Like Jon Snow, New Fans Of House of the Dragon Still ‘Know Nothing’ Yet

Readers of George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, were cautiously optimistic when HBO announced that they had commissioned a new television series on the back of it.  Fans worldwide know Martin’s books as Game of Thrones (the title of the first volume in his written series) and there is no doubt that it was an unbridled success, quickly hooking millions of avid viewers in multiple countries around the globe.

The TV show went on to run for eight seasons, with 73 epic episodes broadcast in total, and although the final series did draw plenty of criticism from fans and critics alike over the creative decisions taken as it was brought to a conclusion, there continue to be many in the entertainment industry who feel it remains as one of the best television shows of all time, despite the more controversial finale.

With millions around the world now well introduced to the Iron Throne, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the continent of Essos, not least what the future holds for House Stark, the Lannister’s, the controversial Targaryen’s and many of the other key families featured, there was undoubted fervour amongst a still very loyal fan base when it was confirmed that Game of Thrones would be subject to a prequel that delved into, and explained, why we had originally met the family clans in the positions they occupied at the start of series one, and equally provided – at least some – reasons for the varying dynamics at plan.

US sportsbooks online tested by BetStation are bound to have options for House of the Dragon to be an equally huge success given it continues to be inspired by the A Song of Ice and Fire series.  House of the Dragon however, takes us back to about 200 years before the events that gripped us all, and around about 172 years prior to the birth of Daenerys Targaryen and this new series takes most of its inspiration from the novel Fire & Blood.

Fans around the globe are only three episodes in to the new vision, but we already know it will initially focus on the beginning of the end of House Targaryen and will take us into the Dance of the Dragons – the Targaryen war of succession and whilst it will ultimately bring us up to date and tie into what everyone saw in Game of Thrones, many again expect that the television series will make its own creative decisions again as time (and no doubt future and further series progress themselves), so chances are high indeed that true fanatics of Martin’s original plot lines will again face some disappointment.

For non-readers who only know the story as it has been broadcast, three episodes in it again has that air of being as equally as epic as we had come to expect, and in fairness we are really still only being introduced to the characters, their quirks, possible future motives and motivations and very little has actually happened so far – but I cannot be the only one watching wishing that the first series could be gloriously binge watched so I know what happens next.

With such a stellar cast, we can only guess right now who will suffer the same unexpected fate of Ned Stark, but we all know that will not be the only twist that can be expected – and that is exactly why we will all remain tuned in to see what happens, although reportedly Jon Snow continues to ‘know nothing’ and we are again in that exact same position.

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

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                  

Book Review: “Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived By Jon Zazula”

“Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness.  As Lived By Jon Zazula”
Author: Jon Zazula/Harold Claros-Maldonado
Paperback: 193 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Heavy Tales” details the stories of how one Jonathan Zazula better known as Jonny Z who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City to managing and releasing albums by some of the biggest artists in heavy metal music including Metallica, Anthrax, Testament and Mercyful Fate. Together, Jonny and his wife Marsha built a musical dynasty out of modest beginnings unmatched by any other underground heavy metal label. With a foreword written by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, plus over 100 rare photographs unearthed from the Mega-Vault and photographer friends worldwide, “Heavy Tales” is the definitive American story of a family man with a dream, determined to prove to the world that heavy metal belonged on the stage, in your car, on the radio, and in your living room.

Growing up around the college town of Ithaca, NY you would always hear rumblings of the fabled Pyramid Studios and how all these heavy metal bands from the city would make the five plus hour drive just to record there. A name that was often attached along with that of bands like Anthrax, Testament and Raven was Jonny Z. It wasn’t until sometime later when I myself had the chance to record at Pyramid Studios that I would go back and dig a little deeper in to the lore that surrounds Mr. Jon Zazula. “Heavy Tales” filled in all the gaps, lapses and holes as it is the story right from the horse’s mouth. With the help of Harold Claros-Maldonado, Jon tells you about how his rough upbringing and  keen business sense put him at the fore-front of the heavy metal invasion of the mid-eighties and into early nineties where he help orchestrate the early foundations of cross over Rap-Metal. Just reading the candid stories about Metallica’s early days (Pre-“Master of Puppets”) would have been more than enough for me but Z takes it further recounting numerous concerts, trips and pivotal first time meetings which until now were stories only heard by select few and/or those who lived it.

Counting in at just over 190 pages “Heavy Tales” is a quick read that wastes no time getting to the good stuff. The book and its authors give you just enough background to nicely set the stage for the bulk of each story. I had no problem reading this book in one sitting and the various photographs included in the book were a nice touch. If you grew up during the time period the book covers and was in to heavy metal you undoubtedly have a record that Jonny Z had a hand in and now is your chance to hear his story.


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Is Jon Snow Dead? Game of Thrones Trailer Drops a Hint

Jon Snow Tribute” (CC BY 2.0) by snbk97

The sixth season of Game of Thrones (GoT) is marching towards us like seven noble families vying for the Iron Throne and anticipation is starting to build among the show’s hardcore fan base.

The big question on everyone’s lips at the moment is whether Jon Snow is really dead and adding more fuel to the rumours he may still be alive is the final scene of the season six trailer. Typically dramatic yet carefully designed to ensure we don’t get to see too much, the defining moment in the trailer is the scene showing the Onion Knight drawing his sword to protect what looks like Snow’s body.

Ever since the son of Lord Eddard Stark was stabbed and seemingly left to die in the snow during season five, fans have refused to let his memory fade. Kit Harington, who plays Snow, has won the hearts of GoT viewers since he first appeared in season one and that’s led to him being featured in a plethora of spinoffs.

Join Snow for a Spin

Game of Throne Figures” (CC BY 2.0) by  Aranami

From action figures to board games, fans of the show can now interact with the likes of Snow in more ways than ever before.

In fact, one medium that’s managing to keep the dead (?) lord alive is the show’s online slot game. How’s that possible, we hear you ask? Simple, you can experience the fun of pokies on your iPhone and summon up the might of Snow to have some fun.

Becoming a member of pokies/slots sites gives you direct access to a game that not only features familiar sights and sounds from the show (including the dramatic soundtrack), but five and six-figure jackpots. Whether you’re just testing the water in free play mode or spinning from £0.30, the game is a great way to keep the memory of Snow alive.

Of course, if you’ve watched the trailer and are inclined to believe TV gossip then you won’t need to play the game for much longer because Snow’s future in season six is just a few weeks away.

Snow Might be Gone but he’s Not Forgotten

Game of Thrones giant pop-up” (CC BY 2.0) by  fdecomite 

However, if you’re more inclined to listen to Kit Harington then you’ll only see Snow in a deceased form when the new season airs.

Responding to the recent images of him on the set of the show, Harington explained that he was there to play a dead body.

“I had to be a dead body in Northern Ireland. You can’t just forget that he actually died. I had to be a dead body,” explained Harington.

Of course, the actor will be bound by a watertight contract that prevents him from talking about the show’s scripts, so it could be that this is a cunning ruse to throw people off the scent. Of course it’s equally likely that he’s telling the truth and this will be the last time we see Snow on screen.

Fortunately, if that is the case then it won’t be the end of the enigmatic lord. From slots to board games and more, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Game of Thrones long after the final credits have finished.


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Director Jon Cassar Talks About His New Film, “Forsaken” and the Possible Return of “24”

You may know the name Jon Cassar from his Emmy Award winning association with the popular television series, “24.” But when he’s not putting Jack Bauer through his paces, he’s taking the reigns of one of the best Westerns of the past decade.

“Forsaken,” which Mr. Cassar directed, boasts a strong script and an even stronger cast, including Donald and Keifer Sutherland, who star as father and son. Mr. Cassar took some time out to talk to me about “Forsaken,” the return of the Kennedys and what may be next for “24.”

MIKE SMITH: What attracted you to “Forsaken?”
JON CASSAR: Actually I was there when the project was born. A few of us were sitting around on the set of “24” talking, waiting to set up a shot when we started asking each other, ‘what would be a great thing to do once “24” ends?’ Eventually we all decided, ‘let’s do a Western together.’ So that’s really where it started. Once we decided on that Keifer came along. He wanted to do a film with his father so everything just worked. I’m happy to say that I was there at the inception. We got a brilliant writer (Brad Mirman) who not only wrote us a classic Western but also a touching father/son story. So by then I had Keifer, I had a great script and THEN I get Donald Sutherland? There’s no way I wasn’t going to be involved!

MS: Any trepidations about taking on a Western? They seem to be so hit and miss these days.
JC: Yeah, of course. I mean you do worry about it. I mean at one point it was the most popular film genre’. The most popular television genre’ also. I mean, it’s amazing how many popular television shows were Westerns. But it did, of course, begin to fall out of favor, all though it is making a little bitty comeback over the past few months. But you’re right. But I knew I had a great Western story. And I knew I had a great father/son story that people could connect with. I knew that relationship was really the heart of it and if we did it right I knew if would connect. And it’s fun doing something that isn’t a true CGI film. It’s fun doing something where the effects are more simple.

MS: What was it like as an observer to watch Keifer and his father work together?
JC: It was great. I’m very fortunate to have had a front row seat to watch Keifer and Donald working together. From the first time it was fantastic. They are both veteran actors and, in my opinion, two of the best actors of our time. To watch them work together was a pleasure. As it was watching all of the actors. Demi Moore. Brian Cox. Michael Wincott. They are all so experienced. I was very lucky to have a front row seat and watch them work.

MS: Keifer. Michael Wincott. Greg Ellis. You used quite a few of your “24” company in the film. Was that because you already had a good familiarity with them and their work?
JC: Absolutely. First of all, you have to know that all of the actors in the film were basically my friends. I didn’t have a studio dictating who was going to play what part. We actually got to pick who we liked. A lot of them were Keifer’s friends. And of course, by having done “24,” they knew me so it made the connection easier for sure.

MS; The recent return of “24” was very successful. I’ve heard rumors that Fox is considering re-booting the show. Is that something you plan to be involved with?
JC: Nothing is official yet. I am involved and we have talked. I can say that if it goes forward I won’t be involved in the pilot but I do hope to be involved in the series. However, at this point I’m not.

MS: What else are you working on now?
JC: A few years ago I did a mini-series called “The Kennedys,” which was an eight-part mini-series that starred Greg Kinnear as JFK and Katie Holmes as Jackie. We’re doing a sequel to that, called “After Camelot,” based on a book. It will deal with what happened to the Kennedys after John and Robert died. It’s mostly the Jackie story and it follow her during her marriage to Onassis as well as John Jr. and Ted Kennedy. It will encompass all of that history. We shoot that soon in Toronto. It will run on the Reelz Channel. It’s actually a fun project for me to do because we’re re-creating all of the history that we all grew up with.

Enter to Win a Blu-ray of Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Rosewater”. Media Mikes would like to give our fans a chance to win a Blu-ray of the film. If you want to win this great prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite political drama. This giveaway will remain open until February 20th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with Rosewater, a drama based on a memoir by the Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. As the film opens, Bahari returns to his home country in order to report on the 2009 presidential elections there. When the results lead to large public protests, Bahari (Gael García Bernal) videotapes the civil unrest. This brings him to the attention of authorities, who apprehend him and keep him in solitary confinement in hopes of getting him to confess to crimes against Iran. However, his international celebrity leads to help from powerful and unexpected places. Rosewater screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Jon Favreau talks about “Chef” at Tribeca Film Festival

Chef, the new film from Jon Favreau held its premiere on Tuesday in New York. The hugely successful director of “Iron Man” and “Elf” hasn’t directed an independent film since 2001’s “Made” and was excited to debut the comedy, which he also wrote and stars in, at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In the film, Favreau plays Carl Casper, a chef whose embarrassing confrontation with a food critic goes viral on the web causing him to lose his job at a successful restaurant and start from scratch with a food truck and a road trip with his son. Favreau spoke on the red carpet about the inspiration for this story: 

Favreau: “When you write something like this, you’re not really sure where it comes from. I wanted to write something about a chef and something about being a dad and this is the film that came out. And the fact that I’m at the point in my career where if I have an idea like this, I could get it made and have such great friends who would come together and be part of the cast so I found myself very fortunate.”

Luckily for audiences, Favreau’s friends include Robert Downey Jr who plays Marvin. It’s a small but pivotal role as Marvin provides Carl with his new food truck.

How was it working with Robert Downey Jr. without having him playing Iron Man?
Favreau: “I love working with Robert and it was great for him to be on my movie. Because on the Iron Man movies, I feel like I was really there to help support him and make the character look good and make the story make sense and you know, be there in a supportive role. Here, he came on board my movie to do whatever he could to elevate the film.”

As the story concerns a man frustrated working for a successful business while being artistically unfulfilled, I couldn’t help but wonder if coming off of studio films, the story was at all autobiographical, but Favreau maintains this isn’t the case:

Favreau: “No, I’ve been very lucky, I work on big movies and small movies and I really am very proud of all of them. As a matter of fact, I’m going to do “The Jungle Book” [for Disney] after this which is much bigger than “Chef” so unlike the character in the movie, I really like mixing it up a bit. I think the character I play is a little more confused with what drives him. But I really did have a good time doing a small movie like Chef which is similar to how he feels in the film.”

Favreau was joined on the carpet by his onscreen son, the talented, 10-year-old Emjay Anthony, who had nothing but good things to say about his veteran cast:

Anthony: “Sofia Vergara is just drop dead gorgeous, and [John Leguizamo’s] kind of a ladies’ man and so am I, so there was a little contest there. And then Jon Favreau is just such a great actor.”

As for any upcoming projects for the young Anthony, he told us not right now, but “I’m open for business if anybody wants me!”

“Chef” opens in the US on May 9th.

Film Review “Don Jon”

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
Relativity Media

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Don Jon” is the story of a man in New Jersey who cares and believes solely and whole heartedly in his body, his bachelor pad, family, God, girls and porn. And not in any particular order because, if so, porn would be in between every thing he loves. Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a bartender that loves the night life, and there isn’t a night that he goes out that he returns home alone. He has no problems getting girls and they are always an 8 or better. So what’s the problem? He loves porn! He watches it any time he has a spare moment. For this reason any encounter he has is never like the clips and videos he watches. He is always left feeling unfulfilled, disappointed, still looking for that great sex!

Enter Barbara Sugarman (Johansson) She’s a “dime” — a straight up 10. Jon is in love at first sight and unlike every other girl in New Jersey she makes him work for it. No first night hook up, no one dinner date hookup. It’s meet the families, meet the friends, spend quality time. He is in love and he’s sure nothing could ruin this feeling…she’s the girl he’s been looking for to change him. But, just like every other girl, she isn’t a pornstar or anyone that gets paid for sex. He realizes this after their first encounter. Back to the porn he goes only to have Barbara catch him in the act. Heart broken and realizing the overall problem he actually has, he finds help directly and indirectly from the people around him, including his parents, played by Tony Danza and Glenne Headly, and an older woman in Jon’s class played by Julianne Moore.

This film is a very impressive writing and directing debut by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He captured a lifestyle of men that is becoming somewhat of a common problem in America and across the world. With easy access to the internet men are just a click away from beautiful, sexy, easy women. This gives men delusions of how woman act and that you can still find that one girl that will do anything but you can take home to your parents and, more importantly, to church. He details this struggle very well which makes me wonder…how much of this story is fact and how much is fiction.

The film not only shows the struggle of an addict and his consequences, it follows his story to the end. Deceit in a relationship comes with consequences. With consequences a great lesson is generally learned. Though you may have lost that love you had the lessons learned are much more important. You love and lose but you will love again.

“Don Jon” is well written with a great cast. It’s a great love story with numerous short, one second porn clips. In other words, it’s a love story that men will enjoy. Gordon-Levitt does a fine job on both sides of the camera and I will make sure to catch the next movie he decides to put his talents to.


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Concert Review: Jon Secada @ The Club at Treasure Island, May 4th, 2013

Jon Secada
The Club at Treasure Island
May 4, 2013
Treasure Island, FL

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

May 4th, 2013. It was a beautiful night in Tampa, Florida. There was no humidity, no wind, and the sun was setting over calm waters as my wife and I walked into The Club at Treasure Island. But for this particular fan, it could have been cold, windy and raining locusts and I wouldn’t have cared one bit. I was about to see Jon Secada live in person.

This was an exciting night for me, as we had meet-and-greet passes for after the show. It has been twenty years since Jon released his very first album, and I remember it like it were yesterday. I was ten years old, and I saved my allowance for almost two months before I was able to go buy it at The Wall (that’s a blast from the past for some of you mall-goers…it’s now known as F.Y.E.). It was the second CD I had ever bought. And on this night, after all these years of enjoying his music, I would meet Jon personally. I couldn’t wait to shake his hand and say “thank you.”

For many of us music fans seeing one of your favorite artists live in concert is as good as it gets. In my personal experience, unfortunately, I think that some artists disappoint. For a variety of reasons, the live experience just may not live up to the clean, crisp sound of the album. However, despite the intimate setting of a yacht club ballroom temporarily turned concert hall, Jon’s show was exactly the opposite. Jon and his band sounded fantastic that evening. So great, in fact, that I’d say that a professional studio recording doesn’t do him and his band members justice.

Jon sang several of his hits that he’s well known for such as “Just Another Day,” but he also played a handful of other songs such as “What a Wonderful World,” originally performed by Louis Armstrong and “My Way,” originally written by Paul Anka and performed by ‘Ol Blue Eyes himself. Between songs, Jon told stories from throughout his career – like how he was asked by Frank Sinatra to sing a duet with him for his aptly-named album, and about his time performing on Broadway in Greese and Cabaret. He even performed a part of his role from Cabaret.

The show was absolutely incredible. The setlist was well chosen, Jon sounded great, and the band behind him couldn’t have been better. It was everything a fan could have hoped for – and more. The only bad part to the show was the end – because the audience was left wanting more


Jon Zazula talks about his work with Megaforce Records and SuperStorm Sandy Benefit Concert

Jon Zazula affectionately known as Jonny Z by the heavy metal masses is a true living legend. As one of the founders of Megaforce Records,  Jonny and his wife Marsha are responsible for launching the careers of bands such as Anthrax, Testament and Metallica. Together with the Old Bridge Metal Militia Jonny and Marsha are putting on a benefit show in New Jersey to help people still feeling the effects of  Super Storm Sandy. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with Jonny recently about his career in the business and how the idea of the benefit came about.

Adam Lawton: For those not familiar with your history can you tell us a little bit of how you first got exposed to the heavy metal music scene?
Jon Zazula: My wife Marsha and I started a record store in 1981 with only about $180.00 in our pockets. Six months later we already were up to about $60-$70,000 worth of merchandise from successful sales. Those sales brought in demo’s which resulted in Metallica coming to us. We contacted them and invited them to do 12 shows here in the NJ area as Marsha and I were also promoting shows. Metallica came and did those shows and from there we started talking about putting out a record. No one wanted to put this thing out so we decided to do it ourselves and started Megaforce Records. The label through its licensing and such has gone on to sell about 40 million records. We have worked with everyone from Metallica and Anthrax to Warren Haynes and Ace Frehley. We also had the pleasure of signing Kings X. That was one of the labels proudest moments were signing that band.

AL: Was your wife Marsha always in to what you were doing?
JZ: Marsha was knee deep in everything with me. When we decided to open the shop we were both working regular jobs and wanted to do something were we could at least make $500-$600 per week. We decided on buying and selling rare records and hoped we would make that money on the weekends at the store. From that everything just grew.

AL: Signing to Megaforce Records was really the first big step for Metallica. Knowing the band through their entire career how do you think they have evolved as a band?
JZ: The only way I think Metallica has evolved is that they have written more music and become fine craftsman at their tools. When I go and see Metallica these days I really don’t see much different from when we had the band. They are the same guys up on that stage and that’s what made them successful. They were the fans and the players and they never changed. I think now more than ever they resemble the band I first saw in the early 80’s.

AL: Can you tell us how the Benefit for SuperStorm Sandy Concert first came about?
JZ: Everything really started through Facebook. We just decided to get on their in December and we got in touch with the Old Bridge Metal Militia through there. They started talking about wanting to do some sort of reunion or party. Marsha and I talked about it after having this dream one night that really put things in motion. Marsha said “Let’s do it!” so we posted on Facebook “Let’s do it!” Things just blew up and we received between 200-300 comments. The line up for the show came together very fast as we have known Raven and Anvil for many years. They agreed to come and then Rockin’ Ray from the Old Bridge Metal Militia mentioned he would like to have The Rods perform. I didn’t even know they were still together. It took me about a week to track down Carl Canedy who is the drummer for The Rods and after a few days those guys agreed to be a part of things. We first looked at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park as a venue. That place holds about 800 people and we were looking to draw around 500. The date of May 11th got announced and we then signed on for a bigger venue in Freehold that holds 1,800 people. We didn’t know how we were going to fill it. Next thing I know I am talking with Eddie Trunk from “That Metal Show” about how

Twisted Sister were looking to do something like this in NJ. The next day I got a call from JJ French asking if we had room for them on the bill. Tickets have been selling well and even before we started promoting we had 800 tickets sold virally. We are now close to sold out. The other cool thing to come out of this at 12:55pm on the same night TT Quick will be doing a reunion show which is going to be just killer. Also the band Lord’s of Mercy who are opening that show are a great act as well. It is going to be one hell of a night!

AL: Where you and Marsha always aware of the Old Bridge Metal Militia?
JZ: Oh yeah. We have been aware of them from the very beginning. Rockin’ Ray always used to come in to Rock and Roll Heaven and by anywhere from 10-20 albums at a time. He would drop like $200 every Friday on records. We asked him one time what was going on and he invited Marsha and I to a party he was throwing. These parties ended up getting really big as they had this giant PA system that required them to pad the walls so the neighbors wouldn’t call the cops. These guys would have private shows in their basement with bands like Slayer and Metallica. Parts of Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” album was written at Metal Joe’s house when the band was in town.

AL: How did the idea to make the show a benefit come about?
JZ: That was Marsha. She and I were always discussing what we could do for New Jersey as they had done so much for us. We decided to give the money to charity which made everyone happy. Everyone who is involved with this event is working for free. 100% of the profits made from this show will be donated directly to the people. We hope to raise around $50,000 and if we do we are going to do a bunch of $100 gift cards to Home Depot so people can take those and get the things they need to repair their homes. We are just going to knock on doors and give people these cards to help make repairs on their homes that were damaged during the storm.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the amazing raffles that also will be going on during the show?
JZ: People are going to be able to walk away with guitars like you have never seen. We have Tom Araya of Slayer’s signature bass signed by the entire band including the late Jeff Hanneman. We also have a couple custom Oktober Guitars up for raffle as well. Stuff has been coming in everyday. Just recently we received a Jackson guitar signed by Anthrax and last night we got word from Metallica that they also will be sending a signed guitar and Lars is sending a signed drum head. The people who win these raffles will have to sign a disclaimer stating they will not sell them on EBay the following day or they will need to be returned to the Old Bridge Metal Militia. We really don’t want to see this stuff selling on EBay the next day.

AL: Do you and Marsha see yourself getting back in to putting on shows again?
JZ: Well I have to tell you my mind is very fragile you see so we will have to see how we do during this show and take things from there. Bands and people are coming from all over the world for this thing. It’s a real throw back to how things were in the 80’s and I don’t think you will ever see another one like unless we do it again. You never know what Marsha and I may walk in to next.


Jon Secada talks about his passion for music and new single "I'm Never Too Far Away"

Jon Secada is a three-time Grammy Award winner with one hell of an amazing career over the last 20 years, selling over 20 million records worldwide, touring the world and releasing 18 studio albums including both English and Spanish language versions. He recently released his latest single, “I’m Never Too Far Away”, which is a must-listen for fans. Jon took out some time to talk to Media Mikes about the single, his passion for music and education and also plans for his next album.

Jennifer Kish: With a career spanning over two decades, two Grammy Awards, 20 million albums sold, tell us about this new single “I’m Never Too Far Away” and it’s story/inspiration?
Jon Secada: This marks the first time that I am releasing and promoting a song that I didn’t write myself. The song is written by my dear friend and producer Rudy Perez. I have known him for a long time and the minute he played that song I fell in love with it. I told him I wanted to use it and promote it as a single. For me as a singer/songwriter, I love that when you hear a great song that is all that matters. It really feels like it fits me. That is what it is all about especially after all these years to connect with a song that hopefully people will like.

JK: You’ve had so many amazing accomplishments throughout your career – from starting out performing with Gloria Estefan, becoming a tremendous success as a solo performer, penning songs for other artists such as Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez, performing a duet with Frank Sinatra – even starring on Broadway! – Are there any unique projects that you’re currently working on that will surprise and amaze fans – and if not currently is there something you’d like to eventually do?
JS: At this point I am enjoying this cycle of things that I have developed over the last 20 years. I’ve got my songwriting career; I’ve done some theater and the fact that in the last five years I have also done some television, especially being a judge from in a reality based talent show for the Spanish market. At this point if I can keep doing what I am doing I will just keep the cycle going for all things that I enjoy. I have had some great opportunities and I just want to keep doing shows, concerts and singing my songs.

JK: You’re obviously in fantastic physical shape! How do you manage to fit an exercise regimen into your busy schedule of touring and other things?
JS: I have decided about five or six years ago to make it a part of my life. I want to see if that by the time I was 50 that I could be in the best shape of my life. And I feel that I am right now. It is a commitment all around and I just make time for it. I find time to be able to go to the gym and to eat well and all those things to stay in shape. I will just continue to keep doing that.

JK: I know you’ve been very involved with music education in public schools. Tell us about this passion?
JS: Education always has been and always will be a very big part of my career. It is the reason I have a career and it started with me going to college. I will always be connected especially if I am asked by the institutions to lend a hand in terms of supporting education. Thanks to education, I have been successful with my career, with singing, with music and everything that I have been able to do over the last 20+ years and I want to keep doing that. Through television, on “Latin American Idol”, for me it is the connection and a privilege to recognize and discover new talent and to encourage them to always keep educating themselves and never stop learning. I do not think I have ever stopped learning since I started getting into music. So I am always willing to help anything that helps supports the arts. I also love teaching and doing seminars and talking with these kids. Teaching for me was a big part of my career early on. So I will always be a big supporter and do what I can to help others.

JK: I know you have a personal connection with the organization “Tune in to Hep C”, can you tell us about that?
JS: That started for me with the American Liver Foundation, the company that I worked with to create an awareness campaign for Hepatitis C. My father passed away from complications from Hepatitis C about a year and a half ago. So I learned a lot about what Hepatitis C means and what it represents. There are over 4 million people infected in the US alone. Being involved with the American Liver Foundation, I was honored to be a part of the campaign and I continue to be a supporter and a spokesperson for them.

JK: So you’ve given us a taste of some new music with your hit single, when can we expect the new album?
JS: I am working with Rudy Perez right now with what would be a bilingual record. Of course starting with the song “I’m Never Too Far Away”. There is also a Spanish version of that song as well. We are in the process of completing the rest of the project that I have in mind in both English and Spanish. I grew up bilingual living in Miami and South Florida. Everything that I have done has been in both languages, so I love that fact that I can do that with Rudy. I would say it should be completed in the next three or fours months.

(C) Gio Alma

JK: What really drives you to keep performing and touring after all these years?
JS: I think I just really love what I do. I am still very passionate about it. Every time I get to the shows, I just love it even more. I love that I still have the energy to entertain. I am very lucky and I hope I can just keep doing it.

JK: Lastly, tell us your upcoming tour schedule?
JS: I am doing some stuff right now in Latin America. Right now I am getting ready to leave for Argentina and Chile for some shows and promotions since I just put out a CD there. So very soon after that I will be putting something together to do some more shows in the US. So stay tuned!

JK: Any plans to return to Walt Disney World’s Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival?
JS: We love doing that! I did the Food and Wine Festival for many years and I would love to come back. So maybe this year we will!

Jon Klassen talks about his books “I Want My Hat Back” & “This is Not My Hat”

Jon Klassen is the creator of the #1 New York Times bestseller I Want My Hat Back. The book was was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, an E. B. White Read-Aloud Award winner, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year. He has done design work for DreamWorks Feature Animation as well as LAIKA Studios on their feature film “Coraline”. On the success of “I Want My Hat Back”, Candlewick Press is releasing his follow-up children’s book “This is Not My Hat”. Jon took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about his books and his inspiration.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how “I Want My Hat Back” came to fruition?
Jon Klassen: “I Want My Hat Back” came from an idea about the cover – I liked a character not wearing a hat and the title being “I Want My Hat Back”. Around the same time I did some greeting card drawings with a bunch of animals wearing party hats but not looking too excited about it, and one of them was a bear and I thought, “well, he’s wearing a hat, lets try that.” The story itself came pretty quickly after I decided to do the whole thing in dialogue. I got very lucky to find a home for it at Candlewick – they totally got it and made it way better than I even pictured.

MG: How can you reflect on the success and internet reaction of “I Want My Hat Back” The internet meme stuff was a huge surprise. What was interesting is that they were based on photographs of the book that someone posted but they didn’t post the last few pages where you find out what happened to the rabbit, so I started getting emails from people that had found out the ending much later. I still have no idea why it got picked up and spread around like that, but I’m very happy it did.

MG: How did the story for “This is Not My Hat” comes about?
Very haphazardly, much the same way the first book did. I’d been trying some other stories with the animals from the first book and they weren’t working, so I tried a few with fish, and they didn’t involve hats, really, and then this one just came up one night and happened to involve a hat theft again! I was pretty surprised.

MG: Are you nervous about trying to achieve follow-up success with this next book?
JK: I was a little bit, but I tried to keep my head down to whatever the first book was doing out there while I was working on this second one. I knew, or at least I hoped, that some people who saw this book wouldn’t have seen the last one, and I wanted it to stand on its own as much as it could.

MG: What do you enjoy most about writing children’s books?
JK: I think I like best how clear and simple the wording has to be, even though the story can be more complex. Having the mandate of simple language is a really fun rule. I also like how it only has to be part of the story, since the pictures need a job to do, too. It takes the pressure off the actual writing part, though not off the get-a-good-idea part.

MG: Tell us about your experience working on the stop-motion film “Coraline”?
JK: On “Coraline” I did a lot of drawings for sets and props and just general concept pictures. I worked at the studio on it for a little under two years, and it was an amazing thing to be on. I would make a drawing of a little chair with some fabric on it, and then they would build it – way better than I had drawn it – with the little fabric and little fabric nails and wood details and come and show it to me. It was insane. Some of the sets were huge, too. You go and look at them being built and you just think “man, I hope I thought this through…”. I think it’s a great-looking film, though, and I’m really proud to have worked on it.

MG: What other projects do you have in the cards?
JK: I’m working on another book of my own for Candlewick and also illustrating another book that Mac Barnett wrote. Both are still in the early stages where it sounds like you’re keeping it secret but really they’re not figured out yet.


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Lions Lions’ Jon Kay and Josh Herzer chat about new album “To Carve Our Names”

Post-hardcore band Lions Lions are back with a brand new full length release titled “To Carve Our Names” and Media Mikes caught up with bassist/vocalist Jon Kay and lead vocalist Josh Herzer to talk about the new album while the band was playing in Rochester, NY this past month.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on the formation of the group?
Jon Kay: Lions Lions formed after bands we were previously in broke up. Josh had gotten a hold of me through AIM when that was still popular and told me that I was going to be in his new band. I knew Josh’s work and what he was about so I said ok right away. I knew for me that this would be a good direction to go in. Josh had already been working with one of the bands previous guitarists writing songs but we couldn’t decide if we were going to have a lead singer or not. We almost started out as a 3 guitar piece band. Things started to fizzle and one of the guitarists left so we started looking for our original lead singer Danny. It seemed like people in the band started dropping left and right at that time. We went through a bunch of lineup changes and toured out to the west coast. We were playing in Reno which is where Josh is from and he had been a fan of our band and knew about us when we were playing out there. He found out we were looking for a singer and just sent us some tracks he sang on with his old band. We asked him to fly out to Boston and try out. He came out and we wrote 2 songs right away. Josh didn’t even have a return ticket when he came out. Our newest guitarist Isaac was the second guy we tried out after we started looking for someone new. He was a huge fan boy in the beginning but he was something we could shape. When he gets on stage he knows what we are all about and he just gets it. He has been right there with us as soon as things got going.

AL: How would you describe the band’s new album “To Carve Our Names”?
Josh Herzer: The new album to me is sort of a culmination of everything the band has done prior. The first album was sort of post-hardcore minus the screaming vocals. The following album was much more breakdown oriented and heavier. My first EP in the band was essentially a pop-punk album. This record was literally whatever we felt like doing at the time. There are dark almost metal type songs on there as well as acoustic songs. This album has all of our influences and everything we have done in the past combined in to it.

AL: What was the writing process like this time around?
JH: Long.
JK: It was very, very long. When we started working on songs everyone was doing separate things on their own. I wrote a few songs with a friend of mine and presented them through email. This was before we all lived together. We wrote quite a bit away from each other as it was kind of tough to hook up with each of us living in a different part of New England. Most of us have the gear to work on songs that way so it was basically an email thing back and forth. When it came time to send stuff to the label they asked us for some things with a little better quality. We ended up going in and working collectively on songs with a friend of ours from the band Our Last Night. He helped us critique the songs. We did a couple different versions of pre-production with one being live and the other two differing in quality.
JH: Pretty much from the time that we finished our EP in late 2010 to the time we recorded this album in October of 2011 we had been writing. There are still probably 5 or 6 tracks that were recorded that didn’t make it on the album. We wrote a lot and had to re-write a lot. The initial batch of songs the label didn’t like so we re-worked those and also wrote a new batch. It was pretty nuts but we are very happy with the end result.

AL: With having so much material how did you choose what was going to be included on the album?
JH: A lot of it had to do with our producers Shep Goodman and Aaron Accetta. They looked at everything we had and used their experience to decide which songs had the strongest qualities. We just laid everything out and said what we thought about each track. We all had input on which songs we liked the best. We also wrote/recorded two new songs while we were in the studio.

AL: Do you think you will ever release the tracks that weren’t included on the album?
JH: It’s possible. One of the tracks is actually out on ITunes as an exclusive. That song is called “Drifting”. We may look to do a 7 inch as we want to do something on vinyl.

AL: What was the idea of ending the album with a softer song as opposed to the more traditional idea of closing with a more upbeat song?
JK: It’s sort of a past experience thing but also our producers suggested it. We figured it would be a safe choice as our record “From What We Believe” included an acoustic track that was placed I think two tracks before the closing song. People made quite a few comments asking why we did things that way. We have never really been strong on how a record should be laid out. We always talk about it but how do you figure out an exact formula?
JH: Ending with a song like that is sort of a typical thing in our genre. We really liked that song and I felt starting the album off very high energy and ending very relaxed was a cool thing.

AL: What do you feel makes Lions Lions stand out from other in the same genre?
JH: I feel as though the stuff we play is sort of throwback and nostalgic to the early 2000’s Victory Records type stuff. That’s the stuff we like a lot. I guess our take is sort of a newer version of what that stuff was. I guess we are sort of old in that sense. Those were the glory days for us that have just withered away.

AL: What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
JH: We have most of July off and have actually started writing our next full-length album. We are going to relax for a little while until our next tour starts in August. We will be playing with Day Trader, Such Gold and Silverstein.
JK: We want to be out there touring.

Interview with Jon Glaser

Jon Glaser is the star and creator of Adult Swim’s “Delocated”. The show’s third season is set to premiere on February 2, 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jon about his new season and what we can expect from the DVD of Season 1 & 2.

Mike Gencarelli: What can we expect from season 3 of the show?
Jon Glaser: Season 3 is going to feature a lot of new characters that Jon is dealing with. Janeane Garofalo has joined the cast and is playing the head of the network. Jon also has a new bodyguard and a life coach. There is also a new Chinese gang that Jon will be dealing with. With the addition of these characters there will be quite a few new story lines and plot points.

MG: How do you feel your character has evolved since season 1?
JG: I don’t know if the character has really evolved because he is still an asshole. (Laughs) Its fun doing the show and playing a character like this. You get to say some pretty interesting things.

MG: How do you think season 3 differs from past seasons?
JG: The biggest change/trick especially with the writing is keeping the show going. The first season was mostly about a mob family trying to kill Jon. With season 2 we knew that we couldn’t use the same premise so we came up with the idea of the mob killing everyone around Jon. With season 3 we couldn’t just keep killing people and we couldn’t have them kill Jon so there is some plot points inserted that allows us to continue the premise of the show.

MG: What was the biggest challenge switching from 11 min. episodes to 22 min. episodes?
JG: The most obvious thing is that we have to write a longer script and broaden the stories. It’s a challenge but it is also a lot of fun. We all were very excited when the show got extended. The longer stories seem to work better with the scripts as they are allowed to breathe more and feel less rushed.

MG: What can we expect from the DVD release of season 1 and 2?
JG: There are some deleted scenes and out takes included on the DVD’s as well as some flip books which features photos from season 1. Those are really fun to watch. We also were able to put the demo I used to sell the show on the DVD as well. There is a lot of cool stuff contained in that demo that I think the fans will really like.

MG: Is there a reason you have only directed one episode of the show?
JG: With the pilot episode I felt I knew exactly what I wanted to do to pitch the show. I thought the pilot episode was an easy enough shoot where I didn’t need to hire a director. We only shot for 3 days on the pilot. The later episodes were quite a bit more involved and I was already producing. I just didn’t want to end up exhausted. I also would much rather have someone behind the camera that is making sure we are getting the most out of each performance with mine included. I don’t think it would be as good if I was trying to act and direct.

MG: Can you tell us about your book, “My Dead Dad Was in ZZ Top”?
JG: I was extremely excited to be able to do a book. It was fun but it was a bit of a weird process. I didn’t have a lot of time to work on it so I was fitting it in between other projects. I worked on the book over the course of 2010 and actually may have started some of it in 2009. There was quite a bit of work that went into it as there were a variety of arcs and ideas that needed to be included. Over all it was a really great project and I got to hang out with a friend of mine who did all of the illustrations so that was really great.

Perpetual Change: An Interview with Jon Anderson

Arguably the best and certainly the most well-know band in the progressive rock arena, Yes has always been at its forefront and is no stranger to the one constant of the genre: perpetual change.  No one knows this better than the eternal voice of Yes, Jon Anderson.  His unique powerhouse alto tenor vocal is the anchor point to decades-worth of the band’s music, from multi-part opuses like “Close to the Edge” to the MTV-era chart-toppers like “Owner of a Lonely Heart”.

In mid-2008, Anderson was diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and has since made a full recovery.  While no longer the lead singer of Yes, the past year has found Jon working on a wide variety of projects including a collaboration with former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, 2010’s “The Living Tree”, and the recent solo release “Survival and Other Stories”.

Jon has returned to the stage as part of a 2011 tour that will feature acoustic solo shows and ones in which he will be joined by Wakeman.   MediaMikes’ Dave Picton had a chance to catch up with Jon to talk about his most recent work and the supporting tour as well as a bunch of…shall we say?…Yesstuff.

Dave Picton:  First and foremost, welcome back!  You’ve been sorely missed.  How are you feeling and what’s the latest prognosis?
Jon Anderson: Well, I’m a lot healthier than I was three years ago.  2008 was very, very difficult but you go through the experiences and come out the other end a lot better.  I’m a lot healthier, that’s for sure.

DP: When I listened to “The Living Tree” album, I was surprised to hear a very sparse approach:  you on vocals and Rick [Wakeman] on piano and keyboards, which isn’t what I would necessarily expect to hear from somebody who has recently recovered from a severe respiratory ailment.   Was the minimalist approach the concept from the start or was there ever at any point a thought about any musical augmentation?
JA: We just decided to keep it simple, you know? Rick is very wonderful and he comes up with some beautiful music and then I write the melody on top of the lyrics so it’s a very natural event.

DP: The tour that you’re embarking on will include shows that feature you exclusively as well as shows that pair you with Rick. I’m wondering what audiences can expect to hear and see?
JA: Well, it will be funny because Rick likes to tell jokes.  I do acoustic versions of lots of songs when I do my solo show and, you know, with me and Rick we do a lot of songs from Yes because that’s what we wrote together and we enjoy that as well as doing new songs from “The Living Tree”.

DP:  In the liner notes for your latest solo album, “Survival and Other Stories”, you state that the album is basically the result of you putting an ad up on your website that more-or-less said “I want musicians!”  What was that experience was like for you?
JA: About six years ago, I put an advert on my website and I received lots of replies. I found about a couple of dozen people who I’ve been working with ever since and, over a period of the past year or so, I started realizing that I’ve got maybe thirty songs and I have to put out an album quick or I’ll just have too many songs.  So that’s why I put out “Survival and Other Stories”.  It’s a combination of songs about what I went through in 2008 that are very, very personal and soul-searching. There are a couple of songs about the gravity of war and the madness of greed.  Thankfully we’re getting rid of the people that, you know, hoard money for no reason at all.  There’s a sense of working with different people that you get a more, shall we say, entertaining album because everybody comes at it from a different point.  I’ve been doing songs from “Survival and Other Stories” in my solo show, but it’s not something I think that I have to go on tour with a band and promote.  If the record takes off this year, maybe next year I’ll take a small ensemble and perform some more songs.  But you never know with these things.

DP:  Many of the songs on “Survival” seem to be steeped in a very deep spirituality that’s been a constant in your work both with Yes and as a solo artist.
JA: Well, generally we’re all spiritual beings.  I just like to sing about the journey that we seem to be all on and inside I feel like it comes very naturally to sing about the light that we have inside. I generally feel that I’m not doing anything other than what people have done all through the ages.  There’s always been someone singing about the journey.

DP: Going back a little ways to 2007, you performed ensemble-style shows with the School of Rock All-Stars – a show that I was fortunate enough to see at BB King’s Blues Club in New York City.  What was it like working with the kids and would you want to do it again?
JA: For sure I would do it again! In fact, I was talking about doing it again next year.  It’s a very magical experience to be up there with the young kids.  They’re very, very open and very clear about doing their work and, quite honestly, they’re just fantastic to work with as you can tell when I’m up there doing a show.

DP: Going even further back in your history of ensemble work, Yes’ “Union” tour in the early ‘90s featured many members of the “classic” ‘70s era of Yes as well as members of the ‘80s 90125-era band all on one stage with you in the center.  How was that experience?  Any interesting road stories?
JA: It was kind of magical for me because I was in the middle of the ensemble and they were all playing great.  You know, I didn’t really like the “Union” album all that much, but the idea of doing the album would enable us to go on tour and that was what I really wanted to do.  So you get working with those guys on the stage and crazy things would happen like Steve [Howe] would come over to me and say “Can you tell Trevor [Rabin] to turn down?” and I would go over to Trevor and say “Trevor.  Stay where you are. You’re doing fine.” [laughs]

DP: Have you stayed in touch with Trevor?  I know he’s become quite prolific in writing film scores as of late.
JA: Oh yeah! I see him every month.  We’re talking about working together on a project but it’s only a question of time before we can make that happen.

DP: The 90125-era of Yes was probably the most commercially successful ones in the band’s history.  When you look back on that, what are your fond memories – and maybe even not so fond ones – of that period of time?
JA: It was amazing, you know.  We were number one around the world and we were treated like rock gods and things like that.  Actually, it all fell apart for me because I went to see “Spinal Tap” and from then on I couldn’t stop laughing at everything.  I had a great time for three or four years.  And then “Big Generator” happened and it was such hard work because the record company wanted to have another hit album. It’s not my idea of creation, you know?  It’s very boring.  The future of music was more important to me, so that’s why I did Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe which I really enjoyed.  I’m actually now working on some very interesting new music which really related to what you would call the “classic Yes” style of music, that sort of long-form pieces that I love creating.

DP: Would this new music be a solo project with a minimalist approach like what you decided to do with with Rick on “The Living Tree” or be fully augmented with a full array of musicians and, if it’s the latter, any idea as to who they would be?
JA: It’s fully augmented by a full orchestra at the moment.  It’s a wonderful experience to go through.  I’m working with I guy that I met, Stephan Bordell, who is a beautiful composer and I’m also working with the young kids from the School of Rock.  They did some overdubs for me last year as well as last month and they sound great.  I’m just getting the drums put on and, generally speaking, getting people to help sing it with me.  My wife and some friends are going to help sing on it so it sounds like a big ensemble of energy.

DP: If I snagged your iPod and selected “random”, what would I hear?
JA: Well, unfortunately, my favorite music is from the ‘40s.  On the iPod, though, I often listen to [composer Jean] Sibelius.  I just have this thing about Sibelius and Stravinsky.  I love classical music when I want to listen to anything.  Here and again, I’ll hear a song on the radio that I like but, generally speaking though, I’m pretty much locked into the old classics and I don’t know why.  It’s just something I enjoy listening to.

DP:  If you had to select some Yes albums to put on your iPod – assuming you haven’t already done so, of course – what would they be?
JA:  I like a lot of the stuff that we’ve done – “Fragile”, “Close to the Edge” “Tales from Topographic Oceans”, “Awaken” from “Going for the One”, “90125”, “Talk” and the last one we did, “Magnification”.  You know, I think 80% of what we do is quite wonderful and 20% was not.

DP: What was the 20% – if you’d like to talk about it.
JA: No, I don’t.  [laughs]

DP: Fair enough. [laughs]
JA: It’s a pretty good average.
DP: Agreed.
[both laugh]

DP: It’s certainly been a pleasure talking with you, Jon. It’s great to hear your voice again in every way.
JA: Well, there’s a lot more music to come.  I wish you well.