Bronson Arroyo pitched 17 seasons in the major leagues playing for teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Redsox, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he wasn’t winning a World Series in 2004 or being elected to the Cincinnati Hall of Fame he would often be found with a guitar in his. Arroyo released an album of cover songs titled “Covering the Bases” in 2005 however his latest offering with his new band the ’04 is a 10-song album consisting entirely of original material. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Bronson recently about the album’s creation, his transition from baseball to music and the encouraging words he received from Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder.
For more info on Bronson Arroyo and the 04’s visit www.instagram.com/bronsonarroyoandthe04
Seminal punk guitarist Ivan Julian was an essential part of the 1970’s New York city punk scene as a founding member of the band Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Know for his unique rhythm structures and a skewed guitar lines Julian’s unique style made him and his bandmates stand-out amongst other bands during the onset of NYC punk. Julian’s latest solo offering “Swing Your Lanterns” is set for a mid-February release via Pravda Records and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Ivan about the work that went into the album, his fondness for analog recording and his time in the NYC music scene.
Los Angeles alt-rockers Liily helped ring in 2023 as part of Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party, hosted by multi-platinum recording artist Miley Cyrus and legendary county singer Dolly Parton the band performed their latest single “Applause” along with a raucous rendition of the Beastie Boys song “Sabotage”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with singer Dylan Nash and drummer Maxx Morando about the group’s formation, their songwriting process and what it was like being a part of Miley Cyrus’s New Year’s party.
John Petrucci is the guitarist for the Grammy Award winning Progressive-Metal band Dream Theater. In support of his most recent solo album “Terminal Velocity” Petrucci has announced a multi date tour which will feature bassist Dave Larue and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Mike recently about the album, reuniting with his former drummer and what we can expect from the upcoming tour which kicks off October 5th.
Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your most recent solo album “Terminal Velocity”
John Petrucci: I did my first solo album “Suspended Animation” back in 2005. That album came about after performing on the “G3” with Joe Satriani and having to write songs to perform on that tour. Those songs ended up becoming the first album. Being so busy with Dream Theater I never really put much emphasis on doing a follow up record despite getting asked quite often about it. As years went by, I just never seemed to have the time but when the pandemic hit and all touring stopped, I knew there was going to be some time. I had been stock piling ideas and riffs since my last record, and I knew if I didn’t do this now it was probably never going to happen. I put all the material I had together and recruited Dave Larue and Mike Portnoy to play on. It was a lot of work, but I think it turned out really cool.
AL: What was it like going back and revisiting this material that you had been collecting for so long?
JP: A lot of these ideas were not full songs. When I am playing guitar and something hits me, I will just hit record. The quickest way is usually through my iPhone. I am pretty organized, and I keep everything in a folder, so I had the seeds of songs to start with. From there I was able to go back through my collection and pick out different things that I thought would work. I started with idea number one and just began working from there re-learning what I had while also adding to it.
AL: What led to you asking Mike Portnoy to play on the album?
JP: I like to keep my solo stuff separate from what I do with Dream Theater. Even though I had played live with both Mike Portnoy and Mike Mangini on “G3” outside of Dream Theater I really wanted to keep things with the solo album totally separate from the band. I wanted the album to be just about guitar and given the fact that Mike Portnoy is no longer in Dream Theater this followed the rule I set for myself. Mike’s a very busy guy and because of the Pandemic he also had some free time so when I asked him if he would be interested, he said yes.
AL: Did you have what you wanted laid out for both Mike and Dave or were they able to bring in their own ideas?
JP: While I was writing and recording the guitars my engineer James Meslin would program drums. Either he or I would then play the bass so even before Dave and Mike were involved the songs existed as completed pieces. We could have released the album just like that, but it is so much better having these guy play on there. When they came in they basically just had to learn compositions. At one point Mike asked me if I wanted things exactly as they were, and I told him these were basically just a guide and that he could do what he felt would make the song work. With Dave it was the same way. The two of these guys really brought the album to life and I was very happy with the end result. Even though we recorded the parts separately I think the album has a live energy and feel to it.
AL: Being very much a “tone” guy when it comes to guitar, how did you approach that aspect of the record?
JP: Dream Theater recently built a new facility to accommodate all of the bands needs. This included a studio space. My solo album was the first album that was recorded there. It was a little bit new however the guitar recording approach was very similar to how I do it with Dream Theater. I am a purest and have been playing my signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitars for 20 years now. I plug that into my signature Mesa Boogie head and then let the engineer mic up my 4×12 cabinet and we are off to the races. After we finished the solo record we went and did “Liquid Tension Experiment 3” in the same studio as well as Dream Theater’s “A View From the Top of the World” which we won a Grammy for! Having recorded guitar for those three very different projects the guitar stayed consistent from one thing to the next. We do experiment with different microphones and such but its basically me plugged straight into my amp. I like to keep things as pure as I can and capture that sound as it is.
AL: When did the idea to tour behind the release present
JP: That was always something I wanted to do. I had done a lot of “G3” tours but never an actual solo tour. Once I put the record out everyone started asking if I was going to tour behind it. When things started to open back up my priority was Dream Theater, so we got back into our cycle so once again I was left with no opportunity to tour solo despite wanting to. I generally know five or six months out what my schedule is going to look like and I saw that there was going to be a small window in the fall that I was going to have free. I asked my booking agent if we could get something scheduled and he was on it.
AL: Were Mike and Dave onboard with touring right away?
JP: Dave has been touring with me since 2001. He has done all the “G3” tours and of course both my solo albums. We had this running joke about if we were ever going to do an actual solo tour. Prior to that I think the joke was if I was ever going to do a second solo album. (Laughs) Dave said he would be there when the time came and he we are. With Mike we hadn’t played together live since he left Dream Theater twelve years ago. It was in my mind right away to ask him and when I did ask him, he said Yes.
AL: You are bringing out the reunited Meanstreak with you on the run. Can you tell us how that came together?
JP: The history there is the Dream Theater guys met the ladies from Meanstreak many years ago. My wife and I have been married 29 years. Both my wife and Mike Portnoy’s wife played guitar in Meanstreak while John Myung’s wife Lisa played bass. We all kind of got married and had families around the same time. We have been this big family for quite some time. Meanstreak’s disbanded and haven’t played for some time so when I started thinking of doing the solo tour, I mentioned to my wife about the ladies getting back together and opening for me. I am very excited for this. In all the years my wife and I have been together we have never toured together. We have played together a few times but never anything like this. This tour is going to be fun for fans on a few different levels as not only will they get to see Mike and I play together again but a lot of people will be getting to see Meanstreak for the first time as well.
AL: Any other projects or releases you might want to mention?
JP: There have been a lot of big things that happened for me personally over this last year. I have a new line Ernie Ball Majesty and JP15 guitars that came out in June. I released a Neural DSP plug-in that was a lot of fun as well. We just released out first video from the record for the song “Temple of Circadia” it’s an animated “Wayne’s World” meets “Indiana Jones” type story. (Laughs) Dream Theater will be touring next year and will be releasing more info on that later on but the biggest thing right now is this upcoming solo tour which kicks off October 5th in Providence, RI.
“Worldwide icon of melodic rock Stan Bush is best known for his song “The Touch,” made famous by Transformers: The Movie (1986). An anthem for Transformers fans around the world, “The Touch” was remixed in 2013 by High Moon Studios for their hit video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. It has also been featured on ABC’s The Goldbergs, NBC’s Chuck, FOX’s American Dad, in RBN’s Guitar Hero, Deep Silver’s Saints Row IV and in the motion picture Boogie Nights. In 2014, Stan was inducted into the Transformers Hall of Fame.”
Visit stanbush.com to check out great merch and autographs! Also if you are located in the Florida area, Stan will be attending Hero Convention in Fort Myers during the weekend of November 18-20!
Tia Carrere played Cassandra Wong in the films Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2; Juno Skinner in True Lies; Nani Pelekai in the Lilo & Stitch films and TV series; In addition to acting, Carrere has won two Grammy Awards for her music. Her new film Easter Sunday with Jo Koy comes out August 5, 2022 and is a ton of fun, check out our interview!
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.
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.
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!”
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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:
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
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).