Anti-Flag’s Chris No. 2 talks about new album “American Spring”

The Pittsburgh, PA based punk rock band Anti-Flag recently released a brand new album (their 10th all together) chocked full of politically fueled anthems titled “American Spring”. The album features 14 brand new tracks along with guest appearances by Tom Morello and Tim Armstrong. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Chris No.2 recently to discuss the new release, the groups tour plans and the idea behind the groups strong political approach.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new album “American Spring”?
Chris No. 2: “American Spring” is our 10th record and our first after the 20th anniversary of the band. I think we worked harder on this latest record than any other Anti-Flag record. It’s a
tremendously personal record for us. We focused on using empathy as the key to
live above racism, sexism, homophobia and corporate waged war in 2015.

AL: Can you tell us about the guest’s performances on the album and how
those came about?
C#2: Our very old friend / former record producer Tom Morello is on the track “Without End”. He put down this epic space vide solo which is really great. Tim Armstrong from Rancid sings verse 2 of the song “Brandenburg Gate”. Both of those guys being a part of the album is the result of having some very talented friends who we both admire for their talents and humility. We called them and asked if they, as important people in our lives, would appear on an important album for us and thankfully they both said yes.

AL: Some bands tend to shy away from various topics such as politics however you have always been very vocal towards it. What is it about these topics that inspires you to write your songs around them?
 C#2: It’s our only inspiration. We want people to know they’re not alone. There are a lot of us concerned with more than just ourselves. These songs are for those people.

AL: Are you ever worried that the subject matter of your songs may turn away listeners who maybe are as in touch with the current political climate?
C#2: Nope. There are plenty of bands out there for people to listen to if these songs don’t happen to be for them.

AL: You guys just wrapped up a run of shows in April. What are the bands plans going into the rest of the year?
C#2: Our goal is to play every city Anti-Flag has ever played as part of the touring for the “American Spring” album. We will be on the road indefinitely so we hope to be able to see everyone out there.

Fozzy’s Chris Jericho talks about latest album “You Wanna Start a War”

The hard rock/heavy metal band Fozzy released their 6th studio album titled “You Wanna Start a War” this past summer and since that release the band has been out on the road non-stop in support of the release. The group is set to hit the road again and will be kicking of a headlining tour of Europe beginning in March. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with the group’s front man Chris Jericho recently about the group’s latest album, the bands relentless tour schedule and his popular “Talk is Jericho” Podcast.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands next tour run?
Chris Jericho: We have quite a few tours lined up at this time but the one that will be kicking off first starts in March. We will be hitting England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany and France. We have always done very well in Europe which makes it feel like our second home. We haven’t been there in about 18 months as we have been doing a lot of stuff here in the States since “You Wanna Start a War” came out. It’s really an honor to know that we have such a devoted fan base to be able to tour as much as we do. In this day and age touring is the back bone of the music industry so the more places you can hit the better it is for both the band and its fans. It’s certainly a different vibe when we are overseas but we are used to it and always have a great time.

AL: What type of band line up will the shows feature?
CJ: This will be our headlining tour over there and originally we were looking to do possibly a co-headlining tour and bring along a band with a similar style to that of Halestorm or Avatar. After some thought we decided to just go on our own. We will have a UK band by the name of The Dirty Youth with us but we really felt it was time to start taking bigger steps as a band and it’s looking like a lot of those shows are on pace to sell out. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and put on the big boy pants. That’s what we did and it’s seems to be paying off.

AL: It was announced recently that you will again be part of this year’s Rockville Festival here in the States. Can you tell us about that?
CJ: We are starting to see festivals like this one pop up here in the states that have elements of festivals that have been going on overseas for years now so this is something that is really cool. We played the festival last year and generally they don’t have bands back two years in a row. That’s why you won’t see us at some of the festival shows we did last year. For whatever reason we were invited back this year to Rockville again and we will take because we had a great time last year. Jacksonville is a great rock and roll town so I am sure it will be a great show. We have started talking about putting together a tour in the states with the Rockville show sort of being the corner piece.

AL: With “Do You Wanna Start a War” being out now for several months what has the overall impression of these songs been for you having watched them develop during the creation process to where they are now being performed live on a regular basis?

CJ: That’s always the fun part. The creative process is a lot of fun and very challenging as you want to get it right. I think most artists would say this is the best record we have ever done and you should definitely feel that way each time you make a new record. This is certainly our best record yet but it’s also our most diverse. Taking these songs out on the road and seeing the reaction from fans has just been crazy. We currently do 6 of the 12 songs from the new album live. We are looking to add one more for the European tour. Fans are getting a good helping of the new album so if you come to the show not having heard the album already you might be a bit lost. The songs are very catchy though so it’s not hard to get caught up. All the songs our going over real well and have fit in nicely with our older material which makes each shows set really great. Whether we are headlining or supporting we make sure to pick the ones that get the crowd going. It’s sort of a non-stop barrage of rocking during our shows. There’s not a lot of talking as we let the music take care of that and the shows have a nice flow.

AL: With the band going through a number of lineup changes where do you feel the band camaraderie is at right now being that this line up has been together for two albums now?

CJ: The core line up of the band has been the same since the start with me, Rich Ward and Frank Fontsere. Billy Grey has been with us a few years now and Jeff Rouse we have known for awhile as well. When you spend a lot of time together you sort of whittle away the bad seeds and dead weight over time. It’s very important to have a lineup you get along with. It’s not just the songs you’re playing during that hour long set. It’s the other 23 hours of the day you’re together traveling and what not. When you together for large amounts of time it doesn’t take much for people to get on other peoples nerves. When that stuff starts to happen it can throw an entire tour off. After all these years we have a lineup that is great together both on and off stage. This has never been Chris Jericho’s band. This is a band of 5 legitimate personalities who have worked hard to get to where they are. We want to stick with this line up for as long as we possibly can.

AL: Will you be keeping up with your podcast’s while out on tour?

CJ: Absolutely! I have about 20 or 30 episodes on deck ready to go. I do the outro’s and intro’s weekly and those can be done just about anywhere. A lot of times when I know a tour is coming up I make sure I have all that stuff set to go ahead of time. I love talking with people so to be able to do these shows is really great. Even to talk with people I have worked with for years is really great because very rarely do you get to just sit down and have a longer conversation. It’s a lot of fun and to have the freedom that podcasts have is great also because I really think that’s what draws people to them.

 

Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson and Chris Broderick talk about their work with group Metal Allegiance

Dave Ellefson and Chris Broderick are probably best known for their work in Megadeth however over the past couple of months the duo have appeared as part of Metal Allegiance. The all-star group along with Ellefson and Broderick the group features Alex Skolnick, Chuck Billy, Frankie Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian and a long list of others. The who’s who of metals top players performed their first show as a part of Motorheads inaugural “Motor Boat Cruise” this past month. Media Mikes spoke with Chris and Dave about the creation of the group, experiences from that first show and what they are most looking forward to about performing with the group here in the States in January.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how a group like this came together?
Dave Ellefson: Mark Menghi is the guy who put this thing together. Back when we were doing the Big 4 shows with Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica, Mark had put me and Frank Bello from Anthrax together for a couple of bass clinics. That developed into a couple shows put on by our sponsors called “Metal Masters”. After we finished those dates up Mark and I kept talking about keeping the concept of the shows together but develop a little bit further. “Motor Boat” was where the first real chance to try this idea happened. It was very last minute as there was a ccancellationby one of the headliners. I knew Chris and I were going to be there as was everyone else we had talked about so I called Mark right away. The show was really great and set a lot of what we are going to be doing in the coming months in motion.

AL: Was there any nervousness to get up their being everything was so short notice?
Chris Broderick: Absolutely none! (Laughs) I was so ready to get on that boat and just play. I thought the Metal Allegiance idea was great. It helped keep my ticket on the boat. (Laughs) We had such a great time jamming with everyone. Very rarely do you get an opportunity like this one to play with all these different guys. It’s a killer opportunity to play and hang out with some great people. I do have to say the only reservation I had was hanging out with Mark Menghi. (Laughs)

AL: What was it like performing a set that was mostly improvised?
DE: We usually start determining some sort of set list through an email thread. You can only imagine what an email thread made up of 12 metal heads looks like. Things get crazy quite quickly. At one point playing the “Love Boat” theme was mentioned. The cool part is that everyone involved is really talented and between all of us we can play just about everything. We of course throw in some of our band’s songs but we wanted to go back to playing some of the songs we grew up listening to and learning. Songs by Kiss, Deep Purple and Judas Priest were all mentioned. Of course the set changes from night to night and after the first night we did this we were having dinner with Alex Skolnick and we asked him to come up and do some songs. Alex brought in a whole bunch of songs he knew. Before we knew it we had the entire first side of Van Halen 1. Right before we walked on stage we all sat down at this little table and figured out what we were going to do. We are all like a bunch of kids when we get up there. It’s like forming a band and you keep adding all these amazing players. It’s fun to have those types of moments.

AL: Is there one guy who sort of runs the show when you are doing these type of shows?
DE: We default to Mark Menghi. He is sort of the voice of reason and sanity. When you throw a bunch of gun slinging, metal heads together it tends to turn in to one giant beer drinking brawl. Someone has to come in and make sense out of everything. You do really need that one guy to be the musical leader because I feel it’s important to stay within certain parameters. We don’t want this to come off as being too watered down so the music we do is all metal and hard rock. Its music fans of our regular bands might be into as a lot of them are our age and grew up on the same music.

AL: How does playing in a setting like Metal Allegiance differ from that of Megadeth?
CB: There is a lot more improvisation going on. We rehearse the songs on our own and then we just get up there and do them. When we go up there with Megadeth were doing the same songs night after night. It becomes almost like rope memory. With this you never know where everyone is going to be and there is a much freer flowing feel to things. Each performance is a onetime thing which gives you moments that can never be duplicated.

AL: Is this project something we could be seeing more of in the near future?
DE: Once we did the first show the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since. It’s going to be great bringing this show to the House of Blues to kick off NAMM. This type of group is perfect for these events. Outside of those bigger event settings promoters want us to do tour dates all over the world. Our bands separately would tough to get on one bill at one time. Metal Allegiance makes things a little more possible because you bring in the key members from these bands and we can just keep everything loose with a jam feel. The whole thing is about getting a specific vibe.

AL: With you guys being a part of NAMM will you be unveiling any new music equipment at this year’s shows?
DE: I have a brand new signature bass coming out called Kelly Bird 5. This is my 4th signature model with Jackson and lots of them have been rolling out which is really been great. The new model just came out and I am really excited for people to check it along with the other gear I endorse.
CB: I have a hard tail version of my Chris Broderick signature series guitar. This model is going to be offered through the USA custom series. I am not sure if it we will be completely ready by NAMM but it will be out the early part of 2015.

AL: Can you give us a quick update on the new Megadeth album?
DE: The plan is to go into the studio in January. Generally there is never a specific date we put on an albums release as we want to make sure the songs we choose are the best fit for our style. We have quite a bit of material to go through right now.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of Chris Rock’s “Top Five” [ENDED]


Media Mikes has teamed up with Paramount Pictures to give (50) of our readers a chance to win a screening pass for two to the upcoming comedy “Top Five,” starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson and Ben Vereen. The screening will be held on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at the Cinemark Theatre in Merriam, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 p.m.

All you have to do is go to http://www.gofobo.com/main/sweepstakes/TOPMM and register your information. (50) random entries will be chosen and each will receive a pass for two to attend the screening. This contest will end on Sunday, December 7, 2014

“Top Five,” written and directed by Chris Rock, opens nationally on Friday, December 12, 2014. Good luck!

Official Site: www.TopFiveMovie.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TopFiveMovie
Twitter: @TopFiveMovie #TopFiveMovie

Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use.

Synopsis:
Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. TOP FIVE digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today—holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, TOP FIVE is an original and radically new kind of American movie. Written, directed , and starring Chris Rock, TOP FIVE tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Cedric The Entertainer, JB Smoove, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, Anders Holm, Jay Pharaoh, Michael Che, Sherri Shepherd, Leslie Jones. The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove.

Less Than Jake’s Chris Demakes talks about their new album and the Vans Warped Tour

Chris Demakes is the lead vocalist/bassist for the Punk/Ska band Less Than Jake. In November of last year the band released its 8th studio album titled “See the Light”. The band is currently out on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour and  Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Chris about the new album, the bands 22 year career and about his recent appearance at the inaugural AP Music Awards ceremony.

Adam Lawton: The band’s latest release came out in November of 2013. With almost 20 years between the two releases what do you feel has contributed most to the bands staying power?
Chris Demakes: I think at some point we stopped believing that we could chase some kind of a trend. We were and still are a 3 piece punk band with a horn section. We worked really hard throughout the years and made a lot of friends along the way. It’s been a crazy ride over the 22 years since the band first started. Right now we are probably the oldest band out on this summer’s Warped tour. I think we are about 6 or 7 years older than the next oldest band. (Laughs)

AL: When you first started out was a career this long something you ever envisioned?
CD: No. I don’t think any band starts out thinking they are going to have a career. We were just a group of guys who got together in a garage to play some music. Next thing we know we were getting asked to play a party, then a bar and so on. Before we knew it we were 3 or 4 years in to this and getting some label attention. I wake out now with 22 years gone by and I am not sure how to totally answer this type of question. Everything sort of blended in to the next thing.

AL: By being the oldest band out on Warped tour this year how do you go about grabbing younger listener’s attention?
CD: There are certainly no delusions of granger on our part in that we aren’t going to make a 13 or 14 year old girl like our band when she isn’t interested. We just go out there and be ourselves no matter what. We have done enough festivals now to where we are comfortable getting up there in front of whoever. It’s hasn’t been too weird this time around. Warped tour is a way for us to get out there and play to people who may have never heard us before. Being involved with the promotional aspect of the tour has been great for us as well as it has really helped get our name out to the mainstream which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened at this stage in careers. We just aren’t that band anymore.

AL: When it comes times to work on a new record how do you go about keeping the music fresh and do you ever feel confined to writing with your specific genre?
CD: We write ultimately for ourselves and then for our core fan base. If you make the same record over and over people say you’re washed up and you haven’t changed. Then on the other hand if you add a keyboard or tambourine part on something you and asshole and a sellout. You really are damned if you do and damned if you don’t the longer you are a band. You can’t really listen to the internet trolls and naysayers. You have to do what comes from your heart. We are not that complicated of a band. We feel every time we put something new out that it has a freshness to it. We try each time to push ourselves a little bit in terms of writing and musicianship but you have to stick close to who you are while making sure that you keep everything fun.

AL: What do you feel has been the bands biggest obstacle thus far?
CD: That is something that I don’t think I have ever been asked before. I think the biggest thing for us has been all remaining friends. We have the same 3 guys that we started with. Our newest member is our saxophone player and he has been in the band 15 years. You learn over the years how to navigate those relationships. You learn which guy is not a morning person or which guy you don’t want to piss off at this time. (Laughs) That’s really just the everyday obstacle of being in a band and learning to communicate with each other. It’s like a relationship accept we don’t screw each other…Yet! (Laughs)

AL: You were just recently a part of the inaugural AP Music Awards. What was that experience like?
CD: I’m not completely sure how we got involved with that but I was asked to present an award and I graciously accepted. We got to go to Cleveland and drink free drinks and act like assholes. (Laughs) I think the idea of the awards is pretty cool and we were happy to be there however at this stage in the bands career I don’t think being a part of the event is going to change a lot of things for us. We had a great time however and again were very happy to be a part of the event.

AL:  What are the bands plans after Warped tour wraps up?
CD: We have some festival shows booked here in the states and a few in Canada as well. We also will be doing a two and a half week Canadian tour run before ending up in our hometown of Gainesville, Florida for a Halloween show. That will about do it for us this year.

Book Review “See What a Seal Can Do” by Chris Butterworth

Author: Chris Butterworth
Illustrator: Kate Nelms
Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 6, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Having a 16 month old daughter, my wife and I have had no shortage of visiting aquariums and amusement parks like Sea World.  Due to this, our daughter has developed quite a love for aquatic life including seals. They are super cute and smart. When I heard about the book “See What a Seal Can Do”, I knew my daughter would love it. It is a fun and very engaging book which follows a gray seal on a journey from sand to sea. The book is an easy read and has become a frequent read for my daughter each day.

Official Premise: On the shore, a seal looks like a slow, dozy creature that spends its time lazing around or flumping along the sand. But underwater, it’s a different story. Splash! Seal dives deep, with a body just the right shape to shoot through the water and power down with his back flippers. He slips through a seaweed forest, and — sensing a predator nearby — dives even deeper to stay safe. Finally it’s time to make a sudden twist and turn to catch his fishy dinner.

In terms of the illustrations, the book delivers and is quite impressive. The underwater pages look great and the colors are very warm. From the front cover in fact, the whole book is very welcoming. It screams, let’s go have some fun and that is just what the book succeeds in doing. Besides the illustration, the text is a interesting mix of narrative sprinkled with facts making it interesting for both kids and adults.

Creator of “Doc McStuffins”, Chris Nee talks about season two and spin-off series “The Doc Files”

Photo Credit: ABC/BOB D’AMICO

Chris Nee is the creator, as well as writer and producer of Disney Junior hit series “Doc McStuffins”.  The show recently completed its first season and has become a worldwide phenomenon from merchandise to phone apps. The series has already spawned a new short-form spin-off called “The Doc Files”, which starts airing on July 22nd. and recently released its first season soundtrack, “The Doc Is In”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about her work on the show and what we can expect from the spin-off, as well as the upcoming season two.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s talk about the new short form spin-off series “The Doc Files”, what can we expect?
Chris Nee: What I think is exciting about this show is that we are able to go back and revisit our favorite toys from past episodes. Like Bella the Ballerina and Poppy, some of the toys that have been on the show and been big hits but we haven’t found a way to bring back in the actual season. So that has been exciting for us as writers. So we also able to bring back some of our favorite songs from season one, so that is also fantastic. For me what was exciting is seeing the show in a new visual style. Obviously they are shorts, but are are anxious to get more material on the air as we get ready for our big push for season two coming up. We are going this series in a 2D style and it is a really exciting way to open up the view of what this show is.

MG: How many episodes have been produced so far?
CN: We have done ten episodes so far of “The Doc Files”. Five are starting to air on July 22nd and five are being
tucked away and will air later in the year.

MG: Any challenges in doing from the regular series to the spin-off series?
CN: It is always hard for me to be short-winded (laughs). So getting my sensibility down to a three minute format was definitely difficult. For people that watch the show, I think that one of the things we do well is marry a lot of tones and make sure we are getting a lot of jokes in while still having emotion. It takes a full twelve minutes to do that usually. So this is like a haiku version of “Doc McStuffins”.

MG: Talk to us about the recently released soundtrack “The Doc Is In”?
CN: I think we got very lucky on this show by bringing in Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley, our composers. They really haven’t done kids music before. I think you can hear that in the music, as it is incredibly catchy for kids but also for adults as well. I am really excited about the soundtrack. For me, I live and breath these shows and I have heard these songs so many times and you think I would be sick of them by now but when I popped in the CD, I was just so proud of them. I am excited that we were able to get all those songs together. In season two, we are looking to do some longer form songs. It is exciting stuff.

MG: How important do you feel music is to the show?
CN: I think it is a huge part of the process. A lot of our songs end up telling the lesson of the episode. I think it is a great way for us to get very specific with the lessons that we are trying to teach without them feeling too preachy in dialogue. Suddenly when you put them into a fun, boppy song, you can talk about drinking water or wearing glasses and it is very different. We thought to ourselves that if we were successful that every kid would think of our song when they go to wash their hands and will sing this song. So everyone one in a while we hit a topic and we are aiming for something bigger.

MG: In the mobile world, tell us about the recent “Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up!” app?
CN: We spent a lot of time working with the app and tried to find a way to do something that is very unique to
the show. It would have been very easy to do an app with a game where Stuffy had to bang into things but we
really pushed the team we worked with to capitalize on what is different and great about the show. You can
actually use the app as a x-ray machine and a magnifying glass in order to do a check-up of your toys. It is
really different and not your typical app, which I think is really cool.

MG: Are you taken by the success of the show after just one season?
CN: It is pretty mind blowing I have to say. This was an original idea of mine influenced by my son who has asthma. I was setting out to do something personal for him and to see it take off like this is just totally astounding. I recently read some numbers that we were in 190 countries with 16 different languages and over 100 million unique viewers. I find that shocking. I just took a trip to Europe and there was “Doc McStuffins”merchandise on the shelves. I thought how is this possible, since it started as an idea I hope in the shower five years ago [laughs].

MG: What can we expect the upcoming second season of “Doc McStuffins” this Fall?
CN: I think it is just going to be a further diving into this world. We are exploring a bunch of medical topics that we didn’t get to in season one. It is a challenge to tell these stories in a toy-centric point of view. There was a couple of big obvious things that we didn’t do in season one, like wearing a helmet. So we are getting some of those episodes in. We are spending more time we our beloved group of core characters. There is some really wonderful and emotional stories with Lammie and Hallie. It’s suprising to think that we have only had one season on the air so far. Animation just takes a very long time. We have been very busy working on season two. I know people are dying for us to get season two out but for no lack of effort. It just takes that long to get a new season out there. We are closing in on that time and it is going to be very exciting to get the new world of the clinic out there.

Chris Chittick talks about chasing storms with the team Tornado Hunter

Chris Chittick was the TVN storm chaser and videographer from Discovery Channel’s series “Storm Chasers”. Since the show has ended Chris still has been chasing storms.  He recently teamed up with tornadohunter.com to continue the chase.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about his work and his love for chasing storms.

Jennifer Kish: How has your life changed since the show Storm Chasers?
Chris Chittick: My life has changed after Storm Chasers not too much really. Still doing what I love to do. Just joined a new team, tornadohunter.com is the name of the website. There a great group of guys. Pretty much same as the way it was before just out on the road non-stop chasing. Tornadoes and any kind of extreme weather.

JK: What can you tell me about about your new chasing team tornado hunters?
CC: We are based out of Saskatchewan. It consists of our driver Ricky Forbes. Greg Johnson, who is our main meteorologist and photographer. I control all of the video stuff. There is a great dynamic, young team and we are just out on the road driving for miles until we get the job done.

JK: You use to change with long time chase partner Reed Timmer.. Do you ever miss driving into tornadoes?
CC: Reed and I split ways. We still have a good relationship but as far as driving into the tornadoes, we have our vehicle the Tornado Hunter and it is completely lined with lineX stuff so we can get just as close to the tornado as we did in the Dominator.

JK: Tell me more about your tornado alley photo expedition tours. What can people expect to experience during one of these tours?
CC: Kind of what we do as far as our tours offered on tornadohunter.com. It’s a full out experience where you come out on the road with seasoned veterans. Greg is a world class photographer and I consider myself a world class photographer as well. It’s real in life workshop as far as video shooting/ photo shooting. You learn a lot on the road, your part of the team. Your not just sitting there you actually become part of the team. We ask you what you think of as far as weather goes and we will ask you to help deploy probes. It’s a full experience, life on the road as a storm chaser. For the I’m going to say soccer mom, doctor, lawyer or whatever, you don’t get to experience that kind of stuff in every day life. The adrenaline is unbelievable.. the ups and the downs it’s just an amazing trip.

JK: Your recently updated your chase vehicle.. What kind of updates were made?
CC: As far as updates go its a F150 EgoBoost completely lined with lineX. LineX material is bullet proof/bomb proof. We have ADD bumpers in front and in back. We have a truck bed with topper on it and that we we deploy probes in the back of the truck. Main thing is the lineX which allows us to get closer then before. The main issue is not the tornado itself but the flying debris. So if we can just protect ourselves from flying debris that allows us to get close and capture imagery that no one else has been able to capture.

JK: What do you do when your not chasing tornadoes?
CC: I like to golf. When we are not chasing we are either working on the truck or we do speaking events. Photo and photography workshops. We do other extreme things as well, our driver is into motor cross and extreme downhill mountain biking. Greg has a full family. I’m single so it’s kinda difficult to get a family when you are the road all the time. Trying to move on day to day. Next couple months we are moving into hurricane season so we will start prepping and getting ready for that. Then any other extreme weather we will getting ready for that as well.

WWE Superstar Chris Jericho talks about working with band Fozzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Olen Ray talks about directing films like “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus” and working with The Asylum

Chris Olen Ray is known best for his work with The Asylum on films like “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus”, 2-Headed Shark Attack and the recent “Shark Week”.  Chris took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about his work on these films and his love for the genre.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you became involved working with The Asylum?
Chris Olen Ray: Basically a couple of years ago I was trying to get back into the film industry and the only people to give me a job was The Asylum. I did a lot of line producing for them and the rest is history dude [laughs].

MG: Tell us about how you got involved directing “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus”?
COR: “Mega Shark” was really cool. I heard about it when I was producing “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid”. I had down two other similar films, “Reptisaurus” and “Megaconda” and they thought it was good enough to give me a show on “Mega Shark”.

MG: Where you happy with the final cut of “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus”?
COR: Once I edited the film, they really didn’t do much to it. I have done though some after this film, which just have been chopped to shreds [laughs].

MG: Going from a directing a Mega Shark to a 2-Headed Shark, tell us about your experience on “2-Headed Shark Attack”?
COR: “2-Headed Shark Attack” was really fun. We shot it in the Florida Keys with a great cast, Brooke Hogan, Carmen Electra and Charlie O’Connell. The problem with this film was that we were trying to do a combination of CGI with the puppets. Initially in concepts the puppets were really cool but for some those damn teeth would stay in the sharks mouth [laughs]. There was quite a lot of CGI outflow, so to bring in the puppet it helped down a bit. It also gives the actor something else to work with.

MG: You are also directing “Shark Week”, tell us about that film?
COR: That film was very hard to make. Everything that you think could go work, went wrong. I was happy and surprised we were even able to get a movie out of it. I can’t talk about what
happened but whatever you see if better than we thought we had. The concept behind this movie was such a great concept for it to turn out the way it did. I am just hoping people enjoy it.

MG: What do you enjoy most about the creature feature genre?
COR: “Shark Week” was a little more serious tone but with “2-Headed Shark” and “Mega Shark” were a lot more fun. For “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus”, your coming in on an already popular film and just want to keep it going well.

MG: What would you say has been your most challenging project to date?
COR: “Shark Week” honestly has been the hardest for me. In the 30 years I’ve been in Los Angeles and even talking with my old man, it just so wild. It really has to be my worst experience ever for me.

MG: What do you have planned next?
COR: Recently I’ve being doing these episodes for a project called “Silicon Assassins, which stars Richard Hatch. I also got a new film I am producing for The Asylum as well and just trying to stay busy.

Chris Butler & Sam Fell talk about directing “ParaNorman” and working with stop-motion animation

Chris Butler & Sam Fell are the co-directors of Laika Animation’s latest stop-motion animation film “ParaNorman”.  The film is the first stop-motion film to utilize a 3D color printer to create replacement faces for its puppets and breaks all the boundaries which past stop-motion films have faced.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the directors about working in the horror genre and blending it with stop-motion animation.

Mike Gencarelli: I am a big stop-motion fan but I see a trend with “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, Coraline” and “ParaNorman” all tend to have creepy aspects, why and do you you feel this aspect relates to stop motion?
Chris Butler: I think is the tradition of the medium. If you trace it back to its early days, in the 1890’s the very first efforts in stop-motion were creepy. “The Dancing Skeleton” was one of the first back in 1897. I think what it comes down to is they feature inanimate objects moving on their own accord, which in itself is something like black magic going on there. If you look at the pioneers of this medium, there was a certain creepiness to them. There has always been that slightly unsettling side of it. I believe it is entirely to do with it being real objects moving. When Tim Burton comes along and re-invents with with “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, he is playing on that and having fun with that slightly dark sense of humor. I don’t think it should be the limitation of the medium by any means. “ParaNorman” is kind of spooky but I think there shouldn’t be any real limits to the kind of stories you can tell with stop-motion.

MG: This is the first stop-motion film to utilize a 3D color printer to create replacement faces for its puppets, tell us about about that decision?
Sam Fell: Obviously these things aren’t designed for stop-motion animation. You are always taking a chance. We wanted to do something different on this film. They got a color printer in the studio and we did some experiments with it initially with the character Neil, who is covered in  freckles. When we saw it on the tested it big screen it just looked so promising. It was one of those spine-tingling moments, when you see something you’ve never seen before. We didn’t know if it was going to work on all the characters or if it would literally last over a two year production. We took a risk and went for it but it really turned out so well. When you see how the light fall on those faces or comes through them. I think the characters look less like dolls and are even more tangible and believable.

MG: I read that Norman alone has about 8,000 faces, how does that compare from other stop-motion films?
SF: I think with the numbers of faces, it has increased exponentially. I think Norman had a possible 1.5 million expressions at hand. We would never even use all of them since I don’t even think the human face can use that many expression. But that was at our finger tips. So pretty much whatever we wanted to do with this character we were able to do. It was really freeing because in the past stop-motion has had it limitations. There was replacement heads as far back as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” but they had to be hand-sculpted, so they were limited. Pretty much every limitation has been blown up on this movie. The boundaries in place of previous stop-motion movies, we broke them all. That was how we felt going into this. We thought let’s push this as far as we can and see what we can achieve. Everything we tried to do…it worked.

MG: The film is animated for a younger audience but is quite scary for some kids, how can you reflect?
SF: I think we wanted to make a family movie more than a kids movie. Something aimed at the teens or actually “tweens”. It is about an 11 year old boy and reflects their lives on screen. We wanted laughs, as well as scares and in a way it is like designing a roller coaster ride. We actually think that kids like scares. It is firstly entertaining and it also adds in a dramatic story. The hero, in this case a kid, has real challenges. You take them through it and show the darkness can be defeated. I think it makes for a great ride. We didn’t want to wimp out on the scares. We may loose the toddlers or the preschoolers but that is the risk you take. It is very hard to make a film for everybody…without being bland.
CB: We were specifically referencing an era of movie making that I think was a little braver. The movie that I grew up watching like “The Goonies” and “Ghostbusters”. They weren’t afraid to have scares and show an imperfect world. But they did it with humor and style. I miss those movies and I feel that they are also sorely missed by many people. So it was nice to play in that era again. Even though it was a contemporary movie, it was very much referenced by the films of the 80’s.

MG: I loved the Easter eggs for horror fans like the hockey mask and ringtone, any other hidden gems?
CB: The movie is so dripped with references that I don’t even known where to start. It is not just stuff that was in the script. I wrote in the bar in touch is called the Bargento, in reference to the old Italian movies. The name of Neil’s dead dog is Bub, which is the name of the tamed zombie in “Day of the Dead”. Most of the characters surnames are either horror movie directors or writers, even if they do not appear in the movie. On top of that we have a whole crew of movie fanatics, who were responsible for making the props and locations. They stick all kinds of stuff in there as well. It is difficult to even pin-point how much there is actually in there. Sam’s name even ended up on the old tramps underpants [laughs].
SF: I didn’t ask for that by the way [laughs].

Titmouse, Inc.’s Chris Prynoski talks about Adult Swim’s “Metalocalypse” and Disney XD’s “Motorcity”

Chris Prynoski is the co-founder Titmouse, Inc.  The animation studio is responsible for a lot of shows on Adult Swim like “Metalocalypse”, “The Venture Bros” and “Superjail”.  Chris also works on the TV series on  Disney XD called “Motorcity”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about Titmouse, “Metalocalypse” and Disney XD’s “Motorcity”.

Mike Gencarelli: Give us some background on how you started animation studio Titmouse, Inc.?
Chris Prynoski: I never really had a plan. I got my start in the mid 90’s at MTV in New York right after I graduated from SVA. I cut my teeth on Beavis and Butt-Head as a storyboard artist – and after directing on the B&B movie and Daria and creating a short lived show called Downtown, I felt like it was time to move out to LA. While I was directing at the studios out here, I had the idea to start an internet t-shirt company on the side. It was the early 2000’s and it seemed like a good time to try starting a business. I called the t-shirt company Titmouse. Anyways, I didn’t make a ton of t-shirts, but I kept getting freelance animation work. I had to hire a bunch of friends to help out. Before I knew it, we had a ton of employees and because I had filed the business paperwork for Titmouse, that became the name of the animation studio. I don’t think I could have started it on purpose. It just kind of happened.

MG: What is the biggest challenge co-owning and working with your wife?
CP: It’s great because I get to see her a lot, but sometimes we have to shut off the “work talk” when we get home. Just maintaining a certain amount of separation between our business stuff and the personal stuff is sometimes challenging. We are expecting our first son in about a month and a half, so she’s going to be at home for a while. I’ll shoulder more of the studio stuff during that time and I’m sure that we’ll be too busy cleaning up turds to talk very much about work.

MG: With “Metalocalypse”, you not only have produced but also directed some episodes, what is your biggest challenge with this show?
CP: There’s tons of challenges on every show I’ve ever worked on. With Metal (I directed on the first 2 seasons) it was trying to fit everything in the 11 minute format. Brendon and Tommy are both genius improv comedians. We would end up with hours of material. It’s a real challenge in the edit room to get these episodes down to time and still keep them funny and interesting and satisfying. We tried going to 22 minutes in the third season, but we are back to 11’s for the fourth season because we all agreed that’s the format that works the best for the show.

MG: How do you feel that the show differs now entering its fourth season?
CP: Well, one thing is going back to the 11 minute format. I dig it. Also, as Schnepp and I have involved ourselves in other projects, there’s more room for additional directors. Mark Brooks, who ran the writers room with Brendon, directed a bunch. Felipe Salazar, our editor, is also directing this season. Brendon is directing again as well. We are also working on new videos for the upcoming tour with Lamb of God.

MG: How does it feel going from a show like “Metalocalypse” to a complete 360 like Disney XD’s “Motorcity”?
It’s very different doing a kids show. Hopefully Motorcity is a show that adults can enjoy too. There are definitely more story restrictions – you’re not going to see any booger sugar addicted clowns, or bloody dismemberments in a show like Motorcity. But we are really trying to push it to a new level visually. The action stuff is fun to direct and we can go crazy in a different kind of way.

MG: Tell us about how you got involved directing the amazing hallucination sequence in “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America”?
CP: Basically I was a pretty new kid on the scene at that point. I came on at the tail end of the 4th season of Beavis and worked on season 5 and 6 as a storyboard revisionist, then a storyboard artist. I was storyboarding and doing layout on the movie when Yvette Kaplan approached me about directing the hallucination sequence. All the episode directors were busy on sequences that had to look like the show. They didn’t want this sequence to look like the show. I had done some crazy station IDs and weirdos promos recently, so they picked me. I was psyched. It was my first credited, professional directing gig!

MG: So what’s up with you 4-wheeling with my favorites Mike Judge and Zac Brown!!??
CP: It was pretty crazy. It was a very drunken evening involving swamps, 4-wheelers, bonfires and throwing axes. At some point soon you’ll hear about what we are working on together.

MG: How do you feel that animation has differed today from when you first started?
CP: Technology has really changed everything. When I started, you drew on pieces of paper and everything was painted on clear animation cells and shot frame by frame under a giant camera. Then it changed so the drawings were scanned and painted in the computer. Now we draw right in the computer on digital tablets called Cintiqs. That makes it possibly to operate the way we do now. It’s insane. Hooray for computers!

MG: “Superjail” has a real 90’s MTV feel to it and is so unique, can we expect a third season?
CP: We are working on a third season right now! I’m not sure when they will announce air dates, but I’m super excited about it. Christy is doing an amazing job of bringing the show back to it’s roots. He is storyboarding a lot more of the show and it is over the top bananas! It’s kind of a meld of the first two seasons – taking the most badass aspects of both and mashing them together.

Chris Rene talks about his music and performing on “The X-Factor”

Chris Rene performed on season one of Simon Cowell’s television show “The X Factor”. Rene’s single “Young Homie” received almost 1 million hits within 10 days after its release via vevo.com. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Chris about the show and the success of the single.

Adam Lawton: What made you want to try out for the “The X Factor”?
Chris Rene: After people heard me sing they often would ask why my music was not on the radio. I got asked all sorts of questions. A lot of questions would be about going on “American Idol”. I didn’t think that show was for me. Last year I finally decided to give it a shot as I had nothing really to lose.

AL: What was the audition process like?
CR:
I got to Los Angeles at 4am on the day of the audition and then waited in line for between 10 and 12 hours. I sang in front of one judge and got through. I then had to
three more judges after which they said they would call me in a few months. When they finally called me with a yes is when I got to go to Seattle. The process is much bigger than is shown sing in front of on television.

AL: What were your first thoughts when you got to Seattle?
CR: I was really excited to have the opportunity. When I got on the stage I knew this was a onetime chance that I needed to give my all.

AL: What has been your take on the success of the video “Young Homie”?
CR: It is just motivation for me to do better and get more and more fans. It makes me want to continue to do what I love.

AL: What made you choose this song to release first?
CR: I have been doing music since I was twelve. By the time I was fifteen my band and I had put out 5 CD’s. In 2009 I put out my first solo CD. I have been writing songs for a long time and “Young Homie” is a song that I think is universal. A lot of people can connect with it. The song is about overcoming struggle.

AL: What has been your favorite part of your success so far?
CR: I have enjoyed going to the different radio stations and meeting people. It’s been great seeing different cities. Recording has probably been the best part.

AL: What are your upcoming plans?
CR: We are going to be doing an EP release and then I have some shows scheduled for the summertime. We also are looking at doing a full tour. I also have something clothing that will be coming out soon and, I am looking to do a cameo in an upcoming film as well.

Chris Elliott talks about Season 2 of Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart”

Chris Elliott is the star of Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart” playing the role of US Marshall Chris Monsanto. The show is entering its second season on April 12, 2012. Chris is known for his film’s like “Groundhog Dog”, “Scary Movie 2” and “Cabin Boy”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about “Eagleheart” and what we can except from the second season.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you like most about playing US Marshall Chris Monsanto this season?
Chris Elliott: It is bigger, badder and more bloodier than season one.  Also it is more surreal that season one.  It has all these different plot turns and twists, all in 11 minutes.  It feels like a bigger show than last season and I thought that last season felt really big.

MG: Each episode is 11 minutes, how do you enjoy working in that format?
CE: Even though it is only 11 minutes long, it is the hardest show I have ever worked on.  It is so jam packed.  I also have to work with Brett Gelman…so…you know that feel a little long than 11 minutes [laughs].  Maria and Brett are just brilliant.  This season we get to do more plots with the three of us not just me.  The show is more evenly divided…so I have even less work to do [laughs].

MG: The show is so over-the-top and follows no rules, have you ever been told to tone it down on the show?
CE: It been pretty much no-holds barred.  I mean, with any network, Adult Swim will have notes on some scripts but in general we are left alone to do what we do.  That is really to Adult Swim’s credit. This show cannot be done anywhere else and if it was it would be a watered-down cop parody.  This show was always planned to be this fun, surreal almost psychedelic trip.  It really feels like that to me.  So much of the show is depending on editing and how fast it moves.  Sometimes I wished I had a little more time for a moment of acting here or there but we are so short on time you have to sacrifice that for the little bit of story we are telling.  You make up for it though with the laugh that you get with just how fast this thing is moving and that is a best part of it.

MG: Is there room for improv during shooting?
CE: That is a really good question.  We are like to improvising and like playing around…and we do on the set but not usually when the cameras are rolling.  We are usually on a really tight shooting schedule.  Also we know that once these scenes get into the editing room, you can only use the essential things you need to move the story along.  So there really isn’t a lot of room for improvising.  You can change line a little here or there or an alternate joke. In terms of going crazy for a whole scene, the rare times we do get to do that it hardly ever makes it in.

MG: Well there is always room for that material on the DVD releases, right?
CE: Yeah, that’s right.  Exactly, extra content!  Well the good thing is about these writers, Michael Koman, Andrew Weinberg and Jason Woliner, is that everything is funny right on the page.  There is little need to punch anything up.  These guys are really great writers.  They are especially good writing for me since they known I don’t like to learn long lines [laughs].

MG: Are you completed with shooting the season yet?
CE: Season two is done.  We are waiting to hear about season three.  I am sure we will do another season.  Then we will see how old I look after that and well see about a season four.

MG: What is the typical length it takes to shoot each episode?
CE: Well it is hard to pin that down since we shoot a number of episodes all at once. Honestly, it is probably only about two days per episode…maybe three.  In one shooting day, we can be shooting scenes, all out of order, from three different episodes at the same time in one day.  All the scripts are written in advance.  That is the only way we can do it with the budget we have.

MG: I hear we got some pretty sweet guest stars for season two?
CE: We have Ben Stiller this season.  Dean Norris from “Breaking Bad” pops in.  We have Bud Cort from ‘Harold and Maude”.  Lastly we have Conan (‘O Brien), who has a guest appearance as well.

MG: When is “Eagleheart: The Movie” coming out [laughs]?
CE: I will honestly do anything with this creative team, Adult Swim and my co-stars.  I think we all work together really well.  We talked about if we should do a 30 minute “Eagleheart” but it would actually change the show quite a bit.  You would have to slow it down quite a bit, you couldn’t maintain that pace.  So who knows?

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from the DVD release of the first season?
CE: We did commentary on a bunch of the episodes.  There is our comic con appearance footage.  I think there is also a gag reel included as well.  It is just packed with great stuff.

Book Review “Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss”

Author(s): Rian Hughes, Imogene Foss
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 6, 2011

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to anything science fiction…sign me up. I have always been a fan of the genre ever since my family used to take me to the Sci-Fi Diner in MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World. There was always just something about the out-of-this-world design that really drew me in. Chris Foss is known for his work in this area with creating some of our times “coolest” sci-fi art.  The book is a beautiful visual journey through his work. Though it if you are looking for supporting text to provide insight into each piece you will be disappointed.

Foss’s unique and groundbreaking science fiction art dramatically raises the bar in the 70’s-80’s. It is known for its realism and invention mixed with his science fiction twist. The art you will find within this definitive work ranging from his trademark battle-weary spacecraft to his dramatic alien landscapes. If you ever read any science fiction novels in the 70’s-80’s, then you are familiar with his novel artwork for sure. I just love his ideas and his creations. I just would have like more background on each image.

This volume features Foss’ work for books by Isaac Asimov, Doc Smith, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. van Vogt and Philip K. Dick, and film design for Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick. Titan Books did a great job of releasing a very sweet looking book overall. The images on the pages are so crisp and colorful that it literally draws you to the page. If you are fan of Foss, you will enjoy being able to view many rare and classic images that have never been seen or reprinted before.