws” on Saturday, July 5, at the Alamo Drafthouse Kansas City. The show will start at 10:30 p.m. Prior to the screening Smith will have on display some of his extensive collection of “Jaws” memorabilia. MovieMike and Loaf will also be interviewing fans of the film for an upcoming BEHIND THE MIKES Podcast, which is recorded live each week at the Alamo.

For tickets and more information, go to: http://drafthouse.com/movies/the_late_show_jaws/kansas_city

Movie Mike on KCUR’s “Central Standard” This Friday

MediaMikes.com’s Mike Smith will be appearing this Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. (CST) on the radio program “Central Standard.”
The show, produced by Kansas City radio station KCUR – 89.3 FM, will feature several local film critics discussing current releases as well as what people look for when they go to the movies.  You can listen online by going to www.kcur.org.

Good afternoon Mr. & Mrs. Michael McDonald and all the ships at sea – it’s The Mike O’Meara Show!

It would be difficult for me to put into words how elated I was when I first discovered the Mike O’Meara Show podcast a few years ago. I had just recently started my career as a CPA and was now a desk-jockey from 9-5, Monday through Friday. I had been a listener of The Don and Mike Show, the predecessor to the Mike O’Meara Show, back when I lived in New York and it was broadcast on WNEW. That show got me through many-a-night of boring high school homework. Now, years later, Mike and crew were suddenly back to save me from utter boredom once again.

Frustrated with the evolution of terrestrial radio and tired of being subject to the constant control of corporate broadcasting companies, Mike O’Meara has changed with the times by ditching the standard format and creating the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. Alongside Mike is Robb Spewak, a former cohort from The Don and Mike Show, and Oscar Santana, whom Mike and Robb met while broadcasting at WJFK in Washington, DC. In Fact, it was Oscar that inspired the move to the podcast format. Together, the experienced trio delivers quality that terrestrial shows could only dream of replicating.

Mike, Robb and Oscar entertain listeners with real-life personal stories, pop-culture, current news and a whole lot of ball-busting (Funnnnnn!). Recorded in the living room studios of the O’Meara Estate in Manassas, Virginia, these three likeable man-asses have a level of chemistry that’ll make you feel like you’re sitting in a room with a group of close friends. As time goes by, you feel like you know the cast and their friends and family personally. You’ll hear Carla, Mike’s wife, as they phone her at work so he can apologize for freaking out about a pot that sat in the kitchen sink too long. You’ll hear Robb talk about his obsession with Elvis and the many Elvis-themed iPhone cases he’s made using Vista Print. You’ll hear Oscar talk about his girlfriend, Shannon, and how she burned his new hardwood floors with a curling iron. But most of all, you’ll come to hear how talented, intelligent, and good-hearted these three slobs are.

From time to time Mike will read a letter on the show in which a listener talks about their personal life and how the show has impacted them in a positive way. I can relate to all of them, as each day I get to escape my near-comatose state in my cubicle to tune in for just over an hour of conversation with my friends. The podcast airs every weekday at 10:30(ish) EDT, and you can stream live (with video) at www.MikeOMearaShow.com. You can also download the shows directly from the website, from iTunes, or using the show’s app on your smartphone. Heck, there’s even a YouTube page! The show is free, but once you’re hooked there are uncensored bonus shows available for a pittance. And guys, if you can only afford the free show – at least throw them a bone and check out their advertisers – they don’t suck.

Saturday, December 7, 2013 marks the four year anniversary of the Mike O’Meara Show podcast. If you’re just now learning this for the first time, you no longer have an excuse for not listening. Come Monday, you’d better get your ass to www.MikeOMearaShow.com and tune in. You’ve already wasted four years. But don’t worry; all the archives since day one are available on the site – so get started playing catch-up!

Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Mike Schur chat about the big wedding episode

February 21, 2013 – Tonight’s Parks and Recreation will see the wedding of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) in a spontaneous ceremony put on by the Pawnee Parks department. The two stars spoke together, along with series Executive Producer and Writer, Mike Schur about the special occasion as well as Leslie and Ben’s relationship throughout the series.

 

Element of Surprise

Back in October, Ben Wyatt surprised viewers with his impromptu proposal to Leslie in one of Schur’s favorite moments of the series so far:

Mike Schur: “I like the proposal the most of the things that have actually aired because I’m of the belief that the most powerful weapon we have in tv these days after sixty years of sitcoms is surprise and that has been our goal with every relationship really and with every non-romantic story we tell on the show we just try to always be surprising to the audience. And that was the idea, we were not going to have the proposal come in the season premiere or in you know, November sweeps or you know, Christmas or whatever. We’re going to do it at a time where it just feels natural and right and that kind of takes people by surprise. That was the plan with the proposal and I think it worked.”

Everyone has to Chip in

Originally planned to take place in May, Ben’s sudden decision to hold the wedding instead at tonight’s Parks Department gala puts the entire cast to work:

Schur: “They basically have two hours to throw it together. So everybody kind of has a role to play. Tom Haverford becomes the officiant and has to get ordained online in like an hour and Donna plays a role in that for the first time we’re going to feature her beautiful and professionally trained singing voice…In order to pull this thing off, in classic Parks and Rec fashion, everyone has to chip in.

 

Will the wedding see Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) looking for ladies?

Schur: “The wedding is really about Leslie and Ben and everyone sort of gets that. So Tom is not—Tom has a desire to kind of shine at the wedding, as he always does in any social situation that he’s in. But it’s not about ladies. It’s about him wanting to be a star at the wedding.”

 

Did Leslie miss having a big production wedding?

Amy Poehler: “Leslie…is a modern woman. So it’s not like she has these weird fantasies about marriage or of weddings necessarily. So she’s kind of a combination of her liking to be in control. And what’s cool about that moment for both Ben and Leslie—because they tend to like to control things—is that they kind of throw things up in the air.”

 

Ben Wyatt as The One

Leslie Knope has dated an assortment of men throughout the series from Louis CK to Justin Theroux, but it became clear to everyone that Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt would be the one to wind up tying the knot with Knope.

Adam Scott: “We thought that it might be—Leslie and Ben might be a couple at some point but I think it was sort of a wait-and-see sort of thing. Because if we got together and didn’t quite click as a relationship…I sort of got the sense that they were gonna try that out and see if it works and if it didn’t maybe find something else for me to do.”

Schur: “The plan was always that this was a love interest and a long-term love interest. Our initial idea for Leslie was that she was gonna have a series of relationships with different men, different kinds of men over the course of the show and that she would sort of learn something different from each of them…She learned something from Mark Brendenowicz [Paul Schneider], she learned something from Louis CK’s character, she learned something from Justin Theroux and we were kind of like oh, Adam Scott, she’ll date him for a while and she’ll learn something from him. It was certainly the plan to have him be the love interest…The first episode—in the Master Plan episode—they have a conversation in a bar and I wrote this thing into it where Ben says to her very casually ‘You want to run for office someday, right?’ and she says ‘Yeah, how did you know?’ and he just sort of blows past it. I mean he’s just kind of got her number, he just kind of gets her. He understands her and what her goals are. And the second episode that we had which was the finale that year called Freddy Spagetti, they have a conversation and Leslie smiles at him and walks off and there’s a shot of Adam looking after Leslie with a smile on his face and as soon as I saw that I kind of realized that not only were they going to get together but they were never going to break up. It became really clear in that moment that this was it.”

Poehler: “It’s chemistry baby, you can’t fight it!”

 

Pawnee after the wedding

As always with Parks and Recreation, work goes on in Pawnee right alongside the romantic plots.

Schur:“In the second episode [tonight’s 9-9:30 half of the hour]… the cold open of that episode is Leslie and Ben coming back from their Honeymoon and just sort of talking about how much fun they had on their Honeymoon but the episode is just a regular episode of Parks and Rec and Leslie and Ben are in the same story. Ben is starting a new job and it’s the first day of work and he’s sort of thrown into this new challenge of his new job and Leslie has an event that she’s planning for which is sort of a correspondent’s type of event where the politicians roast each other and stuff.

And so I think you’ll see right away that there’s sort of a blue print going forward that yea, they’re married now but you know, they also have other aspects of their lives that are very important to them and so I hope and very much feel like that will be the thing that keeps it from feeling like the ‘magic is gone.’”

Parks and Recreation airs every Thursday at 8:30pm on NBC.

Adam Scott, Amy Poehler & Mike Schur talk about this season of “Parks and Recreation”

Last week’s episode (October 25th, 2012) of NBC’s Parks and Recreation managed to do something fairly rare in television these days with a genuine surprise for its audience. For those of you not caught up with your DVR, you may want to click away now.

Granted the episode was titled “Halloween Surprise” but viewers would be forgiven for thinking that Jerry’s “fart attack” was surprise enough. That was until Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) reappeared from his political travels to propose to Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in their new home. It was heartfelt, funny, and definitely one of the series best moments. Poehler, Scott, and show creator and executive producer, Mike Schur, held a press conference  to discuss this big development in Pawnee:

What the vibe was on set that day and what you all were feeling as you were shooting that scene?

Amy Poehler: When I read that scene I cried because I was so happy that I had my job at Parks and then I got to do that scene with Adam and that Mike Schur wrote it because I knew it would be great.

And it’s very rare, you know, as an actor when you read a scene and you know it’s going to be great, you can just kind of see it. And so when we were shooting the scene I was really excited that we were getting to do it because I was – had really just been looking forward to doing it.

And I was really happy for Leslie, so I think the mood on set was a really kind of joyous one. I know even though it was kind of a sweet scene I know Adam and I were really just happy to have such a well written scene to get to do.

And we care about our characters so we were kind of excited that this was happening for them.

Adam Scott:   Yes, I feel the same way, I mean I also just kind of felt like, you know, this was a really big deal for all of us. I mean we of course are well aware that these are fictional characters that we are playing on television.

But I think we also want them to be happy and want them to be all right and we all care about them. I can say, speaking for myself that I care about them, you know, quite deeply and so, you know, knowing this scene was coming, you know, it was – maybe a little nervous about it but mostly just really happy about it.

And happy to be able to do it and happy for the characters and, you know, so the day we were doing it it was – it was like Amy said very kind of joyous but also there’s a real feeling that this was very special and we wanted it to be special for the fans and for he characters and we were all – it was exciting.

It’s so hard to keep a secret these days. So how did you guys all keep it under wraps?

Mike Schur:   Well there’s a lot of things, you know. We were extra, extra, extra careful not to – when we shot outside and you know, and there’s may paparazzi lurking around, we always would hide Leslie’s engagement ring and although a couple shots of it did get snapped a while ago.

We titled the episode Halloween Surprise and then we built it around what you think is the surprise, which is that they – Leslie and Anne surprised Jerry and he has a devastating fart attack. So that was meant to sort of throw people off the scent.

And I don’t know, we just didn’t – we just tried to telegraph where we were going to much, you know…In the first four episodes we tried to build in, you know, that – like that Ben was having a good time and was working really hard at this job in Washington that he cared about.

But also that there were things about the job that sort of annoyed him, like that the politician that he was – the politician he was working for who was kind of a robot who didn’t really care about anything. And that was contrasted when he called Leslie at the end of that episode and she was so revved up and just wanted to just put boots on the ground and kind of – and fix this problem in her town.

And you saw on his face and in his delivery that he just liked that better, you know. So we just tried to – just not to telegraph in the storytelling where we were going but the goal is that once it happens you think back and you think, oh yes that makes perfect sense.

So it’s just very meticulous, you know, writing and re-writing and story breaking and a lot of discussions with the actors about, you know, where we’re going so that they know how to play different things and how to kind of give certain clues without giving everything away.

And then just, you know, asking everybody on our production staff not to leak stuff to the Internet.

Amy Poehler: And you know, the fans of the show are always – we have such great fans. And they – I think some of them kind of found out or dug deep and they were kind of excited to know but they also I think were respectful and kind of like keep things like, you know, like letting people know about spoilers and just kind of trying to keep it adrift because I think they were as excited as we were.

Mike Schur:   Yes, it’s funny that you say that because I kind of snooped around yesterday before the episode aired and I saw that a lot of our fans had kind of called that it was actually maybe happening tonight…and they were, you know, really cool about it and not trying to spread it around and just kind of talking to each other and not wanting to like spoil it for others.

And I just kind of second that that we have the greatest fans of any show – I really just – we feel very, very lucky.

How connected is your staff in general to the internet?

Mike Schur: Well, I mean I’m – comparatively speaking I’m about to turn thirty seven and there’s a bunch of little whipper snappers on this writing staff and in the cast who are, you know, in their twenties. And I don’t understand anything they do.

There was a line that Leslie had in season two where she said ‘the thing about youth culture is I don’t understand it’. And that came right out of my brain because I don’t have any idea how these people, what they’re doing with their time.

I don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to me and I work out my own anxieties about the fact that I’m getting old by having young people do things that I don’t understand and then having Ron Swanson [played by Nick Offerman] scold them.

So, yes they’re incredibly connected, I mean it is absurd, the level to which twenty-five year-olds have merged with their electronic devices.

How much of an influence the supporting actors like Aziz Ansari (plays Tom Haverford) or Retta (as Donna) have over their characters?

Mike Schur: Well the story line last night [Donna live tweeted the Parks Department’s Halloween viewing of Death Canoe 4] obviously came out of real life because Retta has been doing this insane thing where she like live Tweet’s season two of Buffy and it’s hilarious, we all find it hilarious.

And so we just decided to work it into an episode. It’s a common theme on this show that we take aspects of the actor’s real life and kind of weave them into their characters and that seemed very much appropriate for Donna somehow.

So, you know, I think that – I think we do that with all the characters but maybe Aziz and Retta more than – and Nick [Offerman] I guess more than almost anybody else because they just do things in real life that we find funny and the writer’s room and then we try to find ways to work them in to their characters.

But that’s – everyone’s character has some aspect I would say of their real life persona. And it just seems funny to have Donna live Tweeting a terrible horror movie from 1986, so. It was also another extra in joke that the guy who complains to her about it was played by Joe Mande who’s one of our writer’s who is like – essentially lives on Twitter. So it was our little nod to the obsession with Twitter that exists in this – on the writing staff right now.

How are we going to see the proposal really impact the Parks Department?

Amy Poehler: Well, you know that no matter what Leslie will involve and include everyone in her plans all the time. This engagement will be said of everybody’s engagement.

Adam Scott: America’s engagement.

Were there ever any alternative ideas for Ben’s proposal?

Amy Poehler:  I loved that the scene is about everything to come, you know. It’s an empty room, which is – which can be depressing in some respects for some people but in this context it was all about hostility, you know, that nothing had filled that room. That that room was empty and open and ready to be filled with like the future.

And it was really cool that Dean Holland our Director and Mike Schur picked that it happened in front of the fireplace of the empty room, which is just really nice because it was like warm but, I don’t know. I just loved that Leslie looked around to see what was around here and there was just this big empty room, which was like basically the idea, you know, it’s basically what happens when you’re thinking about committing to someone.

It’s just the future seems really wide and open and clean and so that ended up being what it was and I thought it was perfect. But were there other ideas?

Mike Schur: The original original idea was that he was going to sing ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones next to a white tiger.

Adam Scott: Which I was lobbying for.

Mike Schur: Yes, you were really into that. And then we kind of scaled it back, we decided, you know, let’s make it a little, you know, classier and kind of quieter.

Amy Poehler: We couldn’t get – we couldn’t get the rights to the song.

Mike Schur: We couldn’t get the rights or the white tiger so we just used – all right well maybe he just proposes, you know.

Adam Scott: Mike I told you I had a firm connection to both of those things I totally could have made it happen.

Mike Schur: If showing me pictures on the Internet of Siegfried and Roy’s Vegas show does not mean you have a firm connection to anything.

Adam Scott: That is exactly what that means.

New episodes of Parks and Recreation air Thursday at 9:30pm on NBC.

Michael Roark talks about working on “Magic Mike” and NBC’s “Revolution”

CREDIT: Marc Cartwright

Michael Roark’s latest film “Magic Mike” was recently released on Blu-ray/DVD. Michael also has guest starring appearing on NBC’s new show “Reovolution. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with him about his role in the film as well as some of his other upcoming projects.

Adam Lawton: How did you become attached to the role of Ryan in “Magic Mike”?
Michael Roark: At the time I was living between Florida and Los Angeles. The film was shot in Florida and my South Beach reps. were able to get me a few reads with the casting people. We kind of went back and forth because I don’t think I was really what they were looking for but, I ended up getting a call out of the blue offering me the part. It was great getting to work with such an amazing cast. It was a little surreal when I sat down and looked at who was working on the film.

AL: Did you have any reservations about the role knowing what the film was about?
MR: I had zero reservations about working on the film. My characters focus was more of a love interest than one of the dancers. Essentially this film is a comedy. There are some dramatic sequences in it and there were some things that I think Steven Soderbergh wanted to push but it’s not a very racy film. Some people may have been disappointed by that but I think it made for a more interesting flick.

AL: What was it like working with such a great cast?
MR: Channing Tatum is very natural and a generous guy. It is really clear why people love to work with him and why he works so much. Olivia Munn is hilarious! I had a great time working with her as she is just a riot. It was an all around great set. I wasn’t there as long as some of the others but the time I had there was fantastic.

AL: What can you tell us about working on the new series “Revolution”?
MR: My episode of “Revolution” aired on Oct. 29th. That show has really started to pick up steam and people are connecting with it. Steve Boyum directed this particular episode and as far as my character Sean goes he is a very edgy type of guy. He’s the type of guy that you don’t really know if he can be trusted or not. It was a fun role to play not only because it was well written but I had nice little fight scene.

AL: Is Sean a character we will be seeing more of in later episodes?
MR: I think the potential to see Sean down the line is definitely there. I am always the last one to know sowe will have to wait and see. The story line was left open so there is a good possibility he could return. I hope he does. Working on the show was really fun.

AL: Can you give us an update on the new Showtime series “Banshee”?
MR: “Banshee” is probably one of the coolest projects I have worked on to date. There are just no rules with what they are doing on that show. There have been some trailers released but they haven’t revealed too much just yet. I can tell you that the episode I am in was shot in a maximum security prison. The things that happen in this episode are very intense. I can picture this show being a hit as there are a lot of great people involved.

AL: Do you have any other projects coming out that you can tell us about?
MR: “Rizzoli and Isles” is returning in late October and I will be guest starting in the season 3 finale of that on TNT. “The Following” will be coming out soon which that show has Kevin Bacon in it so you can’t ask for much better than that. “L.A. Dirt” is a feature film I did which has some really great original music in it by Travis Tritt and Tracy Lawrence. This has been a great year and a lot of cool things have come my way.

Film Review “Magic Mike”

Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 50 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In the first few minutes of “Magic Mike” the audience is given a great piece of advice: If you meet a woman whose name is similar to a car, flower or stone, don’t ask what she does for a living.

“Magic Mike” is a modern look, with a sometimes retro feel (the film opens with the mid 1970’s Warner Brothers logo), into the world of male entertainment. Mike (Tatum) is a 30 year old “entrepreneur” who dances for dollar bills in the hopes of raising enough money to fund a business making furniture. He also works construction, details cars and pretty much anything he can to keep the cash coming in. One day at work he is saddled with supervising Adam (Pettyfer), a clueless young man who shows up at the job site in tennis shoes. Mike gives Adam a ride home after work and invites him to meet him later at his second job. Adam is surprised to learn that Mike is a male dancer but, promised a good payday at the end of the night, accepts a job at the club as the dancer’s assistant…getting props and costumes ready. As fate would have it, one of the dancer’s misses a cue and Adam is thrust out on stage. He very nervously entices the crowd and soon finds himself on the roster, advertised as The Kid!

At first look you wouldn’t expect to see Steven Soderbergh’s name attached to a project like this. But it’s only his skill behind the camera that gets the film through its clunky parts, which is really the parts of the film that don’t take place in the club. Based in part on Channing Tatums real-life experiences during his eight months of “dancing,” the story is really about Mike’s efforts to better himself. Tacked on romance (Mike has a thing for Adam’s sister) and a drug-dealer subplot often stop the film in its tracks, which is a shame because the action on stage and behind the scenes is fun to watch. McConaughey is the most fun, playing a character named Dallas. Dallas owns the club and hopes to expand from Tampa to Miami. He’s also the Mr. Miyagi of male dancing, giving advice to anyone who will listen. It’s clear McConaughey is having fun with the role and that enjoyment radiates off the screen. Tatum continues to grow as an actor. He builds on the comedic goodwill he earned with this year’s “21 Jump Street” and also proves himself one hell of a dancer. Where the other actors in the film have occasional flash Tatum is a one man dance recital.

Interview with Staind’s Mike Mushok

Mike Mushok is the guitarist for the band Staind. The band is currently part of the Mass Chaos Tour which includes Godsmack and Halestorm. Media Mikes had a chance to be a part of a teleconference with Mike to discuss the tour.

Adam Lawton: In the last couple of years there have been a lot of bands teaming up for multi band headlining tours. Is this a reality of the music business today? And are these larger scale tours something that needs be done in order to survive?
Mike Mushok: In my opinion it’s something we’ve always tried to do. I know we always try to put together the best package we can. I think in this economy it’s tough for people to have extra money to be able to go to a show. It’s kind of a luxury. The more bang for the buck you can give them, I think the more likely chance you have of getting people there and, hopefully, give them the most value for the dollars. That was really the idea for us and we had this record and we were looking to who we could play with. Godsmack was like, “That would be fantastic if those guys wanted to do it.” So, we went and put it together.

AL: How do you think the Staind of 2012 compare with the Staind of 1995 or 1999?
MM: We have a different drummer now so that’s one big difference. I think what we did with this record was to kind of come back to what Staind of ’99 was. That was really the idea behind it, to kind of get a little more aggressive. The reason we started the band was to play more aggressive music. We kind of went on this journey and I think the last record we lost the progress. I enjoy the journey. I love some of the songs on the last record, but I think after completing that we said, “Let’s kind of go back to why we started the band,” and that’s really what the idea was behind the album. Aaron also has a solo thing going on now, so that kind of ties up his time.  It makes it a little more difficult to get all the time we need for STAIND. So, those are really the big differences.

AL: How did drum tech turned band member Sal Giancarelli end up being the new drummer for the band? and how have you seen him change both musically and personality since his promotion?
MM: Sal has been with the band since ’99 and previous to that he was in bands that we used to play with. We always knew he was a great drummer. Even during his career as a drum tech he had other bands that he tried to pursue a career in music with. Being able to be a drum tech was a way of getting out there and kind of getting some of his stuff out there. There were a couple shows where John was sick and Sal filled in. So this wasn’t the first time Sal played with us. Sal just seemed like the perfect fit to go from behind the drums to playing them. He knew all the material and we knew he could more than handle it. Personality-wise he’s the same guy. We had these web-isodes on our website where we made him seem like this big egotistical guy and wanted to name the band after him, it was all a joke. Sal’s the most quiet, down-to-earth guy you’ll ever meet, and he hasn’t changed one bit. Sometimes when you introduce someone else, it’s a whole other personality. We knew his personality. He’s been on the road with us for 12-13 years so he was already part of the family.

AL: Besides the new drummer did anything change on the last album? And are the same problems that were there before this hiatus still there?
MM: No. We made the record basically the same way we always make a record. I’ll come in with a bunch of ideas. We get together and figure out what Aaron likes and wants to sing over, and then pretty much finish them and start tracking. Making the record was pretty tough. I mean, losing John along the way wasn’t easy. We had a deadline to meet for the label. Aaron put up the solo record. As far as problems go, I mean, I don’t know. You play with somebody and you’re around somebody so much there’s always issues. Did they go away? I mean, look, we just deal with them. We’re all adults. We’ve been able to maintain this for a long time and I think that you have to pick your battles. I think between Johnny, Aaron, and I we can say pretty much what we want to each other and realize that the band is what’s important. And that’s why people ask me when we’re doing a record. They thought we were going to break up. No, we knew we had to finish the record and that’s what we wanted to do, but you kind of work through all of those things. It takes people making compromises and being able to admit sometimes when you’re wrong and being able to give in.

AL: “Not Again,” was released last summer. Do you have any plans to release additional singles and any videos from the new album?
MM: No, that’s it. We’re calling it quits. Yeah, there’s a single, “Eyes Wide Open,” is out now, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going to be next. There’s a live video that we did with “Eyes Wide Open” also. So, yeah, we’re on single number two now and I think its top ten or something.

AL: Was there any real thought process or purpose behind making this album self-titled?
MM: Yeah. We really wanted to kind of go back to where we started as far as a band, and I think that was kind of why we ultimately decided on having it self-titled. I mean, there was talk about it being called, “Seven,” because this is the seventh record and that’s what seven demons on the cover kind of represents is that. That’s kind of how we ended up incorporated that. But, no, it was really just about the fact that we kind of got back to playing with the music.

AL: Staind has been together for 15 years or more now. What would you say are the biggest reasons for the band lasting that long?
MM: I think all three of the bands on this tour know that if it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be here. They allow us to do this. Those are the ones that buy a ticket, come to the show, support the bands, and, I mean, that’s why we’re still around obviously. We do our best to write the best music we can. I know Lzzy and Sully do also and you try to put out the best product that you can and you hope that people like it and want to listen to it and be a part of it. So, we’ve been fortunate so far and, hopefully, we can continue.

Interview with Adrenaline Mob’s Mike Portnoy

Mike Portnoy is best known as one of the founding members and drummer of the progressive rock group Dream Theater. Portnoy’s latest project Adrenaline Mob which features members of Disturbed and Symphony X is set to release their first full length album on March 13th. Media Mikes had a chance recently to talk with Mike about the group and the upcoming album.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get asked to be a part of Adrenaline Mob?
Mike Portnoy: I have known Russell Allen for many years. Our bands had toured together a couple times and we became very good friends. I have always admired his voice and I think his is one of the best in the business. He is someone that I have always wanted to work with. When my time with Avenged Sevenfold came to a close in 2010 Russell called me up to ask if I would be interested in checking out some material he had been working on with a guy by the name of Mike Orlando. At first I was sort of anticipating material along the lines of Symphony X and Dream Theater. Honestly I wasn’t interested in doing material like that as I wanted to go into some new musical places. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit play and heard the song “Undaunted”. It was exactly what I was looking for and I was instantly on board. It was the right band at the right time.

AL: Can you describe what the writing sessions were like?
MP: The writing happened before my involvement. Mike Orlando has this graveyard of songs and riffs that he has been just waiting for the right band to use them with. He had been working with Russell Allen probably a year or two before my involvement with the project. By the time they asked me to be involved I would say around 80% of the music had been written. I did some shaping and arranging but for the most part everything was there.

AL: How do you think you’re playing on this album differs from that on the Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold albums?
MP: I think this stuff is more in line with what I did with Avenged Sevenfold. This was the next natural step in the evolution of that kind of drumming in my life. With Avenged I was out on the Uproar Tour surrounded by bands like Disturbed, Hellyeah and Stone Sour. All these bands are very song oriented and they have a bounce to their grooves. I was very excited playing that kind of music. It’s fun and doesn’t require you to over think anything or play really technical parts. There is nothing wrong with doing that kind of playing but I was looking for a breather. This music definitely is the next step after my drumming on the “Nightmare” album. Having that bounce was the real priority to on “Omerta”. I still wanted it to have my personality and character which I think it does but, have it be restrained somewhat.

AL: Is there a track off the album you are really looking forward to playing live?
MP: At this point we have played everything live already. Every one of these songs comes alive on stage. They are all really energy driven. Songs like “Undaunted” and Psychosane” have a lot drive while the song “All on the Line” serves as a nice breather and a showcase for Russell’s melodic side. When we were playing with Godsmack that song got a great response every night. All the songs serve different purposes depending on what you are looking for.

AL: Where did the idea come from to cover a Duran Duran song?
MP: Mike Orlando and Russell presented that to me at the same time they were showing me all the other material. I had thought it was an original because I never heard the Duran Duran version before. I guess that said something for how well it adapted to the rest of the material. I don’t know which guy actually came up with the idea but it surely works with the rest of the material. Lzzy Hale’s vocals on that track are a whole other attraction. It’s amazing hearing her and Russell trading off together.

AL: What do you think will make this album stand out from others in the rock/metal genre?
MP: I think the thing with Adrenalin Mob is we are taking the song writing structure of bands like Disturbed and Godsmack while keeping with the shred factor. Mike Orlando is an incredible player along the lines of Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell. Add my prog background in and you get something very different. Honestly we aren’t trying to break any new ground with the style of this group. We want to write some great tunes with great riffs and melodies. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to make an album with great songs that are enjoyable to listen to.

Interview with Adrenaline Mob’s Mike Orlando

Mike Orlando is the guitarist for the rock/metal super group Adrenaline Mob. The group is set to release their debut full length album titled “Omerta” on March 13. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Mike about the album and what it was like playing both bass and guitar on the album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what inspired you to put the band together?
Mike Orlando: I had been rolling with the vision and the songs for quite some time. This was even before I had met Russell Allen. Line ups don’t work out or people don’t live up to certain expectations so it’s been in the works for some time. I was working with Russell on writing his second solo album off and on for about 3 years. We are always both on the road so it’s been tuff to get the album done. I brought the tracks to Russell to check out one day and it was just magic. It was exactly what I was looking for.

AL: What was yours and Russell’s writing process like?
MO: I had brought Russell all of the pre-recorded material. Everything was tracked so Russell would either sing on the songs the way they were or we would make some changes to make the tunes work better.

AL: Was it hard balancing both guitar and bass playing duties during the recording process?
MO: No. I love playing bass. I actually have played bass on all of my solo albums. If it has strings I will play it. I never approach the bass like a guitarist. I use my fingers not a pick. It’s very much like John Entwistle who is one of my heroes. I try to look at the tracks like a bass player would as you can’t play bass the way you play a guitar. I think it comes off stiff when you don’t approach it differently. It’s great having John Moyer from Disturbed playing bass in the band now. I told him to do whatever he wanted and to make the songs his own. I gave him the guidelines and he has done a hell of a lot more from what I gave him.

AL: Can you tell us the idea behind covering the Duran Duran song “Come Undone”?
MO: That song has been one of my favorites since hearing it when it came out in 1991. I don’t walk around screaming “Hungry like a Wolf” or anything (Laughs) but “Come Undone” is like my favorite song from that band. When you look past the quirkiness that band is made up of some amazing players. I do try to look a little deeper than their song “Rio”. “Come Undone” I felt always had a haunting vide. The fact that we got Lzzy Hale from Halestorm to do a duet with Russell is amazing. Lzzy I think has one of the greatest voices in rock. I consider Lzzy to be the female Russ.

AL: Is there a track off the album that you really enjoy playing live?
MO: To quote Billy Joel “I don’t have a favorite they are all like my children”. The song “Feeling Me” seems to get a really great response live. I will never forget the first night we played that song when we were out with Godsmack. The song got such a hop. It was infectious. “Hit the Wall” is another one for me that is just very intense

AL: “Omerta” comes out March 13 and I am sure that’s going to keep you busy for some time but, have you guys started thinking about the next album yet?
MO: Oh yeah! I have plenty of material ready for second album. Throughout my life I have been an avid song writer. If I don’t release an album for 3 years it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still writing and recording. Even when I was younger I would just write and write. I have so much material Mike Portnoy likes to call it my “graveyard” of songs. (Laughs)

Interview with Mike Christopher

Mike Christopher is known best for his role of the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”.  Mike’s character in that film is one of the most well known zombies ever in films.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike about his role and what he is currently working on.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”
Mike Christopher: I was playing in a rock band “FLUID” at the time and Mickey Lies (the Machete Zombie’s brother) gave our picture to Romero. The “FLUID” band performed a space themed theatrical show with our music and we all had bald heads. The Sax player, John Paul Musser got the role as the Plaid Shirt/ Airport Zombie. George came up with the idea to have a Hare Krishna for diversity. It was a great role and I just got lucky I guess. Having the bald head was the ticket to play one of those pesky Krishna guyz.

MG: How does it feel to be one of the most recognizable zombies in film history?
MC: It’s actually kind of scary. I think about all these thousands of people who were actually afraid to sleep on the 3rd floor of their parent’s house because of me. I still scare a few people at the conventions. Just last weekend at Saturday Nightmares I noticed a gal laughing hysterically pointing at me. (I was ‘in character’) I got up and started to shamble towards her. She screamed and ran so I began to follow her. She kept running and screaming. I believe she was genuinely terrified.

MG: After “Dawn of the Dead”, you didn’t act again till a few years ago, why was that?
MC: I moved to Los Angeles and performed laser light shows for Laserium and Laser Media. I also made synthesizers and drum machines for Oberheim in Santa Monica, colorized Black and White Movies for Color Systems Technology who was colorizing some of the Turner Library. I also worked in video post for a while before moving to Florida in ’96 and became a Graphic Artist. It wasn’t until after I lost my job in Graphics that I learned of the conventions, then my action figure came out and I started getting roles in indy films when I started networking on mySpace and the Florida film scene.

MG: Any neat behind the scenes stories that you were saving up for this interview?
MC: The best one is when I surprised George Romero at HorrorFind in 2008. I waited in line and he looked up at me, read my badge and said “Mike, you look kinda familliar.” I had a pre signed action figure which I set down on the table in front of him and he looked back up at me saying “You’re the GUY . . . I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE IT! He stood up and grabbed me in a bear hug and apologized for not recognizing me. “George, it’s been 30 years I said.” I wish I had a movie of THAT!

MG: How can you reflect that with just one role you have such a loyal horror fanbase?
MC: I owe it all to the genius that is George Romero . . . they are actually fans of George’s Hare Krishna character, I just brought the zombie to life or something.

MG: What do you like most about going to horror conventions and meeting fans?
MC: Meeting the fans IS the best part. Musicians don’t get to meet their fans, most other celebs do not get to meet the fans either. I remember a guy telling me he totaled his car on the way to FearFest 2 after hitting a piece of black ice. He was so proud that he still was able to make it. “Dawn Of The Dead” fans are tops. . . I get to hold their children and get my picture in the family album for cryin’ out loud! I remember this guy saying “I can’t believe it’s 3 am and I’m talking to the Hare Krishna Zombie in a hotel hallway.” You can’t put a price on special moments like that.

MG: You recently composed a score for a movie, “Bikini Monsters”, any future plans?
MC: I actually played the role of Captain Nicholson in Bikini Monsters as well as composing music for it. My ghoulfriend Shade Burnett and Richard ‘Spaceape’ Kaltenbock also created music tracks. Spaceape and I played in a band together in the early 70’s which was actually the first incarnation of the bald space band in Pittsburgh.

MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
MC: I’ll be working with Shade on her horror interview show “These Ghoulish Things Remind Me Of You.” and composing more music. No definite new film plans as of yet, just a few possibilities floating around.