Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth talks about debut album “The Great and Secret Show” with Devilment

Dani Filth is best known as the founder and lead vocalist of the metal band Cradle of Filth. Filth’s newest musical endeavor goes by the name Devilment whose debut album title “The Great and Secret Show” will be released on October, 31st via Nuclear Blast Records. Media Mikes spoke recently with Dani about the new release, working with Bam Margera and the group’s upcoming tour with Motionless in White.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of “Devilment”?
Dani Filth: A couple of years ago I met up with Daniel Finch and he asked me if I would be interested in working on a project with him. Over the course of those years the project has sort of grown and grown and flourished into a full blown band. All the members of the band live in pretty close proximity of one another and we are now set to release our first album. Scott Atkins who worked on the last Cradle of Filth album jumped on board helping with the recording process and we have been picked up by Nuclear Blast Records. Paul Ryan who was the original guitarist for Cradle of Filth is our manager/booking agent. He also is booking for Cradle of Filth now as well. We are keeping a lot of things in house with this project.

AL: What is it that you want to accomplish with this new album/band?
DF: It’s vastly different than Cradle of Filth. It’s a totally different entity in that’s its completely original. Each of the band members has their own unique perspective on metal and music in general. Our keyboardist Lauren doesn’t come from a metal background at all though she has come to appreciate it. Six of us have come together to create this unique thing. It is more riff driven and somewhat in the vein of Rammstein or White Zombie. The songs have more of a heavy groove to them. Lauren has brought this John Carpenter type vibe to the whole thing which is really great. The music is definitely in the realm of horror.

AL: With the music being different from your work with Cradle of Filth did you take a different creative path during the writing/recording process?
DF: Not overly. Cradle does a lot of stuff via the internet and then we all get together when needed for touring and such. With Devilment everyone lives locally unlike Cradle where members are literally spread across the world. Having everyone so close has made the experience different, as has writing in a lower key. Though I still write the same way as I always have I do approach the Devilment material a bit differently. I am a little more contemporary with the choruses and such. I don’t like to say it but the material has almost a pop sensibility.

AL: For the digi-pack release of the album you recorded a cover of Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” can you tell us about that and, how Bam Margera ended up also on the track?
DF: That song comes wasn’t meant to be included on the 10 track version of the album. This song will be included on the special version along with two other songs. It sounds a little odd just because of the nature of the song. The original is a fucking awesome song and just very catchy. We have made it a bit heavier and added some keys to it as well. It has this “Exorcist”/”Tubular Bells” vibe to it. I chose Bam to sing on it because he actually owed me a favor. I sang at his wedding in Iceland last year so I thought I would return the favor. He went in to the studio with a producer in Philadelphia and his parts sound really great. The song has these kind of call and response portions to it. Bam sounds a lot like Pete Steele. It’s a very interesting and powerful track.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming video for the song “Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me”?
DF: The video is black and white with a splash of red every now and then. We worked with a photographer/video director named Scott Hunter. The video has a very cool fashion shoot vibe to it. It looks very contemporary and fresh. There is a lot of performance based elements that look really great. The way everything came together makes it one of those videos you have to watch a couple times just to be able to see everything.

AL: What type of tour plans do you have in place thus far?
DF: Cradle of Filth is heading out on the road prior to heading in to the studio in December. We will be in Russia for about a month then I have a few days off before hitting the road with Devilment. We will be out supporting Motionless in White and Lacuna Coil. That’s going to be a fresh experience for me being that we are not the headlining act. It’s going to be a big tour. This is Motionless in Whites first time in Europe.

AL: You just did a track with Motionless in White for their new album correct?
DF: Yes. That was actually unrelated and happened prior to the tour being announced. I suppose it garnered some favor. The song is called “Puppets 3” and it’s quite brutal. I was quite surprised because I knew of Motionless however I hadn’t really heard them. When I heard the track I thought it was a cross between early Cradle and At the Gates.

AL: Do you find it hard balancing your two groups due to them being quite different from one another?
DF: At the moment yes. The time factor has made things a bit tricky as we will be heading to Russia with Cradle, then I go out with Devilment and then come back to work with Cradle in the studio. There’s a lot of hard work ahead. Nuclear Blast has done a great job keeping me busy with press for Devilment it’s really great. It’s a bit hectic but it’s better than sitting around being bored.

The Raskins’ Logan Raskin talks about debut album and touring with Motley Crue

The retro-rock act known as The Raskins, are currently out on the road as part of Motley Crue’s final tour which also features veteran rocker Alice Cooper. The band consisting of twin brothers Logan and Roger Raskin perform a unique blend of rock that harkens back to the early days of CBGB’s but with a modern twist. Media Mikes spoke with Logan Raskin recently about the group’s formation, their debut album and how they landed one of the biggest tours of the summer.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band and what made you want t pursue music?
Logan Raskin: Both my brother and I were born in raised in Chelsea, NY and our parents were in the music industry for many years. My father did lots of shows on Broadway and was the lead in shows like “West Side Story”, “Oklahoma” and bunch of others. I grew up going to those shows and watching him perform. He also would take a band with him out on the road and perform various songs from shows he appeared in and my brother and I would go out on the road with him. My mother was a pretty well known jazz singer around New York and also put a couple albums out as well. They taught us how to play music at a very young age and I think my brother and I wrote our first songs between the ages of 8 and 10. It was sort of inevitable that we would end up in the music business. Granted our parents taught us music our mother never really wanted us going in to the music business because the lifestyle was sort of tough for them and she didn’t want us to go through the same thing. Growing up on the Lower East side however music was tough to get away from. On any given night we could go to a club and see The Ramones, Patty Smith or The New York Dolls. We got bit by the bug and it was pretty much game over. We are very happy to be able to be doing music now full time.

AL: Have you and your brother always played together in bands?
LR: People always assume that we have played together our whole lives but to be honest this is the first time that we have really been in a band together. We certainly have played together over the years but never in a band. The Raskins have been together for about 3 years and it was something that started out as just a writing project. Roger and I had been composing music for television and movies for years and that’s what we were in to. We started getting a lot of fan mail from around the world from people who heard some of our work and really enjoyed it. They were always asking about where they could get our music and when they could see us live. We took about a year and recorded this first record on our own. We initially went in and recorded 60 songs. From there we took the best 12 that we thought represented us well and we put them on this record.  Next we put the band together and worked the New York area pretty heavily before making our way out to Los Angeles. We pushed the internet market really heavily as well and that’s where things really started for us.

AL: Did you have a clear cut vision of how you wanted the band to sound when you were first starting out or did your sound evolve more naturally?
LR: It was a combination of both. When we went in to the writing stage we wanted to just write as much as we could. We had an overwhelming amount of music written when we went in to do tracking and things just went from there. Our influences certainly came out and Roger and I both had a lot inside us. We wrote these songs for us as over the previous seven years we were composing music for other people. We had the opportunity to do this for ourselves and we were like kids in a candy store. The reason we did the recording of the album ourselves was that we didn’t want to have to work within a specific time frame as we both knew each other had a lot to say. What you get on the album are the influences we got from our parents along with what we were exposed to musically growing up in New York.

AL: When you are writing material do you and your brother generally work separately or collaboratively?
LR: It’s a combination of the two. We have a main studio that we work out of but we also have our own little separate studios at home. We both write music and lyrics but for this album I think I wrote more of lyrics. A lot of stuff we do completely on our own but it’s great to work together and bounce ideas off one another. Roger has given so many great songs. We work really well together. Sure we battle it out sometimes as we do a lot of hours in the studio but we have a process we go through that works well for us. We don’t try to force anything. We just try to be ourselves.

AL: What was it like taking your two piece band and developing it into a full group for touring purposes?
LR: We went through several ideas in our heads. Have both been in and out of bands over the years it’s a tough process. People sort of see us as this overnight success because all of a sudden we are out on the road with this big tour. That’s certainly not the case. We have been doing this for quite some time. We love everything about music and have had our share of struggles along the way but to have this opportunity to start off as a duo with my brother and then build a great band around us we feel that the bond of the band is extremely tight. We are surrounded by some really great musicians and even though people may see us as a duo we are a band. My brother and I felt that being in this band together with other musicians would just strengthen our bond.

AL: Can you tell us about being out on the road with Alice Cooper and Motley Crue?
LR: It has been an incredible year for us so far. When we finished the album we wanted to tour as much as possible and to really get the music out there any way we could. We started out doing a winter tour on our own and after that run ended we were asked to be a part of the Scott Wieland tour. We went out with Scott for about a month and while that was happening we were in talks for summer touring options. A few ideas were mentioned and being an optimist I mentioned some of the bigger tours going on this summer like Slash and Miles Kennedy, Kiss and Def Leppard, and Motley Crue and Alice Cooper. About 5 shows in to the run with Scott we got a call asking just how serious we were about the Motley Crue tour. We were serious as a heart attack and our booking agent thought we had a shot so we went for it. After a couple weeks we still hadn’t heard anything. We had initially submitted only for 17 shows so we weren’t sure what was going on. We ended up re-submitting for the entire tour and shortly thereafter we got a calling saying there was interest in having us. We had to wait for the guys in Motley Crue to make the final decision and luck for us they loved us and we were asked to be on for all 66 U.S. shows. It’s great being out here playing all these great venues that we always dreamed about. We played the Hollywood Bowl recently and will be playing Madison Square Garden also this year. As two kids growing up in New York City that is just going to be a dream come true.

AL: What are the bands plans after this tour run ends?
LR: We want to try and take a little time at the end of November to do some recording as we are always writing. We want to get what we have down in to demo form. Right now it likes like we will be out with HIM for 10 shows in December and we are also looking at some dates with Joan Jett, Blondie and The Cult. That will take us into next year with the possibility of going out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and maybe AC/DC. I told them to put that at the top of the priority list! (Laughs) My dad always told us to shoot for the stars and maybe you will reach a tree top. That our philosophy with everything that we do. This year has been great so far and we are excited about the future.

Introducing Canadian Singer-Songwriter Tara Beier with her new Music Video for “This Innocence” off debut EP “Purple Trees”

Introducing Canadian Singer-Songwriter Tara Beier

Re: Online Release of “This Innocence” Music Video off debut EP “Purple Trees”

This Innocence Music Video

PURPLE TREES mixes folk, pop and rock, and is gaining momentum, with three singles featured on Tunecore Weekly Artist spotlights and an international fan base that continues to grow online, currently in tens of thousands.

Tara recently spent a year becoming intimate with the life and music of legendary folk singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie in preparation to play Native American folk singer in the short, “COVERED”, a true gem among indie film buffs. Capturing the spirit and mind of Buffy in COVERED, Tara became intimate with her character. The creation of PURPLE TREES is the culmination of her artistic shift into a focus on music.

Like Tara’s experience, PURPLE TREES is a truly eclectic compilation, pumped out of Vapor Music Studio in Toronto, each song features a flavour unlike the other: earthy rock beats in “Guns Road”; spicy and acoustic soul in “Mayan Sun”; candy cotton sweet political in “Freedom Island”; smooth cool beats in “Give It Up”; ending with the bluegrass pop of “This Innocence”.

Background
Diversity her trademark, coming from a very mixed heritage, her mother Scottish/British/Austrian/Cree and father, Filipino/Hawaiian and Spanish.

Creating music has been a life long process for Tara beginning at the age of six when she first started intensive training in classical piano. Since then she has dedicated her life to the arts, graduating with her Bachelor of Arts degree, from the stage to the screen as an actor to filmmaker to musician, she has always remained true to her voice as an artist. In combination with her poetry and writing that developed over the years, as well to Buffy’s influence, she found herself on the same journey as her musical inspirations, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Rodriguez, Bob Marley and Johnny Cash.

Sample Lyrics from her single “Freedom Island”.

“Like specks of dust sparkled in the skies

We fly on high and watch the centuries keep burning by

Its quiet now, we can live with peace in our hearts

While the poor man will always suffer from human greed

Let’s dance till the end in the sand

While man counts his pennies in hand

One day will go to Freedom Island and take our love all the way to the end

Nothing has changed yet everything is different”

 

PURPLE TREES can be heard live as Tara visits various venues in Toronto with her band; Juno-nominated drummer, Tony Nestbitt-Larking; New Zealand bassist George Chenery and renowned classical guitarist, Michael Savona.

Freedom Island Music Video

Upcoming single “GUNS ROAD”

 Website: http://www.tarabeier.blogspot.ca

“Bloody Birthday”, “Bloody Moon” and “The Baby” to debut on Blu-Ray From Severin Films 7/8/14


Three classic horror titles will get the HD treatment for the first time. Fans are encouraged to follow the Severin Facebook page, where fans will have the opportunity to win original 1982 Bloody Moon video posters. There is also a bundle of all three films available exclusively from the Severin webstore!

BLOODY BIRTHDAY- Get ready for the rarely seen slasher classic from the ’80s that may also be the most disturbing ‘killer kids’ movies in grindhouse history: Three babies are simultaneously born in the same hospital at the peak of a full solar eclipse. Ten years later, these adorable youngsters suddenly begin a kiddie killing spree of stranglings, shootings, stabbings, beatings and beyond. Can the town’s grown-ups stop these pint-sized serial killers before their blood-soaked birthday bash? K.C. Martel (E.T., Growing Pains), Joe Penny (Jake And The Fat Man), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), screen legends Susan Strasberg and Jose Ferrer, and MTV vixen Julie Brown – whose nude bedroom dance remains a landmark of celebrity skin – star in this still-controversial shocker from director Ed Hunt (The Brain, Diary Of A Sinner), now featuring an all-new HD transfer from the original vault elements.

THE BABY- An A-list director. A jaw-dropping storyline. And depraved depictions of suburban violence, 70s fashions and ‘sick love’. The result remains one of the most disturbing movies in Hollywood history: Anjanette Comer (The Loved One) stars as an idealistic L.A. County social worker who investigates the case of Mrs. Wadsworth (former ’50s starlet Ruth Roman of Strangers On A Train fame), her two buxom daughters, and son ‘Baby’, a mentally-disabled man who sleeps in a crib, eats in a high-chair, crawls, bawls and wears diapers. But what secrets of unnatural attachment – and sexual obsession – are all of these women hiding? Marianna Hill (The Godfather Part II) and Michael Pataki (Grave Of The Vampire) co-star in this psychotic stunner from director Ted Post (Magnum Force, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes), now fully restored from the original film negative for the first time on Blu-ray.

BLOODY MOON- As the ‘body-count’ genre stabbed its way into audiences’ hearts in the early ’80s, EuroTrash auteur Jess Franco (Sadomania, Mansion Of The Living Dead) was asked to create his own saga of slaughtered schoolgirls complete with gratuitous nudity, graphic violence, and gory set pieces. But just when you thought you’d seen it all, Franco shocked the world by delivering surprising style, genuine suspense and a cavalcade of depravity that includes incest, voyeurism and roller disco. The luscious Olivia Pascal ofVanessa fame stars in this twisted thriller that was banned in England yet is now presented uncut and uncensored – including the complete ‘stone mill power saw’ sequence – for the first time ever on Blu-ray!

The Revenant’s Trevor Jackson talks about band’s self-titled debut album

Trevor Jackson is the guitarist for the punk rock band The Revenant. The band which also includes former Unwritten Law members Derik Envy and Kevin Besignano along with Lit drummer Nathan Walker has just released their self titled debut album to rave reviews. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Trevor recently about the album, what it was like balancing multiple projects and the bands upcoming tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what led to you guys forming the band?
Trevor Jackson: We had all known each other from touring and we all had a common ground in that we wanted to do something that was our own. We have all had some great opportunities in the past but at the end of the day we wanted to see what could happen if we got together and wrote some songs. Derik and Kevin knew each other from playing together in Unwritten Law and I had toured with Nate so it really was probably the easiest way a band could come together. We never really did any auditioning or things like that just started writing music together. Things just worked.

AL: How did you go about deciding which direction to take the band in stylistically?
TJ: We all came from playing in other people’s band so we weren’t too sure which direction to go. When you get together with 4 new guys you have no idea what things will sound like. We pretty much went in completely open. We just started writing together and let things develop throughout the pre-production process. We all come from different music backgrounds and everybody in the band has a specific strong point. Writing wise we would all sit down together and work through the different ideas. No one really had any egos. An idea would get thrown out and we would all just start working on it together. A lot of times Kevin or Derik would come in with a song and we could hammer it out in 45 minutes or so. We all just worked really well together.

AL: Was it hard for you guys to balance your time between multiple projects?
TJ: Making the transition from one project to another came with some difficulty however it was something that we all really wanted to do. We really believed in what we were doing so anytime we had down time we went right in to the garage to demo songs or rehearse.

AL: Can you tell us about the first 4 songs you guys released?
TJ: The full album came out June 17th but to get people familiar with who we are prior to that we decided to release 4 songs from the album. These were songs that we really liked but it was a little weird only picking the 4. Our whole record is 10 songs that run just over 20 minutes. Those first few songs sort of showcase the albums variety.

AL: Have you guys started discussing tour plans yet?
TJ: That’s all we talk about. (Laughs) We have been putting the word out and talking about some different things but I think the biggest thing we wanted to do first was to get the record out. We want fans of music and punk rock to get the album and decide for themselves what they think of it. If we get a phone call today I am sure we would have the van packed and be on the road but right now we are shooting for towards the end of summer to back out on the road. This project was something that we have been pretty quiet about thus far. We wanted to get everything recorded and done before we really started telling anyone about it. This is something we are having great time doing it and we can’t wait for people to hear the album.

K.Flay talks about debut album “Life as a Dog”

Constantly changing, constantly evolving and constantly honing their craft is the sign of a good musician and K. Flay, is one of them. While in college, K.Flay found she had the chops to rap with some of the best and began to experiment, musically and lyrically. Since 2004, she has put out a myriad of music with everything from singles and EPs to collaborating with other aspiring up-and-comers like MC Lars. Her continuous, hard work has finally paid off as she releases her debut album, “Life as a Dog”. She’s also about to embark on the Warped Tour, a staple of the summer touring circuit. Media Mikes recently caught up with K.Flay about how she’s handling and preparing for these high marks of her career.

Jeremy Werner: When I was getting ready for this interview…I was a bit surprised how much music you had, in terms of singles, EPs, guest vocals, and other things spanning over half a decade. To me it’s crazy because you’re now just able to release your debut album. I’m sure all your fans, die-hard and new, who’ve recognized your hard work and talent over the years are seeing and wondering the same thing I was, which is why has it taken so long to be able to release your debut album?
K.Flay: I was actually just having this conversation with my drummer because we’re working on setlist stuff for Warped Tour this summer. But basically the reason is…I signed to a major label a little over two years ago and while I was on there, I put out a mixtape and a couple of EPs and singles and things of that nature. But I was never able to release an album. I was working on a lot of stuff, but I think they didn’t necessarily feel like anything was single worthy or ready to be part of an album, so I was kind of in this weird limbo while I was there. Which on some level was a really interesting experience in that I was able to do a ton of experimentation and really kind of take time to figure out more about the kind of music I like making and think about the music I was better at making than other kinds. It was sort of a weird process because I signed and wasn’t able to put out enough to show for a debut album, but I left the label in the fall and then worked on this.

JW: I’ve actually talked to quite a few artists as of late who’ve used online fundraising for their music and just like them, yours was very successful.
K.Flay: Yes.

JW: So I’m wondering…with no problems reaching your target goal, do you feel like this is your way of telling potential record labels, “I can sell music if give me a chance,” or is this your way of saying, “Fuck you guys. My music speaks for yourself and I don’t need you”?
K.Flay: You know, I think for me in large part, this is just about a personal goal as a human/artist in the sense of making a statement. And even if albums are becoming outdated in some capacity or whatever, I think having a statement and a body of work that has cohesive quality, to me, is really important on a fundamental level. But on the flip side of it, the experience on the label was at times, kind of frustrating and it felt like I was a little bit stuck. So it feels really good to return to how I began with music which is independently releasing things and having control over all aspects of the creative process. It just feels really empowering, really good and really natural.

JW: Is there anything with “Life as a Dog”, musically, that you’re doing different or for the first time on this album?
K.Flay: Ya know, I think this album is a little bit of shift in that it’s less like rap and it’s a little more…I don’t know…I try to be more conscious of melody a little bit. One of the things I discovered over the last two-three years it that I really do like singing and I like incorporating melodic components into the music. It’s definitely less electronic, less rap, but I don’t think in a super drastic way. It felt kind of like the natural, next step.

JW: Lyrically, when I listen to your music, it feels like there’s a lot of deep personal emotions attached to the music and it’s kind of a dumb, broad statement to say that because yeah…all music is personal. But while some bands like to play with words and allude to different ideas without completely giving themselves away, I feel like you’re more blunt and honest with what you say. What are some of things you draw from when writing lyrics?
K.Flay: Obviously there’s a lot of myself in the music and there’s always gonna be that component, but I think more than ever, especially with this record, I really tried to embody, even just for a few moments in a song, people in my life and people that I’ve met along the way. I think one of the compelling parts of being a full-time musician is the cast of characters, both bad and good, that you run into on a daily basis. I still use the first person pronoun so they feel like they’re about me, but some of them are really about people that I’ve met and experiences that I’ve kind of witnessed second hand. Which is really cool. I think it taught to expand my ideas of how to start a song. Usually for me, it starts with some kind of emotion I’m feeling at that moment. Which is interesting conceptually to experiment from a different perspective a little bit.

JW: Anything you’ve wanted to sing about, but you’re hesitant to?
K.Flay: Umm…not really. I guess there’s nothing in my life that I wouldn’t want to share. Obviously very specific details, but songwriting and performing is such a liberating thing in general and so I think that’s why I feel comfortable talking about a lot of stuff in that
capacity.

JW: Let’s switch gears. You are on Warped Tour this summer. Is this the largest tour you’ve had to tackle yet?
K.Flay: It is, definitely. I’ve done festivals before, but never anything of this kind of length or consistency. I’m really excited. I have a lot of friends who’ve done Warped in the past and literally everyone has great things to say about it. I know it’s gonna be a challenge…*laughs*…not to be covered in sweat constantly, but I’m really looking forward to it.

JW: Besides being stupid hot, Warped Tour is also known for jamming nearly every act they can on to stages. Will it be hard trying to condense what you want to express into a limited setlist?
K.Flay: I think it is gonna be a really interesting challenge. There is such a large catalog and I want to represent the new album and I also wanna represent some of the old stuff. And obviously play music that is emblematic of where I’m at, but also music that will appeal to people. I think it’s gonna be a little bit of messing around once we get started. The live shows have always been a real focus for me and touring is a place where I feel really comfortable and I’m really comfortable with experimenting. I think the first week, we’ll probably test about a bunch of different stuff. More than anything, not like anybody else wants me to, but I kind of wanna play for two hours and go through everything. It’ll be an interesting little experiment.

JW: Have you factored in fans? I mean obviously you have…but the typical Warped Tour attendee is traditionally, a punk rock enthusiast and it’s definitely changed over the past decade.
K.Flay: Totally. The show has always had a punk spirit to it. There’s headbanging and a lot of jumping around and kind of more archetypal rock moments in it. So obviously something within that spirit. I’m kind of excited to try some new stuff.

JW: Big tour…debut album…with all this success…do you see yourself being a music artist for the long haul or is there something you still wanna do or try?
K.Flay: Ya know…I don’t really know. I get asked this sometimes and I kind of have no fucking clue. Which is strange because you’d think it’d be good to have a back-up plan, but I just decide on something and I just do it. So I think I’m still in that mode of perspective where this is what I’m doing and I think if I really started to consider other viable options, it would probably be a bad sign. So I don’t know. I read a lot…so maybe something with books. That’s all I can think of at the moment.

JW: My last question, a bit random, and you don’t have to answer this, but I’ve noticed a couple of other female artists, entertainers and others have said it’s bothersome when they’re told by fans, “Oh you’re my favorite female comedian…artist…”. Things like that.
K.Flay: Right.

JW: I think this boils down to where we’re at in a society right now and how we’re starting to mold how we view gender. But I’m curious, does it bother you if a fan tells you that you’re their favorite female rapper instead of just simply saying you’re their favorite rapper.
K.Flay: I know there’s like something I got sent earlier about Neko Case talking about this, but I wouldn’t say it happens all the time. Usually people say I like you’re stuff or whatever, but I think any time you’re a little bit in the minority, I think that that’s an unfortunate byproduct. Although I am a woman and have a gendered perspective to a certain extent, just like anybody else, when I write, I’ve always just sort of naturally wanted to create music that didn’t feel super gendered, if that makes any sense. But I think it can certainly undermine what you’re doing a little bit. I’m honestly happy anyone listens to it (laughs) I’m just always stoked if anybody’s checked it out and trying to find out about what I’m doing.

DoryDrive’s Mathieu Nevitt talks about debut album “Here’s to You”

Mathieu Nevitt is the lead vocalist for the MidWest based rock group DoryDrive. The group has just released their debut full length album titled “Here’s to You” via First Launch Records and the single of the same name is currently working its way up the rock charts across the country. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Mathieu about the group’s formation and the recording process for the new album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the formation of the band?
Mathieu Nevitt: The band was started out of me joining a preexisting band that the rest of the guys had performing with for quite some time. My previous band Echovalve was touring with them and we were both looking for something different. I wasn’t interested in joining something that had history already nor was I looking to do heavy music. We ended up coming together to start DoryDrive which is a departure from the guy’s previous material but I think we are all happy with what we are doing now.  From there we started recording together as a band in Nashville, TN. After a couple recording session there we though it would be cool to name the band after the street that the studio was on.

AL: What can you tell us about the group’s new album?
MN: The album is titled “Here’s to You” and working on the album was a very enjoyable process for us. We got to work with two different producers which was really cool. We were able to grow with our music and as a band I think that is what really gave us a chance to strength our bond. We like to have a good time when were in the studio and the writing process was a lot of fun.

AL: Was it difficult in any way working with two different producers?
MN: They each had their own philosophy. The guy we worked with in Nashville was much more militant about the guitar sounds. When we started working with the other producer who helped finish the record things felt much more inviting which I feel was beneficial. Both instances were beneficial for us but we really opened up more towards the end of the process.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit about the two music videos which have been released thus far?

MN: That’s a love/hate relationship for me. Shooting these can be very hectic and you never feel like you have enough time to do everything. There is always a question mark surrounding things. You just have to not second guess yourself and do whatever it is that needs to be done. The newest video is for our single “Here’s to You”. I was really happy with how it turned out and I think we are growing in front of the camera each time we work on a new video.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands current tour?
MN: This tour is our headlining tour. We will be following the radio markets that have picked up our single recently. We will be utilizing that radio play and our promotions company to really hit as many places as possible. We are also actively pursuing some other options as well for when this run of shows end. We are hoping to jump on a really great tour this summer.

 

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Social Distortion’s Jonny Wickersham talks about debut solo release “Salvation Town”

Photo by Erika Harding

“Salvation Town” is the debut solo release from Social Distortion guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Produced by David Kalish the album is an interesting departure from Wickersham’s previous body of work as the album is packed full of acoustical performances. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jonny recently about the album and what it was like working with Jackson Browne.

Adam Lawton:Can you give us a little background on your new solo album?
Jonny Wickersham: I started recording the album awhile back and it’s probably been 3 years now since we first started working on it. At the time when I started Social Distortion was very busy promoting and touring behind the “Hard Times and Nursery Rhythms” album. I didn’t initially have a lot of time to work on things. When I went in to record the first track it ended up being more than just working on the song but it was a chance for me to work with one of my idols, Pete Thomas who was Elvis Costello’s guy on drums. Once we finally got started things moved along pretty well and the whole experience was just great. I was really inspired by all the people who were willing to work with me on this album.

AL: What do you think was the main reason you waited until now to release a solo album?
JW: My good friend David Kalish who produced the album was always on me about doing a solo record. I kept putting it off because I didn’t think it was something I could do. I had always written songs however I never had any other vehicle to do them other than with the bands that I was in. I would write material and whether it was Mike Ness or the Cadillac Tramps or Duane Peters they would take what they liked from what I had brought in and then add their own parts especially, when it came to lyrics. I had never really learned to sell one of my songs or perform it. There’s a big difference between being in the recording studio and singing a song and being up in front of a crowd and playing. Then those two things are completely different from me sitting in my living room with an acoustic guitar performing for my cat. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest performers that appear on the record?
JW: The guest performers were something I didn’t put a lot of thought in to beforehand. Things just sort of happened off the cuff. I was certainly a fan of everyone involved and really worked out on a song to song basis. We did this record differently than what I am used to. I am used to working up songs as a band, demoing them and then going down to the studio to record the tracks. The bass and drums lay down a foundation and then everything else is built on top of that. There is a process to the whole thing. With “Salvation Town” it was much different. We laid down some acoustic guitar to a click track and then usually just Dave and I would go back and add a simple drum beat and bass line. From there we would try and think ahead of what the song could be. We would just have these ideas of about who might be able to add something really cool to the tracks. We ended up getting David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and his two sons David Jr. and Vincent, Gaby Moreno who was just so great and of course Jackson Browne. The song Jackson appears on is one that I have had for quite some time. It started out as straight ahead punk sounding song but with this being a different record I wanted to give it a different style. As we were working on it I said to David that I thought it could be Jackson Browne song. I never thought Jackson would be a possibility but David called me the day after mentioning and said that Jackson was down for it. I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later Jackson came in to do his parts. Everything happened very organically. Having Jackson Browne and David Lindley on my album is just gnarly! (Laughs)

AL: Was there any point during the three years of working on the album that you got discouraged?
JW: There were so many discouraging times that I can’t even count. I am a stickler and very detail oriented. I am also one of those guys that have to exhaust every possibility so I was driving David crazy with this thing however; I think we balanced each other out perfectly in the studio. I wanted to make a good record that shows where I am at in my life while reflecting my influences. I didn’t want things to be over produced but at the same time I didn’t want it to sound like a demo. There were times where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s when I would get sketchy. It was all new to me. Fortunately over the years I have learned that you have to let things take their course.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour behind the release?
JW: Yes! As much as possible. We just recently played at South by South West. With the exception of the aweful tragedy that happened outside of the venue where we were playing the show was really great. It was trip being out there front and center. Every night I am always worried about how I am going to sound. (Laughs)

Kings X’s Doug Pinnick talks about new project “KXM” and upcoming debut album

Doug “dUg” Pinnick is probably best known as the bassist/vocalist for the hard rock/progressive band Kings X. Doug has also been a part of a number of side projects such as “Poundhound”, “Tres Mts.” And “Third Ear Experience”. Doug’s newest project simply titled “KXM” is a 3 piece super trio featuring Korn drummer Ray Luzier and legendary Dokken guitarist George Lynch. Media Mikes spoke with Doug recently about the group formation and the upcoming release of their debut album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands formation?
Doug Pinnick: Ray was having a party at his house for his son and we all happened to be there. During a break from the party Ray took us to see his new drum room which was also set up to record in. George threw out the idea to do some jamming and I think him and Ray actually did end up starting things there. A short while later I get a call saying George had booked some studio time. Luckily we were all free and we got together and started working on the album. It all came together very quick. We would be in the studio for a couple days and then Ray would have to fly out to Singapore or somewhere to play with Korn. We are pretty happy with how things turned out and I am all ready to do another.

AL: What can we expect to hear on the album?
DP: I think people will hear who we are as individual players. My bass tone is something that can’t be disguised as it is what it is. George is a unique guitar player and he brings that element to things. He doesn’t do as much soloing as on some of his other projects but I think there’s still a good amount of that on this record. Ray showcased his intricate cymbal work which is something that hasn’t always showed up in the mix of his previous work but on this record, Oh man!

AL: Did you approach this album any differently than you would with a Kings X album?
DP: Yes. The approach we took was that no one could tell the others what to do. You had to be 100 percent trusting in the parts that the other members created. Whatever we did we all complimented each other. When I listen back to the recordings there are no preconceptions. This is the first group I have been in where I can almost step outside of things. (Laughs)

AL: Was this approach laid out before hand or did it evolve over time?
DP: When we started out we were talking about a number of different things. George had a bunch of material that he wanted to bring up but we decided to do this thing from scratch. George agreed and things turned out great. I have a whole hard drive of songs that we could have pulled from as well but we chose to start fresh. Started from scratch was something I was very adamant about.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the song “Rescue Me”?
DP: I never know what song to pick as a single as I always seem to pick something different from everyone else. I sort of stood back from the selection process and let the label and Ray and George decide. Everyone thought “Rescue Me” was the song to release first and I was totally ok with that. We worked with some of the guys who have done work on Korn’s videos and Ray and George pooled some other resources to come up with this video. I just kind of went along with the process and every draft we got back was really great. They did a very good job at making me like me. That at times can be a difficult job. (Laughs

AL: Has there been any talks of touring the album?
DP: We have all been talking about touring. As soon as we can find time that works with everyone’s schedules you better believe that we will be out there. Why not? We all have a bunch of other things going on but when we find that window we are jumping in.

AL: What other projects do you currently have in the works?
DP: I will be singing in a Jimi Hendrix tribute at South by South West this year with Perry Farrell and Slash. After that I will be playing in Los Angeles at The Guitar Center convention with my blues band. I will also be doing some stuff with a few of my other side projects as well.
 

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American Fangs’ Micah Miller talks about band’s first full-length album

Micah Miller is the drummer for the Houston, TX band American Fangs. The group released their first full-length album titled “American Fangs” in March of 2013 and will be performing during this year’s South by South West Musical Festival. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Micah recently about the group’s formation, the creation of the album and the group’s recent appearance at Ship Rocked.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the formation of the band?
Micah Miller: Our singer Gabe and our guitarist Kenyon were actually in a previous band together. When that band stopped there was some time between projects. We had friends from around the Houston music scene who also were without bands and we would all get together from time to time and drink beer and play music. From there things just sort of ended up sticking with all of us forming this band.

AL: Can you tell us about the band’s debut album?
MM: It was sort of a roller coaster to get this album out. We started out just being a band in 2007 for fun really. In 2008 is when we started to make the band a consistent thing. We released an EP on our own and picked up some management. We had a few record label offers at this time as we were out on the road touring. We ended up signing with a label and went in and recorded an entire album. Within 2 weeks of turning that in the label went under. We decided to just continue on with touring in hopes another label would pick us up. We put around 150,000 miles on our van and just couldn’t get a deal. When it looked like we were going to hang it up Sony came along and offered to work with us. They didn’t know our label had gone under and were really big fans of the band. That rejuvenated us. This album is a culmination of songs we were playing in our live set that we love so much.

AL: How did working on this album compare to the work you did on the “Pomona” EP?
MM: It was very different. When we were working on “Pomona” we were all living together in a house while playing gigs on the weekend and working day jobs. A friend of ours built a studio in the dining room of the house and that’s where we recorded things. We would get home from work and record our ideas. It was a very slow process as we didn’t have any real time table. We wanted to come up with a small collection of songs that we were really proud of. With the LP we flew out to Long Island and worked with Mike Watts. There was a time line this time and a lot of other stuff. We went in with about 30 songs. From there we narrowed it down to about 11 and started working with Mike to make various parts better. Some songs were ones that had been around longer than others and we re-worked parts of those as well. I think we were more focused with the full length.

AL: The band just got back from performing on this year’s Ship Rocked cruise. Can you tell us about that experience?
MM: It was pretty crazy but exciting at the same time. There was a really good line up that featured well known bands and newer acts like us. We weren’t sure if anyone would come and see us as our first set was at the same time as Three Days Grace. It ended up being really cool. Jacoby and Jerry from Papa Roach came out and as the set went on the room filled in more and more. We got a great response and it was really fun. Each set we did after that got bigger and bigger. A lot of the other bands would come out and watch us which was great because we grew up idolizing a lot of those guys. It was pretty surreal. If only the water had been warmer. (Laughs)

AL: What other plans does the band have for this year?
MM: We are doing a few local shows in Houston but until the South by South West festival were going to be off the radar. That’s going to be kind of odd because last year we did around 120 shows. It just feels odd but it’s nice to be at home. We have a few offers on the table to head back over to the UK in the spring but we are still working out all of those details.

 

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Richie Ramone talks about his 2014 tour and debut solo album “Entitled”

Former Ramones drummer Richie Ramone who was a member of the legendary punk group from 1982-1987 and penned such classic songs as “Somebody Put Something in my Drink” and “I’m Not Jesus” has just returned to the music scene after an extended hiatus with a debut album titled “Entitled”. To support the release Richie and his band our out touring the U.S. and Europe and Media Mikes sat down with Richie recently to discuss his time with the Ramones and why he felt now was the time to release a solo album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you originally were chosen to join the Ramones?
Richie Ramone: There was a big 3 storey house in Brooklyn were we all used to party and hangout. There was also a recording studio there. I just happened to be there one day and Little Matt who was a roadie for the Ramones was leaving after hanging out and I happened to ask him where he was going. He told me that the Ramones were auditioning new drummers and that he had to be there. I told him to my name in the hat for consideration and a short time later I got a call from Monte Melnick the bands manager and the rest is history. I just happened to be in that building at the right time. I didn’t know any of those guys initially as it was an open audition.

AL: What was the band atmosphere like when you joined?
RR: They were worn out. Things were good but of course Joey and Johnny tended to fight a lot. I was just this kid from New Jersey. I was new blood and once I got in there things just settled down. When someone new comes to the band everyone is on their best behavior. (Laughs) It was a good climate in that band for many years. John and I both loved baseball and when I first joined we would go to games at the different ball parks together. Sadly as time went on and it came time to do business things just didn’t work.

AL: What is your take on the recent marketing explosion of Ramones merchandise that often doesn’t include yours, Marky or Cj’s names?
RR: They won’t put mine or Marky’s name on the t-shirts anymore. Apparently the one with Tommy is the biggest seller. If you are able to find an original Richie shirt it’s worth around $300 or more. I’m not part of that merchandising thing anyhow and these days I have mine own merchandise and things are fine. I know the Ramones still sell around 20-25,000 records a year and things are going well. I think things were a bit cheapened when after I left they tried to make it seem like I never existed. People knew I was there. I went through a lull for awhile and now I have risen to the top.

AL: Being you along with CJ were both very instrumental in the continuation/success of the Ramones what were your feelings toward being excluded from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions?
RR: When you see bands with multiple members in a situation like that there really needs to be a decision to take everyone or just the original core members. That’s how it’s supposed to work and when the Ramones went in it didn’t work that way. I still went to the ceremony and spoke on Joey’s behalf. It all worked out. Big fucking deal I didn’t get a statue.

AL: Why did you choose now to come out with a solo album?
RR: I have no idea! I didn’t even pick up a drum stick for 10 or 12 years. In 2006 Joey’s brother Mickey invited to me to perform at the Joey Birthday Bash. That kind of got the fever going. In 2007 I did “Suite for Drums and Orchestra” with the Pasadena Pops and did some shows and then did a few more Birthday Bashes the following 2 or 3 years. From there I started writing and the material turned out real good. People started saying that I should do an album. I had never done a solo record before and one thing just sort of led to another and here I am now. Things weren’t really ever planned they just happened.

AL: How did you go about putting together the material and the band which plays on the record?
RR: I wrote all of the stuff in my home studio. I found Tommy Boland who plays guitar on the record through a friend of mine. I play all the instruments but for this I needed real players. Tommy added a lot of color. I knew I wanted a little heavier guitar sound with solos. I wanted a little metal in there and that’s what I got with Tommy. Jiro Okabe came in and played bass on the record. Playing the material live is a little different. Tommy wasn’t available for this run and Jiro’s vocals didn’t work so I let him go. The live sound has to be a little harder as it’s more stripped down. There are only 4 of us up there and we don’t use any backing tracks. We just plug in and go. This line up of Clare Misstake on bass, Alex Kane on guitar, and Ben Reagan on guitar/drums is really fucking good. I am excited to be out with them.

AL: Where do you generally start when working on new material?
RR: It happens all different ways. Sometimes it starts with a beat, sometimes with a chord progression or a lyric idea. I am not a guy who writes about politics or anything like that. I just write about stuff that happens in my life. A lot of times what’s happening in your life is also happening in other peoples as well.

AL: The U.S. tour runs through March. Does the band have any plans scheduled after that?
RR: We will be heading to South America for the month of May and then will be in Europe and Italy in June. We are going to be touring all of this year. We have to see how this all goes and maybe will do another record. I have more material that I have been thinking about but I want to see how well this first record is going to be received. If the kids want more I am going to give them more.

AL: What has the overall reception been like for the record/tour?
RR: The reception has been real good. Especially from the people who come out to the shows who already have the album. It’s hard if no one has listened to the record before hand because there’s no relationship built around those songs yet. Some fans coming out may get a little bewildered at the new material. That was a big part of why a waited a couple months to tour behind the release as I wanted people to have a chance to sit with the material.

AL: What do you feel is the biggest change in the music scene now as compared to the 1980’s?
RR: In the old days you generally just hid from the fans. I would put my sunglasses and just stay hidden. Now you are totally exposed. It’s a huge difference! Touring is still touring. You’re riding in a van all day and then wait in a cold room till you go on. The music industry has changed also. I just come out and have fun with the fans as that’s who it’s all about. 5 minutes after our set is done I am out at the merch table meeting everyone and taking pictures with them. They pay their hard earned money and we give them a show.

Anton King talks about directing his feature debut “Lust for Love”

Anton King is an Australian writer-director, who made his started in the business by premiering short films to the film festival circuit. One of those short films, “Lust for Love”, was just turned into a feature film which packs a fantastic cast including Fran Kranz (“Dollhouse”) and Dichen Lachman (“Dollhouse”) and Beau Garrett (“Tron Legacy”). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Anton about the film and how fans can see it.

Mike Gencarelli: “Lust for Love” was originally a short film you did back in 2007; what made you turn it into a feature?
Anton King: The “Lust for Love” short was one of the first films I made, it’s a sex comedy that played at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival a long time ago. I just always liked the title so I decided to reuse it.

MG: Tell us about how you financed the entire film from your Kickstarter campaign?
AK: We were blessed with the support of our Kickstarter backers and many volunteers who contributed to the production, however like most independent films Lust for Love took longer and cost more than anticipated. After shooting the film we obtained other investment necessary to complete and deliver it, although we’re still very proud of what we were able to achieve given our limited budget.

MG: Tell us how you got Fran Kranz and Dichen Lachman and many others from the “Whedonverse” involved with the film including Enver Gjokaj, Miracle Laurie, Maurissa Tancharoen and Felicia Day?
AK: I think the performances in Lust for Love are definitely one of its best attributes, and we were certainly lucky to get such a great cast. I’ve known Dichen and Caitlin since they played sisters together on the Australian show “Neighbours”, and I got to know the “Dollhouse” cast through Dichen. I was even fortunate enough to shadow the director Félix Alcalá for one of the episodes of “Dollhouse”. Maurissa asked me if I wanted to direct the music video for her song “Remains” and we cast Fran in that too. When Dichen and I were casting “Lust for Love” we just chose great actors we knew that were available, so the cast is a mix of people she’d worked with on “Dollhouse”, and some Australian actors we knew. We also cast Karim Saleh who’s just an endlessly entertaining close friend of ours and Beau Garrett who Fran recommended.

MG: Honestly, I am not a big romantic comedy fan but you blend the two so well; tell us about this achievement?
AK: With both I just tried to keep it organic and not to overplay anything, but of course it’s difficult when you’re working in a genre that has no real darkness. It’s no coincidence that two of the most respected romantic comedies “Annie Hall” and “(500) Days of Summer” are actually about couples that aren’t supposed to be together and that don’t end up together. I also think that Lust for Love is helped by the fact that it’s about one guy chasing lots of girls rather than just one girl.

MG: Love the music in the film for example Jed Whedon and Jack Savoretti; tell us about that aspect of the film?
AK: The music supervisor Brienne Rose and I worked really hard to find the right songs for the film and Dichen came up with quite a number of selections too. While our composer Darren Morze created many wonderful pieces. It was a long process of trial and error, but for a film like this the music’s really important. Jed and his wife Maurissa were really supportive of the film and let us use both “Tricks On Me” and “Heat Of A Match” which are two of my favorites from Jed’s album “History of Forgotten Things”. We were also contacted through Kickstarter by Ryan Darton who allowed us to use songs from his album “I Am A Moth”.

MG: You juggled quite a few hats with this film; what was your biggest challenge?
AK: Perhaps the biggest challenge in making “Lust for Love” has been dealing with the sheer volume of work and the fact that it continues for so long. With such a small team and budget there’s been a lot we’ve had to do ourselves. Creatively, screenwriting is of course endlessly challenging, and we spent quite a bit of time in the edit making sure the non-linear narrative was clear.

Tell us how and where can fans see this film and what do you have planned next?
AK: “Lust for Love” is available on VOD and iTunes from Feb 7 in the US and Canada with DVD and foreign releases coming soon.

Michael Rosenbaum talks about his directorial debut “Back in the Day”

For nearly a decade, Superman fans came to love Michael Rosenbaum for his portrayal of Lex Luthor on “Smallville”. During that time Michael also found time to act in other TV shows and movies as well as voicing the Flash for DC’s animated universe. For the past two years though, Michael has been working on something near and dear to his heart. His first movie, “Back in the Day”, details a lot of his experiences growing up in a small town in Indiana. Some of those experiences are hilarious as well as very touching. Media Mikes was able to talk with Michael about his labor of love as well as the trials and tribulations with working on his first film.

Jeremy Werner: When watching “Back in the Day”, you really get this vibe that this is a love letter to the people and town that you spent your best years in.
Michael Rosenbaum: Oh yeah…I go back twice a year for whiffle ball. I really embrace the city. I really love where I grew up…cutting backyards, drinking out of firehoses, catching fireflies and playing baseball as a kid…It was a little bit of a love letter. I wanted it to be authentic and I wanted people to see how beautiful it can be instead of a stereotypical, ‘Oh I hate the small town and these people are rednecks’. It’s just the opposite of that. I’m very proud of where I grew up.

JW: I assume that every character in this movie is based off someone that you knew growing up.
MR: (laughs) Oh yeah, it is. Skunk is a real character played by Harland Williams…A lot of these things happened. I’ve known these guys for a long time, so it’s an exaggeration and loosely based on a lot of these guys, but definitely. There’s kind of a lot of characters all rolled up in one…I was kind of a nerd in high school and couldn’t get laid. So the girl in the movie is the one I had my first time with mixed in with the most beautiful girl in the world I could never get. They’re all based on the idea or of people that I knew.

JW: I’m almost afraid to ask, (laughs) but there’s a mom who drinks and smokes in the movie…did you know someone like that?
MR: (laughs)…You see some of those things every once and a while and you’ve seen it. That girl was a little bit of an exaggeration, but I hope that people find that funny…that was an exaggeration of someone I sort of knew, who when I go back home, I kind of still see every once and a while and it’s a big exaggeration…I thought she was just a larger than life character and people do that. They actually smoke light cigarettes and they’re smoking occasionally. They think it’s OK. They occasionally drink…an occasional shot of whiskey. So I think there are people out there.

JW: So have your friends watched this movie yet?
MR: They love it…they thought they were gonna see something shot on an iPhone and we had the budget to about do that (laughs). The laughs were loud, it’s great to see it with an audience…so far everyone has really enjoyed it. Obviously there’s some offensive moments and I’m sure somebody will say this isn’t for me, but it’s not for everybody. There is heart…so there’s a little bit of something for everybody. It’s what I wanted to make. I’m happy with that.

JW: How much of yourself did you put into the movie’s main character, Jim Owens?
MR: I obviously have a lot to be thankful for and I’ve done it all for myself and God bless, but there’s always a part of me that longs to be back home. I miss that side, that part of my life. Jim left someone behind, a girl he was in love with. I think that we all wanna find that, that love and he remembers that she was probably the best thing to ever happen to him and even though it happened years ago, he’s seeing what happens. I think there’s a big part of Jim in me or me in Jim because I think a lot of people long to go home and they miss home. Sometimes when they’re home, they realize: I do love home. But maybe I was destined to be an actor. I was destined to be a doctor somewhere or was destined to be…whatever it was. To each his own. I miss my friends back home. I miss the simplicity of being in a small town and living in a neighborhood and having seasons. I’m in Los Angeles and as beautiful as it is and you go to the beach and you have all these great things in life…everybody will sit there and go, “Oh my God. I’d love to have your life”. It’s funny because I’d like to have their life in a lot of ways too…It’s kind of mixing it. I think you can have the best of both worlds.

JW: So with so many memories, when did you start work on this script?
MR: Well, it’s one of those things where it was one of the first scripts I’d written and then I kind of let it go because it’s too small for a studio to buy and go, “Yes! It’s gonna be a big blockbuster comedy.” They consider it not high concept enough, I would say. I was trying to say, “I know these characters, wait until you see them.” It’s funny, I wrote it so long ago that I started working on all these other projects and then when another movie that I was suppose to make fell through…I was asked, “Do you have anything you wrote on growing up in Indiana?” I said, “Holy shit, I do.” I kind of switched gears and within three months I was prepping this movie and I pulled it out of the woodwork. I updated it a bit and I asked my friends to be in it. It’s a passion project. I can’t believe this movie is my first. Honestly, it was my first step in directing and it was the best first step. I hope people look at it and go, “Wow! For a million bucks, this is friggin’ funny. It looks great.”…You hope that people appreciate it and you hope you can get your second shot and that’s what I’m aiming towards.

JW: Was there a lot of pressure going into this?
MR: Yeah, I didn’t know how much work it was until I started doing it and then I realized…how am I gonna do this scene in one day? I don’t have enough money for this stunt, how am I gonna do that? How am I gonna get these actors from LA…and why would they do some independent movie in the middle of Indiana for no money in the dead of winter? So there’s a lot of obstacles. Then you finally make it happen and then you’re shooting and you start to have more problems. It’s raining…a snowstorm is coming in…whatever’s happening. Oh my God, it can’t be a Christmas movie anymore, it’s getting warm now. And then how do we finish the movie…and then post-production. How can we afford sound design? How can we afford a composer? How can we afford getting the songs that I really wanted to be in this movie? And then all of sudden we’re trying to screen the movie and we only have ‘x’ amount of weeks to edit it and now we’re trying to sell it. On a studio movie, once you’re done directing and cut, you’re done. Studio takes over and they have an infrastructure. With an independent movie there’s multitasking and I’ve been doing a ton of jobs with my amazing producer, Kim Waltrip and my post supervisor Aaron Peak, for no money. I haven’t taken a job for a year and a half because I’ve become so invested in this.

JW: Is there another script you have in mind after this?
MR: Yeah, I can’t really name it. There’s a camp movie that I’m considering directing that I wrote. I also wrote a TV show that we’re probably gonna shoot digitally for a studio. So that’s in negotiations…a lot of good stuff on the horizon.

JW: Now finally…as a nerd, I gotta ask…
MR: Do it!

JW: (laughs)…have you gotten any calls to be Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie?
MR: The fans have been unbelievable. They’ve tweeted me, I’ve tweeted back…I’ve been to conventions and they always ask me, “Would you do it?” And I’m not an idiot, of course I’d do it. I’d love to do it. But I think Joaquin Phoenix is probably gonna do it or somebody. I’m a big Zack Snyder fan. Obviously, I think I could play the role. I would do it in a heartbeat, but I don’t hold my breath because I know there’s the stigma, “He was the TV Smallville Lex Luthor.” I say that sarcastically, but I think it’s a shame. If people like the role and what I did with it, then they should consider it. But I’m not the director. I’m not the producer. Long story short, I’d do it in a fucking heartbeat.

 

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Leland Orser talks about his feature film writing and directing debut “Morning”

Like any great character actor, you know you KNOW Leland Orser. From early television work in shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Cheers,” “L.A. Law” and “The X-Files” to roles in films like “Se7en,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Pearl Harbor,” Orser has carved out an impressive notch in the Hollywood tree. Now he’s taking his considerable talents to the other side of the camera with his feature film writing and directing debut, “Morning.” Based on a short film he made in 2007, “Morning” stars Jeanne Tripplehorn (Orser’s real life wife) and Academy Award nominees Laura Linney and Elliot Gould and is scheduled to open in selected theatres on September 27.

To help spread the word about his new film, Mr. Orser took the time to talk with me about his new career move, the power of Steven Soderbergh and how dinner with Blake Edwards changed his life.

Mike Smith: “Morning” began as a short film which you’ve now expanded into a feature. Was that always your intention?
Leland Orser: It was never my intention. Even making the short was never an intention. It was just something that kind of happened. I went to the Sundance Institute a couple summers back. I went there as an actor and was very, very inspired by the experience. As I was flying back on Southwest this story just popped into my head and began telling itself to me. I asked the stewardess if she had anything to write on and she brought me a pile of airline cocktail napkins and I basically wrote out the (14) page treatment for the short film. When I got back to L.A. I showed it to some friends and they all said “let’s do this.” I shot the film in my own home and banged it out over a weekend. I came back from dropping all of the equipment off on a Monday – I had sent my wife and son to a hotel for two nights – I came back to a big, old empty house with everybody gone and realized I had no idea what to do next. All I had was a pile of Mini-DV tapes on the table in front of me. I had just finished working with Steven Soderbergh (NOTE: Mr. Orser appears in Soderbergh’s 2006 film “The Good German”)and I thought “well, he’ll know what to do.” (laughs) I picked up the phone and called his office. He had come in early and actually answered the phone himself and I said, “I just shot a short film and I don’t know what to do next.” He told me to keep the tapes away from anything warm and that I needed an editor. I told him I didn’t know any editors. He asked me where I was and I told him at home. He told me not to go anywhere. Fifteen minutes later my phone rang and it was one of his assistant editors. He said, “Steven told me to call you,” and I said, “Oh, cool. I just did this film.” He told me that he had a couple of weeks off between working on Steven’s films and came over. He ended up editing the short in the room above my garage. We took it out on the film festival circuit and had a very lovely time. It was very successful and we had a great run with it. When we returned I went and spoke with Michelle Satter, who runs the Sundance Institute for Robert Redford. She asked me what was next and I asked her what did she mean what next? What were my options? She said I could continue to tour the festival circuit and hang out with..discuss, socialize and collaborate with…other short film makers or you can use this as a calling card if you have any interest in continuing your career as a director. Or, she suggested, maybe this is a smaller part of a larger story that you want to tell. Boom! There it was. I told her that it was and she told me to go write it. And I did. Even when you’re telling a small story you need to know the big story around it. You need to know what happened before, during and after in the world you’re telling about. And you have all of those details in your mind as you’re writing the specifics of the tale you’re telling. So there it is. That’s what happened.

MS: You’ve been able to work with some great filmmakers – Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher…did you have the opportunity to observe them at work once you realized you wanted to direct?
LO: I was doing the first part of that but not for the second part of that. I never really had aspirations or ever thought that I would want to or could do that. But I’ve always been fascinated with filmmaking and filmmakers. I’ve been so lucky to have worked with the ones I’ve worked with. I’m a question asker and an observer. You can learn a lot just by being on set as an actor. You can go back to your trailer and get on line or on the phone or you can stick around and watch…see what everybody else is doing. That’s always been my way.
MS: You’ve worked pretty steadily in both television and film. Do you have a preference as an actor?
LO: I really think the lines are blurring between the two. I think the great renaissance – the Golden Age of Film right now – is taking place on television. Filmmakers, film actors…everybody is doing something on the medium of television. And that medium is not necessarily TELEVISION anymore. It’s really the world of computers and iPads and Apple TV. I don’t have a preference. I go now where I’m wanted, for one. Where I’m asked to be. And I go where the good work is and the good people are. Sometimes you go to make money and sometimes you go to make art. There are now so many outlets and choices. There is so much happening.

MS: You not only wrote and directed “Morning,” but you also co-star. Is it hard pulling double-duty…having to concentrate on your performance as an actor and then everything else as a director?
LO: I think it’s impossible….I think it’s impossible! I did the very best that I could but I probably could have been better doing either of those two things if that was all that I was doing. I worked at length on my acting role in the film. I spent a great deal of time and I worked with people to put it into place mentally and on paper for any given day and any give scene. I could open up my acting script, which was separate from my director script, and say to myself, “I know on this day and in this scene I have been through THESE events…I’m this far into the progression of the story. I’ve ingested THIS alcohol and THIS pharmaceutical or I’ve had THIS amount of sleep. I was very, very, very specific with the goals I needed to achieve as an actor. I left some things open for those happy accidents and improvisation in the moment but I was regimented and disciplined about what I needed to bring to the day as an actor. One of my best friends was by my side basically the entire time I was making the film and he was my double as well. When I was directing a scene he would go in and stand in for me and do all of my actions so I could see where the scene worked or where it didn’t work. I could direct him and then I’d know physically what I had to do to accomplish the scene. It’s very hard to be objective and subjective at the same time.

MS: You’re leading lady in the film (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is also your leading lady in life. How was your relationship on set? Actor/director? Husband and wife?
LO: (laughs) We made rules for ourselves. Number one was that any discussions of the work would never enter the house. We have a guest room above our garage and when we began production I went up to that room and I lived there. My hours were very different from hers. We also both thought it would be a very good way of dividing the world. We would have meals together at the house when I was able to get home. We actually had a lot of discussion between us as to whether we should even do this together or not. She said that I could get any actress in Hollywood…that any actress would be crazy not to want to do this part. So I asked her if this was something she wanted to do…something she should do and something we should do together. Jeanne had traveled to New York to do some press for “Big Love” (NOTE: Ms. Tripplehorn starred for six years on the popular HBO series) and she had taken the day off to go to the Whitney Biennial Art Exhibit. She finds it very inspiring to be surrounded by new and young artists and their works. Afterwards she called me. She was very moved…very emotional…and she told me she was surrounded by art. She wondered what we were questioning because what are we if we’re not artist? It’s what we are and what we do. How can we not recognize that this film is something we are meant to do and what we should do together? That was a major turning point and we never looked back. It was a dangerous choice because the subject matter is so, so heavy. But we’ve always managed to keep our work separate from each other…to help each other and support each other through thick and through thin. To work together, in hindsight, was a very risky choice. But I know her as an actor. And what I experienced and what I witnessed on set, as you now know, took my breath away and I realized that not only is she a great actor she’s one of THE great actors. Better than most actors out there. She has such access to range and emotional depth that she can draw on and she’s so directable. She’s a director’s dream. She gets it. She understands it. And she submits herself to the process. She trusted me. She was the very first person to trust me in this role and I was very thankful that I was able to return that trust in kind.

MS: Besides Jeanne you’ve assembled an incredible cast, including a couple of Oscar nominees. Was it daunting to cast such prominent actors in your first feature?
LO: Maybe I was an idiot but I never questioned any of it when I asked. To me Laura was the doctor and I had to find her and ask her and surely she’ll understand how important she is. And it was the same thing with Elliot Gould and Jason Ritter and Kyle Chandler…those were the faces and personalities that I saw in the film and I was just so freakishly lucky that they all agreed to come aboard. But so many people did. We got help from so many different places. Kodak and Panavision and Technicolor. Steven Soderbergh introduced me to yet another film editor who agreed to come and work at a fraction of his rate. We were so very lucky. Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman at Playtone gave us their editing suites for the entire time we were editing. They didn’t allow anyone else to use the editing bays in the Playtone Offices. They gave them to us. They told us to go edit your film, make it great and then show it to us.

MS: What do you have coming up next?
LO: Once I finished the final mix on “Morning” and once we got back from all the festivals I retreated to the guest house where I had written “Morning” and sat down and had a little discussion with myself. I knew that when this movie comes out people are going to ask me what I’m doing next (laughs) so I knew I had to be ready to do something next. A story I like to tell is that many years ago Jeanne had just gotten back from doing a film with Julie Andrews (“Relative Values”)on the Isle of Man. We got a call from Julie’s assistant saying Julie would like to have you to a dinner…can we come to the beach house at 5:30 in Santa Monica and then we’ll go to the restaurant. We fully expected it to be something for the cast but when we walked into the restaurant it was empty. We were escorted to a booth in the back in which sat Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards (NOTE: Blake Edwards, whose career included such classic films as “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Victor/Victoria” and the “Pink Panther” series passed away in December 2010. He and Julie Andrews were married for over four decades). And it wasn’t a big booth. Jeanne scooted in opposite Julie and the two of them set off together on catching up and giggling and telling stories and I was left sitting opposite Blake Edwards. My mouth went dry, my heart rate went up and I thought “are you f***ing kidding me?” How was I going to manage to get through even two minutes of the evening. He immediately put me at ease. We found out we had things in common. He had been born in Tulsa, where Jeanne is from. He had grown up in Laguna Beach, where my father is from. He had been an abalone fisherman like my father had been. He was just a normal, regular Joe and so easy to talk to. And at one point of the conversation he asked me, “do you write? Are you a writer?” I told him I wasn’t. I write in a journal, that’s it. He told me that I spoke like a writer. I hear like a writer. “You should try it some time.” I told him that I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to start. And he said, “that’s exactly all you have to do. You just need to start.” I asked him how he wrote…if he had a process. He said he did. He said he would go off to a quiet place that was clear of all clutter. He would sit down and get very quiet. He would have his writing implements with him…I don’t know if it was a typewriter or if it was yellow pads and pencils. He said he just gets very, very quiet. He waits. And he waits. And he listens. And he said that at some point the story will begin to tell itself to him. And it was after that dinner that I had gone to Sundance to the Institute and it was on that flight back, when I was super quiet because I was probably tired and hung over, when the story of “Morning” told itself to me. So I went up to the guest house after I finished “Morning” and I said, “ok…let’s see if it happens again.” I told my very, very intense family drama…I’ve told that story. I don’t want to tell it again and that’s not the type of story I want to tell again. So I had in my mind the type of idea of the story I wanted to tell, it was just a question of is it going to come. And boom, there it was. It’s a thriller. It’s a witness to a murder and it’s a mystery which gets solved in the last couple of pages. And it really told itself to me in a pure way. I’ve worked with a couple friends of mine in the business who have helped me nip it and tuck it and deal with the industry expectations of a script of its type. It’s clean. It’s tight. It’s crackerjack…it’s ready to go. Jeanne was one of the first people I showed it to and she loved it. She’s a good judge so keep your fingers crossed!

 

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