Monte A. Melnick talks about his book “On the Road with The Ramones” and 40th Anniversary of the band

Monte A. Melnick worked with the legendary band The Ramones since the group’s inception in 1974 and served as the group’s tour manager up until the bands last show in 1996. Monte’s book “On the Road with The Ramones” which was co-wrote with Kevin Meyer and released in 2007 garnered rave reviews and has gone on to be released in several other languages. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Monte recently about his time with the band, the success of his book and the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Ramones formation.

Adam Lawton: How did you initially start working with the Ramones?
Monte A. Melnick: I grew up with Tommy Ramone and we went to school together. We had also played in bands with one another along with setting up studios with each other. I was there at the very beginning when Tommy first got involved with the Ramones and that’s really how I became involved with them as well.

AL: Were you still looking to be in a band at this time or were you looking to move more towards the management side of the business?
MM: By this time Tommy and I had already built Performance Studios and we were also managing it. While doing all of that we still had time for our own bands and my band Thirty Days Out put out two records on Reprise Records in 1971 and 1972. Tommy had his own stuff going on at the same time as well but he was mostly doing engineering. When it started Tommy was really only looking to produce the Ramones however after a couple showcases they couldn’t find a drummer and Tommy ended up becoming the drummer. Eventually the studio had to close down because of noise problems and the Ramones started to get jobs here and there and they asked me to go along with them. Sometimes when there’s a fork in the road you just have to take it and that’s how I transitioned.

AL: What was your first impression of the Ramones?
MM: When I first saw them I was playing in bands that did three part harmonies and had already done some album work myself. At the beginning the band was incredibly raw. I didn’t like them.  They had to develop and grow which took them awhile. That wasn’t my kind of music to start with but working with them and watching them develop I got used to it and they grew on me.

AL: What was it like dealing with Johnny and some of the other stronger personalities in the group on a daily basis?
MM: John was a difficult personality however he kept everyone in line and was very good at that. John had a very good business sense. We weren’t really friends but we were co-workers. I was more friends with Joey and the other guys as John kept to himself around me. Its part of the tour manager’s job to be able to not only handle the personalities of the band but also those of the crew as well. The tour manager has double the people he has to account for. That was a big part of the reason I wrote the book was to show both sides of what I was dealing with on a daily basis.

AL: Did you notice a big shift in the band with the addition of members like Marky, CJ and Richie?
MM: Most of the changes that happened were very good. There have been eight different Ramones but basically the members dealt with the changes and tried integrating the new members as best as possible. Guys like CJ filled some remarkably big shoes helped elevate the band to the next level. Richie was another guy that was a great addition to the band as he wrote songs and sang. It was terrific. Sadly he left on a bad note which I have the whole story about that in my book.

AL: How did the idea for your book “On the Road with the Ramones” initially come about?
MM: People kept coming to me and telling me to write a book. I’m not a writer so I didn’t think there was any way I was going to do something like this. Joey had released a solo album on Sanctuary records and at the time they were doing publishing as well. They dragged me in to this thing and gave me a ghost writer by the name of Frank Meyer. Frank was a huge fan of the band and is a great writer so when he came in things just fell in to place and I ended up giving him a co-writing credit because he did such a great job. When we started I didn’t know how things were going to turn out. I submitted around 250 images for the book and they all made it in which is very rare for a biography. I have a room full of stuff and they let me put in all of this stuff. The book had a great art director so when you look at the pages everything just flows together. I am very happy how it turned out.

AL: Do you have plans to release another update anytime soon for your book?
MM: I have done one update already so fans who haven’t got the book yet will want to make sure they get the updated version as it has everything in there. Lately I have been focusing on releasing the book in different languages. We are currently working on our 7th language right now which is going to be in Italian. It’s great to be able to spread the book out around the whole world.

AL: With a lot of the recent commercialization of the band do you feel they would still be around today recording and touring had Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey not passed away?
MM: I think it’s great that stuff like the t-shirts and what not is available. The Ramones were never against commercialization which is why they tried so many different producers. They wanted to make money. The band just tried so hard to make it through out their career. After Joey’s death, the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and then Johnny and Dee Dee’s deaths the Ramones have become bigger than ever. If the Ramones were this big when I was working with them I would have gotten a raise. (Laughs) They are iconic and it’s a shame that they all can’t see this.  I think if they were all around and in good health they still would be playing. They probably would have played passed 1996 just how far though I don’t know. Joey was not in the greatest of health at the time they decided to call it quits and Johnny figured if Joey wasn’t going to be in good health then he would quit also while he was ahead. They had tons of offers to keep the band going.

AL: Looking back on the bands 40 years of existence/history what is your fondest memory and have there been any talks of a 40th anniversary celebration?
MM: That’s another reason I wrote the book was to tell all of those fond and not so fond memories. There was a lot of stuff going on during 22 years on the road. I loved traveling and seeing the world. After awhile the band got big enough to where traveling became comfortable because in the beginning it was not always the easiest. I miss being out there and experiencing all of the different cultures. As for celebrations I haven’t heard of anything yet. Joey’s brother Mickey has his Birthday Bashes in New York and Linda, Johnny’s wife has her thing in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery where Dee Dee is buried and they have the statue of John. I am not sure what else they could really do.

 

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Dren McDonald talks video game music and his band The String Arcade

Dren McDonald is a musician/composer since and runs the website, nerdtracks. He currently also creates music and sound design for video games. Recently he came together to form a band, The String Arcade, and has an album coming out on February 11th. “The String Arcade” spans a few decades in video game history from arcade classics including “Galaga”, “TRON” to 8-bit eras with “Legend of Zelda” to more recent hits with “Portal 2” and “Minecraft”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat video games with Dren and his album.

Mike Gencarelli: How did The String Arcade come together?
Dren McDonald: The creation of The String Arcade didn’t come from one singular “really big idea”, but more like a recipe of several idea ingredients that came together at the right time. The initial spark came from a personal challenge. After working on a lot of client music for the past few years, I wanted to really work on a project that was meaningful to me and that reflected the idea “what music would I make right now, if I could make anything”. Clearly I wasn’t thinking about doing an album of cover songs with that initial thought.

However I’d always been completely obsessed with the music from the film Stranger Than Paradise, by John Lurie. I bought the soundtrack album back when the film came out, hoping that the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tune, “I Put a Spell on You” would be on there. It wasn’t. But the first side of the record was the entire string quartet soundtrack from the film, and it’s one of the few pieces of music that I continue to listen over the years, ever since the first listen. So I wanted to do something like Stranger Than Paradise: a bunch of string quartet music.

So I started working on this idea, and the first tune I completed was ” Optimism For an Improvement in The John Situation” (a reference to the fact that Lurie hasn’t been playing/writing music due to an illness). This tune served as a blueprint for the other music, and I began to start rearranging some of my own music from games…and in all cases, appending and expanding all of those pieces with the intention of having them played by musicians.

Concurrently, a local project called the Alameda Music Project (alamedamusicproject.org) was starting to raise funds in order to begin their after school music program, a K-5 El Sistema based classical music program with strings, chorus and percussion. So we decided to make this ‘recording project’ a fundraiser, with all sales going to support the new music program. But a CD of all Dren McDonald chamber music wasn’t going to move the fundraising needle too much, so more thought was put into the project.

I started listening closely to some of my favorite game music from my youth (Altered Beast, Legend of Zelda, Galaga) and wondered how those might sound if arranged for string quartet. And how might they sound by using Stranger Than Paradise as a model for the mood? It was a clash of very disparate worlds, but the juxtaposition was one that got my musical brain excited. Soon after we launched the Kickstarter.

MG: How did you choose which games and specific songs where chosen for the album?
DM: I chose games that 1) I was a fan of, 2) that I could see fitting into this musical blueprint some way, so that the recording didn’t come off as a novelty album and 3) games that would reach out to kids with the hopes that they’d be inspired to play music. The recording is a fundraiser for a music program, so some thought was given to the song selection with that in mind as well.

Back to this “musical blueprint” idea, I did want to pick songs that would lend themselves towards being moved, twisted, rearranged and manipulated in a way that spoke to me. Really creative music arranging can be just as rewarding as composition, (in some of these charts there’s a lot of added composition), so I didn’t want to simply ‘cover’ the music, but inject it with emotions or musical turns that moved me.

MG: What is it about 8-bit games and their music that still resonates today?
DM: Sometimes we hear discussions about how 8-bit or 16-bit games had more memorable music than games of our current generation, and I think that’s largely due to the fact that game design has changed so radically due to technology. With the NES, you basically had music or you didn’t. There was no ‘ambience’ really, so it was on or off. So it ‘had’ to be memorable, or catchy so that it wouldn’t make us insane while we played. So if we played Legend of Zelda, or Ecco or Altered Beast in our youth, that music has definitely carved a way into our brains and made a home there. Last year I remember play the Tron arcade machine, which I hadn’t played in many years, and was astounded at how well I remembered all of the little musical pieces that played during game play (especially when you die!). I’m no psychologist, but I think there’s something about that association with a game that comes from playing it, and having a great experience that sticks with you. Hearing the music outside of the context might just bring back those good feelings.

MG: What games didn’t make the cut from this album?
DM: There are certainly games with wonderful soundtracks that I love that I considered…Journey, Dear Esther, Bioshock (1). But I didn’t feel like the contribution that I might make to that music would resonate. As I said, I wanted run these tunes thru my ‘blueprint’ and after thinking about some of this other music, I’m not sure I would have been successful with that approach. When you are interpreting music that had been previously represented by synth or chip sounds, there is a little more freedom there. Even in the case of something like Outlaws or Plants Vs Zombies, the change in instrumentation and musical style was enough to unlock that freedom. Those other soundtracks I mentioned were already created with live string players, so any attempt to cover them in the manner that I approached the other music would have probably fallen flat. Listeners have already heard those soundtracks with strings, and a ‘new’ version would likely be judged as an inferior one.

MG: Tell us about what happens with the proceeds of the album?
DM: 100% of the proceeds goes to the Alameda Music Project (alamedamusicproject.org) with is an after school, K-5 music program for strings, percussion and chorus. It’s a tuition-free program in a Title 1 school, so that kids who might not be able to afford to study music, will have that chance. It’s 5 days a week, after school care (homework, snacks and music) and it’s based on the El Sistema model, which was the music program that began in Venezuela 40 years. The same program that Gustavo Dudamel (creative director/conductor of the LA Phil) had gone thru as a child.

MG: Can we expect follow-up albums or a tour in the future?
DM: Good question! There are no tour plans, but depending on how this record does, and how the music program does this year I’m sure we’d love to do a follow up. There will be a CD release party, with the quartet, and lots of video games to play (include arcade machines, old consoles and several indie game studios who will be there showing their games.) That is March 7th at Rhythmix in Alameda, CA and we are planning to stream video from that show as well. We’ll put details on thestringarcade.com

Michael Orlando talks about new band The Killing Lights and 2014 UK tour

Michael Orlando is the founder and lead singer of band The Killing Lights, which was formerly Vampires Everywhere! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael to talk about the band’s new name and their upcoming 2014 tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you explain the name change from Vampires Everywhere! to “The Killing Lights?
Michael Orlando: I felt it was time to move on. VE was my brainchild for over 4 years and through it i got to meet so many amazing fans & people. However, over the last 4 years I have grown as an artist and as a person. I am definitely not the same person I was 4 years ago haha. I’m definitely more positive and I feel my eyes are now open to the world around me. The Killing Lights brings a measure of closure to both the person I was & the horrid events I went through. TKL represents the new me and my new hopes and dreams.

MG: Do you feel fans of the band will be confused at all by the change?
MO: At first this was my greatest concern! I had many anxiety attacks about the name change and leaving a project I had built from the ground up! However, my fans are amazing and have embraced the change with open arms! I have recently changed back to my birth name Michael Orlando as well. Fans really seem to respect the fact that I did this name change & I love them for it! I am sure things will continue to be a bit confusing but over time everyone will eventually catch on! I have to stay true to myself and what I believe in.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new line up?
MO: The Killing Lights consists of myself on vocals, DJ Black on Guitar, Frankie Sil on Bass, & Joshua Ingram on Drums. I am beyond happy to be surrounded by talented determined individuals that can see the big picture. We have been working hard to make sure everything is true to our heart and Rock n’ Roll!

AL: Can we expect any other stylistic/musical changes with the band?
MO: With VE we were overly theatrical and prided ourselves on making a statement. TKL is way different both musically and stylistically! We are basically being ourselves. We don’t go out of our way to be “Rock n’ Roll” we just bring ourselves as we look everyday. Whether that’s a bit of the 90’s or a bit of the 80’s it is who we are and what we represent. You can expect rock n’ roll music from rock n’ roll people.

AL: What does the band have currently scheduled for 2014?
MO: There is so much going on with TKL! As of now we are gearing up for our first UK Tour in February! I am so excited to finally meet my UK fans and show them the new band. We also plan on releasing a music video and a couple of singles. There is so much in the works and I couldn’t be more happy about whats going on!

 

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Richie Kotzen talks about new band The Winery Dogs and debut album

Richie Kotzen is a singer/guitarist who along with an impressive solo career has played with bands such as Poison and Mr. Big. Kotzens newest endeavor is the trio known as The Winery Dogs which along with Kotzen consists of Billy Sheehan on bass and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. Together the trio is set to release their debut album titled “The Winery Dogs” and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Richie about the album and the group’s formation.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the formation of the Winery Dogs?
Richie Kotzen: I had gotten a phone call from Eddie Trunk who I have been friends with for a few years now. He called to tell me that Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan were looking to start a power trio and that he mentioned my name. The guys were in to it so we got together and did some jamming. From jamming together we came up with ideas that would turn into songs that appear on the record.

AL: What was that first jam session like for everyone?
RK: I have known Billy for 20 years now so it was familiar territory with him. Mike and I hit it off right away when we met and we just started jamming in my studio. We started playing and creating these ideas that I recorded. From there we went our separate ways for awhile. I went back and listened to what we had done and sang on a couple and added a few other things. I sent them off to the guys to listen to and they liked them so we decided to see things through. We did this a few times and that developed into an album.

AL: What is your take on the power trio?
RK: This has been the standard for me since I started making solo records. For the most part I have always played in that type of format and I am very comfortable playing in that type of scenario.

AL: From a tonal stand point did you try anything different with this recording?
RK: I don’t think so. What your hearing on the record is the collaboration of what we sound like when we are together writing. No one’s identity got lost on this record which is something that I think is really cool. When you listen to it you know who’s who and it’s really great. Yes the record is a collaboration but it still sounds like us as individuals.

AL: The songs on the album are very accessible. Was this done on purpose or did it happen naturally?
RK: That’s kind of my nature being a singer/guitarist. Everything I am involved in revolves around the vocals. When you add the fact I am playing guitar while I’m singing I probably won’t be shredding at the same time. That’s not to say the record doesn’t have shredding elements to it. The crazier lines that you do hear came out of improvisation. A lot of times Billy and Mike would start improvising parts and I would go back and listen to the r ecordings and either double what Billy was doing or something along those lines. When it was all done we had this track that sounded like we spent a lot of time orchestrating it. Things were very much improvised and I like the spirit of that.

AL: Being both a singer and guitarist do you find your approach to songwriting favoring one or the other?
RK: The song always comes down to the vocals. It’s the lyric and the melody. Everything is built from that at least in the style of music I perform. When you strip everything down the melody is the song. Anything else you put in a song can be altered or changed be it by using different chords against the melody or what have you. In the end that melody is what it is.

AL: What are the group’s tour plans for the release?
RK: We are doing our first show in Osaka, Japan. Then we have two shows in Tokyo before heading to South America. After we play Brazil and Chile we will be playing in New York and a few other places on the east coast. After a little break we head over to Europe for about 3 weeks and then were back in the states to hit the west coast.

DVD Review "Charles Band Presents: Death Comes in 3s – 9 Film Collection"

Actors: Gary Busey, Tim Thomerson, Trent Haaga, Logan Alexander, Debbie Rochon, Angeles Vargas, Jackie Beat, K-Von Moezzi, Robin Sydney, Selene Luna, Tracy Scoggins
Directors: Charles Band, Peter Manogian, Sylvia St. Croix, William Butler, Craig Ross, Tammi Sutton, John Lechago
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R / Not Rated
Studio: Echo Bridge Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 5, 2013
Run Time: 671 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I don’t know what it is about Charles Band and his crazy movies at Full Moon but they always draw me in.  I have been a fan of these films since I was tall enough (and probably too young) to see them on the video store shelves. This collection comes with nine horror films from three different franchises: Demonic Toys, The Gingerdead Man and Killjoy series. I mean how can you say no to killer toys, cookies and demon clowns? It is really a no-brainer if you are a fan of cheesy yet fun horror films.

Includes the films “Demonic Toys”, “Demonic Toys 2”, “Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys”, “The Gingerdead Man”, “Gingerdead Man 2: Passion Of The Crust”, “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver”, “Killjoy”, “Killjoy 2: Deliverance From Evil” and “Killjoy 3”. The main concern I have with this release is that it is technically not complete. “Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys” was released in 2004 and is not included here but that is most likely due to the fact that Echo Bridge does not own rights. Also missing is the new “Killjoy Goes to Hell”, which was just released late last year. Nonetheless, it still contains some very fun films and is a real great collection for any fan of Full Moon and Charles Band’s madness.

DEMONIC TOYS: A botched bust on a pair of arms dealers inadvertently leads to the awakening of a demon with the power to bring toys to life as his personal minions. DEMONIC TOYS 2: When an oddball group of characters gather to inspect an ancient puppet, strange things begin to happen. DOLLMAN VS. DEMONIC TOYS: Officer Judith Gray seeks the help of miniature-sized cop, Brick Bardo, and his equally small girlfriend, Nurse Ginger, when she runs into trouble with the evil Toys.

THE GINGERDEAD MAN: When the ashes of a deranged killer make their way into a secret gingerbread cookie mix, a mini-murderer is born. THE GINGERDEAD MAN 2: THE PASSION OF THE CRUST: The deranged cookie murderer “The Gingerdead Man” crashes a movie studio and leaves behind a trail of bloody murder and hilarious mayhem. THE GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER: The Gingerdead Man travels back in time to a 1976 roller-boogie contest where he causes more chaos than ever before.

KILLJOY: When an outcast is bullied to death, a killer clown exacts revenge in his honor. His name is Killjoy and he thinks murder is a laughing matter. KILLJOY 2: On a wilderness rehabilitation trip, a group of at-risk youth find themselves in the home of a voodoo woman where Killjoy’s spirit is summoned. KILLJOY 3: A group of unsuspecting college students accidentally open the portal to Killjoy’s demon realm and get trapped in a strange funhouse world with the killer clown and his friends.

When it comes to the “Demonic Toys” series, I have always enjoyed each film equally. They are all micro-budgeted but I love the use of the puppets throughout.  The first is the best in the series but I do have a special place for “Dollman vs. Demonic Toys”, even though it is barely an hour and focuses a lot of flashbacks.  The “Dollman” series has always been one of my favorites and it is fun to see him go against these killer toys! “The Gingerdead Man” is something that cannot enough be described to anyone without being looked at funny.  For this series, the best film is the first – did I mention that Gary Busey stars in this?  The second and third are both fun but very silly and over-the-top but don’t forget we are talking about a killer gingerbread man. Lastly, the “Killjoy” is a lot of fun.  Who isn’t afraid of clowns…even just a little.  Killjoy is a great character.  The first one is also the best but the second and third are a whole lot of fun as well.

Echo Bridge packed all nine of these films onto to two DVDs, which is quite a lot and I feel that the films themselves do suffer a bit.  “Demonic Toys 2” is a pretty rough copy of the film, probably the worst of the bunch.  It has a lot of transfer issues throughout. Though that is kind of expected these are not high-def films and where shot very low-budget. Besides the nine films, there are no other special features included on this release but that is expected with a massive 9-film collection like this.  Is it worth the price of less than $15? You bet you ass! Don’t miss this release for sure!

 

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Kevin J. Anderson talks about working with the band Rush on the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”

Kevin J. Anderson is the co-author of the book “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”, which is based on the band Rush’s latest album. The novelization is co-written with Neil Peart, who is the drummer and lyricist for the band. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about this collaboration and his work with Rush.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up collaborating with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart on “Clockwork Angels: The Novel”?
Kevin J. Anderson: Neil and I have been friends since around 1990; I’ve always been a Rush fan, and he reads my novels. My first novel, Resurrection, Inc., was inspired by the Rush album Grace Under Pressure. Over the years we’ve toyed with the idea of doing a novel/album crossover project, but the stories and the schedules never synched up. As Clockwork Angels began to take shape, though, it had that right set of ingredients. As he developed the story for the songs, he suggested that I do the novel.

MG: Since Neil wrote “Clockwork Angels” as a concept album, did that make the adapting process easier?
KJA: He’s always given me props for my worldbuilding skills, and when he started putting the songs and the story together, he turned me loose to let me develop the world, to see how the pieces fit together (like “Clockwork,” naturally!). Neil had most of the framework for the story, which is set out in the songs, but I helped connect the dots, added extra characters, fleshed out the scenes. But I didn’t change anything in the album or the songs—Neil wrote what he wanted to write, and I developed a story that captured it as best I could.

MG: What was your inspiration for the dystopian fiction featured in the story?
KJA: Oddly, we consider this a “nice” sort of dystopia. Yes, the Watchmaker controls a lot of people’s lives, which is a bad thing if you’re a square peg and the rest of the world is made of round holes, but for the vast majority of the population, this really is an idyllic sort of world. But our character is a dreamer and wants something more.

MG: How did you end up merging this story with the steampunk subgenre?
I’ve been writing steampunk since 1989 (before the term was ever invented, I think), and Neil liked that aspect. He had the idea of a steampunk motif from the very beginning, and it was always part of the canvas as the story and music took shape.

MG: Tell us about your work with artist Hugh Syme?
KJA: Hugh had already done some of the paintings for the CD booklet before I started writing. I used his artwork for details and inspiration, and he read the drafts of some scenes as I delivered them. Hugh had an uncanny knack for taking a detail or a metaphor at the core of the story (something even I didn’t realize) and pulling it to the surface, which would send me back to the draft to emphasize that part and add new scenes. We worked closely together for the illustrated booklet that accompanies the unabridged audiobook (which Neil Peart narrates), Hugh and I getting the finished content, design, and layout done for Brilliance Audio in only a few days!

MG: I think that this novel would make a great movie…(Hint Hint)!
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Some movie producer has to get that idea in his or her head!

MG: Do you feel that there will ever been another additional chapter to this story?
KJA: Not as an endless series of book after book. But Neil and I love the world and the characters, and we feel that some of the side tales might be worth exploring. Not in the immediate future, though. I have two massive books I’m writing, and Rush has this tour thing they’re on…

MG: What is your favorite song on the album “Clockwork Angels”?
KJA: It often changes as I keep listening to the album. Right now, the one that seems closest to my heart is “Headlong Flight,” which means so much to the story and means so much to me about my life.

MG: What do you have planned next? Any plans to work with Rush again?
KJA: Right now I am editing MENTATS OF DUNE with Brian Herbert, my next major novel in that series, and I am beginning a new trilogy in my gigantic “Seven Suns” universe, THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS. It’ll probably be a thousand pages long, and as of today I hit the halfway point! And I have two other novels ready to be cued up in the new year. It’s too soon to think about doing anything else with Rush —they’ll be touring for quite some time yet.

 

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Colin Wilson reflects on 25 years with the band “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”

Colin Wilson is the bassist for the cover band, “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”.  2012 marks the 25th anniversary with the band, who perform over 100 shows a year all over the world. The band has recently released their  Blu-ray/DVD of their current “Exposed in the Light” and are planning a big tour for  2013 called “Eclipsed By The Moon” to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Moon”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Colin about 25 years with the band and the bands work of constantly trying to improve their skill in order to master the work of Pink Floyd.

Mike Gencarelli: This year marks 20 years with “The Australian Pink Floyd Show”; how do you feel the band has evolved in that time?
Colin Wilson: Wow, well it has evolved incredibly. We started off very small, literally getting together on weekends and trying to learn songs. We are just trying to learn how to do Pink Floyd well. We did some small shows around Australia, like pubs and clubs. As the years have gone on, we have constantly re-invested into it. Every time we could we would get two extra lights or a bigger projector screen, things like that. We just kept putting back into the band. Now, as you said 20+ years later, we tour worldwide and doing over 100 shows a year. It is a really big full-scale production and it is the same sort of production now that you would expect to see with a mainstream band.

MG: After all these years, do you still have to put work into mastering the songs?
CW: Some aspects of it come easier just because of how much we are doing it. We don’t have any real long periods off. The longest we have away is two months over Christmas and you don’t forget everything in those two months. As far as playing the music goes, it is definitely getting a bit easier since all the hard work is done. But we never sort of rest on that. We are always trying to fine-tune and improve ourselves. We still listen to the music today and hear little subtleties that we might have missed.

MG: How does it feel to be called “The Best Tribute Band in the World”?
CW: It is funny for us. We are one of the first tribute bands. When we started up in Australia, in the end of the 80’s and early 90’s there were a lot of tribute bands forming mainly because a lot of the mainstream bands weren’t making it out there to tour. So there was definitely a need for people to do this since the fans wanted to hear it and the real band weren’t coming out. So we were one of the first and then definitely one of the first to take it overseas from Australia. When we got to the UK in the early 90’s, there were maybe 2 or 3 other tribute bands around but not many. I would say within the first 2 or 3 years of us being in the UK, the whole scene suddenly blew up and there were tribute bands everywhere. I guess we have stood the test of time since most of those early bands are long-gone. I guess that is due to the fact that we keep trying to improve ourselves every year and why we’re referred to as the best one around. It is incredibly gratifying to us when we get reviews like that and hear things like that.

MG: What is your biggest challenging having to cover two very different styles of Roger Waters and Guy Pratt?
CW: Song by song is not very challenging. The biggest challenge really is doing a song by one of them and then the very next song doing the other. You have to treat each one in a song by song basis and getting into the feel and groove of that song in the blink of an eye between the songs. And because I have been doing it for so long it just sort of happens for me. Hopefully it is working and I am able to do that effectively.

MG: What do you do to keep it fresh when performing these songs live each tour?
CW: Well, there are 10 musicians in the band and every one of them are complete professionals and each one of them approaches this in that way. We also all get on great as well. We are like a team. If one person doesn’t do their job, it sort of lets us all down. In some ways, we try and impress each other every night. It is a challenge but we are the kind of people that like that challenge. We try to do it right every night and send the audience away with big smiles on their faces. That is the mindset that we have and how we keep it fresh. Most importantly, we still enjoy doing it after all these years.

MG: What songs really hits home with you when performing live?
CW: Me personally, I love the songs from the “Animals” album. That’s probably my favorite with “Dark Side of the Moon” in a close second. On “Animals”, the tracks are very deep with a lot of aspects that you have to remember. They are quite long songs with many different passages. You have to be completely absorbed to play them and do them justice. So I really enjoy those. Also it has to be any of the songs that get an amazing reaction from the audience. Like every night we play “Another Brick in the Wall”, we get this fantastic buzz because the audience gets on their feet with that song.

MG: Tell us about your encounters with the actual members of Pink Floyd?
CW: Going way back to 1994/1995, David Gilmour came to see us play and met with us after the show. We got to talk with him for a while and he was really into what we were doing. We had played some songs that he himself haven’t heard, let alone played, in a long time. He was really encouraging and positive about that. He has seen us a few times since then when we come along to London. We sort of got his unofficial endorsement. We played at his 50th birthday party in London, which was incredible. It was amazing for us as a band and gave us that extra bit of credibility that maybe we needed with some of the more skeptical Floyd fans. Also Nick Mason, in the recent years, has said a lot of nice things about us in the press. We have a nice unofficial connection with them. We know that they are sort of watching us through the one eye kind of aspect. It is a nice relationship. We are not out having BBQ’s each weekend but we do have a nice distant relationship with them.

MG: Tell us about the newly released Blu-ray/DVD, “Exposed in the Light”?
CW: This is something that when we started out we weren’t sure if people would be interested in recordings of us doing Floyd stuff. But evidentially they are. Fans were always telling us they want to take something home and watch it and share with friends that couldn’t make it to the shows. We did one last year that was a double DVD that was recorded in Hammersmith in London. The first disc was the show and the second was a documentary on the band, which was really great. This time we released a concert from this year’s tour “Exposed in the Light”. We actually filmed it all ourselves with HD cameras. What we did was set up the cameras in different positions every night, so we ended up with something like 20 different camera angles. Then that was all edited together to make what looks like a huge camera shoot. It has come out absolutely amazing. In between the songs, we have got some great behind-the-scenes footage. It is a nice little package and it has this really great HD quality concert footage with all the different angles. You get to see a lot of the show from various different positions. We are very excited about that.

MG: Tell what we can expect from the 2013 tour “Eclipsed By The Moon”?
CW: It is the 40th anniversary of “Dark Side of the Moon” in 2013, so it is very exciting. 10 years ago, we did the 30th anniversary which was incredibly successful. We are looking this time around to maybe do something different with it. We are not 100% certain just yet how we are going to approach it. Whether we do the whole thing in its entirety or if we mix it up a bit. We are also looking into different things to project on the screen during it and really make it and event. One thing that I can guarantee is that it will be a big celebration of “Dark Side of the Moon”. I think there are a lot of Pink Floyd fans out there that are really on the edge of their seat waiting for this tour. It starts February of next year in the UK. So it is going to be great.

 

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Brian Austin Green & Melora Hardin talk about new show TBS’ “Wedding Band”

Brian Austin Green and Melora Hardin are starring in TBS’ new comedy series “Wedding Band”, which debuts on Saturday, November 10 at 10:00 pm. “Brian plays Tommy, the life of the party and lead singer of the band who is also the star on the stage and the bedroom. Tommy’s a bad boy with a good heart. And Melora plays Roxie Rutherford who is the owner of Rutherford Events. She’s no- she’ll do nothing more for her clients, she’ll do anything from shipping sand in from Fiji for an island themed party. Roxy is the person behind the most important moments and the best nights in people’s lives.” Brian Austin Green is known best for his roles in “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Melora is known best for her role on NBC’s “The Office”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian and Melora about this new show and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: Brian, your the lead singer for “Wedding Band”, were these all songs that you knew ahead of time or did you have to learn some of them?
Brian Austin Green: Whew. For the most part I knew the melodies. But most of the songs, I got to be honest, when I got the lyric sheets my first thoughts were, oh, those are the words, (that’s not what) we’ve been singing. When you have REM’s “End of the World as We Know It” and you go what is he talking about? I think the only thing anybody ever knew was “it’s the end of the world as we know it”…and the rest of the words were completely unknown. I’ve always had a bad habit of that, just in I’m a huge music lover. I grew up listening to it, but I’m one of those just because I play, I play piano and drums, I connect way more with melodies usually than the lyrics. So the lyrics are usually the last thing that I learn, whereas a lot of other people I know really sit and study the lyrics first and the melody is kind of the last thing. So, I knew pretty much none of them.

MG: Before I watched the pilot, I was kind of expecting the band to be funny in itself, like the performing, but I was actually impressed and thought you guys were really a solid band. Can you reflect on that important element of the show is that we’re not actually laughing at your guys’ talent because there is talent there?
BAG: Well, I think the answer lends itself to what we were just talking about. We can play comedy songs, which only kind of last for so long, or we can stick with the element of what the show is, which is that our job is to make this believable, our job is to make this band honestly the most kick-ass wedding band anybody has ever seen. I’m just saying that alone there’s comedy in that. They’re a stadium style wedding band. You never hear or see anything like that, let alone sit at a wedding, hear these amazing grand songs, and have pyrotechnics and confetti cannons going off. And throwing guitar picks out to the crowd.
Melora Hardin: Right, and they’ve got my character Rutherford breathing down their neck that it better be damn good. And they are. That’s why she takes them on in the first place. They care so much about the event in a whole other way than Roxie cares about the event, but I’m glad you recognize that because they are awesome. It’s not like we’re breaking into song, you know, like Glee does, like musical style. But it’s just using music in the storyline in a truthful, honest way. So yes, anyway.
BAG: And on top of that, too, Adam Schlesinger who does our music is so gifted at what he does.
MH: Amazing. And Steven Gold.
BAG: Yes, and Steven Gold. They have an amazing ability to take something like a KISS song at Oktoberfest, so you’re singing these party anthems but with a kick drum and a trombone and an accordion, but still doing it in a serious enough way as a musician that aside from laughing because we’re wearing lederhosen and you’re still thinking this song is awesome. I kind of want to hear this version again. It’s really fun. And that’s what music does. The music carries so much emotion to it. And when it’s done by people that really enjoy doing it, I think it comes across just in watching and listening to it. And that’s what we strive for.
BAG: It’s scary when you pick up a script and you see something worded that way. Roxie Rutherford in a jazz club singing Get Ur Freak On. And then all of a sudden you get the CD from Adam and Steve and you hear it. And it was really a nice experience to put in a CD for every episode and hear what they had been working on because it really kept the excitement going.
MH: You just wait, we got so many more coming.
BAG: Oh, I think we have 29 or 30 songs.

MG: What songs should we be looking out for the most this season?
MH: Well, Brian has a lot more to choose from, but I think I mentioned earlier, but I did a version of Get Ur Freak On, which I think they are going to release on iTunes, which is a pretty phenomenal arrangement and pretty spectacular because it’s a Missy Elliot song which they made into a jazz trio. So that was pretty spectacular. But the band has some pretty spectacular ones too.
BAG:  Yes, I honestly don’t want to give any away. I think one that’s really fun and it kind of comes up early on, so I don’t feel so bad, is we do a very sort of Indian version of Party Rock, which is just really amazing  There’s an entire dance number, like Bollywood kind of dance number that goes along with it and it’s pretty genius.

MG: Melora, your character is really tough but also have a fun side; what would you say for you was the most challenging part of preparing for her?
MH: Brian Austin Green [laughs]. No, you know what, she’s so much fun. I mean, she’s – I don’t know if I would say that there was like a challenging part of the character. It’s always exciting, I would put it that way, to try to, you know, to try to kind of get all the different colors running through a character like her because she’s multidimensional and there’s a lot to bite into there. And she’s similar to Jan in that respect in that she’s rich.

MG: There is a little bit of tension between you guys in the first episode and I’m wondering if you think there’s any chance of any romance between Tommy and Rutherford.
BAG:  I think there’s a chance of anything between Tommy and Rutherford.
MH:  I do too.
BAG:  I wouldn’t take anything off the plate. I think anything is possible.
MH: They could kill each other, they could fall in love with each other.
BAG:  They could. Yes.
MH: No, there’s a lot there for sure. It’s an interesting little dynamic.
BAG:  Yes. I think it’s one of the things that makes the relationship fun. It’s kind of like, the Moonlighting aspect of the show. It’s the thing I always loved about that show is you can sort of have that underlying sexual tension, but never even have to go there and it plays really well. And then if we finally do, then it’s explosive and it’s sexy and it’s daring and, you know, we win Oscars. I want to be the first…
MH: We win Oscars even though we’re on TV. We win Oscars. Thank you.
Brian Austin Green: No, I want to be the first television star to win an Oscar.
MH: That’s a first.
BAG: That’s my goal. I want it to be that good and sexy.
MH: Let’s go for it. I like it.

MG: Brian, you starred in hour-long dramas and 30-minute comedies and of course. Melora, you were on “The Office”, which is another 30-minute comedy. The Wedding Band is different. It’s an hour long comedy. How is that different from anything you both have done before?
MH: Well, I’ll start. I think Brian and I both have done sort of sitcom stuff. “The Office” isn’t filmed like a sitcom, but I’ve done that traditional sitcom way of making a comedy. That’s sort of like the crème de la crème is in terms of lifestyle for an actor because, you do all these rehearsal days and then you have one long day. When you’re making a drama, an hour-long drama, you have very long days and but you also have to be funny. So I think to me, what’s nice about the show, and one of the really, really wonderful elements in it being an hour, is that you get the comedy, but you also get that fabulous arc of the dramatic arc. You have time to get into the characters, you have time to get into the storyline, and it doesn’t just have to be (joke, hit, joke, hit, joke, hit, joke, hit). So I really like that a lot and I enjoyed it. But you do have that drama schedule of having to be there for very long days.
BAG: Yes, the thing though that I really enjoy about our show especially is that coming from dramas first. I did do a sitcom and it’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy comedy. I’ve always loved watching even growing up, was I love comedy that are real, their real dramatic, you know, honest moments in funny situations. I like seeing people struggle through situations that are just absurd and laughing at them. I feel like our show is written in a very serious way. We’re honest about the things that we do and our lives are just crazy enough that it’s entertaining and it’s funny. But it’s never setup, punch line, which is hard to do.
MH: Yes, and it’s a whole different style of comedy.
BAG: It’s a hard thing to do for an hour especially.
MH: Yes. Exactly. No, it’s all based on truth.
BAG: And you guys were the best at it on The Office. That was like the absolute bar of delivering.
MH: Well, it was unique in that it really was the first one to kind of come along that was really, since like Cheers, that was sort of like really based in reality and sort of that mockumentary style. That really worked well for me, too. Brian and I have had similar backgrounds in that we both really believe that great comedy, just as great drama, definitely comes from the truth of the moment and it’s always funny, truth is always funnier than fiction and trying to get to that truth is always going to make the best joke.

MG: Tell us about how to was working with your wife, Megan Fox, on this show? How did that come about?
BAG: Honestly, she kind of stepped in and saved us at the last minute. There were a couple other people that they were discussing bringing into the episode at first and schedule wise and timing wise it didn’t work out and I had already spoken to my wife about the episode and kind of what was going on and she graciously said that, you know, if nothing else worked out that she would step in and kind of rescue us and she did. I thought she was great. I thought she kicked ass.
MH: Yes, she totally kicked ass.

Kathryn Fiore talks about new TV series TBS’ “The Wedding Band”

Kathryn Fiore is co-starring in TBS’ new comedy series “The Wedding Band”, playing Ingrid. Kathryn has also appeared in films like “Hatchet II” and the upcoming spoof “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kathryn about the new show and her love for comedy.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to the role if Ingrid?
Kathryn Fiore: She is my favorite character out of the roles I have played. When I read the script she wasn’t the typical TV wife. She and her husband Eddy are really in love. There isn’t that typical wife nagging the husband. They are happy and she is his biggest fan. When she watches him playing on stage it takes her back to the first time they met. I think this will be great for TV. I love that they are so cute.

MG: What has been the highlight so far of working with such a great cast?
KF: Everything has been great! It sounds so ridiculous but we have a lot of fun on set. It’s like working with your best friends. We laugh and joke around all the time. It hardly seems like work. Of course there are some late nights where you’re shooting at 2am and you just start coming up with some crazy characters and such. There are just so many highlights.

MG: Will we see your character singing at all during the upcoming episodes?
KF: I haven’t in this season but I would love to. I think they should totally have an episode where that happens.

MG: What can we expect from season 1 of the show?
KF: Overall I think it’s about the band getting into as much trouble as humanly possible. They get in to a lot of crazy antics. At the end the guys have this great bond where they always come together at the end. There’s one episode where we lose our kids but it not really that big of deal. The show has a lot of great music as well as some great special guests.

MG: How was it working in the hour long comedy format?
KF: It’s great. That’s a format I think TBS is really trying to get behind. By doing that you are able to get the comedic elements but you also get the realness. There are a lot of genuine moments as well as laughable moments.

MG: What was it like going from a film like “Hatchet II” to a role like you play in “Wedding Band”?
KF: It was actually really fun. Working with Adam Green and the Hatchet Family was so awesome. I am such a huge horror fan that it was great to play a really scary character. Going from that to playing Ingred who is a very grounded/real type character was fun. Ingred is more like me.

MG: Can you tell us about “30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”?
KF: That movie is going to be a really great spoof of a bunch of films. We are just making fun of the whole horror genre. It has a great cast and is a little sillier and raunchier than some other films. There are also some actual scary parts that have great special effects. I may or may not make out with a ghost. (Laughs)

MG: What do you enjoy most about the comedy genre?
KF: My parents are both actors who when they were younger had a comedy act. They were on the Johnny Carson show and a bunch of others. I grew up with a lot of joking around and silliness. Comedy has always been part of my actual life. What more could you ask for than to be able to go to work and laugh all day.

“The Man With the Iron Fists” ROE Tickets Giveaway! [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

If you would like to enter for a chance to win free passes to see THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS during its run of engagement (AKA ROE), please leave a comment below with your favorite martial arts film. Winners will be chosen on a RANDOM BASIS on November 2nd. ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON/PER HOUSEHOLD PLEASE! OTHERWISE ALL ENTRIES WILL BE DISREGARDED. The winners will be will notified via email if chosen to win. Good luck and thanks for supporting MediaMikes.com

Quentin Tarantino presents THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, an action-adventure inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by his longtime collaborators RZA and Eli Roth.  Making his debut as a big-screen director, co-writer and leading man, RZA—alongside an exciting international cast led by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu—tells the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero who all descend on one fabled village in China for a winner-take-all battle for a fortune in gold.

Blending astonishing martial-arts sequences from some of the masters of this world with the signature vision he brings as the leader of the Wu-Tang Clan and as one of hip-hop’s most dominant figures of the past two decades, RZA embarks upon his most ambitious, stylized and thrilling project to date.

Joining Crowe, RZA and Liu in the cast are Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Dave Bautista, Byron Mann, Daniel Wu and Pam Grier.

Universal Pictures will release THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS on Friday, November 2, 2012.

Gerald Scarfe talks about working with Pink Floyd on “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”

Gerald Scarfe is a satirical political cartoonist and is known best for working with the band Pink Floyd on two of their albums “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”. He also created the animation used in the film “Pink Floyd: The Wall” and worked with Roger Water on his new tour of “The Wall”. Media Mikes got the chance to chat with Gerald about his work and reflect on its impact with fans.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your revisiting the wall with your book “The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall”?
Gerald Scarfe: What I think think the weird thing about going through the diary of one’s life is that first of all you forget things and misplace the dates. It was like unraveling a piece of memory or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But overall it was a fantastic experience looking back working on this project, which was some 30 years ago. I really didn’t feel at the time that it was going to be anything really exceptionable. I knew that Pink Floyd were extremely well known at the time. I worked with them for about five years to produce this thing. People have asked me in the past and asked if working on “The Wall” changed my life but for me then it was just another a job that I did. They have said “Well it has definitely changed my life”. So I think it really did strike a nerve in the public at that time. The young of those days are the older generation today and they are still fans and write to me. There is a guy who recently contacted me to tell me that his entire left arm is being tattooed with my illustrations. So it is still relevant today.

MG: Tell us about revisiting “The Wall” after almost 30 years ago with Roger Water’s new tour? What was your involvement?
GS: It was a fantastic experience. Now it is back up and running again. Roger contacted me about two years ago and said he was going to do the show again and would need new material. I re-designed some new things like the puppets and some bits of film here and there. I also did various lettering and writing for the program, which was projected on the wall. What has changed from when we originally did it is that things were not computerized. Where we were using three projectors on the wall back then now there are seven or eight projecting. They can literally pin point an individual brick on the wall using the computer. Even when we first did it I thought it felt like a Roman circus and was just so spectacular.

MG: How do you compare going from working on “Wish You were Here” to “The Wall”?
GS: When they first approached me, they were touring at the time and I did little pieces of animation here and there. I wasn’t really sure what was needed or wanted of me at the time. I was known in Britain and parts of America for being a satirical artist, making fun of society and poking fun at politicians. I think that is why Roger (Waters) and Nick (Mason) needed from me at the time. I didn’t quite get that and I started to make them these surreal images of men tumbling through the stratosphere and crashing through the sky. They were all rather surreal. I think what they were expecting from me was probably something a little more actual about the world itself in a more precise way. I actually started the flowers (from “The Wall”), way back then in the early days of “Wish You Were Here”. The flowers have some much work in them. I think in some places there are about 24 drawings per second in them, in order to most very slowly. Each one of those drawings probably takes 1-2 days and there are thousands of them. It was very labor intensive and expensive also. So that is how it all began. Later when we came to do “The Wall”, we cannibalized some of these pieces for “Wish You Were Here” and used them like the flowers and so forth.

MG: Your animation in “The Wall” was used to portray Waters’ political expression throughout the songs, did you consider that when creating them?
GS: It was Nick that approached me first in the very beginning.Then Roger got more and more involved. Roger came forward bit by bit and I ended up dealing with him primarily. I felt a little awkward at first working with Waters since I felt like I was denying Nick, he is still a very good friend and I had dinner with him just recently. Roger is very insistent and precise. Roger said to me and this is true “When you hire an artist, you don’t interfere with what that artist does or try and push him your way. You get what you get”. So Roger was very happy for me to interpret his lyrics since we were on the same page. I was able to visualize the whole thing for him. He has not only given “The Wall” an audio personality but I’ve given it also a visual personality. We met many times and drank a lot of a special brew of Carlsberg beer, which is very strong, and luckily we have the same dark wit. That developed into a strong relationship that we have today.

MG: Where did you draw inspiration from for the marching hammers, The Judge and the “Empty Spaces” sequence?
GS: First of all my experiences of judges are that the ministry of the law is a tricky business and they always make mistakes, so to me the law was an asshole, so that was that [laughs]. The hammers were suppose to be the forces of repression. What can you think of that is more cruel and relentlessly mindless than a hammer as it smashes down. That is the kind of way I think. When it came to “Empty Spaces”, I believe that was a stream of consciousness. I made a film prior to this where I just rolled from one image to another, which is actually how I ended up meeting Nick and Roger, it was called “A Long Draw Out Trip”, which I made for the BBC. That was really everything about America that I could think of at the time. I had Mickey Mouse, Playboy, Black Power, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, which were all morphing one into the other. I took that idea when I came to “Empty Spaces”. Interestingly enough, “Empty Spaces” starts with the flowers, which began like we said from “Wish You Were Here”. Then I just kept adding to it all the time. The flowers end up making love and then I thought well what happens when people fall in love, sometimes they hate one another. So then the female ends up devouring the male and flies away. It grew and grew and was unraveling. It was much of a journey for me, adding a page a day to this unrolling adventure.

MG: I’ve read you saw The Wall back in 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, NY, how do you compare “The Wall” from then to today?
GS: It is difficult really since it was in fact a long time ago and one’s memory has blunted. I remember being very excited. I never worked on theater in this size at all. I remember Roger telling me one night, “You know that you are a rock ‘n roll artist now, right?”. I looked and there were thousands of people applauding my flowers and work. I realized that I was pleasing the audience and that was a terrific feeling for me. Being an artist can be a lonely job. You work alone and don’t see the people who are looking at your pictures generally. So to be in an auditorium like that where they are cheering at your work, it is a really great feeling. Over the years, I have grown used to that feeling having done a lot of opera, theatre and my work with Disney on “Hercules”. It is still a thrill though. I went to Madison Square Garden last year to see the show and I had the same kind of thrill still. The guy who wrote to me and told me about him getting the tattoos on his arm said that he was a Gulf War veteran and told me how much my work has helped him through his difficult periods. It is hard for me to imagine that it actually helps people. I guess the music becomes very personal to some people and it stay with them through their life.

MG: Due to the diminishing role of physical packaging due to digital downloads, what do you see for the role of art playing in the world of music in the future?
GS: Well, I don’t see why animation still cannot be used. In my other job, I am the political cartoonist for the London Sunday Times, where I’ve been for like 45 years, I can see a point where newspapers will be phased out. People will be getting the news online, which is much quicker. I personally am not tremendously computer literate but I have people that help me. All of my work is now electronically sent around the world, once it is scanned in. Going back to music, I don’t see why these images cannot be downloaded with the music. It is exactly the same.

 

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WWE Superstar Chris Jericho talks about working with band Fozzy

Fozzy is the hard rock/heavy metal band fronted by WWE superstar Chris Jericho recently released its 5th studio album via Century Media records titled “Sin and Bones”. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Chris recently about the album and his appearance on the popular ABC television show “Dancing with the Stars”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background info on the new album?
Chris Jericho: After the “Chasing the Grail” album we decided that our approach is a little bit different from the norm. We use really heavy riffs combined with melodic hook filled choruses. Maybe if Journey and Metallica had a bastard child it would sound like Fozzy. We really honed in on that with the last record and when it came time to do “Sin and Bones” we knew that was the direction we wanted to go in. We wanted to make this record like our “Black” album. That Metallica album has a certain tone and feel. Even though the songs on that album are all very diverse they still fit together. We put a lot of time in to the sequencing of the record.

AL: What type of creative process does the band take?
CJ: We do things a little bit backwards. I will generally write the lyrics first. From there I will give them to Rich Ward and he will right the music and the melodies based on the lyrics I give him. A lot of times it’s the other way around. Doing things this way on the last three records has worked out really well. A lot of my lyrics are based on song titles. If I see or phrase or something I find interesting I will put a note of that into my phone. When it comes time to write I will look through those notes and sort of work backwards from the title. Maybe we will experiment with the traditional way of song writing on the next record.

AL: Did the band do a lot of pre-production for the record?
CJ: We took our time. We started working on this album back in November. We did a tour of Europe and brought a recording rig along with us. We just started recording ideas and riffs while we were on the road. When it came time to go into the studio we knew we didn’t want to have to rush. The label actually gave us a deadline of May 2012 but we had already been working on the album since November so we had a good start on things.

AL: What do you think has posed a bigger challenge wrestling, playing music or “Dancing with the Stars”?
CJ: They have all posed challenges. When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band. I have been playing music since I was 12 and then I started wrestling at 19. I was always being told that I wouldn’t be able to do those things for various reasons. I learned very early on that you have to eliminate negative people from your world and that if you really want to do something you have to make it happen. As a result of that I have never been afraid to try anything. Especially something that is creative. When “Dancing with the Stars” came up the 3rd time I decided to try it. The first couple times they asked me to be on the show I was busy with “WrestleMania” and the other time I was doing a Fozzy tour. That show was probably the biggest challenge. Music and wrestling I had been doing for a majority of my life. I had never danced before. The first time I danced was in front of 25 million people. There ended up being a lot of similarities between the three. You have to feel the music and be on top of the beat and like in wrestling you have to remember the choreography while being light on your feet. Once I got that first performance under my belt I got addicted to it. When I got eliminated from the show I had withdraws almost. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was glad that I could prove to myself that I was able to do that.

AL: Do you ever find critiques are quick to write the band off due to your wrestling background?
CJ: They have in the past but we just keep coming back. People have been hearing about the band for years but until they really listen to the music do they understand what they have been missing. I think we have had to work a little harder to get past that but in 2010 I started to really notice a shift. People still knew me from wrestling but they started to pay more attention to the band and not what I have been associated with in the past. When I go see Iron Maiden I don’t say “there’s the airline pilot’s band”. Those are two separate things. You just have to prove to people that you are real and passionate. This is part of who I am and it is never going to go away.

AL: What made Fozzy abandon the idea of having alter-ego’s and go in a different direction?
CJ: We were originally signed as a cover band by Megaforce Records. They were really into what we were doing so we decided to come up with alter-ego’s to make what we were doing a little different as just playing covers was a bit boring. After playing together for awhile we realized we liked what we were doing and we had some good chemistry. We decided to take it to the next step and start playing our own tunes. I compare our band a lot to Pantera. There were two version of that band. When they first came out they were a glam-metal band with big hair and makeup. It makes no since that they changed everything about themselves and turned in to the band we all love. Fozzy was pretty similar. There were two versions of the band under one name. Our original name as a cover band was Fozzy Osbourne so we shortened it and now we are on version 2 of the band.

AL: What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
CJ: After the “Uproar Tour” ends we have a short tour of the states in October and then we head over to Europe. From there we will be heading to Australia as part of the Sound Wave Festival with Metallica. Those dates were all booked prior to the album release so we will be plugging some holes here and there with other dates as well.

3D Blu-ray Review “The Pirates! Band of Misfits in 3D”

Directors: Jeff Newitt, Peter Lord
Starring: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton
MPAA Rating: PG
Distributed: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Running Time: 88 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

After seeing the trailer for “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” five thousand times over a course of a few months, I grew very disinterested in this film. Though when viewing it at home on 3D Blu-ray, I was very impressed. It is a fun, over-the-top stop-motion animated adventure film that will entertain the entire family. There is colorful characters for the kids and colorful jokes for the adults. The voice cast is also very impressive with Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven. The humor is a little British but still manages to keep you entertained throughout the film feature.  I am not sure how many times I would be interested in revisiting this film but it is definitely game for at least one good viewing.

This film has been released as a three-disc set with two Blu-ray’s (3D and 2D) and a DVD copy of the film. There is also a Ultraviolet digital streaming copy available. The 3D on this film was not the best I have ever seen but overall decent. That doesn’t mean the film doesn’t look stunning on Blu-ray. It’s 1080p video resolution is beautiful and really showcases the animations and its colors. The film also includes a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track and it is also near perfect as well. It works so well with the film’s action scenes and zany antics. Like most 3D films, all of the extras are located on the 2D-only disc. The only extra on the 3D disc are 3D previews.

The special features are decent but nothing out of this world. I just would have loved to seen some 3D features. There is an audio commentary with directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt and Editor Justin Krish. Very detailed but overall not that interesting. There is short film included, which runs almost 20 minutes called “So You Want To Be a Pirate!”. “Pirate Disguise Dress-Up Game” is a cute ‘hide-the-pirate’ game for kids. “From Stop to Motion” is my favorite feature which goes into detail on the development process on the animation. “Creating the Bath Chase Sequence” is a specific focus on one of the film’s most complex scenes. Lastly there are two short films from Peter Lord including “Wat’s Pig” and “War Story” both are available with optional director’s commentary.

Los Angeles based rock band Attaloss talk about their first EP

The Los Angeles based rock band Attaloss released their first EP earlier this year titled “Attaloss”. The band is currently out on tour in support of the release and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with the band about the formation of the group and the making of the EP.

Adam Lawton:  What led to you guys starting the band?
Chris Johansen: The band started about two years ago. We had all came from other projects and each of us knew what we did and didn’t want to do. We really took our time and made sure we had great people who were in it for the right reasons. We took about 6 months getting it all together as we all came from different cities. When we all finally met each other in person we knew we had the right group.

AL: How would you describe the band’s sound? And what makes Attaloss stand out from other bands?
Matt: I would probably put us in the modern rock category. We have a very popular sound (Laughs). Other than our live show which I think is what really sets us apart, I would say our music is fresh and it keeps your attention.

AL: How would you describe the band’s latest release?
Danny Aguiluz: We are extremely excited about this album. We have been on tour now since before its release in March. We have gotten a lot of really great feedback from people who have bought the album which has been cool. We are very proud of how it turned out.

AL: What was the recording process like for the album?
Dakota Clark: We wrote as many songs together as a band as we could. I think we had 30 verse/choruses written. After that we got a hold of our producer and just rapid fired the songs at him. He would tell us what songs he thought would work and which ones didn’t. We would then take the remaining songs and work them really hard. We started out with 5 songs which we worked on for about 2 months in the studio. Once we had those done we thought it would be cool to just do a full length album. We wanted to show people that not only could we play rock music but we could also play acoustic.

AL: Did you find performing the acoustic versions of the songs to be any harder than the electric versions?
CJ: The songs were all originally written on an acoustic guitar. It was almost like taking them back to their birth. During this time we were still a four piece until Matt Geronimo joined us. He added a whole other layer of harmonies and vocals. Those added things really changed how the songs sounded. When we went back to playing them acoustically it opened up an entire new world of sound which we were really excited about.

AL: Are there plans to release a video for any of the songs?
CJ: We have  a video for our first single “Open Door”. We had also planned on doing another single/video release however the director who we worked with on “Open Door” got called out to shoot in China. This guys works all over the world and we had him locked in for about two weeks but then he got called out. Hopefully when we are done with this tour we will be able to work on the video.

AL: How much longer will you be out touring? And what other plans does the band have?
Zo Perea: We are actually going to be out for a couple more months. When we get back we plan to take 6 months off from touring to do some songwriting and hopefully release a new EP.
CJ: This whole year has been about being on the road. We will have been on the road for more than half the year when this tour wraps up. This has been about just getting out there and building up our fan base. We have been lucky enough to get on 27 different radio stations and made our way out to those places that have supported us. We now know a lot more about who we are as a band and I think our next release will be a true 12-14 song album.

Zac Brown Band Debut Animated Music Video for ‘The Wind’

Check out the new animated music video for Zac Brown Band’s song “The Wind”. It stars an animated, guitar-shredding, big game hunting robot.

If that wasn’t cool enough it is directed by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead) and produced by Titmouse (Metalocalypse, Motorcity, Superjail!, China, IL, Black Dynamite).

Zac Brown Band’s album ‘UNCAGED’ is available in stores and online on July 10th!