Film Review: “Wilson”

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern and Judy Greer
Directed by: Craig Johnson
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 34 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

First off let me inform you that this is NOT the movie we’ve all been waiting for detailing what happened to Tom Hank’s volleyball buddy in “Castaway.” And no, I don’t think I’m the only one who was upset when I learned the news.

Everybody knows a Wilson (Harrelson). He iust goes along with his life until it’s time to do something with it. His choice is to make amends with his ex-wife, Pippy (Dern). Imagine his surprise when he discovers that, instead of being fat and frumpy, Pippy is actually quite beautiful. Beginning to believe that his luck may be changing, Wilson learns that Pippy never had the abortion she left home to have. Instead she had a baby girl and gave it up for adoption. Wilson is amazed. He has a daughter!

Carried along by a brilliant performance by Woody Harrelson, “Wilson” is based on the very dark graphic novel by Daniel Clowes. Wilson is set in his ways and can’t understand why complete strangers refuse his friendly conversation starting. As he and Pippy begin to reconcile they decide to “find” the daughter they gave up 16 years ago, which has mixed results.

If you’re looking for a quirky comedy to help your day go by, feel free to spend some time with “Wilson.”

Book Review: “I Am Brian Wilson”

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

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

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

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

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

Jim Wilson talks about new group called Motor Sister

Jim Wilson has a career in the music business spanning almost 20 years. Jim has played guitar for such groups as The Rollins Band, Daniel Lanois and was a founding member of the blues rock band Mother Superior. Wilson’s latest project is a re-visioning of his group Mother Superior named “Motor Sister”. The group which also includes Scott Ian, Pearl Aday, John Tempesta and Joey Vera came together after a one off performance at the Anthrax guitarist’s birthday party. Together Motor Sister have reworked twelve songs from Mother Superiors original catalog and Media Mikes recently spoke with Jim about how everything came together and what it was like revisiting some of the material on “Ride”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little more info on how this group came together?
Jim Wilson: My band Mother Superior was one that Scott and Pearl would always come out to watch when we were playing in the Los Angeles area. I even remember seeing them at a show in Denver. We became friends as time went on and I eventually ended up working with both Scott and Pearl on Pearl’s album. We have a pretty solid history of playing together. I had also worked with Joey Vera in the past on Mother Superior songs as well so we all certainly were connected to one another. Pearl was throwing a party for Scott and she wanted to have me by and do some Mother Superior songs with Scott. Joey also ended up playing that night as did John Tempesta who I knew of but that was about it. Scott picked out the songs for the night and I looked them over and things surprisingly came back pretty easily. This was supposed to be a onetime thing. We never thought that the band would sound so great and be so tight. It was a really great combination that at the end of the night we all wanted to do it again some time. A few days later I found out that Neil Zlozower was at the party and mentioned the show to a friend of his at Metal Blade Records. Next thing we know they were asking us to make a record. Things have just worked so well. I am really lucky and fortunate to be able to play with these guys.

AL: What was it like going back and reworking these songs?
JW: There were a lot of memories that came back from the early years of Mother Superior. We were always on a tight budget when we made those records so to have them still sound good really means something. I do wish some of that earlier production was a bit better but at that time being independent was pretty cool. There was a scene for bands that had a sound that was a bit out of the normal commercial rock sound. The 12 songs on the record are what we played at Scott’s party and were picked by him. That was certainly ok by me as I don’t think I could have chosen only 12. Each of the songs has its own vibe which I really like. We changed some of the original arrangements around but nothing major. John is a double bass master so it was fun to add in some of that. Everyone did what they do and it was a lot of fun. This would have been something entirely different if I had decided to put a new version of Mother Superior together with different people. Everyone in Motor Sister is fans of the original music/band and we are all friends which makes it a lot of fun. This group has an energy that is very infectious.

AL: How did having Jay Ruston produce the album come about?
JW: If you go back through the Mother Superior catalog Jay Ruston actually mixed and mastered some things for us. He actually did the original version of ‘This Song Reminds Me of You” and a couple others that appear on “Ride”. We all have known Jay for awhile. I am pretty sure I was the one who introduced Jay to Joey Vera and one of the NAMM conventions which brought Jay into knowing the Anthrax guys. Pearl and I also worked with Jay on her album. It’s just this weird circle of friends.

AL: What type of long term plans does the band have?
JW: We recently played a show in NY and we have one coming up in San Francisco. After that we all sort of go back to our other projects. It won’t be till about June that we all have time to do more with Motor Sister. There are talks of doing a major US tour though with this band. We want to hit all of the major cities. Scott also has this vision of doing 4 or 5 shows in Michigan being that area has such a history with rock music. I don’t know if fans would get the full vibe of our show in a large festival setting as I see us more in a hot sweaty club packed with 300 plus people would be just great! There have also been talks of signing on with one of the summer package shows but we are still in the planning stages for that.

AL: Aside from Motor Sister what other plans/projects do you have in the works?
JW: I will be going out with producer Daniel Lanois as part of his band. I have been working with him for over 10 years now. We get to play some really great places. Daniel had a new album come out in October for which we toured the states in November. In May we will be heading to Europe for a 6 week tour which will be a lot of fun. I am also working on my second solo record. My solo stuff is a little bit darker and a touch more funky.

Colin Wilson reflects on 25 years with the band “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”

Colin Wilson is the bassist for the cover band, “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”.  2012 marks the 25th anniversary with the band, who perform over 100 shows a year all over the world. The band has recently released their  Blu-ray/DVD of their current “Exposed in the Light” and are planning a big tour for  2013 called “Eclipsed By The Moon” to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Moon”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Colin about 25 years with the band and the bands work of constantly trying to improve their skill in order to master the work of Pink Floyd.

Mike Gencarelli: This year marks 20 years with “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”; how do you feel the band has evolved in that time?
Colin Wilson: Wow, well it has evolved incredibly. We started off very small, literally getting together on weekends and trying to learn songs. We are just trying to learn how to do Pink Floyd well. We did some small shows around Australia, like pubs and clubs. As the years have gone on, we have constantly re-invested into it. Every time we could we would get two extra lights or a bigger projector screen, things like that. We just kept putting back into the band. Now, as you said 20+ years later, we tour worldwide and doing over 100 shows a year. It is a really big full-scale production and it is the same sort of production now that you would expect to see with a mainstream band.

MG: After all these years, do you still have to put work into mastering the songs?
CW: Some aspects of it come easier just because of how much we are doing it. We don’t have any real long periods off. The longest we have away is two months over Christmas and you don’t forget everything in those two months. As far as playing the music goes, it is definitely getting a bit easier since all the hard work is done. But we never sort of rest on that. We are always trying to fine-tune and improve ourselves. We still listen to the music today and hear little subtleties that we might have missed.

MG: How does it feel to be called “The Best Tribute Band in the World”?
CW: It is funny for us. We are one of the first tribute bands. When we started up in Australia, in the end of the 80’s and early 90’s there were a lot of tribute bands forming mainly because a lot of the mainstream bands weren’t making it out there to tour. So there was definitely a need for people to do this since the fans wanted to hear it and the real band weren’t coming out. So we were one of the first and then definitely one of the first to take it overseas from Australia. When we got to the UK in the early 90’s, there were maybe 2 or 3 other tribute bands around but not many. I would say within the first 2 or 3 years of us being in the UK, the whole scene suddenly blew up and there were tribute bands everywhere. I guess we have stood the test of time since most of those early bands are long-gone. I guess that is due to the fact that we keep trying to improve ourselves every year and why we’re referred to as the best one around. It is incredibly gratifying to us when we get reviews like that and hear things like that.

MG: What is your biggest challenging having to cover two very different styles of Roger Waters and Guy Pratt?
CW: Song by song is not very challenging. The biggest challenge really is doing a song by one of them and then the very next song doing the other. You have to treat each one in a song by song basis and getting into the feel and groove of that song in the blink of an eye between the songs. And because I have been doing it for so long it just sort of happens for me. Hopefully it is working and I am able to do that effectively.

MG: What do you do to keep it fresh when performing these songs live each tour?
CW: Well, there are 10 musicians in the band and every one of them are complete professionals and each one of them approaches this in that way. We also all get on great as well. We are like a team. If one person doesn’t do their job, it sort of lets us all down. In some ways, we try and impress each other every night. It is a challenge but we are the kind of people that like that challenge. We try to do it right every night and send the audience away with big smiles on their faces. That is the mindset that we have and how we keep it fresh. Most importantly, we still enjoy doing it after all these years.

MG: What songs really hits home with you when performing live?
CW: Me personally, I love the songs from the “Animals” album. That’s probably my favorite with “Dark Side of the Moon” in a close second. On “Animals”, the tracks are very deep with a lot of aspects that you have to remember. They are quite long songs with many different passages. You have to be completely absorbed to play them and do them justice. So I really enjoy those. Also it has to be any of the songs that get an amazing reaction from the audience. Like every night we play “Another Brick in the Wall”, we get this fantastic buzz because the audience gets on their feet with that song.

MG: Tell us about your encounters with the actual members of Pink Floyd?
CW: Going way back to 1994/1995, David Gilmour came to see us play and met with us after the show. We got to talk with him for a while and he was really into what we were doing. We had played some songs that he himself haven’t heard, let alone played, in a long time. He was really encouraging and positive about that. He has seen us a few times since then when we come along to London. We sort of got his unofficial endorsement. We played at his 50th birthday party in London, which was incredible. It was amazing for us as a band and gave us that extra bit of credibility that maybe we needed with some of the more skeptical Floyd fans. Also Nick Mason, in the recent years, has said a lot of nice things about us in the press. We have a nice unofficial connection with them. We know that they are sort of watching us through the one eye kind of aspect. It is a nice relationship. We are not out having BBQ’s each weekend but we do have a nice distant relationship with them.

MG: Tell us about the newly released Blu-ray/DVD, “Exposed in the Light”?
CW: This is something that when we started out we weren’t sure if people would be interested in recordings of us doing Floyd stuff. But evidentially they are. Fans were always telling us they want to take something home and watch it and share with friends that couldn’t make it to the shows. We did one last year that was a double DVD that was recorded in Hammersmith in London. The first disc was the show and the second was a documentary on the band, which was really great. This time we released a concert from this year’s tour “Exposed in the Light”. We actually filmed it all ourselves with HD cameras. What we did was set up the cameras in different positions every night, so we ended up with something like 20 different camera angles. Then that was all edited together to make what looks like a huge camera shoot. It has come out absolutely amazing. In between the songs, we have got some great behind-the-scenes footage. It is a nice little package and it has this really great HD quality concert footage with all the different angles. You get to see a lot of the show from various different positions. We are very excited about that.

MG: Tell what we can expect from the 2013 tour “Eclipsed By The Moon”?
CW: It is the 40th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Moon” in 2013, so it is very exciting. 10 years ago, we did the 30th anniversary which was incredibly successful. We are looking this time around to maybe do something different with it. We are not 100% certain just yet how we are going to approach it. Whether we do the whole thing in its entirety or if we mix it up a bit. We are also looking into different things to project on the screen during it and really make it and event. One thing that I can guarantee is that it will be a big celebration of “Dark Side of the Moon”. I think there are a lot of Pink Floyd fans out there that are really on the edge of their seat waiting for this tour. It starts February of next year in the UK. So it is going to be great.