98° Jeff Timmons Talks About The Groups 2018 Holiday Tour

Photo credit: Elias Tahan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bassist Sam Rivers Discusses His New Band SleepKillers and Their Self Titled Debut Album

Sam Rivers is best known as a founding member and bassist for the band Limp Bizkit. His new band Sleepkillers which includes Damien Starkey, Bobby Amaru and Adam Latiff is set to release its debut self titled album on January 25, 2019. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Sam recently about the group’s formation, the new album and their video for the song “Dirty Foot” which premiered Nov. 2.

Adam Lawton: How did Sleepkillers come together?

Sam Rivers: As far as the writing that went into this first record goes it was me and Damien Starkey. I was living in Jacksonville at the time and we had been talking on the phone about getting together and doing some jamming. I ended up going over to his studio and after a couple of hours of just having fun we had the basis of three songs. We wanted to keep going so we just dove in. Soon after that Limp Bizkit was going back on tour and Damien had some stuff of his own going and we kind of lost touch. During that time we had both played the tracks for people and they kept saying we should turn what we had into a full length record. About a year and a half later we reconnected and after a couple bumps in the road we are here now with a finished record.

AL: At what point in time did the rest of the band come together?

SR: Bobby Amaru came in when we were still working on some of the songs. He helped us really turn things around. Adam Latiff didn’t come in until later. This was going to be just a small project for Damien and me but we took it further and needed people to play live. Bobby wanted to play drums and we couldn’t disagree. He may be the singer of Saliva but he is one hell of a drummer! Adam was a friend of Damien’s for a long time and now he and I are friends and he is just a great fit and an amazing guitarist.

AL: Did returning to the material over a year later cause you to change any of the initial recordings?

SR: I think the sound was really already there so we just rolled with it. We worked really hard at making sure everything blended together and matched up and I think we did a good job. We had that initial vision from when Damien and I first got together and that’s what we stayed with.

AL: Do you see Sleepwalkers as being more of a side project or, something you hope to do full time?

SR: I think we are going to go with it. Right now it’s just a great time. Our plan for right now is to push out as much material and content as we can. That will help us find our core fans which we can build tour and things like that around. I think the biggest thing right now is for us to get this record out and show people that we are a band. As time goes on we are going to evolve so this will be something we do full time but it’s going to be wrapped around our other work.

AL: What can you tell us about the first single “Dirty Foot”?

SR: That was a hard decision. Damien and I kept going back and forth between two or three different songs and we just couldn’t decide. We played it for a few close friends and they all had different picks. This was really odd because we had thought they would choose at least one of these three. That wasn’t the case so that didn’t really help. We took it to some of our peers and people who we really respected and let them listen to it and then sit on it for a bit. That gave us a different view on things. We still hadn’t agreed that “Dirty Foot” was going to be the one but after everything we decided that it had everything we wanted to showcase in our first single and we went with it.

AL: Can you tell us about the video you just released for the song?

SR: We had been trying to find someone who was not only in our budget but someone who was going to put their one hundred and ten percent in to this as well. We talked with David and gave him some of our ideas and from there he just ran with it. We just gave him the clearance so from there we could see what he could come up with. Our biggest thing was once we found someone we wanted to get behind them and stick with them. That’s not to say we won’t ever work with anyone else but we wanted to really see what David could do and open it up to keep going.

AL: Has there been any talks of touring in support of the release?

SR: That’s something we are planning and look to do at some point. We do have a few shows currently lined up which we will be streaming worldwide. There is no way we can hit Europe and all those places at one time so we thought this would be a cool way for us to get to those places and give them a feeling for what one of our shows is like.

For more in on Sleepwalkers you can visit their official website at www.sleepkillers.com

Stellar Circuits Vocalist Ben Beddick Discusses the Bands New Album “Ways That Haunt”

Photo By: Brian Patrick Krahe

Ben Beddick is the vocalist for the North Carolina based rock group Stellar Circuits. The band is set to independently release their first full length album titled “Ways That Haunt” on November 9th. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Ben recently about the group’s formation, the creation of the new album and the bands upcoming tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about your band Stellar Circuits?

Ben Beddick: The band has been together for about 3 or 4 years now. We were all friends and we started out initially playing covers. From there thing’s happened rather organically as we began to write our own material. Stellar Circuits is a band that I like to think has a sound that spans across multiple genres or styles. We all have lots of different influences and I think that comes across in our sound. We grew up on the west coast in the 90’s listening to bands like Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and the Deftones. That style of music certainly impacted us early on and I think you can hear those influences when you listen to us.

AL: What was it like be able to work on your first full-length release?

BB: It was a long process. We started writing this shortly after our EP came out in 2015. Even though it was a long process I think this was something that each us has always had as a goal. As much as we loved doing our first EP it was more of us getting our feet wet. Being able to write a full-length record was like creating a feature film. That’s how we looked at in the scope of the work. I think we all changed quite a bit during the process and when you work on something over the course of three years those changes are inevitable. I think we were able to hone in our individual crafts as well as being a band. The fact we were able to spend a good amount of time on this release played a big part in the end result. We didn’t have to feel rushed or pressured to get things done. It was all up to us.

AL: Are the tracks that make up “Ways That Haunt” all newly written songs or was there some material left over from the EP that you chose to include as well?

BB: With the exception of two tracks everything was newly written. Our drummer Tyler who joined the band about two years was a part of writing a

majority of the songs. The song “Fuller Dream” was one of the tracks we had written for the EP however, we chose not to include it for whatever reason. It was interesting to see how that song evolved over the course of time. We added quite a bit to it. I see that song as sort of a transition song for us from where we started to where we are now. The other older track “Nocturnal Visitor” was one that was around but never finished. We sort of had bits and pieces of it but nothing solid. To be able to finally finish that was really cool.

AL: How did your relationship with producer Jamie King come together?

BB: Jamie is also from Winston-Salem. This is where he did all his work with bands like Between the Buried and Me and The Contortionist. He is a hometown hero to fans of heavy music in the area. He actually mastered our EP and that helped us get our foot in the door. From then on we had our hearts set to work with him on our full-length. Jamie has an amazing track record and was super accommodating. It was like a dream for us to be working with him and getting to spend so much time with him I think helped us take the record to the next level.

AL: A lot of bands choose to release their records independently today. Can you tell us about your bands decision to do so?

BB: This was an area we were really unfamiliar with. Jamie was really helpful again because we could bounce ideas off of him and he could gauge his advice based off of other bands he had worked with. We had our hearts set on finding a label at the beginning to help us with and we talked to a few smaller labels but when it came down to it we had to look at what would be the most beneficial move for the bend. At this point in our career we are still doing basically everything ourselves including financing the projects. Unfortunately we were unable to come to terms with any of the labels we talked to. There was certainly no bad blood between any of us but things just didn’t work out. As a young band these things can be difficult to navigate but it was one of those things that just happened the way it was suppose to. We learned a lot and made some good connections. We of course are still interested in working with a label in an effort to get our music to as many people as possible but this time around the best choice was to release things independently.

AL: Are there any tour plans in place to help support the release when it comes out?

BB: We are very excited to go out on our first tour which kicks off on the same day as the album release November 9th. We have played a bunch of shows on the east coast but never much further than that. This time around we are hitting the road and going all over. After that we have a few things in the works for if not the end of 2018 for early 2019 that will take us further.

For more in on Stellar Circuits you can visit their official website here.

Guitarist K.K. Downing Discusses His New Book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”

 

Picture by: Pauli Juppi

Ken “K.K.” Downing is a founding member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. He was active with the group from its inception in 1969 to his departure from the group in April of 2011. Downing has recently released a book via Da Capo press title “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Ken about the creation of the book and where he plans to go next

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background behind the writing of the book?

Ken Downing: Since my departure from the band eight years ago lots of people have been asking me if I would like to do a book. Year after year I just kept saying no and then finally last year I decided to finally do it. I sort of had three basic ideas for doing this. I thought it would be a good opportunity for fans to get to know me a little bit better. That probably sounds a bit ridiculous after having been around for so long now but, there is always another story to tell. I wanted to share how I started off in life and ended up playing some of the biggest stages in the world. Lastly I wanted to bring some sort of closure to the banter which was being thrown about across the internet related to my position within the band.

AL: How did you go about selecting what memories or stories you wanted to include in the book?

KD: That was really the difficulty part as I didn’t have a plan or anything. My ghost writer Mark Eglinton helped quite a bit with this side of things. He helped me dig a bit deeper along the way as we approached things chronologically as one lives life. As we moved along we paid attention to what would come to the surface and tried not to dwell on certain topics too long as we wanted to keep the book moving. If I had elaborated too much on things this would be a very thick book. (Laughs) It was difficult at times as I wanted to keep things honest and after forty years in rock and roll there were a couple stories we had to leave out. (Laughs)

AL: How did you get connected with Mark (Eglinton)?

KD: Mark came to me through my website which is run out of Helsinki, Finland. I had been approached previously by a bunch of other people about doing a book but Mark was in the UK and he made a couple trips down to see me where we just talked and got to know one another. I felt that worked well and we went from there. We did things in chunks based on a certain amount of years. That let me focus on one specific time period at a time. Mark and I would just basically talk. Every now and then he would prompt me to elaborate more on certain periods of the band. Both Mark and his brother have been rock fans for a very long time so he had a fans perspective of what other fans might want to know more about.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of your earlier years growing up?

KD: It was. I had always kept a lot of those memories be it good or bad to myself. My childhood was very personal to me and I had never shared my experiences with anyone. To have someone hear them and then in turn document them for others to read was something I really had to think about. To keep things transparent we went ahead with it. I may have skirted around a couple things or been less descriptive but it’s all there. When you are born in to a dysfunctional family things are going to be a bit different so I didn’t have to go into too much detail.

AL: Had you let any of the people included in these stories know beforehand that you were releasing a book on your life?

KD: No not really. I had talked to my mom as I was a bit concerned she might get a little emotional about me telling the family story. As it happened when I spoke with her she told me she was not worried and she also mentioned she had read Ozzy Osbourne’s book and loved that one. (Laughs) When she did get the chance to read my book she affirmed that that’s how things were so I was pleased with that.

AL: Now that people have had a chance to read the book, are there any pieces you feel you should not have included or been so detailed with?

KD: I feel a little relieved now that it’s out and that I have not received any real adverse repercussions. The general feedback has been much better than I was expecting. Every now and then I think about other things I would have mentioned but didn’t. That seems to happen though be it with this book or records you always want to turn out the best product so you keep working and working at it. Eventually you just have to stop and turn it in. I wanted to put out something that people could get their heads into and find it just as enjoyable as watching television or something.

AL: With the completion of the book are you looking to now shift your focus back to music?

KD: I am thinking with the coming winter here in the UK I am going to disappear into my music room and just see what happens next. I have a few ideas I might want to play about with but this game for me is all about getting that chance to jump back into Judas Priest. If I am not doing that then the name of the game is creating new material.

For more in on Ken you can visit his official website at www.kkdowning.net

Be sure to check out our review of “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” here.

Guitarist Phil Palmer Discusses Dire Straits Legacy Tour

Phil Palmer is a legendary session guitarist who has performed on countless albums for acts such as Robbie Williams and George Michael and Bob Dylan. Palmer has also had the distinction of being a member of both Eric Clapton’s band and 80’s hit makers Dire Straits. Palmer is currently on the road touring with Dire Straits Legacy (DSL) a group made up of former Dire Straits members wanting to pay tribute the bands amazing catalog. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Phil recently about the group’s formation and the bands first tour of the United States in ten years.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some history as to how you initially became with Dire Straits?

Phil Palmer: I was part of the band during the group’s last world tour between 1991 and 1992. I think we did something around 270 shows. Prior to joining Dire Straits I had been in Eric Clapton’s band for about three years. That time period was quite busy for me as Eric’s group was very active and then I went right over to Dire Straits to play over 200 shows.

AL: What was it like transitioning stylistically from Eric Clapton to Dire Straits?

PP: The main difference I guess was for Eric’s tour we did around three days of rehearsal. It was all very much by the seat of your pants. At that time I think he had the best band in the world. The situation was very fluid and the arrangements would often evolve as we began playing as the environment was very free. When I joined Dire Straits we rehearsed for three months prior to the tour starting. There were quite a few complicated sections and the arrangements were very important to Mark. That was probably the biggest difference. To be in Dire Straits you have to be regimented. Half of my job was to make sure that when Mark decided to be spontaneous with his playing that I stayed out of his way while still providing a supportive role. This was much different than where I had just come from. As a session player those are the types of things I am good at so after the three months of rehearsal and we started playing shows things lightened up a bit. The real important thing was the dynamics which tended to be the hardest thing to get everyone in sync to.

AL: Now how did the Dire Straits Legacy project start out?

PP: This group was born out of a chance meeting really. I had not seen any of the other Dire Straits guys in about ten years or so. There was an idea for us to get together and play the Dire Straits music presented so we all met in Rome and at the start we weren’t really in to the idea. After a nice dinner and a few bottles of wine everyone loosened up to the idea. After that a small show was set up for us just outside of Rome. With very little rehearsal we showed up to a field filled with around ten thousand people waiting to hear us play. We realized then that there was a lot of life left in the Dire Straits band and the only person who was not there that should have been was Mark Knopfler. Most of the original Dire Straits personnel from the tour in 92’ came out for this show and had fun.

AL: With Mark not being involved in the project was there any trepidation on your part to do the project?

PP: Yes. We weren’t sure people were going to accept it without Mark. The surprising thing is it’s the music that shines through. Marks songs and arrangements are so good that people still love it and even after twenty five years of being away the shows go over great! The music is just so interesting that people really love it.

AL: Can you tell us about the current DSL line up?

PP: Steve Ferrone and I have known each other since the Eric Clapton days. He is such a great drummer and to have him involved in this is very cool. His history with Tom Petty speaks for itself. Trevor Horn is a guy who I have worked a lot with over the years and, one day I mentioned to him that we were going to be doing this tour. He said he was interested in being a part of it and jumped on board. It’s interesting to look at the resumes the guys in the band have. It’s just extreme! There so much material that we could pull from each of our careers. The other day we were playing “Owner of a lonely Heart” which Trevor wrote and produced for Yes. That’s a great song to listen to and play. It also gives a slight diversion from the Dire Straits stuff. We really wanted to explore everyone’s talent even if it was outside of Dire Straits. We plan to add a few other songs outside of the Dire Straits set as time goes on.

AL: It has been awhile since the group has been to the United States. Can you tell us about the upcoming shows here and possibly why you have been absent from the U.S. market?

PP: We like playing in the States however this project can be a bit hard to promote. We are playing the music of the Dire Straits however we are not the Dire Straits. We can’t legally use the name so it’s hard for us to explain to people what they are buying tickets to see. That’s really been our main issue. We have a showcase booked in Nashville for all the American promoters and it was basically brought us to the States. We are doing some other gigs because we want to play but everything sort of revolves around this showcase which we hope will generate gigs for 2019. By coming over to the States now in late 2018 we are hoping to get the foot hold we need to make a solid presence for next year.

AL: In 2017 DSL release “3 Chord Trick”. Are any of the songs from that album going to be featured in the set for this run of U.S. shows?

PP: We are going to play a few tracks from that album. We had a lot of fun recording that record. The idea was to record the old way where the band was all in one room and not use any modern equipment. It was a lot of fun and I think the album has a depth that you just don’t hear today. It is quite diverse. There are some Dire Straits moments in there as the nucleolus of the band (Alan Clark and myself) we were inspired by Mark’s music but we didn’t deliberately go out and try to produce a Dire Straits album. We like to think that “3 Chord Trick” is the next stage of our development rather than Dire Straits.

AL: Are there any other projects you are currently working on outside of the Dire Straits Legacy project?

PP: Alan and I have been working with Trevor on a project called “The 80’s Reinvented”. It’s a bunch of classic tracks from that era done in Trevor Horn’s signature style. That’s been a lot of fun! We have been working with a full orchestra and a lot of very special guest performers. Trevor being who he is able to call up just about anyone and ask them to be on his record and they more than likely will do it! It’s great fun.

For more info in Dire Straits Legacy visit www.dslegacy.com

 

A Light Divided Vocalist Jaycee Clark Talks About the Bands New Album “Choose Your Own Adventure”

Jaycee Clark is the vocalist for the Winston-Salem NC based rock band A Light Divided. The band is set to release a brand new album on October 5th titled “Choose Your Own Adventure”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jaycee recently about the band, their new album and their latest single/video “Fear of Heights”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some history on A Light Divided and how the band came together?

Jaycee Clark: About ten years ago I started the band with our drummer Adam Smith and a few other people who are no longer in the band. Adam and I have always had our eye on the prize and after a few years we found some other guys who had the same passion we have and who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the band to the next level. Staying out on the road and all that can be a lot to ask somebody so having a group of guys who are down for that just as much as I am is really awesome.

AL: The new album comes out Oct. 5. Can you give us some background on that?

JC: We have worked with producer Kile Odell on all of our releases. When we went in to start work on “Choose Your Own Adventure” things were a little bit different as we had some new members this time around. Things were much more collaborative between the five of us and it wasn’t just one person writing music and another writing lyrics. Everybody had their own say and influences reflected in the process which was great. Ultimately I think this record came out better because of all that. We bounced a lot of ideas off one another and if everyone thought it was cool we went with it. At the end of the day everyone was super stoked with what we had done.

AL: Aside from the collaboration aspect of this album was there anything else that happened differently this time around during the writing/recording process?

JC: I think this record is a lot different than our previous works. Prior to starting work on the record we were sort of feeling boxed in as to what A Light Divided was supposed to sound like. We decided to throw all of that out the window so that we could have a fresh start. We really took our time making something that all of us could be proud of.

AL: Can you tell us about the album’s title “Choose Your Own Adventure”?

JC: There was a little bit of nostalgia we wanted to capture from the book series we grew up reading. With those books you had decisions to make which resulted in different outcomes. I liked that sentiment and related it to real life. For me “Choose Your Own Adventure” means to not be afraid to just take life by the balls and go after the things that make you happy. Every song on this record is about making a choice from removing negative people in your life to stop fighting your inner self. We really took the ideas behind the book series and applied it to real life.

AL: You recently released a video for the song “Fear of Heights”. Can you tell us about that?

JC: It was really important for us to showcase our live performance and who we are as a band. We are very high energy basically all of the time. We love getting on stage and showing the emotion behind each of the songs. We also feel if we are not having fun on stage how will anyone else have fun? We wanted to showcase the type of band we are visually right off the bat. “Fear of Heights” is such an upbeat song that it was a no brainer for us to pick that song as our first single. It is a very guitar driven song with a super catchy chorus. The song gives me a very summer type vibe that makes me think of going to the beach and blasting songs with the windows down. “Fear of Heights” is perfect for that!

AL: Are there plans in place for the band to tour behind the albums release?

JC: We are going to be doing a south east run called the “Chapter 1” tour (laughs). We are very excited about this new album and want to hit the ground running once it is released. This first run is going to be just us headlining the shows as we felt it was important for us to go out alone to show who we are and then let things grow from there. This tour is going to be a game changer for us as before when we toured we could only go out for about ten days or so before we had to get back. With this upcoming run we are going to be out a bit longer and most of us will probably lose our jobs (laughs). We are choosing our own adventure on this run and it is do or die so we are going out there to really do this.

For more info on A Light Divided you can find them on facebook.com/alightdivided and check out the video for “A Fear of Heights” here.

Nothing More Guitarist Mark Vollelunga Talks About the Bands Recent Single “Just Say When”.

Mark Vollelunga is the guitarist for the Texas based rock band Nothing More. The group’s latest single “Just Say When” (which is a bit of a departure from the bands heavier style) recently rose to number 16 on the Billboard Charts for main stream rock songs. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Mark recently about the release, the bands current tour with Five Finger Death Punch and the bands plans for the remainder of 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band’s latest single “Just Say When”?

Mark Vollelunga: Personally I am really stoked and happy with how the song is doing. It is a bit of a different color for us. It’s nice to have something that is a little more bare bones and that is all about the lyrics and melody. The song really came about after having toured so much on our self titled release. Touring takes a strain on your personal life and it had started to cause some division for Johnny and myself. What I poured into the song was the idea of co-existing. Sometimes you use that spark or connection which can cause a point of staleness. It can be sad when you just co-exist with the love of your life. Not to be a complete dreamer and say that is completely realistic as we all go through dry spells. This song hits at that pinnacle point when you are not sure whether to hold on or let go.

AL: Was this song actually created while you were out on the road or was put together after you were back home and in the studio?

MV: It started when we were still on the road. I was listening to a lot more folk jam songs at the time and I came up with this start of the start and showed it to Johnny. We clicked on it right away and started putting melody to it pretty quickly. After that the song sat for awhile until we were jamming together one day. After that we finished it to the point of what you almost here now. When we were done we weren’t sure if the song really fit with the rest of what we had put together and it almost didn’t make the record. The song emotionally fit but sonically we just didn’t know if it was in the same vein. At the eleventh hour we thought it would be cool and different to include it and I am so glad we did.

AL: Being that this track was much different from your other material did you approach the initial writing process any differently?

MV: Writing for me is different every time. If I have a guitar part or lyric thing happening or Johnny has a wacky programming idea or interesting spiritual thought it all just depends. Other times it comes out us all sitting and jamming together. We try not to limit ourselves in any way. I think if you go through the same process every time things can get stale. Even though we are approaching the same thing we try to come at it from different angles in hopes of inspiring something neat and unique.

AL: At what point was the decision made to release this song as a single?

MV: Generally you try and go with a more emotional song on your second or third single. This song really appealed to everyone and the feedback we got from people was great. I think a lot of people have been at the point that the song talks about and they can relate to it.

AL: There is also a video for the song as well. Can you tell us a little about that?

MV: We got to do something different once again with this as well so it’s been another great experience. My wife recently got me interested in to contemporary/lyrical dance. She loves a lot of the dance shows which are on television right now. At first I thought they were kind of cheesy and I didn’t really get them but the more I watched them I learned to appreciate them. What I like is when the choreography matches with the emotion and mood of the song. That’s kind of what we tried to do with “Just Say When”. We some professional dancers come in and we made this great piece which is sort of out of our genre but we try to tie everything in through our lyrics. The others guys may have been a bit skeptical at first but after showing them some pieces that moved me and were very compelling they became interested in the whole thing.

AL: Can you tell us about the tour that the band is currently apart of?

MV: We are coming off of doing three festival shows with a bunch of different bands. We got to play with Stone Temple Pilots headlining one and Incubus headlining another. I hadn’t seen Stone Temple Pilots with their new singer yet and being able to do that was really cool. It was a trip down memory lane for sure. Currently we are out on the road with Breaking Benjamin and Five Finger Death Punch. We have toured with both of these groups before and they are seasoned bands that have a lot of wise words they can pass on to us. We definitely try to be sponges when it comes to stuff like that. We will be going all over the United States from now until September. After that we will be doing this great self help festival that A Day to Remember puts on in Detroit. After that we go back to Europe for a run with Of Mice and Men and Bullet For My Valentine. To end the year we will be touring Canada with Three Days Grace. All these tours are going to a lot of fun.

AL: What is it like being able to play with such a diverse group of bands on all these different tours?

MV: It’s awesome! I love that we can cater to our audience. If you are a metal fan, a rock fan or just an alternative pop person I feel there is a lot in our music that touches on all of those genres and it can be appreciated. At the end of the day a good song is a good song. I feel our society puts too much importance on the style of songs and where it needs to be lumped into. If you think about bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin who had so many different genres of music within their own sound I am proud that we can do that as well.

AL: Was it difficult for you starting out being that you were trying to be very diverse?

MV: Absolutely! It was difficult. In 2011 I think we had our first label interest. We did some showcases and I remember hearing back from one label on my birthday that we weren’t left of center enough. We were just too much in the middle of the road for some people. To us it’s always been if the song is good then that’s what we go with. It has been hard to gain belief and understanding at times from the music industry because of that. Put us in front of any crowd though and we will win people over.

For more info on Nothing More visit www.nothingmore.net

Punk Veterans Down By Law To Release 11th Album, “All In”.

PUNK VETERANS DOWN BY LAW TO RELEASE 11TH ALBUM, ‘ALL IN,’ ON AUG 3RD
**STREAM THE NEW SONG “REBRAND IT” NOW AT BROOKLYNVEGAN.COM**

Seminal punk band Down By Law has announced today, plans to release their 11th, full-length album, All In, on August 3rd via Kung Fu Records under exclusive distribution through Cleopatra Records, Inc. In anticipation for the release, the band has partnered with BrooklynVegan.com to debut the record’s first new song, “Rebrand It.” Fans can also pre-order the record now at iTunes.

Stream “Rebrand It” now at BrooklynVegan.com: https://bit.ly/2N6YtG6

Dave Smalley: “One of the things that I’ve always loved about DBL is that we absolutely respect our musical roots, yet still sound like ourselves. “Rebrand It” is all about that – never forget the past, but also forge the future. Even has a loving tribute to the Bad Brains. One of my favorite thematic songs Sam and I have ever written.”

Sam Williams: “I think this song is the most traditional DBL sounding song on the album. It purposely displays a few of our most obvious influences that’ve been heard from the first album, on.”

For nearly 30 years, Down By Law has been a staple in the LA punk rock scene, influencing generations of bands and transcending musical trends along the way with their bold and adventurous musical style. After releasing 10 albums, the band has found a new home with Kung Fu Records and Cleopatra Records, where they’ll release their first record in 5 years, All In, on August 3rd. The forthcoming album also marks the return of the classic 90’s lineup, featuring Dave Smalley (ALL, Dag Nasty), Sam Williams and John DiMambro, convening for the first time in almost 20 years and joined by drummer Jack Criswell.

Follow the band at https://www.facebook.com/dblpunkrock/ for additional updates.

All In Tracklisting:
1.) Aperture
2.) Boredom
3.) Rebrand It
4.) Carousel
5.) Mountain
6.) End of Rhyme
7.) Undone
8.) Then and Tomorrow
9.) Infatuation
10.) Ride
11.) Mannequin
12.) Dear Fate

For More Information:
https://www.facebook.com/dblpunkrock/
http://cleorecs.com/
https://twitter.com/cleopatrarecord
https://www.facebook.com/CleopatraRecords/

Bullet For My Valentine Release “Letting You Go” From Fourth-Coming Album “Gravity”

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE have released “Letting You Go,” the third track from forthcoming album, Gravity. The album is available for pre-order HERE.

Watch it HERE.

“‘Letting You Go’ was a very challenging song to write in so many ways,” said vocalist + guitarist Matt Tuck. “It’s by far the most experimental track I’ve ever written – musically and lyrically. I really wanted to make a track that stood out from the crowd and separated us from any other band in our genre, and that’s exactly what ‘Letting You Go’ does.”

Gravity, out June 29, is BFMV’s first album under the Search and Destroy/ Spinefarm Records banner, and aptly sees the band rewriting their own future – finding new ways to invent heavy noise and remaining unshackled by the legacy that comes with being masters of their trade.

BFMV will play second to headline on the Friday of Download (UK) Festival – their first home-turf festival performance in five years. The band will then headline European summer festivals and venues before travelling to Japan for the Summersonic event.

The band will return to the U.S. in the fall with support acts to be announced. Dates are below.

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE ON TOUR:
FALL 2018:
SPECIAL GUESTS TBA:
9/13: Kansas City, MO @ Harrah’s
9/15: St. Paul, MN @ The Myth
9/18: St. Louis, MO @ The Paegant
9/20: Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
9/21: Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
9/22: Austin, TX @ Emo’s
9/24: San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater
9/25: Houston, TX @ House of Blues
9/27: Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
9/30: Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
10/2: Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
10/3: Syracuse, NY @ SI Hall
10/4: Boston, MA @ House of Blues
10/7: Detroit, MI @ Fillmore Detroit
10/9: Wichita, KS @ Cotillion Ballroom
10/10: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
10/12: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
10/14: Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival*
10/16: Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
*FESTIVAL

For More Info Visit:
https://www.facebook.com/BulletForMyValentine
https://twitter.com/bfmvofficial
http://bulletformyvalentine.com/
https://www.instagram.com/bfmvofficial/

 

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An Interview with Music Legend Peter Asher

 

If I mention the name Peter Asher I’m going to guess that the first thing that comes to mind is his musical career as half of the popular 1960s British duo Peter and Gordon.  Teamed up with schoolmate Gordon Waller, Mr. Asher, who already had success as a child actor, placed 10 songs in the US TOP 40, including the #1 hit “World Without Love.”  Other hits include “I Go to Pieces,” “True Love Ways” and “Lady Godiva.”

Mr. Asher’s sister Jane, also an actress, had a boyfriend who was also a musician and even wrote “World Without Love” for Peter and Gordon to record.  His name was Paul McCartney and for a time Macca lived with the Ashers, sharing the second floor with Peter.

Peter Asher (r) and Gordon Waller

When Peter and Godon stopped recording in 1968, Mr. Asher became the head of A&R for the Beatles‘ record label, Apple.    It was here that he signed an unknown singer/songwriter named James Taylor, also agreeing to produce his first album.  Though the album was not a success, Mr. Asher believed in Taylor’s abilities so much that he quit his gig at Apple and moved to the United States, where he became Taylor’s manager.   For 15 years he would produce Taylor’s albums, including “Sweet Baby James,” “Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon” and “JT,” the latter helping him win the Producer of the Year Grammy Award in 1977.

In the early 1970s he took another young singer under his wing;  Linda Ronstadt, who would go on to sell over 30 million albums in her career.  While managing both Taylor and Ronstadt, Mr. Asher also produced classic albums for artists like Cher (“Cher,” ” Heart of the Stone”), Neil Diamond (“Lovescape,” “Up on the Roof: Songs from the Brill Building”) and soundtracks for such films as “The Land Before Time,” “The Mambo Kings” and “Armageddon.”  He also won two more Grammy Awards.  One was for Producer of the Year for Ronstadt’s “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind” album in 1989.  He also took home the award for producing the Best Comedy Album of 2002 – “Robin Williams: LIVE.”

These days you can catch Mr. Asher on Sirius Radio’s Beatle Channel, where he hosts a weekly show called “From Me to You.,” where he spins some of his favorite records (from the Fab Four and others) and shares some amazing stories from his almost six decade career in music.

I recently had the great honor of speaking with Mr. Asher about his career.

Mike Smith:  Most music fans remember you as half of the popular duo Peter and Gordon…

Peter Asher:  The old ones do. (laughs)

MS:  How did you two get together?

PA:  We met in school.  We both played the guitar together and sang.  Gordon was more of a rock and roll fan and I was more of a folkie.  I was singing Woody Guthrie songs while he was singing Eddie Cochran songs.  So we tried singing together to see what it sounded like.  It coincided that we were both huge fans of the Everly Brothers.  They were our original idols and that’s who we were trying to sound like.

MS:  You were an early champion of artists like James Taylor and Linda Rondstadt.  How do you know, as a producer, when you’ve found that rare talent?

PA:  I think you just do.  I mean, when I first heard James, everything about him was remarkable.  He had great songs, he was a terrific guitar player with a unique style all his own.  He combined a sort of folk style of guitar playing with some jazz chords.  An amazing combination.  And he was a great singer.  And the songs he sang to me, the ones he wrote, were just amazing.  I don’t know HOW you know.  You just kind of do.  It’s the same now.  When I hear somebody brand new.  I think it’s just an instinctive thing.  When they’re original and great and a pleasure to listen to.  “Who’s this?  What’s that?”  It’s great.

MS:  Some great music trivia is that both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt appear on Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”  Did you have a hand in that?

PA:  i know Neil Young and I’m friends with his manager but I think that was just Neil asking James and Linda to come and sing.  They all knew each other.  I think James also played banjo on one cut.  (he did).

MS:  One thing I always took notice of growing up in the 70s is that the majority of Linda Ronstadt’s hits were covers of previous hit songs.  “That’ll Be the Day.”  “Blue Bayou.”  “Heatwave.”  Was that something that was intentional?

PA:  As a producer we look for great songs everywhere, and that includes songs that other people had done before as well as brand new songs.  And we did some of each.  But, yes, quite a few of them became cover versions.  People seemed to like them and they became hits.  We didn’t shy away from a song just because someone had already done it.  But basically we would look at all songs equally.  And if we found an amazing song that was brand new, something like “Heart Like a Wheel,” or a favorite song from out past, like a Buddy Holly song, we did it.  We look everywhere for great songs, old and new.

Mr. Asher still performs today.

MS:  You’ve also produced a few film soundtracks.  Are they easier to produce as opposed to a musical group’s album?

PA:  It’s very different.  I’ve produced some tracks for a soundtrack that Hans Zimmer has been working on.  Working with Hans is a particular pleasure because he’s brilliant.  But it’s very different then making a song with an artist.  In Hans’ case sometimes it’s a song that I will fit into a soundtrack.  I will work with Hans.  One time he was recording 12 drummers all at the same time.  I was there to just help the session go smoothly and that Hans got what he needed.  But you can’t guarantee which sessions (a soundtrack or a musical group) are going to be easy or hard.

MS:  You’re now hosting your own show on the Beatles channel.  As someone that has been in the business for as long as you have, can you explain their continual appeal?

PA:  Not in any way that adds anything new to the equation.  They’re just better than any other band, before or since.  That’s why.  It’s pathetically simple, I know.  But their songs are amazing.  Their singing is amazing.  Their playing is amazing.  What they came up with as a group was greater than the sum of its parts.  The answer to your question lies in listening to it.  If you listen you know not to turn away from that channel because you know the next song is going to be another song that you love.

MS:  You often mention on your show that you used to share the 2nd floor of your parent’s home with Paul McCartney.  Any housekeeping secrets you can share?  Did he make his bed every morning?

PA:  (laughing)  I don’t really remember.  Sadly, I have no intimate domestic details.

 

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Motograter Vocalist James Anthony Legion Talks About the Bands New Video For the Song”Daggers”

The heavy metal band Motograter are currently out on the road in support of their most recent release “Desolation” which was released early in 2017 and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the bands singer James Anthony Legion about the tour, the bands current lineup and their most recent video for the track “Daggers”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info the bands current tour and if you will be hitting new areas this time out?

James Anthony Legion: This is a short two week run that we set up to help break in some of our newer members. We will be hitting places like Seattle, Fresno, and Hollywood at the Viper Room which is place we really enjoy playing at. I don’t think we are hitting any new places this time around.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new line up?

JAL: We have Aeon Cruz playing bass. She is the first ever female member of Motograter. Nuke had met her in Los Angeles and she is a really good bass player with a great look so we brought her in to the fold. We have never had a female in the band before and most of the time we are shirtless covered in body paint. Bringing a female into that situation obviously posed some issues (Laughs). We were able to figure something out and it looks really cool. We have also added Ryan Ramirez on drums. He is just a super sick player!

AL: With this being just a short run what are the bands plans after this leg wraps up?

JAL: We are trying to get a new album put together. In the mean time we are going out and doing a couple short tour runs here and there. We have another one set up with the guys from Terror Universal. That one will start after a festival show we have booked with Mushroomhead. We have a few other things in the works however we can’t announce those just yet.

AL: You just released a video for the song “Daggers” can you tell us about that?

JAL: That song is a real favorite of mine and one that I very much believe in. I think it has a great hook and the lyrics will speak to a lot of people. We are hoping this song will makes its way on to the radio much like “Dorian” did. We want to push this song the same way. It felt good having a song on the charts next to ones from bands like Korn and Stone Sour. With the look of the video we had ideas but Matt the director was really the guy behind that. We shot some stuff that in the end didn’t fit and we kept things to a pure performance type of video.

AL: Do you find it hard selecting one song to stand out above others you have a close relationship to?

JAL: For me it has a lot to do with the meaning behind the song and whether or not it strikes a chord with me. When I am writing I try to think about what is really on my mind and what is important. I try and transfer that to my lyrics. I feel if you are writing lyrics that mean something to you then chances are people will pick up on that and in turn they will mean something to them as well. If I feel I did a really good job getting my thoughts across and things are resonating then that’s a track that’s going to stand out.

AL: Where is the band currently in relation to the release of a new album?

JAL: We work in sort of a unique way. I am based in North Carolina while the majority of the band is in California. With me being a vocalist it’s a little easier for me as I don’t have to necessarily be there jamming on instruments. Nuke generally comes up with song ideas and then will send things over to me to add my stuff. He will then send something that is a little more finished and that’s when I add vocals. We have started working a little bit on things already but in between these two tours is when we plan to really start going.

For more info on Motograter you can visit their official website here.

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Sumo Cyco’s Skye “Sever” Sweetnam Talks About the Bands Current Tour and Plans For A New Album.

The Canadian hard rock group Sumo Cyco first burst onto the scene in 2011 with their debut release “Lost in Cyco City”. A short time later the band released their second full length “Opus Mar” and have been out on the road in support of that ever since. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the groups lead singer Skye “Sever” Sweetnam about the group’s formation, her transition from pop to rock music and, the bands current tour with Nonpoint and The Butcher Babies

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on the band an how you all came together?

Skye Sweetnam: Sumo Cyco is a four piece band based out of Hamilton, Ontario. I first met Matt who plays guitar in the band when I was fourteen. I was auditioning guitarists for my solo project and we started working together through that and from there we decided to start Sumo Cyco.

AL: Having come from a successful pop career what was that interested you about doing Sumo Cyco which is very much a rock orientated project?

SS: Matt was a big influence on that as he is always giving all sort of different music to check out. When I was younger I had the chance of being the opening act for Britney Spears and after getting off stage all my band mates would be blasting music like Metallica and Pantera. I soaked all that in and when changes started happening with my pop career and as I transitioned from a teenager to a young woman I felt I wanted to try something a little bit different. I really enjoyed working with Matt and felt like this type of project would be a good collaboration for us. From the outside it might look like a really drastic change but during my career as I pop singer I actually got to work with people like Tim Armstrong from Rancid, Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 and a bunch of other great people. For me it was more of a natural progression as I always loved rock and heavy music.

AL: The band has an impressive YouTube following and is putting out some very high quality pieces independently. Can you tell us about your process for that?

SS: I grew up watch B and C movies and it was always a goal to try and find the weirdest movie you could from one of those truck stop bargain bins. (Laughs) I have always loved film and the idea of being able to make a piece that went along with our music without be told from an outsider of how it should look or be. I love being able to come up with these ideas and add something visual to our music. I enjoy turning the music and videos into just one big project. This is another passion of our and we are self taught when it comes to all of it. We knew we could save a lot of money by doing things ourselves and with so much content being released each day this is a fun way for us to attract new fans.

AL: Is this something you see yourself doing more of?

SS: For sure! There have been talks of one day doing a film and there are just so many projects I want to do but right now the band is taking precedence. We have a lot of great opportunities and we are going with the flow of that. We will be expanding things as time go on.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands current tour with The Butcher Babies and Nonpoint?

SS: We first met the Butchers in the UK when we toured with them over there about two years ago. The same thing goes for how we first met Nonpoint. When our name came up for the tour they knew who we were and what we could bring. The tour has been great so far and a lot of fun so far and we still have a bunch of shows left as the tour runs through mid June.

AL: What are the bands plans after this tour wraps up?

SS: We have been working our album “Opus Mar” for about a year and a half now so we are looking to head back in to the studio to record some new material. We did release a single at the beginning of the year titled “Undefeated” but we are getting hungry to back in the studio and record some new material. We are always coming up with new ideas so I think that is our next step. We just started working with a new management and are putting together a lot of new stuff for the upcoming year.

For more info on Sumo Cyco you can visit their Official Facebook page here

 

The Damned’s Pinch talks about the bands latest release “Evil Spirits”

The Damned, easily the greatest surviving British punk band, bar none – are back with their first new album in a decade titled “Evil Spirits”. Where their peers either burnt out, or faded away into mediocrity The Damned continue to fire on all cylinders and breaking all the rules along the way. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Pinch (Damned Drummer since 1999) about the new album, the bands recent video for “Look Left” and about the bands upcoming touring plans.

Adam Lawton: With a 10 year lapse between albums, what prompted the idea/creation to go ahead with a brand new full length release?

Pinch: It was the Pledge campaign, which after launch, was so successful we could see there was the demand for a new record that we all knew was there. To see that demand become real was very satisfying and we have to heartily thank our incredible fans for that. After our last (self funded) record, we knew we had to have Dave V fully on board with this one and he stepped up admirably, committing both musically and promotionally, whereas previously he had seemed somewhat reticent to launch himself fully into the project. The record really needed Dave’s touch and I’m happy that he dusted off the cobwebs and got songwriting again. His tunes and vision really drive “Evil Spirits” nicely and I think the mix of song styles by all contributing writers underlines the Damned’s ability to pleasantly surprise both fans and new listeners.

AL: How did the writing process go for “Evil Spirits”? Do you work separately from one another or collectively?

Pinch: It was a funny chess game leading up to this album. Captain seemed to be holding back his contributions, encouraging Dave to feel he had the freedom to create whatever took his fancy. It seemed at one point that everyone was too scared to offer up demos for fear of the wrong direction being taken. Thankfully, when push came to shove and we had a producer and studio time locked down, the songs were popping into the dropbox thick and fast. We ended up with at least a couple of records worth of songs from all writers, and it was decided to let someone else choose the final songs for “Evil Spirits”. I think the record works really well as a collection and perhaps some of the songs that didn’t make it would sound great together too, but as a band, sometimes you are too close to the art to make that call clearly. Captain likes to deliver fully finished demos, very well produced I may add, whereas the rest of us offer up a mostly completed song that benefits from all members adding their personalities. Sitting in a room together with a blank notepad is not the way any of us work best, as the years of pharmaceutical inspiration are thankfully long gone. However, working under the gun, with deadlines looming, seems to drag out inspiration by the bucket full.

AL: You recently released a video for “Look Left”, can you tell us about the story behind that and what made you choose that song for a video treatment?

Pinch: I had the bones of that song kicking around for a few years, hoping that it would eventually develop into something The Damned could use. The phrase- “while everybody’s looking left, what the hell is happening right?” seemed to really sum up where I could see the programming of humanity taking us. Whilst we are being distracted by some nonsensical celebrity twaddle, there would be a vote on a crucially important social issue that would sneak its way into law. Today’s media really have fine tuned the craft of distraction to the point of perfection. When perfectly true, well researched articles are labeled fake news to fit nefarious agendas, AND everybody swallows it, where does that leave the truth? Other than being just another opinion. Ultimately, whose opinion is right and whose is wrong are things we all currently have the liberty to discuss, but with increasing media censorship, I fear for our future ability to make any kind of disagreeable statement without some kind of social punishment. It was the label that chose “Look Left” as a single to have a video, and I really had to leave the interpretation to the video director, as these guys don’t like you stepping on their visions. Also, it was nice to see someone else’s take on my lyrics and sentiment. Ultimately, Radio declined to get on board with the song, stating some kind of half baked excuse about it not fitting the listenership they were “moving toward”. If the most commercial, hooky single the Damned have ever released can’t make a daytime radio playlist, with the album sitting at number 7 in the charts, you have to wonder if that age old Damned phobia hasn’t simply moved through the decades of radio producers and makes me ultimately think- Why Bother? Let’s just go back to the biff boom crash that the band are known for and screw any notion of radio success. Sad really but it’s an unfortunate reality.

AL: The band has a number of live performances booked starting in May. Can you tell us about the upcoming UK run, the few stops you have scheduled in the States and your plans for the remainder of the 2018 tour season?

Pinch: Due to the recording of the album being pushed back, we were kind of scrambling to lock in a good live touring plan. Only WE could release a record with ZERO live dates either side of release but, that is where we find ourselves. We head off to Europe next week starting in Germany and ending in France, by way of Switzerland, Italy and Holland. A short Arena tour of the UK with Hollywood Vampires is set for June, where Mr. Vanain and Mr. Depp can compare hair style notes and the benefits of a fine snifter no doubt. Then another short Pacific North West and Canada run in early July, including Burger Boogaloo in Oakland, which we are all excited to play. It sounds like a whacky thing that we would all enjoy, AND I get to see Devo the night before which is never a bad thing. October sees us embarking on another coast to coast U.S run, starting in Boston and ending in San Diego, before coming back to the UK for our traditional winter tour to wrap up the year. Hopefully we will debut some more songs from “Evil Spirits” at some point on these dates, it’s always good to see how they translate live.

AL: Each of you tends to have a number of projects going on at one time. Can you tell us about some of those and where we can keep up to date with everything?

Pinch: Not sure what the other guys have going on at the moment, but when I am not touring, I work a production gig in the United States that sees me working with a mind bending array of legendary artists that constantly makes me chuckle. Did I ever think I would be attending to the needs of Mr. Englebert Humperdinck when I was living in a punk squat in Grantham all those years ago? Well, anything can happen with an open mind, and often does. Think! It’s not illegal …..YET.

For more info on The Damned you can visit www.officialdamned.com

Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf Talks About The Bands New Album “Mind Fucker”

Dave Wyndorf is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the rock group Monster Magnet. The groups latest album (Their first in five years) titled “Mind Fucker” was released on March 23rd and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Dave recently about the albums creation, its first single “I Am God” and about the groups upcoming European tour run.

Adam Lawton: It has been five years since the bands last release “Last Patrol”. Can you tell what has been going on with the band during that time and what led to the release of the new album?

Dave Wyndorf: The band tours every year predominately around Europe and the world as that’s where rock really lives. I only tour here in the states every couple of years as rock music is sort of dead here so we have to sort of wait it out. We have been in the studio quite a bit as we were re-imagining/recording two records making them sound-scapes that would allow for psychedelic, alternative listening experiences. Things never really stop we just sort of take a left or right turn down a rabbit hole and then pop up in public whenever it suits us.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the work that went into the new album and also maybe about the catchy title?

DW: I wanted to make something along the lines of a punk rock record. I wanted it to have that spirit while being this sort of proto-punk, straight ahead rock record. At the time I was doing a lot of long form psychedelia and I wanted to put this album out quick. I was kind of going from the hip and wrote this album in about three weeks. The idea was for it to be a sex, drugs and rock and roll album then the whole political and information melt down that happened from 2016 to 2018 started creeping its way into the lyrics. During the writing I had started calling the album “Mind Fucker” and thought it was the perfect title for album being released in 2018. It was really supposed to be an “I want to drive my camaro of a cliff just for fun” type of record but then the blending of all these things happened and it sort of morphed into a weird mixture of the two.

AL: Was it hard for you to transition back into writing more straight forward material as opposed to the long form material you were currently working on at that time?

DW: It wasn’t hard to dream it up but I did have to re-calibrate myself as to what I wanted as I wrote. It was a challenge. The thing with the long form sound-scape material is you are creating this place for people to be in for awhile. You take your time getting there. With the type of record “Mind Fucker” is it’s much quicker and goes right to the point.

AL: At what point do the other members of the band come into the writing/recording process?

DW: I start out by writing everything to a click track. I will arrange it the best possible way I can with melody, guitar and bass. From there I will take it to the drummer and come up with a proper arrangement. We get the meat of how things are going to go together and then we bring in the rest of the guys. I give them an idea of what each song is about and then they take things from there. I write with everyone in mind so that when the time comes the material is right in their wheelhouse.

AL: What can you tell us about the album’s first single “I Am God”?

DW: “I Am God” is just a way for me to yell at people without saying it’s me. (Laughs) I wanted to write a song about god yelling at people as it was apropos with the time. I figured this song would hit someone out there. It’s an easy song to remember and who doesn’t want to scream “I Am God” while riding down the highway? It was written with a sense of humor involved. Being the song is so blunt it just had to be released as a single.

AL: The band performed a couple shows here in the NY area recently and you are now set to tour Europe can you tell us about that run of shows?

DW: We kicked things off with a few shows in the New York area to celebrate the release of the album and, we will be announcing a whole North American tour here in the next few weeks. However, first we will be heading over to Europe for around a month and a half. During that time we will be looking for more opportunities during the summer in possibly Australia and/or South America. We are always trying to hit new places so we will just have to wait and see. I would really like to make it into China.

AL: Being a guy who is always busy do you have anything else you are currently working on right now?

DW: Right now I am really trying to sell the new album as hard as I can. Once I get back from Europe I will be diving in to writing and seeing where that goes. I try to focus on one thing at a time so I can get the most experience out of it and then when I am totally exhausted I sit down and think back on what I learned during that time. I just live life and then write about life. That’s where the music and lyrics come from for me.

For more info on Monster Magnet you can visit their official facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/

Guitarist Michael Landau Talks About His New Solo Album “Rock Bottom”

Michael Landau is world renowned session musician and producer who has worked with everyone from James Taylor and Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis. Outside of his work as a session player Michael has released a hand full of solo albums and on February 23rd will release his newest solo album titled “Rock Bottom”. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Michael recently about the albums creation, his studio work and his touring plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some details on your new solo album “Rock Bottom”?

Michael Landau: My last couple of albums had been instrumental albums. With this new one I reunited with my old pale David Frazee who I played with in Burning Water in the 90’s. We wrote a bunch of tunes and I got to rock again. I wanted to do vocal music again and put out something that had a little harder edge to it. We did this album to actual tape as I still have a tape machine in my studio. The album has a real nice creamy tape sound that’s just big and gooey.

AL: Are the songs that made it on the album all newly written songs or are there some that have been around for awhile?

ML: A few years ago I got together with my brother Teddy and Alan Hertz as I had some tunes I had written and we recorded those over the course of a couple days. It took me awhile to getting to finish those however once I reunited with David things came together pretty quickly and we also started to write new material.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit more about who you have playing on the album with you?

ML: The drummer is Alan Hertz who has toured with throughout the years. My brother Teddy who doesn’t really play professionally is a rock solid bass player. I love the way he plays as he has a really big tone. He actually co-wrote a couple of the songs on the album. David and I did those three or four records together in the 90’s and he is just a great vocalist and lyricist. He writes really interesting melodies and I am just a big fan of his. Also playing organ on the record is Larry Goldings. Any record I do I try and get him on there as he is one of my all time favorite musicians.

AL: When you are working with a group or on your own where do you traditionally start with your songwriting process?

ML: I play a lot every day. I don’t have a real practice regime or anything but I do play around the house quite a bit. Songs always start with some kind of riff. There was one song I wrote titled “Freedom” which is this sort of spooky ballad that I had lyrics for first. Mostly things start with toying around with riffs that come about when I am playing at home. From there I will edit them and move things around until everything comes together.

AL: Having done predominately instrumental albums over the last few years, what was it like delving back in to lyrical based music?

ML: David did most of the vocal on the record. I would say he wrote probably seventy percent of lyrics as well. There are one or two tunes that I sing but I don’t think I wrote the lyrics for those. It’s fun for sure as I enjoy singing if it’s a range I am comfortable with. Lyrics are fun for me to write even though I don’t write them that often.

AL: With you having done a lot of work/playing for other musicians how do you go about putting your personal touches on someone else’s material?

ML: One of the things I think I do well is backing up a vocalist. I try and contribute parts that will enhance the material while still being respectful of the tune. I kind of pride myself on being able to do that quite well. For a long time when I was doing sessions people would hire me as they had an idea of what I was about sonically so when you go in there you have to sort of fit in but push and add to things without taking anything away. Overtime with experience I learned that being able to edit myself made things quicker rather than having whoever I was working with at the time have to do it.

AL: The album is set for release in late February. What are your plans once it is out?

ML: The plan is certainly to get out there and play this material live. Europe is obviously easier for a musician like me to put together a tour over there. We actually have a nice four week run of shows set up over there in support of the album. We are looking at hitting Asia also this year along with some dates here in the States. After that I will be touring Europe with the Steve Gadd band right after my tour finishes’ so I will be over there for quite a bit. I have some more James Taylor duties to handle this year as well and those start in either April or May. There have been talks to end that tour by doing a couple shows with the Eagles so that should be really great.

For more info on Michael Landau you can visit his official site at www.mikelandau.com

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