Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick Discusses The Bands New Studio Album “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”

Jaret Reddick is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Pop-Punk band Bowling For Soup. The group has been turning out tongue and cheek hits like “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and “1985” since the early 2000’s. On April 22nd the band released their 11th studio album titled “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jaret recently about the album, what it was like working with WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss and how he balances both performance and production roles.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us background info on the new album “Pop Drunk Snot Bread”?

Jaret Reddick: Our last studio album came in 2016 which is crazy that it’s been that long. We did do a greatest hits and a couple live records between now and then, but it’s been a while since we went into the studio. Honestly are plan was never really to release or make a record now. When quarantine hit this album ended up becoming a reaction to not being together with everyone. We thought the best and safest way for us to all get together was to create our own bubble and make this record. In August of 2020 we took a tour bus to the Pocono Mountains and stayed in an Air B and B which was only about a mile from the studio we were recording in. This album came out of all that. There is a lot of reflection in this material which I feel has to do largely with how it was all conceived.

AL: The album’s first single “Alexa Bliss” was released in 2020. Can you tell us about that?

JR: “Alexa Bliss” was originally intended as a bonus track for our second greatest hits album which is still not out. When the new record came to be, we felt this song fit the vibe of that well. It’s funny because this song existed long before there were any talks of a new album.

AL: Alexa also appears in the video for the song. How did that relationship come to be?

JR: My son is a big wrestling fan. I was a fan in the 80’s but I wasn’t really up to date with any of the new stuff. I didn’t know anything about her, but I had been sent some photos of her wearing a Bowling For Soup shirt. I told my son about the photos and he told me that I should send her a message. I ended up sending a message and she replied and from there we became good friends. When we were talking, I told her she needed a pop-punk song as most of the other wrestlers have these cock-rock type songs which is great as it fits the brand. I didn’t write the song with intentions of it being her walk out song. It’s just a tribute to her being a cool individual and great character on the show. She’s a great friend.

AL: Was it difficult working with the WWE to make all this happen?

JR: Alexa helped navigate those things quite a bite. This was something she really wanted to do. I would have never asked her to be in the video as much as she. That was all her. I was cool with just getting a look alike and have this be more of a dream for the kid. She loved the project so much that she walked it into Vince McMahon’s office and got me hooked up with all the right people. Whenever I would hit a snag, she would help me out. The WWE was very gracious and happy. There were a few rules with what we could and couldn’t have in the video but for the most part it was simple. WWE ended up sending out one of their digital media staff to film a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff which was cool.

AL: “Alexa Bliss” was the first of four singles you have released from the new album. How does the band go about selecting which songs will be released as singles?

JR: “Getting Old Sucks” was the next track we chose to release. We picked that one because the song is about us and I had already had the video made. I found this guy on Instagram by the name of Mike Roche whose daughter made these cool little puppets. I always wanted to do a puppet video for the band, and these were just perfect. I didn’t want the puppets to be so good that it wasn’t funny anymore. I do voice over work and some of those puppets are insanely good. That’s good for that type of platform but for it to work in this context where we are singing about getting old the beards had to be stringy and they had to bring some humor to this thing. Mike’s daughter nailed the puppets. I think at the time she was around 13. Her and her family ate up six weeks of their quarantine working on this project for us. They all appear in it and they knocked it out of the park. For the next single which was “Killin’ ‘Em With Kindness” it was getting close to the time of the album’s release before being pushed back a third time. The band has a character called “Super Rob” and he is featured in that video. We have a comic book centered around the character that is coming out as well. That video was made almost entirely by Rob and his brother. They shot most of it around where they live in the Pocono’s and then came out and shot some band footage where we are located. Our fourth and most recent single is titled “Brad Pitt”. We took more of a traditional route with that as we hired a director and then flew out to the location to shoot which was a lot of fun.

AL: Do you think big budget production Music Videos are making their way back around in popularity?

JR: I don’t think its that they are coming back around more as they have been around and never really left. The viewing platform has shifted. You used to see music videos on television now you watch them on YouTube. Every video released doesn’t need to be a professional quality video but there needs to be a visual representation of your music this day and age. Video is king! Its starting to get to be where places like Instagram which weren’t originally video based are now predominantly videos. I miss when you had different apps for different things like Vine was for mainly video and Instagram was just a quick snap of what you were doing in that moment. Those big budget videos only really disappeared for a couple years as you still have artists like Taylor Swift putting big budget material out and getting millions of hits.

AL: You mentioned that the album was pushed back three different times. When that keeps happening does it affect the bands mindset at all?

JR: Luckily for us we were on a major label for nine years. During those years we got used to these types of things as nothing ever happened on time. It’s always hurry up as there are deadlines which need to be made and then when you meet those you are told things are getting pushed back for some reason. For this record and for the first time since 2009 we let our managers and distribution company have some input on the release. The record just came out on the 22nd so we will have to see if it worked.

AL: Being that you also produced the record how do you go about balancing your production duties and your musician duties?

JR: From the beginning I have always co-produced our stuff. I think a lot of that comes from when you are working through the songs and arranging that’s all considered production. I take my songs in pretty much done. From the standpoint of when is it done? I am the worst. Once I have something recorded and I get it back and say that’s fine then I am good with it. Unless something completely horrible jumps out at me I tend not to want to make any changes. Thankfully I have been working with Linus of Hollywood for the last thirteen years as it takes having another person to help me with these types of decisions. He is the guy that decides if it needs more bass or treble. I am usually ready to move on to something else by that point.

AL: Now that the album is out what are the bands plans going forward.

JR: We just got back from the UK and I will be heading back there again soon to do some make up shows for an acoustic tour which never was able to happen because of the pandemic. Once we wrap those dates up, we will be mostly caught up except for one or two dates. This summer we will be out in the United States with Less Than Jake and then in October I will be heading to Hawaii for a solo show there.

For more info on Jaret and Bowling For Soup head over to www.bowlingforsoup.com and www.jaretreddick.com

Artist/Musician Chloe Trujillo Discusses Her New Solo Album “Mothers of a New Nation”

Chloe Trujillo is a visual artist, fashion designer and musician. Her latest solo release titled “Mothers of a New Nation” blends a variety of styles and influences some of which are pulled directly from her art works while others pay homage to her experiences as a young woman growing up around the world in places such as New York City, Paris, and Berlin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Chloe about the new album, what it was like working with veteran Producer Tommy Daughtery and how she balances her work on so many different projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Mothers of a New Nation”?

Chloe Trujillo: I started the writing of this album years ago. I am always writing and recording ideas. A lot of times I start by just recording them into my phone. Things started piling up as I wasn’t really doing anything with all these ideas. I always had this feeling of dependency on the need for a producer or engineer who knew how to use recording software. I could do some basic recording with Garage band but that was really it. I had been working on another project with an artist who introduced me to a producer by the name of Tommy D. I showed him the song “Light & Love” which was mostly finished but still needed some instrumentation and mixing. This was all just prior to the pandemic. Every week that I met with him we kept moving forward and sharing ideas. He helped me bring all of those to life and get them on Pro Tools. I had always been a little reluctant to use technology because I enjoy the physicality of all that and working on a computer was just not appealing to me. When the pandemic hit, and things were at a stand still I got to the point where I couldn’t take things not moving. I ended up getting a good microphone and recording interface and learned how to use logic pro which is the program I use now. The title of the album itself “Mothers of a New Nation” signifies in a way a new birth for me creative wise. I wrote an entire second album which I am holding on to for now. Learning all this has really sparked my creativity.

AL: Have you ever pulled musical inspiration from one of your art pieces or possibly an artwork idea from your music?

CT: Both ways totally! Most of the time when I paint, I have lyric ideas or melodies come to me. The same when I am working on music and I get a visual idea. The two work very much together in that a song can inspire a painting and a painting can inspire a song.

AL: With this being your second solo album were there certain things you wanted to accomplish that you maybe weren’t able to do on the first record?

CT: I usually let my creative flow lead me to where I am going. With the second record I wrote that’s not out yet which I am calling “Spell Book” I learned to do so much on my own that there is very little outside influence. On my very first album “Ivresse” I worked with a really nice producer who loved instruments. Every time I would go into the studio there were new instruments for me to try and I just recorded everything. That album has a gypsy vibe because of all that was added.

AL: Were you aware of Tommy Daughtery’s background prior to working with him?

CT: Yes, I was aware of his work, but I didn’t know what to expect. Tommy worked with Death Row Record artists like Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and NWA. He had all these great beats and I thought it ended up being a cool combination. I had a lot of fun working with Tommy. “Light and Love” was the first song I showed him, and I had written that with heavy bass and a hip-hop beat in mind. He took that and ran with it.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the musicians you were with on the album?

CT: I originally would have never asked my husband (Robert) in any way to help me out as we both are very busy and independent; however, He came in and recorded all the bass for me and had a great time doing so. It was cool to have him play on the record and he complimented some of the bass lines I had demoed. My son Tye played some guitar on a couple tracks as well which was great. Tommy D had suggestions to bring in other artists such as Chris Poland who I knew from Megadeth and OHM. Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction) was another mutual friend who we had come in and do some drums on a few tracks. A lot of the time Tommy would be working on a track and there would be any number of artists coming through the studio and he would just ask them. Everyone was always more than happy and excited to help.

AL: Was it difficult balancing the role of artist along side Wife/Mom when working with Robert and Tye?

CT: It wasn’t that difficult really. We are all musicians or artists and everyone in our house is very creative and doing their own things. We have respect for each other and are independent. Tye has been a professional musician since he was 9 years old and we have always let him do his thing which came very naturally to him. It is the same with our daughter who is an awesome drummer. She is a little bit more shy but great. When I needed something, it wasn’t difficult to work with Tye and Robert. I would show them the usually badly played riff and they would take it from there. The only real trouble I had was actually asking for help. Robert is always very busy and at the time was doing stuff for Ozzy Osbourne, Infectious Grooves and of course Metallica so I didn’t want to bother him. I needed a bass player and knowing I had two amazing bassists at home rather than going to look for someone I finally asked for help. Robert and I did a lot of recording at night after the kids went to bed. I didn’t feel like the wife asking but more so the artist asking for a bassist. That’s just how we are with one another.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have been working on lately?

CT: I have been working on a few different art shows for the Tracy Park Gallery who represents me. I just had some art appear at Art Basel in Miami. During a charity event last year, I met Mark Dalbeth from the band Bellusira and he and collaborated on a single titled “Mana”. We now are working on a couple EP’s and have plans for a full-length release as well. The name of the group is Chloe Trujillo and Rev Medic. I released an EP just prior to the pandemic with Dan Stein and Chris Westfall titled “What Are We” and the group is called Chloe Trujillo’s Mystery Ride. We all live near one another, so we just got together and worked on a bunch of ideas I had. That was a lot of fun. There is also a bunch of newly designed “Mothers of a New Nation” merch which is based off some of my artwork.

For more information on Chloe Trujillo, you can follow her on Instagram at @chloetrujillo

Guitarist Gus G Discusses His New Solo Album “Quantum Leap”

Gus G is the guitarist for Greek power metal band Firewind. Gus has also played with Kamelot, Arch Enemy and Ozzy Osbourne. Gus’s latest release is an instrumental solo album titled “Quantum Leap”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Gus about the creation of the album and his progression as a guitarist.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the creation of “Quantum Leap”?

Gus G: This is my first fully instrumental record. I had the idea to do an album like this in the back of my mind for awhile however just never decided to do it until now. With all the lock downs I knew I was going to be stuck home for a while. I was doing press for the latest Firewind record and we were gearing up to start touring and then everything got cancelled. In between all of those interviews I started writing down different thoughts and ideas. Before I knew it, I had seven or eight new ideas. This was around springtime and I knew it was still going to be awhile until we could do any live shows. I figured now was the time do a solo record on my own. My plan was to not have any outside collaboration. I spent all of last summer working on this record.

AL: Did the effects of the pandemic help mold this material in any way?

GG: It could be! I think it had a lot to do with it. To me when you are making albums it’s like a snapshot in time of where you are at. The material reflects my psychology and where I was at during this time. Like everyone dealing with this I had a lot of ups and downs where some days I had a lot of energy while others I had none. This is not your typical metal album as there are a lot of different styles and vibes.

AL: Do you have a different approach for working on an instrumental record compared to one with vocals?

GG: It is a different process. Making music without vocals in general is a whole different process in because you must fill that gap. I wasn’t really used to that. It was an interesting learning experience. I had made instrumental music in the past, but I never really dug deep into that. With this I wanted to find a balance. I wasn’t interested in making a shred album as I wanted to make an album that had cool songs with good music. I wanted there to be a musical statement instead of just a collection of guitar licks and riffs.

AL: Did you build the songs around vocal melodies, or did you add those passages later?

GG: It usually starts with riffs. This part of the process was the same for me as when I am writing for Firewind as it all starts with the riffs. The big difference was where to go after the initial riff starts. You could go any where be it a melody or certain key change. Those are the things I had to find out and build from scratch. At the end of the day, it was about balance as well as the hooks and melodies. At the time I didn’t really have vocal ideas but now looking back maybe I did have ideas about big vocal melody parts that would grab the listener.

AL: What was your process like for producing and editing being it was just you working on the record?

GG: That’s one of those things where how do you really know when something is done. A track is done when you have listened to it enough times through that you are happy with it and you send it on for mixing. There were a few tracks that went through many re-writes and edits. You just get a feeling when you are writing something that it is done. This can be a double-edged sword though because you can always think it could be better. I try and keep a little bit of a distance with the music I make. When I think something is finished, I will not listen to it for a few days and then come back to it with fresh ears. That’s when if I need to, I will make changes. It’s really all a feeling.

AL: Was this all newly written material or did you have some of the material prior to deciding to make the record?

GG: It’s both. I always have riffs laying around. I keep a file of different ideas. Some stuff I didn’t use for other projects and other ones are ones that I came up with at that moment with no specific place for them in mind. I never know what these will end up being used for, but I do go back and listen through them for ideas. Sometimes its weeks or months later that I go back but that folder tends to be a great starting point. I might use things as they are or completely start from scratch.

AL: How do you decide what material to keep for yourself and what to use for other projects?

GG: Sometimes it is hard to do that. It is all my writing and my style. There are times I set out to write something specifically for Firewind or for my solo stuff and during the process that material goes the opposite direction and ends up on something it was originally intended for. Firewind has a certain sound and style so I am less likely to experiment with that material but like I said things have a way of working their way into places they were not originally intended for.

AL: You worked by yourself and provided all the instrumentation for this record. Is that how you prefer to work, or do you prefer the more traditional route of recording with other musicians?

GG: I have always done things on my own for the most part. Firewind actually started out as a file exchanging band in the early 2000’s. I have become very used to putting together a complete and good sounding demo that it was a pretty natural process for me when it came time to record the parts for “Quantum Leap”.

AL: Looking at your guitar playing do you feel it has progressed more naturally or have you taken conscious steps to ensure it has progressed in a specific direction?

GG: I think I am sort of somewhere in the middle. The last few years I don’t think I have practiced as much as I would have liked to. When I do go into practice mode, I really get into it. I try and learn or develop new techniques and licks. Then there are times where I don’t pick the guitar up as much. I don’t allow myself to get sloppy, so I am on top of things, but I am not putting in ten-hour practice days like I did as a teenager.

AL: Now that “Quantum Leap” is out have you started thinking about your next project yet or are you giving yourself a little breathing room?

GG: I did a side project with Rob Chapman from Chapman Guitars and Youtube. It’s called “Criterium” and we did a three song EP. We are not sure when its going to be coming out, but we have been recording and Rob is getting ready to do the vocals for it very soon. I have known Rob since 2006 or 2007 so it has been great working with him on music after being friends for so long.

For more info on Gus G visit www.gusgofficial.com or on Instagram and Twitter @gusgofficial

Staind Guitarist Mike Mushok Discusses New Live Album “Live: It’s Been Awhile”

The rock group Staind is back on May 7th with their first release in nine years titled “Live: It’s Been Awhile”. Accompanying the album’s release is a two-night streaming event titled “The Return Of Staind: A Two Part Global Streaming Series”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok about the release, the set of streaming performances and the bands plans for going forward.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to release the bands new album now amidst the ongoing pandemic?

Mike Mushok: If this were a record with new material, we would be holding on to it like a lot of other bands are. This was a chance for us to get some material out there as we were trying to put a couple things together at one time. We had filmed the show where we got back together in 2019 at the Foxwoods Casino. We put a lot more than normal into that show and we wanted to capture all of that. Starting May 1st fans can stream that show. The album will come out May 7th and then on May 8th we will be doing another stream celebrating the 20-year anniversary of “Break the Cycle”.

AL: What was it like putting together the “Break the Cycle” show

MM: It is definitely different going out there and performing with no audience. It is almost like a rehearsal that is being filmed. It’s different but, you just get into what you are doing and do the best you can. I thought the venue we chose to film at was great and the lighting looked great as well. I don’t remember how many different cameras were being used but some of what I have seen is really exciting. To go along with the performance is a short documentary which takes fans back to where we were when the album initially was released. I also went back and found a ton of old footage from around that time is well. When I was going through all this stuff, I actually found the footage from our first gig ever in 1995.The cool thing about that was it was filmed about three blocks from where we shot this new performance There’s a lot of other things that fans will get to see besides us performing the record.

AL: How was it as a band revisiting this material?

MM: It was great to be able to go back and revisit such a good time in our career. This was our most successful record and it really changed everything for us. It was cool going back listening to things and relearning that material. There are a few songs that we had never played lived from this record so that was another that was really cool.

AL: The band had plans to go out and tour in 2020 but due to the pandemic those shows were unable to happen. Have there been any talks about trying to reschedule?

MM: We are trying to figure that all out right now. We had originally planned to go out with Disturbed as part of their 20-year celebration of “The Sickness”. That tour was recently cancelled but we are looking at some festival shows in July that we are booked for as well as some shows later in the summer. We are still waiting on confirmation of those so there is still a chance that we will be out there later this year. I think everyone is still just trying to figure stuff out as every place is different which makes things challenging.

AL: How much of an effect did the Pandemic have on the band personally being that you had just gotten back together after some time?  

MM: We had a great plan in place, and it was disappointing. I was definitely looking forward to getting back out there. I can’t complain though as other people have gone and continue to go through way worse things. During that first part of things when I was home, and you couldn’t go anywhere it was nice to be able to be with my family and not have to worry about other obligations. It was great to just be together and now things are starting to get back to the way they were and that is nice also. For the band we are looking to regroup and get things back on track. 2021 seems like it is going to be this feeling out period as more and more things change and open.

AL: Your involved with a couple other projects can you give us an update on those?

MM: I have the band Saint Asonia with Adam Gontier who used to be in Three Days Grace. We are working on some new music and hope to have an EP out sometime soon. Staind is also working on some new material as well. Aaron is finishing up a country record at the moment and once that is done, we can start digging through some of the material we have. I am part owner of the Six String Grill and Stage in Foxboro; Massachusetts and we are starting to look at being able to book shows there again later this year. Combine all of that with being a dad and a husband I am pretty busy (Laughs).

For more info and updates on Staind be sure to visit www.staindofficial.com

Singer/Actor Lizzy Borden discusses his role in the new film “Die Influencers Die”

Lizzy Borden burst on to the Los Angeles heavy metal scene in the early 1980’s with their debut EP “Give ‘Em the Axe” and subsequent full-length release “Love You to Pieces”. The band also appeared in Penelope Spheeris rockumentary “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Lizzy about his newest movie titled “Die Influencers Die” where he plays a dark and sinister character known only as Otherworld-Coyote.  

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you got involved with the film “Die Influencers Die”?

Lizzy Borden: I was good friends with the director Gary Orona.  We both were moving to Las Vegas around the same time and he mentioned he was thinking of doing a move. He had asked if I would be in it and I said yes but, I was heading out on touring. While I was out on the road, they contacted me about the part and said that they were going to be doing table reads. I missed all of those and only had gotten the script about a day and a half before I was set to film. Everything just sort of happened while I was out with the band.

AL: What can you tell us about your character?

LB: It’s kind of weird because when I first got the script was trying to figure out how this character was involved with everything. There was no backstory for him, so I tried to figure out what his motives are. This character literally has no name and appears out of nowhere. I had to try and figure out how to really play this character. I thought of things like “Othello” and made this guy a real instigator. We have actually talked about doing another film that would explore this guy’s back story. There is just this unexplained nature about this guy that made it a lot of fun.

AL: Being there wasn’t a lot that was known about the character were given creative freedom or did the director have you stay within certain parameters?

LB: We knew this was going to be a supernatural character so I kind of knew where to take things, but I still didn’t know even what he was going to look like. On the first day of shooting, I had about five or six different looks we could go with for this character. Gary came in and the one you see is what he picked. When I then went into hair and makeup, they suggested I should just put a ton of gel in my hair. They put probably a half gallon of gel in there and it really sold the character and took it in another direction. We were kind of improvising. As far as the acting went when I looked at the lines it always seemed to me that he was screaming and very angry. I thought back to all of the great scenes where someone has portrayed being angry and those were usually done in a very calm way. I wanted to bring his presentation down to a whisper and if he did get angry, I wanted whoever else was in the scene to feel his intensity without me having to scream at the top of my lungs. I remember the first thing we shot with everyone there Gary asked to do a practice. We did the scene and he ended up getting really mad. I asked what was wrong and he was mad that he didn’t film it because it was so good. From then on, he filmed everything.

AL: At what point did the option to have a song in the film come up?

LB: That was an afterthought. The film was finished however it was taking awhile to release. It was originally supposed to go to either Netflix or Amazon Prime but there were some paperwork problems. We couldn’t even promote the film. Then Covid-19 hit. We had planned to do a red-carpet event in Las Vegas where we showed the movie and then my band would play. We had it booked and set up but then COVID-19 happened. We had done a soundtrack video for the film “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years” that turned out really good and a lot of people got to see clips of the movie through that video, so we started with that same idea. It came down to a matter of picking the song and the scenes and we landed on “My Midnight Things” which is the title track from our last album.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit about the video for the song?

LB: The whole point of the video was to make a commercial for the movie. I really wanted to do something interesting and asked how could we do some new shots of me singing the song while also incorporating the scenes from the film. We talked about a lot of things and a bunch of those were unrelated to the movie. I wanted for the video to look like it was another part of the movie. We ended up using the same studio we filmed in and we also brought in green screens which was a lot of fun. Ultimately, we needed something to promote the film and help tap into people who might not normally go see a movie like this. Through the video they can get a good representation of the film through the four-minute video.

AL: When you perform with the band it is very theatrical. Did you notice any similarities in how you prepare for a live show and how you prepared for the film?

LB: It was almost identical. Other than memorizing lines that was the only thing. I had the lines, but it was all about the delivery. That is where my focus was. I do the same thing backstage when I am working on the show. I think about the previous night’s performances and what I liked or didn’t like and how I can make those things better. I do a lot of pacing. (Laughs) They gave me my own spot at the studio and I just wandered around between shots until they were ready for me.

AL: Having now done the movie do you think you will take what you learned from there and apply it to your live performances?

LB: I think so. There is a subtlety to it as my live shows are pretty over the top. What I got out this character is that there was nothing flamboyant about him in any way. I tend to try and pull out all of the stops with my shows but, maybe if I am in a support slot where I am not able to do that by having played this character, I know I can go out there in a stripped-down format and still deliver a highly theatrical and interesting show.

AL: In 2020 you released “Best of Lizzy Borden” Pt. 2 which included two newly recorded cover songs. (Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burnin’ for You” and The Ramones “Pet Sematary”) How did you go about selecting those songs being they are quite different from one another?

LB: Almost all of my influences are set in the 1970’s. They are all established, big bands which I saw when I was a kid, so they are just imbedded in my brain. I could have chosen two hundred songs! There are just so many good songs. Blue Oyster Cult is one of my favorites and definitely one of the top ten best song writers that I love. On an earlier record we recorded a cover of their song “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” as we had been playing it at our live shows. I originally wanted to do “Burnin’ for You” for the album but was out voted by the producer so that was a song I have been wanting to do. I am a huge Ramones fan and love all their work. I thought about all of their songs and a majority of them have to be done in a punk a style. “Pet Sematary” is one that you really don’t have to do that. We did a Halloween show at the Whiskey in Los Angeles and I had the band learn the song prior to the show and people loved it. That’s ultimately how it ended up getting chosen.

AL: With the uncertainty of 2021 are there any other projects that you are currently working on or have coming up?

LB: I am almost halfway completed with a new album. It is coming along but it is very slow. I can imagine this being one of the most favorite albums I have ever done. I still see myself doing four or five more but this one is coming together in a really fun way. I have never had more fun putting a record together. I am not sure how that will translate over to people responding to it but as far as making it I am really enjoying it. I have been doing one song at a time and am about halfway done. I have been getting show offers as well but it doesn’t make sense to me to book shows only to have them cancelled. I see others starting to get out there, so we have to just wait and see. Everyone is ready to go we just don’t want to book something and have to cancel.

AL: When you are writing do you do that all your self or is it a more collective effort?

LB: I do it differently for every record. I have done records in the past where I record everything myself. On this new album I am having the musicians replace what I have already put down with their performances. I will play all the parts then have Joey Scott add in drums and then we build from there. Usually, my vocals are done as well so we kind of work backwards. I like to hear how it sounds in my head rather than putting just a scratch track out there for everyone. A lot of time when you do that a song can change quite a bit and when you are all done its not what you had envisioned. This way I get my idea out there the way I want it and if someone adds something really great to what I have already played we will keep. So far with this record things have stayed pretty much the same as I wrote it.

For more info on Lizzy Borden, you can check out www.Lizzyborden.com

JUSTIN BIEBER DISCUSSES MOVIE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND “ANYONE” MUSIC VIDEO EXCLUSIVELY FOR VEVO FOOTNOTES

“I’ve always wanted to do a boxing video, and it made sense for this song being an 80’s power ballad… If you’re not in love, it makes you want to be in love. It’s kind of like The Notebook.” – Justin Bieber

NEW “FOOTNOTES” EPISODE FEATURES “ANYONE” STAR,ZOEY DEUTCH, AND AWARD-WINNING DIRECTOR, COLIN TILLEY

WATCH “JUSTIN BIEBER – THE MAKING OF ‘ANYONE’ | VEVO FOOTNOTES”

Deutch, who hadn’t met Bieber until their first scene together on this project, reveals that she had to learn stick shift for the role, wore her own vintage clothing in the video, and improvised the final line, “I love you.”
Tilley and Bieber had discussed the concept for this video ad nauseum, and the song “Anyone” was the perfect fit to play out the storyline they envisioned. “It’s kind of like The Notebook,” says Bieber. Other key visual references throughout the music video include CreedRocky and Snatch

FOOTNOTES OUTLINE:

(0:14) Narration: Justin Bieber released the video for “Anyone” on New Year’s Day. 

(0:21) It stars Zoey Deutch and was directed by Colin Tilley, who has collaborated with Bieber on several visuals, including his recent “Monster” with Shawn Mendes, and “Holy,” featuring Chance The Rapper.

(0:40) Colin Tilley: “Justin and I had a lot of conversations about this concept. We knew it had to take place in the 1960’s. The instrumental and vibe was so nostalgic, it just felt right… Justin wanted to box in it, and it felt right to tell a human story of the real come-up with someone by your side, loving you and supporting through thick and thin. We put together this beautiful story.”

(0:59) Justin Bieber: “I’ve always wanted to do a boxing video, and it made sense for this song being an 80’s power ballad… If you’re not in love, it makes you want to be in love. It’s kind of like The Notebook.”

(1:15) Narration: Zoey and Justin didn’t actually meet until their very first scene together which was this moment, dancing on the beach.

(1:22) Zoey Deutch: “I had to learn how to drive stick shift approximately two minutes before driving very fast alongside him while he ran and raced me. Considering I’m already a terrible driver in a normal car, not a beat up stick shift car; I was a little concerned about Justin’s safety. But we all made it out alive!”

(1:38) Narration: Classic boxing movies such as Creed and Rocky were key references for the video. 

 (1:43) Both Colin and Justin wanted his character to be as real as possible, so Justin spent two days training with a fight coordinator.  

(1:47) Because tattoos weren’t popular in the era the video is portraying, he spent three hours each morning having his ink covered.  

(2:44) The orange outfit Zoey is wearing is something she purchased at a vintage store eight years ago and had never worn.  

(3:04) This moment was inspired by a scene from the movie Snatch.

(3:22) Colin Tilley: “The past year our friendship had gotten much closer. We see so eye to eye on what we love creatively and are both inspired by a lot of the same stuff. Being able to talk about ideas and bounce things back and forth with no judgement is the best kind of relationship. It’s pure positivity.”

(4:12) Zoey Deutch: “The kiss was one take and the very very last shot of the two day video shoot. And I added the “I love you,” because well, why not?”

Clutch Frontman Neil Fallon Discusses “The Obelisk” and Virtual Shows.

Neil Fallon is the vocalist for the rock band Clutch. The group which has been churning out its own unique brand of riff heavy sludge rock since 1991 just release  a very special, limited edition 16 LP set titled “The Obelisk” As part of wave three of 2020’s Record Store Day . Media Mikes had the chance to talk to Neil recently about the collection, the bands label Weather Maker Music and, the group’s recent series of live stream concert events.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the band’s latest release “The Obelisk”?

Neil Fallon: We had wanted to do something for Record Store Day and things kept getting shifted around and staggered due to the pandemic. What we did was put together a collection of all the full length vinyl releases that Weathermaker Music has put out. We are always getting asked about putting things out such as “Elephant Riders” but we do not own the masters to that stuff. Weathermaker Music is our label and we own all of that material so we can release it however we want. “The Obelisk” is a beast of a collector’s piece which weighs about 12lbs. There are twelve records each symbolized on the cover and that equates to about 16 or 18 discs.

AL: What is the bands process for selecting what will be released on a compilation like this?

NF: You can’t give it all away at once. We know there will be another Record Store Day event next year and we are unsure if we will have new material recorded by then. I think with the collectors mind set you want to make something special that is limited. The limited availability of a piece is what drives that collector to go out and get it. Yes you can go out and get the records individually but you are not going to get the box or some of the other stuff that is included. Some of the stuff included has been really hard to get such as the picture disk for “Earth Rocker”. It’s a hard needle to thread as you want to get this stuff out but you also want to make sure that you are keeping an eye on releasing new material as well.

AL: Has the band always been conscious of saving material for special releases like this?

NF: Every time we write a record we have this conversation. It used to be with a major label you would record 15 songs and only 10 or 12 would make the album. You then had the remaining tracks to use for B sides or whatever. For our last album “Book of Bad Decisions” we recorded 15 songs with the intention of putting 12 on the album and having three other versions of the album going to different areas of the world. We ended up not going that route and just included all 15 (Laughs).

AL: With vinyl making this resurge over the last few years is that something the band has always been in to or is that something that occurred more recently?

NF: I am not really a vinyl guy. I often just use Spotify to listen to my own music. I am very modern. Then again I do understand the appeal of vinyl. With the pandemic I know vinyl has even taken off more. When it comes to vinyl a label like ours tends to have to get at the back of line for pressing as we generally aren’t pressing 50 thousand copies at a time. I like the tangible qualities of vinyl when in this day and age so many things are non-tangible. I listen to so much music that having to constantly get up to flip and change records is just not something I think I have time for in the day.

AL: The band has also been releasing cover material under the “Weathermaker Series” moniker. Can you tell us a little bit about that group of songs and your plans going forward?

NF: We wanted to see what would happen if we started doing just digital releases. To test that out we started with some re-records and a bunch of cover songs. We weren’t sure if it would piss off our fans or behave different and we didn’t want gamble on it with new material. It’s hard to sell physical records and you have to be very accurate with how much you press. This was sort of a protective play. A lot of those old songs we can play a lot better and I hate to say it but, in between albums you have to stay engaged and let people know you are not dead(Laughs). We would just record a bunch of these and release them every six to eight weeks as a way to bridge the gap between albums. That would have worked had the pandemic not occurred. The plan for all of these is to be put together for a vinyl release and probably CD as well in the near future.

AL: Having been in the music industry since the 1990’s what has been the biggest change in the business to impact the band?

NF: File Sharing. You could wrap that in a bigger box and say the internet as a whole. We enjoyed the patronage of major labels all through the 90’s and our shows were numbering in the hundreds here in the states and a couple dozen overseas at this time. After people started illegally sharing music and getting the word out all of a sudden our shows became much, much bigger. Would we have liked to have been paid for every time someone listened to us? Sure! However those listens get parlayed into someone buying a ticket and then a t-shirt. People then become fans and maybe begin buying merchandise even when you are not on tour. It was a marathon and not a sprint but this was certainly a watershed moment for the band. It was word of mouth on a global scale.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands recent virtual concerts and are there any plans for more in the future?

NF: That was really a baptism by fire. Around the end of March, Early April when it became apparent that touring wasn’t going to be able to happen until the Fall at the very earliest. We had a bunch of festivals booked and like most bands a majority of our income comes from touring and merchandise sales. Yes, we own our own record label but you can only put out so many records and it’s not something you can do every night. There was a little bit of a panic mode as to what we could do but we knew we had the means and where with all to stream via You Tube so we started there. From that our booking agent got us connected with some people at Live From and we learned how to put things together. We didn’t go to a sound stage or use a bunch of cameras we just used Face Time and people seemed to enjoy the do it yourself approach we took. It is weird singing to a camera or laptop and I am very grateful that we had around 7 to 8 thousand people buy tickets. Once this all came together we were able to breathe a sigh of relief in knowing we could bridge the gap between then and whenever we are able to go back out on tour. It’s never going to be as satisfying as smelling an audience (laughs) but with the band all living within close proximity to one another we are able to do these as some bands have members all over which doesn’t allow something like this. As far as a third live stream that’s something we are in the process of scheduling right now.

AL: Going in to your third stream are there things you know ahead of time that you want to change or add that you weren’t able to do with the previous shows?

NF: I think the main thing is trying to make the sets different from one another.  I don’t think people would be too stoked about paying for the same set every time. Thankfully we have a pretty long discography. The last stream we let a fan choose the set which was a fun exercise. I think there is a sweet spot between the DIY and production value side of things as you want to make it better each time you do it but at the same time I think people like a certain amount of grit.

AL: What are the bands plans going into 2021 and where is the best place fans can go to keep up with everything related to the band?

NF: I think come January we have decided not to think about anything other than the next record, with the assumption we can go back out on tour. I’m not sure how sustainable streaming shows are for ones mental health (Laughs). It’s going to be a slow curve to get back to touring but then we can look back and be glad this is behind us. Fan’s can check out Clutch official on Instagram and Twitter. Those are usually our main outlets for showing people what’s going on. If people are looking for merchandise they can check out Clutchmerch.com.   

Musician J.D. King Discusses His New Album “Moon Gardens”

Musician, Songwriter, Producer and Artist J.D. King has just released a new album titled “Moon Gardens”. Painstakingly recorded over three years on reel to reel analog equipment the album showcases Kings multitude of talents while being backed by an impressive stable of musicians all acting as intricate pieces within this audiophiles dream. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with King recently about the creation of the album, his decision to use only analog equipment and his plans for performing this material live.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the work that went into “Moon Gardens”?

J.D. King: After I had come off of the Olms project I was doing with Pete Yorne I started really getting in to the use of analog equipment. I wanted to make a 60’s style record the way they did back then. I was studying how album like the Beatles “Revolver” was made and albums like that. We did all the recording via analog and mixed it on tape as I wanted everything to sound just as it would as if it were recorded in the 60’s. I was meditating around eight hours a day and during that time I came up with all these song concepts. I had a good amount of vintage gear to start but then I acquired some more and found a few engineers who could mix on tape in the style that I was going for. We mixed everything live so that was another challenge we were working with as someone basically had to be turning knobs as we were performing. On the song “The Wooden Man” there is a panning part where the engineer was working the panning effect while I was turning some other knobs. With this record I wanted everything to come from the best place it possibly could. Every ingredient had to be the very top. From the musicians, the gear and the performances themselves I wanted the best.

AL: What was it about the 60’s era of recording that captured your interest?

JDK: I am a huge record fan. Even before all this quarantine stuff I would sit with a stack of records and just listen to music all day. I would even listen to some stuff on reel to reel. I never got a good feeling from digitally recorded music. It is less biological to me. I enjoy hearing over tones in music which is something generally missing from digitally recorded music. Honestly I think engineering from those eras was so much better and the standards were much higher.

AL: Working with older equipment did you run into any issues?

JDK: Sometimes we would have gear go down and it wouldn’t just be a simple fix like going to the store and getting a new one. Some of the gear we were using was from as far back as the 1930’s. When a pre-amp or something would go down during the middle of a session we would have to stop and take the time to find someone who was skilled in working on that type of equipment. This did cause some challenges from time to time.

 AL: You worked on this album for three years. Did the writing process take up a majority of that time or was it more from the high level of production you were going for?

JDK: I would generally get my group of session’s guys together once a month to jam and record. The rest of the time I was learning and experimenting with the engineering process as well as writing. I was working basically non-stop. I was wearing a lot of different hats and just had to figure all that stuff out. I think for the most part the time between the two was pretty equal. There were a lot of new things with this record both musically and technically. I wanted to expand and try some new things.

AL: At what point in time did you decide that the record was completed?

JDK: I think right around when I had twelve or thirteen songs. I felt things were rounded out and was happy with what I had. I think when people listen this in an album format it is going to really click. I am an album rock fan and I think that’s was I was able to do with this.

AL: Being that you play quite a few instruments how did you decide which ones you would play and on which tracks?

JDK: I would put the bones of each track down first. From there we would start rehearsing it and bringing the track to life. While doing that I would hear these things that I wanted to add as did the guys I was playing with. Stuff tends to happen in the studio while you are working.

AL: Did you find your creative process changed at all over the course of this record?

JDK: Things stayed pretty much the same for me as they always have been. If you listen to my first record I had a pretty big hand in the production of that record even though it was my first one. Every band I was playing in I always had this ear towards production. Pete (Yorn) is the same way. I learned a lot from him. We tried to work very fast over the course of this record. I have to give to those guys in the sixties as they had to bring their A games. You didn’t want to miss a take as you were recording directly to tape which was expensive. We had a couple tape issues which caused us to have to scrap a couple really good takes. I learned my lesson from that.

AL: With the current pandemic changing a lot of the way things are being done what are your plans to help get this music out to the public given the traditional in-person/live element of music is indefinitely on hold?

JDK: I am kind of lucky in that I learned so much about performing in a studio during this record. It was something you had to do. Having a background in photography I know about lighting and all those things as well so production comes simple for me. Being essentially a one man production crew I can throw up a few cameras and lights and I am set to go. I did a lot of painting over the winter so I can throw those up in the background as well and showcase a lot of my different talents. You can see a lot of what I have going on through my Instagram @mrjdking

Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer Discusses His New Book “Wicked Words and Epic Tales”

Photo Credit: Tim Tronckoe

Iced Earth founder, songwriter, guitarist and producer Jon Schaffer has announced the release of his first ever book, “Wicked Words and Epic Tales”.The book is the debut release from Schaffer and his new publishing company Wicked Tales, LLC and is the first of many original concepts planned for future release by Schaffer. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jon recently about the books creation, the accompanying music and his plans for future releases.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us where the idea/opportunity to do this book came from?

Jon Schaffer: The idea for the book came to me around Christmas of 2019. I was at home with my family and I all of a sudden had this idea to do an anthology of all my lyrics. I have always been a big fan of comic and graphic novel art. It’s actually something I have been doing for years on the Iced Earth album covers. We have so much bad ass art that has been done for us over the years and have made contact with a lot of great artists that I thought I could commission a bunch of new material and put something together for the die-hard fans. I had never really seen anything like what I was thinking of doing but I know that if Steve Harris, Geezer Butler or Roger Waters put out something like this as a fan I jump on it. I ended up deciding to use Kickstarter to get things going because it allowed me to gauge the interest and figure out how many copies to make. After I decided I was going to add new art I thought it might be cool to do some spoken word audio tracks to go along with it. What ended up happening was I decided to create some new music as well. What we ended up with is this something in between an audio book and a soundtrack. I call it a narrative soundscape and that comes as a bonus with the book.

AL: Is this all new musical content?

JS: No. These songs have been written over the course of my career specifically with Iced Earth. I think the oldest song is “Angels Holocaust” which was written around 1991. With the exception of the song “Wolf” all the material is based off of the original compositions. What I did was instead of the album being this loud, ripping heavy metal work I took verses and choruses and turned them into string and keyboard pieces. I did play some guitar but not that much and we programmed in some theatrical drum loops to give things dynamic. For the spoken pieces I really tried to get into character and make things dark an eerie or very emotional depending on what each piece called for.

AL: Will a reader/listener be able to put the music on and have it match up with the book chapters?

JS: It’s broken up a little differently. The book has over 250 pages. The lyrical content alone is well over 100 songs and features lyrics from more than just Iced Earth. The music portion is 15 tracks picked from just my Iced Earth works. If a reader wants to match things up they will just have to go to the index and find the page number for each song to make that happen.

AL: How did you go about selecting the artists who have work featured in the book?

JS: Some of those guys like Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo I have worked with in the past on Iced Earth album art so I knew them. All of the artists who I have worked with through all my projects and career are credited. I worked with an additional 15 new artists specifically for this book. I just started reaching out to people. I reached out to Jim Balent on Instagram and he came on board I then reached out to Jonboy Myers and he was interested. Richard Ortiz did four pieces of art which are killer homage pieces. Roy Young who was in charge of the layout of the book is a guy I met when I was working with Todd McFarland in 1994. Roy has been very instrumental in this. There is tons of great stuff in this book.

AL: We the artists given free reign or did you have specific pieces you wanted each person to do?

JS: I went to each of them with a specific plan. From there the artists will generally take that idea and run with it. If it ends up being something I am not happy with we make edits and changes until it’s where I want it to be. Each artist put their own unique spin on “Set” who is kind of Iced Earth’s mascot. They all had their own interpretation of the character which is something I really loved. You could tell it was Set but the Set character does not have one specific look or logo like Batman or one of those other superheroes. Everyone added their own style which made this part a lot of fun.

AL: The book features two different covers. Does each of the books feature something different that the other does not aside from the alternate cover art?

JS: The books will all be the same on the inside. There are actually four covers in all. Two main covers were done and then did two nude variations of Jim Balent’s cover. Those covers are limited to 100 and 150 copies. The slip case for each book is the same but inside is where you will find all the virgin art aside from the spine which has to include an identifiable marker denoting what the work is. I had a chance recently to see some of the test and it looks amazing! It’s all printed on nice heavy paper with lots of colors. Even the text pages are predominately color.

AL: “Wicked Words and Epic Tales” is the first book to be released via Wicked Tales LLC which you own. Can we be expecting more books from you in the future?

JS: This was my first step in to learning how to self publish. There will be more books however they will not be lyric books. Going forward the timing will depend on what happens with the music business as it relates to what is going on in the world right now. My band is international and I am not sure when or if we will be able to travel freely again. With the members being spread out and living in various places putting together or planning an Iced Earth tour production just can’t happen right now. My plan since 1997 when I first created the “Something Wicked” universe was to always end up being in comics and graphic novels once I retired the band. It’s a killer story with a lot of potential to dive in to so that’s always been my plan. This book was a test and something I started before the world went in to lock down. When that I happened I just continued to work. There will be more things coming out however I don’t have a specific date as it will be after Iced Earth retired. I am getting close to that time but I still want to do one or two more records before that day comes.

AL: If someone did not pre-order the book via Kickstarter will fans still be able to get a copy?

JS: We will have some extra copies available through the Iced Earth merch store. We are in negotiations with Plastic Head who handles our merchandise in Europe about our options. Shipping an item this heavy is quite pricey so we are trying to figure out a way to get to more than just the United States where a majority of the sales have occurred. We hope to have that figured out very soon. In the future we may release a digital and/or trade paperback. There also could be a second printing if the demand is there.

To find out more about “Wicked Words and Epic Tales” click here                  

Lamb of God’s John Campbell Discusses the Bands New Self Titled Album “Lamb of God”

John Campbell is the bassist for the Grammy nominated heavy metal group Lamb of God. On June 19th the Richmond, VA based band will release their 8th studio album titled “Lamb of God”. This release is the follow up to the highly acclaimed 2015 album “VII: Sturm und Drang” and is the first to feature Art Cruz on drums. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with John recently about the albums creation, the bands lines up change and what it’s like being in a band during the current world pandemic.

Adam Lawton: The bands previous albums have always contained lyrical themes and topics. Was this the case for the album?

John Campbell: We have always been mildly political and focused on darker, more unpleasant aspects of life. That certainly hasn’t change. I think what has changed is that some of the things we speak about on the record are coming to pass in ways you wouldn’t imagine. It’s an incredibly crazy time when things going on start to match the lyrics of a Lamb of God song.

AL: When you are coming up with lyrics and themes is that a process everyone is involved in?

JC: It is mostly Randy. Mark and Josh our producer have a hand in things as well and I have thrown my two cents in there also. Primarily though that is a Randy exercise.

AL: At what point in the five years since the bands previous album did things start coming together for the new album?

JC: We started quite a while ago actually. During that time we were approached by Slayer to be a part of their final tour. We figured we could put recording off for a summer and then go back to it. The run with Slayer ended up lasting a year and a half. As our part of that was winding down we knew we had to get off the road and focus on writing.

AL: Were you trying to work on the album at all while you were on the road or, is that not something the band typically does?

JC: That’s not something we generally do. I can’t speak for Randy because I know he does a good deal of writing regardless if it’s going to end up as lyrics or not. The same can be said for Mark and Willie as they are always writing riffs. Those guys have studios in their homes where they are tracking pretty frequently. For the most part there is a solid line of when we touring and when we are working on an album.

AL: With this being drummer Art Cruz’s first album with you guys where there any adjustments you had to make to incorporate his style and playing into the bands creative process?

JC: The adjustments I had to make were very minimal. Art being his own person has his own style, taste and licks. His drumming was heavily influenced by Lamb of God so he already spoke the language so to speak. There is an element of fell that comes with playing in a band for a long time and that literally only took a second for us to put together with Art. From a tone stand point there is always an adjustment with each record. I try to play of the other tones of the band and go with what fits in the frequency range. I am not too savvy when it comes to those types of things so I leave a lot of that to Josh Wilbur

AL: Prior to going in to the studio were there any reservations about recording with a new drummer given that it was going to be the first time working with Art in the studio?

JC: We actually met Art seven or eight years ago when he was playing in the band Wings of Plague. We got to know him as a person and became friends with him during that time. ON that tour he would actually come out and I think play the song “Black Label” with us to end the show. When it came time that we needed a fill in Art was available and willing. He just nailed it and after touring with him for awhile and the situation calling for it, it was a no brainer that he be in the band in every way possible. 

AL: This was not your first time working with producer Josh Wilbur correct?

JC: Correct. I would have to look on the internet to see how long we have been working with him (Laughs) I want to say that he first started working with us on “Sacrament”. That was in 2006 and we have been working with him ever since.

AL: Do you ever worry that working with the same producer over a long period of time will cause a certain level of complacency?

JC: No, not at all! Josh Wilbur is an amazing person professionally and as a human. He is incredibly creative and very aware of things like this. He goes in to an album to try and create the best possible piece of art he can. Josh is great with suggestions and helping us along in the process. He understands the band and all of our personalities very well and that’s a god send.

AL: The pandemic has caused multiple problems around the word and within the music industry both from a release stand point and touring. How are you guys planning to work with that given you won’t be able to do the things bands traditionally do to support a new record?

JC: We are trying to make sure that everything we do or plan on doing is within the safety of the public and ourselves. We are all in this together. I am certainly not crying about releasing an album during a pandemic. This is just a very crazy time that the world is going through. Things are day by day and I really hope people will take that time to focus more on love and positivity instead of attaching to hate and negativity. We do have some things in the works for promoting the album but I don’t want to say anything just yet and jinx them. (Laughs) We are working on some things though.

Be sure to check out our review of “Lamb of God” here

Amberian Dawn Keyboardist Tuomas Seppala Discusses new album “Looking For You”

Amberian Dawn will release their eighth studio album, “Looking For You” on January 31st via Napalm Records and enter a new, but still familiar sounding musical universe, mixing the best of both worlds into a new genre: ABBA-Metal! The album’s multi-faceted and emotional lyrics provide a suitable background for soaring guitars and elegant classical interludes which showcase the bands shift from power metal to a more symphonic metal sound. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with the bands keyboardist Tuomas Seppala recently about the band’s new album, the changing of their style and working with Finnish artist Kebu.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Looking For You”?

Tuomas Seppala: “Looking For You” is a really nice album with a new and fresh sound. After releasing our previous album, I had a long writers block. I just couldn’t write good stuff with the “old style” anymore. After six or seven months or something, I realized that I need to change something so that I would be able to compose good stuff again. Then I started to compose a kind of synthesizer – disco music and that felt really good. Then I introduced a couple of those new songs to band mates and I was surprised that they liked the songs and also said that those songs could be easily converted to AD songs. That’s how I started to make music again and with a different kind of style. Now there’s only one “traditional” AD song on this album, a symphonic metal song “Symphony Nr.1 Part 3 – Awakening”. I got Fabio Lione of Rhapsody to make a guest appearance on that song. It was great.

AL: The band’s sound has gone through changes over the over few years. Was that a natural transition or something that was done by design?

TS: It’s been a natural transition, but it’s not been easy all the time. I’ve had several writer’s blocks after I’ve finished with an album and trying to start working with new songs. I always write music based on the feeling I have for it and I usually can’t force myself to do anything else. For example, if I’m not in the mood for power metal, I simply cannot write any good power metal material. Maybe some average stuff, but that’s never good enough for me. All the stuff I’ll write and publish must be just perfect to me (at that time). But it’s obvious that my point of view for music has changed during all these years and I wouldn’t be happy with the stuff I wrote 10 years ago, if I had been writing that exact same stuff right now. 

AL: Where did the term “ABBA Metal” come from?

TS: That’s just something we came up with. I’m not sure whether I invented the term or if I just saw the term used on chats and social media first. Anyways, I like the term and it’s really a good genre to describe AD’s current style.   

AL: Was the decision to cover “Lay All Your Love On Me” made before or after the creation of ABBA Metal? and why did you choose this song?

TS: I had been preparing this cover song for many years before we actually decided to record it. Also, the ABBA-metal genre came up at some point after I had all of the songs ready for new album. I knew that we really need to start using this ABBA-metal genre because it’s really what this music is all about. 

AL: Being a keyboardist what was it like working with fellow instrumentalist Kebu? And what was that process like?

TS: We had really good co-operation with this album. Kebu has this huge arsenal of vintage keyboards and together we finalized the keyboard sounds with his gear. Some of the sounds and tones are made by Kebu and some of those are made by me. It’s a good combination and I think we can work together in the future too. In short, the process was like that – I first made the arrangements for keyboards and then we decided that which parts were going to be played with my gear and which parts were going to be played with his synthesizers. Kebu used a lot of time to develop those keyboard sounds and presets. I also used ABBA’s Benny Andersson’s personal synthesizers on some songs. I recorded some parts at his studio in Stockholm.

AL: Are there any plans in place to tour behind the release?

TS: We’re planning to tour later in 2020 but we don’t have anything confirmed yet. We’re probably going to tour in Europe again because that’s doable. Touring in the US is much harder to make happen.

For more info on Amberian Dawn click here:

To Order your copy of “Looking For You” click here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Darren Paltrowitz Discusses His NEW Book “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.

Darren Paltrowitz is writer/interviewer with 20+ years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager and over the years working with artists like OK Go, They Might Be Giants and Tracy Bonham. Darren’s writing has appeared in countless publications including the NEW York Daily News, L.A. Times and Guitar World. Darren’s latest project is titled “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons”.  Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Darren recently about the book and how the idea to draw inspiration from professional wrestling came about.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Professional Wrestling?

Darren Paltrowitz: I have been trying to really figure that out lately. I think it goes back to watching “WWF Wrestling Challenge” or one of those late 80’s early 90’s weekend shows. The first Wrestle mania that I fully remember was WrestleMania 7. From there I got into WCW. Sadly I wasn’t much in wrestling during the “Monday Night Wars” as music took over at that time. I didn’t love WCW when it was good! (Laughs) Thankfully with the internet I can now go back and watch everything I missed.

AL: How did the idea for the book all come together?

DP: I had gotten a press release about a book from my future co-author D.X. Ferris. It was actually a release about the four books he had coming out. One of those was titled “Good Advice From Good Fellas”. I ended up interviewing him about the book and during that interview he mentioned Diamond Dallas Page. We stayed in touch after the interview and I pitched the idea of a wrestling book. He sent me an email of a paper he wrote back in college which took advice from wrestling and the film “Goodfellas”. This was back in November. Prior to that we had nothing so that is why the book includes a lot of current wrestlers and wrestling information. We wrote this very quickly with the goal of having it ready for WrestleMania in April. D.X. put in a ton of long hours at the end with final touches and we did it!

AL: What was the research process like for the book and, how did you go about selecting which material made it into the book?

DP: That was sort of a mix of factors. One of those factors was D.X. telling me I had to put in some of his hometown Pittsburgh guys like Bruno Sammartino and Kurt Angle. We really had to think about people who along with wrestling talent also showed good business acumen and that were not plagued by scandal. We also thought about who had great quotes. Some of the book’s material came from my own personal interviews with people like Mark Henry. Now that I have been talking about the book for a bit I regret not including people like Al Snow and MJF. This arguably the greatest time in history to be a wrestling fan! There is infinite content out there. In fact there is so much that you cannot watch it all.

AL: Did any of the wrestlers who are featured in the book know beforehand that they were going to be included?

DP: We reached out to a lot of the wrestling promotions asking for material and we received responses from all but one. There were other times where I would have to go through independent reps. We also had a guy in the Ohio area that was able to provide us with some photo material. Initially things were moving slow as people didn’t believe we were doing this thing. One by one we started getting books out to some of the wrestlers and it’s been going great. It continues to be a step by step process.

AL: Did you have any goals for releasing the book?

DP: My first major goal with this project was finishing the book and getting it out. Once that was done it was a major relief. A lot of people say they are going to write a book but never do. Now that the book is out I want it to be the one book that is for people who don’t read “self help” books. I wanted people to realize that a lot of the advice in the book is applicable no matter what your level of exposure to pro wrestling is or was. One other thing I want people to take away from the book is for them to see just how smart and successful the majority of pro wrestlers are. They are no longer failed football players or body builders. These are people who are branding experts who can also act and write their own material. If you want to be successful you have to learn from other successful people. I hope a lot of that comes across in this book.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

DP: I have been doing interviews with entertainers and the likes ever since I was in high school. I realized that I should do something with all these interviews. About a year ago I started a pod cast called “The Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz”. It’s a bi-weekly cast that includes clips from various interviews I have done. Last week’s episode featured Adam Duritz from Counting Crows talking about his bar mitzvah, Guitarist Susan Tedeschi and Kaley Cuoco from the “Big Bang Theory”. I am into all kinds of things so that’s what I showcase on the cast.

It doesn’t matter if you are fan of wrestling or just someone wanting a fresh approach to the self help genre “Good Advice From Professional Wrestling: Full Contact Life Lessons” has something for everyone. It’s even got some great photos which accent the wit and wisdom of an often overlooked industry. To Order visit: https://www.amazon.com/Darren-Paltrowitz/e/B07Q4QN8B8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_2

For more info on Darren Paltrowitz you can visit his official website here: http://www.paltrowitz.com/home.html

 

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