Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna talks about touring with Rockstar Mayhem Festival

Joey Belladonna is the lead singer for the seminal NY thrash band Anthrax. Media Mikes caught up with Joey at this year’s Mayhem Festival where we talked about how the crowds have changed over the year and the bands recent work on several cover songs.

Adam Lawton: What has been the best experience so far on this summer’s tour?
Joey Belladonna: I would have to say the new kids. We are running in to a whole lot of different fans. There are young people, old people, new fans and old fans. It’s been really great. The whole atmosphere of this tour has been quite a bit different. It has a carnival like feel to it but it’s still a heavy metal/rock show.

AL: How have shows like Mayhem changed from the band first started playing on them to now?
JB: I think the buzz has started to pick up more. People have started taking notice that we as a band are still strong and better than ever. We aren’t a manufactured something that is just out here for nothing. We don’t mess around and the new material live is brutal.

AL: How did you go about making the set list for this run of shows?
JB: The real hard part was covering are catalog in 40 minutes. We have some songs that are pretty long. We had to try a few different things to fit in to that time frame. I think we have done pretty well touching on all aspects of our music. Sadly there is just no winning if someone wants to hear a specific song but I think we did the best we could with the allotted time.

AL: Can you give us any updates about the cover album that has been in the works?
JB: There have been some songs recorded but I can’t tell you much more than that. I haven’t really started doing vocal tracks for it yet. Things are still sort of lingering with what will become of it and if deadlines can be met.

AL: What are the plans for Anthrax after the Mayhem Festival wraps up?
JB: We will be hitting Canada and some portions of the U.S. That will take us through mid October. Then we will be back out with Testament and Death Angel for the third time around. Starting in November we will be out with Motorhead in Europe as the support act. That should be pretty cool.

AL: Anthrax did a lot of recording at the legendary Pyramid Studios in Ithaca, NY. What is your take on what’s happening with the city trying to destroy that building/business?
JB: Alex was out and saw us the other night. It awful what is happening with that situation. I can’t even imagine being told one day that you have to move out of your house because it’s supposedly unsafe. I didn’t really know what to say when we were discussing it. I passed along some info and I hope everything works out.


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Melissa Joan Hart talks Season Two of ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey”

Melissa Joan Hart has been working on television since she was a kid with “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. She is currently starring with Joey Lawrence on ABC Family’s “Melissa & Joey”. Entering it’s second season, Melissa Joan Hart took some time to chat with Media Mikes about what we can expect from the show and about her career.

Mike Smith: In addition to being the star of the show, your Heartbreak Films also produces Melissa & Joey. Could you tell us about your creative vision for this season?
Melissa Joan Hart: That’s up to the writers. We have a writing team, the executive producers/show runners, which is Bob and David, David Kendall and Bob Young, and they are, along with a team of really great writers, they sort of plot out the season along with the network. This second season, I think we started off really strong. I think our first season, which consisted of 30 episodes, but I think our first few even just out of the gate were great. I think that we had a really great crew. We had really great writing staff. We had a great cast. It was able to all gel really well together, and I think that’s kind of rare. If you watch a lot of shows, it takes a while to get the ball rolling. But that being said, I think we came out of the gate pretty strong. But at the same time the second season just gets better, and I think that happens with every show. As the oil in the machine starts to really warm up, you just get the ball rolling and you get these stronger episodes. So in the second season we just have funnier, more solid episodes.

MS: Is there anything you can tell us about any surprises we can look forward to this summer?
MJH: There are some surprises. I don’t know how far I’m allowed to say. Last season, season one, ended with a bathtub falling through the roof. So the beginning of the show starts off with a few episodes about the construction and the family living on top of each other. Mel has a little fling with the cabinetmaker, played by Bren Foster, but then there is some stuff that happens at the end where Joey falls in love with a Russian colleague and there’s quite a little romance that goes on there, and that’s an arc. We have that for a few episodes. So Mel has to put up with this Russian chick in her house. But in between that, there are really just a lot of fun, standalone story lines that happen and some great guest stars. This season it was really about keeping it light. Not having that very special episode. We don’t like to do those. We just want to make people laugh.

MS: Could you tease us some of the other guest stars we’ll be seeing this season?
MJH: Yes. Bren Foster, I think he’s Australian and he’s in one of the episodes; one of the first few episodes, one of the one’s that will air next week. Who else do we have? All the 45 episodes we’ve done kind of run together. So I’m having trouble remembering what people have seen and what they haven’t. Who else do we have? Christine Lakin comes back for a really funny episode. She played my friend in one of the episodes last season. This season she is looking for a sperm donor and happens to want some of Joey’s stuff. That’s one of my favorite episodes; that is my favorite episode of this season coming up, the sperm donor episode. But yes, that’s all I can think of right now. But Debi Mazar plays a great character. She’s like my—I’m thinking about reelection and she is my coach, my reelection campaign manager. So she is—it’s an episode called “The Knockout” and it’s pretty funny. There’s a guy in a movie theater who starts picking a fight with Ryder, my nephew, and I stand up to him after telling Joey not to. I knock him out and it gets on video and it goes viral. And then the whole campaign is around whether or not I should be promoting the fact that I knock him out kind of thing, whether or not that’s a good example for the kids. It’s a really fun episode, and Debi Mazar does a great job in it. And she and I met on the set of Dancing with the Stars. I really like bringing in a lot of these people that I’ve worked with before. That’s one of the fun parts about being Executive Producer is finding talented people all over the place and being able to work with them.

MS: What is it about being a part of Twitter that really helps you with the promotion and connecting with people who are fans of the show?
MJH: Well within two seconds I can correspond with 200,000 people, which is pretty incredible; across the world. And what I really like about it is just seeing the immediate response of things. Like the other night, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” the first movie, the Showtime movie was on. I don’t know what it was one, but it aired and my timeline was filled with people just talking about it. Being shocked that Ryan Reynolds was in that movie. It was just funny to see how many people were watching it. I think it was actually maybe airing in the U.K. or the U.K. just got Netflix. So they can now watch Melissa & Joey in the U.K., which they’re all very excited about because it’s not airing yet there on a network and they’re all mad at me about that. But it’s fun. It’s like that instant response to of like, you know, just driving people to try products that I like or to know a little something about my family or something that I find funny. I try to be careful not to over use it too much, but to also give everyone like a flavor of everything. Like what it’s like for me being a mom. What it’s like for me being an actress. What it’s like for me being a wife, you know. So like little tidbits of what my inside life is like. But of course it’s an amazing tool to use. To be able to reach fans and get the audience to move, whether it’s for a certain charity reason or to watch the show, that kind of thing. It’s really amazing too to see how many shows this season got picked up because there was a buzz even though the ratings weren’t there. So you know that it can be used to help push different projects through.

MS: Both you and Joey Lawrence are directing this season. How does that affect the way you prepare for the episode?
MJH: It’s just a lot more work. It’s a lot of work. I’m trying to remember what my episode was even about. I’m having such a hard time with this season; getting it so confused with the other season. It’s just so much prep because you’re involved in every step of it along the way, even more so than just being an executive producer. You have the production meeting with the entire crew where you decide what prop will get used for this scene and what effect might be used for this scene or what camera might be used for this scene. And then you’re working with the camera coordinator or DP on lightening and this and that staging. And then you’ve got to get the actors to listen to you, which in this case is really difficult. We all help each other out all the time anyways. It’s a very collaborative effort always, but when you’re the director you get so nervous. It’s like, “What if Joey doesn’t want to listen to me? What if Taylor won’t go where I tell her to? What if they don’t like my ideas? What if they think I’m terrible? What if I annoy them? What if I don’t say enough?” So it’s always hard being an actor and talking to other actors, but I think that other actors kind of respect an actor’s director more so than a camera director because you’ll get help with your acting. You’ll get attention paid to your actual performance as opposed to just, “Go here. Go there. Stay in your light. Get on camera,” because you have different kinds of directors. You have ones that just care about the camera and the lighting and then you have ones that also care about the performance. As an actor I’ve seen that, and it’s difficult sometimes to not have someone paying attention to your performance when you really want that guidance. So luckily we all take great notes and we adjust and we’re very collaborative. So it’s a really fun process, but you just get nervous like, “What if they don’t like my ideas.” So it’s a lot of work. And then you’ve got to do the editing once that episode is done. When you’re acting, it’s Monday to Friday. When you’re directing it’s like a three to four week process.

MS: Have you guys ever shot a scene where you couldn’t stop laughing? Like you just kept doing bloopers?
MJH: Yes. We’ve had a few of those. There have been a few. We use iPhones on the set and sometimes we snap pictures with the iPhones. And then other times we have to be pretending we’re looking at the phone and kind of turning it to each other and saying, “See look. See the message,” or whatever, but there’ll be a stupid picture on the phone and it just makes us giggle and it’s always hard to pull it back. I think there was an episode coming up where Nick had to eat a lot of junk food, junk food from the vending machines at school as a school project for Taylor to write about in her blog. There were snowballs and all this stuff on the set. He was trying to eat but he was just so disgusted by all the food he had to eat. There was a lot spit takes in that one.

MS: What challenges will Mel be facing with the kids this season?
MJH: Well they’re getting older. There’s an episode where Taylor tries to befriend the new girl that she sees at school because she was the new girl last year. So she’s trying to be the good person by bringing this girl into her circle and trying to befriend her, but realizes that not everybody wants to be popular or liked or taken under someone’s wing. There are a few episodes about relationships. Nick has a little girlfriend who we adore on the show. She’s been back and forth a little bit, Holly. She pretty much tortures him. So there are a few episodes with her involved. And Taylor has a few episodes where she’s got a romantic guy with her. The one I directed with her and—what was the actor’s name? Anyway we’ve got these great little teen actors on the show and one of them plays her boyfriend for—for a few episodes—and there’s a nice little story line that happens with her and that relationship and us giving her relationship advice and stuff like that. So the typical teen stuff, but they are getting older and they’re starting to teach us a few things as well.

MS: What do you admire most about Mel?
MJH: She’s really determined. She sets her heart to something. She thinks she’s got the—when she thinks she’s on the right path or she thinks there’s a mission to accomplish she will get to it. She will finish that mission. She is one of those women that is determined and has her convictions and sees things through, but she does it in a really silly, funny way.

MS: How much of those particular episodes or how many of those moments do you actually get input on? Is any of that based on true to life experiences of Melissa or Joey?
MJH: The structure of it’s always there from the writers, but then we like to tweak it within itself, like the episode with climbing out the window and stuff like that. I like to constantly remind the writers, not that they need a lot of reminding, that I don’t know what I’m doing here, that I don’t want to know what I’m doing. I want to make mistakes, as a parent. That’s where a lot of the humor comes from, and that’s true to life, I think, too. We’ve been thrown these teenagers. It’s not like we raised them from scratch. There’s a lot of room for error. What I really like to do is go look at my natural parenting instincts and do the opposite. So a lot of the time if I feel like there’s something that can be the opposite or there’s an episode where we’re kind of lecturing the kids too much we’ll go sit down with the writers and say, “We think it’d be really funny if the kids actually lectured us on this,” or if Lennox and I are both sneaking into the house late at night and have to shush each other because we don’t want to wake up Joey. Both of us don’t want to get in trouble, inappropriate behavior as adults really.

MS: It seems like there are a lot of chances for improvisational on set with your cast.
MJH: We do. That’s what’s great about doing the live show too. We shoot live on Friday nights, which I’ve never really done before, but it does really help because you get to try out different jokes in front of the audience. You do three or four takes and you try out a few different jokes and see which one gets the biggest laugh and then hopefully the editor will use that one. It’s fun to be able to sort of improve that stuff. And sometimes one thing will happen that’s totally authentic and natural and they’ll use it in the episode, which is wonderful.

MS: You have been a successful teen/child actor with Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And you made the transition to being an adult actress, which a lot of teen stars find difficult. What has been the secret to your success with that?
MJH: I’m actually in the process of possibly writing a book about that because I don’t really know what that recipe is. I think that a lot of the balance and success in my life comes from my family. It comes from my mom and my dad and my siblings growing up, and now from my husband and my children and putting that always as a priority. Having that as my balance, as my sort of gage of where to go with my life. But as far as my career, I think it’s just been that at a young age growing up on the East Coast in this business I did a lot of auditioning. It was pretty cut throat. There was a lot of competition, and if you weren’t the best one for the job there was someone right behind you to do it. So you had to work really hard. You had to know your lines. You had to hit your mark. You had to have the biggest smile and think those Fruit Loops were the best thing ever. And I think that I learned that if I want longevity I’ve just got to stick it out. I’ve got to work hard, and that’s—I’ve never given up. No matter—this career, in this business you just go up and you go down. There’s no finding that soaring star to hitch onto and carry you off into the galaxy. It’s constant work to reinvent and figure out the next role and keep working upward. I’ve just learned that if I want to stick with it that’s what I’ve got to do. If I want a career in this business and I don’t want to transition and do something else, then I need to stick with it. Keep auditioning. Keep meeting people. Keep reinventing myself, finding great characters to play. And that’s where producing comes in as well. I started producing at the age of 17 because I wanted to have some control over the projects I was putting out there and the characters I was playing. So producing has definitely helped. And then also transitioning to directing because I got a little bit bored with the acting. I wanted to be more creative and found directing. So that’s been a great outlet for me as well just to keep me in the business. I just love being on a set. I don’t necessarily always need to act. I just love being on a set.

Joey La Rocca talks about new single with The Briggs

Joey La Rocca is a solo artist as well as the lead singer for the punk rock band The Briggs. After a 2 year hiatus The Briggs have released a new single titled “Panic!”. Media Mikes recently spoke with Joey about the song and the bands plans for the future.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the bands newest song “Panic!”?
Joey LaRocca: I feel right now I am inspired by music that has urgency to it. Lately I like the feeling of uneasiness in music. That I guess might be the way I feel a lot of the time. This was sort of the inspiration behind the song.  The animosity and un-comfortableness is sort of what makes me feel alive and shows me that I am alive. I embrace that feeling of anguish and pain at times.

AL: Can you tell us about the video plans for the song?
JB: The video was really fun. Our buddy Beau Coulon who directed the video is brilliant. He had a concept for the video that has somewhat of a narrative that follows the story line of the song but at the same time it has a lot of energetic shots of the band. We spent a day on a sound stage just banging out the song 20,000 times. I think those shot are probably some of my favorite parts. I feel they really embrace the energy of the song and give it its fury. The narrative is fun also because it gives people something else to look at other than the band. (Laughs)

AL: Now that the band is back after a couple year hiatus what has been the biggest change in the industry you have noticed since your return?
JB: As a band we hadn’t been doing much however a few of us have still been involved in theindustry. I have been working on a solo project under the name Joey Briggs and have also done some touring. I have seen a lot of interesting changes. When we were first got out of doing the Briggs for awhile I was very bitter about how things were. I don’t necessarily feel that way anymore though. I see that there is an amazing breed of bands and fans that are creating a real scene again. It maybe sounds cliché but I have seen all these bands that are doing house and basement shows. In some degree that never went away but there just weren’t the people to support it. I feel now there is a good amount of people embracing the whole world of DIY. There are a lot of cool bands and houses involved in this movement. We haven’t done something like this in a long time. The scene has come back around and people have decided not to pay the high prices a lot of venues charge. There are other options to get people out and interested in what you are doing.

AL: Has there been any talks of a full-length Briggs release?

JB: I think the plan is to definitely do a full-length release. It’s something that sort of has to happen. We weren’t really 100% sure what was happening at the time we started. We were honestly just flying by the seat of our pants. We created a song and then put it out but now there is that expectation. People are going to hear the song and want to know where the rest of the album is. Its cool people want that so we will have to fill our obligations. It’s really fun to write a song but it not as fulfilling as a musician as when you have an entire album. I want 12 songs with 12 different stories and emotions. One song isn’t quite enough.

AL: What are your spring/summer tour plans?
JB: As far as summer goes I am completely booked doing Joey Briggs stuff. I will be doing a few dates on Warped Tour this summer. They are going to be doing an acoustic stage this year and I am really stoked to be a part of that. I then have a month long tour of Europe. When I come back from that I will be back on Warped Tour for a few more shows. The Briggs will be doing a return show at the House of Blues in Anaheim at the end of May to kind of say were back. Before the Briggs get fully back out there I would like to have a new album out. I don’t want to get the cart before the horse so to speak.

Interview with Joey Fatone

Joey Fatone is known best for being a member of the band *NSYNC, but it is after the band was when Joey’s career has really taken off. Since then, he has been in movies including “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and the upcoming horror film “Inkubus”. On TV, you can’t forget his “Star Wars” Tango on “Dancing with the Stars” and kids will remember his appearances on “Imagination Movers” and “Hannah Montana”. Joey is also hosting “Karaoke Battle USA” this summer on ABC. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Joey about his upcoming films, his television work and his new hosting gig.

Mike Gencarelli: Since *NSYNC, You have been focusing on movies and TV, do you prefer one of other?
Joey Fatone: I enjoy all forms of entertainment really. It is always interesting when getting involved in certain things with film and television. With television sometimes it could be either a one or two camera shoot or a live audience…and those are two completely different things. I have done television in front of a live audience and then I did a film like “Inkubus”, which is a horror film. So it is very interesting to being able to work in both mediums. Then following that I did another film called “Mancation”, it is a mix of “Old School” and “The Hangover”. So I enjoy it all but it is definitely different.

MG: Do you get the same kind of thrill when you perform in film then when you were on stage?
JF: I think it is kind of different. With film, you get to see the final product, when it is edited and done. When you are doing a concert, you get an immediate response, you are performing right there…especially when you are on Broadway. There are sometimes when you do things on film and you think it is funny as hell or visa versa, you do not think it is that funny but people think it is funny as hell. An example is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, I said “Hey you, We’re gonna kill ya”, people laugh but I do not think it is that funny. It is very interesting. When shooting that kind of stuff, that line I shot probably ten or twelve different ways as far as saying it and delivering it. I guess it was so natural and nonchalant that it came out funny.

MG: Tell us about your new film “Inkubus”?
JF: It was awesome and intense. I had never done a horror film before and to get into that kind of realm was great. To get to work with Robert Englund and William Forsythe, they have done a lot of films in general, and to figure out how to create the timing to feed off them was very cool. I honestly learned a lot from just watching them. Robert is all about film. He loves the old school Hollywood and he has all this great knowledge.

MG: Tell us about your role in the film?
JF: I play Detective Tom Caretti. The story takes place with our office moving to a new precinct. There are a few cops stuck in the old one, still transferring everything over. A kid comes in arrested claiming he cut off his girlfriends head. That is where the mayhem starts. Robert who plays Inkubus comes in with the girls head that this kid supposedly cut off and said he did it. All this havoc just happens. I play this Detective looking to become a Lieutenant when I move over to the new precinct. Inkubus is the kind of guy that kind of mind fucks everyone. It is an exciting film. The director, Glenn Ciano, is a good friend of mine. He wrote “Homie Spumoni”, which I did with Donald Faison and Whoopi Goldberg. Having a relationship with him and relaying my ideas to him was great.  I was able to watch the film through its editing process, which is something not a lot of actors get to see. It was pretty cool.

MG: How did you get involved with “Imagination Movers in Concert”?
JF: [laughs] Basically they just called me up. I never met the guys before but my nephew was a huge fan of the show. I have done some work on Disney Channel before and they said that they wanted to me to be apart of the show. I figured what the heck and said “Let’s have fun with it”. It was really interesting experience. These guys have this great over the top energy and it is so infectious you can’t help it. Kids really see that and really respond to it. It was fun. Doug (Fisher) from “Ace of Cakes” also did one and we met while filming briefly. After I did the show, I got a call that they were doing this live concert. I thought it would be cool and Doug was doing it as well. With all the people they have worked with it is cool that they choose us for the live concert. It was really fun.

MG: Tell us about your experience on “Dancing with the Stars”?
JF: It was interesting, I got asked to do it the very first season and I turned it down. They asked me again the second season and I turned it down. Again for the third season and I turned it down. I knew it had legs and popularity to it and I started to think how could I benefit from this. I waited and soon I realized that 22+ million viewers watch the show and there has to be something there. I thought then it might be worth a shot. When they asked me to give them songs to submit, I was told I could give them as many as I wanted…so I gave them about 170 songs. They then told me the average was usually 10-20 songs. It was random stuff that nobody would ever use. I started pulling off soundtracks…”Superman”, “Star Wars” and “Willy Wonka”. It was cool because a lot of the songs I chose did get cleared and I did do the songs like the “Star Wars” Tango, most people remember that one the most. You got all these people that never watched “Dancing with the Stars” and they started watching cause of “Star Wars”. It was a lot of fun. It then branched off to me doing other things. People got a chance to see my personality. I guess they knew I was in a band with five other guys but never saw my personality come to life. What you see is what you get. It was just something I had never done and just took a crack at it.

MG: Am I allowed to bring up your character Joey Vitolo in “Hannah Montana”…”Try the Veal!?”
JF: [laughs] It is very interesting how the conversation came up. I was doing “Dancing with the Stars” with Billy Ray Cyrus on my season. He was in the middle of doing “Dancing with the Stars” when he started back with “Hannah Montana”. I told him that my daughter loved the show and he told me he wants to come on the show. I told him to let me know and I would do it and like not even two weeks later I got a phone call. So I went it and shot it, it was pretty interesting.

MG: Do you find that you do work that your kids would enjoy?
JF: I like to do shows like that for them, yeah. You see a lot of people like Eddie Murphy who was doing all these dirty movies…he has kids and then he does “Dr. Dolittle”. It does open your eyes to a totally different realm and you find yourself wanting to do some film and stuff for your kids and watch it as well. It was fun. My first daughter, Brianna, she has seen stuff I did with *NSYNC and she was like “Ok, whatever”, but they I did “Hannah Montana” and then I was a superstar [laughs]. Now I am famous.

MG: Tell us about your latest hosting gig on ABC, “Karaoke Battle USA”?
JF: It will star airing on August 12th. It is a prime time ABC show. Karaoke has obviously been going on for many years and each year they have a World Championship competition, this year it will be in Killarney, Ireland. What ABC did is a documentary on the karaoke world. They basically did a contest trying to find the karaoke king and queen. Once chosen, they will be representing the U.S.A. in Killarney, Ireland. They will also both get a recording contract as well. So it has been really fun. We traveled around from Houston, Las Vegas, New York and Chicago. So starting the first week of August we will be in Los Angeles.


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