Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer Discusses His New Book “Wicked Words and Epic Tales”

Photo Credit: Tim Tronckoe

Iced Earth founder, songwriter, guitarist and producer Jon Schaffer has announced the release of his first ever book, “Wicked Words and Epic Tales”.The book is the debut release from Schaffer and his new publishing company Wicked Tales, LLC and is the first of many original concepts planned for future release by Schaffer. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jon recently about the books creation, the accompanying music and his plans for future releases.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us where the idea/opportunity to do this book came from?

Jon Schaffer: The idea for the book came to me around Christmas of 2019. I was at home with my family and I all of a sudden had this idea to do an anthology of all my lyrics. I have always been a big fan of comic and graphic novel art. It’s actually something I have been doing for years on the Iced Earth album covers. We have so much bad ass art that has been done for us over the years and have made contact with a lot of great artists that I thought I could commission a bunch of new material and put something together for the die-hard fans. I had never really seen anything like what I was thinking of doing but I know that if Steve Harris, Geezer Butler or Roger Waters put out something like this as a fan I jump on it. I ended up deciding to use Kickstarter to get things going because it allowed me to gauge the interest and figure out how many copies to make. After I decided I was going to add new art I thought it might be cool to do some spoken word audio tracks to go along with it. What ended up happening was I decided to create some new music as well. What we ended up with is this something in between an audio book and a soundtrack. I call it a narrative soundscape and that comes as a bonus with the book.

AL: Is this all new musical content?

JS: No. These songs have been written over the course of my career specifically with Iced Earth. I think the oldest song is “Angels Holocaust” which was written around 1991. With the exception of the song “Wolf” all the material is based off of the original compositions. What I did was instead of the album being this loud, ripping heavy metal work I took verses and choruses and turned them into string and keyboard pieces. I did play some guitar but not that much and we programmed in some theatrical drum loops to give things dynamic. For the spoken pieces I really tried to get into character and make things dark an eerie or very emotional depending on what each piece called for.

AL: Will a reader/listener be able to put the music on and have it match up with the book chapters?

JS: It’s broken up a little differently. The book has over 250 pages. The lyrical content alone is well over 100 songs and features lyrics from more than just Iced Earth. The music portion is 15 tracks picked from just my Iced Earth works. If a reader wants to match things up they will just have to go to the index and find the page number for each song to make that happen.

AL: How did you go about selecting the artists who have work featured in the book?

JS: Some of those guys like Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo I have worked with in the past on Iced Earth album art so I knew them. All of the artists who I have worked with through all my projects and career are credited. I worked with an additional 15 new artists specifically for this book. I just started reaching out to people. I reached out to Jim Balent on Instagram and he came on board I then reached out to Jonboy Myers and he was interested. Richard Ortiz did four pieces of art which are killer homage pieces. Roy Young who was in charge of the layout of the book is a guy I met when I was working with Todd McFarland in 1994. Roy has been very instrumental in this. There is tons of great stuff in this book.

AL: We the artists given free reign or did you have specific pieces you wanted each person to do?

JS: I went to each of them with a specific plan. From there the artists will generally take that idea and run with it. If it ends up being something I am not happy with we make edits and changes until it’s where I want it to be. Each artist put their own unique spin on “Set” who is kind of Iced Earth’s mascot. They all had their own interpretation of the character which is something I really loved. You could tell it was Set but the Set character does not have one specific look or logo like Batman or one of those other superheroes. Everyone added their own style which made this part a lot of fun.

AL: The book features two different covers. Does each of the books feature something different that the other does not aside from the alternate cover art?

JS: The books will all be the same on the inside. There are actually four covers in all. Two main covers were done and then did two nude variations of Jim Balent’s cover. Those covers are limited to 100 and 150 copies. The slip case for each book is the same but inside is where you will find all the virgin art aside from the spine which has to include an identifiable marker denoting what the work is. I had a chance recently to see some of the test and it looks amazing! It’s all printed on nice heavy paper with lots of colors. Even the text pages are predominately color.

AL: “Wicked Words and Epic Tales” is the first book to be released via Wicked Tales LLC which you own. Can we be expecting more books from you in the future?

JS: This was my first step in to learning how to self publish. There will be more books however they will not be lyric books. Going forward the timing will depend on what happens with the music business as it relates to what is going on in the world right now. My band is international and I am not sure when or if we will be able to travel freely again. With the members being spread out and living in various places putting together or planning an Iced Earth tour production just can’t happen right now. My plan since 1997 when I first created the “Something Wicked” universe was to always end up being in comics and graphic novels once I retired the band. It’s a killer story with a lot of potential to dive in to so that’s always been my plan. This book was a test and something I started before the world went in to lock down. When that I happened I just continued to work. There will be more things coming out however I don’t have a specific date as it will be after Iced Earth retired. I am getting close to that time but I still want to do one or two more records before that day comes.

AL: If someone did not pre-order the book via Kickstarter will fans still be able to get a copy?

JS: We will have some extra copies available through the Iced Earth merch store. We are in negotiations with Plastic Head who handles our merchandise in Europe about our options. Shipping an item this heavy is quite pricey so we are trying to figure out a way to get to more than just the United States where a majority of the sales have occurred. We hope to have that figured out very soon. In the future we may release a digital and/or trade paperback. There also could be a second printing if the demand is there.

To find out more about “Wicked Words and Epic Tales” click here                  

Lamb of God’s John Campbell Discusses the Bands New Self Titled Album “Lamb of God”

John Campbell is the bassist for the Grammy nominated heavy metal group Lamb of God. On June 19th the Richmond, VA based band will release their 8th studio album titled “Lamb of God”. This release is the follow up to the highly acclaimed 2015 album “VII: Sturm und Drang” and is the first to feature Art Cruz on drums. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with John recently about the albums creation, the bands lines up change and what it’s like being in a band during the current world pandemic.

Adam Lawton: The bands previous albums have always contained lyrical themes and topics. Was this the case for the album?

John Campbell: We have always been mildly political and focused on darker, more unpleasant aspects of life. That certainly hasn’t change. I think what has changed is that some of the things we speak about on the record are coming to pass in ways you wouldn’t imagine. It’s an incredibly crazy time when things going on start to match the lyrics of a Lamb of God song.

AL: When you are coming up with lyrics and themes is that a process everyone is involved in?

JC: It is mostly Randy. Mark and Josh our producer have a hand in things as well and I have thrown my two cents in there also. Primarily though that is a Randy exercise.

AL: At what point in the five years since the bands previous album did things start coming together for the new album?

JC: We started quite a while ago actually. During that time we were approached by Slayer to be a part of their final tour. We figured we could put recording off for a summer and then go back to it. The run with Slayer ended up lasting a year and a half. As our part of that was winding down we knew we had to get off the road and focus on writing.

AL: Were you trying to work on the album at all while you were on the road or, is that not something the band typically does?

JC: That’s not something we generally do. I can’t speak for Randy because I know he does a good deal of writing regardless if it’s going to end up as lyrics or not. The same can be said for Mark and Willie as they are always writing riffs. Those guys have studios in their homes where they are tracking pretty frequently. For the most part there is a solid line of when we touring and when we are working on an album.

AL: With this being drummer Art Cruz’s first album with you guys where there any adjustments you had to make to incorporate his style and playing into the bands creative process?

JC: The adjustments I had to make were very minimal. Art being his own person has his own style, taste and licks. His drumming was heavily influenced by Lamb of God so he already spoke the language so to speak. There is an element of fell that comes with playing in a band for a long time and that literally only took a second for us to put together with Art. From a tone stand point there is always an adjustment with each record. I try to play of the other tones of the band and go with what fits in the frequency range. I am not too savvy when it comes to those types of things so I leave a lot of that to Josh Wilbur

AL: Prior to going in to the studio were there any reservations about recording with a new drummer given that it was going to be the first time working with Art in the studio?

JC: We actually met Art seven or eight years ago when he was playing in the band Wings of Plague. We got to know him as a person and became friends with him during that time. ON that tour he would actually come out and I think play the song “Black Label” with us to end the show. When it came time that we needed a fill in Art was available and willing. He just nailed it and after touring with him for awhile and the situation calling for it, it was a no brainer that he be in the band in every way possible. 

AL: This was not your first time working with producer Josh Wilbur correct?

JC: Correct. I would have to look on the internet to see how long we have been working with him (Laughs) I want to say that he first started working with us on “Sacrament”. That was in 2006 and we have been working with him ever since.

AL: Do you ever worry that working with the same producer over a long period of time will cause a certain level of complacency?

JC: No, not at all! Josh Wilbur is an amazing person professionally and as a human. He is incredibly creative and very aware of things like this. He goes in to an album to try and create the best possible piece of art he can. Josh is great with suggestions and helping us along in the process. He understands the band and all of our personalities very well and that’s a god send.

AL: The pandemic has caused multiple problems around the word and within the music industry both from a release stand point and touring. How are you guys planning to work with that given you won’t be able to do the things bands traditionally do to support a new record?

JC: We are trying to make sure that everything we do or plan on doing is within the safety of the public and ourselves. We are all in this together. I am certainly not crying about releasing an album during a pandemic. This is just a very crazy time that the world is going through. Things are day by day and I really hope people will take that time to focus more on love and positivity instead of attaching to hate and negativity. We do have some things in the works for promoting the album but I don’t want to say anything just yet and jinx them. (Laughs) We are working on some things though.

Be sure to check out our review of “Lamb of God” here

Le Matos talks about scoring EXODE web series and movies TURBO KID and SUMMER OF ’84

Analog synths are the unstoppable weapons of the french canadian electronic band from Montreal, Le Matos. Its musical imprint is a powerful dancemachine, mix of pop melodies and melancholic sounds inspired by 80’s movie soundtrack composers such as Vangelis, John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, Shuki Levy and Goblin.

The band scored films like “Turbo Kid”, “Summer of ’84” and the recently released “EXODE”, the haunting sci-fi web series. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the men behind the band, Jean-Philippe Bernier and Jean Nicolas Leupi to discuss their music, how they got their band name and what is it was like working on these films/web series.

Take Two guitarist Adam Lawton talks about the bands latest release “We Aren’t Big”

Take Two have been performing in and around the Tri-State area since the groups formation in 2012. The four piece band who lists Corning, NY as their home-base bring a unique mix of sounds and styles to the pop-punk genre which they associate themselves with. The group’s latest release “We Aren’t Big” is set for release on March 13th and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with bands guitarist Adam Lawton about the band, the new release and making the transition to a heavier sound.     

Ryan Albro: What can you tell us about Take Two?

Adam Lawton: The band is made up of Josh Cavaluzzi, AJ Kish, Nick Murray and I. The original line up of the band formed in 2012 while some the guys were going to college together in Upstate New York. After a short time they were looking for new guitarist and that’s when I joined the band. We put out our self-titled debut shortly after.  Around that same time we got hooked up with the Cold Cock Whiskey artist program which allowed us to connect with a bunch of other bands and play some new places around NY, NJ and PA. After a couple more lineup changes including Josh moving from drums to vocals and downsizing to a four piece we released two EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken) Through the release of those and connections we made we joined the Dirtbag Clothing Artist program and also started working with ACE Products Group both of which have been amazing! Because of them we were able attend our first winter and summer NAMM shows which took us to Los Angeles and Nashville. Now on March 13th we are set to release a brand new album titled “We Aren’t Big”   

RA: Can you give us some background on the new album We Aren’t Big?

AL: “We Aren’t Big” is the bands 4th studio release. It consists of 9 tracks four of which are brand new. The other five come from two previously released EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken). We re-recorded those with the current lineup of the band

RA: What was the inspiration for the album’s title?

AL: (Laughs) that started out as a joke between the guys in the band. We were on our way to a show one day and we stopped for some food. A couple of us had already ordered when the cashier asked our singer Josh if we were in a band. He replied “Yes, but we aren’t big”. Of course we all lost it and we were like “what do you mean we aren’t big!?” We are huge in our own minds. (Laughs) So since that day we all would joke with each other about being a band but it’s not big. When it came time to decide on an album name that one liner came up and it instantly stuck.

RA: Which songs are you most proud of from We Aren’t Big?

AL: We worked hard on all the songs so to pick just one or two is kind of tough. When you are putting these things together you get really attached to certain parts as you spend a lot of time playing them over and over to get them just right. For instance the breakdown in “Fall”, the verses of “Burner” and the solo of “Lock Up” are ones that stick out for me and fun to play.   

RA: What were your inspirations to blend metal and punk on the album?

AL: That was something that happened organically over time. Each time there was a lineup change we tweaked our sound a little bit. We have had this same line up now for quite some time and we are all into various forms of heavy music along with punk. One of the first new songs we had was “Burner” and being that song is fairly aggressive we figured that the other new songs we were going to include with it should follow suit.

RA: What are your thoughts on current influences in the punk genre?

AL: I think if you look at punk over the years it’s a genre that is always evolving and expanding. “Punk” is such a broad term now and there are just so many sub-genres of punk like Folk-Punk, Afro-Punk, Celtic-Punk you name it. I think punk is more of an idea or thought process in that you are doing something different than what is considered the “norm” at that time. You can be “punk” without looking or sounding any one specific way and that’s really cool.   

RA: What are Take Two’s upcoming touring plans and what’s next for the band?

AL: Coming up on March 14th we will be playing in Buffalo, NY with a bunch of great acts from up there. Being it’s the day after the record comes out we have decided to stream our set via facebook.com/official.taketwo starting at 8:30pme EST. We thought that would be cool way for more people to be able to check out the show and hear the new music in a live setting. From there we will be appearing at this year’s Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, PA. We will be making the rounds that weekend and promoting a song of ours that is featured on the Conference compilation record which they put out each year. Another cool thing we have coming out is we got hooked up with Phameless Records from Philadelphia and have a song appearing on a compilation they have put together so that’s going to be really cool as well. Aside from all of that we have shows booked through the fall around NY and PA and are always looking to add more whenever we can.

For more information on TAKE TWO and to get a copy of “We Aren’t Big” visit the bands official web page at www.officialtaketwo.com

Amberian Dawn Keyboardist Tuomas Seppala Discusses new album “Looking For You”

Amberian Dawn will release their eighth studio album, “Looking For You” on January 31st via Napalm Records and enter a new, but still familiar sounding musical universe, mixing the best of both worlds into a new genre: ABBA-Metal! The album’s multi-faceted and emotional lyrics provide a suitable background for soaring guitars and elegant classical interludes which showcase the bands shift from power metal to a more symphonic metal sound. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the bands keyboardist Tuomas Seppala recently about the band’s new album, the changing of their style and working with Finnish artist Kebu.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Looking For You”?

Tuomas Seppala: “Looking For You” is a really nice album with a new and fresh sound. After releasing our previous album, I had a long writers block. I just couldn’t write good stuff with the “old style” anymore. After six or seven months or something, I realized that I need to change something so that I would be able to compose good stuff again. Then I started to compose a kind of synthesizer – disco music and that felt really good. Then I introduced a couple of those new songs to band mates and I was surprised that they liked the songs and also said that those songs could be easily converted to AD songs. That’s how I started to make music again and with a different kind of style. Now there’s only one “traditional” AD song on this album, a symphonic metal song “Symphony Nr.1 Part 3 – Awakening”. I got Fabio Lione of Rhapsody to make a guest appearance on that song. It was great.

AL: The band’s sound has gone through changes over the over few years. Was that a natural transition or something that was done by design?

TS: It’s been a natural transition, but it’s not been easy all the time. I’ve had several writer’s blocks after I’ve finished with an album and trying to start working with new songs. I always write music based on the feeling I have for it and I usually can’t force myself to do anything else. For example, if I’m not in the mood for power metal, I simply cannot write any good power metal material. Maybe some average stuff, but that’s never good enough for me. All the stuff I’ll write and publish must be just perfect to me (at that time). But it’s obvious that my point of view for music has changed during all these years and I wouldn’t be happy with the stuff I wrote 10 years ago, if I had been writing that exact same stuff right now. 

AL: Where did the term “ABBA Metal” come from?

TS: That’s just something we came up with. I’m not sure whether I invented the term or if I just saw the term used on chats and social media first. Anyways, I like the term and it’s really a good genre to describe AD’s current style.   

AL: Was the decision to cover “Lay All Your Love On Me” made before or after the creation of ABBA Metal? and why did you choose this song?

TS: I had been preparing this cover song for many years before we actually decided to record it. Also, the ABBA-metal genre came up at some point after I had all of the songs ready for new album. I knew that we really need to start using this ABBA-metal genre because it’s really what this music is all about. 

AL: Being a keyboardist what was it like working with fellow instrumentalist Kebu? And what was that process like?

TS: We had really good co-operation with this album. Kebu has this huge arsenal of vintage keyboards and together we finalized the keyboard sounds with his gear. Some of the sounds and tones are made by Kebu and some of those are made by me. It’s a good combination and I think we can work together in the future too. In short, the process was like that – I first made the arrangements for keyboards and then we decided that which parts were going to be played with my gear and which parts were going to be played with his synthesizers. Kebu used a lot of time to develop those keyboard sounds and presets. I also used ABBA’s Benny Andersson’s personal synthesizers on some songs. I recorded some parts at his studio in Stockholm.

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

TS: We’re planning to tour later in 2020 but we don’t have anything confirmed yet. We’re probably going to tour in Europe again because that’s doable. Touring in the US is much harder to make happen.

For more info on Amberian Dawn click here:

To Order your copy of “Looking For You” click here:

Interview with Singer/Songwriter Will Muse

Muse’s latest single (Photo credit: Dead Horse Branding)

The first thing that popped into my head when Will Muse got on the phone was “no way this kid is 16!”  With a voice, and a heart, that belies his youth, Muse is quickly becoming one of the most exciting talents to watch in 2020.

The music video for his first single, “I Can Change,” has been viewed more than two million times.  His sophomore release, “Spend,” was released in April of this year and received heavy airplay on Radio Disney.  This past month the singer/songwriter released his third single, an expressive song about falling in love called “Shape of Your Faith.”  He also created the Music for Wishes Foundation, which helps the Make-a-Wish Foundation grant wishes for children in his Somerset, Kentucky town.  Again…no way this kid is 16!

Will recently took some time out of his busy schedule (he attends school daily, concentrating on his music once homework is done) to talk to me about his new song and his plans for the new year.

MIKE SMITH:  What triggered your interest in music?

WILL MUSE:  When I was growing up my parents were always listening to a lot of cool, classic music.  It definitely influenced me.  From the age of three years old I was listening to Guns and Roses, Pearl Jam, Aerosmith…great classic rock like that.

MS:  How old were you when you wrote your first song?

WM:  When I wrote my first song I was about 12. 

MS:  Was it good enough, in your opinion, that you realized this was something you not only enjoyed but had a true talent for?  Something you not only could do but could do well?

WM:  Yes.  Songwriting has always been a great outlet for me to express myself and my feelings.  To explain my passions through music. 

MS:  As a singer/songwriter there are two different parts of what you do.  Do you have a preference between creating and performing?

WM:  I love to create music.  To create the lyrics and the melodies.  But I really love giving a good live performance.  That really excites me.  One time I was performing my first single, “I Can Change,” and a lady in the audience came up to me after the show.  She was crying because she had been so moved and so touched by the message of the song.  It’s moments like that that bring me joy with my music.

MS:  What was the inspiration for your latest single, “Shape of Your Faith?”

WM:  I wrote it with a fun, groovy and retro vibe in mind, musically.  Lyrically I wanted to talk about how love can take different forms in the way it shapes your life.

MS:  Can you talk about your Music for Wishes Foundation?

WM:  Back in 2017 I wanted to combine my passion for music with my passion for helping people.  Here where I live in Somerset, Kentucky I saw the need for a Make-a-Wish fundraiser so we put on an event that year that consisted of a concert, a dinner and a silent auction.  Besides myself, several other artists perform at the concerts.  This past year we had Pam Tillis, which gave me the opportunity to do a finale’ song with her.  We’ve raised over $85,000.00 to help grant wishes for the local children.

MS:  What’s next for you musically?

WM:  I have a couple more singles I hope to release including a really fun duet.  I’ve also shot a few more music videos and I have a tour coming up in the spring (2020).  I’ve got a lot of great things coming up that I’m really excited about.

DEMONS & WIZARDS RELEASE MUSIC VIDEO FOR DEBUT SINGLE “DIABOLIC”

III SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE ON FEBRUARY 21, 2020 VIA CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER HERE

Coming on the heels of the recent announcement that DEMONS & WIZARDS will release their first album in 15 years III on February 21, 2020, the band is back to unveil the music video for their debut single “Diabolic.” The newest musical opus showcases the sound that fans have come to love from the band. The just released music video borrows stylistic elements from the album cover to tell the time old tale of good vs evil with Hansi Kürsch and Jon Schaffer as the main characters. Watch the video for ‘Diabolic’, which was created by iCODE Team here: https://youtu.be/frMkdkCV2D0.

Hansi Kürsch states: “‘Diabolic’ for sure is a musical statement and its message is very clear and precise: We take no prisoners! We had a hard time figuring out a proper opener to ‘III,’ but when ‘Diabolic’ took shape, we realized it was the perfect introduction to the album!”

Jon Schaffer adds: “This song is a sequel to ‘Heaven Denies’ and it is dark, heavy, vicious,melodic, and totally atmospheric, everything I love about songwriting and making records in eight minutes! ‘Diabolic’ has the right attitude to make a strong statement as the first song that people will hear after 15 years!”

DEMONS & WIZARDS is one of the most legendary collaborations in the history of heavy metal, uniting the talents of Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) and Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) who are friends for nearly three decades.

DEMONS & WIZARDS musically embodies both musician’s stylistic trademarks and has resulted so far in two hugely celebrated studio albums, Demons & Wizards and Touched by the Crimson King. Both records have been reissued in 2019 on time with the group’s extremely successful return to the world’s stages. Now, the band presents III, a stunning monument of dynamic and powerful heavy metal that simply has all you would expect from these iconic musicians! III is epic, melodic, crushingly heavy, atmospheric, and all in between. 65 minutes of heavy metal mastery! III can now be pre-ordered in a variety of luxurious and limited formats: https://demonswizards.lnk.to/III.

The track-listing for III is:

01. Diabolic

02. Invincible

03. Wolves In Winter

04. Final Warning

05. Timeless Spirit

06. Dark Side Of Her Majesty

07. Midas Disease

08. New Dawn

09. Universal Truth

10. Split

11. Children Of Cain

The III recording line-up consists of:

Hansi Kürsch – Lead & Backing Vocals

Jon Schaffer – Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Bass Guitar, 6 and 12 string Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Guest Musicians on III:

Brent Smedley – Drums

Jim Morris – Additional Guitars, Backing Vocals

Jake Dreyer – Additional Guitars

Ruben Drake – Bass

Thomas Hackman, Olaf Senkbeil, John Jaycee Cuipers, Zakery Alexander, Jeff Brant, Todd Plant, Jerome Mazza – Backing Vocals

PA’dam chamber choir – Classical Choir

Skillet’s John Cooper talks about the bands debut graphic novel “Eden”

John Cooper is the vocalist/bassist for the Platinum selling rock group Skillet. The band recently partnered with Z2 Comics to release their first graphic novel titled “Eden”. Media Mikes caught up with John and the band at New York Comic Con to discuss the creation of the book, its similarities to the group’s music and if there will be books to come in the future.    

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the bands new comic “Eden”?

John Cooper: I love comics and they are something I grew up with. I have always looked at Skillet as sort of a theatrical band. When I say theatrical I am meaning more from an operatic feel than that of a visual feel like Kiss or Alice Cooper. I had always envisioned doing a comic book as I see us all as characters. I had sort of put it off because if it’s not done right it can become terribly cheesy. On social media I am always posting about comics and I ended up getting a call from Z2 Comics asking if I would be interested in doing a graphic novel. I told them yes and that I had some story ideas but I wasn’t sure where to begin. They said that’s ok as they had some ideas of their own. I wanted to do something that was more science fiction as opposed to hero driven. I was looking for something with a post-apocalyptic feel but with a message of hope. That’s something you don’t see a lot. The book has sci-fi and super-natural elements mixed in with some religious undertones. In my view I think all great science-fiction have religious elements. When I say “religious” I’m not necessarily meaning Christianity but just religious. Films like “Dune”, “Blade Runner” and “Battlestar Galactica” are solid examples of that.

AL: How much collaboration went into the book?

JC: I brought the theme of a dying world filled with people all having the same dream which is leading them to paradise. I worked with some really great writers who helped me put together all the different ideas I had. Sadly the idea of the glowing eyes was not my idea but one I really liked as it was sort of an homage to “Dune” which is one of my all time favorite books.

Ian Lawton: What did the rest of the band think about the comic?

JC: The band loves the comic. At first I think they weren’t too sure what to expect. My wife Corey knew what I was going for as she knows me really well. I think it’s hard for people to understand what’s in your head when you are creating something. Once the book was done I think they were a little shocked as to how good it was and how emotional it is.

AL: Did the writing for “Eden” happen at the same time you were writing the band’s latest album “Victorious”?   

JC: Yes, I was writing for both things at the same time. It was a very crazy and busy two years. While these two things were going on I also released a side project EP titled “Fight the Fury” along with our drummer Jen’s side project “Ledger”. All of these things were basically written and released in two and half years. Writing for the comic was making me really want to write music so all of these things had me firing on all pistons. Each project worked off of one another.

IM: Was writing the book similar to writing music?

JC: I didn’t notice this until after the book was done and I had read it. I know that may sound sort of silly but, sometimes when you are writing you don’t always notice things others might as you are just going with what is coming out. After I read the book I felt as thou it was very similar to our music. The book is a little dark but it is meaningful. That’s what people say about Skillet songs and I think “Eden” has that same feel.

IM: Can you tell us about the special hardcover edition that will be available?

JC: That’s something that I am still waiting to see myself. I have seen parts of what are going to be in it and I am very excited for the finished version to be available. It’s going to have this really cool axe on it which is my weapon in the book. With this beard I sort of feel like a lumberjack and thought that an axe would be a perfect weapon as opposed to some of the other more futuristic weapons you see in the book.

AL: Is this just a one off book or are there plans to do others?

JC: The band is going to be out on the road until mid December so that’s going to have me tied up for a few months. We have started to talk a little about the possibility of more books but nothing is definite. I think it would be great to do a second one.

To order a copy “Eden” click here and to order Skillets latest album “Victorious” click here   

Gatecreeper’s Chase Mason Discusses the Bands New Album “Deserted”

Media Mikes had the chance to sit down with Chase Mason of the metal band Gatecreeper to talk about the band’s sophomore album “Deserted”, out now. Chase also shared with us info on the groups upcoming tour, his approach to standing out in death metal, and his friendship with fellow artist Post Malone.

Ryan Albro: What would you tell people about Gatecreeper that have never heard of them before?

Chase Mason: Gatecreeper is a death metal band from Phoenix, Arizona. We play a catchy, mid-tempo style mixed with old school death metal. Even if you don’t like death metal you will like Gatecreeper.

RA: What would you tell eager returning fans about the new album, Deserted?

CM: If you liked the last record, Sonoran Depravation, you’re going to like this one. It shows a natural progression for the band and is a better, more concise, version of what we’ve already been doing. We’re not trying to experiment or be progressive here. It’s overall better than the last record.

RA: Gatecreeper has been gaining a lot of popularity as of late. How do you maintain relevance in today’s music scene so well?

CM: It’s important to use all the tools that you have to your advantage. I’ve seen a lot of bands that think they’re too cool to use social media or don’t play shows with bands they don’t think are cool. It’s better not to turn your nose up at certain things. It’s about being comfortable and staying true to who you are. As far as standing out in a sea of a million bands and artists, I think it’s really important to provide a full package. I try to pay attention to every aspect of the band. You have to have good songs to start out with, but the visuals are important as well. There are a lot of bands with really good songs that may not get noticed because they’re lacking in other areas. The music first, then your art, whether it’s album art, tour flyers or tour merch. I’ve tried with Gatecreeper to have a full package and have everything flow together and be distinct so that we stand out. There are new bands putting out records every day, there are a million shows that come into your town a year, so if you want to stick out, you’ve got to pay attention to all the little details.

RA: What can you tell us about the Brad Moore album artwork?

CM: It’s crazy. Anybody who sees it will think it’s crazy, in a good way. It’s important to me to have cool art. If someone’s at the record store or they’re online and they see that album cover it will grab their attention. Even if they don’t know who we are, they will listen to the record.

RA: Which tracks from “Deserted” are you most looking forward to performing live?

CM: Puncture Wounds is a very fast, up-tempo song for Gatecreeper. That song will be a great circle pit song. The end of the song Ruthless was written with playing the song live in mind. There’s a part in the song that as soon as it hits you’ll know it’s time for a circle pit. Since we toured so much on the last record, we learned what works well live. Deserted was the first record, while we were writing, where we knew a part would sound cool on the record, as well as live.

RA: What are the band’s touring plans for the album?

CM: We’re going to do two record release shows, one in LA, the other in Phoenix. Phoenix will be our hometown record release show. Starting on Halloween, we’re co-headlining a tour with Exhumed, with Necrot and Judiciary until December. After that we play the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in LA. That’s what we have lined up for the rest of the year after the record comes out. We’re still finding out what we’re going to do, but next year we’re going to be doing some more touring for sure.

RA: When can we expect the Gatecreeper / Post Malone collaboration?

CM: I think you’ll be waiting forever [laughs]. I like Post Malone’s music, I like him as a person. I like rap and a lot of things that aren’t metal, but I don’t feel the need, nor do I ever want to combine them. I would play a show with Post Malone for sure. Will we ever do a song with him? Probably not. I think there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

Christian Jacobs of “The Aquabats! Super Show” Discusses The Show’s New Episodes and The Bands New Album

Christian Jacobs is a former child actor and the co-creator of the award winning kid’s television series “Yo Gabba Gabba!”. He also fronts the popular ska-punk band The Aquabats! under the pseudonym of The MC Bat Commander. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Christian recently about the group’s current tour, the bands successful kickstarter campaign and when fans can expect new episodes of “The Aquabats! Super Show”.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands current “Holy Guacamole Tour”?

Christian Jacobs: We did a previous tour in July however this tour sort of marks the first headlining tour we have done in some time that has gone east of the Mississippi. These shows are reuniting us with the “Legion of Righteous Comrades” who this last year helped us raise money to film new episodes of “The Aquabats! Super Show”. We have ten episodes shot and we are going to be shooting one more once we have the guest star lined up. These are fun sized episodes meaning they aren’t as long as the previous episodes from season one and two but, they are still a lot of fun. This tour is kind of recognizing the completion of those episodes and all the merchandise that we designed for that campaign. Getting out and playing is a way for us to meet up with the fans that helped keep the Aquabats! alive and a chance for us to say  thank you for the support. From that Kickstarter campaign we have been able to film the new episodes, record an album, prepare to start another album in December and to do this tour. This band has been around the block a few times and the fact that there is a new generation of fans coming out to the shows and helping us put out new content has been just great.

AL: What was it that appealed to the band about using Kickstarter?

CJ: Us doing a Kickstarter has been talked about for a long time. We hesitated a bit as we are old-school. I was worried that we might look bad asking for money in this type of way and we were very nervous. I think a lot of people have the perception that with our previous things being successful there should be no reason why we can’t put new stuff out on our own. Sadly that’s not always the reality and that’s what happened for the Aquabats! We did try other networks when The Hub folded however, sometimes when things fail a stigma can often get attached to those associated making it difficult to keep going. We knew that people liked the show and wanted to keep it going so after meeting up with a couple guys  who had experience with fan funding they gave us some great  insight that helped us change our minds and see fan funding in a different light. Everyone who donated is a big part of what we accomplished. It’s like they are all producers which I think is very cool.

Ian Lawton: How do you come up with the characters for the show?

CJ: A lot of the things you see on “The Super Show” I think are influenced by stuff we watched as kids growing up. Everything from “Godzilla” movies to really weird Japanese kids shows and some of the shows from Sid and Marty Krofft who put out “Land of the Lost” and “ H R Puff N Stuff”. A lot of the characters we write and come up with are in a way homage’s to those things. Characters like Cobraman! came from Japanese common writer shows, Space Monster M was this weird Gung Ham hybrid robot that we loved. We wanted to create characters that our kids could be introduced to in a fun way while at the same times we as parents could watch and reminisce about the shows we used to watch. We had the same idea when we were putting together episodes for “Yo Gabba Gabba”.

IL: Can you tell us about the cat that shows up throughout the Aquabats! series?

CJ: That is actually a fox and he is hidden in every episode that we have done. Our special effects guys name on the show is Joel Fox. He does all of the weird lead in screen effects like floating pizzas and fingers turning into bananas. That stuff never ends up in the actual episode but it’s there and the beginning of each segment. Joel is sort of an enigma as he never tells us what he is going to do. Being he is our good friend we got him this fox costume and hid him in all the shows. He is somewhere in all the new upcoming episodes as well. It’s going to be harder to find him but he is there.

IL: Do you have a favorite character that you have come up with?

CJ: I really like all the Aquabats! character because they are just really funny. Each character is sort of an extension of the guy who plays it. The Bat Commander and I our definitely not the same guy but maybe some of our personality traits cross over. I can be a little like the commander but not totally as he is kind of a jerk sometimes. It’s all satire for each of us. I do like how we have evolved over time and how we can poke fun at each other through the production. Pilgrim Boy is a favorite as he is one of the original characters we came up with back in 1996. We had written out a bunch of the episodes at that time and the shape shifting pilgrim boy was a part of that. Cobraman! is another great one both on stage and on the show. The guy has snakes for hands which he shoots live snakes out of. (Laughs) Plus he has a very funny voice. Silver Skull is a good character as well. We sort of gave him this Bane type voice as that was a big joke at the time.

AL: Is there a time table for when we will see the new episodes and album?

CJ: We finished recording the album in July however due to everyone having family stuff going on and our producer being away it took awhile to get all the mixing done. We have it all completed know and would like to have it out around Halloween given a lot of the songs have a spooky vibe to them. We aren’t sure if that will give us enough time to promote it so aside from as soon as possible there is not a solid time table for that. We want to make sure we have good promotion in place and a couple videos as well. The new episodes of the show will start airing around September 20th on our YouTube channel.

AL: One of the things you do outside of the band is summer drawing classes for kids. Can you tell us about that program?

CJ: My brother Parker does these drawing classes and he always recruits me to come and help. It’s always a lot of fun. When we were kids we didn’t have distracters like phones and tablets so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. Technology is wonderful but I think when you have a lack of resources you have more of an opportunity to use your brain and be creative. By having these classes my brother is able to teach kids how to doodle and how to use their imaginations. The classes are designed to be free flowing and not necessarily about how to draw something right but more to challenge your creativity. You won’t be drawing a bowl of fruit to look like a bowl of fruit. Instead you might draw whatever you want and have it fighting something inside comic panels or creating new characters no one has ever seen before. It’s a way for kids to bring their imagination from their heads directly to their hands. In this day and age it’s great to encourage kids that they too can create things “Fortnite” or “The Aquabats!”. Growing up we had punk rock to inspire us but we want to get kids going even younger and that’s a lot of what “Yo Gabba Gabba” was about. It’s extension of doing things yourself with the ideas being geared or aimed at young people. You don’t have to sit and wait for the next thing. You can be the next thing. With YouTube and all these things there is no reason anyone can’t if they really want to.

AL: Are there other projects outside of what you have already mentioned that we can be watching for?

CJ: We have been talking about and pitching new shows ever since the network we were on went out of business. There are just so many places to pitch new ideas that we have been going practically non-stop. We haven’t quite struck gold yet but given our track record with “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “The Aquabats! Super Show” we have a solid formula. The ideas are there we just have to get them out there while juggling families and all that. We do plan to tour again once the new record is out and we are on the hook for one more record after that as well so we have a lot that will be going on. If you had told me twenty five years ago that we would still be doing this in 2019 I would have laughed at you but it’s really great that we still are able to do this and we really enjoy it.

 

 

 

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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 

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  

ACE FREHLEY RELEASES NEW ANIMATED MUSIC VIDEO FOR “MISSION TO MARS”

Watch Video Here

ALL NEW SOLO LP, SPACEMAN OUT NOW

2019 TOUR DATES ON SALE NOW

Founding KISS guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame member Ace Frehley has released the music video for “Mission to Mars.” 

The music video is entirely animated by artist Christopher Fequiere, a first for Frehley. Chock full of KISS fandom easter eggs, this video is the second music video that we’ve seen from the Spaceman LP. “Mission to Mars” follows the release of “Rockin’ With The Boys” that was released last year.
Ace Frehley released Spaceman last year via Entertainment One (eOne) to much critical praise such as Associated Press claiming that Frehley “oozes classic rock style and six-string chops that sound as good today as they did in 1975.” Spaceman debuted at #5 Rock, #5 Vinyl and #9 on Billboard’s Current Album Sales Charts and has gone on to sell more than 10,000 pieces of vinyl alone.

“No need to worry, I’ll be home soon, ’cause I’m rockin’ with the boys,” Frehley sings on“Rockin’ With the Boys,” which tells the tale of life on the road. Ace says he wrote the original version of the song back in KISS’s heyday in the ’70s. Both “Rockin With The Boys” and “Bronx Boy” are available on all streaming platforms today and are iTunes instant grat tracks for fans who preorder the album. 

In addition to Ace’s distinctive guitar sound on each track, Ace played bass on all of the songs on Spaceman except for two.  The listener might recognize the mighty dinosaur growl of a bass tone belonging to Gene Simmons on the album opener, “Without You I’m Nothing,” which Gene also co-wrote,  and “Your Wish Is My Command.” Both songs were recorded at Frehley’s home studio in Rancho Santa Fe, California. 

Ace’s reconnection with Simmons and fellow KISS vocalist-guitarist Paul Stanley (who joined Ace on a cover of Free’s “Fire and Water” for 2016’s covers LP Origins, Vol. 1) might be chalked up to the fact that Frehley has been sober for more than a decade (he celebrates 12 years of sobriety in September). Ace’s clean living no doubt has a lot to do with his productive streak, which began with the release of his top 20 Anomaly album in 2009.
Spaceman (a title suggested by Simmons, himself) serves as the first collection of all new Frehley-penned material since 2014’s Space Invader, which debuted at #9 on the Top 200 Chart. The LP scored the highest charting position of any former or current  KISS band member ever and marked Frehley’s first return to the Top 10 since KISS’s 1998 Psycho Circus reunion album.

Space Invader received praise from critics. Rolling Stone wrote, “Gene Simmons has claimed Ace Frehley doesn’t deserve to wear Kiss’ Kabuki clown paint, but the former Spaceman’s first solo LP in five years says otherwise,” while Associated Press hailed, “…the original Kiss lead guitarist has recorded his best solo album since his groundbreaking self-titled album in 1978.” 

Widely known as the original “Space Ace” and founding guitarist for 16 cumulative years (over 2 tenures) of the multi-platinum selling rock band KISS, Frehley is demonstrably the most popular original member. In addition to having the best-selling solo album career (vintage or current) among the original foursome, Frehley’s self-titled Ace Frehley, released in 1978, went on to sell over one million copies, producing the only Top 40 single, “New York Groove,” from any of the legendary KISS solo albums (peaking at #13).  

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

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