Neal Smith talks about Drumming with Alice Cooper and New Solo Album

Neal Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in 2011 for his role as drummer in the Alice Cooper Group. Besides working with Alice Cooper, Neal has also played with The Plasmatics and, Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult. Media Mikes had a chance to speak with Neal recently about his career in the music business and his new solo album titled “Kill$mith Two”

Adam Lawton: What initial sparked your interest in becoming a solo artist?
Neal Smith: The original Alice Cooper band broke up in the 70’s. After that I played in a few different bands as well as doing an album with The Plasmatics and Buck Dharma. When I was working with Buck I co-wrote the song “Born to Rock” which got play on MTV. Through the 80’s I got interested in real estate and ended up getting my real estate license in the state of Connecticut. I kept writing over this time and worked on a couple projects. One of the projects was to play some shows in Texas with Mike Bruce and Glen Buxton from the Alice Cooper band. We brought in Richie Scarlett to play as well. Sadly 6 days after the project wrapped up Glen passed away. It was around this time that I decided to finish up a lot of things I had sitting on the back burner. In 1999 I released my first solo album. The album was originally recorded in 1975 and titled “Platinum God”. I got a great response to that album and afterwards put together a group with some friends called “Cinematic”. We were doing shows in New York City and while there I saw bands like Kings X, Pigface and Tapping the Vein. These bands were playing this really hard edge industrial metal. I liked the power of the material and wanted to come up with something that had the early rebellious image of Alice Cooper along with the macabre side. In 2008 we released the first Kill$mith album titled “Sexual Savior”. I was really inspired by all these newer bands that were beyond grunge. We just released “Kill$mith Two” a couple months ago.

AL: What do you think was the hardest part of transitioning from drummer to solo artist?
NS: I have always written. Even before the Alice Cooper Group I was a stand up singer in a band. I have always sung a little bit. I have always been very comfortable in any position even though drums are my forte. It was more of a new challenge. I jumped in over my head and learned everything I could. I had some great teachers and inspiration. Things weren’t difficult but there were some challenges. I think the biggest challenge though for me is coming up with songs that I like. I am the type of writer that writes when I am inspired. I can go for months or even years without being inspired to write a song. However when I am inspired the ideas come like a tsunami. The new album features 12 really solid songs. I don’t think there is any filler on this album. Alice Cooper and producer Bob Ezrin heard the demo for a song on the new album titled “Evil Voodoo Moon” and re-wrote it for Alice’s album “Welcome to my Nightmare 2”. The song is actually the first single off that album titled “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”.

AL: How would you describe/classify the “Kill$mith Two” album?
NS: I would say it’s definitely in the super hard rock/metal category. This album has more melodic choruses than the previous album. The new album may not be for everybody but it gave me the chance to experiment with some writing on my own and create the “Kill$mith” character. I wanted both “Kill$mith” albums to have a much darker and more macabre edge which is something I feel I was very successful at.

AL: What can you tell us about the new video you just put out?
NS: I wanted to pick a song off the album that was a musician’s song. There are a lot of great players on the album and one of those was Pete Hickey. He did an amazing solo on “Squeeze like a Python” and I wanted to feature a song that was one of the better songs that I really liked. I like to play for musicians and I think this song does that. The video is very sexy and hot. There is a fantasy element that is woven in between the verses of the song. We sort of took a classic approach to making the video. I think everyone did a great job. After having the video up for close to a week now we have received 3,000 hits. I have been amazed by the response.

AL: Can you tell us what the touring plans will be for the group?
NS: We will definitely be doing more videos. That right now is really our thrust to get the word out about the band. There has been some interest in the band going to Europe to play however nothing has been confirmed. As soon as dates start to be set up they will be posted on my website

CD Review: Neal Smith “Kill$mith Two”

Neal Smith
“Kill$mith Two”
Kachina Records
Producer: Neal Smith, Peter Catucci
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Kill$mith Two” is the second full length album put out by former Alice Cooper drummer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neal Smith. The album is the follow up to Smith’s previous release titled “Sexual Savior”. “Kill$mith Two” is being released via Kachina Records and features 12 original tracks that were produced by Smith and bassist Peter Catucci.

Take what you know or have heard about drummer Neal Smith and throw it entirely out the window. His latest album is nothing like anything you may have heard him play on before. Gone are the “School’s Out” type anthems that catapulted Neal and the Alice Cooper band to stardom in the early seventies. Instead Smith has stepped up to the microphone with guitar in hand and brought forth 12 tracks packed with interesting subject matter and industrial tinged instrumentation. Tracks such as “2000 Miles From Detroit”, “Kiss My Rock” and the catchy “Squeeze Like a Python” show a completely different side of Smith. Neal does play drums on this album as well as guitar but what really stands are his gritty straight forward vocal performances on each of the 12 tracks. Hardcore Alice Cooper fans may not be as quick to grab on to the album as it is a bit different and some songs are quite lengthy. However true fans of rock music will surely want “Kill$mith Two” in their collections.

Track Listing:
1.) 2000 Miles From Detroit
2.) Suicide Highway
3.) Cemetery of the Damned
4.) Evil Voodoo Moon
5.) Death by the Numbers
6.) Crimes of High Passion
7.) Legend of Viper Company
8.) Die For the Night
9.) Strip Down
10.) Kiss My Rock
11.) Anything
12.) Squeeze Like a Python


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Interview with Sushi Girl’s Destin Pfaff, Kern Saxton, Neal Fischer & Suren Seron

Assembly Line and Level Up Productions are responsible for the new film “Sushi Girl”.  The film stars Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie and Mark Hamill. The men behind the film are Destin Pfaff, Kern Saxton, Neal Fischer, Suren Seron.  Destin is known for his work on “The Millionaire Matchmaker” TV series.  Kern Saxton is the director of the film but wears many other hats on this film (read more about that below).  Neal is a producer of the film, as well as Suren.  Media Mikes has been covering this film extensively with interviews from many of the cast and crew and had a chance to chat with the guys to find out some cool behind the scene stories about making the film “Sushi Girl”.

Mike Gencarelli: You all produced the film “Sushi Girl”, how did you divide up the tasks? Anyone the leader of the group?
Neal Fischer: I don’t think that we really had discussed about a leader during the film. I think we each brought the characters to life. For me, I really didn’t want to make this as a smaller movie. So I brought in the financing to make the movie the way it should be made. But also at the same time we wanted to make a movie that would be respected and for us to be proud of. It just got better and better along the way.
Destin Pfaff: On the topic of leadership, the amazing thing that Kern (Saxton) did was bringing the four of us together. I like to think of us like Voltron. We are these four individual robotic tigers that come together to form this giant. We had this wonderful magical synergy working together, like brothers. I think we would be happy if we only make movies with each other for the rest of our lives.

MG: Kern, you not only had your directorial debut, you also took the role of Editor, Producer, Co-Writer, was it hard to juggle?
Kern Saxton: They all grew out of necessity. I wanted to do a project like this. Destin and I had this crazy idea and we were actually working on another screenplay. A couple of years later…here we are. I knew that budget-wise, I was going to have to take on many different roles in order to make it happen. I think that being the Co-Writer, Director, Producer and Editor, it is not out of some place where I creatively have to do those jobs. Editing is easier for me for projects that I have directed. It is just quicker at the end of the day. We had to do every stage of production very quickly in order to save money and time. It was decided by the group that I would take on the editing. That is the whole game we are playing with this film is to get the biggest impact with the least amount of resources.

MG: What was your biggest challenge to overcome in the process of shooting?
KS: For me it is getting the project funded. I knew once we got a budget we could do some damage. I have worked with Destin on a bunch of short films. It was apparent to us that we were doing very ambitious things with no money. Once we got in the right direction…we were off!
DP: I think think the biggest challenge for me was working with an ego-maniacal director like Kern Saxton that we had on the film…I am kidding [laughs]. I think every hurdle that the four of us faced was handled in such an amazing way.

MG: Destin, during filming having co-wrote the script, where you able to assist with each scene?
DP: Kern and I luckily share a single brain as for what something is suppose to look or feel like in a particular scene. Even if I wasn’t on set, I knew that whatever Kern was doing would be exactly what I would do. I’ll give kudos to Kern.

MG: Tell us about how to got Noah Hathaway to return to acting?
Suren Seron: We had a couple of interesting stories from how we got a few people in this film. Noah is a good one and Mark (Hamill) is also a good one. We had an actor on board who previously was set to play the role of Fish. At the last minute we decided to go another direction and I said out loud “How about Noah Hathaway from ‘The Neverending Story'” . I just happened to be Facebook friends with him, since someone suggested I friend him since I was such a big fan. He accepted and we actually talked. He was living in Amsterdam and working as a tattoo artist. I sent him a random message outlining the cast we already had on board and to see if he would be interested. I ended the conversation saying that we were working with “so and so and oh…Sonny Chiba”. He wrote back “Sonny Chiba…I love Sonny Chiba.” I sent him the script and a day later he wanted to do this. We did the audition over the internet from Amsterdam. We were really excited to get him on board. So he got a plane, came down to California and that was the end of his life in Amsterdam.

MG: During post production, who was the most involved?
NF: Yeah that would be Kern!
KS: If it comes to editing, color corrections, sound design, music…yeah I think I had a hand in it [laughs].
DP: We have successfully destroyed Kern Saxton’s life during the post-production process. He has become this completely nocturnal creature that can’t even look straight anymore.
KS: Due to scheduling with the studio, we had to write music from 2am to 10am. I became completely nocturnal.

MG: Neal, this was your first go as producer, what do you have planned next?
NF: Well for me, it was a really interesting experience. I work for a larger company. I had access to all these tools from working on films like “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill”. I had this experience but it was all for a company and with big producers and so they weren’t mine. For me making “Sushi Girl” was a way to not only get to use these tools that I have been learning but also show what I can do. I used to live in Japan and I had some experiences with the Japanese mafia.  That led me to write a couple of scripts from those, so that is one of my top priorities and definitely in my future.

MG: After “Sushi Girl”, what do you guys have planned next?
SS: “Calaytic” is hoping to be one of our next projects with Tony Todd. Tony told us about two scripts he wanted to get going on. We definitely wanted to do it and he always wanted to direct. We are most excited about getting that started and work with Tony Todd again.

Interview with Horror Idol’s Neal DeConte

Neal DeConte is the owner of Horror Idols, a division of DeConte Prototype & Modelwork, Inc. The company specializes in originally-sculpted, pre-painted, autographed figurines of the characters of modern horror films.  Media Mikes has had the pleasure of knowing the Neal and his crew for many years and took some time to chat about their work and whats to come in the near future.

Mike Gencarelli: First question has to be why horror?
Neal DeConte: I LOVE horror! Grew up watching horror movies, Creature Double Feature on the weekends in New England and all the late night horror movies on TV. My parents hated them, I was allowed to watch them, but they didn’t care for them. I try to keep up to date with all the new ones out and that are coming out.

MG: What was your inspiration to start this company “Horror Idols”?
ND: It was for personal gratification, I wanted to produce pieces that I wanted for my own collection! I started many years ago as a figure model builder, I was getting tired with what was out there, I was always re-posing, re-sculpting or modifying what I was purchasing . I figured, what the hell, I’m just going to do my own take on them! We also wanted to give back to the actor/actress that were involved in the character also. I feel that they’re not nearly compensated enough for what they endure/put up with as far as some of these characters, buried under prostectics and such. Each of our figurines are signed by the actor/actress and they receive a percentage of what we make.

MG: These are limited edition pieces correct?
ND: Yes, these are limited to ONLY 20 of each being produced! Once the 20 are produced, the molds and originals are destroyed, no others will be made. Each has a solid oak base, autographed by the actor/actress, an acrylic case to keep it dust free and a certificate of authenticity. We also create one of each figurine for Horror Idols and one for the actor/actress. For each piece we try to work in something from the actual movie, so far it’s been gravel from the actual movie locations.

MG: What’s your background for what you do, what schooling do you have?
ND: Schooling? I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth, hated school. Even back then, loved to create with my hands, it was drawing/painting then, found it fulfilling, but had no idea how I would convey that into a career. I’m self taught on everything I do, want to learn something……pick a book up, check info on-line, learn by mistakes. Best way to learn I believe.

MG: Tell us about your process to create these fantastic unique pieces of art?
ND: So here’s the quick breakdown: First what are we going to do? I find a new project and talk to the actor/actress to see if their on board with the project…..We don’t do a project without them being part of it. We discuss what we want to see out of it, pose and such and set out to make it in 3D. We start digging out reference material, we get any insight from the actor/actress on it, see if they have any good photos to work from, check on-line to see what we can find, and do screen captures from the DVD’s. We gather up as much reference as possible, can never have enough!
Sculpting is next, we don’t sketch out first, just start sculpting. We go back and forth with the actor/actress to make sure we’re meeting their expectations also……haven’t disappointed yet. Once we get the sculpt done and approved it’s onto molding and casting. We make high quality silicone molds off the sculpture. This starts by breaking down the figurine to make sure it’s moldable and get the molds done. Next is casting, we cast the figurines as a solid, high quality urethane. Now that the castings are done, it onto cleanup, assembly, and painting/detailing. We take the castings and give them a good bath to remove the mold release from the molding process and clean up what excess material there is from the molding process.
The painting/detailing process can be somewhat complicated depending on the actual piece. Could be stitching up fabric for clothing, and/or dying lambs wool to use for hair. We also have to build the oak bases and the acrylic cases, all of the above work is done in our shop here in Rhode Island….USA.

MG: How long would you say it takes you to do a piece like The Every 23rd Spring or Leatherhead from start to end?
ND: Every 23rd Spring was 275 hours to sculpt, that’s the figure and the wings, Leatherhead was about 150 hours. Leatherhead was my first full figure sculpture. To build each one, Every 23rd Spring 175 hour, leatherhead 125 hours. These numbers don’t include the molding or casting process, figure another 40-80 hours for this.

MG: What would you say has been your most difficult project to date?
ND: I’d have to say Victor Crowley from the movie hatchet. Victor is time consuming to build each one with the fabric farmer jeans, each of those are 18 pieces of fabric which are stitched together…..yes, I do sew also.

MG: Do you take on commission work as well and if so what are some of the pieces you have done?
ND: If we have time, we take on commission work. We’ll do one of a kind sculptures, model build ups for customers, you name it, we’ll do it. We also have our other company DeConte Prototype & Modelwork which we do this type of work under. We do prototype for some of the major companies and independent inventors across the US from figure work, product development, prototype models and everything in between.

MG: Rumor has it you are signing a licensing deal on the “Behind the Mask” movies, what can you tell us?
ND: LOL! Word spreads fast! Yea, this is huge for us, we’ll be doing the Horror Idols figurine and also……We just announced DeConte Toys & Collectibles which is our toy company division and Leslie Vernon is going to be our first 7” mass produced action figure! We’re looking at doing a line of Behind the Mask action figures and collectibles. Leslie will be available in Jan/Feb 2012.
Glen Echo Entertainment is receiving a percentage of all these sales that will help fund part 2 of the movie series!

MG: What other projects are you working on and what next for Horror Idols & DeConte Toys & Collectibles?
ND: Horror Idols just released the Gloved and Zombie Hand DVD holders and have a couple projects in the works with Michael Madsen……One being one of him with the chopper he owns that he used in the movie Hell Ride. This is our standard ¼ scale figure, so the chopper will be about 25.5” long! As far as DeConte Toys & Collectibles, we’re also releasing the first figure in our “Cinematic Heroes” line which will be Kane Hodder, this will be out early next year. And we’re also doing one with SpiderOne, lead singer from Powerman 5000, both of these prototypes will be with us at the Rock & Shock convention in Worecester MA, Oct 14 -16, along with the Behind the mask prototypes. We’ll also have Leslie Vernon himself, Nathan Baesel with us at the Horror Idols booth! Our good friends at Fright Rags & Horror Idols have teamed up to bring Nathan out for the convention, he’ll be there with us Saturday & Sunday only. There’s plenty of other exciting things hitting for us in the not too distant future…… Check us out on Facebook and visit for more info!