Sicksense Vocalist Robby J. Discusses The Bands Debut LP “Kings Today”

Photo by Eric Sanchez Photography

Robby J. is the Co-Lead vocalist for the band “Sicksense”. The band recently released their debut EP titled “Kings Today” which is a fresh and blazing mix of rock and metal stylings which harkens back to the sounds of the late 90’s Nu Metal movement. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Robby about the formation of the band, what its like to work with your significant other and the bands ominous bear mascot.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of Sicksense?

Robby J.: The band first started with our guitarist and drummer back in 2017. They were in another band at the time that had recently parted ways with their singer. They were holding auditions and a former guitar player of mine suggested to me about auditioning. I ended up contacting them and they sent me three tracks which would subsequently become Sicksense songs. While I was working on those, I was asked what I thought about having a second vocalist. I was completely fine with that, but I did say that I would like creative control of the lyrical direction and storytelling. They agreed and I knew I had the right person in mind for the job. It ended up being my wife Vickie and the rest is history. Shortly after that decision was made, we started working on more songs and once we had those all down, we recruited our bassist Sam, and the lineup was complete.

AL: How do you and Vicky balance your band/home relationships?

RJ: Not to get cheesy with it but it’s all about being entirely supportive of one another. Being in a relationship of this nature you must be willing to work with each other. Over the last few years, we have gotten to the point where we have really built each other up. We are fortune in that we both work from home and behind the scenes I do a lot of work on Vicky’s social media for her own stuff as well as for her other band The Agonist. It’s very cool and easy to work with your significant other in this capacity especially if you are so supportive. We are at the point where even while we are working on other projects, we can at the same time bounce ideas for Sicksense off one another. It’s great having each other right there as a lot of times in bands you must schedule a time and place to meet which takes time. In our situation we are right there and can instantly start working on something the moment an idea hits. As long as there is balance and no egos involved, I think something like this can be a beautiful thing.

AL: Were some of those early songs that band first worked on what we are hearing on the new EP?

RJ: Two of those three demos that we first worked on in 2017 are on the “Kings Today” EP. When the pandemic happened, we got together and wrote and recorded a full lengths album worth of material. We then decided to split that in to two separate EP releases. The song “Make Believe” is one of those first songs and one that I did with Vicky in mind. The song “Soul Snatcher” was the other song from the 2017 demos we included. We have one other song that was from those demo sessions that will be on the following EP.

AL: When you are writing are you doing so with Vicky in mind or do you adjust what you had already written after the fact?

RJ: I try to base my work around what is going on with the instrumentation. I will either follow along with what the instrument is playing, or I will try to come up with something different to make things less monotonous. I tend to write my parts first. What sometimes will happen is I write a specific piece with me in mind but then Vicky will take it. I wrote a lot of the music for these EP’s with myself in mind but if I ever got stumped on something, I would let Vicky take control. That goes back to our understanding of each other and her knowing where I am trying to go with a song while at the same time adding her own twist to it. We have some songs coming out in the future that were entirely written by Vicky. For the “Kings Today” release I feel the material is very Robby heavy.

AL: Can you tell us about the decision to release these songs as two separate EP’s rather than one full-length album?

RJ: That was an easy decision actually and It really came down to Vicky and I living in Chicago
and it was during the early stages of the pandemic that we finished recording. It was becoming difficult to travel back and forth to Canada, so we decided to wait until we travel a little easier. We started to get a little tired of waiting and eventually bit the bullet and made the trip to Canada where we ended up having to quarantine for almost a month. After all of that and being a new band, we just wanted to get our music out for people to listen to. We decided it would easier to get things going if we split the ten songs in to the two separate five song EP’s along with three music videos for each. This gave us a lot of content to put out which helped our exposure.

AL: You also have a new video for the song “Forgotten Days”. Can you tell us about that?

RJ: The idea for this video was something that had been suggested at the last minute by our PR team to help support the EP release. Vicky and I reside in Chicago, IL while the rest of the band members are spread out in Eastern Canada, so it was a little challenging to come up with a concept so quickly and having to work remotely. We worked with the director who did our previous videos, and he had a concept based around the song and shot everything remotely with each member which ended up working out really well.

AL: Some of your other videos as well as a few social media posts feature a yellow bear. What is the story behind this guy?

RJ: (Laughs) That guy has become a little bit of a cult figure for us. I guess its our version of Iron Maiden’s “Eddie”. He has sort of become our mascot. The idea for him originated when we were shooting the food fight video for “Kings Today”. We wanted to have an even number of people at the table we were sitting at, so we created this character who we now call “Deli the Bear”. It ended up being played by our friend who has the same nickname just spelled differently. The idea behind him in the music video is that he has multiple meanings for us. We encourage our listeners and watcher to come up with their own interpretation of him. For me personally he represents that elephant in the room or “bear” in this case. He is this problem that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge that its there. He can also be an interpretation of social media in that there are people arguing amongst themselves and there could be these strangers/outsiders you are not aware of that are looking in. Deli is/can be anything we want him to be. We have adopted him as our mascot, and you will probably be seeing more of him in the future.

AL: The genre or term “Nu-Metal” is a moniker that seems to be closely associated with Sicksense. What are your feelings on this?

RJ: I think this goes back to a couple of the founding members previous band which was shamelessly Nu-Metal. I loved that about them! I feel like its sort of a taboo thing to be proud of in the music scene, but I love/loved a lot of Nu-Metal bands. This is what we sound like and we are just running with it. Being branded as “Nu-Metal” is fine with me.

AL: I know the band just finished up a run of live shows. What do you have planned next?

RJ: We have some more content based around the “Kings Today” EP that we want to still get out but just as we were releasing this EP, we were finishing up a new video for a song that will appear on our next release. We hope to have that out in early 2023 with the EP release shortly following that. The rest of this year will be just wrapping up things such as graphics and what not related to our next release. We are planning to release a vinyl version of the 2023 EP which will be on one side of the record with the “Kings Today” EP being on the other. That might be out a little later than the EP, but I think that’s going to be a cool thing for fans to be able to get. We have also already started working on what we want to release after the 2023 EP so will be working on that through out the summer as well.

For more information on Sicksense you can visit their official website at www.soundescapeagency.com/sicksense

Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick Discusses The Bands New Studio Album “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”

Jaret Reddick is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Pop-Punk band Bowling For Soup. The group has been turning out tongue and cheek hits like “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and “1985” since the early 2000’s. On April 22nd the band released their 11th studio album titled “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jaret recently about the album, what it was like working with WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss and how he balances both performance and production roles.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us background info on the new album “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”?

Jaret Reddick: Our last studio album came in 2016 which is crazy that it’s been that long. We did do a greatest hits and a couple live records between now and then, but it’s been a while since we went into the studio. Honestly are plan was never really to release or make a record now. When quarantine hit this album ended up becoming a reaction to not being together with everyone. We thought the best and safest way for us to all get together was to create our own bubble and make this record. In August of 2020 we took a tour bus to the Pocono Mountains and stayed in an Air B and B which was only about a mile from the studio we were recording in. This album came out of all that. There is a lot of reflection in this material which I feel has to do largely with how it was all conceived.

AL: The album’s first single “Alexa Bliss” was released in 2020. Can you tell us about that?

JR: “Alexa Bliss” was originally intended as a bonus track for our second greatest hits album which is still not out. When the new record came to be, we felt this song fit the vibe of that well. It’s funny because this song existed long before there were any talks of a new album.

AL: Alexa also appears in the video for the song. How did that relationship come to be?

JR: My son is a big wrestling fan. I was a fan in the 80’s but I wasn’t really up to date with any of the new stuff. I didn’t know anything about her, but I had been sent some photos of her wearing a Bowling For Soup shirt. I told my son about the photos and he told me that I should send her a message. I ended up sending a message and she replied and from there we became good friends. When we were talking, I told her she needed a pop-punk song as most of the other wrestlers have these cock-rock type songs which is great as it fits the brand. I didn’t write the song with intentions of it being her walk out song. It’s just a tribute to her being a cool individual and great character on the show. She’s a great friend.

AL: Was it difficult working with the WWE to make all this happen?

JR: Alexa helped navigate those things quite a bite. This was something she really wanted to do. I would have never asked her to be in the video as much as she. That was all her. I was cool with just getting a look alike and have this be more of a dream for the kid. She loved the project so much that she walked it into Vince McMahon’s office and got me hooked up with all the right people. Whenever I would hit a snag, she would help me out. The WWE was very gracious and happy. There were a few rules with what we could and couldn’t have in the video but for the most part it was simple. WWE ended up sending out one of their digital media staff to film a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff which was cool.

AL: “Alexa Bliss” was the first of four singles you have released from the new album. How does the band go about selecting which songs will be released as singles?

JR: “Getting Old Sucks” was the next track we chose to release. We picked that one because the song is about us and I had already had the video made. I found this guy on Instagram by the name of Mike Roche whose daughter made these cool little puppets. I always wanted to do a puppet video for the band, and these were just perfect. I didn’t want the puppets to be so good that it wasn’t funny anymore. I do voice over work and some of those puppets are insanely good. That’s good for that type of platform but for it to work in this context where we are singing about getting old the beards had to be stringy and they had to bring some humor to this thing. Mike’s daughter nailed the puppets. I think at the time she was around 13. Her and her family ate up six weeks of their quarantine working on this project for us. They all appear in it and they knocked it out of the park. For the next single which was “Killin’ ‘Em With Kindness” it was getting close to the time of the album’s release before being pushed back a third time. The band has a character called “Super Rob” and he is featured in that video. We have a comic book centered around the character that is coming out as well. That video was made almost entirely by Rob and his brother. They shot most of it around where they live in the Pocono’s and then came out and shot some band footage where we are located. Our fourth and most recent single is titled “Brad Pitt”. We took more of a traditional route with that as we hired a director and then flew out to the location to shoot which was a lot of fun.

AL: Do you think big budget production Music Videos are making their way back around in popularity?

JR: I don’t think its that they are coming back around more as they have been around and never really left. The viewing platform has shifted. You used to see music videos on television now you watch them on YouTube. Every video released doesn’t need to be a professional quality video but there needs to be a visual representation of your music this day and age. Video is king! Its starting to get to be where places like Instagram which weren’t originally video based are now predominantly videos. I miss when you had different apps for different things like Vine was for mainly video and Instagram was just a quick snap of what you were doing in that moment. Those big budget videos only really disappeared for a couple years as you still have artists like Taylor Swift putting big budget material out and getting millions of hits.

AL: You mentioned that the album was pushed back three different times. When that keeps happening does it affect the bands mindset at all?

JR: Luckily for us we were on a major label for nine years. During those years we got used to these types of things as nothing ever happened on time. It’s always hurry up as there are deadlines which need to be made and then when you meet those you are told things are getting pushed back for some reason. For this record and for the first time since 2009 we let our managers and distribution company have some input on the release. The record just came out on the 22nd so we will have to see if it worked.

AL: Being that you also produced the record how do you go about balancing your production duties and your musician duties?

JR: From the beginning I have always co-produced our stuff. I think a lot of that comes from when you are working through the songs and arranging that’s all considered production. I take my songs in pretty much done. From the standpoint of when is it done? I am the worst. Once I have something recorded and I get it back and say that’s fine then I am good with it. Unless something completely horrible jumps out at me I tend not to want to make any changes. Thankfully I have been working with Linus of Hollywood for the last thirteen years as it takes having another person to help me with these types of decisions. He is the guy that decides if it needs more bass or treble. I am usually ready to move on to something else by that point.

AL: Now that the album is out what are the bands plans going forward.

JR: We just got back from the UK and I will be heading back there again soon to do some make up shows for an acoustic tour which never was able to happen because of the pandemic. Once we wrap those dates up, we will be mostly caught up except for one or two dates. This summer we will be out in the United States with Less Than Jake and then in October I will be heading to Hawaii for a solo show there.

For more info on Jaret and Bowling For Soup head over to www.bowlingforsoup.com and www.jaretreddick.com

FOZZY Release Anthemic New Single “I STILL BURN” – Landmark Hit “Judas” Reaches Gold Certified

FOZZY Release Anthemic New Single “I Still Burn”
Announce Gold Certification + Plaque Parties for “Judas”

New Album ‘Boombox’ Coming May 6th

An undeniable Rock powerhouse, FOZZY have never been ones to take their foot off the pedal. Last year the band toured throughout the US, UK & Ireland on the first wave of their “Save The World Tour”, all while their previous single, “Sane”, climbed into the Top 10 on the US Rock charts. Today, Fozzy is unleashing the next single from their upcoming studio album. The new track, “I Still Burn”, is a visceral anthem that speaks to the unwavering drive that’s kept this band rocking for over two decades! Fans can stream the new song at the link found HERE.

Speaking about the new single, frontman Chris Jericho comments:
“I Still Burn is the story of the dreams, the passion and the fire that lies within all of us to be the absolute best we can be…and to do WHATEVER it takes to achieve the goals that make our dreams come true! The sacrifices, the losses, and the triumphs that we have all experienced make up the lyrical DNA of this song. I Still Burn is Fozzy’s mission statement, our life’s work and our destiny…and we are so proud to share this message of victory with our Fozzy family!! Plus, Rich’s guitar solo fuckin rules!!!”

The Duke himself, lead guitarist Rich Ward adds, “My entire career has been about pushing to the summit of the climb, never satisfied with boiling water with the Sherpas at Base Camp 2. I’ve been touring and making records for three decades, and I remain as passionate as ever. I Still Burn is the story of the fire that fuels that passion. This is our story!”

STREAM “I Still Burn” HERE!

The newest single in Fozzy’s arsenal is in good company. The band has recorded 5 consecutive top 20 singles, but fans across the world know that the benchmark was set high with their 2017 breakout “Judas”. Reaching the Top 5 on the US Rock charts and boasting 55 million views on YouTube for the music video, the song has now reached its biggest milestone yet – Gold Record status! Symbolizing the accomplishment of 500,000 copies sold, the band is thrilled to share the news of this certification with their legions of fans – because it has always been about delivering them with the biggest and best to keep the spirit of Rock n’ Roll thriving!

Addressing the news of “Judas” going Gold, Jericho says:
“Being awarded a GOLD record has been a dream of mine ever since I started listening to The Beatles at nine years old and saw a picture of them getting an award for ‘Beatles VI’. Then as I grew older and heard Ozzy talk about his “gold discs” and seeing the walls of Rudolf Schenker’s house plastered with framed Scorpions awards, I set my goals on someday getting one of my own. And for ‘Judas’ to have sold 500,000 units in this day and age, completely blows my mind as a fan and a musician, and also makes me realize how far Fozzy has come and how far we are going to go!! Thanks to ALL OF YOU for making this dream come true for me and the guys. I can’t wait to hang my award on my wall…just like Rudolph.”

PRE-ORDER ‘Boombox’ HERE!

The new album from Fozzy, ‘Boombox’, will see a May 6th, 2022 release. Pre-order for the record is available HERE.
The party doesn’t stop there! Fozzy is getting ready to kick off the 2022 wave of the “Save The World Tour” in the US later this month. To celebrate the announcement of “Judas” reaching Gold Record status, the band is planning some very special celebrations for their shows in New York and LA that are not to be missed! A complete list of dates for the upcoming US tour can be found below. Tickets and VIP packages for all dates are available for purchase HERE.

FOZZY SAVE THE WORLD 2022 U.S. TOUR DATES
w/ special guests GFM, KrashKarma, and The Nocturnal Affair

March 31 – Chesterfield, MI @ Diesel Concert Lounge
April 1 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ Piere’s
April 2 – Aurora, IL @ The Piazza
April 3 – Ashwaubenon, WI @ Epic Event Center
April 4 – Kansasville, WI @ 1175
April 7 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
April 8 – Portland, ME @ Aura
April 9 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally’s
April 10 – Providence, RI @ Fete Ballroom
April 11 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
April 14 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony
April 15 – Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
April 16 – Wilmington, DE @ The Queen
April 17 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
April 18 – Leesburg, VA @ Tally Ho Theater
April 28 – New Orleans, LA @ Southport Music Hall
April 29 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
April 30 – San Antonio, TX @ The Rock Box
May 1 – Austin, TX @ Come And Take It Live
May 2 – Dallas, TX @ Amplified Live
May 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Whisky A Go-Go
May 6 – Garden Grove, CA @ Garden Grove Amphitheater
May 7 – Roseville, CA @ Goldfield Trading Post
May 8 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
May 9 – Reno, NV @ Virginia Street Brewhouse
May 12 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Sunshine Studios
May 13 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
May 14 – Wichita, KS @ Temple Live
May 15 – Ft. Smith, AR @ Temple Live
May 16 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s

For all show and VIP info: WWW.FOZZYROCK.COM

Artist/Musician Chloe Trujillo Discusses Her New Solo Album “Mothers of a New Nation”

Chloe Trujillo is a visual artist, fashion designer and musician. Her latest solo release titled “Mothers of a New Nation” blends a variety of styles and influences some of which are pulled directly from her art works while others pay homage to her experiences as a young woman growing up around the world in places such as New York City, Paris, and Berlin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Chloe about the new album, what it was like working with veteran Producer Tommy Daughtery and how she balances her work on so many different projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Mothers of a New Nation”?

Chloe Trujillo: I started the writing of this album years ago. I am always writing and recording ideas. A lot of times I start by just recording them into my phone. Things started piling up as I wasn’t really doing anything with all these ideas. I always had this feeling of dependency on the need for a producer or engineer who knew how to use recording software. I could do some basic recording with Garage band but that was really it. I had been working on another project with an artist who introduced me to a producer by the name of Tommy D. I showed him the song “Light & Love” which was mostly finished but still needed some instrumentation and mixing. This was all just prior to the pandemic. Every week that I met with him we kept moving forward and sharing ideas. He helped me bring all of those to life and get them on Pro Tools. I had always been a little reluctant to use technology because I enjoy the physicality of all that and working on a computer was just not appealing to me. When the pandemic hit, and things were at a stand still I got to the point where I couldn’t take things not moving. I ended up getting a good microphone and recording interface and learned how to use logic pro which is the program I use now. The title of the album itself “Mothers of a New Nation” signifies in a way a new birth for me creative wise. I wrote an entire second album which I am holding on to for now. Learning all this has really sparked my creativity.

AL: Have you ever pulled musical inspiration from one of your art pieces or possibly an artwork idea from your music?

CT: Both ways totally! Most of the time when I paint, I have lyric ideas or melodies come to me. The same when I am working on music and I get a visual idea. The two work very much together in that a song can inspire a painting and a painting can inspire a song.

AL: With this being your second solo album were there certain things you wanted to accomplish that you maybe weren’t able to do on the first record?

CT: I usually let my creative flow lead me to where I am going. With the second record I wrote that’s not out yet which I am calling “Spell Book” I learned to do so much on my own that there is very little outside influence. On my very first album “Ivresse” I worked with a really nice producer who loved instruments. Every time I would go into the studio there were new instruments for me to try and I just recorded everything. That album has a gypsy vibe because of all that was added.

AL: Were you aware of Tommy Daughtery’s background prior to working with him?

CT: Yes, I was aware of his work, but I didn’t know what to expect. Tommy worked with Death Row Record artists like Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and NWA. He had all these great beats and I thought it ended up being a cool combination. I had a lot of fun working with Tommy. “Light and Love” was the first song I showed him, and I had written that with heavy bass and a hip-hop beat in mind. He took that and ran with it.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the musicians you were with on the album?

CT: I originally would have never asked my husband (Robert) in any way to help me out as we both are very busy and independent; however, He came in and recorded all the bass for me and had a great time doing so. It was cool to have him play on the record and he complimented some of the bass lines I had demoed. My son Tye played some guitar on a couple tracks as well which was great. Tommy D had suggestions to bring in other artists such as Chris Poland who I knew from Megadeth and OHM. Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction) was another mutual friend who we had come in and do some drums on a few tracks. A lot of the time Tommy would be working on a track and there would be any number of artists coming through the studio and he would just ask them. Everyone was always more than happy and excited to help.

AL: Was it difficult balancing the role of artist along side Wife/Mom when working with Robert and Tye?

CT: It wasn’t that difficult really. We are all musicians or artists and everyone in our house is very creative and doing their own things. We have respect for each other and are independent. Tye has been a professional musician since he was 9 years old and we have always let him do his thing which came very naturally to him. It is the same with our daughter who is an awesome drummer. She is a little bit more shy but great. When I needed something, it wasn’t difficult to work with Tye and Robert. I would show them the usually badly played riff and they would take it from there. The only real trouble I had was actually asking for help. Robert is always very busy and at the time was doing stuff for Ozzy Osbourne, Infectious Grooves and of course Metallica so I didn’t want to bother him. I needed a bass player and knowing I had two amazing bassists at home rather than going to look for someone I finally asked for help. Robert and I did a lot of recording at night after the kids went to bed. I didn’t feel like the wife asking but more so the artist asking for a bassist. That’s just how we are with one another.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have been working on lately?

CT: I have been working on a few different art shows for the Tracy Park Gallery who represents me. I just had some art appear at Art Basel in Miami. During a charity event last year, I met Mark Dalbeth from the band Bellusira and he and collaborated on a single titled “Mana”. We now are working on a couple EP’s and have plans for a full-length release as well. The name of the group is Chloe Trujillo and Rev Medic. I released an EP just prior to the pandemic with Dan Stein and Chris Westfall titled “What Are We” and the group is called Chloe Trujillo’s Mystery Ride. We all live near one another, so we just got together and worked on a bunch of ideas I had. That was a lot of fun. There is also a bunch of newly designed “Mothers of a New Nation” merch which is based off some of my artwork.

For more information on Chloe Trujillo, you can follow her on Instagram at @chloetrujillo

Guitarist Gus G Discusses His New Solo Album “Quantum Leap”

Gus G is the guitarist for Greek power metal band Firewind. Gus has also played with Kamelot, Arch Enemy and Ozzy Osbourne. Gus’s latest release is an instrumental solo album titled “Quantum Leap”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Gus about the creation of the album and his progression as a guitarist.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the creation of “Quantum Leap”?

Gus G: This is my first fully instrumental record. I had the idea to do an album like this in the back of my mind for awhile however just never decided to do it until now. With all the lock downs I knew I was going to be stuck home for a while. I was doing press for the latest Firewind record and we were gearing up to start touring and then everything got cancelled. In between all of those interviews I started writing down different thoughts and ideas. Before I knew it, I had seven or eight new ideas. This was around springtime and I knew it was still going to be awhile until we could do any live shows. I figured now was the time do a solo record on my own. My plan was to not have any outside collaboration. I spent all of last summer working on this record.

AL: Did the effects of the pandemic help mold this material in any way?

GG: It could be! I think it had a lot to do with it. To me when you are making albums it’s like a snapshot in time of where you are at. The material reflects my psychology and where I was at during this time. Like everyone dealing with this I had a lot of ups and downs where some days I had a lot of energy while others I had none. This is not your typical metal album as there are a lot of different styles and vibes.

AL: Do you have a different approach for working on an instrumental record compared to one with vocals?

GG: It is a different process. Making music without vocals in general is a whole different process in because you must fill that gap. I wasn’t really used to that. It was an interesting learning experience. I had made instrumental music in the past, but I never really dug deep into that. With this I wanted to find a balance. I wasn’t interested in making a shred album as I wanted to make an album that had cool songs with good music. I wanted there to be a musical statement instead of just a collection of guitar licks and riffs.

AL: Did you build the songs around vocal melodies, or did you add those passages later?

GG: It usually starts with riffs. This part of the process was the same for me as when I am writing for Firewind as it all starts with the riffs. The big difference was where to go after the initial riff starts. You could go any where be it a melody or certain key change. Those are the things I had to find out and build from scratch. At the end of the day, it was about balance as well as the hooks and melodies. At the time I didn’t really have vocal ideas but now looking back maybe I did have ideas about big vocal melody parts that would grab the listener.

AL: What was your process like for producing and editing being it was just you working on the record?

GG: That’s one of those things where how do you really know when something is done. A track is done when you have listened to it enough times through that you are happy with it and you send it on for mixing. There were a few tracks that went through many re-writes and edits. You just get a feeling when you are writing something that it is done. This can be a double-edged sword though because you can always think it could be better. I try and keep a little bit of a distance with the music I make. When I think something is finished, I will not listen to it for a few days and then come back to it with fresh ears. That’s when if I need to, I will make changes. It’s really all a feeling.

AL: Was this all newly written material or did you have some of the material prior to deciding to make the record?

GG: It’s both. I always have riffs laying around. I keep a file of different ideas. Some stuff I didn’t use for other projects and other ones are ones that I came up with at that moment with no specific place for them in mind. I never know what these will end up being used for, but I do go back and listen through them for ideas. Sometimes its weeks or months later that I go back but that folder tends to be a great starting point. I might use things as they are or completely start from scratch.

AL: How do you decide what material to keep for yourself and what to use for other projects?

GG: Sometimes it is hard to do that. It is all my writing and my style. There are times I set out to write something specifically for Firewind or for my solo stuff and during the process that material goes the opposite direction and ends up on something it was originally intended for. Firewind has a certain sound and style so I am less likely to experiment with that material but like I said things have a way of working their way into places they were not originally intended for.

AL: You worked by yourself and provided all the instrumentation for this record. Is that how you prefer to work, or do you prefer the more traditional route of recording with other musicians?

GG: I have always done things on my own for the most part. Firewind actually started out as a file exchanging band in the early 2000’s. I have become very used to putting together a complete and good sounding demo that it was a pretty natural process for me when it came time to record the parts for “Quantum Leap”.

AL: Looking at your guitar playing do you feel it has progressed more naturally or have you taken conscious steps to ensure it has progressed in a specific direction?

GG: I think I am sort of somewhere in the middle. The last few years I don’t think I have practiced as much as I would have liked to. When I do go into practice mode, I really get into it. I try and learn or develop new techniques and licks. Then there are times where I don’t pick the guitar up as much. I don’t allow myself to get sloppy, so I am on top of things, but I am not putting in ten-hour practice days like I did as a teenager.

AL: Now that “Quantum Leap” is out have you started thinking about your next project yet or are you giving yourself a little breathing room?

GG: I did a side project with Rob Chapman from Chapman Guitars and Youtube. It’s called “Criterium” and we did a three song EP. We are not sure when its going to be coming out, but we have been recording and Rob is getting ready to do the vocals for it very soon. I have known Rob since 2006 or 2007 so it has been great working with him on music after being friends for so long.

For more info on Gus G visit www.gusgofficial.com or on Instagram and Twitter @gusgofficial

Singer Malia J Talks About Her Cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Her Upcoming Debut EP “Reflections”

Malia J is a singer, songwriter with nearly 2 million views on YouTube and an astounding 3 million streams on Spotify. Malia J’s works have appeared in series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” and most recently Marvel’s “Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Malia J recently about how she got her start in music, the idea behind her style and her upcoming debut EP titled “Reflections”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how you first became interested in music?

Malia J: When I first got involved with music goes back to about the time, I was four years old. My mom heard me singing in the car and thought that I had a voice like an angel, so she immediately put in voice lessons. As I got older, I sang in choir and in middle school I took up the oboe. During this I got scholarships to go to Interlocken Arts Academy during the summers and continued to sing at my local church. While I was doing that, I met a touring artist by the name of Paul Wilbur. I was singing and playing oboe and he asked me to go on tour with him. While on tour I realized that I just didn’t want to only do singing and oboe. During the tour one of the lead singers had gotten sick and that’s when I realized how much I enjoyed singing lead. When I got home that’s when I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional musician.

AL: At what time did you start writing your own material?

MJ: I had started writing while I was out on tour. About halfway through the tour I started opening for Paul Wilbur. Paul gave me the opportunity to choose a guitarist to come along with me, so I invited this guy I really like but when it came time to head to Italy this guy didn’t end up going. I was very upset that I had gotten stood up. I started writing about my feelings towards these events and ended up picking up the guitar since this guy didn’t show up.

AL: Were you writing primarily based off your orchestral experience?

MJ: I would say a lot of it came from me journaling. I wanted to make what I was writing down into music and add melody to these entries and poems. I think being classically trained gives you an extra layer of knowledge when it comes to music. During the time you are training you spend many hours working on music. I think that training certainly helped me with my song writing.

AL: At what point did the idea of re-working popular songs into your own style come about?

MJ: That came around the same time as when I was covering these songs. I was living in Los Angeles and writing pop songs. I knew I wanted to be an artist and write songs. These pops songs were the typical kinds you hear on the radio but, they just weren’t clicking with the labels or people I would show them to. From there I started covering songs with a darker production style and that really started coming together when I met Think Up Anger. At the time he was just doing sound effects for different productions and we decided to do a song. I laid the song out in this dark way and he produced it so that’s how the sound was created.

AL: How does the writing and arrangement process work for you?

MJ: I generally start with deciding what song we are going to cover. I will then lay it out on the piano or guitar. From there I will take it to a producer, and they will start adding all the eerie sounds. I like to experiment as much as I can but the key to the song is very important. I always want to make sure that I am staying true to the meaning of the song.

AL: How do you go about selecting a song?

MJ: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” started out as an experiment. We had already done a couple other songs in this style and I had the idea to try this Nirvana song. It’s one of my favorite songs and Think Up Anger thought it was a good idea. That choice came out of loving that song so much. Other times Think Up Anger and I choose songs based on if we think they could be creepy or not. (Laughs) With music lyrics can be dark and emotional yet have fun production behind them. I tend to lean toward songs that are cool and beautiful that even after we make them creepy people will still recognize them.

AL: When did the option to have these songs submitted for film use come along?

MJ: When we started doing these Think Up Anger and I both agreed that it could be fun to send these songs out for use in films and television. We sent them first to a couple different companies and trailer houses. The first one I ever got was for Discovery Channels “Racing Extinction” which is part of Shark Week. What’s cool is I think we were one of the first people to experiment in this way. We like to call it “Cine-Pop”.

AL: I know you are working on releasing your debut EP. Can you tell us about that?

MJ: Having been creating now for many years I believe these are the best songs I have put together. Lots of things inspire me. From heartbreak and anxiety to female empowerment those are all topics I cover. The most recent song written for the EP was done after learning about black widows and that’s titled “She’s the One”. The production is very similar to that of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. There are songs some songs that have more pop elements to them as well. I worked with an incredible song writer named Charlie Midnight. He wrote the song “Living In America” that James Brown sang. I met him on the Sunset Strip one day and we decided to work on this song “If You Had Me”. I am very excited about that one.

AL: Aside from the upcoming EP release do you have any other projects in the works that we can be watching for?

MJ: I have two music videos’ coming out one of is for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. That one is being edited as we speak. Everyone is working hard to get this video out. The other video is going to be for the single I choose and that will be an original song. I also have a livestream with Amazon that is scheduled for August 10th at 2pm PST. I am very excited for that.

For more information on Malia J you can visit @Maliajmusic across all social media platforms and at her official website at www.maliajmusic.com

Remembering Harry – A Conversation with Jason Chapin

We all, at one time or another, have heroes. Most boys have sports heroes. For the record mine are, in order, Ron Santo, Fred Lynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. I also have personal heroes…people who have inspired me by their words and deeds and have influenced my life. I have three: Robert F. Kennedy, Paralympic Gold Medal winner Nick Springer and Harry Chapin.

October 1974. My parents have split up and I’ve been sent to live with my Aunt Mildred and her family in Ohio so I can go to school without all of the emotional baggage. I rarely see my father, who is still in Chicago. Even though we were just outside of Cleveland, the radio station of choice is CKLW, broadcasting out of Detroit.

One night, listening to the radio as I went to sleep, I heard a song that resonated with me like no other song had. It was a song about a father and his relationship with his son. Dad is always gone, missing many of the young boy’s adventures as he grows up. Before he knows it, the boy is grown and now, when the father has the time, the son is too busy for him. The song was “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin and, after I went out and bought the 45, I played it over and over and over. “That’s me,” I thought to myself. “I’m the boy.”

As I got older I learned much more about Harry Chapin. Not only was he an amazing singer and songwriter, he used the pulpit his celebrity provided him to speak out on issues that concerned him, chief among them world hunger. This was a time when others, including John Lennon, were being criticized for voicing their opinions on serious issues.

June 16, 1981. I’m in the Army and have only just arrived in Germany a few days prior. I’ve been to the PX and purchased a cassette of Harry’s new album, “Sequel,” and I listen to it daily in my room. That day I was listening to Armed Forces Radio when I heard the tragic news that Harry Chapin had been killed in a car accident. Returning to my room, I did what I had done seven months earlier after the murder of John Lennon. I wept.

In the forty years since his passing, Harry Chapin has been recognized not only for his music but for his charitable work. He was also the subject of an outstanding documentary released last year entitled “Harry Chapin: When in Doubt…Do Something,” co-produced by his son, Jason. Over the years, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to chat with Jason occasionally, letting him know how much his father meant to me. As the anniversary of Harry Chapin’s passing approached, Jason very graciously sat down with me for a conversation about his father.

MIKE SMITH:  Hello.  How are you?

JASON CHAPIN:  Great.   How’s the Midwest?

MS:  Rainy!

JC:  It’s great to finally connect and chat.

MS:  I appreciate it.  It’s a true honor to speak to you.  I turned 60 last year and your dads music was very important to me so it’s great to be able to talk to you.

JC:  I think music is incredible.  All the time I hear stories from people  – parents who enjoy sharing their music with their kids and then the kids enjoying it as well. I think music connects with people a lot deeper that say, someone reading a book or a poem or even watching a movie.  It’s also great that musicians can now get themselves out there and reconnect with their fans…meet more people and build their base.

MS:  How many times have you met someone that, once they learn who your father was, tell you that they feel that “Cats in the Cradle” was written just for them?

JC:  (laughing)  It happens all the time.  A lot of times I tell them that the song was originally written as a poem by my mother.  My mother and father collaborated on a lot of poetry and songwriting.  After my younger brother, Josh, was born I think my father began thinking more about family and fatherhood.  He wrote the song but didn’t know how the reaction would be to it until he started performing it live.  And thus began the journey of a song that became very important to a lot of people who still tell me today how important it was to them.  Any song that gets them to think about the importance of family is a great song. 

MS:  Does the song kindle any special memories for you when you hear it?

JC:  Yeah.  It reminds me of my parents.  It reminds me of how excited my father was when it became a hit and went to #1.  It also reminds me of all of the doors that opened once that happened, enabling all of the things he was able to do.  I think it was, for him, a great moment in his career but I also think it was a little scary for him.  He had a conversation with my uncle, Tom (NOTE:  Tom Chapin is also an accomplished musician who still tours with members of Harry’s band.  For those of you who grew up in the 1970s, Tom Chapin was the host of the great weekend television show “Make a Wish”) about being under the pressure to do it again (reach #1), but he was never able to do it again, though he certainly wrote a lot of great music after that.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory that you can share about your dad?

JC:  I don’t have one specific memory.  I have a lot of memories of playing sports with him…going to sporting events with him.  And a lot of fantastic family trips.  He was the kind of person who always had a lot of energy and was always looking to do things with people that were memorable.  I have so many great ones but not one that really stands out.

MS:  Your dad was one of the first entertainers to use his celebrity to shine a light on an important social issue – in his case World Hunger – leading him to found his WhyHunger Organization.  Was helping others very important to him?

JC:  Yes.  He came from a very large family that was not well off and so he had a great understanding of what other families were going through.  I don’t think he took his success for granted.  I actually think he felt guilty about his success and wanted to give back.  It was my mother who was really raising some of the issues being felt on Long Island and I think it was a challenge to my father to understand what the issues were – what the root causes were – and to use his success to try to make a difference.  By coincidence, he had a radio interview with Father Bill Ayres, who had a show called “On This Rock.”  They became friends and that friendship led to discussions, which led them to decide to really do something and create an organization that looked at the root causes of hunger.  It was a long process but, once he started to do it – and people realized he was willing to do benefits and get involved…he was always getting requests – it was difficult for him to say “no.”  Which is why he started doing around one-hundred benefit shows a year. 

MS:  Last year you co-produced a documentary film about your dad entitled “Harry Chapin: When In Doubt…Do Something.”  How has the film been received?

JC:  It’s been extremely well received.  It currently has a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes – both from critics and viewers, which is really unheard of.  All of the people I’ve spoken with – family and fans – say they learned a lot about him.  The film really has two parts.  The first concentrates on his career while the second focuses on his humanitarian efforts.  Many of the fans weren’t aware of the humanitarian work that he did.  I feel very fortunate that we were able to include Pat Benatar , Billy Joel and a lot of other artists sharing their thoughts not only about my father but on hunger and poverty.  It has become a bigger film than I expected because it’s touched people in many different ways. 

UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 01: Photo of Harry CHAPIN; performing live onstage, (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

MS:  The Chapin family is PACKED with musicians (Not only was Harry Chapin’s father a musician, but his brothers Steve and Tom, and most of the Chapin kids, are also quite musical).  I can still remember watching Tom on “Make a Wish” as a kid.  How about you?  Do you play anything?  Are you musically inclined?

JC:  No.  I took piano lessons…guitar lessons.  I spent about five years playing the trumpet but it wasn’t my strength. (laughts)

MS:  How can Harry’s fans, and people reading this interview, help continue Harry’s work today?

JC:  Well, the organizations that were most near and dear to him, and ones that family, friends and fans have been supporting for decades, are WhyHunger, which looks at the root causes of hunger and works with other organizations around the country and across the globe, Long Island Cares, which helps hundreds of thousands of people each year and the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida which was not started by him but was named to honor him.  I think my father would say that if something is important to you, take the time and learn about it and get involved.  I think he would want everyone to realize that you can volunteer, which is incredibly important.  You can donate, which is also incredibly important.  But most of all, find some way to get involved because that’s what makes the difference.

MS:  If you had to describe your dad in three words, what would they be?

JC:  Hmmmmm.  Three words?   Caring. Committed. And Unique.

MS:  Perfect. 

Jason, thank you so much for this.  I was 14 when “Cats in the Cradle” came out and my dad was away a lot.  I would listen to the song and think “that’s me…I’m the boy.”  Now I’m 60.  My son HAS grown up and moved away.  I have grandchildren.  Now I’m the dad.  It’s like Harry wrote, “all my life’s a circle.”

JC:  Thank you for sharing that.  I think the song has helped a lot of parents become better parents and I think that it’s enriched a lot of lives, which is a tremendous tribute for a song writer. 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE OR VOLUNTEER TO KEEP HARRY’S DREAM ALIVE, HERE ARE LINKS TO THE ABOVE MENTIONED ORGANIZATIONS:

WhyHunger – click HERE

Long Island Cares – Click HERE

Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida – Click HERE

Drummer Tommy Clufetos Talks About His Debut Solo Project “Tommy’s RockTrip”

Tom Clufetos has been behind the drum kit for some of rocks biggest acts including Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. Tommy’s newest project is a solo effort titled Tommy’s Rocktrip. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Tommy about the debut solo album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll”, what it was like starting his first solo project and his plans once Covid-19 restrictions are finally lifted.

Adam Lawton: Where did the desire to do a solo project originate from?

Tommy Clufetos: Because of so much being closed due to the pandemic there really has been nothing to do. Especially on the music front and for the first time in my life I had sort of a break. I got an offer to do a record and thought “why not”. It was something I had never done before I wanted to give it a shot and see if I could actually do it. I have always loved playing for other people and helping them be the best they have ever been. I am one hundred and ten percent fulfilled by doing that but this open block of time came up and decided to experiment. I decided on trying to make a cool rock record of things I liked and hope other people will like as well. That was the basis. There was no master plan or anything like that. (Laughs)

AL: Was doing a solo album something you had ever thought of doing before?

TC: No. I had never thought about doing a solo record. I had never written music or produced prior to this. I always just played drums for other people. That’s why I saw it was an “experiment”. I guess you can call me a crazy, middle aged rocker. What you hear on this album is exactly that.

AL: How did you go about putting the band together?

TC: I have known our singer Eric Dover since we worked together in Alice Cooper maybe 15 years ago or more. I knew he would be an excellent singer as he has a very versatile voice. Most of the material on the record is straight ahead rock and roll. Eric knows how to go on the wild side which is how I like my music to be played. I didn’t want this to be a bunch of people from other bands as I was shooting for  more of a group effort. I was looking for younger guys who I could sort of shape them into the way I wanted the music played. Sometimes when you are playing with guys from other bands, they may not be completely into what you are doing, or it may be a little more difficult to get out of them what you are looking for. I wanted more of a unified band sound and I think I was successful in doing that.

AL: Did you have a preconceived sound you were going for prior to putting the group together or did the style we hear on the record happen organically once you all started working together?

TC: When I decide something I definitely know where I am going. Even though it may look like I am loose with things once I know where I am going, I turn on that switch and go into hyper mode. I knew exactly what I wanted and was very hands on with this. It is my material so no one was going to tell me how to play my music. It is not that I am not open to suggestion but there was a certain style and attack I was going for. I need both precision and looseness so this thing would rock. Another thing I wanted was this to recorded totally live. We recorded in a barn, set up facing each other with no headphones. All of my favorite albums were recorded that way and they have a certain feel. It can certainly be a lot more work doing things that way but that was the approach and I stuck with it.

AL: Did you have help with the writing of the record or was that all you?

TC: I had never written a song in my life and, then I had to write twelve! I did not know what was going to happen but once I turned that switch, I went the only way I knew. I do not play a lot of instruments so at times I was yapping licks to the guitar player or giving them instructions to try and get out what I was hearing in my head. There was a lot of arduous work but I grinded it out. I did not do demos or anything like because I didn’t want to go too deep into things. I wanted to keep things fresh and on the fly. I had a very strong idea of I wanted everything to be.

AL: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make being you were responsible for more than just drums on this record?

TC: I don’t really think about that. I just tend to go. You have to come up with parts which then need to be recorded so for me I go in there and work things out. There is a lot more grunt work when you do a project like this but there are always elements of grunt work which comes with every album. One thing I have learned from playing with people is that when they are really good you don’t have to say much. When I am playing the drums, I think about the vibe of the music and what people will want to hear and I try to go there and give it to them. Usually that works out for me.

AL: As things start to reopen have you started planning to tour behind the release?

TC: I wouldn’t say there are plans but I also wouldn’t say there are not plans. I am open to whatever present itself. Even though things are starting to open up I think its still to early to think about getting back out there. I am not going to say we won’t tour as this music lends itself to being played live but, we will just have to wait and see.

AL: Do you have anything coming up with any other projects you are involved with?

TC: I just started working with The Dead Daisy’s again and we have a few gigs scheduled for mid-July. I am really looking forward to getting back on some stages and playing loud. I had played with these guys back in 2015 for a couple gigs and they must have liked me because they called me back when they were in of a drummer. I am super happy and looking forward to playing.

For more info on Tommy’s Rocktrip and their album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll” click here

Staind Guitarist Mike Mushok Discusses New Live Album “Live: It’s Been Awhile”

The rock group Staind is back on May 7th with their first release in nine years titled “Live: It’s Been Awhile”. Accompanying the album’s release is a two-night streaming event titled “The Return Of Staind: A Two Part Global Streaming Series”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok about the release, the set of streaming performances and the bands plans for going forward.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to release the bands new album now amidst the ongoing pandemic?

Mike Mushok: If this were a record with new material, we would be holding on to it like a lot of other bands are. This was a chance for us to get some material out there as we were trying to put a couple things together at one time. We had filmed the show where we got back together in 2019 at the Foxwoods Casino. We put a lot more than normal into that show and we wanted to capture all of that. Starting May 1st fans can stream that show. The album will come out May 7th and then on May 8th we will be doing another stream celebrating the 20-year anniversary of “Break the Cycle”.

AL: What was it like putting together the “Break the Cycle” show

MM: It is definitely different going out there and performing with no audience. It is almost like a rehearsal that is being filmed. It’s different but, you just get into what you are doing and do the best you can. I thought the venue we chose to film at was great and the lighting looked great as well. I don’t remember how many different cameras were being used but some of what I have seen is really exciting. To go along with the performance is a short documentary which takes fans back to where we were when the album initially was released. I also went back and found a ton of old footage from around that time is well. When I was going through all this stuff, I actually found the footage from our first gig ever in 1995.The cool thing about that was it was filmed about three blocks from where we shot this new performance There’s a lot of other things that fans will get to see besides us performing the record.

AL: How was it as a band revisiting this material?

MM: It was great to be able to go back and revisit such a good time in our career. This was our most successful record and it really changed everything for us. It was cool going back listening to things and relearning that material. There are a few songs that we had never played lived from this record so that was another that was really cool.

AL: The band had plans to go out and tour in 2020 but due to the pandemic those shows were unable to happen. Have there been any talks about trying to reschedule?

MM: We are trying to figure that all out right now. We had originally planned to go out with Disturbed as part of their 20-year celebration of “The Sickness”. That tour was recently cancelled but we are looking at some festival shows in July that we are booked for as well as some shows later in the summer. We are still waiting on confirmation of those so there is still a chance that we will be out there later this year. I think everyone is still just trying to figure stuff out as every place is different which makes things challenging.

AL: How much of an effect did the Pandemic have on the band personally being that you had just gotten back together after some time?  

MM: We had a great plan in place, and it was disappointing. I was definitely looking forward to getting back out there. I can’t complain though as other people have gone and continue to go through way worse things. During that first part of things when I was home, and you couldn’t go anywhere it was nice to be able to be with my family and not have to worry about other obligations. It was great to just be together and now things are starting to get back to the way they were and that is nice also. For the band we are looking to regroup and get things back on track. 2021 seems like it is going to be this feeling out period as more and more things change and open.

AL: Your involved with a couple other projects can you give us an update on those?

MM: I have the band Saint Asonia with Adam Gontier who used to be in Three Days Grace. We are working on some new music and hope to have an EP out sometime soon. Staind is also working on some new material as well. Aaron is finishing up a country record at the moment and once that is done, we can start digging through some of the material we have. I am part owner of the Six String Grill and Stage in Foxboro; Massachusetts and we are starting to look at being able to book shows there again later this year. Combine all of that with being a dad and a husband I am pretty busy (Laughs).

For more info and updates on Staind be sure to visit www.staindofficial.com

Sonny Vincent and Bobby Liebling Discuss Their New Band The Limit and The Album “Caveman Logic”

The Limit are a newly formed heavy rock band that is set to release their debut album “Caveman Logic” on April 9th. Consisting of Bobby Liebling (Pentagram), Jimmy Recca (ex-The Stooges), Sonny Vincent (Testors), Hugo Conim (Dawnrider) and Joao Pedro (Dawnrider) the bands five members combine their diverse talents to craft a unique sound which is equal parts punk and doom. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Bobby and Sonny about the group’s formation and their new album.

Adam Lawton: How did the group initially come together?

Sonny Vincent: We didn’t know each other really at all. Bobby and I have a mutual friend who was my tour bus driver on a couple of tours. He played Bobby my music and after that he gave me a call. We started talking over the phone and got to know each other pretty well. After awhile we started to get serious and thought we should make an album

Bobby Liebling: After talking for awhile we decided to give Jimmy Recca a call as he was a guy, we both knew. Sonny had worked with Hugo Conim previous and he had just gotten a new drummer (Joao Pedro) that he was going to bring along as well to start recording in Maryland. That ultimately didn’t work out and we ended up traveling to Portugal to make the album.

SV: None of us new each other well. Aside from meeting briefly over the years and talking on the phone that was really it. Now Bobby, Jimmy and I were flying to Portugal to meet these other two guys. It was sort of “Lord of the Flies” at first because Bobby and I are used to running the show in our other projects. Add in Jimmy, Hugo and Joao and everything but the music at first was this weird nightmare. We had a killer engineer and the music turned out better than we had expected.

AL: What was the writing process like?

SV: Bobby and I had written a bunch of songs together. I would have the riffs and song structures and then Bobby would come in with the melody. We had some songs together prior going to Portugal but there were some lyrics that still had to be finished.

BL: We still had to do the arrangements once we got there with the whole band. There was some switching around and extending certain parts we did in order to make them all fit.

SV: I had sent the songs to Jimmy prior to leaving so he could get all his parts down. He actually got a little mad as he had learned the songs the way they were originally sent to him then we ended up changing a bunch of parts, so he had to go back and learn them again but with all the changes.

BL: He was pretty pissed. I do remember that.

AL: Was this how you have worked in your previous projects?

SV: We both approached this in different ways. Sometimes you start with the lyrics and then add the music or its the other way around. I know Bobby has done things differently as well. In fact, he told me about one album where he virtually played everything but drums.

BL: When we go in to do a Pentagram album, I am used to the whole band being there in the same place. We then take a good three to six months to play and plan everything out that way when you get to the studio you can bang out each song pretty quickly. We sort of stumbled our way through things with this project.

SV: I know that was one of the things that was pretty difficult for Bobby being in the past he has always worked in a very methodical way. I don’t do that.

BL: Sonny has worked with a lot of different people where I have worked in a more stabilized environment. Yes, Pentagram has switched members, but we have been together for fifty years so of course you’re going to have some member changes. Not many guys are going to dedicate half a century to a project. Sonny has a much bigger network of people that he has worked with. He has worked more as a solo artist per say where he reaches out to well know players for an album and after that he moves on.

SV: Early on I wanted to have a group with a solid lineup, but something was always happening where members couldn’t stay. I knew I wasn’t going to break up with myself, so I just decided to skip the whole band thing.

BL: I have always been opposite where I am the guy continually waving the Pentagram flag and bringing in new members to keep the band moving.

SV: With us coming from such different styles there was a good amount of stress at the start for sure. We got passed it and we found that we generally did agree on how things should go.

BL: We knew this was for the cause of making each song our child. You then groom that child to have certain traits which each person feels is best for them.

AL: How did you go about choosing the first three singles that have been released?

SV: The first two released were “Black Seas” and “Kitty Gone”. Those were both quite popular and the label asked us to do one for “Death of My Soul”. They felt this song really showed the scope of what we do. For the video I knew a guy in Canada who is a professional film maker. I was originally going to give him some guidance as to what we were looking for but decided not to as I wanted to let him come up with what he thought fit the song. He shot it and sent it back and then I took it to the label and they really liked it, so we were all happy.

BL: We had a lot of artistic freedom when it came to picking songs. However, our label has a staff of nine people who have to arbitrate over decisions and of course not everyone is going to think the same thing.

SV: The singles were a bit difficult especially the first one. Hugo and I worked for about a month on that when I looked at it there was something missing. It just didn’t have the emotion to tie everything together. Even though we had made it ourselves I just wasn’t happy. We ended up sending that to the record company and they had some who worked there that took parts of what we did and mixed it with some new things and that helped a lot. The final version made you feel things as you were watching and that’s what I was going for. With “Kitty Gone” we used the same guy at the label, and we shared ideas and that one turned out much better.

BL: That one is fantastic as far as I am concerned. You can actually watch it and lyrically follow it as if you are watching a film where people are talking to one another. You can really follow it from scene to scene. It has a screenplay type feel.

AL: Prior to COVID-19 were there plans to tour and, if so, are you still planning to do so when possible?

SV: We didn’t put any barriers up against doing things at first. We went in to do the album and while listening to the rough mixes we thought it could be cool to play these for people. When we heard the final mixes, we got really excited. There are offers for the band to perform and we are interested but things are still very uncertain due to COVID-19. We just have to wait and see what is going to happen.

AL: Do you see The Limit as a one-time thing or are you interested in working more together as a group?

SV: We want to do another album. We all know each other more now and at the start of this record there were things that moved in a negative way. We had a thirty-four-hour travel time to Portugal, during that trip Jimmy had lost his wallet at one point and was back tracking his steps trying to find it. He asked Bobby and I to watch his bag. We got talking and accidentally walked away from the bag. We saw Jimmy at a coffee shop, and he asked where his bag was. He of course got mad and thought that we didn’t care about him enough to even watch his bag. That set things off in the wrong direction.

BL: That layover in the London airport was fourteen hours by itself. We were already ten to fifteen hours into the thing prior to this layover and then we had another flight to get to Portugal. It was a pretty rough start to say the least.

For more info on The Limit and their debut album “Caveman Logic” click here.

Singer/Actor Lizzy Borden discusses his role in the new film “Die Influencers Die”

Lizzy Borden burst on to the Los Angeles heavy metal scene in the early 1980’s with their debut EP “Give ‘Em the Axe” and subsequent full-length release “Love You to Pieces”. The band also appeared in Penelope Spheeris rockumentary “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Lizzy about his newest movie titled “Die Influencers Die” where he plays a dark and sinister character known only as Otherworld-Coyote.  

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you got involved with the film “Die Influencers Die”?

Lizzy Borden: I was good friends with the director Gary Orona.  We both were moving to Las Vegas around the same time and he mentioned he was thinking of doing a move. He had asked if I would be in it and I said yes but, I was heading out on touring. While I was out on the road, they contacted me about the part and said that they were going to be doing table reads. I missed all of those and only had gotten the script about a day and a half before I was set to film. Everything just sort of happened while I was out with the band.

AL: What can you tell us about your character?

LB: It’s kind of weird because when I first got the script was trying to figure out how this character was involved with everything. There was no backstory for him, so I tried to figure out what his motives are. This character literally has no name and appears out of nowhere. I had to try and figure out how to really play this character. I thought of things like “Othello” and made this guy a real instigator. We have actually talked about doing another film that would explore this guy’s back story. There is just this unexplained nature about this guy that made it a lot of fun.

AL: Being there wasn’t a lot that was known about the character were given creative freedom or did the director have you stay within certain parameters?

LB: We knew this was going to be a supernatural character so I kind of knew where to take things, but I still didn’t know even what he was going to look like. On the first day of shooting, I had about five or six different looks we could go with for this character. Gary came in and the one you see is what he picked. When I then went into hair and makeup, they suggested I should just put a ton of gel in my hair. They put probably a half gallon of gel in there and it really sold the character and took it in another direction. We were kind of improvising. As far as the acting went when I looked at the lines it always seemed to me that he was screaming and very angry. I thought back to all of the great scenes where someone has portrayed being angry and those were usually done in a very calm way. I wanted to bring his presentation down to a whisper and if he did get angry, I wanted whoever else was in the scene to feel his intensity without me having to scream at the top of my lungs. I remember the first thing we shot with everyone there Gary asked to do a practice. We did the scene and he ended up getting really mad. I asked what was wrong and he was mad that he didn’t film it because it was so good. From then on, he filmed everything.

AL: At what point did the option to have a song in the film come up?

LB: That was an afterthought. The film was finished however it was taking awhile to release. It was originally supposed to go to either Netflix or Amazon Prime but there were some paperwork problems. We couldn’t even promote the film. Then Covid-19 hit. We had planned to do a red-carpet event in Las Vegas where we showed the movie and then my band would play. We had it booked and set up but then COVID-19 happened. We had done a soundtrack video for the film “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years” that turned out really good and a lot of people got to see clips of the movie through that video, so we started with that same idea. It came down to a matter of picking the song and the scenes and we landed on “My Midnight Things” which is the title track from our last album.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit about the video for the song?

LB: The whole point of the video was to make a commercial for the movie. I really wanted to do something interesting and asked how could we do some new shots of me singing the song while also incorporating the scenes from the film. We talked about a lot of things and a bunch of those were unrelated to the movie. I wanted for the video to look like it was another part of the movie. We ended up using the same studio we filmed in and we also brought in green screens which was a lot of fun. Ultimately, we needed something to promote the film and help tap into people who might not normally go see a movie like this. Through the video they can get a good representation of the film through the four-minute video.

AL: When you perform with the band it is very theatrical. Did you notice any similarities in how you prepare for a live show and how you prepared for the film?

LB: It was almost identical. Other than memorizing lines that was the only thing. I had the lines, but it was all about the delivery. That is where my focus was. I do the same thing backstage when I am working on the show. I think about the previous night’s performances and what I liked or didn’t like and how I can make those things better. I do a lot of pacing. (Laughs) They gave me my own spot at the studio and I just wandered around between shots until they were ready for me.

AL: Having now done the movie do you think you will take what you learned from there and apply it to your live performances?

LB: I think so. There is a subtlety to it as my live shows are pretty over the top. What I got out this character is that there was nothing flamboyant about him in any way. I tend to try and pull out all of the stops with my shows but, maybe if I am in a support slot where I am not able to do that by having played this character, I know I can go out there in a stripped-down format and still deliver a highly theatrical and interesting show.

AL: In 2020 you released “Best of Lizzy Borden” Pt. 2 which included two newly recorded cover songs. (Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burnin’ for You” and The Ramones “Pet Sematary”) How did you go about selecting those songs being they are quite different from one another?

LB: Almost all of my influences are set in the 1970’s. They are all established, big bands which I saw when I was a kid, so they are just imbedded in my brain. I could have chosen two hundred songs! There are just so many good songs. Blue Oyster Cult is one of my favorites and definitely one of the top ten best song writers that I love. On an earlier record we recorded a cover of their song “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” as we had been playing it at our live shows. I originally wanted to do “Burnin’ for You” for the album but was out voted by the producer so that was a song I have been wanting to do. I am a huge Ramones fan and love all their work. I thought about all of their songs and a majority of them have to be done in a punk a style. “Pet Sematary” is one that you really don’t have to do that. We did a Halloween show at the Whiskey in Los Angeles and I had the band learn the song prior to the show and people loved it. That’s ultimately how it ended up getting chosen.

AL: With the uncertainty of 2021 are there any other projects that you are currently working on or have coming up?

LB: I am almost halfway completed with a new album. It is coming along but it is very slow. I can imagine this being one of the most favorite albums I have ever done. I still see myself doing four or five more but this one is coming together in a really fun way. I have never had more fun putting a record together. I am not sure how that will translate over to people responding to it but as far as making it I am really enjoying it. I have been doing one song at a time and am about halfway done. I have been getting show offers as well but it doesn’t make sense to me to book shows only to have them cancelled. I see others starting to get out there, so we have to just wait and see. Everyone is ready to go we just don’t want to book something and have to cancel.

AL: When you are writing do you do that all your self or is it a more collective effort?

LB: I do it differently for every record. I have done records in the past where I record everything myself. On this new album I am having the musicians replace what I have already put down with their performances. I will play all the parts then have Joey Scott add in drums and then we build from there. Usually, my vocals are done as well so we kind of work backwards. I like to hear how it sounds in my head rather than putting just a scratch track out there for everyone. A lot of time when you do that a song can change quite a bit and when you are all done its not what you had envisioned. This way I get my idea out there the way I want it and if someone adds something really great to what I have already played we will keep. So far with this record things have stayed pretty much the same as I wrote it.

For more info on Lizzy Borden, you can check out www.Lizzyborden.com

Queensryche Vocalist Todd La Torre Talks About His New Solo Album “Rejoice In The Suffering”

Todd La Torre is the lead vocalist for the heavy metal band Queensryche. On February 5th Todd released his debut solo album titled “Rejoice in the Suffering” via Rat Pack Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Todd recently about the albums creation, working his friend Craig Blackwell and what it’s been like working on and releasing and album during the pandemic.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Rejoice in the Suffering”?

Todd La Torre: This is a record I have wanted to do now for many, many years. Due to the rigorous touring schedule I normally have things keep getting moved to the back burner and shelved. Once the pandemic hit and touring was officially shut down I called my friend Craig Blackwell who co-wrote the album with me and who also plays guitar, keys and bass to help me get this done. We wrote and recorded the album in about four months. We wanted to write songs that brought us back to our roots as fans of heavy metal and something we could listen to while cruising around in our cars.

AL: Being this was something you had wanted to do for some time now how much of the album was written prior to getting together with Craig?

TL: We had the title track which was written around 2015. That was the only completed song at the time. Craig had a few other ideas and some riffs but we never really sunk our teeth into everything until March of last year. Other than “Rejoice in the Suffering” and maybe a verse for “Pretenders” that was all we really had to start with. The majority of the record was really crafted from scratch when we first got together last year.

AL: Was your writing process for this record similar to when you are working with Queensryche?

TL: For me it was very different. In Queensryche you have five guys in the band. All the guys will have different things that they have written that they then bring to the group. They may have ideas or songs that are different from what I might do and there are a lot more people involved with the process. With this it was just myself and Craig. We were able to move along pretty quickly being it was just the two of us. A lot of these were written in less than a couple days. For instance “Crossroads to Insanity” Craig gave me the music and I had all the lyrics in about a day and a half. “Vanguards of the Dawn Wall” was another one that was written in two days. A lot of these songs were done in a similar amount of time. Queensryche can take a very long time as it’s a totally different process.

AL: How did you keep yourself from going too far into the creative aspects of the record being there were just two of you working on it?

TL: I wanted things to be groove oriented. Craig is a great player and I was able to build on that and really craft the drums around his playing. He would sit down work out everything for his solos as opposed to just noodeling. No page was left unturned by any means but we defiantly didn’t want to over think things either.  

AL: Given the lack of touring and promotion options right now due to the pandemic what made you decide to go ahead and release the album when you did?

TL: The release of this was never contingent on touring live. This was just an artistic expression with me and my friend writing songs and putting them out there for people to listen to. If I am able to do some shows around the album later on in the future that would be awesome. I don’t earn a living as a solo artist as Queensryche is my priority. The timing of this release had no bearing on when I could tour or support the record like I would with a Queensryche release. By putting the record out early and ahead of others I think it’s going to get a little more hang time and I can enjoy it being out there for a whole year. Another plus of releasing the album now is that generally when you release an album you start touring the next day. You are then playing brand new material that not everyone has heard yet and the response might not be that great because of that. With this having extra time to get out to fans due to both the pandemic and my work with Queensryche I think when/if I get to do a solo show its going to make it that much better as people will have had ample time to absorb the music.

AL: What was the reception like from the other Queensryche guys when you told them you were planning to do a solo record?

TL: They have heard me talking about this for quite a few years now. When the pandemic hit we were all trying to figure out what that meant and what we were going to do. Up until that point we had been working our asses off for 9 years since I joined the band. This was a much needed break for everyone. The guys were very receptive and thought this was a great time to be able to do it. I knew if I didn’t do it now that quickly things would be starting up again with Queensryche. This could not have come at a better time for me. Things are done, the record is out and I can go on and only have to focus Queensryche. The guys were very happy for me to be able to show other sides of myself as a musician.

AL: Do you see yourself doing another solo album when time allows?

TL:  I will do another record. I already have three songs written that are much heavier. I have other riffs and ideas that aren’t yet fully completed but those will most likely be on the second record as well. I am going to let this first one get some legs and traction and then once the new Queensryche album is done and out I will start making plans to get this second one out and then once the dust settles from everything I will release another one.

For more information on Todd La Torre and Craig Blackwell visit:

www.toddlatorre.com

www.facebook.com/official.toddlatorre

www.facebook.com/craigblackwellartist

Clutch Frontman Neil Fallon Discusses “The Obelisk” and Virtual Shows.

Neil Fallon is the vocalist for the rock band Clutch. The group which has been churning out its own unique brand of riff heavy sludge rock since 1991 just release  a very special, limited edition 16 LP set titled “The Obelisk” As part of wave three of 2020’s Record Store Day . Media Mikes had the chance to talk to Neil recently about the collection, the bands label Weather Maker Music and, the group’s recent series of live stream concert events.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the band’s latest release “The Obelisk”?

Neil Fallon: We had wanted to do something for Record Store Day and things kept getting shifted around and staggered due to the pandemic. What we did was put together a collection of all the full length vinyl releases that Weathermaker Music has put out. We are always getting asked about putting things out such as “Elephant Riders” but we do not own the masters to that stuff. Weathermaker Music is our label and we own all of that material so we can release it however we want. “The Obelisk” is a beast of a collector’s piece which weighs about 12lbs. There are twelve records each symbolized on the cover and that equates to about 16 or 18 discs.

AL: What is the bands process for selecting what will be released on a compilation like this?

NF: You can’t give it all away at once. We know there will be another Record Store Day event next year and we are unsure if we will have new material recorded by then. I think with the collectors mind set you want to make something special that is limited. The limited availability of a piece is what drives that collector to go out and get it. Yes you can go out and get the records individually but you are not going to get the box or some of the other stuff that is included. Some of the stuff included has been really hard to get such as the picture disk for “Earth Rocker”. It’s a hard needle to thread as you want to get this stuff out but you also want to make sure that you are keeping an eye on releasing new material as well.

AL: Has the band always been conscious of saving material for special releases like this?

NF: Every time we write a record we have this conversation. It used to be with a major label you would record 15 songs and only 10 or 12 would make the album. You then had the remaining tracks to use for B sides or whatever. For our last album “Book of Bad Decisions” we recorded 15 songs with the intention of putting 12 on the album and having three other versions of the album going to different areas of the world. We ended up not going that route and just included all 15 (Laughs).

AL: With vinyl making this resurge over the last few years is that something the band has always been in to or is that something that occurred more recently?

NF: I am not really a vinyl guy. I often just use Spotify to listen to my own music. I am very modern. Then again I do understand the appeal of vinyl. With the pandemic I know vinyl has even taken off more. When it comes to vinyl a label like ours tends to have to get at the back of line for pressing as we generally aren’t pressing 50 thousand copies at a time. I like the tangible qualities of vinyl when in this day and age so many things are non-tangible. I listen to so much music that having to constantly get up to flip and change records is just not something I think I have time for in the day.

AL: The band has also been releasing cover material under the “Weathermaker Series” moniker. Can you tell us a little bit about that group of songs and your plans going forward?

NF: We wanted to see what would happen if we started doing just digital releases. To test that out we started with some re-records and a bunch of cover songs. We weren’t sure if it would piss off our fans or behave different and we didn’t want gamble on it with new material. It’s hard to sell physical records and you have to be very accurate with how much you press. This was sort of a protective play. A lot of those old songs we can play a lot better and I hate to say it but, in between albums you have to stay engaged and let people know you are not dead(Laughs). We would just record a bunch of these and release them every six to eight weeks as a way to bridge the gap between albums. That would have worked had the pandemic not occurred. The plan for all of these is to be put together for a vinyl release and probably CD as well in the near future.

AL: Having been in the music industry since the 1990’s what has been the biggest change in the business to impact the band?

NF: File Sharing. You could wrap that in a bigger box and say the internet as a whole. We enjoyed the patronage of major labels all through the 90’s and our shows were numbering in the hundreds here in the states and a couple dozen overseas at this time. After people started illegally sharing music and getting the word out all of a sudden our shows became much, much bigger. Would we have liked to have been paid for every time someone listened to us? Sure! However those listens get parlayed into someone buying a ticket and then a t-shirt. People then become fans and maybe begin buying merchandise even when you are not on tour. It was a marathon and not a sprint but this was certainly a watershed moment for the band. It was word of mouth on a global scale.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands recent virtual concerts and are there any plans for more in the future?

NF: That was really a baptism by fire. Around the end of March, Early April when it became apparent that touring wasn’t going to be able to happen until the Fall at the very earliest. We had a bunch of festivals booked and like most bands a majority of our income comes from touring and merchandise sales. Yes, we own our own record label but you can only put out so many records and it’s not something you can do every night. There was a little bit of a panic mode as to what we could do but we knew we had the means and where with all to stream via You Tube so we started there. From that our booking agent got us connected with some people at Live From and we learned how to put things together. We didn’t go to a sound stage or use a bunch of cameras we just used Face Time and people seemed to enjoy the do it yourself approach we took. It is weird singing to a camera or laptop and I am very grateful that we had around 7 to 8 thousand people buy tickets. Once this all came together we were able to breathe a sigh of relief in knowing we could bridge the gap between then and whenever we are able to go back out on tour. It’s never going to be as satisfying as smelling an audience (laughs) but with the band all living within close proximity to one another we are able to do these as some bands have members all over which doesn’t allow something like this. As far as a third live stream that’s something we are in the process of scheduling right now.

AL: Going in to your third stream are there things you know ahead of time that you want to change or add that you weren’t able to do with the previous shows?

NF: I think the main thing is trying to make the sets different from one another.  I don’t think people would be too stoked about paying for the same set every time. Thankfully we have a pretty long discography. The last stream we let a fan choose the set which was a fun exercise. I think there is a sweet spot between the DIY and production value side of things as you want to make it better each time you do it but at the same time I think people like a certain amount of grit.

AL: What are the bands plans going into 2021 and where is the best place fans can go to keep up with everything related to the band?

NF: I think come January we have decided not to think about anything other than the next record, with the assumption we can go back out on tour. I’m not sure how sustainable streaming shows are for ones mental health (Laughs). It’s going to be a slow curve to get back to touring but then we can look back and be glad this is behind us. Fan’s can check out Clutch official on Instagram and Twitter. Those are usually our main outlets for showing people what’s going on. If people are looking for merchandise they can check out Clutchmerch.com.   

SHOUT! FACTORY TV ANNOUNCES NORTH AMERICAN STREAMING ACQUISITION OF THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW!

Multi-Year Agreement Grants Shout! Factory TV Streaming Rights to Daytime Emmy Award-Winning Comedy Rock Series
Shout! Factory TV, the multi-platform digital streaming arm of Shout! Factory, and The Aquabats! today announce a distribution alliance to bring the fan-favorite musical comedy television series The Aquabats! Super Show! to streaming entertainment platforms in North America. 

The multi-year alliance provides Shout! Factory TV with SVOD, AVOD and linear streaming digital rights in the U.S. and Canada to all episodes of The Aquabats! Super Show!, including the unaired pilot episode and specials.   

Shout! Factory TV plans a timely rollout of The Aqubats! Super Show!, expected later this year on its streaming service. As excitement builds, Shout! Factory TV, in collaboration with The Aquabats!, will announce additional news and activities in forthcoming months. The Aquabats! Super Show! premiered in 2012 on the Hub Network and aired for two seasons. The series was created by Christian Jacobs,Scott Schultz (creators of the series Yo Gabba Gabba!), and Jason deVilliers. Throughout its run, the show received eight multiple Daytime Emmy nominations and one win. Shout! Factory previously released The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One on DVD in 2013. 

Based on the superhero mythology of The Aquabats!, a real comedy rock band which series co-creator and lead singer Jacobs formed in 1994, The Aquabats! Super Show! follows the comic adventures of a fictionalized version of the band, a musical group of amateur superheroes, as they haphazardly defend the world from a variety of villains and monsters. Styled similarly to the campy aesthetics of 1960s and 1970s children’s television and Japanese tokusatsu, The Aquabats! Super Show! utilizes various mediums of visual styles and special effects, mixing live-action storylines with cartoon shorts, parody advertisements and musical interludes. 

“The Aquabats! are back at Shout! Factory, and we couldn’t think of a better home for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Aquabats! Super Show!,” said Christian Jacobs (The MC Bat Commander).“Take a look at their catalog and you’ll see a lot of the stuff that inspired Super Show! in the first place. We hope our fans enjoy watching The Aquabats! right alongside some of our all-time faves like Kamen Rider and Ultraman Leo, and we look forward to new folks discovering our wacky rock and roll adventures!” 

“As fans first, we’re thrilled to once again be working with The Aquabats!. The Aquabats! Super Show! has a devoted fanbase that has cemented the show as a pop culture phenom. We look forward to not only making it available for more fans to discover via streaming on Shout! Factory TV, but also taking advantage of the digital medium to give current fans new and unique ways to experience the show,” said Gene Pao, Shout’s SVP of Digital Enterprises. “As we actively expand our reach in streaming and digital platforms, acquisitions like this epitomize the fan-driven content we continually produce and pursue.”
About The Aquabats!
The Aquabats!, formed in 1994 in Orange County as a way to have some harmless fun in a music scene that took itself too seriously. Their Paul Frank designed “power belts,” trademark rash guards, black eye masks, “anti-negativity” helmets and onstage antics quickly caught on, earning the group a fiercely loyal following that spans generations. Their line-up and music is continuously evolving, including Blink 182’s Travis Barker as former drummer “Baron Von Tito.” 

In 2012, the band debuted The Aquabats! Super Show!, a live-action musical action comedy television series which aired on the Hub Network. The show received eight multiple Daytime EMMY nominations and one win. 

To date, The Aquabats’ music library includes The Return of the Aquabats (1996), The Fury of the Aquabats! (1997), The Aquabats vs. The Floating Eye of Death (1999), Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (2000), Yo! Check Out This Ride! (EP, 2004) Charge!! (2005), Radio Down! (EP, 2010), Hi-Five Soup! (2011), and 2020’s newest addition – full studio album Kooky Spooky… In Stereo! 

Current members are Christian Jacobs as “The MC Bat Commander” (lead singer), Chad Larson as “Crash McLarson” (bass, vocals), Ian Fowles as “Eaglebones Falconhawk” (guitar), Richard Falomir as “Ricky Fitness” (drums), and James Briggs, as “Jimmy the Robot” (keyboards, woodwinds, vocals). 

About Shout! Factory TV
Shout! Factory TV is a digital entertainment streaming service that brings timeless and contemporary cult favorites to pop culture fans. Shout! Factory TV offers an unrivaled blend of original programming and TV shows and movies curated from major studios, independent producers and its own distinctive entertainment library. The Shout! Factory TV family of channels also includes Mystery Science Theater 3000 and TokuSHOUTsu™, with more to come soon. Shout! Factory TV provides an immersive, high-quality viewing experience across a wide variety of platforms: online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, on smartphone devices, tablets and connected TV, and via apps on the Roku player, Android, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Shout! Factory TV is also available as a branded channel on Amazon Prime Channels, Comcast Xfinity, Pluto TV, Redbox, Roku Premium Subscriptions, Samsung TV Plus, STIRR, Tubi, Twitch, Vizio and XUMO among others. For more information, please visit ShoutFactoryTV.com.

Musician J.D. King Discusses His New Album “Moon Gardens”

Musician, Songwriter, Producer and Artist J.D. King has just released a new album titled “Moon Gardens”. Painstakingly recorded over three years on reel to reel analog equipment the album showcases Kings multitude of talents while being backed by an impressive stable of musicians all acting as intricate pieces within this audiophiles dream. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with King recently about the creation of the album, his decision to use only analog equipment and his plans for performing this material live.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the work that went into “Moon Gardens”?

J.D. King: After I had come off of the Olms project I was doing with Pete Yorne I started really getting in to the use of analog equipment. I wanted to make a 60’s style record the way they did back then. I was studying how album like the Beatles “Revolver” was made and albums like that. We did all the recording via analog and mixed it on tape as I wanted everything to sound just as it would as if it were recorded in the 60’s. I was meditating around eight hours a day and during that time I came up with all these song concepts. I had a good amount of vintage gear to start but then I acquired some more and found a few engineers who could mix on tape in the style that I was going for. We mixed everything live so that was another challenge we were working with as someone basically had to be turning knobs as we were performing. On the song “The Wooden Man” there is a panning part where the engineer was working the panning effect while I was turning some other knobs. With this record I wanted everything to come from the best place it possibly could. Every ingredient had to be the very top. From the musicians, the gear and the performances themselves I wanted the best.

AL: What was it about the 60’s era of recording that captured your interest?

JDK: I am a huge record fan. Even before all this quarantine stuff I would sit with a stack of records and just listen to music all day. I would even listen to some stuff on reel to reel. I never got a good feeling from digitally recorded music. It is less biological to me. I enjoy hearing over tones in music which is something generally missing from digitally recorded music. Honestly I think engineering from those eras was so much better and the standards were much higher.

AL: Working with older equipment did you run into any issues?

JDK: Sometimes we would have gear go down and it wouldn’t just be a simple fix like going to the store and getting a new one. Some of the gear we were using was from as far back as the 1930’s. When a pre-amp or something would go down during the middle of a session we would have to stop and take the time to find someone who was skilled in working on that type of equipment. This did cause some challenges from time to time.

 AL: You worked on this album for three years. Did the writing process take up a majority of that time or was it more from the high level of production you were going for?

JDK: I would generally get my group of session’s guys together once a month to jam and record. The rest of the time I was learning and experimenting with the engineering process as well as writing. I was working basically non-stop. I was wearing a lot of different hats and just had to figure all that stuff out. I think for the most part the time between the two was pretty equal. There were a lot of new things with this record both musically and technically. I wanted to expand and try some new things.

AL: At what point in time did you decide that the record was completed?

JDK: I think right around when I had twelve or thirteen songs. I felt things were rounded out and was happy with what I had. I think when people listen this in an album format it is going to really click. I am an album rock fan and I think that’s was I was able to do with this.

AL: Being that you play quite a few instruments how did you decide which ones you would play and on which tracks?

JDK: I would put the bones of each track down first. From there we would start rehearsing it and bringing the track to life. While doing that I would hear these things that I wanted to add as did the guys I was playing with. Stuff tends to happen in the studio while you are working.

AL: Did you find your creative process changed at all over the course of this record?

JDK: Things stayed pretty much the same for me as they always have been. If you listen to my first record I had a pretty big hand in the production of that record even though it was my first one. Every band I was playing in I always had this ear towards production. Pete (Yorn) is the same way. I learned a lot from him. We tried to work very fast over the course of this record. I have to give to those guys in the sixties as they had to bring their A games. You didn’t want to miss a take as you were recording directly to tape which was expensive. We had a couple tape issues which caused us to have to scrap a couple really good takes. I learned my lesson from that.

AL: With the current pandemic changing a lot of the way things are being done what are your plans to help get this music out to the public given the traditional in-person/live element of music is indefinitely on hold?

JDK: I am kind of lucky in that I learned so much about performing in a studio during this record. It was something you had to do. Having a background in photography I know about lighting and all those things as well so production comes simple for me. Being essentially a one man production crew I can throw up a few cameras and lights and I am set to go. I did a lot of painting over the winter so I can throw those up in the background as well and showcase a lot of my different talents. You can see a lot of what I have going on through my Instagram @mrjdking

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