Writer/Director Justin D. Chambers Releases Advance Trailer for “American Bred”

Writer/director Justin D. Chambers has released an advance trailer for his upcoming film, “American Bred,” which will debut in March at the D.C. International Film Festival. MovieMike got an early peek at the film and loves it. Look for his complete review soon.

 

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Justin Kirk talks about new film “Last Love” and TV show “The Blacklist”

The first time I saw Justin Kirk perform he was naked! Of course, to be fair, I should note that all of the performers were naked. It was 1995 and I saw Kirk and a stellar cast, including Nathan Lane, John Glover and Anthony Heald, in the Tony and Drama Desk Award winning play, “Love! Valour! Compassion!” One thing that stood out about Kirk (no pun intended) was his bio in the Playbill in which he noted, among his credits, that he was “Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother in WOLF.” If truth be told, it was actually a PICTURE of Kirk portraying Ms. Pfeiffer’s dead brother but still, to say your first film starred Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer does look good on a resume.

Since then, Kirk has worked steadily, in both film and television. His real first feature was the film version of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” in which the entire cast, less Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald, recreated their roles. Lane was replaced by Jason Alexander while Stephen Spinella subbed for Heald. He has also appeared in popular television series like “Everwood” and had a recurring role in the Showtime series “Weeds.” He can also be found occasionally on the Emmy Award winning “Modern Family,” where he plays Mitchell’s boss, Charlie Bingham. He can also be seen in upcoming episode of the new show “Blacklist.”

On the big screen, Kirk has appeared in “Angels in America” (made for HBO), “Vamps” and can now be seen in the recently opened “Last Love.” Mr. Kirk took some time out of his schedule to sit down with me and talk about his new film, working with James Spader and how his photo got screentime.

Mike Smith: I’m not sure if the rep told you when I scheduled this interview but I had the great opportunity to catch you in New York in “Love! Valour! Compassion!” And if I didn’t say it then, let me say thank you for signing my Playbill.
Justin Kirk: Wow! That’s going back some. Talk about déjà vu…I just did an episode of the “The Blacklist” with…not one of the original cast but in the second string…an actor named Richard Beacon. I hadn’t seen him in 18 years. And I just got a text from Stephen Bogardus, who was in the original cast. I’ve managed to keep in touch with all of those guys over the years.

MS: Can you give us a brief introduction to your new film, “Last Love”?
JK: Sure. Well, an introduction from my perspective is that Michael Caine and I are an angsty father and son. It’s a movie about some lonely people trying to reach out to each other.

MS: What attracted you to the project?
JK: Well, right off the bat you’ve got Michael Caine…that’s a tough one to turn away. (laughs) I enjoyed the writer/director’s (Sandra Nettlebeck) first movie, “Mostly Martha.” I was a big fan of it. It was a great script. It all just came together and I decided I’d better haul my ass to Europe for a couple of months.

MS: You’ve done a lot of film and television work. Do you have a preference? And do you have to prepare for a role differently for film vs television?
JK: Not really. I think in this day and age the lines between the two are blurring. A lot of people will probably see “Last Love” on the same box they watched “Weeds” on. The difference pretty much is that in television there’s a different script every week…you don’t necessarily have your characters beginning, middle and end when you sign on to do the job. You don’t know what it’s going to be. Other than that it’s pretty much the same. They turn on the camera, look at the other actors and try to remember who the person is that you’re playing…what they do…and start talking.

MS: Do you know yet if you’re going to be back on “Modern Family” this year?
JK: Wow! Thanks for asking (laughs). I did two episodes for this year. The first has already aired where I hit on Haley. That was a lot of fun. And then there’s one more that hasn’t aired yet. That’s been a good one over the years. They usually have me back at least once a season or so. It’s not a bad show to be a part of.

MS: One of the things I remember most about you and “Love! Valour! Compassion!” was that in the Playbill you’re claim to fame was that you were Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother in “Wolf.” You’re actually just a PHOTO of Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother. How did that come about?
JK: (laughs) Someone actually sent me a shot of that scene and I was shocked at how young I was in the picture. That came about because I was doing a play on Broadway and the costume designer for the show, Ann Roth, is also Mike Nichol’s costume designer (NOTE: Oscar-winner Roth has designed the costumes for all of Mike Nichol’s films since “Silkwood”). I had never met him. One day she told me that she and I were going to take a ride about 45 minutes out of town and take some pictures. And later on, there it was in the movie. It pops up on the screen and Jack Nicholson says, “Nice face.” I rode that one for awhile! And then years later I worked with Mike Nichols on “Angels in America” and I continually had to remind him that I had worked with him before. He was fairly unaware of that. (laughs). But you know, you never know where things like that will lead.

MS: That’s like Bruce Willis trying to convince Paul Newman on the set of “Nobody’s Fool” that they had worked together before because Willis was one of the galley members during the courtroom scenes in “The Verdict.”
JK: Really? I didn’t know that. That’s a good piece of trivia.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
JK: I just did a pilot for FX called “Tyrants.” We’ll see what the life of that one turns out to be but it was a pretty crazy experience in Morocco. I just got home yesterday from doing an episode of “The Blacklist,” which is a hot new show with James Spader. That was a lot of fun, being a bad guy. And that should air fairly soon…they have a fast turnaround there because the show is doing very well so they have to make them quickly.

MS: I think it’s because of the characters he plays but I’ve always imagined James Spader would be the worse person you could ever want to spend time with. But having just said that I’m guessing James Spader is pretty cool.
JK: He’s super cool. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager in Minneapolis and went and saw “Sex, Lies and Videotape” at the local art house. He’s been for me, and a lot of my generation of actors, much like Michael Caine. When the opportunity came to work with James I was like, “I’ve got to go act with Spader for a second!”

MS: That’s really all I had. Thanks again for signing my Playbill. Everybody at the stage door was mobbing Nathan Lane when you came out so I don’t know if I got to say thank you.
JK: (laughs) That’s great. I’m glad. Maybe we’ll get the chance to do it again in the future.

 

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Disney archivist Justin Arthur and D23's Billy Staneck talk about D23's Fanniversary 2013

D23, the official fan club of the Walt Disney Company, stopped in Newark on Saturday for Fanniversary 2013. The Fanniversary is a presentation touring ten cities in the US celebrating the milestones of all things Disney that will occur in 2013. This year’s show highlights included rarely seen concept art from unproduced short “Mickey’s Toothache” as well as bringing along a pumpkin used in the production of Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas (which is turning twenty this year.)

As well as discussing the anniversaries reached of major properties such as Peter Pan turning sixty, the show shined a light on some more obscure Disney features and attractions. For example, the D23 audience was shown concept art from Norway attraction, Maelstrom, which is turning thirty this year having opened in Orlando’s Epcot theme park in 1983. Given the scope of the company, it was up to a small team of Disney archivists to narrow down what makes it into this ninety minute show.

Enthusiastic hosts Justin Arthur, a Disney archivist, and Billy Staneck, web editor for D23.com and writer for the

D23 Magazine talked with MediaMikes after the presentation about what goes into making the show as well as the work of the Disney archives.

BILLY STANECK: “I love the Fanniversaries because we get to celebrate all these great shows and attractions that we don’t normally get to really talk about, you know? And that also gives us the opportunity to go into the archives and open up boxes that were stowed away back in the 1970s or 1980s or even you know, just a couple years ago. We’ll open them up and start going through them and looking for things that we think our fans might like. And so that’s where we come up with these old clips and concept art…Like the concept art for Mickey’s Toothache that you today.”

MediaMikes: Was there anything that had to get cut out of today’s show?
STANECK: “We had so much content for this presentation that we had to cut and cut and cut because there’s only so much we can do– we do about a ninety minute presentation, because it is a touring show that you know, we can’t do eight hours in each city. We have enough content to do that but we had to end up cutting quite a bit. We actually had some Pirates [of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, celebrating it’s tenth anniversary in 2013] stuff in there.”

MM: Was there anything that you thought must be kept in the show?
JUSTIN ARTHUR: “One thing we didn’t have in the original show was Maelstrom, the Norway attraction, and I think it is the most bizarre, wonderful ride. I originally said ‘We need to have everybody quote it!’ but the people on the west coast may not know it…That was one I was very adamant about. I know Billy and I were both very adamant both Roger Rabbit [turning twenty-five in 2013] and Nightmare Before Christmas having plenty of stuff to show people. Because those were two of our very very near and dear favorites. And sometimes too it depends on what we have that’s cool to show. Something might be a great movie or attraction and we may not have a great clip or a really great artwork to accompany it. So it kind of depends on what we have and what we want to get out there and show.”

MM: Besides D23 presentations, what is a day-to-day task of the Disney Archives?
STANECK: “Whatever movie they’re working on at the studio, the archives is there to help them make sure that information is accurate. Like Saving Mr Banks that they’re doing with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney that’s coming out for Christmas, they all came into the archives to do research with an archivist. So stuff like that. Disney Epic Mickey [for Nintendo Wii] they went into the archives, they did a lot of research…We also have a massive photo library where people are constantly requesting images from.”

MM: With Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars & Marvel does the archive suddenly get annexed?
ARTHUR: “It kind of depends. The films as they come along, we do take in more of those things, they are our films at this point. As far as the research side of it, the book side of it…we collect everything, it just adds on to all of things that we’re looking out for…I’m a huge geek of all those things, so for that I’m very thankful!”

MM: Important fan question, what is your favorite Disney ride or attraction?
STANECK: “I love Roger Rabbit’s cartoon spin at Disneyland, it’s one of my favorite attractions, it’s unique to Disneyland and it’s just such a cool, fun ride. I love that movie.”
ARTHUR: “Oh that’s a tough one, there’s so many! Um…I love the Indiana Jones Adventure.”

MM: Another Disneyland one!
ARTHUR: “I grew up on the east coast so let me pick a Florida one too! I love Expedition Everest. I think it’s one of the coolest rides ever. It’s terrifying, it’s beautiful, it’s just kind of the perfect attraction.”

D23’s Fanniversary has two stops remaining in its tour: Seattle on Friday April 5th and San Francisco on Sunday April 7th. For more information check out D23’s official website.

Justin Eugene Evans Talks About His Film "A Lonely Place for Dying"

Former NYU student Justin Evans has been making movies since his school days, his latest inarguably his biggest feature to date. His latest film, “A Lonely Place for Dying,” stars Oscar nominee James Cromwell and “Hitchcock’s” Michael Wincott and will be released in the U.S. via iTunes on February 12, 2013. While preparing for this interview I learned that the film, a cold-war era thriller set in the 1970’s, has recently been banned from playing in Russia. Though Evans, who both wrote and directed the film, has received no official reason for the ban he assumes it’s because of his film’s controversial storyline. While preparing for the film’s release Evans took the time to answer some questions for Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: You co-wrote the script for “A Lonely Place for Dying.” What was your inspiration for the story?
Justin Evans: I’ve always been fascinated by the Cold War. It was a dirty, grimy, ethically confused game of global chess that somehow has a sense of romance and nostalgia for me. I have a particular affinity to the subject because I’m a Volga German. Our family immigrated to Russia in the 18th century and turned the Steppes into farm land. Russia made us two promises; the land would be ours forever and since we were not Russian we could not be forced to serve in their military. The Bolsheviks broke both promises with our people and my great-grandfather immigrated to the US in 1918. With a personal history of that scope I think it’s obvious why I’m obsessed with the Cold War.

MS: Not only does James Cromwell appear in the film he’s also a producer. How did that come about?
JE: We asked Jamie to be one of our producers. He said it was contingent upon our craftsmanship; if he liked the movie he’d give it his stamp of approval and be one of our executive producers. I guess he liked the movie!

MS: Even though the film was modestly budgeted it is well crafted, especially the special effects. How were you able to achieve this?
JE: Old fashioned hard work. I’d served as a visual effects supervisor on other projects. I found two VFX artists on the Internet and the three of us worked together for about four months. They completed about 250 visual effects shots. Most of them are hidden; the sky replacements, the sub-frame editing, digitally enhancing fake blood that was used on set..all of that work disappears into the background but provides a level of polish that is absolutely necessary in professional filmmaking. The glitzy stuff is the B-52 bombers and Washington DC street traffic. However, some of the invisible stuff was far more complicated. We did the work remotely. Occasionally, one of the artists would come to my house and we’d polish a shot on our Macbooks. We’d just hang out in my living room, drink some Red Bull and power through some shots while leaning over my ottoman. The tools are cheap. Its simply a question of how hard you’re willing to work. I’m lucky that I found two guys, Daniel Broadway and Marc Leonard, who have old-school work ethics and truly love their craft.

MS: In your opinion, does the continued quest for studios to have the all important opening weekend high gross make it hard for someone like yourself to get your stories told?
JE: That’s not what’s stopping us. Its more subtle and more pervasive than that. Its an intellectual laziness that says “I’ve never heard of you therefore you can’t possibly be talented.” We were told by a VP at Warner Brothers that he wouldn’t look at the movie “because if it were hot someone else would have looked at the movie and I’d have heard about it.” I released 22 minutes online and it was downloaded over 1.5 million times…and agents at Endeavor said “If this mattered it would be reported in Variety.” An ex-executive from Universal told us “I don’t understand your film. It’s a mainstream movie. It’s smart and its a popcorn film. But you don’t have big stars in it. You should have made something weird or cast Tom Cruise. Right now, you got nothing.” We were in 46 film festivals, nominated for 53 awards, won 29 including 18 for Best Picture. No one in the industry cared. Our trailer was downloaded 2.5 million times from iTunes Movie Trailers. No one in the industry cared. And no one ever said “I saw your movie and I don’t like it.” They said “I’m not willing to watch your movie because you’re not famous.” You can’t catch a break because the intellectual laziness creates a negative feedback loop.

MS: You did pretty much everything on this film except run the catering truck! Do you eventually want to narrow your career to one vocation, be it directing or writing, or are you happy having a hand in pretty much everything?
JE: I don’t know how to not be involved in everything. I know Photoshop so well that I can do the graphic design myself faster than if I had to explain my ideas to someone else. I’ve designed lighting and lenses and projectors so unless I can afford the world’s most expensive cinematographers I might as well do it myself. I interviewed a cinematographer for “A Lonely Place For Dying” and as I showed some of my storyboards the person wanted to know the mood of a particular shot. I said we’d have huge beams of god light coming in through these basement windows. The cinematographer blanches and says “That can’t be done unless you have 10K HMI’s.” I said “That’s not true; volumetric lighting is a matter of particle density, not light intensity. I can make a volumetric light with a flashlight if I have enough smoke in the air.” The cinematographer insists I don’t know what I’m talking about…and after awhile you get tired of those kinds of debates. Its just easier to do it yourself. I’m not trying to. Part of it is that I’m an Aspie and I really struggle with rephrasing things with the social lubrication people need so the truth can slip past their defenses. Its even worse if you can’t here my vocal tone or see my facial expressions. My communication style, when stripped of these nonverbal queues, makes me sound like an asshole to a certain type of person. I’m just stating facts; I willingly give up control when I find competent people. If I can’t…then I might as well do it myself. Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a jackass saying that out loud. That being said, there is plenty I didn’t do. Brent Daniels did all the sound. Alone. By himself. He built the 5.1 mixing facility in his home and he put close to 1,500 hours into the dialogue, sound effects, music and mixing of this film. Ginger Ravencroft is a dear friend and a hell of a still photographer. She’s the reason we have 12 gorgeous theatrical posters. Daniel Broadway and Marc Leonard did 250 visual effects shots for the film. Without those people the movie would not be as good. So, I think the most accurate thing to say is while I wear many, many hats so do the people I trust the most.

MS: Are you planning anything currently?
JE: I’m the president of BryteWerks. We’re about to release our flagship digital motion picture projector. We have about 5 employees and an additional 25 contractors working on various engineering projects. I can’t go into the details of everything we’re doing but we’ve got some really cool products coming down the pipe. And I will get back to directing…but not until we finish our motion picture projector. We have pre-order customers to satisfy and this is a chance to really shake up the world. I’m already writing my next project. The rest is a secret.

 

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Justin Willman talks magic and working on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”

Justin Willman is the host of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”.  His first passion is magic and currently has a web-series on The Nerdist Channel called “Magic Meltdown” and also has an on-going “Tricked Out Tour”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Justin about working on “Cupcake Wars” and get some cool behind-the-scenes stories.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you enjoy most about hosting “Cupcake Wars”?
Justin Willman: I love being a part of the show since it has such a wide fan base. Of course there are the adults that love watching “Cupcake Wars”. It is one of those few shows that has a broad family appeal that parents can watch with their kids since it has a little something for everybody. I really like broad appeal and being able to expand my own fanbase to a really wide one.

MG: How did this opportunity come up for you work on this show?
JW: I was a correspondent on “The Rachel Ray Show” for a couple of years, which was my first regular hosting gig. Through that I was exposed the culinary world. I would cover different food events for her. I never had any connection between the food world before and between you and me…I can’t cook [laughs]. Through that I was able to get into the world and when this audition came along, I was in the right place at the right time.

MG: You seem to have a lot of fun on the show; any cool behind-the-scenes stories?
JW: Let me think here. The show is very dramatic but you can see at times we are having a lot of fun and we really do. I get to hang out with Florian and Candace all day. They are sitting all day, actually they sit and I am standing while they bake. We got to become really close friends and have a lot of fun. I think the one behind-the-scenes nugget that I can give you is that Florian is not intimidating in person as he is on the show. He takes cupcakes very seriously but he is just a big teddy bear.

MG: Did you wear the kilt the whole episode during the Disney/Pixar “Brave” episode?
JW: The whole time! It was one of the most comfortable outfits. I was able to move around very freely. The kilt had a little built in pocket in the front, which was perfect for my phone. When we weren’t rolling I was able to catch up on emails and Angry Birds.

MG: You get to eat any of the cupcakes?
JW: One of my most commonly asked questions is “Do I get to eat the cupcakes”. I don’t on camera. But Candace will rarely finish her own cupcake. usually I get to eat whatever she doesn’t eat. If it is a great cupcake, I have to try it but if it is horrible sometimes I have to try that also just to see.

MG: When can we expect some new episodes of “Cupcake Wars”?
JW: We should be airing news episodes currently every Sunday. Then are shooting now for our seventh season with 13 more episodes coming this Fall!

MG: Tell us about your new series “Magic Meltdown”?
JW: Obviously I have been doing magic since I was 12. It is my first passion and it is what I love doing most. The Nerdist channel, which hosts “Magic Meltdown”, gave me this chance to do this street magic series with a comedic edge to it. It was a chance to finally put out my own brand of comedy magic. It has been great. We have done 6 episodes so far out of 15. New episodes air every Friday.

MG: Tell us about your on-going “Tricked Out Tour”?
JW: Honestly, there is nothing that makes me happier than performing on stage for a live audience. This Fall, I have a couple of tour stops. Next year, I am putting together a whole theater tour, hopefully all over the country. Coming to a theater near you! I hope all the “Cupcake Wars” fans come out and get a chance to meet me in person.

Concert Review “Tail Gates and Tan Lines Tour” Luke Bryan, Justin Moore & Lee Brice

“Tail Gates and Tan Lines Tour”
Luke Bryan, Justin Moore. Lee Brice
Date: Sunday, June 17th 2012
Venue: Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

 Luke Bryan’s “Tail Gates and Tan Lines” tour pulled into the Tag’s Summer Stage in the Upstate NY town of Big Flats on June 17th to kick off the venues 2012 concert season. Along with Luke Bryan were fellow country music acts Justin Moore and Lee Brice.

Long lines stretched out the venues gates as the estimated 5,000 concert goers made their way into the medium sized outdoor venue to enjoy a night of music from 3 country superstars. Lee Brice would kick off the night bringing his brand of rock infused country to the already near capacity crowd.

Brice played a number of songs off his latest album “Hard 2 Love” which quickly had fanson their feet and singing along. The set also included a guest performance from Today Show host Hoda Kotb. Justin Moore would take the stage next as the venue reached near capacity numbers and preceded to kick the energy level up a notch.Moore opened the set with the country meets rock song “Guns” before launching into hits such as “How I Got to Be This Way “, “Small Town USA” and closed out the night with the song “Backwoods”.

Luke Bryan closed out the night and immediately took control of the crowd which consisted mostly of cowboy hat clad women and their unsuspecting boyfriends. Bryan opened his set with the popular song “Rain Is a Good Thing” before leading into his latest single “Drunk On You” and the always popular number “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”. Those in attendance were treated to a great night of music and entertainment as all three acts seemed to put their best effort forward. I highly recommend checking out the tour if it is making a stop in your area this summer.

Justin Moore Set List:
1.) Guns
2.) How I Got to Be This Way
3.) My Kind of Woman
4.) Backroad
5.) Twang
6.) Til My Last Day/I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
7.) Heaven
8.) Beer Time
9.) Bait a Hook
10.) Rowdy Friends/Hank It
11.) Small Town
12.) Ass
13.) Backwoods

“Shit My Dad Says” author Justin Halpern talks new book “I Suck at Girls”

Justin Halpern is the man behind the Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays.  This Twitter feed was not only turned into a very successful book but also a television series starring William Shatner.  “I Suck at Girls” is the second book from Justin Halpern.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Justin about this new book and of course what are his father’s thoughts about it.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the biggest pressure with the follow up to “Shit My Dad Says”?
Justin Halpern: I just wanted to write a book that was as entertaining as the first and that people liked just as much. There is a lot of pressure in that since you want the people who liked the first book to like the latest one as well. I wanted to write something that was self organic and that people would like.

MG: What did you enjoy most about the writing process of “I Suck at Girls”?
JH: I think being able to stretch out a little bit more. The first book I wanted to be very brief similar to the Twitter feed. I didn’t want people to have to read 500 pages. I felt I could spend a little more time developing the stories with the second book.

MG: Tell us about your inspiration behind this book?
JH: Before I proposed to my wife I had told my dad about what I was going to do and he told me to take a day and think about what I was doing and, to also think about my past relationships. When I was doing that I realized I had some funny stories that I think everyone probably goes through. I thought it would make a good book.

MG: What are your father’s thoughts on the new book?
JH: He really likes it. He originally told me he hated it. (Laughs) He said that this second book needed to be better than the first or else people were going to shit all over it. I told him people will have a tough time shitting on this book.

MG: What are your thoughts on the television rights to “I Suck at Girls” being sold already?
JH: I just need to be more careful this time. Things with this are still quite a long ways off. I am excited even though the first one didn’t work out so well. Hopefully with this one we can do things right.

MG: What do you think caused the “$#*! My Dad Says” to not last on television?
JH: CBS has some of the highest rated shows and I don’t think the show was doing all that well. You have to be a big hit to stay on the air there.

MG: Have you thought about writing a direct follow up to “Shit My Dad Says”?
JH: The current book has a lot of my dad in it so I consider it the follow up to the first book. This new book just has a lot more in it.

MG:So on a side note, I’ve always wondered why do you only follow LeVare Burton on Twitter?
JH: When I first signed up for Twitter they gave you 20 default people to follow. I was un-following all of them until I got to LeVare. I thought it would be funny if I only followed him.

MG: Are you a big “Star Trek” fan?
JH: No not necessarily. I did use to like “Reading Rainbow” though. (Laughs)

MG: What other things do you have coming up?
JH: I am out promoting the book right now and that is about it. Things are going really well.

 

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Interview with The Great Commission’s Justin Singh

Justin Singh is the lead vocalist for The Great Commission a faith based metal-core band hailing from Redlands, California. The band released its second album in July of this year titled “Heavy Worship”. The album was produced by Andrew P. Glover and is being released via Century Media/ANGR Records. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Justin prior to the bands performance in Syracuse, NY about the new album and the bands upcoming plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the band’s latest release “Heavy Worship”?
Justin Singh:  “Heavy Worship” was released in July on Century Media/ANGR records. It took us 2 years to write this album. We had received a lot of labels offers after our contract had run out with Strike First/ Face Down records but, we were really waiting on god to pick the right label for us. During that time we were just writing music and lyrics that we felt would represent the band. We took time and sat down with every song to figure out what it was saying. We wanted to make sure that the music on the album was just as heavy as the message. That’s the reason we titled it “Heavy Worship”

AL: How do you think this album compares to the bands previous release?
JS: I feel like this album is more of us. The first album was written with the idea of what would we want to mosh to in heaven. It was of just a fun album that had lyrics that glorified god and was just heavy. With “Worship Music” we took the same concept as with the first album but we upped everything. The lyrics on this album are not just lyrics. We wanted the album to be catchy but we also wanted the songs to have meaning and to show that we live the lyrics that we are writing.

AL: What led you guys to sample lines from “The Boondock Saints” and “Dawn of the Dead”?
JS: It will probably sound weird but I feel god speaks to me through movies no matter what the films beliefs. I get so into movies that I start to put myself into the situations. I loved the line in “The Boondock Saints” where Norman Reedus’s character explains why they do what they do. Instead of taking it in the literal sense I took it as there are a lot of evils in our life that need to be killed in order to better ourselves. The other clip was from George Romero’s film “Dawn of the Dead” and I feel that sometimes as people we become dead inside. The first line of that song is “wake up” and it’s about waking up this generation from its mundane life. It’s almost like going from being dead to alive.

AL: Do you have a favorite track off the album?
JS: That’s a hard one. It’s a tossup between “Don’t Go To Church, Be The Church” and “Draw The Line”. Both of those songs mean a lot to me for different reasons. “Don’t Go To Church, Be The Church” is awesome because I feel like from a Christian point of view in this culture were involved in it’s easy to say “We are waiting for revival”. We as people are revivals so the song is about breaking down the walls and the mentality that a church is a building. We can have church really anywhere from a venue parking lot to riding in a car. We can really talk about things anywhere. We don’t have to go to a particular building or place. “Draw The Line” is awesome because even if you are not a Christian you can still relate to the songs message. We all have our own person struggles and sometimes we have to realize that we are the cause of our own problems. Unless we change ourselves our current status isn’t going to change. It could be anything from addiction to being in a bad relationship. It’s on us to bring the better out.

AL: This band has a unique stand on Christianity as compared to other bands in the genre. Can you tell us about that?
JS: I personally only speak from experience. As we have started to branch out and not only do Christian tours but secular tours fans have come up to me and telling me about how they have been told they are going to hell for having tattoos and piercings or listening to heavy music. I was drawn to this music because of its aggressiveness. Growing up I was just captivated by the music. I always wondered why we couldn’t do this for god? When we partnered the two together we saw what happened. There are a lot of people out there especially in the south and across the states that say if you have or do any of these things you are going to hell. It’s not true! Even though we love Jesus we are a very anti-religion band.

AL: Can you tell the fans one thing they might not know about The Great Commission?
JS: (Laughs) I am going to go through them one by one. Angela is the biggest “Star Wars” nerd! She and her brother actually go to “Star Wars” conventions. Victor is a huge Nickelback fan as well as Backstreet Boys and Nsync. Me personally I am the biggest comic book geek. I am really into Marvel comics. Our drummer Alonzo is from Costa Rica and he is really into samba music. He incorporates a lot of that stuff into our albums. Solomon our bass player isn’t touring with us right now because he is at home preparing to get married. As soon as we get back from this tour a few of us are going to be in his wedding.

AL: What are the bands plans for the rest of 2011 and into 2012?
JS: We have been on the road so much lately that our friends back home in California have been kind of neglected. We are going to take December off from touring but we will be doing a few festivals in California and possibly Arizona. In January we are going start pre-production of the new album and start recording in February. From there we will hopefully be back out touring.