Skillet’s John Cooper talks about the bands debut graphic novel “Eden”

John Cooper is the vocalist/bassist for the Platinum selling rock group Skillet. The band recently partnered with Z2 Comics to release their first graphic novel titled “Eden”. Media Mikes caught up with John and the band at New York Comic Con to discuss the creation of the book, its similarities to the group’s music and if there will be books to come in the future.    

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the bands new comic “Eden”?

John Cooper: I love comics and they are something I grew up with. I have always looked at Skillet as sort of a theatrical band. When I say theatrical I am meaning more from an operatic feel than that of a visual feel like Kiss or Alice Cooper. I had always envisioned doing a comic book as I see us all as characters. I had sort of put it off because if it’s not done right it can become terribly cheesy. On social media I am always posting about comics and I ended up getting a call from Z2 Comics asking if I would be interested in doing a graphic novel. I told them yes and that I had some story ideas but I wasn’t sure where to begin. They said that’s ok as they had some ideas of their own. I wanted to do something that was more science fiction as opposed to hero driven. I was looking for something with a post-apocalyptic feel but with a message of hope. That’s something you don’t see a lot. The book has sci-fi and super-natural elements mixed in with some religious undertones. In my view I think all great science-fiction have religious elements. When I say “religious” I’m not necessarily meaning Christianity but just religious. Films like “Dune”, “Blade Runner” and “Battlestar Galactica” are solid examples of that.

AL: How much collaboration went into the book?

JC: I brought the theme of a dying world filled with people all having the same dream which is leading them to paradise. I worked with some really great writers who helped me put together all the different ideas I had. Sadly the idea of the glowing eyes was not my idea but one I really liked as it was sort of an homage to “Dune” which is one of my all time favorite books.

Ian Lawton: What did the rest of the band think about the comic?

JC: The band loves the comic. At first I think they weren’t too sure what to expect. My wife Corey knew what I was going for as she knows me really well. I think it’s hard for people to understand what’s in your head when you are creating something. Once the book was done I think they were a little shocked as to how good it was and how emotional it is.

AL: Did the writing for “Eden” happen at the same time you were writing the band’s latest album “Victorious”?   

JC: Yes, I was writing for both things at the same time. It was a very crazy and busy two years. While these two things were going on I also released a side project EP titled “Fight the Fury” along with our drummer Jen’s side project “Ledger”. All of these things were basically written and released in two and half years. Writing for the comic was making me really want to write music so all of these things had me firing on all pistons. Each project worked off of one another.

IM: Was writing the book similar to writing music?

JC: I didn’t notice this until after the book was done and I had read it. I know that may sound sort of silly but, sometimes when you are writing you don’t always notice things others might as you are just going with what is coming out. After I read the book I felt as thou it was very similar to our music. The book is a little dark but it is meaningful. That’s what people say about Skillet songs and I think “Eden” has that same feel.

IM: Can you tell us about the special hardcover edition that will be available?

JC: That’s something that I am still waiting to see myself. I have seen parts of what are going to be in it and I am very excited for the finished version to be available. It’s going to have this really cool axe on it which is my weapon in the book. With this beard I sort of feel like a lumberjack and thought that an axe would be a perfect weapon as opposed to some of the other more futuristic weapons you see in the book.

AL: Is this just a one off book or are there plans to do others?

JC: The band is going to be out on the road until mid December so that’s going to have me tied up for a few months. We have started to talk a little about the possibility of more books but nothing is definite. I think it would be great to do a second one.

To order a copy “Eden” click here and to order Skillets latest album “Victorious” click here   

Gatecreeper’s Chase Mason Discusses the Bands New Album “Deserted”

Media Mikes had the chance to sit down with Chase Mason of the metal band Gatecreeper to talk about the band’s sophomore album “Deserted”, out now. Chase also shared with us info on the groups upcoming tour, his approach to standing out in death metal, and his friendship with fellow artist Post Malone.

Ryan Albro: What would you tell people about Gatecreeper that have never heard of them before?

Chase Mason: Gatecreeper is a death metal band from Phoenix, Arizona. We play a catchy, mid-tempo style mixed with old school death metal. Even if you don’t like death metal you will like Gatecreeper.

RA: What would you tell eager returning fans about the new album, Deserted?

CM: If you liked the last record, Sonoran Depravation, you’re going to like this one. It shows a natural progression for the band and is a better, more concise, version of what we’ve already been doing. We’re not trying to experiment or be progressive here. It’s overall better than the last record.

RA: Gatecreeper has been gaining a lot of popularity as of late. How do you maintain relevance in today’s music scene so well?

CM: It’s important to use all the tools that you have to your advantage. I’ve seen a lot of bands that think they’re too cool to use social media or don’t play shows with bands they don’t think are cool. It’s better not to turn your nose up at certain things. It’s about being comfortable and staying true to who you are. As far as standing out in a sea of a million bands and artists, I think it’s really important to provide a full package. I try to pay attention to every aspect of the band. You have to have good songs to start out with, but the visuals are important as well. There are a lot of bands with really good songs that may not get noticed because they’re lacking in other areas. The music first, then your art, whether it’s album art, tour flyers or tour merch. I’ve tried with Gatecreeper to have a full package and have everything flow together and be distinct so that we stand out. There are new bands putting out records every day, there are a million shows that come into your town a year, so if you want to stick out, you’ve got to pay attention to all the little details.

RA: What can you tell us about the Brad Moore album artwork?

CM: It’s crazy. Anybody who sees it will think it’s crazy, in a good way. It’s important to me to have cool art. If someone’s at the record store or they’re online and they see that album cover it will grab their attention. Even if they don’t know who we are, they will listen to the record.

RA: Which tracks from “Deserted” are you most looking forward to performing live?

CM: Puncture Wounds is a very fast, up-tempo song for Gatecreeper. That song will be a great circle pit song. The end of the song Ruthless was written with playing the song live in mind. There’s a part in the song that as soon as it hits you’ll know it’s time for a circle pit. Since we toured so much on the last record, we learned what works well live. Deserted was the first record, while we were writing, where we knew a part would sound cool on the record, as well as live.

RA: What are the band’s touring plans for the album?

CM: We’re going to do two record release shows, one in LA, the other in Phoenix. Phoenix will be our hometown record release show. Starting on Halloween, we’re co-headlining a tour with Exhumed, with Necrot and Judiciary until December. After that we play the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in LA. That’s what we have lined up for the rest of the year after the record comes out. We’re still finding out what we’re going to do, but next year we’re going to be doing some more touring for sure.

RA: When can we expect the Gatecreeper / Post Malone collaboration?

CM: I think you’ll be waiting forever [laughs]. I like Post Malone’s music, I like him as a person. I like rap and a lot of things that aren’t metal, but I don’t feel the need, nor do I ever want to combine them. I would play a show with Post Malone for sure. Will we ever do a song with him? Probably not. I think there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

Christian Jacobs of “The Aquabats! Super Show” Discusses The Show’s New Episodes and The Bands New Album

Christian Jacobs is a former child actor and the co-creator of the award winning kid’s television series “Yo Gabba Gabba!”. He also fronts the popular ska-punk band The Aquabats! under the pseudonym of The MC Bat Commander. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Christian recently about the group’s current tour, the bands successful kickstarter campaign and when fans can expect new episodes of “The Aquabats! Super Show”.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands current “Holy Guacamole Tour”?

Christian Jacobs: We did a previous tour in July however this tour sort of marks the first headlining tour we have done in some time that has gone east of the Mississippi. These shows are reuniting us with the “Legion of Righteous Comrades” who this last year helped us raise money to film new episodes of “The Aquabats! Super Show”. We have ten episodes shot and we are going to be shooting one more once we have the guest star lined up. These are fun sized episodes meaning they aren’t as long as the previous episodes from season one and two but, they are still a lot of fun. This tour is kind of recognizing the completion of those episodes and all the merchandise that we designed for that campaign. Getting out and playing is a way for us to meet up with the fans that helped keep the Aquabats! alive and a chance for us to say  thank you for the support. From that Kickstarter campaign we have been able to film the new episodes, record an album, prepare to start another album in December and to do this tour. This band has been around the block a few times and the fact that there is a new generation of fans coming out to the shows and helping us put out new content has been just great.

AL: What was it that appealed to the band about using Kickstarter?

CJ: Us doing a Kickstarter has been talked about for a long time. We hesitated a bit as we are old-school. I was worried that we might look bad asking for money in this type of way and we were very nervous. I think a lot of people have the perception that with our previous things being successful there should be no reason why we can’t put new stuff out on our own. Sadly that’s not always the reality and that’s what happened for the Aquabats! We did try other networks when The Hub folded however, sometimes when things fail a stigma can often get attached to those associated making it difficult to keep going. We knew that people liked the show and wanted to keep it going so after meeting up with a couple guys  who had experience with fan funding they gave us some great  insight that helped us change our minds and see fan funding in a different light. Everyone who donated is a big part of what we accomplished. It’s like they are all producers which I think is very cool.

Ian Lawton: How do you come up with the characters for the show?

CJ: A lot of the things you see on “The Super Show” I think are influenced by stuff we watched as kids growing up. Everything from “Godzilla” movies to really weird Japanese kids shows and some of the shows from Sid and Marty Krofft who put out “Land of the Lost” and “ H R Puff N Stuff”. A lot of the characters we write and come up with are in a way homage’s to those things. Characters like Cobraman! came from Japanese common writer shows, Space Monster M was this weird Gung Ham hybrid robot that we loved. We wanted to create characters that our kids could be introduced to in a fun way while at the same times we as parents could watch and reminisce about the shows we used to watch. We had the same idea when we were putting together episodes for “Yo Gabba Gabba”.

IL: Can you tell us about the cat that shows up throughout the Aquabats! series?

CJ: That is actually a fox and he is hidden in every episode that we have done. Our special effects guys name on the show is Joel Fox. He does all of the weird lead in screen effects like floating pizzas and fingers turning into bananas. That stuff never ends up in the actual episode but it’s there and the beginning of each segment. Joel is sort of an enigma as he never tells us what he is going to do. Being he is our good friend we got him this fox costume and hid him in all the shows. He is somewhere in all the new upcoming episodes as well. It’s going to be harder to find him but he is there.

IL: Do you have a favorite character that you have come up with?

CJ: I really like all the Aquabats! character because they are just really funny. Each character is sort of an extension of the guy who plays it. The Bat Commander and I our definitely not the same guy but maybe some of our personality traits cross over. I can be a little like the commander but not totally as he is kind of a jerk sometimes. It’s all satire for each of us. I do like how we have evolved over time and how we can poke fun at each other through the production. Pilgrim Boy is a favorite as he is one of the original characters we came up with back in 1996. We had written out a bunch of the episodes at that time and the shape shifting pilgrim boy was a part of that. Cobraman! is another great one both on stage and on the show. The guy has snakes for hands which he shoots live snakes out of. (Laughs) Plus he has a very funny voice. Silver Skull is a good character as well. We sort of gave him this Bane type voice as that was a big joke at the time.

AL: Is there a time table for when we will see the new episodes and album?

CJ: We finished recording the album in July however due to everyone having family stuff going on and our producer being away it took awhile to get all the mixing done. We have it all completed know and would like to have it out around Halloween given a lot of the songs have a spooky vibe to them. We aren’t sure if that will give us enough time to promote it so aside from as soon as possible there is not a solid time table for that. We want to make sure we have good promotion in place and a couple videos as well. The new episodes of the show will start airing around September 20th on our YouTube channel.

AL: One of the things you do outside of the band is summer drawing classes for kids. Can you tell us about that program?

CJ: My brother Parker does these drawing classes and he always recruits me to come and help. It’s always a lot of fun. When we were kids we didn’t have distracters like phones and tablets so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. Technology is wonderful but I think when you have a lack of resources you have more of an opportunity to use your brain and be creative. By having these classes my brother is able to teach kids how to doodle and how to use their imaginations. The classes are designed to be free flowing and not necessarily about how to draw something right but more to challenge your creativity. You won’t be drawing a bowl of fruit to look like a bowl of fruit. Instead you might draw whatever you want and have it fighting something inside comic panels or creating new characters no one has ever seen before. It’s a way for kids to bring their imagination from their heads directly to their hands. In this day and age it’s great to encourage kids that they too can create things “Fortnite” or “The Aquabats!”. Growing up we had punk rock to inspire us but we want to get kids going even younger and that’s a lot of what “Yo Gabba Gabba” was about. It’s extension of doing things yourself with the ideas being geared or aimed at young people. You don’t have to sit and wait for the next thing. You can be the next thing. With YouTube and all these things there is no reason anyone can’t if they really want to.

AL: Are there other projects outside of what you have already mentioned that we can be watching for?

CJ: We have been talking about and pitching new shows ever since the network we were on went out of business. There are just so many places to pitch new ideas that we have been going practically non-stop. We haven’t quite struck gold yet but given our track record with “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “The Aquabats! Super Show” we have a solid formula. The ideas are there we just have to get them out there while juggling families and all that. We do plan to tour again once the new record is out and we are on the hook for one more record after that as well so we have a lot that will be going on. If you had told me twenty five years ago that we would still be doing this in 2019 I would have laughed at you but it’s really great that we still are able to do this and we really enjoy it.

 

 

 

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Damn Your Eyes Bassist Oddie McLaughlin Discusses the Bands New Album “Kill The Outside”

New York based heavy metal group Damn Your Eyes have just released a brand new 10 track album titled “Kill The Outside”. The band which consists of former We Are The Enemy and Bonesmith members along with current Black Water Rising bassist Oddie McLaughlin have come together to forge a new musical path which draws deeply from the each of the members own personal experiences. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Oddie recently about the creation of the new album, its deep personal meaning and what it like balancing duties between two bands.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about some of the work that went in to the new album “Kill The Outside”?

Oddie McLaughlin: Artie (Alexander) and I have played together off and on since we were first out of high school. We were always writing or learning different material. We recorded I think five songs with this drummer about fifteen years ago and then went our separate ways. Two of those songs from that period we kept. Basically it was just the riffs as there was no melody or vocal lines. That’s really where everything started. I got a call on day asking if I would be interested in starting something new and I said yes so shortly after we started writing songs for this release. When I got together with Artie after talking he already had few songs laid out including the two riffs we originally worked on. He had added some new ideas and things just started rolling. The writing for this album has been amazing and things have come together fairly easy. The songs all fell together nicely. Once we got our singer Kenny (Vincent Jr.) things moved even quicker. It’s just been a great process.

AL: The songs all seem very personal. Were the lyrics pulled from members past experiences?

OM: Oh yeah. Most of it is from Artie and some of it is from the other guys. They pulled from their experiences in the music business to how the world is going today. We expressed our emotions related to some of those events along with a bunch of other things. It’s definitely a record that deals with what is going on around us and personally.

AL: Do you ever find it hard to dig in to some of those emotions?

OM: No. We feel that if we put this stuff out there that it might help someone. Someone might see that they aren’t the only one feeling a certain way. I think it’s a great avenue to get it across to people especially metal fans.

AL: Along with personal lyrics the album also features a variety of musical styles. Was this something the band did consciously or was it something that occurred more naturally?

OM: I think it was something that happened organically. All the guys in the band like different styles of music but at heart we are total metal heads. We like a certain tone which has come from each of us evolving our sounds over the years. We all spent time on our own to craft just the right tone to get to where we are now. That’s what we are in to. The genre of music comes naturally for as we like to chug it out in order for that melody to come with a groove chorus or a main verse riff. We all have been doing this for some time now and we have a solid process which allows for the creation of material to occur fairly easily.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour in support of the album?

OM: We all work regular jobs and a couple of us have kids so planning a tour can be a little tricky. We are always willing and ready to get out there but for now have just a few shows set up to help things get going. I think this is a great band with great songs. I feel that no matter where we play we will go over well and we hope to be able to play as many shows as possible. Playing live is what we absolutely love. Practice, Recording and all that stuff is great but nothing beats performing live on stage.

AL: You also play in Black Water Rising. How do you go about splitting time between the two groups?

OM: It can be tough sometimes balancing two bands and your own personal life. You have to be really careful with scheduling in order not to double book yourself. Just last month this happened where I played with both bands in one night. I played an early show with Damn Your Eyes in Long Island and then had to drive to New Jersey for a show with Black Water Rising. I made it in plenty of time and something like that doesn’t happen often. When you’re booking you have to do things so far in advance that you forget and things get piled up.

For more information on Damn Your Eyes visit their official Facebook page here 

Brick By Brick Guitarist Mike Valente Talks About the Bands New Album “Hive Mentality”

Mike Valente is the guitarist for the Upstate New York hardcore/metal band Brick By Brick. The band is set to release a new album titled “Hive Mentality” on February 22nd and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Mike recently about the release, working with “Orange is the New Black “star Jessica Pimentel and the bands upcoming European tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your band Brick By Brick?

Mike Valente: The band has been around since 2004 and at that time we had confined ourselves to be just a local band. We had a couple members that couldn’t do a lot of traveling so it was basically something we did just for fun. As the band progressed and there was a bit of a demand for us we had to look at getting some new members who could commit more time. In 2014 we added Ray Mazzola on vocals and since that time things have been a lot of fun.

AL: What can you tell us about the band’s new album “Hive Mentality”?

MV: The last record we put out really didn’t have the distribution reach that we had wanted. In order to make up for that we went back in and re-worked a bunch of things and finished up some other material that we hadn’t done before. We are now working with Upstate Records and they have been really good to us. At the time we were slated to be part of the Rebellion Tour in Europe and we needed a new record so we went into the studio so this time when we were touring over there people had a better idea of who we were and could get our record. Getting picked up for this tour in March is what really kicked things into motion.

AL: There a few different guests on the record. Can you tell us about those?

MV: Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan has been a friend of mine for a long time. When those guys come through we always have a great time. I had been listening to a lot of thrash music at the time of writing the song and Ray and I though Tony would be perfect for the song as it has a real party vibe to it. The experiences we have had together match perfectly so I called Tony up and he didn’t even bat an eye as he was totally down for it. The song we “In The Ruins” which features Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain was a song we had originally released on a split with the band Ruckus from California about six or seven years ago. The original version was with our old singer and there was a limited amount pressed. Everyone was down for it so that worked out nicely. We also have Jessica Pimentel from Alekhine’s Gun. A lot of people know her from “Orange is the New Black”. I have known her for quite some time as well and thought she would be perfect for the rant part in “Hive Mentality”. Just like with the others I called her up and she was more than happy to do it.

AL: How did the cover of Motorheads “Iron Fist” end up on the album?

MV: We had been asked to be part of a Motorhead compilation that Upstate Records was putting together called “Damage Cases”. We had intended on doing a more obscure song but when we looked at the track listing a lot of other bands were looking to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe no one had picked “Ace of Spades” or “Iron Fist” being they are such iconic Motorhead songs. We chose “Iron Fist” as it’s such a fun song to play. We did our own spin on it and it’s just a great song to play live.

AL: Can you tell us more about the bands European tour in March and about any other shows you have lined up?

MV: We kick things off with our release party show on February 22nd. We are doing that at Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. Anyone who buys a presale ticket will also get a copy of the album. We are doing a bunch of other cool packages for that show as well. The line includes Dying Fetus, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snap Mare and Close to Nothing. After that we aren’t doing anything until we leave for Europe March 6-18. I think this is the eight year that they have done the Rebellion tour/festival over there. We will be playing with Madball, Iron Reagan and bunch of other great bands. That tour is going to be a lot fun and we are defiantly looking forward to it.

For more info on Brick By Brick you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/brickbybrickny and on Instagram at @brickbybrickhc

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

Photo By: Brian Patrick Krahe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthrax’s Charlie Benante Talks About The Filming Of The Bands Upcoming DVD, “Kings Aming Scotland”.

ANTHRAX’S CHARLIE BENANTE TALKS ABOUT
THE FILMING OF THE UPCOMING DVD, “KINGS AMONG SCOTLAND”

Photo Credit: Jimmy Hubbard

Multi-Grammy nominated thrash icons Anthrax will see the band’s long-awaited live-in-concert DVD, “Kings Among Scotland,” released on April 27 (Megaforce). But before that, the band’s Charlie Benante has just posted a video clip where he talks about the filming of the live set, the decision to film in Scotland, and the challenge of playing some of the songs live for the first time ever. Check out the clip here: https://youtu.be/nHW5_f6jBWE
“Kings Among Scotland” will be available in CD (audio only), DVD and digital formats (both video), and can be pre-ordered at www.anthrax.com. When ordered digitally, the purchaser will receive “Breathing Lightning (live)” instantly.

The two-hour “Kings of Scotland” was filmed February 15, 2017 at the band’s sold-out concert at Barrowland Ballroom, the historic venue in Glasgow. The disc incorporates the band’s entire live show, and includes gems like “Madhouse,” “I Am the Law,” “Breathing Lightning” and “Indians.” The disc also features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and other B-roll shot on the band’s tour bus, backstage, in hotels and elsewhere, plus a “gear rundown” from each of the band members.

“Kings Among Scotland” was produced, directed, filmed and edited for Film24Productions by Paul M. Green (Opeth, The Damned, The Levellers), with the sound mixed by Anthrax studio producer Jay Ruston. “Kings Among Scotland” can be pre-ordered now by going to www.anthrax.com.

Anthrax is set to hit the road this summer with fellow Big Four cohort SLAYER who kick off their final world tour on May 10 in San Diego, CA On the Slayer Leg One “off days,” Anthrax will join up with Testament for a handful of shows. All dates are below.

LEG ONE
MAY
10 Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA SOLD OUT
11 Five Point Amphitheatre, Irvine, CA SOLD OUT
12 Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas, NV – Anthrax + Testament
13 Papa Murphy’s Park at Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA SOLD OUT
16 Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC SOLD OUT
17 South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, BC
18 Western Finance Place, Cranbrook, BC – Anthrax + Testament
19 Big Four, Calgary, AB SOLD OUT
20 Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB SOLD OUT
22 Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB
23 Sanctuary Events Center, Fargo, ND – Anthrax + Testament
24 The Armory, Minneapolis, MN SOLD OUT
25 Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL
26 Clyde theatre, Ft. Wayne, IN – Anthrax + Testament
27 Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, Detroit, MI SOLD OUT
29 Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON SOLD OUT
30 Place Bell, Montreal, PQ SOLD OUT

JUNE
1 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT SOLD OUT
2 PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
4 Santander Arena, Reading, PA SOLD OUT
6 Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, OH
8 International, Knoxville, TN- Anthrax + Testament
7 Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
9 KeyBank Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA
10 Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA
12 Veteran’s United Home Loans Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA
13 The Stage on the Bay, Savannah, GA – Anthrax + Testament
14 PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC
15 Orlando Amphitheater, Orlando, FL
17 Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, Houston, TX SOLD OUT
18 House of Blues, New Orleans, LA – Anthrax + Testament
19 The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX SOLD OUT
20 Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX SOLD OUT

LEG TWO
JULY
26 Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford, NH
27 Impact Music Festival, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME
29 Northwell Health at Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY
31 The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA

AUGUST
1 Times Union Center, Albany, NY
3 Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Lake, NY
4 Lakeview Amphitheater, Syracuse, NY
6 Budweiser Gardens, London, ON
7 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
9 Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO
10 Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA
12 Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN
13 Walmart AMP, Rogers, AR
15 Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, TX
16 The Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
18 Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Denver, CO
19 USANA Amphitheatre, Salt Lake City, UT
21 Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater, Boise, ID
23 Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, Portland, OR
26 SAP Center, San Jose, CA

Reggie and the Full Effect Frontman James Dewees Talks About the Bands Latest Album “41”

Reggie and the Full Effect is the solo project of Get Up Kids keyboardist James Dewees. On February 23rd Reggie releases their first album in four years simply titled “41”. Media Mikes spoke with James recently about the albums deep subject matter, the return of James’s alter-ego Klaus and the bands upcoming tour with Senses Fail which kicks off on February 27th.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your new album “41”?

James Dewees: I started working on the music just after the release of “No Country For Old Musicians”. During that time there was stuff going on with Get Up Kids and I was working with Gerard Way as well. I tend to do a lot of projects as I find while I am working on those projects I come up with ideas that could be songs for Reggie. The music came about pretty well as I started with about twenty or twenty five demos. For the lyrics I was sort of fishing around and trying to decide what type of record to make. It came down to when I found out my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and my mother in-law at the time was diagnosed with leukemia. That next year was really just me traveling back and forth to Missouri to be with my mom and then back to Long Island for my mother in-law. Basically I was just going to doctors appointments all the time. I would do a couple shows here or there to make some money but then I would go straight back to the hospital. These events were where the lyrical content ended up coming from. My mom passed on April 9th and then my mother in-law passed away on May 9th. It was a really heavy and emotional time that made it seem pointless in trying to do my silly, funny project. Things were just a big bummer. After about the first year of that I started writing lyrics that were more about what I was going through. This was my way of going through the stages of grief. On the record there is stuff that is kind of funny then some that’s more serious, sad and angry. Music has always been my escape and it’s something that I really enjoy doing and it helped me get through all the stuff I had going on at this time.

AL: Being that you didn’t start writing until a year or so after those passing’s what was it like diving back in and reopening those wounds?

JD: I cried in the studio a lot. Trying to sing songs like “New Years Day” and “Next Time with Feeling” which are really heavy songs was difficult. Whenever I would revisit those feelings and I would remember something else about that time that I had forgotten. I did the record with Ray Toro from My Chemical Romance who is a really close friend and it was very personal and private with just him and me working on the album. This made it where it was ok to cry and be upset and I had a friend there to support and encourage me. He pushed me to keep going even during difficult times.

AL: The album also features a new track from Common Denominator. Can you tell us about that track and when/if we will finally get a full length release from Klaus?

JD: With the popularity of Trap music I thought it would be really funny that with Klaus coming from Finland he didn’t know what it was and believed it was about trapping animals. Instead of singing about drugs and whatever he is singing about trying to catch animals. I have played around with the idea of doing a whole album but every time I have started it things just don’t come together. The thing with Common Denominator is that it can’t be thought about too much. The music has to be written in about twenty minutes and if possible recorded in twenty minutes. You really can’t write the lyrics to much. You just have to start recording and see what comes off the top of your head otherwise I think it loses the humor.

AL: Can you tell us about the latest single off the album titled “Karate School”?

JD: That was a song the label picked after going back and forth for awhile about what songs to release. I chose “Horrible Year” which was released first and they chose “Karate School” there is one more song set to come out but I won’t tell you what that one is just yet. I like the song as its heavy and defiantly a traditional Reggie song. It’s not really about anything it just a song about my day. The label wanted something about the song for a press release so I came up with the Harry Potter story as I couldn’t think of anything without making it sound dull. (Laughs)

AL: The band heads out on the road with Senses Fail on February 27th can you tell us about that?

JD: That came about through a discussion with the label. We originally were going to be out on tour in January doing a headlining run but Buddy Nielsen and I started talking and decided to do a tour together. The tour starts in late February and runs through March. After that Reggie has some solo shows in early April and then I will be pretty busy with Get Up Kids.

For a full list of tour date visit: www.facebook.com/reggieandthefulleffect

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Greta Van Fleet Guitarist Jake Kiszka Talks About the Bands New EP “From the Fires”

Greta Van Fleet burst onto the rock music scene in early 2017 with their debut EP titled “Black Smoke Rising”. By September the track “Highway Tune” was topping the Billboard charts. To capitalize on this momentum the band has released a second EP titled “From the Fires”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with the bands guitarist Jake Kiszka about the bands new EP, their recent tour with Halestorm and the bands plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some back ground on Greta Van Fleet and possibly tell us some of your influences?

Jake Kiszka: With Josh, Sam and I being brothers our influences are very similar. We were exposed to music at a very early age. I remember going on trips and listening to bands like The Allman Brothers. We had access to the same vinyl collection so I think that had a lot to do with what we are doing now. Danny also was in to a lot of the same music. Around the time I got into high school I started bringing friends over to jam and eventually Josh would start coming out and singing then a little later Sam started coming out and playing bass. A short time after all that happened Danny started coming over and was basically the last piece of the puzzle.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new double EP “From the Fires”?

JK: We had put out “Black Smoke Rising” and we still had a bunch of songs that we had either written or recorded so to showcase some other elements of our playing we dipped into those songs. We also wanted to cover some material from a one of our influences Sam Cooke. We had those songs and some live tracks that we picked from for this release.

AL: How does your work on this release compare to that of your debut EP?

JK: The first EP was a spread of songs we had written over the course of five years. “Highway Tune” was actually the first song we had ever written followed by “Safari Song” about a year later. “Flower Power” was another song that was written about two years into the group’s existence and “Black Smoke Rising” was written right before we were set to go in to the studio and record.

AL: What type of process does the band have for song writing?

JK: We write in a lot of different ways. A lot of times one of us will bring something to the table and then we all decide if it is something we want to work on. That’s when the four of us really start to contribute to making one piece of music. We all bring things in to the writing process so it tends to vary.

AL: You guys just wrapped up a tour with Halestorm. Can you tell us about that experience?

JK: It was fantastic! Seeing people singing our songs and just rocking out was really great. I don’t think that was something any of us really expected as our sound is a bit different. The whole experience of that night after night was shocking and humbling.

AL: You guys have a string of sold out shows lined up through December. Can you tell us your thoughts on that?

JK: That’s another thing that was not expected. We really didn’t figure all those shows would sell out so quickly. It’s going to be a great thing that takes us right up until the holidays and then after that we plan to head into the studio in January to record our first full length album.

AL: What can we be expecting from that new album?

JK: The album will probably be another spread of both newer and older material that we have written at different points in time. We hope to have the album done early to mid 2018. With everything that has happened for us this past year we have gained some resources that will help us take things further with this new album. We will be looking to hit bigger venues and festivals as well as hitting some new countries also.

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