Interview with Adrenaline Mob’s Mike Portnoy

Mike Portnoy is best known as one of the founding members and drummer of the progressive rock group Dream Theater. Portnoy’s latest project Adrenaline Mob which features members of Disturbed and Symphony X is set to release their first full length album on March 13th. Media Mikes had a chance recently to talk with Mike about the group and the upcoming album.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get asked to be a part of Adrenaline Mob?
Mike Portnoy: I have known Russell Allen for many years. Our bands had toured together a couple times and we became very good friends. I have always admired his voice and I think his is one of the best in the business. He is someone that I have always wanted to work with. When my time with Avenged Sevenfold came to a close in 2010 Russell called me up to ask if I would be interested in checking out some material he had been working on with a guy by the name of Mike Orlando. At first I was sort of anticipating material along the lines of Symphony X and Dream Theater. Honestly I wasn’t interested in doing material like that as I wanted to go into some new musical places. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit play and heard the song “Undaunted”. It was exactly what I was looking for and I was instantly on board. It was the right band at the right time.

AL: Can you describe what the writing sessions were like?
MP: The writing happened before my involvement. Mike Orlando has this graveyard of songs and riffs that he has been just waiting for the right band to use them with. He had been working with Russell Allen probably a year or two before my involvement with the project. By the time they asked me to be involved I would say around 80% of the music had been written. I did some shaping and arranging but for the most part everything was there.

AL: How do you think you’re playing on this album differs from that on the Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold albums?
MP: I think this stuff is more in line with what I did with Avenged Sevenfold. This was the next natural step in the evolution of that kind of drumming in my life. With Avenged I was out on the Uproar Tour surrounded by bands like Disturbed, Hellyeah and Stone Sour. All these bands are very song oriented and they have a bounce to their grooves. I was very excited playing that kind of music. It’s fun and doesn’t require you to over think anything or play really technical parts. There is nothing wrong with doing that kind of playing but I was looking for a breather. This music definitely is the next step after my drumming on the “Nightmare” album. Having that bounce was the real priority to on “Omerta”. I still wanted it to have my personality and character which I think it does but, have it be restrained somewhat.

AL: Is there a track off the album you are really looking forward to playing live?
MP: At this point we have played everything live already. Every one of these songs comes alive on stage. They are all really energy driven. Songs like “Undaunted” and Psychosane” have a lot drive while the song “All on the Line” serves as a nice breather and a showcase for Russell’s melodic side. When we were playing with Godsmack that song got a great response every night. All the songs serve different purposes depending on what you are looking for.

AL: Where did the idea come from to cover a Duran Duran song?
MP: Mike Orlando and Russell presented that to me at the same time they were showing me all the other material. I had thought it was an original because I never heard the Duran Duran version before. I guess that said something for how well it adapted to the rest of the material. I don’t know which guy actually came up with the idea but it surely works with the rest of the material. Lzzy Hale’s vocals on that track are a whole other attraction. It’s amazing hearing her and Russell trading off together.

AL: What do you think will make this album stand out from others in the rock/metal genre?
MP: I think the thing with Adrenalin Mob is we are taking the song writing structure of bands like Disturbed and Godsmack while keeping with the shred factor. Mike Orlando is an incredible player along the lines of Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell. Add my prog background in and you get something very different. Honestly we aren’t trying to break any new ground with the style of this group. We want to write some great tunes with great riffs and melodies. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to make an album with great songs that are enjoyable to listen to.

Interview with Adrenaline Mob’s Mike Orlando

Mike Orlando is the guitarist for the rock/metal super group Adrenaline Mob. The group is set to release their debut full length album titled “Omerta” on March 13. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Mike about the album and what it was like playing both bass and guitar on the album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what inspired you to put the band together?
Mike Orlando: I had been rolling with the vision and the songs for quite some time. This was even before I had met Russell Allen. Line ups don’t work out or people don’t live up to certain expectations so it’s been in the works for some time. I was working with Russell on writing his second solo album off and on for about 3 years. We are always both on the road so it’s been tuff to get the album done. I brought the tracks to Russell to check out one day and it was just magic. It was exactly what I was looking for.

AL: What was yours and Russell’s writing process like?
MO: I had brought Russell all of the pre-recorded material. Everything was tracked so Russell would either sing on the songs the way they were or we would make some changes to make the tunes work better.

AL: Was it hard balancing both guitar and bass playing duties during the recording process?
MO: No. I love playing bass. I actually have played bass on all of my solo albums. If it has strings I will play it. I never approach the bass like a guitarist. I use my fingers not a pick. It’s very much like John Entwistle who is one of my heroes. I try to look at the tracks like a bass player would as you can’t play bass the way you play a guitar. I think it comes off stiff when you don’t approach it differently. It’s great having John Moyer from Disturbed playing bass in the band now. I told him to do whatever he wanted and to make the songs his own. I gave him the guidelines and he has done a hell of a lot more from what I gave him.

AL: Can you tell us the idea behind covering the Duran Duran song “Come Undone”?
MO: That song has been one of my favorites since hearing it when it came out in 1991. I don’t walk around screaming “Hungry like a Wolf” or anything (Laughs) but “Come Undone” is like my favorite song from that band. When you look past the quirkiness that band is made up of some amazing players. I do try to look a little deeper than their song “Rio”. “Come Undone” I felt always had a haunting vide. The fact that we got Lzzy Hale from Halestorm to do a duet with Russell is amazing. Lzzy I think has one of the greatest voices in rock. I consider Lzzy to be the female Russ.

AL: Is there a track off the album that you really enjoy playing live?
MO: To quote Billy Joel “I don’t have a favorite they are all like my children”. The song “Feeling Me” seems to get a really great response live. I will never forget the first night we played that song when we were out with Godsmack. The song got such a hop. It was infectious. “Hit the Wall” is another one for me that is just very intense

AL: “Omerta” comes out March 13 and I am sure that’s going to keep you busy for some time but, have you guys started thinking about the next album yet?
MO: Oh yeah! I have plenty of material ready for second album. Throughout my life I have been an avid song writer. If I don’t release an album for 3 years it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still writing and recording. Even when I was younger I would just write and write. I have so much material Mike Portnoy likes to call it my “graveyard” of songs. (Laughs)

Interview with Mike Christopher

Mike Christopher is known best for his role of the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”.  Mike’s character in that film is one of the most well known zombies ever in films.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike about his role and what he is currently working on.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”
Mike Christopher: I was playing in a rock band “FLUID” at the time and Mickey Lies (the Machete Zombie’s brother) gave our picture to Romero. The “FLUID” band performed a space themed theatrical show with our music and we all had bald heads. The Sax player, John Paul Musser got the role as the Plaid Shirt/ Airport Zombie. George came up with the idea to have a Hare Krishna for diversity. It was a great role and I just got lucky I guess. Having the bald head was the ticket to play one of those pesky Krishna guyz.

MG: How does it feel to be one of the most recognizable zombies in film history?
MC: It’s actually kind of scary. I think about all these thousands of people who were actually afraid to sleep on the 3rd floor of their parent’s house because of me. I still scare a few people at the conventions. Just last weekend at Saturday Nightmares I noticed a gal laughing hysterically pointing at me. (I was ‘in character’) I got up and started to shamble towards her. She screamed and ran so I began to follow her. She kept running and screaming. I believe she was genuinely terrified.

MG: After “Dawn of the Dead”, you didn’t act again till a few years ago, why was that?
MC: I moved to Los Angeles and performed laser light shows for Laserium and Laser Media. I also made synthesizers and drum machines for Oberheim in Santa Monica, colorized Black and White Movies for Color Systems Technology who was colorizing some of the Turner Library. I also worked in video post for a while before moving to Florida in ’96 and became a Graphic Artist. It wasn’t until after I lost my job in Graphics that I learned of the conventions, then my action figure came out and I started getting roles in indy films when I started networking on mySpace and the Florida film scene.

MG: Any neat behind the scenes stories that you were saving up for this interview?
MC: The best one is when I surprised George Romero at HorrorFind in 2008. I waited in line and he looked up at me, read my badge and said “Mike, you look kinda familliar.” I had a pre signed action figure which I set down on the table in front of him and he looked back up at me saying “You’re the GUY . . . I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE IT! He stood up and grabbed me in a bear hug and apologized for not recognizing me. “George, it’s been 30 years I said.” I wish I had a movie of THAT!

MG: How can you reflect that with just one role you have such a loyal horror fanbase?
MC: I owe it all to the genius that is George Romero . . . they are actually fans of George’s Hare Krishna character, I just brought the zombie to life or something.

MG: What do you like most about going to horror conventions and meeting fans?
MC: Meeting the fans IS the best part. Musicians don’t get to meet their fans, most other celebs do not get to meet the fans either. I remember a guy telling me he totaled his car on the way to FearFest 2 after hitting a piece of black ice. He was so proud that he still was able to make it. “Dawn Of The Dead” fans are tops. . . I get to hold their children and get my picture in the family album for cryin’ out loud! I remember this guy saying “I can’t believe it’s 3 am and I’m talking to the Hare Krishna Zombie in a hotel hallway.” You can’t put a price on special moments like that.

MG: You recently composed a score for a movie, “Bikini Monsters”, any future plans?
MC: I actually played the role of Captain Nicholson in Bikini Monsters as well as composing music for it. My ghoulfriend Shade Burnett and Richard ‘Spaceape’ Kaltenbock also created music tracks. Spaceape and I played in a band together in the early 70’s which was actually the first incarnation of the bald space band in Pittsburgh.

MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
MC: I’ll be working with Shade on her horror interview show “These Ghoulish Things Remind Me Of You.” and composing more music. No definite new film plans as of yet, just a few possibilities floating around.

 

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Interview with Mike Wolfe

Mike Wolfe is one of the guys behind the hit show on The History Channel, “American Pickers”, along with Frank Fritz. They travel around the United States buying antiques and collectibles or as they call it “picking”. The show is a huge hit and is already well into its third season. Movie Mikes had a chance to grab Mike to answer a few questions about this hit show.

Mike Gencarelli: What made originally think that a show about going through “junk”, so to say, would be something people would watch?
Mike Wolfe: I’d come across these people with incredible stories and their connection with their pieces and I’d come home with all these stories and my friends would tell me you really need to start documenting some of this stuff. So, I started filming myself – traveling around and digging in barns – and when Frank I would travel together we would film each other. It was that footage that we used to pitch a television show. I think people enjoy the celebration of collecting, and the unsung people and their stories that you see in the show. It’s a show about modern day treasure hunting…

MG: Tell us about this upcoming season and what can we expect?
MW: Frank and I will continue to travel around America picking and meeting new and interesting people. We are thinking of hitting up New Hampshire and Vermont soon. I’m pretty sure we will have driven 100,000+ miles picking by the years end.

MG: How can you reflect on the success of the show with more than 5 million viewers?
MW: We never expected the show to be such a huge success. I pitched the concept of the show for years and got turned down because producers would say that no one will ever watch a show about antiques.

MG: On the show you always showcase the items picked and how much you will sell them for versus paid… but they always show an estimated profit, can you think of something in particular you’ve picked over the years that for any unexpected reason didn’t sell nearly near your expectation – and how come?
MW: The collectors market and what people look to buy is driven by trends and the likes of Pier 1 Imports and stores that produce a mass appeal. There hasn’t been an item I’ve ever really regretted buying. There have been items I’ve fallen in love with and definitely paid too much for and barely made a profit from though.

MG: You must keep some items you pick, what is your most prized possession in your collection?
MW: I picked a 1913 Harley in a dusty old barn in upstate New York …and now it’s in my living room back in Iowa as a decorative piece.

MG: What’s one thing you’ve never been able to pick that you’ve wanted most and why?
MW: The “holy grail” of picks would be… a pre-1915 Blackhawk or Hornecker Torpedo motorcycle. If you have one, let me know!

MG: What would you say is the strangest thing you’ve every picked and turned a profit on?
MW: I don’t really have a story I can think of off-hand for this question as a lot of items I buy are for decorative means – so they can be strange to some and normal to others… but how about a story about the strangest item a fan asked me to autograph recently? … Dashboard of car … a guy that picks all the time asked me to sign in his car because he is always in it and considers Frank and me his picker inspiration.

MG: You are going to be expanding Antique Archaeology this year, how can you find the time? What else do you have planned?
MW: We’ve already expanded. Opened the Nashville Antique Archaeology in July 2011. And, the store is doing really well already. Planning to launch a special website for kids soon and we have the “American Pickers Guide to Picking” book coming out in mid-September.

 

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Interview with Mike Schneider

Mike Schneider is the man responsible for creating the film “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated”. He not only was one of the many many animators on the project. Mike was also the curator, director, producer, cinematographer and editor on the project. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike about his work on the film and the million of other projects he is currently working on.

Click here to purchase “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated”

MG: “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated” is like nothing I have ever seen before, tell us about how it became?
MS: Reanimation, posed by Winsor McCay, was the idea that things develop a new life when translated/ responded to by artists (as opposed to being copied/ remade). McCay, a pioneer cartoonist, quit animation once he observed the field was drifting from artists to industry. As is often the case with pioneers, many of his ideas were left unexplored. Without something tangible to illustrate them, even great ideas are too abstract for most people to grab onto… so I put this one into action. A dead process called ‘reanimation’ would make anyone’s mind flash to the undead… but for a horror fan, like myself, it fixated there and we had our theme. Fine arts or otherwise, I work method ( having the approach speak directly to the subject matter.) Imagining I was searching for the cure to remakes, I followed the lead of Dr. Morgan and locked myself away with supplies, movies and, of course, my work. “Last Man on Earth: Reanimated” was conceived as a solo project that would have taken me little over 20 years to complete. In isolation, I worked day after day, watching videos while media dried, things set, or files rendered. On one such break, I put on “Night of the Living Dead” and it was about where Cooper made his point ‘there’s not going to be 5 or even 10’ that it struck me. I was on the wrong side of the boarded window. Artists aren’t the holdouts… we’re the other… the outsiders banging on every window and door trying to grab an audience. Within hours, the project was restarted as the mass collaborative, “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated”. The entire production was modeled after the ghouls. Countless numbers approached this project from every direction. As they banged away at it, others would hear the noise and move in to join them. No choreography was needed with everyone driven by a shared goal, to cannibalize and transform what once was into their own image. With bare hands and simple tools we ripped and teared at the film until what was left was the shell of it’s former self… staggering across the screen with new life. “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated” was open for artists and animators to come in, grab their favorite scene(s) and respond to it/ them with their own artwork and animation ( in whatever form that might take ). The results were then hung in the timeline (directly on top of the original film) and assembled, those thousands of pieces show ‘Night of the Living Dead’ through a kaleidoscopic lens of responsive art and animation.

MG: Tell us how many animators actually worked on this film?
MS: That’s a good question but one more complex then you would think. Some only assisted and since they did not submit their own art, they opted out of being accredited. Other who did submit their own work also opted out of being accredited to avoid conflicts with other contracts they are/ were under. ( Making your art your way for a project you believe in that celebrates a movies you love is a beautiful thing. Trying to explain love and beauty to a manager or agency… not so much. ) There ever even more who wanted to take part but due to schedules etc were unable to, however, they passed along word to others drawing in both press and many of the artists who did take part. When credits roll you’ll see between 100 and 150 names pass the screen but in reality there are well over 500 which helped in one way or another throughout the project.

MG: Is “Night of the Living Dead” your favorite horror film? If not what is?
MS: Picking a favorite reminds me of that ‘Twilight Zone’ episode, ‘A Nice Place to Visit’. The thrill of winning is beating the odds of losing… so my favorite is always the one I haven’t seen that will offer something new to think about. That said, in terms of storytelling, I’m drawn to movies where isolated autonomous groups of individuals face a infer-ably omnipresent situation. Small groups allow for strong character development while wide spread events allow you to imagine yourself in those circumstances (without specifically being one of those characters or in that particular location ). In terms of film production, I appreciate when a production can find smart ways around their budgetary and technical limitations. On both accounts Night of the Living Dead is a masterpiece that blends the minimal and epic in a way which I find incredibly appealing.

MG: How long did the whole process take to complete? Did it have a budget?
MS: “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated” took 1 year from concept to post, 6 months from post to final version, and 9 months from final version to fully produced DVD. So 2 years 3 months from idea to shelves. As far as budget goes, this project was done 100% by volunteers without money touched at all during it’s production or profits taken from it’s release. Most of the artists used found objects and left over materials, the majority of the work was either done by hand or in freeware software, submissions were sent digitally via free file transfer sites, the project was never edited on a tangible film or video stock and editing was done on a computer made predominately from salvaged parts. Even most of the screeners were submitted digitally as DVD ISOs ( avoiding shipping ), guests at events were whichever artists were close by ( avoiding travel ), festivals we screened at were by invitation ( avoiding submission fees ), the majority of supplemental were self-produced and submitted by artists from the project, and the terms set with Wild Eye prohibit either of us from taking any profits from the release so anything that comes in either gets rolled back into the project (giveaways, promotions, etc) or gets donated to a charity of our choosing at the end of the release contract. A few times during the production, I was offered a budget and despite being broke (and really needing the money) I declined. All too often a little bit of money comes at too high of a price…particularly when the person offering it assumes that their wallet buys them a say in how the project is handled. With future projects, we will be open to non-monetary sponsorship (companies pledging materials, equipment, and/ or services to facilitate the production in exchange for credit, plugs in interviews and promotional space on the release) but money complicates things and these projects are complicated enough on their own.

MG: Any plans to make any more films like “NOTLD:R”, perhaps “Dawn of the Dead: Reanimated”?
MS: Considering the rights issues relating to Dawn of the Dead, there are better odds of the dead walking then us getting the freedom needed to do this kind of project. That said, if the dead do walk, nobody will care about copyright so I’ll have a nice project to keep busy during the final days before our resources run out or homes become compromised. The added bonus there is I’ll be able to use live(-ish) models as a point of reference. I would be interested in trying out the process with another film but it would be nice to have the original film maker somehow involved. Though not based on a film, the truest sequel to ‘Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated’ will be ‘Unseen Horror’. With ‘Unseen Horror’ we are inviting artists and animators to join us in visualizing old time horror radio dramas. TV before TV and independent film before independent film, these radio programs paint a picture in your mind and we seek to let it out. Not only are these some of the best horror stories of their era, they are voiced by a star studded cast including numerous genre favorites from the silver screen. Since there aren’t existing visuals to keep the project grounded, most of these dramas are being approached in 2 passes with the first establishing designs and a loose but present visual continuity ( just enough the audience can follow the characters from one work to the next ). To keep things interesting, the rules and dynamics for each drama will be tailored to the specific drama and the artists involved in it… but as a whole the project is open to artists of all styles and media. If you’d like to take part, drop an email to mike@unseenhorror.com and we’ll get you started.

MG: Tell us about your work with animator Bill Plympton?
MS: In fact, I recently participated in Bill Plympton’s “Guard Dog Global Jam”, where-in Plympton assigned scenes from his award winning short “Guard Dog” to 70 different animators. We each approached our scenes in our own style. My style just happened to be turning the scene into it’s own group project and having a different artist work on each and every frame. In the end, we had over 100 artists in about 4 seconds! … and that’s just 1 of the 70 submissions. “Guard Dog Global Jam” will start screening at festivals come spring but in the mean time you can check out our scene here.

MG: What do you have planned next?
MS: Besides the aforementioned, ‘Unseen Horror’, there is always plenty in progress. “What is the Use of a Book without Pictures” is a paragraph by paragraph mass collaborative illustration of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. Artists email me (shenlon@hotmail.com) to request a paragraph (paragraphs are handed out in order from front to back cover). They then have 3 weeks to create a 6″x9″ black and white image to illustrate that paragraph. In the end, we’ll have between 500 and 1000 pages of artwork which tells the entire story without words. We’re nearly 2 chapters in, so if anyone would like to claim a page, they should drop me a line soon. We have “Creatures of the Night School” which blends the traditions of educational television and late night horror hosting. Basically artisans, crafters, technicians, chefs, musicians, performers, mechanics, etc are invited to do demonstrations of their process in full horror hosting regalia ( vampire, werewolf, zombie, etc with bad puns and dark humor ). At the end of each demo, while the paint is drying, plaster/ epoxy is setting, food is cooking, file is rendering, etc… they throw the viewers back to the movie. In this show, I am the creature teacher, Vincent Van Gore, and assisting me in the art room are the exquisite corpse ( a lovely female assistant who is frequently offended or killed and, as such, is played by a different women all the time ) and Count Erfeit ( who steals the plot from the featured movie, swedes it and tries to pass it off for his own idea). Anyone with a love of horror and something to teach should drop me a line (shenlon@hotmail.com). I recently had 2 comics featured in the holiday themed zombie anthology, ‘The Undead that Saved Christmas'”. This is a charity anthology with 100% of the proceeds going to the Hugs Foster Family Agency (hugsffa.org) which will use them to buy Christmas presents for children in foster care. They have already announced doing a second volume next year ( 2 books, in fact, with one being zombie and the other vampires). I’m already getting a jump on my submissions for next years volume. The details and call for submissions are available here. “Destroy All Monster Movies'” is a monster mash-up which adapts mythology and classic horror tropes into dai-kaiju stories. Launching first as a series of posters (appearing in the background of numerous independent horror movies), this series will eventually cross-platform into comics and other media. Since DAMM centers around a complex universe of interweaving stories, real world meetings are required. Artists interested in participating must have strong communication and be within reasonable traveling distance of the Poconos (NEPA) so they will be able to attend semi-regular meetings. Finally, I’m constantly collaborating with different artists on short sci-fi/ horror comics. At 1-4 pages they are small enough to be included in a portfolio, submitted as a sample to a potential publisher, or printed in a magazine (being not much longer then an article). All stories are one-shot stand-alones so the characters begin and end in those pages and with non-exclusive printing/ posting rights for each artist involved, you will be able to print, submit, or post the comic wherever you see fit. Again, drop me a line at shenlon@hotmail.com. My inbox is always open. All and all, I’m having a blast working with a myriad of talented individuals on fun and interesting projects. The rest is just details.

Click here to purchase “Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated”