Film Review: “Villains”

VILLAINS
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick
Directed By: Dan Berk & Robert Olsen
Rated: R
Running Time: 89 minutes
ALTER

A pair of thieves with dreams of living it up in Florida make a couple of big mistakes during a gas station holdup sending them down a wildly different road in Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s Villains. First, they swear this is their “last job!”—always a no no where movie characters are concerned—and second, they forget to,  you know,  pump their escape car with any of the station’s gas. Thus they find themselves stalled out on the road and scouring the nearest secluded home for anything to help them in their journey. The home they find just so happens to have a small girl shackled in the basement. Suddenly the mission isn’t just for gas for the car but an all out battle with the unsuspecting homeowners. As I said, it’s a much different path than Florida.

Villains grabs you quickly and easily thanks to the charisma of its two leads, Jules and Mickey (Maika Monroe and Bill Skarsgård, respectively). They’re goofy as all get out—we’re introduced to them fumbling through their robbery in rubber animal masks—but it’s so obvious they’re head over heels in love with each other that you just want to root for them. Of course Monroe (It Follows) and Skarsgard (It & It Chapter Two) are no strangers to the suspenseful or violent elements Villains throws at them eventually, but as these two crazy kids they both show off a genuine knack for comedy. I can’t imagine a better time to see Villains than if you’re in need for some comedic relief after a dose of Pennywise.

Now let’s get back to that girl chained up in the basement. Turns out she belongs to the equally tight couple of Gloria and George (Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan), the homeowners who combat Jules and Mickey’s manic energy with nothing but civil hospitality. The thieves are ready to fight their way out of the house with the chained little girl, but George and Gloria disarm them long enough to chat about what’s going on. Donovan in particular revels in George’s southern salesman draaaaaaaaawl to calm everyone down. The unlikely clash of these couples is strongly supported by candy colored production design and a nifty musical score that keeps the proceedings tonally in sync until very near the end of the film. The resolution of the wildcard chained child isn’t quite as much fun as how we got there, but with a runtime just shy of 90 minutes, it’s hardly an issue.

The fun of this Villains is all down to the perfect casting. The couples are equally unhinged but operating by their own internal logic while being totally devoted to their partners. Mickey and Jules are like excitable puppies in their eagerness to please each other while George keeps up a veneer of civility even though it’s clear that Gloria is way out of touch with reality. Sedgwick too puts in a delightfully bonkers turn as Gloria that includes a striptease for Mickey. Everyone is chewing so much scenery it’s a wonder anyone has room for Gloria’s shepherd’s pie.

Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy talks about new album “Fortress”

Myles Kennedy is the lead singer/rhythm guitar player for the hard rock band Slash and Alter Bridge. The groups 4 album titled “Fortress” was recently released to rave reviews and the group is currently touring Europe in support of its release. Media Mikes had the chance recently to ask Myles a few questions about the album and what it’s like splitting time between two successful projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album?
Myles Kennedy: Mark Tremonti and I started the writing process for “Fortress” last year while we were touring with our various projects. We both agreed to meet in Florida starting in January to begin the arrangement process. Things went pretty quickly from there because we didn’t allow ourselves to over think. With that said we certainly tried to challenge ourselves and venture into new musical territory as much as we could.

AL: What do you feel was the most difficult part of working on this record as compared to the previous 3?
MK: Our fall tour and record release date had already been set so it was challenging knowing we had a finite amount of time to get the record done. Another challenge was not allowing ourselves to utilize the same arrangement approaches we had used in the past. It was very important to push ourselves as a band and continue to evolve.

AL: Does having multiple projects and larger time gaps between releases affect your creative process at all?
MK: It liberates us. I feel like our various projects keep the creative juices flowing all the time and benefit the songs at the end of the day. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer, singer, guitarist and performer in the last few years.

AL: Can you tell us about the “Addicted to Pain” video which was released recently?
MK: We teamed up with Dan Catullo for this video. He directed our live DVDs which we recorded at Wembley Stadium and Amsterdam. We were definitely on the same page regarding the overall vibe and visual concepts which made the process go quickly.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming Alter Bridge tour?
MK: We are currently touring Europe getting the set refined. At this point we are trying to mix up the set-list more than we have in the past. We have a lot of diehard fans that travel all over to see us. Often times they come out and see us more than once on a tour cycle so we are trying to keep them in mind by switching tunes out from the new record in order to keep it interesting. The hard part is when you find a set that has a great flow you have to be careful how much you alter it or the show will suffer. It’s a delicate balance.

AL: Do you have any other projects in the works that you would like to mention?
MK: At this point we are focused on Alter Bridge. I am working with Slash and the guys on new material for the next record and I am sure Mark is chipping away on songs for next Tremonti record as well. We are lucky to have so many musical outlets to keep us busy and it’s definitely something we don’t take for granted.

CD Review: Alter Bridge “Fortress”

Alter Bridge
“Fortress”
Universal
Producer: Michael Baskette
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s been three years since the boys in Alter Bridge have released a new album and the wait is finally over! The group’s new album “Fortress” features 12 hard rocking numbers that follow closely in the footsteps of the bands previous releases “AB III” and “Black Bird”. Michael “Elvis” Baskette was once again chosen to man the role of producer for the album which is being released via Universal.

“Fortress” hits the ground running with the explosive opener “Addicted to Pain” which teeters on the verge of metal as guitarist Mark Tremonti lays down some heavy riffage while vocalist Myles Kennedy displays a vocal range that could rival that of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. The album continues its heavy approach with tracks like “Bleed it Dry”, “Cry a River” and “Farther Than the Sun” before giving way to more melodic numbers such as “All Ends Well” and “Lover”. The overall sound and production of the album is crisp and clear making each of the 12 performances enjoyable to listen to even for the most casual of listeners

Sometimes when bands use the same producer time and time again their sound and style starts to become complacent however Alter Bridge and Michael Baskette have broken that norm with “Fortress”. The album is powerful and does a good job showcasing the bands talent which in my opinion has been elevated to the next level. There were a times that I think Kennedy could have scaled some of his vocal performances back which would have allowed things to sit in the pocket better however when you have a range as wide as his you can’t totally fault the guy for using it. Hardcore Alter Bridge fans will certainly want to pick this release up as will any true fan of hard rock music.

Track Listing:
1.) Addicted to Pain
2.) All Ends Well
3.) Bleed It Dry
4.) Calm the Fire
5.) Cry a River
6.) Cry of Achilles
7.) Farther Than the Sun
8.) Fortress
9.) Lover
10.) Peace is Broken
11.) The Uninvited
12.) Waters Rising

Danny Masterson talks about new film “Alter Egos” and Season 2 of “Men at Work”

Danny Masterson is known best for his role in TV series “That 70’s Show” and the new TBS hit series “Men at Work”.  He is also co-starring in the indie superhero film called “Alter Egos”, which is available now on VOD. Danny took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about his new film “Alter Egos” and what we can expect for season 2 of “Men at Work”.

Mike Gencarelli: With all the superhero craze this year (thanks to “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), how does “Alter Egos” fit in?
DM: I feel like our movie is a lot bigger than those films – no I’m kidding. This is a dark indie comedy. It was a ton of fun to shoot. It is a weird quirky story. It was shot for no money in the Hamptons, New York. Kris Lemche and Joey Kern are two of my really good friends. They are also two of my favorite actors that haven’t broke out yet. Jordan Galland had written and directed a great movie called “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead” that my wife (Bijou Phillips) was in. I fucking love that movie. He asked me to come out for a couple of days and play this asshole cop and I was down for that. Plus I had never met Brooke (Nevin) before and she was really sweet and a great actor. So that was how it came about.

MG: Tell us about your character and his ability in the film?
DM: Jimmy was written to be an angry, kind of generic cop. He is super fucking bitter because he can only turn invisible…for 2.3 seconds. It is like everyone knows that he is impotent. He hates the superheroes and just tries to fuck with them.

MG: How was it taking on that different role for you, playing the asshole?
DM: It is fun. Basically when I started working as a little kid in NY. Then I moved out to LA and started doing all the boyfriend roles in projects like “Beethoven’s 2nd” and “Cybill”. Then when I was 18, I grew my hair out, got a goatee and I just started playing the bad guy in everything. I was a street punk in “NYPD Blue” and the bad kid in and out of foster homes in “American Gothic”. So I did all of these really fun roles to show that I could play those characters. Now that I am in my 30’s, for these indie movies, I can play the bad guy or I can play the funny guy. For me it doesn’t matter. It is it all work and I enjoy comedy and drama the same. It is just a lot of fun.

MG: What can we expect from season two of TBS’ “Men at Work”? Guest stars?
DM: We just finished season two about a month ago. I just got to see a few of the finished scenes and it looks really funny. It will start airing in April 2013. It was just so much fun. The guest stars are literally insane throughout every episode. We got Seth Green, Kevin Pollock and many others. I don’t want to give it away but it is going to be awesome.

MG: Tell us about working with the show’s creator Breckin Meyer?
DM: He wrote seven out of ten episodes this season. We have a full writing staff and he still writes more than half the episodes. On “That 70’s Show”, even the creators only wrote two episodes a year. This show is literally Breckin non-stop. What is crazy is the show did so well in its first season that TBS ordered a second season and only gave us five weeks off. For actors it was perfect but for the writers it usually takes two months just to gets some scripts together. We literally had no stories when we finished season one. So they had to dive right in and start coming up with some new character arcs etc.

MG: What do you think is the reason why this show works so well?
DM: Why do you think it works so well Mike?
MG: I think it is cast. That is the first thing that James Lesure asked me as well and I told him that it was the collaboration of the guys together.
DM: We all do a good job of busting each other’s balls. We also really like each other as friends. I have known James Lesure for ten years. I hadn’t met Adam Busch before the show but we had a ton of the same friends. I also didn’t know Michael Cassidy but he is just a really great dude and also a really good golfer. Him and James play tennis twice a week. Adam and I go see rock concerts all the time. The four of us even get together and hang on Friday nights. So we just have a lot of fun hanging out. Meredith (Hagner) is also a lot of fun, who plays Amy. She is a sweetheart. It is like a big fucking family.

MG: When do you star production on “Killing Winston Jones” with Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover and Jon Heder?
DM: I am in Park City, Utah right now for Thanksgiving. I fly to Savannah to shooting Monday morning (November 26th). I haven’t met haven’t met Richard or Danny yet. I have met Jon before since he came to a taping of “That 70’s Show” back in the day. I am really excited. It is a hell of cast and a great story. We will have to chat again when it comes out!

Jordan Galland talks about his new film “Alter Egos”

Jordan Galland is the writer/director and producer of the new superhero indie film “Alter Egos”.  He is also known for his film “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead”.  Jordan took out sometime to chat with Media Mikes about the new film and what we can expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it going from vampires in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead” to superheros in “Alter Egos”?
Jordan Galland: It’s really fun to work in such a specific genre (Superheroes, vampires) where the rules are so defined that they can have an almost biblical or religious rigidness to them, so that any impulse towards realism, or a deviation from the conventions of that genre results in finding something new, or at least a quirky, comedic take on it.

MG: How did you end up with most of the same cast from “Rosencrantz” in “Alter Egos”?
JG: I wrote the parts for those actors, having met them on the set of my first film. I really wanted to work with them again, and was betting on the fact that maybe they wanted to work with me again too, even if the budget was small and we’d all be sleeping in the same bed. I lucked out, on both accounts.

MG: Having this been your second time directing, what was the biggest challenge this time around?
JG: Biggest challenge was the action sequences, where we didn’t have the time or budget to do it the way I envisioned it. We made compromises, which work, but still. Another big challenge was trying to make the body (in the opening sequence) sink into the ocean. It kept floating back up.

MG: Tell us about the music in the film by Sean Lennon, who appears in the film as Electric Death?
JG: He did the score for Rosencrantz, and I wanted to work with him again. We met through having bands in NYC in the 90’s and ended up playing music together a lot. And in our musical collaborations we often went to film scores as a reference. So we had a certain short hand vocabulary and a familiarity with each other’s tastes… as well as both being fans of the Sci-Fi fantasy genres. Sean’s soundtrack is also out and available now on iTunes, FYI!

MG: How did Kevin Smith end up getting involved with Smodcast Pictures?
JG: Phase 4 films has a deal with Smodcast, where they look for films that they think are suitable to Kevin’s taste; often comic-book type stuff, or comedy that has a conversational naturalism like Clerks. All low-budget, a way for films to get a little extra attention in this cluttered, over-saturated market.

MG: What do you have planned next whether it is music or directing?
JG: I am currently finishing up a new solo record to be released in the late winter / early spring, being produced by Charlie Klarsfeld. And I’ve got two films in development. One’s a new take on a demon possession story. It starts where exorcism films end and is about a girl who’s recovering from demonic possession. The other one is also kind of a horror thriller… like misery Psycho meets Misery, and has an almost a reverse Misery plot where the writer takes the fans hostage. So I’ve been working on those, but not sure when they’re going to get filmed. Hopefully 2013!

Film Review “Alter Egos”

Starring: Kris Lemche, Brooke Nevin, Joey Kern, Danny Masterson, John Ventimiglia
Director: Jordan Galland
Distributor: Phase 4 Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 79 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

With a year jam-packed with superheros like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight”, “Alter Egos” is the counter-opposite of the spectrum. It is a fun quirky indie dark comedy. It started off and write away it make me think of “The Incredibles”, when the superheros are outlawed.  But this takes its own unique approach to the superhero genre. The film itself I would say lays more on the dark side of the comedy and less of the belly laughs. But there is some good material in this film to entertain.  Overall it might not best film ever but if you got nothing else to do for 80 minutes it is worth checking out.

“Alter Egos” takes place in a variation our world in which super heroes are real but not respected. They have taken care of all crime and since then lost government funding and public support. The film focuses around the superhero, Fridge (Lemche), who is going through his own emotional crisis and leans on his friend and fellow superhero C-Thru (Kern) and a new girl to assist. Though both of them have their own issues as well to deal with.

The film is very smarty written and directed by Jordan Galland, known for his Kris Lemche (“Final Destination 3”) and Joey Kern (“Super Troopers)” plays the main superheros – Fridge and C-Thru (respectively). Both of these get some decent laughs, especially when C-Thru is standing nose to nose with a brick wall. Danny Masterson steals the show though as the asshole cop/superhero reject Jimmy, who’s ability is to turn invisible for only 2.3 secods. The film also has music from Sean Lennon, who also has a quick cameo as well. The great casting overall is one of the main reasons why this film succeeds. The film is available now on VOD, check it!

Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti talks about solo album “All I Was”

Mark Tremonti is best known as the guitarist for the multi platinum selling band Creed and for his work in Alter Bridge. Mark has just released his first solo album titled “All I Was” and Media Mikes was fortunate enough to talk with Mark recently about the decision to put out a solo album and what other plans he has in the works.

Adam Lawton: What was the idea behind wanting to put out a solo release?
Mark Tremonti: Being a songwriter for all these years I have had a lot of ideas that were stockpiled up. When Miles Kennedy who sings for us in Alter Bridge went out on tour with Slash recently I saw a window of time where I could take some of those ideas that didn’t work for my other bands and put them together to create an album out of. “All I Was” is what we came up with.

AL: Are the songs on the album all from previous ideas or was there some new material written as well?
MT: Most of it is stuff that was written. There were really just parts of songs and nothing that was completed. When I got together with the other guys who played on the album is when I started arranging the ideas. A majority of the initial riffs were already written.

AL: How did you go about picking the line up for the band?
MT: Eric the other guitar player was an obvious choice.  He is someone that I have been playing guitar with for years and years. We are best friends and over the years I have probably shown him more ideas for songs than I have with my other two bands. I am very comfortable working with him. Garret our drummer was in a band with Eric called Submersed. I co-produced a record for them years ago and Garret was still living in Orlando so he was an obvious choice to bring in. He is an incredible drummer.

AL: How did you go about creating a unique tone on this album that was different from your previous work?
MT: It was mostly based on my roots. The rhythm parts on this album are based around a speed metal/thrash type style. I tried to mesh the two styles of my influences that being speed metal and melodic 70’s rock. I was in to stuff that my parents exposed me to like Rod Stewart and Journey. I still love that music and wanted to mesh the two.

AL: What was the biggest difference you noticed when stepping up and performing not only the guitar work but also the vocal work as well?
MT: I loved it. I have written a lot of lyrics over the years for my other bands but I never had to write an entire album. It is a whole other process. I have to work out all the guitar lines and solos while also bringing in the lyrics. I spent about a month and a half working on that. The singing part was easy after everything was written. Singing is fun. Once I sang the album the first time I went back in and changed/re-wrote things where I thought the original stuff didn’t fit or sounded off. I sort of went through the vocal process twice just to make sure it was right. All together the album took about 3 months to complete.

AL: What types of tour plans are in place to support the release?
 MT: We have a 2/3 week tour run in the States coming up and then after that we are heading over to Europe where the first handful of shows will be with Slash. After those shows we will continue our own tour where we will hit Amsterdam, Italy and Germany. When I get home from that I will be back out on the road with Creed until I get back with Miles to write the next Alter Bridge record. In February I will be back out with the solo group for a more extensive European tour which will include shows in Australia.

AL: What are you most looking forward to about playing these songs live?
MT: It’s a much different vibe on stage when you are singing and not just playing guitar. It is a great experience to be able to play these songs. This record is a really fun record to play live and we enjoy it. I can’t wait to do it in front of a crowd who know the songs. The first time we played this material was for a couple of CD release shows. People hadn’t heard the songs yet. This time people will be familiar with them.

AL: Is this solo album just a one-time thing or will you be doing another one in the future?
MT: We will definitely do another solo album. As soon as we can find the time we will get it done.

 

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Interview with Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti

Mark Tremonti is the guitarist for Alter Bridge as well as for the Multi-Platinum selling band Creed. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Mark recently about both of his bands as well as his upcoming solo project release.

Adam Lawton: What’s has it been like touring with the Carnival of Madness tour?
Mark Tremonti: We are three weeks deep into the tour which has five bands on it and it’s been great. Alter Bridge generally plays an hour a night and it’s been a cake walk. Everyone out with us are good people and all help to put on a good rock and roll show!

AL: How did you guys get involved with being on the tour this year?
MT: We had been approached to do the tour last year. We thought it would be a good time and got all the details worked out with everyone and here we are.

AL: Do you have a favorite song the band is playing in the set and why?
MT: “Blackbird”. I think it’s all of ours favorite song that we have ever done. Most of the songs in the set are very loud and high energy. That song is a dynamic change from the rest of the set. It makes us all watch and listen to the crowd.

AL: Do you have a favorite moment from the tour so far?
MT: I think the most fun we have had so far is the show we did at the Kentucky Fair. It was good to just walk around and win all sorts of prizes for my kids and then the show was just real rowdy and fun.

AL: What do you like most about playing live every night?
MT: It’s what we are and it’s something we have been doing for a long time. It’s your release everyday and it’s what all the practice is for.

AL: What was your reaction to receiving the nomination for album of the year from Classic Rock Magazine?
MT: We were really excited. Classic Rock is such a classy magazine and we really respect their opinion. It’s a very big honor for us.

AL: What’s it like balancing both Creed and Alter Bridge?
MT: I am juggling 3 groups right now actually. I do a lot of planning ahead. 2012 is going to be dedicated to mostly Creed stuff. I also will be releasing a solo album as well. Miles will be going out with Slash and we all will meet up for a few months here and there for Alter Bridge touring. I know we will be going to Australia next year and doing some writing for Alter Bridge as well but the majority of 2012 will be Creed stuff.

AL: Have the comparisons between your two groups finally stopped?
MT: I think since the last record people really stopped the comparisons. With the newest record it has been a real non-point. We are pretty much our own band now and I think a new wave of fans are seeing the band for what it is and don’t compare the two as much anymore.

AL: What is the hardest part about writing material for both bands?
MT: I think you are always pushing to do your best. It’s hard to just switch hats and be the best at different sounds. I don’t want to over complicate a Creed song and make it sound like Alter Bridge.  This band is a little more progressive than Creed, so when I am writing for Creed I have to focus strictly on the melody and finger style stuff. It’s hard to sometimes not really dig in.

AL: What else project wise is coming up for you?
MT: I will be putting my solo record out early next year and then probably we will have a new Creed record out the middle of next year around February.

AL: What can we expect from the solo album?
MT: It’s a little heavier than both bands and I sing on the entire album. It’s a different thing that’s fun and heavy but still melody based. I have been a song writer for most of my life and I think I have finally gotten to a point in my life where I want to get all these ideas down on tape that don’t make the other bands records. It’s more streamlined when you can translate the ideas straight from your mind to tape.

AL: Will you be touring at all on your own?
MT: It just depends on how it turns out. If there is a demand for it then yes.

AL: Will it be put out by Wind Up Records?
MT: No it is completely independent. We are going to put it out on Fred 12 and you will be able to go to fred12.com and download the songs. The idea is to use our grassroots fan base to promote the band and hopefully they will come and spread the word.