Damn Your Eyes Bassist Oddie McLaughlin Discusses the Bands New Album “Kill The Outside”

New York based heavy metal group Damn Your Eyes have just released a brand new 10 track album titled “Kill The Outside”. The band which consists of former We Are The Enemy and Bonesmith members along with current Black Water Rising bassist Oddie McLaughlin have come together to forge a new musical path which draws deeply from the each of the members own personal experiences. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Oddie recently about the creation of the new album, its deep personal meaning and what it like balancing duties between two bands.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about some of the work that went in to the new album “Kill The Outside”?

Oddie McLaughlin: Artie (Alexander) and I have played together off and on since we were first out of high school. We were always writing or learning different material. We recorded I think five songs with this drummer about fifteen years ago and then went our separate ways. Two of those songs from that period we kept. Basically it was just the riffs as there was no melody or vocal lines. That’s really where everything started. I got a call on day asking if I would be interested in starting something new and I said yes so shortly after we started writing songs for this release. When I got together with Artie after talking he already had few songs laid out including the two riffs we originally worked on. He had added some new ideas and things just started rolling. The writing for this album has been amazing and things have come together fairly easy. The songs all fell together nicely. Once we got our singer Kenny (Vincent Jr.) things moved even quicker. It’s just been a great process.

AL: The songs all seem very personal. Were the lyrics pulled from members past experiences?

OM: Oh yeah. Most of it is from Artie and some of it is from the other guys. They pulled from their experiences in the music business to how the world is going today. We expressed our emotions related to some of those events along with a bunch of other things. It’s definitely a record that deals with what is going on around us and personally.

AL: Do you ever find it hard to dig in to some of those emotions?

OM: No. We feel that if we put this stuff out there that it might help someone. Someone might see that they aren’t the only one feeling a certain way. I think it’s a great avenue to get it across to people especially metal fans.

AL: Along with personal lyrics the album also features a variety of musical styles. Was this something the band did consciously or was it something that occurred more naturally?

OM: I think it was something that happened organically. All the guys in the band like different styles of music but at heart we are total metal heads. We like a certain tone which has come from each of us evolving our sounds over the years. We all spent time on our own to craft just the right tone to get to where we are now. That’s what we are in to. The genre of music comes naturally for as we like to chug it out in order for that melody to come with a groove chorus or a main verse riff. We all have been doing this for some time now and we have a solid process which allows for the creation of material to occur fairly easily.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour in support of the album?

OM: We all work regular jobs and a couple of us have kids so planning a tour can be a little tricky. We are always willing and ready to get out there but for now have just a few shows set up to help things get going. I think this is a great band with great songs. I feel that no matter where we play we will go over well and we hope to be able to play as many shows as possible. Playing live is what we absolutely love. Practice, Recording and all that stuff is great but nothing beats performing live on stage.

AL: You also play in Black Water Rising. How do you go about splitting time between the two groups?

OM: It can be tough sometimes balancing two bands and your own personal life. You have to be really careful with scheduling in order not to double book yourself. Just last month this happened where I played with both bands in one night. I played an early show with Damn Your Eyes in Long Island and then had to drive to New Jersey for a show with Black Water Rising. I made it in plenty of time and something like that doesn’t happen often. When you’re booking you have to do things so far in advance that you forget and things get piled up.

For more information on Damn Your Eyes visit their official Facebook page here 

The Filmmakers of YESTERDAY

Yesterday…or rather just about a month ago Danny Boyle’s new romantic comedy called Yesterday hit the red carpet as the closing night film of the Tribeca Film Festival. Written by romcom guru Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral), the film follows Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) a struggling musician who wakes up one day in a world where the Beatles never existed. In this situation, Jack takes the music world by storm reintroducing classics like “Yesterday”, “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude”.

I got to speak with the talented filmmakers at their premiere about the impact the Beatles had in their own lives and shooting some epic concert scenes.

“Just think how often life has been sort of softened and sweetened by [The Beatles]” – Richard Curtis

Lauren Damon: Soundtracks are so integral to your movies, does it pain you to imagine the world without the Beatles?

Screenwriter Richard Curtis: I think it would be worse! I mean certainly my life would have been worse. You just think how often life has been sort of softened and sweetened by them. When I was living here in America, I was terribly aware of how often you heard Frank Sinatra and I was thinking, ‘God, wouldn’t all these shoe shops be worse without Frank Sinatra to make it less painful?

LD: For the concept of this film did you ever consider other bands being gone?

Curtis: No. No and it’s interesting, is there another band? And I don’t know that there is. A lot of this movie came about was because every time I would go to see my kids’ school plays they would always end with a Beatles song. You know, William the Conqueror would hold King Harold’s hand and they would both sing “We Can Work it Out.” Or you do something about the environment and they sing “Here Comes the Sun.” So I do think at the moment that the Beatles are the most comprehensive band of all.

LD: Did you get to speak to Paul or Ringo about this concept?

Curtis: Well they know about it now. I wrote to Paul asking him if it would be okay to call it “Yesterday” And he wrote back and suggested we call it “Scrambled Eggs” which was the original name of “Yesterday” And he said ‘I think that would be the better title, but if you haven’t got the courage to call it “Scrambled Eggs”, then I don’t mind you calling it “Yesterday”

Film Composer Daniel Pemberton

Film Composer, Daniel Pemberton: Paul and Ringo were very aware of the film. But with this we took a step back because the thing is in this world the Beatles don’t exist…And we kept having to say ‘the Beatles do not exist in this film’ so you have to pretend Paul and Ringo don’t exist.

LD: When you’re starting with a film that’s based around The Beatles when you go in to compose for it, do you draw strains for them? Or is it from scratch?

Pemberton: Yeah, the score element of this film has been massively influenced by the Beatles. So that’s everything from–I tried to approach the score in a way where we would use the sort of sonic landscape the Beatles created. So that would be everything from the instruments, like the mellotron…We actually used some of the actual instruments that the Beatles recorded on. So we recorded at Abbey Road all the score. And so we used things like the Mrs. Mills piano–the piano from “Lady Madonna”. And those are the actual pianos they used on the recordings. We’d also use a similar kind of bass guitars that Paul McCartney plays. We used the same mixing desks and the same recording techniques. But then we tried to write a different score that wasn’t just a pastiche of the Beatles but just had the elements of their work. Almost as if the Beatles had scored this movie, what would it sound like?

Himesh Patel (“Jack Malik”)

Lauren Damon: What was your casting process like to go from tv into this big lead in front of thousands of extras?

Himesh Patel (“Jack”): I mean the casting was kind of just like anything else to be honest. I just got a breakdown and then I did the self-tape and then I met Danny [Boyle] and Richard. And then I met Danny again and then waited a long time and then I got a call.

LD: Do you have a singing background?

Patel: Not in any sort of professional way, no. I did a little bit on the stage in a play I did a couple of years ago. And I’d some, you know, for myself, youth theater and that kind of thing but nothing like this.

LD: What was it like recreating songs like this? Such important and monumental songs?

Patel: It was thrilling, you know but also a little bit nerve-wracking. The people I was working with, the people we got on board with were really great and so I never felt the pressure of what we were doing. And we had a little bit of leeway because narratively the songs don’t exist. So we could make them our own.

LD: Do you have a favorite?

Patel: A favorite…I mean, one of the ones I love singing was “Long and Winding Road.” I think it’s a really beautiful song…and where it sits in the movie is so beautiful too.

Yesterday is out this weekend in theaters

Harry and the Potters Paul and Joe DeGeorge Talk About Their New Album “Lumos”

Wizard Rock originators Harry and the Potters have been performing their signature brand of magic infused rock since 2002. Consisting of brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge the duo have performed over 800 shows at various libraries, rock clubs, art spaces, bookstores, basements, and all ages’ venues all over the world. The band’s latest offering “Lumos” is the first studio album in 13 years to be released by the group and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the brothers recently about its creation, the staying power of Harry Potter and the bands current tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the new album?

Paul DeGeorge: Despite not having released a new studio album in the last 13 years we have still been pretty active touring. We felt that if we were going to be able to continue to exist in this current political climate that it would be nice to have some songs in the set that reflect the current reality. Having never actually written substantially about the seventh Harry Potter book we felt this was a good opportunity to revisit that. In book seven things really come to the fore with Harry and his friends fighting against fascism and exclusion in the wizard world. It felt really relevant to us on that level and we wanted to bring that to our live shows.

Joe DeGeorge: We have a unique position to take a perspective on this as two Harry Potters commenting on our world which has direct parallels to the world we are living in now.

AL: I assume you wrote a lot of this new music more recently?

JD: We set aside some time specifically to write and record this record. Paul doesn’t live close by so it’s been harder the last few years to casually work together as a lot of our time when we are together is touring or visiting with family.

PD: We had set aside a few weeks to put things together for this as we did have some ideas going in but, it wasn’t until last year actually that we carved things out.

AL: Can you tell us about your tour which kicks off June 20th?

JD: We mostly will be hitting libraries much like we have in the past. I am really looking forward to getting out there as playing libraries is a big part of why we started this band. We could play for kids and have it be their first rock show. On this tour we are going to be hitting a bunch of new places both here in the states and in Canada so that should be fun.

PD: Accessibility has always been important to us. We didn’t just want to play for young people and their parents but we also wanted to reach those kids who felt excluded by an age restricted music scene that was 18 or 21+. Some cities are more inclusive however, by touring libraries we are performing in places which are meant for everybody.

AL: With your music being solely based around Harry Potter do you ever feel the need to step outside of that?

PD: Not for this band. We do have other musical projects that we are involved in so if we want to do something else we just start a different band. We have one band that all we sing about are clams. Specifically hard shell clams regional to the North-Eastern seaboard.

AL: With the last film being released in 2011 what do you feel contributes to the staying power/appeal of Harry Potter?  

JD: I think what is so impressive about these stories is that they have such a far reach. It has become a cultural touch stone for the generation of people who grew up reading the books. They are sharing these stories that affected them and how they were markers of their own coming of age with the next generation.

PD: The continued popularity doesn’t surprise me in the least. Look at Star Wars for instance. If you look at music there are lots of bands who continue to play in 2019 that first started 50 years ago and who are just as popular today as they were then. Despite the absence of actual new material I have seen an uptick in the corporate side Harry Potter such as the merchandise and the creation of the parks (which I think are great). These types of things have certainly helped keeps things going. A lot of our fans aren’t really interested in that side of things as we have our own unique crowd.

AL: You both have other projects that you work on. Can you tell us what you currently have going on with those?

JD: I play in a band called Down Town Boys which is sort of this leftist type punk band. Our last record come out in 2017 called “Cost of Living”. Paul owns and run a shop in Kansas with my wife called Wonder Fair that deals with art, art supplies and stationary.

AL: What do you feel is the most rewarding part of taking you music out on the road for people to experience?

PD: It’s a big opportunity to connect with people. It’s great to be able to be a meaning part in people lives. Playing to young kids is such an honor as for a lot of kids we will be their first concert so that’s really great and something we take very seriously.

For more info on the band visit www.Harryandthepotters.com  

Interview with “Georgie” Producer and Co-writer John Campopiano

When he’s not busy doing his daytime job for the television program “Frontline,” filmmaker John Campopiano allows himself to indulge his love for horror films.  In 2017, Campopiano co-wrote and co-directed the acclaimed documentary “Unearthed and Untold:  The Path to Pet Sematary.”  He just released the short film “Georgie,” which he produced and co-wrote with the film’s director, Ryan /Grulich.  Next up is his next full length documentary, “Pennywise:  The Story of ‘IT’”   While gearing up for his next project, John found some spare time to talk with me about his work, past, present and future.

MIKE SMITH:  Where did you come up with the idea for “Georgie?”

JOHN CAMPOPIANO:  We were in post-production on a documentary about the mini-series “IT.”  We interviewed the cast and crew and one of the cast members, Tony Dakota, who played Georgie Dembrough in the mini-series was one of the last actors to find for an interview.  I found him in the Pacific Northwest.  By this time our production budget was depleted so I was looking for a free-lancer to get this interview with Tony.  I met Ryan Grulich, who is based in Seattle and he shot the interview for us.  One of the questions we had asked Tony was if he would ever want to get back in show business.  He had been a child actor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Besides “IT” he had also been in “Who ‘s Harry Crumb?” with John Candy and had also done some episodes of “McGyver.”  (NOTE:  T.V. fans may also remember Dakota for his eight episode arc as Clavo on the very popular “21 Jump Street”),   He had been out of the spotlight for some time and had stopped acting around 1993.  So when he was asked if he wanted to get back into acting he said “yes” but wasn’t sure how to do it.  He had had a rough upbringing and some personal problems which had kept him away from acting.  But when he expressed an interest a light bulb went off.  I said to Ryan, “what if we wrote a short film for Tony?  It could be a win/win.”  We would write a short film that would allow him to reprise his role as Georgie, which would put some money in his pocket.  And we would give him a positive and creative outlet that could hopefully open some doors for him.  And that’s how “Georgie” started.

MS:  I know from doing the “Jaws 2” book that trying to find actors that haven’t acted in 30 years is not very easy.  Did you have the same problems with some of the lesser known members of the cast?

JC:  Oh yes.  Even though Tony is billed a Tony Dakota, Dakota was not his birth name.  Since he stopped acting he has been living his life under his real last name.  He was almost like a ghost who had vanished from the public eye.  Also, he hadn’t acted in almost a quarter of a century.  It made it challenging for sure. 

Tony Dakota returns as the title character in “Georgie”

MS:  Thank God for the internet!!

JC:  (laughs):  I know, right?

MS:  Ironically, last week on our Podcast we kind of previewed “Georgie” and talked some about the “IT” documentary and my co-host informed me that Stephen King will allow student filmmakers to license any of his works that have not been sold to Hollywood for $1.00 for a student film.  Did you contact him about “Georgie” and, if so, has he seen it?

JC:  I think it’s cool that he does that, especially for somebody who has had his level of success.  We did not approach him about “Georgie” ahead of time.  Obviously we’re dealing with intellectual property that belongs to him and Warner Brothers.  But on the same side of that, we are not monetizing this.  It’s a short film, which really don’t have much of an afterlife in terms of monetization.  We’re giving Georgie a fresh story and kind of a new spin on the character.  We will definitely be sending it to him and hoping he watches it.

MS:  Can you talk a little about the ‘IT” documentary?

JS:  I had done a documentary with Justin White about the film “Pet Sematary” that took us about four and a half years to complete.  That got us a little bit of attention from other filmmakers who were doing similar documentary films…retrospectives about other films.  I’ve been a die-hard “IT” fan, both the book and the mini-series, forever.  Justin was not interested in doing another documentary.  Given the scope of the mini-series I knew it wasn’t something I could do alone.  So I started writing articles as I was interviewing the cast and crew.  A producer in the U.K. named Gary Smart, who runs Dead Mouse Productions, saw the articles and had the idea about doing the documentary about “IT.”  He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come on-board and co-write it or produce it with him.  That was 2017.  We launched a successful Indiegogo campaign, raised the money and spent three weeks in Los Angeles shooting cast and crew interviews.  Now we’re in the final stages of post-production.  We dropped an extended trailer back in February of this year and it’s done very well.  It received almost 500,000 views on YouTube in the first week.  It was also very serendipitous.  We had announced a street date before the theatrical version of “IT” was released.  People had been talking about remaking “Pet Sematary” and “IT” for years but it wasn’t until the past few years that those projects became reality.  We got very lucky in terms of the timing.  The mini-series was beloved by its fans but the new movie really introduced the story to new generations.  It revitalized the franchise, which worked in our favor.  I think in total we’ve interviewed about forty members of the cast and crew.  It’s going to be a pretty robust documentary that I think people are going to be excited about.  The plan is to release it before the end of 2019. 

MS:  Do you have any projects planned after the documentary is completed?

JC:  I’m working with Gary Smart again on a bio-pic about Robert Englund.  That was Gary’s idea.  He approached me and said he wanted to do a film about Robert’s life and career.  He’s such a legendary character actor.  Not just for the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films but all of the other projects that he’s been a part of.    Gary asked if I wanted to come on board as a producer and I said, “sure.”  We launched an Indiegogo campaign last weekend to help raise funds to make it happen.  The plan is to go out to L.A. later this summer to get the interviews and then get working on that one.  I’m not writing that one, which is nice because it’s less work for me but I’ll be doing a lot of archive research for Gary and helping produce the interviews.  I’m also working with “Georgie” director Ryan Grulich again.  We wrote a new short film based on my story, dealing with something I went through as a kid.  We have a finished script for that.  It’s my attempt at an “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episode or something from “Goosebumps.”  I’ve been interested for a long time in horror movies for kids.  In my opinion I think it’s a sub-genre that we are seeing less and less of.  I feel that the 80s and the 90s were a ripe period for content like that.  I want to make a short film that is spooky and scary and has an original monster in it but one that is geared very much towards a teenage audience.  We’re looking right now for talent to attach to the project and then we’ll raise some funds and hopefully start shooting it next year. 

On a personal note, John and I both had an amazing friend named Lou Pisano.  Lou co-wrote the “Jaws 2” book with me and was really looking forward to the release of “Georgie.”  John told me, “It’s kind of bittersweet.  Lou was so excited about this project.  I think he would have loved it.  The only disappointing thing is that he isn’t here with us to see it.”

To view the extended trailer for “Pennywise:  The Story of ‘IT’” click HERE.

To contribute to the Indiegogo campaign for “ICON: The Robert Englund Story” click HERE.  

Stellan Skarsgard and Emily Watson on HBO’s “CHERNOBYL”

Chernobyl filmmakers on the red carpet

In April 1986 the most catastrophic man-made incident the planet had ever seen occurred when reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded during what should have been a safety test. The effects of the accident still wreak havoc over the landscape and containing the fallout has become an industry unto itself. It’s a job which will require centuries of human support. Tonight on HBO, Craig Mazin’s five-part miniseries, CHERNOBYL, dives deep into the the accident as it happened and the human cost and bravery it required to ensure that this tragedy did not engulf still millions more.

This past week at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mazin and his talented cast debuted the first two episodes of the series on the accident’s 33rd anniversary. The premiere episode was nothing short of a nightmare as the series delves into, in brutal detail, the accident and the shocking mishandling of both the initial fire and the surrounding population in those crucial first hours and days of fallout. It was a tense first hour and a brilliant setup into the second which saw the introduction of the scientists and politicians who then had to set about handling what was to come. The second episode in particular sees a stellar performance from Stellan Skarsgard as he plays a man coming to grips with his own mortality and entreating fellow countrymen to show selflessness so that millions can be saved. I spoke with Skarsgard, who also offered brief comments on his upcoming work in DUNE, as well as co-star Emily Watson on the red carpet about their own knowledge of the accident as it happened and the timely message this series has to offer in regards to listening to scientists.

“I think it’s a parable for our times. I think you ignore the truth and scientists at your peril. ” – Emily Watson

Emily Watson plays Ulana Khomyuk, a character created for the show as an entry-point into the role of a collection of European scientists in the fallout of Chernobyl.

Lauren Damon: Your character isn’t one specific person, but represents a collection of people involved with the accident, did you speak to people who experienced this?

Emily Watson: No. It’s sort of in tribute to many of the scientists who worked on the discovery of what happened. So I kind of had a bit of a blank sheet really to make up what I wanted to do. But Craig had written the character as coming from Belarus, which is a place that suffered terribly in the second world war. And she would have been a young child at that time, so that gave me a sense of just finding someone who was very very tough. It made her the perfect person really to go after the truth and find out what happened.

Do you remember when you were first aware of the Chernobyl accident in your life?

Watson: Yeah, I was a student at university and I remember there were students at my college who were on a year out, away in Kiev, and they all had to come home pretty quickly, it was very scary.

Did you have any misconceptions about the event going into this project that the script changed for you?

Watson: Oh my god, when I started reading the script, I had no idea that sort of within a few days–sort of 48 hours after the first explosion–there could have been one that was ten times worse. That would have taken out half of Europe.

In theory you could have been in range of those effects?

Watson: Definitely in range of radiation fallout…But yeah, it could have been much much worse. It was due to the heroism of the people on the ground who contained it and prevented it from being much worse.

What’s the biggest take away you’d like viewers to get from this series?

Watson: I think it’s a parable for our times. I think you ignore the truth and scientists at your peril.

Stellan Skarsgard plays Boris Shcherbina, the Deputy Head of the Soviet Government at the time.

What did you find surprising from hearing about Chernobyl originally in 1986 and then from working on this project?

Stellan Skarsgard: What I knew from ’86 was what you got from news media, which gave you a sort of superficial idea of what actually happened. What we learned through working with this material is I know now what technically went wrong, how the reactor works and what the mistakes they made were.

You also learn about it [was] more grave, the sort of the political system–the impact that had on the accident. When you have a system that is supposed to be perfect, you cannot allow any dissent in terms of somebody criticizing anything you do or any flaws cannot be accepted. And that then means that the truth was suppressed. It was all over the Soviet Union at the time. I mean truth is suppressed also for other reasons in the west now. I mean when you talk about Fukushima that was money that suppressed truth and created disaster there. In Boeing, you sent planes that are not fit for flying because you want to make money. So another way of suppressing truth and science. I think it’s important, an important film because it–not only because it talks about what we’re doing to this planet, the environment, which is really scary, but it also talks about how important it is that we listen to people who know what they’re talking about.

Facts are facts. They are not just individual ideas. Some facts you have to deal with and you have to accept and we have to listen to scientists. I mean 98% of the scientists in the world say that we are heading for a catastrophe in terms of global warming. We cannot ignore that. Do not ignore that.

Tell us about your character

Skarsgard: My character I’m playing Boris Shcherbina who was a minister in the government and who got the responsibility for cleaning up the mess. And he’s a man who spent his entire life working within the system and defending the system and he ends up realizing that this accident is a result of the system. And he has to question the system and he also has to decide whether he should keep on defending the system that is flawed. Or if he should start defending the truth.

Skarsgard’s next film role is in the highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic, DUNE, where he’ll play the villainous Baron Harkonnen

Lauren Damon: Have you begun work on DUNE as Baron Harkonnen?

Skarsgard:I haven’t started shooting yet, we’re still doing prosthetics work

That’s what I was wondering! Because the Baron is such a grotesque character but when you were cast I remember looking at a shot of you as Bootstrap Bill [Skarsgard’s heavily barnacled Pirates of the Caribbean role] and thinking ‘This man can handle anything they put on him!’

Skarsgard: [Laughs] That’s very nice of you! Thank you. I will probably spend probably six to eight hours a day in makeup and it will look fantastic.

“I will probably spend probably six to eight hours a day in makeup and it will look fantastic.” -Stellan Skarsgard on his upcoming DUNE role

What are you most excited about in doing that project?

Skarsgard: It’s a great story. It’s a fantastic world and Denis Villeneuve is a director that I’ve always wanted to work with. So I’m really happy, he’s a wonderful man and a great director. So I think–except for the eight hours in makeup–I think I’ll have a fun time.

Chernobyl airs tonight at 9pm on HBO

Author Darren Paltrowitz Discusses His NEW Book “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.

Darren Paltrowitz is writer/interviewer with 20+ years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager and over the years working with artists like OK Go, They Might Be Giants and Tracy Bonham. Darren’s writing has appeared in countless publications including the NEW York Daily News, L.A. Times and Guitar World. Darren’s latest project is titled “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.  Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Darren recently about the book and how the idea to draw inspiration from professional wrestling came about.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Professional Wrestling?

Darren Paltrowitz: I have been trying to really figure that out lately. I think it goes back to watching “WWF Wrestling Challenge” or one of those late 80’s early 90’s weekend shows. The first Wrestle mania that I fully remember was WrestleMania 7. From there I got into WCW. Sadly I wasn’t much in wrestling during the “Monday Night Wars” as music took over at that time. I didn’t love WCW when it was good! (Laughs) Thankfully with the internet I can now go back and watch everything I missed.

AL: How did the idea for the book all come together?

DP: I had gotten a press release about a book from my future co-author D.X. Ferris. It was actually a release about the four books he had coming out. One of those was titled “Good Advice From Good Fellas”. I ended up interviewing him about the book and during that interview he mentioned Diamond Dallas Page. We stayed in touch after the interview and I pitched the idea of a wrestling book. He sent me an email of a paper he wrote back in college which took advice from wrestling and the film “Goodfellas”. This was back in November. Prior to that we had nothing so that is why the book includes a lot of current wrestlers and wrestling information. We wrote this very quickly with the goal of having it ready for WrestleMania in April. D.X. put in a ton of long hours at the end with final touches and we did it!

AL: What was the research process like for the book and, how did you go about selecting which material made it into the book?

DP: That was sort of a mix of factors. One of those factors was D.X. telling me I had to put in some of his hometown Pittsburgh guys like Bruno Sammartino and Kurt Angle. We really had to think about people who along with wrestling talent also showed good business acumen and that were not plagued by scandal. We also thought about who had great quotes. Some of the book’s material came from my own personal interviews with people like Mark Henry. Now that I have been talking about the book for a bit I regret not including people like Al Snow and MJF. This arguably the greatest time in history to be a wrestling fan! There is infinite content out there. In fact there is so much that you cannot watch it all.

AL: Did any of the wrestlers who are featured in the book know beforehand that they were going to be included?

DP: We reached out to a lot of the wrestling promotions asking for material and we received responses from all but one. There were other times where I would have to go through independent reps. We also had a guy in the Ohio area that was able to provide us with some photo material. Initially things were moving slow as people didn’t believe we were doing this thing. One by one we started getting books out to some of the wrestlers and it’s been going great. It continues to be a step by step process.

AL: Did you have any goals for releasing the book?

DP: My first major goal with this project was finishing the book and getting it out. Once that was done it was a major relief. A lot of people say they are going to write a book but never do. Now that the book is out I want it to be the one book that is for people who don’t read “self help” books. I wanted people to realize that a lot of the advice in the book is applicable no matter what your level of exposure to pro wrestling is or was. One other thing I want people to take away from the book is for them to see just how smart and successful the majority of pro wrestlers are. They are no longer failed football players or body builders. These are people who are branding experts who can also act and write their own material. If you want to be successful you have to learn from other successful people. I hope a lot of that comes across in this book.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

DP: I have been doing interviews with entertainers and the likes ever since I was in high school. I realized that I should do something with all these interviews. About a year ago I started a pod cast called “The Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz”. It’s a bi-weekly cast that includes clips from various interviews I have done. Last week’s episode featured Adam Duritz from Counting Crows talking about his bar mitzvah, Guitarist Susan Tedeschi and Kaley Cuoco from the “Big Bang Theory”. I am into all kinds of things so that’s what I showcase on the cast.

It doesn’t matter if you are fan of wrestling or just someone wanting a fresh approach to the self help genre “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons” has something for everyone. It’s even got some great photos which accent the wit and wisdom of an often overlooked industry. To Order visit: https://www.amazon.com/Darren-Paltrowitz/e/B07Q4QN8B8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_2

For more info on Darren Paltrowitz you can visit his official website here: http://www.paltrowitz.com/home.html

Interview with Oscar Winner Richard Dreyfuss

With my 15th birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do.  Having been intrigued by the television commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see that movie.  On Sunday, September 21, 1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to see the movie.  Sadly, I didn’t know it was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket.  As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?”  I hadn’t.  124 minutes later, my life was changed.

I include this because of what I did after the film.  Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars.  I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club.  If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time).  I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.”  Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river.  It was a great time for a teenager.  I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph.  Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.

A collection of photographs sent to fans

I’ve been very fortunate to have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life.  Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show.  At that show I was able to stand near his table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories.  I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS.  He will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored to have been chosen the moderator of the event.  Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together Thursday night.

Mike Smith:  What led you to pursue a career in acting?

Richard Dreyfuss:  Wow!  I don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love?  I don’t think I really had a choice. 

MS:  Was there a film or performer that inspired you?  I acted a lot through my 20s but couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what YOU did.  I know you’re a fan of actors like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others.  Were they the catalyst?

RD:  They were, of course.  I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an actor.  I think the first time I got on record was when I was nine years old.  We had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to be an actor.”  And she said, “Don’t just talk about it.”  So I went down to the local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play.  And I really never stopped.  I realistically never had more than ten days when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was 27. 

MS:  You made your film debut in two very different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.”  What do you think is the biggest difference between filmmaking then and today?

RD:  There are so many.  The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted.  When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it.  And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between  The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck.  The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing.  Of story.  And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on.  Film acting is not something I really recommend.  If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star.  You can have a great life in Kansas City.  Or St. Louis.  Or a million other places.  But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York.  And those towns are pretty sick.

Mr. Dreyfuss’s break-out role – Curt in “American Graffiti”

MS:  You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.”  Are there any roles you turned down and then later regretted your decision?

RD:  Oh yeah.  I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so familiar.”  I thought “oh, shit,” and then I remembered why.  And I didn’t ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down.  I turned it down twice.  And then I changed my mind and begged for the part.  (NOTE:  The story goes like this.  After turning down “Jaws” – twice – Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again.  He then called director Steven Spielberg and accepted the role.  Of course, when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of 1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film Critics Circle.)

I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits.  Thank God there aren’t that many of them!

As Matt Hooper in “Jaws”

MS:  What fuels the passion for your work?

RD:  If you asked me a question about my process – how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer that.  And I’ve always known I’d never be able to answer those kind of questions.  But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct.  So I didn’t.  I wanted to act!  I had made a decision when I was very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world, but it was the way I chose to live.  Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy.  Then I’ll do a drama.  Then I’ll do a comedy.  That’s basically what I tried to do.  And the mistake in that is that I don’t think I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition of what I do.  I did both.  I did lots.  And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life.  And that’s what I did for sixty years. 

MS:  Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE:  Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.”  At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).

As Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl”

RD:  For the most part, in the refrigerator.  (laughs).  I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag.  But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator. 

And I’m also very aware that the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list as the ones who never were.  It’s a wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that.  It’s a great evening.  You’re aware of the film work because the audience for film is in the millions.  But I make no distinction between film and theater.  And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be 1/100th of that of the film audience.  But to me, it was always – if not equal than more important –so that is something that I travel with.  I have a little bucket list of things that I check off every once in a while.  “OK, you did a Broadway show…check.”  From the time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes.  At acting schools.  I was always with actors.  And they would always talk about a “National” theater.  And I would say, “There’s never going to be a National theater in this country.  However, there could be fifty “State” theaters.  And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans.  And each of us, whether you live in Seattle or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture.  And I have always wanted each state to have its own theater.  And, in a state like California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South.  And, instead of trying to get everyone to agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state.  It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans approach theater.  I think that would be a great endeavor and a great thing to do.  Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values.  And that’s causing this terrible breach in the country.  And we should try to find things that we can share.  And one of them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater. 

MS:  That makes a lot of sense.

RD:  And they’ll never do it (laughs).

MS:  Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton.  When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?

RD:  My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen.  There was no easy answer.  But I just knew I was going to win it.  (laughs)  That’s all I cared about. 

Richard Dreyfuss with his Oscar – named Best Actor of 1977 for “The Goodbye Girl”

MS:  Me too, that night.  I always wonder how people sometimes vote.  You were also nominated for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once Around.”

RD:  It’s probably the easiest vote to define.  There are two ways people vote in the Academy.  One is, you vote for your friend.  Or, you vote for who you think is best.  In that order.  It’s simple.  You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote.  And it’s the reason why people do vote.  It’s not a mystery.  The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing. 

For more information on attending AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS, either in Kansas City or at a later date, click HERE.

NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss wanted me to stress that, even though his appearance will be followed by a screening of “Jaws,” he will be discussing his entire career. So whether you’re a fan of “American Graffiti,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” or want to know about his fantastic cameo in “Piranha,” come on out and listen to some amazing stories.

Actor Ian Shaw talks about portraying his father in his new “Jaws”-inspired play.

As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.”  The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster.  But there are stories still to be told.  Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”

Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name.  In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.”  “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.  

Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.

Mike Smith:  What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”

Ian Shaw:  It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time  Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down.  This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway? 

MS:  What inspired you to take on this project?

IS:  Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son.  The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience.  That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log.  What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.  Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss.  Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.

Ian Shaw sneaks a peek at “Bruce” while visiting his father on the set of “Jaws” in 1974. (Photo used with the kind permission of Ian Shaw)

MS:  You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s.  Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?

IS:  No.  I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh.  From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process.  And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap.  I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!  

Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.”  You bear a striking resemblance to your father.  Would you consider portraying him in a project?

IS:  Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken.  Wish me luck…

MS:  What else are you working on?

IS:  I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square.  Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.”  His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal.   The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance.  The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest. 

NOTE:  Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE

Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh

Brick By Brick Guitarist Mike Valente Talks About the Bands New Album “Hive Mentality”

Mike Valente is the guitarist for the Upstate New York hardcore/metal band Brick By Brick. The band is set to release a new album titled “Hive Mentality” on February 22nd and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Mike recently about the release, working with “Orange is the New Black “star Jessica Pimentel and the bands upcoming European tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your band Brick By Brick?

Mike Valente: The band has been around since 2004 and at that time we had confined ourselves to be just a local band. We had a couple members that couldn’t do a lot of traveling so it was basically something we did just for fun. As the band progressed and there was a bit of a demand for us we had to look at getting some new members who could commit more time. In 2014 we added Ray Mazzola on vocals and since that time things have been a lot of fun.

AL: What can you tell us about the band’s new album “Hive Mentality”?

MV: The last record we put out really didn’t have the distribution reach that we had wanted. In order to make up for that we went back in and re-worked a bunch of things and finished up some other material that we hadn’t done before. We are now working with Upstate Records and they have been really good to us. At the time we were slated to be part of the Rebellion Tour in Europe and we needed a new record so we went into the studio so this time when we were touring over there people had a better idea of who we were and could get our record. Getting picked up for this tour in March is what really kicked things into motion.

AL: There a few different guests on the record. Can you tell us about those?

MV: Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan has been a friend of mine for a long time. When those guys come through we always have a great time. I had been listening to a lot of thrash music at the time of writing the song and Ray and I though Tony would be perfect for the song as it has a real party vibe to it. The experiences we have had together match perfectly so I called Tony up and he didn’t even bat an eye as he was totally down for it. The song we “In The Ruins” which features Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain was a song we had originally released on a split with the band Ruckus from California about six or seven years ago. The original version was with our old singer and there was a limited amount pressed. Everyone was down for it so that worked out nicely. We also have Jessica Pimentel from Alekhine’s Gun. A lot of people know her from “Orange is the New Black”. I have known her for quite some time as well and thought she would be perfect for the rant part in “Hive Mentality”. Just like with the others I called her up and she was more than happy to do it.

AL: How did the cover of Motorheads “Iron Fist” end up on the album?

MV: We had been asked to be part of a Motorhead compilation that Upstate Records was putting together called “Damage Cases”. We had intended on doing a more obscure song but when we looked at the track listing a lot of other bands were looking to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe no one had picked “Ace of Spades” or “Iron Fist” being they are such iconic Motorhead songs. We chose “Iron Fist” as it’s such a fun song to play. We did our own spin on it and it’s just a great song to play live.

AL: Can you tell us more about the bands European tour in March and about any other shows you have lined up?

MV: We kick things off with our release party show on February 22nd. We are doing that at Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. Anyone who buys a presale ticket will also get a copy of the album. We are doing a bunch of other cool packages for that show as well. The line includes Dying Fetus, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snap Mare and Close to Nothing. After that we aren’t doing anything until we leave for Europe March 6-18. I think this is the eight year that they have done the Rebellion tour/festival over there. We will be playing with Madball, Iron Reagan and bunch of other great bands. That tour is going to be a lot fun and we are defiantly looking forward to it.

For more info on Brick By Brick you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/brickbybrickny and on Instagram at @brickbybrickhc

Guitarist Steve Dadaian Discusses His New Album “Follow the Light”

Steve Dadaian is an Armenian-American fusion guitarist based in the Tri-State NY,NJ,PA area. Steve’s latest album “Follow the Light” is a theatrical, symphonic soundscape packed full of razor-sharp guitar work that will leave listeners slack-jawed. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Steve fresh off his appearance at this year’s Winter NAMM convention where we discussed the albums creation, his work System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first got you started with music?

Steve Dadaian: I grew up in New Jersey and where I went to school they made you take a mandatory guitar class. That was really my first exposure to the instrument. I listened to a lot of classic rock artists like Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhoads. Listening to music like that you get drawn to the guitar and as I got older I started listening to more progressive stuff like Rush and Dream Theater. Listening to all those bands helped me build my technique and was the foundation for where my playing is today.

AL: Your new album “Follow the Light” is a shift from your previous work. Can you tell us about that progression?

SD: With this record aside from one song there really aren’t any vocals. In order to fill that space I had to think about how I was going to write each piece and what I wanted to use on each track. With symphonic music there are so many different ways you can go. This was a lot of fun because I could use different chord structures and voicing’s that a traditional vocalist might not be able to do. As a guitar player I was really able to open up which I enjoyed.

AL: Where did you start when writing these pieces?

SD: That’s something I struggle with quite a bit. Sometimes I will come up with a melody other times it will be just a riff. For the title track of the album I started with the opening riff and then everything came after that. Generally the symphonic stuff comes last. The guitar is my base line as that is what I do. The chords, leads and riffs are the bulk of the song so once I have those I will go back and fill in the space to help each section sound more epic. Aside from that my process always seems to vary.

AL: Did you provide all the instrumentation on the album or did you work with other musicians?

SD: On three of the tracks I collaborated with other artists. I worked with Claudio Pietronik from Italy who does a lot of stuff for Jam Track Central. He is a great player with a lot of knowledge about cinematic music. We were able to collaborate on two tracks and another we co-wrote. For the most part the instrumentation all comes from me. I do love working with other artists but when you have a technical riff it can be hard to add things in order to make it sound bigger. I have a good sense of where I want things to be so for a majority of the album it’s just me.

AL: The track “Soul Connection” has a great back story behind it. Can you tell us about that?

SD: That was the only song on the album with vocals. I like to hear a track with vocals from time to time so I included “Soul Connection”. This was a song I originally wrote for a writing competition put on by Serj Tankian from System of a Down. This song meant a lot to me and I actually ended up being a finalist in the competition. I wanted to do more with the track and the chance to work with Bjorn Strid from Soilwork presented itself. I had told him the story of the song and it resonated with him the same way it had with me so I sent it to him and about three days later it came back perfect. Bjorn gave a brilliant performance. What’s really cool is the first seven notes of the song are the ones Serj came up with through what I submitted to the contest. I feel this song is a pivotal point in the concept record. One other thing that is really great about this song is that all proceeds from it are being donated to the Creative Armenia Foundation. They are an initiative to help fund artists world-wide who might not have resources available to them. They work with musicians, film makers and of other artistic formats. It’s a great cause that I am glad to help out with.

AL: Are there any plans in place to tour in support of the release?

SD: I just came back from a performance at NAMM which was really great. I currently have some guitar clinics lined up around the Tri-State area for this year and I have also been talking with some New York City venues about putting on a few different things. As the demand increases we will certainly look at expanding things. I just had a request to perform in Miami so there are quite a few things that are being put together

For more info on Steve you can follow him on Instagram @SteveDadaian and on Facebook at Stevedadaianguitar

Exploring the Plotaverse with Sascha Scheider

I recently came across an article detailing a new way to present photographs in such a way that the still image came to life.  As I read the piece I was intrigued by the name of one of the co-founders of Team Plotaverse, Sascha Scheider.  Imagine my surprise, and genuine joy, to discover she is granddaughter of the late actor Roy Scheider.  Impressed with what I read I contacted Ms. Scheider, who at age 26, was recently named to the 2019 Forbes magazine Consumer Technology 30 under 30 list.

I contacted Ms. Scheider and she graciously agreed to this interview.  After a few minutes of both of us sharing stories about her grandfather, we got down to business.

Mike Smith:  What exactly IS the Plotaverse?

Sascha Scheider:  The Plotaverse is a digital sharing platform.  I started it with my partner, Christopher Plota, who is a professional fashion, advertising and celebrity photographer.  He’s been in the industry for 30 years and has always been on the cutting edge of technology.  I have a background in painting, business and the arts.  We got together and started talking about what we could do because in the industry a lot of photography is just going straight to video.  And when you become a photographer and are passionate about that, you don’t want to just shoot video.  You want to shoot photos.  They are really two completely different things.  So when we started talking I told him that I was seeing the same thing in the fine-art world.  Artists are trying to stay relevant but aren’t sure how because everyone is moving towards moving images.  How do we help them?  He has been animating still images since the early 2000’s.  He told me about his process and we started talking about it.  When we met we became inseparable.  He’s my partner, he’s my boyfriend.  (laughs)  We’re partners in every way.  So we started developing and creating things.  We started off with Plotagraph, which is our image animation technology.  We started out on desktop and now it’s on mobile – featured in the app store, it’s number one in photo/video.  We had no idea it was going to take off this big. 

While we were creating Plotagraph we also discussed creating a community.  At the time we were living in Florence, Italy, where I studied art for almost four years.  I had an apartment there so we were in Florence taking about creating a community.  So last year, on Valentine’s Day, we launched Plotaverse, which is our mutual sharing platform where you can post high quality digital art.  Plotaverse is the whole community for the entire motion-art movement.  It’s not just Plotagraph.  It’s Cinemagraph, time-lapses, motion graphics…really anything you can think of.  We’ve added Plotaeffects and Plotamorph.  This is a hub which is one big creative tool.  

MS:  What has been the response from people that have used the site?

SS:  It’s been amazing.  They see what can be done with just one photo and they realize they can do the same thing with all of their photos.  Historic photos.  New photos.  You have your photo and you can “move” any part of the image you want to.  Say you had a photo from Jaws and you want the water to move while the shark stays still.  You can do that!  And it’s almost like being on a loop…it never ends.  And it’s very easy today to take photos.  Cameras are everywhere, even in phones.  And the process is eye-catching.  We are seeing that, when used on social media, topics are getting 10 times more engagement using an app from the Plotaverse.  Paris Hilton started using it last July on Instagram and since then she’s gained  5.7 million followers.  And we see it working well with advertising.  They say a picture tells a thousand words.  It already has a story.  It has a dialogue.  It’s just not moving.  When you add some of our technology you’re still telling the same story but you’re getting your message across a lot easier.  

People today have an attention span of about six seconds.  The days of the 30-second spot are going away.  But how can you make a whole video in six seconds?  How are you going to get that message across?  That’s were the Plotaverse really comes in and saves the day.  You already have the story within the image but now it’s moving and looping those six seconds.  

MS:  Last year you held a very successful contest in conjunction with Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.  Are you planning anything for this year?

SS:  Right now we have nothing planned but I’ll definitely keep you posted. 

MS:  What’s next for the Plotaverse?  Do you have more surprises in the works?

SS:  Absolutely.  We recently launched PlotaTV, which will be a series of interviews covering the world of motion arts.  They will be educating and helping the community understand what motion art is and how they can use it to help monetize their work.  The whole idea is giving these artist a way to bring their art to the next level.  We also have plans for more apps down the line.  

TO DISCOVER THE PLOTAVERSE, CLICK HERE

FOR THE COMPLETE LIST OF FORBES 30 UNDER 30, CLICK HERE

Incite’s Richie Cavalera Discusses Their New Album “Built to Destroy”

Richie Cavalera is the vocalist for the heavy metal band Incite. The Phoenix, AZ based group is set to release their fifth full length studio album on January 25th titled “Built to Destroy”. Media Mikes spoke with Richie recently about the upcoming release, their new video and, the groups subsequent tour which kicks off on January 25th as well.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the bands upcoming release “Built to Destroy”?

Richie Cavalera: We have two tracks from the album out now. The first is “Ruthless Ways” and then we have a video for the title track “Built to Destroy”. This was a killer record to make as it is the third one with this same lineup. We have been touring a lot and getting more comfortable with one another so I think that helped the process quite a bit. When people hear it they are going to know what it’s like to hear us live as I think this album captures our live sound quite well. There are lots of great solo spots as wells as two guest spots. One features Kirk Windstein from Crowbar and the other has Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under. From beginning to end this is a no bullshit record.

AL: This being your third release with the same lineup was there anything different you set out to accomplish?

RC: I think the biggest thing right off the bat was that we let Dru (Rome) our guitarist really write. In the past we had always pieced things together but for the first time we sat back and let Dru present us with full songs. It was a cool move which added a killer feel. People will notice that guitar work on this album is like nothing we have ever done before. Seven or eight of the albums eleven songs have solos and there is a lot of dynamic. This album was a lot of fun to make.

AL: What was it that led you to the decision of having Dru take control of a bigger part of the writing?

RC: I think there were quite a few things that led us to that decision. In the past we had done a lot of the email stuff by just sending parts back and forth to one another. We would assemble songs from riffs. This time things were presented as full songs. We had been touring a lot so a bunch of the work was done in venues and dressing rooms. Basically where ever we could get work done we did it. I think that helped add to the albums live feel. Switching things up worked out really well.

AL: Even though the process worked well for you did you find it difficult to write/record while on the road?

RC: It was defiantly difficult. At this stage of all of our lives there is a lot going on and there isn’t ever a real stopping point. The cycle between recording and touring never seems to end so you just have to go with it. We found a time where we were stopped and just went full bore while keeping our fingers crossed that no tours would come up. Thankfully we were able to get everything done the way we wanted it.

AL: What was it that made you decide to work with producer Steve Evans again?

RC: We had known him from working on our last album “Oppression”. Steve has worked on so many great albums so when we got to work with him on the last record we were very excited and it was just a great time. We knew going into the record for the new record time was going to be a big factor so being we were comfortable with Steve we wanted to work with him again. He actually came out to Arizona and sweat it out with us this time around. To be able to have a good bond with your producer really helps the process.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the title track “Built to Destroy”?

RC: That song is the opening track on the album. It is a full on explosion of everything this band is. We feel we are at a point to take on the metal world and be that band to help carry the metal torch. We have always done crazy videos in the past but this time we wanted to showcase what the band is about. I think the video shows a great image of the band. We are rocking out with nothing else crazy going on. This is actually one of two video we shot. The other is for the song “Resistance”. We shot that one on skid row in Los Angeles and I think it will be out around the time the album comes out.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming tour which starts on the same day the album releases?

RC: We lucked out and things lined up quite nicely with that. We will be out opening for Kataklysm and Soulfly. We haven’t toured with those guys since we first got this band going. The tour is going to be a lot of fun and we will be going all over. I think there are around twenty eight shows scheduled on this run then we head over to Europe with Septic Flesh and Krisiun. We are also working on some things in June and July here in the states before heading back to Europe for the summer festivals. This will be our first time getting to do the big festival shows so to be able to play in front of twenty five thousand people is going to be amazing. We have been dreaming along time about what we could in front of that many people and now we are finally going to be able to do it.

For more info on Incite you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/INCITEband/

Talking “The Book of Mormon” with actor Teddy Trice

Near by my home, across the Missouri/Kansas state line, is the town of Shawnee Mission.  They have several high schools and one of them, Shawnee Mission West, has proudly laid claim to such alumni as Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis.  This week I’m giving the students at Shawnee Mission NORTHWEST the chance to brag about their alum, actor Teddy Trice, who is currently starring in the national tour of the Tony Award winning musical “The Book of Mormon”  Teddy took some time out from his schedule to talk about the show, his career and his dream role.

Mike Smith:  How did you catch the acting bug?

Teddy Trice:   I started early.  I went to Trailridge Middle School and I did my first musical when I was in seventh grade.  I did “Into the Woods.”  I was twelve years old and I remember vividly thinking when I was done with the show, ‘I have to keep doing this!’  I didn’t know in what capacity but I knew that it was going to be a part of my life. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

MS:  You started out doing a lot of local Kansas City theater.

TT:  Yes, I worked at the Unicorn Theater, KC Rep, the Coterie, part of the American Shakespeare Festival.

MS:  What was your first show away from home?

TT:  Besides college, my first show out of town was when I did summer stock in Rolla, Missouri. I stayed pretty local.  But then
Mormon” started and they shipped me off to Australia.  I started the company over there and then I came back and did “Sweat” at the Unicorn, which I just closed last month.  And then I started the new “Mormon” tour three weeks ago.

Teddy Trice in “Sweat” at Kansas City’s Unicorn Theater

MS:  Was “Book of Mormon” your first tour?

TT:  It was my first big tour.  We set down in Australia and played for a year in Melbourne and then it moved to Sydney.  It’s still going on in Sydney.  I did six months there.

MS:  How did you get the role?

TT:  I auditioned in Kansas City first.  The casting people pop around regionally and I had my first audition in Kansas City. They called me back the next day. I did the same audition the next day and they put it on tape.  About three weeks later they called me for a call back in New York.  I did the callback there.  I knew at the time they were casting for both the Broadway production and the two national tours.  I didn’t know about Australia until I got an email asking if I was interested in being in the Australian company. 

MS:  YES!!

TT:  That’s exactly what I said.  I emailed them back and said, ‘for sure!’  And then three months later they called me and asked if I wanted to start the Australian company and I gave them an ecstatic ‘YES!’  And the show has been treating me well ever since. 

MS:  Did you have to audition, or have you ever done the show, in front of (show co-creators) Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

TT:  Yes. They actually came to opening night in Australia.  They met with all of us.  They are the coolest guys…very down to earth.  Obviously, they’ve had wild success but they work incredibly hard.  They put out an episode of “South Park” every week and it’s been on the years for almost 20 years. 

MS:  Did you know they were in the audience?  Does that add any pressure to your performance?

TT:  There’s definitely some pressure there because you know that the people that put everything together are watching you but they have a hand in everything.  Casting,etc goes through them.  So you know that when you’ve been cast they approved it. So there’s actually a level of comfort there because they selected YOU to keep this going.  And when you’ve got 1,800 people in the audience every night, that’s enough pressure to take on,  I think my favorite expression maybe “No pressure…no diamond.” 

MS:  You’ve done both drama and musicals.  Do you have a preference?

TT:  I don’t really have a preference.  It kind of comes down to the material.  I did “Sweat” at the Unicorn right before I started the tour and that’s a contemporary drama.  A little bit different from the big musical/comedy that “Mormon” is.  I love the craft of acting so much that, whatever I’m drawn to is what I want to do.  Singing is a great passion of mine so I do have a great affection for musicals but I love them both. 

MS:  Do you have a favorite  musical? Or, better question, if age wasn’t an issue, what role would you most like to do?

TT:   I would love to do Coalhouse Walker in “Ragtime.” It’s a role I’d have to age into a little bit but the musical score is one of my all-time favorites.  Doing an “American Dream” story and building a legacy…I’d love to do that one.

MS:  You’re doing “Ragtime” and Brian Stokes Mitchell is in the audience.  What do you do?  (NOTE:  Mr. Mitchell originated the role of Coalhouse Walker on Broadway.  Television fans may remember him as one of Lea Michele’s fathers on “GLEE”)

TT:  (laughing) If I found at after the show that he was in the audience I would take him out for a drink and ask him about his experiences with the role and what Icould do to learn from him.  I’d rather hear that than have him say, “wow, you really did an injustice to the part!”  (laughs)

Teddy and cast members from “The Book of Mormon”

MS:  How long is the tour?

TT:  Well, the tour will go on forever.  I signed on last month and I’m committed to it for a while.  I’ve been with the show for two-plus years now.  It’s been a long ride.

MS:  Is it still fun?

TT:  It is. It’s given me the opportunity to travel. To be able to go across the country with the show is pretty cool.  It keeps it fresh…it keeps it alive.  And every night you get a new audience andyou get their reactions for the first time. As an actor I keep challenging myself. How do I discover new things and keep perfecting the show?  And I think by having those small goals it keeps it fresh for me.  But when you’redoing eight shows a week for an extended period of time, monotony can creep in.  So you have to keep your brain switched on to give your best performance, especially when there are people in the audience who haven’t seen the show. 

The Crown Remnant Guitarist Will Ash Discusses “The Wicked King: Part II”

Will Ash is the lead guitarist for the Los Angeles based metal band The Crown Remnant. The five piece band which also includes vocalist Geordy Shallan, guitarist Jorge Lopez, bass guitarist Josue Lara and drummer Art Ramirez is set to release a brand new album on January 18th titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Will recently about the albums concept, its creation and what the band has planned for the New Year.

Adam Lawton: Give us a little background on the band if you could?

Will Ash: Los Angeles is kind of a funny place. Everyone has their own things going on so you tend to explore a lot of different avenues when you are trying to be creative out here. I think we are lucky in this band as we have a bunch of guys who are all adventurous enough to want to try a number of different things such as theater, comedy, stunt work and pod-casting. Being that we all come from these different areas of entertainment we are able to use those different experiences to help us create this music. The band sort of started when our singer Geordy came into where I teach guitar lessons. We started talking and had some of the same ideas. He and I coming together kind of solidified the start of The Crown Remnant. The name was already in place and everything so from there we started to audition people. We reached out via Facebook and a bunch of other avenues to get the lineup that we have now.

AL: The new album is titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Can you tell us about that and how you built on the concept established from the first record?

WA: This was a good creative experience. I like music that is thematic and records that keep a theme throughout the individual tracks. We actually wrote part 1 and part 2 in tandem with one another. We started with a very wide perspective. We knew we wanted an album that was cohesive from the first track all the way to the last track. From there we chose to do a split release. Part 2 is the answer to the call sounded by part 1. The first record has a brighter more idealistic approach and this new album is the antithesis of that. It’s a little crazier, a bit darker and somewhat bigger.

AL: With both records being written at the same time how did you decide what songs went where?

WA: That was a question that went through all of our brains for quite some time. Initially we were very starry eyed and wanted a full 13 track release. The more we thought about it the more saw the benefits two releases could bring. We wanted to keep things consumable so the decision to do two releases was really the first decision we made. From there it was just a question of what songs were going to make it into the records. We looked at the concepts and ideas of each song to see where they would best fit. Geordy and I do a lot of writing together and each of our writings comes out in a certain way. I think that was a big help also when it came time to split things up.

AL: You also score music for video games. How did the writing of this record compare or contrast to that of your game work?

WA: I love video games! It does end up being a little different. I get very excited when I have the chance to mix in more orchestral pieces with the type of music we play in this band. I am very much in to symphonic music so to be able combine these styles is very enjoyable. When I sit down and work on game pieces I am looking a whole different set up instrumentation. Fundamentally things are the same when it comes to writing however beyond the basics there tends to be much more going on within the game pieces. It becomes a different task in that the playing style is more emotive. With the band I have to balance things to be able to include a vocalist and different percussive elements so you have to look at how you approach things to ensure you achieve the feel you are looking for.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour going into 2019?

WA: We are certainly going to be out there! We are very excited to get out there on our first tour. We have not been around very long as a band so it’s a nice feet to be able to string together a multi-state tour. The tour kicks off January 23rd and I believe runs through Mid-February. The record releases on January 18th so it’s going to be a great time to be out there supporting the record. I am looking forward to being out there on the road with my buddies playing music and eating junk food. Hopefully we will be able to get the band’s name out there more help generate some excitement around this new record.

AL: Do you have any other projects outside of the band we can also be watching for?

WA: I try to stay busy as much as I can. Being a young guy I try to juggle quite a few things at one time. I am at the point now where I am very driven so there is not just one project that I am working on right now that I can announce. I do have one project I am heading which falls more on the composing side coming out soon. More details on that should be coming out after we get done with this first run of shows.

For more info on The Crown Remnant you can check out their official website at www.crownremnant.com

98° Jeff Timmons Talks About The Groups 2018 Holiday Tour

Photo credit: Elias Tahan

Jeff Timmons is a founding member of the pop group 98°. Together with Justin Jeffre and brother’s Nick and Drew Lachey the group has sold over 10 million albums worldwide since their debut release in 1997. The group is currently out on a Holiday Tour which runs through December 22nd and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jeff about the tour, the possibility of new music, and what’s at the top of his wish list this year.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about the decision to bring back the holiday tour for a second year?

Jeff Timmons: It gives us a chance to get back out there and perform. Prior to the last holiday run we had done some summer touring and it was a pretty grueling schedule. Three of us have families so to be away from them is hard. This tour allows us to go out and perform while our kids are still in school and then when we are done be home with them for the holidays. This is really something different because there are not a lot of pop groups doing holiday tours. We have a real blast doing this and helping get everyone in the holiday spirit. Last year’s response was great and this year has been even better. This is something I see us doing for as long as we can.

AL: Was there anything you guys wanted to change from last year’s performance to help bring something different to the show?

JT: I think you always want to tweak things in an effort to make the show better for the fans and for things to move smoother. The overall format from last year is basically what we are going with. We have two albums worth of Christmas material that we do and of course we have to throw in our hits or it wouldn’t be fair to the fans. We don’t take each other too seriously so there is quite a bit of comedy going on. We are playing in smaller venues which allows for a more intimate setting and it gives us a chance to be a bit more theatrical with our performances. These shows are much different than a typical concert and that was really our plan.

AL: How much pre-production and planning go in to a tour like this?

JT: We do a lot of stuff via email. We know basically what songs we are going to pull from each album but then we also throw ideas back and forth of personal favorites that we might want to add to the list as well. From there we can figure out how long the show is going to be and we can start rehearsals. Being that we are all super busy we don’t have as much time as we would like to rehearse together. We generally have about seven to ten days to get everything together before that first show so each of us has to come in ready to go. Fortunately we have been together so long that we know each other very well and that defiantly helps.

AL: You have added a few more stop to this year’s run. How do you guys select which stops you want to add?

JT: A lot of it has to do with routing. We work with an agency that looks at all the logistics which go in to a tour and then things go from there. It never is really up to us. We always want to include each of our home towns and we really campaigned to include the Mid-West and a few other areas this time out. We missed some fans last year and we got a lot of responses about that so we are trying to make sure we hit those spots. We certainly are covering more area this year and we feel very positive about all the stops.

AL: Has there been any talks of new material and possibly more touring in the coming year?

JT: There have been some talks about recording some new songs. We are not sure if it’s going to be an album or an EP. With today’s technology you can be more single driven and stream it all over so we will have to see. As far as more touring goes with everything each of us has going on we have to see how we can balance all of that while being on the road. When we first started dipping our toes in the water to see if people still wanted to see us we weren’t sure what we were going to be able to do. With the reception having been and continues to be so great that presents a lot more possibilities so we just have to see what we can make work. What I can tell you is that we enjoy doing music together and there are going to be some new things on the horizon.

AL: Being the holidays are right around the corner is there anything special you have at the top of your wish list?

JT: This is going to sound corny but I just want to be able to home for Christmas. It’s a grind out here on the road and we miss our families. Fortunately we are able to build in some off days so we do get to see them but when you’re out there getting everyone excited for the season it makes you miss them more. The tour wraps up on December 22nd so we will get to be home and just enjoy our time with one another. I think that will be the best gift.

For up to date info on 98° you can check out their Instagram at @98degrees

Copyright: MediaMikes.com © 2018 · Powered by: nGeneYes, Inc. · Login

All logos and images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies. All Rights Reserved. Some of the content presented on our sites has been provided by contributors, other unofficial websites or online news sources, and is the sole responsibility of the source from which it was obtained. MediaMikes.com is not liable for inaccuracies, errors, or omissions found herein. For removal of copyrighted images, trademarks, or other issues, Contact Us.