Ben Brainard talks about his sketch comedy series Welcome to the Table

Ben Brainard is a comedian with a natural ability to make any crowd laugh. Originally from Daytona Beach, and now living in Orlando, Ben has toured across the country. He’s also produced several shows for Army Reserve units. During quarantine, Ben found viral success producing “The Table,” a sketch comedy series about how the various states of the US are handling current events.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ben about his sketch comedy and also his upcoming tour dates and secret upcoming project!!!

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.

Lake Bell chats about “Man Up” along with director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris at Tribeca Film Festival

Man Up, the hilarious new comedy from director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris, made its NY debut at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival with the creators and star Lake Bell in a cheerful mood on the red carpet. They along with producers Nira Park and Rachel Prior spoke with me about working on the film.

The film focuses on the awkward Nancy (Bell) accidentally swiping some else’s blind date, Jack (Simon Pegg) and the wild night they have out in London. True to the spirit of Man Up’s main character Nancy, writer Tess Morris was unabashedly honest about how she felt about the premiere, laughing and saying, “First time I’m going to see it with a paying audience–so I’m really excited and also I feel sick!”

Lauren Damon: How did you come up with some of the phrases and strategies that Nancy throws out in this film? The tactical puke? The blowjob paradox?
Tess Morris: Because they’re all actual things in my life! Actually, The Blowjob Paradox is my friend Austin. I have to credit him. That was his theory that I stole. Never be friends with a writer because they’ll just use everything of yours. Tactical puke? Because I’m the least sporty person in the world. So the idea of me actually having to do a tactical puke is sort of like half the joke. But yeah, I just base a lot of stuff on–I have a notebook with me everywhere I go and I just nick everyone else’s…

LD: Like Nancy carrying a notebook.
Morris: Oh yeah! Yeah, she’s very much myself.

LD: Did you write Jack with Simon Pegg in mind?
Morris: No I didn’t, I actually wrote it on spec, but he came on board it quite early and just changed the whole process for me. Because obviously once he was playing Jack, I could just have even more fun with him. And he brought so much to it, obviously. As did Lake. So yeah, that was a very exciting moment when he agreed to do it.
LD: I appreciated how none of your other female characters are mean, how the other date isn’t grotesque or competitive.
Morris: Oh yeah, like she gets her–I just sort felt like it was really important that she didn’t come across as like some young shallow kind of gal. Like she’s really excited for them because she’s a good soul. And I don’t like mean movies, you know? What’s the point?

LD: Can you name some of your favorite romantic comedies?
Morris: Oh yeah! I love Moonstruck. I think it’s underrated a lot. And I obviously love When Harry Met Sally and I also, most recently, Silver Linings Playbook and Crazy, Stupid, Love and Enough Said actually. I really liked Enough Said a lot. I think there’s been a slight resurgance recently.


Producers Nira Park and Rachel Prior had worked with star Simon Pegg throughout his entire “Cornetto Trilogy” with Edgar Wright and even earliar than that on UK sitcom “Spaced.”

LD: Can you speak about your relationship with Simon Pegg since you’ve worked with him dating back to spaced?
Nira Park: Eighteen years, seventeen years…we met on Spaced actually so I’d done something small with Channel 4 with Edgar before Spaced, then Spaced was starting up and Channel 4 actually asked me if I’d just do a couple of days a week initially to just kind of help them get it together. And I remember being really nervous when I met Simon and Jessica [Hynes] and I’m a bit older than them and they said they were terrified of me for the whole of the first series but I was actually quite scared of them! And–cause he’s just so bright and so brilliant and so funny–so yeah, I did a couple of days a week at first and then we all got on so well that kind of within a few weeks they were like ‘will you produce it??’ So okay.


LD:How did you get connected to this particular script?
Park: Well this script came about, we were just saying, because Rachel [Prior]–well we were all completely obsessed with Bridesmaids because we premiered Paul at SXSW and Bridesmaids was the surprise screening at midnight after Paul’s screening and it wasn’t finished at that point and actually [producer] James [Biddle] and Rachel weren’t there but I came back to London and was like ‘Oh my god, I’ve seen this film! It’s amazing! I wanna make this film!’ and we were just like ‘Why are there no more female writers in the UK who are writing this kind of thing??’ And then literally a couple of weeks later, this script, no one in the UK really writes on spec in the same way–it’s not the same as in the States–and this script just arrived through the letter box written by Tess and she’d kind of written it for Big Talk in the hope that we’d like it. Because she liked the films, the other films. And it was like everything we’d been hoping for! So at that point, we picked it up and we developed it for like a year and a half, we attached Simon kind of six months into the development.


LD:When did Lake come in?
Rachel Prior: When Lake came in it was just as we got to the point where we had a script that we were happy with and we were about to sort of start putting together and actually with BBC films and StudioCanal to actually start going into production. And we saw a couple of trailers for In A World and it was like there’s this–we had knew Lake from “Children’s Hospital” but there was something in In a World where we were like ‘Oh my god, she could play Nancy’ It’s obvious she was great at accents. And then we read an interview with her where she had said she studied drama in the UK for four years so we were like ‘Can she do a British accent?’ And she can.
Park: A brilliant one.
Rachel: Some Brits when we tested the film had no idea that she was American!


Lake Bell’s previous film, In a World featured her playing none other than a dialect coach with a great ear for accents.

LD:Was it gratifying going from In A World where the subject matter was doing dialects to this full feature where you’re using your British accent?
Lake Bell: It definitely was. You know accents and dialects are very much an obsession of mine. That is very authentic to In a World. So this was definitely on my actor bucket list of things to do was to play a fully realized British character, so yes. It absolutely satiated a desire to play a British character.


LD: How familiar were you with Simon Pegg before you paired up here?
Bell: You know I had known Simon’s work and certainly upon first meeting him I noticed we had a good sort of comedic chemistry and you know was excited to kind of go down this journey with him because I thought ‘Yeah, this if is gonna work.’ Especially with Tess Morris’s words which are so brilliantly…I really do attribute the brilliant repartee to her script.


Finally, director Ben Palmer comes from having done the feature film of UK TV teen comedy Inbetweeners.

LD: Your previous feature was The Inbetweeners, with just this manic teenage male energy, how was it switching to having a strong female lead?
Ben Palmer: It’s how I respond to a script, to be honest. And so the Inbetweeners was a really big part of my life and when I got sent Man Up, I almost felt they probably had sent it to the wrong person. Because I never thought that I’d be doing a British romantic comedy. But there was something–within the first couple of pages of reading Tess’s script, there’s something in that dialogue that stuck with me. And in a way, it has sort of that sharpness and that speed and the naturalism, I suppose. Those characters are so well drawn that I was a sucker for it, basically. And there’s and edge and there’s a truthfulness and it’s anarchic in its own way. There’s swears, there’s all that sort of stuff that excites me, I suppose. Although it is a romantic comedy, there is a crossover to the Inbetweeners. And it’s nice just to keep shaking it up and do a different thing.

LD: The film takes place over the course of one night, but has so many locations, what was that shoot like?
: I loved that hook, that it happened over sort of 24 hours, in one night really. So within that…the challenge is to try and liven it up and move it around and the fluidity and the speed that they’re hammering through this city. It’s trying to find locations, not the easy locations to shoot in, but to go well ‘this is where this would happen.’ And so with that, when you’re doing a low budget film, there’s problems there. Because you can’t close down whole blocks, so you’ve gotta sort of work around general public in a way. But that’s how you achieve something that feels real and honest.

LD: Bowling features heavily in Nancy and Jack’s date, was there a best bowler on the set?
Ben: (Laughs) Simon. Simon’s a pretty good bowler. I’d say he’d edged it.

Man Up opens in UK cinemas on May 29th, while Saban Entertainment has recently acquired US distribution rights. You can read my review from Tribeca here.

Director John Maclean and Stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn talk about “Slow West”

Slow West held its New York premiere on April 19th at the SVA Theater during the 14th annual Tribeca Film Festival. Writer and director John Maclean joined stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn in speaking with me about the Michael-Fassbender-lead western on the red carpet.

Ben Mendelsohn is a renowned Australian actor who in Slow West takes on the larger-than-life role of Payne. Payne, in his oversized furry coat, is the leader of a vicious gang that Fassbender’s character Silas used to run with, and like his character, Mendelsohn seemed a bit bitter at the abandonedment of his gang-mate…

Lauren Damon: Can you discuss the relationship of Silas and Payne
Ben Mendelsohn: Okay, so Silas and Payne rode together back in the day and Silas essentially decided he was gonna go his own way–you know, he’d had enough, like ‘Yeah yeah, I’ve got what I wanted, I’m off doing my own thing’ Which, when you think about it is sort of a really punk move, you know? Because essentially Payne you know, gave this guy A LOT. Now, I’m not saying Silas isn’t a talented man, he is. But basically, he packed up and he got his tail between his legs and off he ran. And you know, time’s come now where our paths  have crossed again and [Silas]’s got this fine little bounty he’s traveling around with and really I just wanna know what’s up with that? Are we gonna share this spoil? Or are you gonna TRY and take it all for yourself? Or are you gonna try and be “a good boy”? So that’s a lot of what that’s about.


LD: And how did you all develop the look of Payne?
Ben: Oh the coat is genius. The very talented wardrobe lady [Kirsty Cameron] had it made and showed me all the pictures of trappers and what not from that period with these massive coats on. So once you put that coat on and that hat and you’ve got the tattoos, the rest of it’s a cake walk.


LD: How was it to shoot in NZ and with that wardrobe?
Ben: It was…yeah, it’s really crazy open wide spaces. It’s very desolate, it’s harsh. It’s a harsh sort of enviroment but very beautiful too. New Zealand’s a great place to shoot, it’s really got an extraordinary array of you know, locations and looks and feels…it’s all there. It’s a beautiful place to shoot.


LD: What attracted you to the film? I mean for a western it had a sense of humor about it too that I didn’t expect at all.
Ben: Yeah, I wasn’t sure how that would go. Michael Fassbender had started with John Maclean and they’d done a couple of short films and essentially the fact that you know that Michael Fassbender had sort of backed this to the degree he did was a very good sign. I’d seen his short films that John Maclean had done and they had something. You know, you could feel there was something there, western, it felt pretty cool. It felt like a good bit of fun with a decent chance of it working.


Director John Maclean had previously worked with Michael Fassbender on the short film Pitch Black Heist, which was shown at the 2012 Tribeca Film Fest.
LD: Can you talk about how you initially came to work with Michael Fassbender, what drew you to him or him to your work?
John Maclean: I think it was around the time that he was shooting with Tarantino [on Inglourious Basterds], I knew his agent. And his agent had given Michael some of my early short films I was making on my own. Michael saw something in them, came to me and said you know, if you want to do something, I’ll give up a day. So we started working together there.


LD: And when you approached this script, there’s a lot of dark humor in it—did you primarily come at it as a comedy or a western first?
John: I think, like my favorite films—I mean you look at a film like Fargo and it’s not a comedy, it’s not a thriller—I think some of the films I’m interested in, I think you just have to try and be truthful. And like life, comedy comes in to sad moments and sadness comes in to comedy moments.


LD: And it’s unconventional that your young romantic lead, his love interest doesn’t actually like him like that back!
John: I think “spoilers” here!

LD: I know, I’m sorry, my review says he’s been friend zoned
John: I just I mean, maybe that was from personal experience (laughs) when I was younger. But that’s what happens with young boys, I think. I guess it was for personal experience actually but um, I think he was never right for her. I think she was always more practical and he always too much of a dreamer. So from the beginning, I guess it’s doomed.


LD: How do you describe the back story between Payne and Silas?
John: Yeah, I think that’s the hard thing with wanting to make a shorter film—you can’t branch out into too many of the backstories but…I just imagined that the wild west, there wasn’t that many people at that time. So people sort of crossed paths much more often than you’d expect. I imagine they travelled together and [Silas] was part of Payne’s gang and then didn’t like the senselessness of some of the violence and left and went to go alone and Payne’s trying to draw him back into it.


Kodi Smit-McPhee was recently cast as Nightcrawler in next year’s X-men: Apocalypse, seeing as his previous film co-starred Nicholas Hoult (“Beast”) and this one he shared the screen with Fassbender (“Magneto”) I had to ask about joining them as mutants.

Lauren Damon: Have you contacted your past coworkers here for advice on joining the X-Men?
Kodi Smit McPhee: I haven’t contacted them yet. So we got Nicholas Hoult, Ty Sheridan and Michael Fassbender whom I know well. And I really can’t wait to get on set and work with them. And I haven’t said a word to them.


LD: What’re you most looking forward to about playing Nightcrawler?
Kodi: I really love the warmth that comes with the passion behind his character. And the novelty within just the tradition of him. I don’t necessarily have a desire to bring new things to it, but just show the world that they love.


LD: And are you familiar with Alan Cumming’s take on it from X2?
Kodi: Yes, absolutely. Usually, I mean if I don’t need to–like for Let Me In, I didn’t look at Let the Right One In–but for something like this, I thought it  was right to just find all the roots, you know, see how Nightcrawler evolved into who he is now.


LD: If you could choose your own X-power what would it be?
Kodi: I would love to physically, and within my own body, be able to travel back and forth and time. See how the history and the future plays out.


LD: Back onto Slow West, I was rewatching The Road recently and I saw your character there sort of as the young optimist to an older guide, like Jay in this film, did you feel that connection there?
Kodi: Absolutely and maybe in fact this whole story itself and the concept of a western story, it was very much like that. Like desolate and moving towards something hopeful. So yeah I really loved that idea and that was never intentional, but I guess it’s something that I’m just great at expressing and hopefully with Nightcrawler, I can move onto other things.

Next week: A more in-depth discussion with John and Kodi, meanwhile, you can check out my review of Slow West here.

Fall to June’s Ben Badger talks about newest album “

The rock group Fall to June is set to release their newest self titled album April 21st and they couldn’t be more ready for fans to hear it. The group which consists of former Cold bassists Jeremy Marshall, drummer Nate Yant, guitarist Dan Mickler, vocalist Ben Badger and former Shinedown guitarist Jasin Todd will be helping out the band during their live shows. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Ben Badger recently about the group’s formation, the upcoming album and the groups spring/summer tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on how things came together for the band?
Ben Badger: Back in the early 2000’s there were some guys playing around Orlando and they needed a singer. They had management already and were working with a producer so they needed to start the audition process. I was doing my own thing at the time and I got a call from their manager one day asking if I would be interested in auditioning for the guys. I said I would give it a try and they sent me a couple tracks to learn. I learned them just like they were on the copy I was given and went down to the studio one day to audition. I had asked them if we could try one of the songs a little differently as I had come with this idea. They ended up liking what I did and I got a call the next day telling me I go the gig. In 2005 we took a hiatus and it lasted 9 years. (Laughs) As the band stands now there are only two of us from that original line up. We started talking to some of our friends who also played to see if they would be interested in joining us and they were. We have a pretty solid line up now and were having a good time.

AL: What can you tell us about the new album?
BB: When we took the hiatus in 2005 I didn’t think of it as that. In my mind I was done. Almost 3 years ago Nate the drummer and our original guitarist showed up for my birthday and we ended up jamming. We started drinking and having fun during the day and hanging out playing music in my studio at night. During that time we wrote a new song. Nate for years had been bugging me to record and I kept turning him down. Finally I said yes as I was under the impression we were just going to record an EP of some of our old songs and this new track “Delta Breakdown”. Things turned out so good that Brad Stewart formerly of Shinedown and who is currently playing with Fuel asked if he could take them to some people. We ended up getting picked up and the EP turned into this full length album.

AL: What was it like working with Brad and Producer Stan Martell?
BB: I have been a fan of Brad for years. When I met Stan I knew there was something familiar about him but I couldn’t figure out just what it was. It ended up being that before I joined the band I was in the process of auditioning for another band in the area at that time. Stan was the bass player in that band and that’s where I knew him from. Stan does some amazing stuff and we call him our mad scientist because sometimes we just have to look at him and say “Really!?” Stan pushed us to where we would get a little bit mad at him but that’s what you need. I helped get the best out of us as musicians. He wouldn’t give up until he got what he wanted. I have nothing but respect for him.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands current single “Delta Breakdown” and are there any plans to put out another track prior to the album’s release?
BB: “Delta Breakdown” has been out a few weeks and is already on the charts. I think currently we are in the top 50 for rock. We are pretty happy for that and the song is getting a good strong push. As for another single we want to wait until the album is released so that we can sort of see what songs people are asking for. We have done test audiences and all that stuff but we want to see what the fans want.

AL: What type of tour plans do you have lined up?
BB: April 4th we are doing the “Rock for Kids” benefit show in Jacksonville. That is the first show we are doing before heading out on this southern leg tour. From there we go to North Carolina, Tennessee and New Orleans before we hit Texas which is where we will be when the album actually comes out. We are also working on something else but we can’t say too much right now about that.

DVD Review “Ben 10: Omniverse – Galactic Monsters”

Created by: Man of Action Studios
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Cartoon Network
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Run Time: 110 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Ben 10: Omniverse” is the fourth installment in the “Ben 10” franchise. “Galactic Monsters” is the setting for the shows fifth season, which just recently completed airing. I have never really watched much of this show in the past…an episode here and there maybe. But this is definitely a solid show with some great action and humor mixed. For those “Ben 10” fans, get ready cause besides the more volumes from this season coming up, this October also brings the new season “The Evil Rooters”.

Official Premise: Sometimes it takes a real monster to defeat a real monster. So Ben is transforming into some awesome monster heroes in the latest DVD release “Ben 10 Omniverse: Galactic Monsters.” Watch for almost 2 action packed hours as Ben transforms into heroes like Frankenstrike and Whampire as he battles the most vile villains in the galaxy including the evil Lord Transyl on Monster Planet. It’s spooky! It’s kooky! It’s “Ben 10 Omniverse: Galactic Monsters”.

This volume five DVD comes with the following “Galactic Monsters” Episodes: “Rad Monster Party”; “Charmed, I’m Sure” and “The Vampire Strikes Back”. There are also two bonus episodes including “Something Zombozo This Way Comes” and “Mystery, Incorporeal” from the fifth season as well. I do not know why Cartoon Network  didn’t just included the remaining three episodes to make this a complete season. This is a little bit of a letdown for sure. But don’t worry parents since I doubt that kids will even notice, this is more a concern for the show’s older audience.

Ben Draiman talks about debut album “The Past is Not Far Behind”

Ben Draiman is a singer-songwriter/pianist who grew up in Chicago, IL. Heavily influenced by a wide variety of music and styles, his music can best be described as strong, emotional, melodic rock, fusing the softness of the piano alongside the intensity and roughness of electric guitar. Media Mikes had the chance recently to discuss Ben’s musical background, his new album and the decision to covers Disturbed’s song “Stricken”.

Adam Lawton: Is music something you have always been interested in?
Ben Draiman: Definitely. As long as I remember, even before I learned piano at age 13 I was a little obsessed with music.  Singing in the shower, raiding my brother’s music collection, and the moment I could play what I heard on the radio I was set!  I’ve been singing and playing ever since. Music has always been a very important part of my life.  It’s where I turn to when I need to work something out, when I need to seek answers, and when I’d like some comfort.

AL: What can you tell us about your debut album, “The Past is Not Far Behind”?
BD: It’s a collection of material that was written over the course of a few years.  Much is based on particular dark periods in my life, which is usually the time I get most inspired. Much of it explores themes of an existential nature.  We are often thrown into painful situations that come all of sudden and for which there doesn’t seem to be much explanation. The more we try to figure it out, the more complicated and often worse things get. It seems at times that the only path to salvation is by accepting the here and now and moving forward as best as one can, clinging to the hope that tomorrow will be better. That is the album in a nutshell. It is some of my most personal material. Some of which I wasn’t entirely comfortable releasing until I did.

AL: Can you tell us about the decision to cover your brother David’s song “Stricken”?
BD: The idea first came about when I was discussing successful covers with my friend and producer, Raz Klinghoffer.  He had said that some of the best covers are ones that change the song 180 degrees and that if I was going to do a slow cover best to choose a fast paced song.  I honestly didn’t think it would work. “Stricken” has long been one of my favorites, something about the hooks and the lyrics that resonate well with me. In fact, from a lyrical standpoint it was exactly the sort of thing I myself would write so it was very easy to connect to.  So that very night I went to the piano and tried it. I play by ear so it didn’t take me long to come up with a basic arrangement. It became instantly clear that the lyrics and the melody lent themselves well to a ballad and I was immediately hooked. I then got together with producer Yuval Kramer and the amazingly talented pianist, Nina Vouraki, both from the Symphonic metal group Reign of the Architect and we began working on it in the studio.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the song “Avalanche” and why you chose that song as the one to do a video for?
BD: I wrote “Avalanche” in college. I was studying at an Israeli university in a language and culture so different from what I was used to. I had felt incredibly alienated at the time and was having a hard time trying to find my place and make sense of it all.  Following a rather sudden break-up with a girl I had been dating I found myself in kind of a dark place. Around the same time I was also deeply immersed in literature with an existential bent, particularly the works of Franz Kafka. I pretty much read everything he ever wrote, among the more popular pieces was a short story he did called “The Metamorphosis” that deals with a guy who for no reason wakes up as a beetle and spends the rest of the story coming to terms with it. The existential themes he deals with in his work mainly consist of finding a way to deal with an absurd reality. Life can throw all sorts of interesting and rather challenging things your way. The more time you spend trying to figure it out, the more entangled you get in its complex web. The only path to salvation seems to be in accepting things the way they are, not questioning, and in such a way rising above it and moving forward, a task that is never easy.  This was a central focus for the song and ultimately what led to many of the elements for the video, which depicts an absurd reality as indicated by the characters wearing the masks. The only solution was to embrace the absurdity and stop trying to understand or question it. Sometimes wrong is the way things are meant to be, and knowing that and accepting it for what it is can at times be the only path towards salvation

AL: What type of tour plans do you have in place to support the release?
BD: I’m currently still performing locally here in the Middle East but I am planning US shows for February.  The first one that I can officially announce will take place at the BFE Rock Club in Houston, Texas on February 8, 2014.

White Chapel’s Ben Harclerode & Phil Bozeman talk about new album

Ben Harclerode is the drummer and Phil Bozeman is the singer for the heavy metal group White Chapel. The band has just released a new full length album titled “White Chapel”. The group is also set to take part in this summer’s Mayhem Festival. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Ben & Phil about the album and what their is most looking forward to with touring this summer.

Ben Harclerode

Phil Bozeman

White Chapel’s Ben Harclerode talks about new album

Ben Harclerode is the drummer for the heavy metal group White Chapel. The band has just released their fourth studio album which titles “White Chapel”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Ben about the new album and what it has been like being the new guy in the band.

Adam Lawton: Can you describe the bands writing/recording process on the latest record?
Ben Harclerode: The process was pretty collective between everyone in the band. We all got together at Alex’s house where he built a small studio space. We spent most of January there going through old riffs. We had a massive amount of material to go through so it was more a matter of everyone sitting down and figuring out what would work with what. We wrote some new stuff as well which was also thrown in to the mix. We really were just piecing various ideas together.

AL: Were there songs from the recording sessions that did not make the album?
BH: We were shooting to have more material however we just didn’t have enough time.We went out on tour with The Devil Wears Prada in November/December and then had about 2 weeks off for the holidays. From there we immediately jumped into working on the record for about a month. Time constraints were sort of put on everybody so we basically used what we had. We had hoped for a bonus track or two but we just didn’t have the time to make it happen.

AL: What do you feel you have brought to the band since joining?
BH: I have never met Kevin who is the guy I replaced. From what the other guys have told me they were looking for someone who was not only a fast player but the wanted someone who had a little more groove to their playing. They were looking for someone who was into playing other styles rather than just the standard blast beats and double bass. I like to think that maybe I bring a little bit more playing style outside of metal to the band. When I first joined I brought click tracks and sampling to the table. Now during our live shows we have started to sync our lights and other effects to those tracks. I think we can be a lot more flexible with our set now.

AL: What do you think makes this album standout from others in the genre?
BH: I think more and more as records are categorized into one specific genre a lot of style blend together. I feel when we put this album together no one was trying to sound one specific way. I think the end result shows a dynamic contrast between the songs. Each song has more of its own idea and vibe. This album has its own thing going on as do each of the tracks individually.

AL: Can you tell us about the band’s upcoming tour plans?
BH: We are going to be going out with Hatebreed. I haven’t seen the dates yet but I think it’s going to be a small venue tour. I love playing big venues but the more intimate shows always seem to be a lot more fun. We are on this year’s Mayhem Festival which I am really excited for. Getting to play with Slipknot is going to be great. All of the guys in the band are huge fans of theirs. This fall we also have plans to tour Europe with August Burns Red and The Devil Wears Prada.

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Ben Gleib talks about “Ice Age: Continental Drift”, Kevin Smith, “Chelsea Lately”, hanging with Jaleel White and time traveling with Syfy’s “Insane or Inspired?”

Ben Gleib is a comedian who can be seen recently voicing Marshall in “Ice Age: Continental Drift”. He also has his own podcast called “Last Week on Earth” on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Network. Ben took out some time with Media Mikes to chat about appearing on “Chelsea Lately”, hanging with Jaleel White and time traveling with Syfy while working the show “Insane or Inspired?”

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role of Marshall in “Ice Age: Continental Drift”?
Ben Gleib: Well I had had an obsession with sloths since early in my life. So I have had to shape my career so that one way or another, I would portray a sloth on the silver screen. Actually that answer is bullshit. I just auditioned and got cast. It was very exciting though. Every kid grows up watching cartoons and you would never imagine that you would become a cartoon yourself. It has certainly ruined my ability to watch cartoons again though since now I know the process that goes into it…but it is worth it to entertain America’s children [pauses]…I only say I want to entertain America’s children so that women will read this and want to have sex with me.

MG: Tell us about your podcast “Last Week on Earth” on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Network?
BG: I did a TV pilot with Kevin originally. He then asked me to co-host a podcast with him and shortly after he offered me my own show on his network. The idea behind it was that I try and cover every single event that happens the week before on Earth. News, politics, pop culture, science, social trends, technology and just weird shit. Every other week a celebrity guest joins me for it. I am having the time of my life doing it. It is a shit ton of work trying to learn the details of all of theevents on planet Earth each week. But I feel like it is worth it as a gift to all of my listeners. And by gift I mean a gift that no one asked for, and will probably get returned to the store.

MG: What is the prepare time for each episode?
BG: It is a lot of time. I am following the news all week. I’m also pre-writing a lot of concepts for the podcast. Each episode probably takes me between 20-30 hours to prepare. If I don’t end up on “Jeopardy” or at least the dumb version of it “Celebrity Jeopardy” one of these days, my life will be a failure.

MG: Tell us how you ended up appearing as a frequent guest on “Chelsea Lately”?
BG: I knew Chelsea a bit before she had her show just from doing stand-up together. So one day she told me they wanted me on the show and I have been asked back ever since. I have been very fortunate because I really enjoy being on television. Chelsea’s show is best place for comedians to be these days. You go on her show and just riff about everything going on with pop culture that week and it is a lot of fun. Plus it is even easier for me, since if I tell jokes that don’t go over so well, Chelsea just makes fun of me and it gets laughs anyway. So it is a win-win situation and a fail safe.

MG: How did you get involved with Syfy’s “Insane or Inspired?”?
BG: The casting director of that show, Phyllis Coblentz, called me up one day and asked me to be on the show. I agreed to do it and thought it sounded like a fun show to do. We actually just got picked up for another twelve episodes as well. It has been awesome with Syfy because besides being paid to be on their show, they also conduct experiments on you. I can’t say too much more, but my end of this phone call is happening in the 1800’s. I might have already said too much, so let me cover it up and say that my end of the conversation is actually place in the 23rd century. That way it will keep you guessing.

MG: I noticed you wear the same clothes in every episode, do you ever consider personal hygiene?
BG: When you work with Syfy and are a time traveler, you don’t really have time to pack a heavy bag. You just keep the same clothes. Syfy didn’t really know which clips would be in each episode, so they asked us to wear the same clothes each taping. It was a little silly because in the same episode you can see me with long hair and a beard and short hair and clean shaven, all while being in the same clothes. That or it could have been just the longest taping in history or I just have bionic fast growing hair.

MG: Speaking of the SyFy family, you worked with Jaleel White, host of “Total Blackout” in the film “Dumbbells”, tell us about that?
BG: We already shot “Dumbbells” and I didn’t even know that Jaleel White was in the movie until you told me right now. I am very excited to know that now and more excited about my film career since he is in it. I did actually meet Jaleel White once in the past. I was at a bar in Hollywood last year and there was a very attractive girl I was trying to impress and while she went to the bathroom, I felt like my breath could use a little freshening. And like a knight in shining armor, like everyone knows he is, Jaleel White walks into the bar. So I asked him if he could spare a piece, since I saw him chewing and I felt nervous asking Steve Urkel for gum. He put a piece of gum in my hand and closed my fingers around it and said to me “Never forget me man, I hooked you up”. Things did not work out with that girl. But if they did work out, could you have guessed who the best man at the wedding would have been?

MG: Let me guess…Jaleel White?
BG: No, it would have been my best friend Scott. I just got a piece of gum from Jaleel White, that’s really not a big deal.

MG: Being a comedian, who are your all-time favorites comedians?
BG: My favorite comedians of all-time would have to be George Carlin, Chris Rock and George W. Bush. They are definitely three of the funniest people in history.

MG: What do you enjoy most about doing stand-up comedy?
BG: It is the most free medium for a comedian. It is really a privilege to bring comedy to people on any form, whether it be TV or movies. But when it is stand-up, there is literally nobody else that gets to have a say in it. I get to say or do anything I want. It is completely just my unfettered creative output that gets directly to the audience and you get immediate feedback. It is also exhilarating, in the moment, with every second to second and joke to joke you don’t know how it is going to go. So it keeps you on your toes. Also when you are on your toes it is good because you seem taller. Girls enjoy tall guys, and you just hope that they do not look down because girls do not like guys who stand on their tippy toes. They do not find it very manly.

MG: What do I need to do to get you down to the Improv clubs here in Orlando, FL?
BG: All you need to do is find very attractive women who are into somewhat tall comedians who make themselves look like taller ballet dancers, and then I will be there. Because that is the girl I like. The kind of girl I like, and you can quote me on this, is the kind of girl that likes me. But do me a favor though, do not quote me on anything else I said so far.

MG: Well that is going to make this a very short interview then.
BG: Perfect.

Interview with Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy

Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy are co-stars in TNT’s hit cop drama “Southland”. The show is currently entering its 4th season, which begins January 17th, 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ben and Shawn about working on the show and what we can expect from this exciting season.

Adam Lawton: I’m wondering if you guys could talk a little bit about what it’s like for Ben and Sammy as partners going forward. What is that dynamic going to look like?
Shawn Hatosy: This is basically what our new season has been like. We just kind of get in front of the camera and we try to have as much fun as possible, and I think it brings a certain levity to “Southland” that might have been lacking, and certainly from Sammy’s point of view last season, it’s nice to be in a car with somebody and having fun.
Ben McKenzie: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. I think that it’s not that we won’t go to more serious places, and we do certainly in the first episode you see that, but a lot of this season is just two kind of youngish guys in a car busting each others chops. We are having fun and kind of having that sort of fraternal bond that I think is weirdly has been somewhat absent on the show. Even though we’re a cop show and that’s an accurate representation of what a lot of patrol cars are is just two guys kind of in partnership. But, with the exception of Sammy and Nate we really haven’t seen that yet, so that’s kind of more what this partnership is about, at least for the first few episodes.

AL: Can you guys could talk a little bit about how the dynamic Lou Diamond Phillips comes into the season and affects your characters?
BM: Well, Lou is a brand new character, the character of Ferguson. He’s a patrol cop and he’s been for a long time, but he’s just kind of over it in a lot of ways. I mean, he is the less charming version of (Doey), or the uncharming person of (Doey).
SH: If that’s even possible.
BM: If that’s possible, yeah, exactly. Even though a lot of what he’s saying about how bad the neighborhoods are that we’re in and how kind of tough the work is, he’s just completely blown away by the pessimism and the kind of nihilism that Ferguson has and he is no longer in that place. But at the same time, Ferguson’s taking it way too far and he’s doing things that are, quite frankly, you know from my point of view, from Ben’s point of view, and moral certainly and ethical, and so we come to heads. You know, that’s a legitimate point of view, from a long serving police officer. I mean you sometimes get to those dark places and I think that’s what he’s there to represent.
SH: Yeah, and there’s not maze to this little puzzle of these gangsters and it’s not a case that you can solve. In fact, the principle behind their attitude, which is that, you know screw these guys. They make life more difficult for us. Let them kill each other. It makes it’s a lot easier because then we don’t have to chase them down and do an investigation. And also, they’re constantly killing our witnesses, even when we do have somebody come forward. So it’s really a tough job and I think that Lou’s character captures that attitude perfectly. And I think Sammy’s a lot more close to Lou than he is Ben at BM: Right. Right. You can certainly see the appeal from Ferguson’s philosophy, because it just simplifies everything. You know, it’s us versus them. So you know why worry about them and let them kill each other, but you know of course that’s, from my way of thinking, that’s too easy. That sure the job is hard and the job’s tough, a lot of the people don’t have a lot of moral redeeming qualities, but at the same time you can’t just allow them all to kill each other. That’s not our job. We’re supposed to be better than that.

AL: Shawn, I wonder if you can talk about fatherhood on the show has changed Sammy?
SH: Well, this season that hasn’t really been been a focal point. I mean, I know that he’s there in that in the first episode and we talk about him. But we’re not going to have many episodes where we spend with Sammy and Baby Nate going off to daycare, at least thus far. I think that then part of that is being in a relationship with somebody that’s difficult, and another part of that is we’re exploring this partnership. That’s what the writers are focusing on. If you’re asking me how it’s affected Sammy as a cop, I certainly believe that the danger aspect as things – as we see in that first episode, it’s definitely heightened and it puts him on high alert.

AL: Can you talk about filming the show and the action sequences?
SH: Well, you know, because I’ve been a detective for the past three seasons this is the first time, I’ve driven a little bit in the past, but not like this. I mean, now we’re in the cars and I’m experiencing the real Southland, and it’s fun. I mean, we were driving the other day and I looked at Ben and I said, “This is the greatest part of our job.”
They lock off streets for us. They put cameras in the car. We’re carrying real guns and we’re chasing people as fast as we can without killing each other, and it’s great. It’s the dream job. When you’re a kid and you’re like, “I want to do that.” I mean this is it, man.
BM: Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that completely. Welcome to the show, man.
SH: Thank you. Thank you, it’s been a rough three seasons, but now, I’m here.

AL: So what is it like working together and with the rest of the cast?
BM: We really haven’t worked with the rest of the cast. I mean, I think that scene with Michael in the first episode, it might be our only interaction with either of the two partnerships thus far. So it really is, like always, it’s very partnership-heavy.
SH: Yeah, it’s so compartmentalized. That was the first scene I’d ever done with Michael Cudlitz and that was like Episode 25.
BM: It’s a ball working with Shawn. I’m having a blast.
SH: It doesn’t really feel like work, right? I mean, you just wake up…
BM: No…
SH: …and you just pinch yourself. It must be like, “What…am I dreaming?” This is the perfect job.
BM: Yeah, it’s pretty great and it’s kind of the partnership that we have is a little bit like I always imagined the show to be a little bit more less fraught with tension in every single relationship and more a little bit. What I believe from the ride-alongs and interactions I’ve had with the cops, more like what life is like in the natural patrol car, which is often, particularly if it’s two guys, kind of a ball-busting parade. I mean, it’s just a constant, giving each other grief and busting each others chops and making jokes, and then going out and doing your work. We’re not at each others throats all the time. That’s the nature of our relationship. I think towards the season you’ll start to see some of the tension just kind of flame up, but right now it’s more just having fun.

AL: How does shooting for this seasons compares to the previous seasons of the show?
SH: Well, I think the style and the system we use to shoot is all the same, but the different partnerships they bring a new feel to it, especially particularly for me being that I was a detective before. But it feels right and it feels just this, as Ben was saying, this partnership and sitting in the car together and being a couple of guys. It’s what Southland is and what we always were meant to be. I’m thrilled and happy about it.
BM: just a continuation of what we’ve been doing, in terms of the style of the shooting. It’s probably even faster than it has been before because we’re – everybody’s worked together. A lot of the crew is the same from year-to-year. We have a really tight group and they reserve the time in their schedules to come back to work with us. So the camera and lighting departments are largely the same and the actors are the same, obviously, and the writing and the directors are largely the same, so it just feels smoother and more fun basically.

AL: With all the other new cop-type series coming out and with your guys’ being in its fourth season now, how do you think that it continues to stand out and differentiate itself from the other similar shows on television right now?
BM: Because I think it’s more honest. I think it’s more real and I think it’s more honest. I think we’re actually where we say we are whenever we are shooting something. I mean if we say we’re going to be in Nickerson Gardens, which is a housing projects in Watts, then we actually go there and that’s where we are in Episode 1 and 2. Shawn and I chase the guy down the street. The guy’s beating on the girl and I chase him into the backyard and with the gangsters and all that and that’s just outside of Nickerson Gardens in Watts. We’re actually where we say we are. We’re taking stories that are from cops. What cops actually tell the writers, in terms of things that have actually happened to them and we’re able to improvise and change things as actors to fit the reality of situations. So I think it’s that we’re never perfect. We’re always striving to be as good as we can be, but I think it’s a far more honest show than it is to do a kind of a cop show where you’re inside on a set in Hollywood pretending like Lord knows what’s happening. I have no idea what those shows do exactly.
SH: Right and we’re trained. We’ve spent so much time researching and learning the protocol and what it means to work on the streets and how to actually do it. We have freedom to make it real, and especially for the actors. If it’s not working what they wrote or a simple action sequence in a certain area, if it doesn’t pan out the way it’s written we find the truth of the scene and we always capture it.