Film Review: “The Hummingbird Project”

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT

Starring:  Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard and Salma Hayek

Directed by:  Kim Nguyen

Rated: R

Running time:  1 hr 51 mins

The Orchard

There’s a great scene towards the beginning of “Something About Mary” which features Ben Stiller and Harlan Williams talking about William’s idea for a video entitled “7 Minute Abs.”  Stiller shoots down his idea by commenting that someone may try to better him with a video entitled “6 Minute Abs.”  The new film “The Hummingbird Project” offers the equivalent of “5 Minute Abs!”

Vincent Zeleski (an excellent Eisenberg) and his cousin, Anton (an equally good Skarsgard) are employees at a high tech communications firm, writing code and making the boss rich.  But they have come up with an idea.  One that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.  And all they have to do is dig a tunnel from Kansas to New Jersey.

A well written (by director Nguyen) and directed thriller, the film introduces us to the Zeleski cousins as they begin to hatch their scheme.  Their plan is to build an underground optical fiber system that can intercept stock buying and selling transactions on their way to New Jersey, allowing them to get their orders in first and profit off of their information.  Their goal is to have a signal that reaches the Garden State from the exchange in Kansas in less than 16 milliseconds.  17 is too slow. 

It is so nice to see Eisenberg in a role that he can inhabit.  While I thought he was OK as Lex Luthor in the recent “Justice League” themed films, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the “The Social Network” Eisenberg, one who deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.  Here he is the idea man…the fast talker who won’t take “no” for an answer.  As cousin Anton, Skarsgard is an odd bird with a good heart and a great mind.  He’s the kind of person who will tell you “it’s a secret” than draws up a hand-written non-disclosure form for you to sign because he just explained the entire project to you.  As the boss who feels hurt by her employee’s betrayal, Hayek is, as always, beautiful and firm.  And it’s so nice to see “Breaking Bad” star Michael Mando (Nacho) in a good role playing a genuinely good person.

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “The Hummingbird Project”

Meida Mikes has teamed up their friends at The Orchard to give (30) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Hummingbird Project.”

The film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard, will be screened on Wednesday, March 27th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is let us know in the comments below what film you are most looking forward to this summer. (30) random comments will be selected and they will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. The contest ends at 8:00 pm Monday, March 25th. Winners will be notified by email. Good luck!

LAMB OF GOD’S MARK MORTON ANNOUNCES NEW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT

LAMB OF GOD’S MARK MORTON ANNOUNCES NEW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT
SIGNS WORLDWIDE DEAL WITH WPP RECORDS/SPINEFARM RECORDS
STUDIO ALBUM ANESTHETIC OUT ON MARCH 1, 2019
LEAD TRACK “THE TRUTH IS DEAD” AVAILABLE TODAY
HERE

Mark Morton, the prolific guitarist of Lamb of God, has announced a new project that sees him further explore his creative drive for writing and collaboration. Joining forces with WPP Records and Spinefarm Records on a worldwide basis, Morton will release a 10-track album under his own name and titled Anesthetic. It arrives on March 1, 2019, but CD and vinyl pre-order and merch bundles are now available HERE.

Listen to the lead track “The Truth Is Dead,” featuring his Lamb of God bandmate Randy Blythe and Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, HERE.

The full track listing, complete with the list of guest artists is below. The album was made alongside a dream team of highly respected musicians from a multitude of musical worlds; some friends and some who would never be expected to collaborate with metal genre leaders Lamb of God.

Starting as idea between Jake (leader of heavy rock band Oni and founder of WPP Records), producer Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Trivium, Oni, Gojira), and Morton, the project quickly gathered steam – with Mark at the creative center, Josh Wilbur co-writing, recording, mixing, and producing, and Jake Oni also co-writing and performing.

Morton had been writing some of this debut for years. “This album wasn’t a concerted effort to start something outside Lamb of God,” he explains. “Music is always in my head, and until I write and record it, it’s stuck there. But once I record it, it’s out. It’s a catharsis, more for my own sanity.”

Singers on the album include Chester Bennington, Randy Blythe, Jacoby Shaddix, Myles Kennedy, Alissa White-Gluz, Mark Lanegan, Chuck Billy, Jake Oni, Josh Todd, Mark Morales, and Naeemah Maddox. Musically, Morton performs all guitars, with Roy Mayorga, David Ellefson, Ray Luzier, Paulo Gregoletto and Alex Bent, Mike Inez, Jean-Paul Gaster, Steve Gorman, and Marc Paul rounding out the band.

ANESTHETIC TRACK LISTING:

  1. “Cross Off” (feat. Chester Bennington)
  2. “Sworn Apart” (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
  3. “Axis” (feat. Mark Lanegan)
  4. “The Never” (feat. Chuck Billy + Jake Oni)
  5. “Save Defiance” (feat. Myles Kennedy)
  6. “Blur” (feat. Mark Morales)
  7. “Back From The Dead” (feat. Josh Todd)
  8. “Reveal” (feat. Naeemah Maddox)
  9. “Imaginary Days”
  10. “Truth Is Dead” (feat. Randy Blythe + Alissa White-Gluz)

MORTON ONLINE:
https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Morton-Official-341982462499123/
https://twitter.com/MarkDuaneMorton
https://www.instagram.com/mark.duane.morton/

Devin Townsend Project Announce US Tour Dates

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT Announce US Tour Dates

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT will return to the road in the US this year with a two week stretch of dates; some of which will see the band playing support for Opeth. The band continues to tour on the strength of their new record, Transcendence. Speaking about their upcoming shows in North America, Devin comments:

“Continuing on our run to support Transcendence, we are coming back to America for a quick run with Opeth and Gojira as well as some additional dates to get us to and from those shows. We are many places this year and are trying to make sure we take advantage of our geographic locations as we roll. The band keeps getting stronger and we look forward to seeing you there!”

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Upcoming US Dates

Friday, April 28th – Pomona, CA @ The Glass House*
Saturday, April 29th – Flagstaff, AZ @ The Orpheum*
Sunday, April 30th – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater*
Tuesday, May 2nd – St Louis, MO @ The Ready Room*
Thursday, May 4th – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues*
Friday, May 5th – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr Smalls*
Saturday, May 6th – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory^^
Sunday, May 7th – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom^
Tuesday, May 9th – Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre^
Thursday, May 11th – Denver, CO @ Red Rock Amphitheatre^
Friday, May 12th – Kansas City, KS @ Arvest Bank Theatre^
Saturday, May 13th – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room^
Sunday, May 14th – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s**

* – Headlining with Thank You Scientist & ONI
** – Headlining with Thank You Scientist
^ – Supporting Opeth & Gojira
^^ – Supporting Mastodon, Opeth & Gojira

Enter to Win a Digital HD Download of “The Blair Witch Project” [ENDED]

To celebrate Halloween, we are happy to be giving away a Digital HD Download of “The Blair Witch Project”. If you want to win this, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite go-to horror film to watch on Halloween. This giveaway will remain open until November 7th at Noon, Eastern Time.

Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Digital Download code for The Blair Witch Project via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Relive the horror classic! THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT follows a trio of filmmakers on what should have been a simple walk in the woods, but quickly becomes an excursion into heart-stopping terror.

Or dive into a new horror experience – from the director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT comes EXISTS, for five friends, it was a chance for a summer getaway – a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But visions of a carefree vacation are shattered with an accident on a dark and desolate country road.

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Minutemen’s Mike Watt talks about his latest project with Il Sogno Del Marinaio

Mike Watt is probably best known as the bassist for the influential 80’s punk band Minutemen.  Following the death of the group’s lead singer D. Boon in 1985 Watt went on to form and play with other seminal rock groups such as Firehose, Dos and more recently The Stooges. Watt’s latest project Il Sogno Del Marinaio is a 3 piece Avant-garde group that bends and blends musical genres and instrumentation. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Mike recently about the group’s new album and their upcoming 53 date tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some back ground on Il Sogno Del Marinaio?
Mike Watt: I’m a bit partial to trio’s and this new group is a very traditional trio however lately things been a bit different. With Missingmen and Black Gang I put those groups together to play my opera’s. I asked the guys who made up those groups if they would take direction to help me realize that piece of work. Then for 125 months I helped the Stooges which were the opposite as they were the ones telling me what needed to be done. With Il Sogno Del Marinaio its closer to what I was doing with D. Boon in Minutemen as there is a lot more collaboration going on. The band’s name means sailors dream and the other two guys in the group Stefano Pilia and Andrea Belfi are from Italy. They are about 20 years younger than me so I am like their student. How we came together was a total accident. I was in Italy doing some shows with Secondman and the promoter put Stefano with us to help navigate the area. About 4 or 5 years later I get an email out of the blue from Stefano asking me to come play some shows with him and a friend of his (Andrea Belfi). I didn’t even know Stefano was a musician. I knew he knew about the music scene but come to find out both him and Andrea are schooled musicians whose styles come from Avant-garde. Though our styles are different we share the same punk roots. That’s part of the reason why I feel like I am their student as I am learning a new style of music from them. It’s going to be great to bring these guys over here to the states and show them the landscape and expose American listeners to their playing. Here in the states you don’t get to hear a lot of Italian artists so this run of shows is going to be really special.

AL: The tour is very fast paced in that you are doing 53 shows in 53 days. Can you tell us about that?
MW: Coming from groups like the Minutemen who toured with bands like Black Flag doing shows like this is a tradition. It’s not really too wild or crazy as this is what I have always done. When Stefano asked me to first play with them we had to get the material together. My idea was to do some more shows together so the guys put together a small mini tour of 6 gigs.  Between the 3rd and 4th gig we made our first album. This will actually be our second tour for our second album. The guys know it will be a lot of work but they don’t see the B in burden they see the O in opportunity. If you really want to get out there and do a tour right you have to hit all the places not just the big ones.

AL: Can you tell us about the new album?
MW: This second album is much different from the first. When we did the first album we had just those three gigs together and that was it. The album was informed by just knowing each other and that was it. This new album is definitely formed from a different place. I think it’s important to make something different each time. Albums are almost like diary entries as they almost document what was going on during the time it was made. We worked with Bruno Germano in Bologna at a studio that was built inside a barn. It was such a cool place that the whole time I was there I never left it. Bruno has a more natural direction that doesn’t use a lot of effects to capture the moment. Bruno also brought a fourth man perspective which made the sound much more different. Bruno also was the guy who mixed the album. We did the album in about 8 days and I think it turned out really well. I got put in some interesting places and I thank the guys for that.

AL: Was there ever a time you were asked to step too far out of your comfort zone?
MW: The first thing was that those guys are trained musicians in other forms of playing than just rock and roll. They are capable of playing all these different time signatures very naturally. For me it was a bit harder to go back and forth from 4/4 to a more intricate signature. These guys have an expertise that is more accomplished. I had a similar problem when I worked on the song I did with Miku which was written in 7. In fact the drummer had to pound the rhythm for that out on my back. (Laughs) I got it but I needed a little help. It’s not bad to do things like this though because I think that if you don’t try shit and you always have the training wheels on then I feel it cheats things a little bit. You should always give things a try even if they may frustrate you a little bit at first.

AL: Was the song writing a collective effort or was there one guy who wrote a majority of the music?
MW: We all brought in our own tunes. I think I brought in 4 or 5 things. I didn’t honesty think that we would do all of what I brought in but when it was all said and 4 of my songs made it on the album. We did 12 songs all together. We all have distinctive ways of writing. I write on the bass on purpose and I don’t write anyone else’s parts. Andrea writes for everyone and Stefano writes only the guitar. We all take different approaches to composition. I come in with the bass lines and then give them to other guys to do their thing. I will change structure based on what the other person comes up with.  Stefano likes to put out guitar licks and then watches for what we do. He then will develop a melody right there in the moment. Andrea’s like to map everything out via Midi demos. We did a lot of work right there in the studio. Prior to the sessions starting we all did our homework and were prepared.

AL: Besides this album coming out in August what other releases do you have planned for this year?
MW: I just had an album come out titled “CUZ”. We started that fucker 6 years ago and just by coincidence it came out right now. That’s the problem with doing a lot of projects as things start to overlap yet you want to make sure that you give each project the proper respect. This “CUZ” album was the first time I ever made an album in England. Recording there was a bit different. We did a couple days of jamming and then parts were pulled from those sessions to make songs from. This is a very strange yet interesting album. This is something they want to try and do live which is pretty trippy to think about.

AL: Do you find it hard splitting time between multiple projects?
MW: (Laughs) Look what happened with Il Sogno Del Marinaio. I could even release the record because we couldn’t tour for three years! When I am working with a group I work with them like it is my only band. You don’t want to give a half ass effort. I go all the way with everything so I have to dedicate my time to each project. It’s hard to be in more than one place so I have to plan further ahead than I used to. This tour coming up I started booking back in January. If you want to give people a good shot of what you can do for them then you have to be planning ahead. I just did some shows with Big Walnuts Yonder that have been in the works for a couple years now. Those guys have some really crazy schedules.

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Kings X’s Doug Pinnick talks about new project “KXM” and upcoming debut album

Doug “dUg” Pinnick is probably best known as the bassist/vocalist for the hard rock/progressive band Kings X. Doug has also been a part of a number of side projects such as “Poundhound”, “Tres Mts.” And “Third Ear Experience”. Doug’s newest project simply titled “KXM” is a 3 piece super trio featuring Korn drummer Ray Luzier and legendary Dokken guitarist George Lynch. Media Mikes spoke with Doug recently about the group formation and the upcoming release of their debut album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands formation?
Doug Pinnick: Ray was having a party at his house for his son and we all happened to be there. During a break from the party Ray took us to see his new drum room which was also set up to record in. George threw out the idea to do some jamming and I think him and Ray actually did end up starting things there. A short while later I get a call saying George had booked some studio time. Luckily we were all free and we got together and started working on the album. It all came together very quick. We would be in the studio for a couple days and then Ray would have to fly out to Singapore or somewhere to play with Korn. We are pretty happy with how things turned out and I am all ready to do another.

AL: What can we expect to hear on the album?
DP: I think people will hear who we are as individual players. My bass tone is something that can’t be disguised as it is what it is. George is a unique guitar player and he brings that element to things. He doesn’t do as much soloing as on some of his other projects but I think there’s still a good amount of that on this record. Ray showcased his intricate cymbal work which is something that hasn’t always showed up in the mix of his previous work but on this record, Oh man!

AL: Did you approach this album any differently than you would with a Kings X album?
DP: Yes. The approach we took was that no one could tell the others what to do. You had to be 100 percent trusting in the parts that the other members created. Whatever we did we all complimented each other. When I listen back to the recordings there are no preconceptions. This is the first group I have been in where I can almost step outside of things. (Laughs)

AL: Was this approach laid out before hand or did it evolve over time?
DP: When we started out we were talking about a number of different things. George had a bunch of material that he wanted to bring up but we decided to do this thing from scratch. George agreed and things turned out great. I have a whole hard drive of songs that we could have pulled from as well but we chose to start fresh. Started from scratch was something I was very adamant about.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for the song “Rescue Me”?
DP: I never know what song to pick as a single as I always seem to pick something different from everyone else. I sort of stood back from the selection process and let the label and Ray and George decide. Everyone thought “Rescue Me” was the song to release first and I was totally ok with that. We worked with some of the guys who have done work on Korn’s videos and Ray and George pooled some other resources to come up with this video. I just kind of went along with the process and every draft we got back was really great. They did a very good job at making me like me. That at times can be a difficult job. (Laughs

AL: Has there been any talks of touring the album?
DP: We have all been talking about touring. As soon as we can find time that works with everyone’s schedules you better believe that we will be out there. Why not? We all have a bunch of other things going on but when we find that window we are jumping in.

AL: What other projects do you currently have in the works?
DP: I will be singing in a Jimi Hendrix tribute at South by South West this year with Perry Farrell and Slash. After that I will be playing in Los Angeles at The Guitar Center convention with my blues band. I will also be doing some stuff with a few of my other side projects as well.
 

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Matt Sorum talks about solo project Fierce Joy and album “Stratosphere”

Matt Sorum has been the drummer for such legendary bands as The Cult, Velvet Revolver and Gun’s N’ Roses. Matt’s newest musical endeavor is a solo project titled “Matt Sorum’s Fierce Joy”. The album simply titled “Stratosphere” comes out of Matt’s desire to give back while also addressing his past with startling insight and maturity. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Matt recently about the creation of the album and his evolution as a musician and person.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how you started working on this new album?
Matt Sorum: I have always been a fan of acoustic guitar. I will generally sit down and write a song when I am having some sort of emotional feeling. That is my outlet. I have acoustic guitars all around my house. I will just pick them up and start playing. A lot of this record was compiled from cassette tapes I had made as I used to keep a cassette player around to record these ideas when I had them. When I got ready to put this album together I knew I wanted it to be around my other love of music that is a bit separate from my love of rock and roll. I love artists like Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Joni Mitchell. I have this whole other set of music that I love and I wanted to do something in that vein. When I started putting everything together I noticed that my style was geared more towards that type of Americana writing. I grew up on progressive music and that is another influence that came out on this record. I spent a week out in the desert with these riffs and ideas and wrote 8 or 9 of the tracks. I didn’t have any distractions and I was able to just write. Things worked out well and I had this great channel of energy. I stumbled on to a way of writing which allowed me to really flow. In the past I had a collaborator help me with the writing but on this new record I did most of it myself. It felt really good to be able to do that. When it came time to put the record out I knew I could record it at my home studio and I could bring in musicians but there was more a lot more to it. I ended up starting my own label with an investor friend of mine and we called it Rok Dok Recordings. We did everything ourselves and it was a lot of fun. This was just a great experience all the way around. Having total control of your music is a great feeling.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the musicians who played on the album?
MS: I knew stylistically where I wanted to go with this and it was going to be in a different wheel house so to speak. If I wanted to make a rock album that would have been pretty easy but with the sound I was going for with “Stratosphere” things were a little different. I picked the drummer because I didn’t play drums on the album. That was probably the hardest thing for me. I started with Paul Ill on bass. He has played with everyone from Tina Turner to Linda Perry. Paul was very instrumental in putting the band together. He brought in some really great players that have played with tons of people and appeared on a lot of great albums. The guys who played on the record are going to be the same group I take out on the road with me when that time comes. These guys put their hearts and souls in to this record I really appreciate that.

AL: Can you tell us about the webisodes you created to document the creation of the album?
MS: I was trying to come up with a way to get the material out there and make people aware of it. Even before I did the album I knew I was going to shoot all of from the rehearsals to the actual recording. I have seen this idea done before and I know people want to be invested in a project or have a part of it. I ended up doing a series of 5 episodes that will be released over a period of time prior to the album release. After the album comes out there will continue to be new episodes being released. We want to be able to just keep building momentum. We have a tone of stuff recorded that we want to share with the fans.

AL: What do you feel is going to be the biggest challenge in getting fans to see you outside of your normal “rock” element?
MS: I could have easily sat back and made a rock album. I know rock and roll very well so that probably wouldn’t have taken very long. It’s easy for me to write rock songs but it never feels as satisfying to me. I like rock and roll as an energy and a feeling that is separate from what I felt when I was writing the material on this new record. I don’t feel I could have written rock songs that go as deep in to my psyche as these songs do as it’s a different energy. I hope fans look at it as either being good music or bad music. They don’t know me as a singer so I just hope they like the different style and notice that I can sing. I hope people who have known me or have been a fan of me for a long time will sit down and give this record a chance. I want people to be able to see me in a different light.

AL: Do you feel you are past the point now of ever doing Gun’s N Roses again?
MS: I think you have to be past it. I have been past it for a long time now. The expectations will just kick your ass if you don’t move on. There’s not a day in my life that I don’t get asked about the band. I look at that as two fold. It’s sort of a blessing and a curse. (Laughs) It’s really more of a blessing. Being a part of that legacy for the time that I was a part of it was a blessing. That time really paved the way for the rest of my life. That was a great experience in my life and was one of the greatest rock bands ever! I have to look at it with respect and thank the fans and the other band members for including me. I will look back at the height of things with the band which I was there for and say “I did it”. That might be the way it should be left. We all have other things going on outside of Gun’s N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver that we are very happy doing.

AL: What other projects to do you have in the works?
MS: I really need to get this stuff with Fierce Joy out there. This project is where I can really show my artistic roots. It’s a cathartic thing that you have to do. Some people write in a book or diary or maybe go to a shrink. (Laughs) For me I chose to do that with this record. My band Kings of Chaos are going to be going out on the road and were set to break off a bunch of new stuff for this summer. We are going to be doing something called “The Celebration of Rock and Roll”. This will be with guys I have known for 25/30 years. We are going to be in a lot of different places with that. I am going to try and do all of this.

Dream Theater’s James LaBrie talks about solo project with Matt Guillory titled “Impermanent Resonance”

James LaBrie is probably best known for his work as the vocalist for the progressive rock band Dream Theater. Outside of his work with Dream Theater, James is also a successful solo artist. Together with keyboardist Matt Guillory, James has released a new solo album titled “Impermanent Resonance” and Media Mikes had the chance to recently to speak with both of the guys about what it was like working on the album.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new album “Impermanent Resonance”?
Matt Guillory: The album is a continuation of what we establish with the “Elements of Persuasion” album and more so with the “Static Impulse” album. With the new album we tried to make everything more heavy and melodic. We really wanted to push the melodic side of things by strengthening the hooks and melodies. I also believe that “Impermanent Resonance” is a much more dynamic and diverse.

AL: At what point of the writing/recording process James do you bring in your lyrics?
James LaBrie: There are two ways that we go about things. Matt will often approach things by writing lyrics or subject matter ahead of time prior to the music being written. He also works the more traditional way as well in that you craft the lyrics to fit the melody. That is the way in which I will usually write. I like everything to be established. It’s much easier for me to wrap things around a preconceived melody. The process can sometimes take 3 different stages in that I may present an idea to Matt and he takes what he wants from there. Matt is the main composer so he is the one creating where the song is going to go. The 3rd stage is one where we bring in other writers to collaborate with. On the new album we brought in Peter Wichers to help with a few songs. We have a few different ways in which we write.

AL: Is this also the way that your work when writing material for Dream Theater?
JL: Yes. We use three different stages when it comes to the Dream Theater material. Things may come out of jams we do during sound checks. Other times we all just sit down in the studio and start showing each other ideas we have stored on our iphones. A lot of the material really is created through our interactions with one another and bouncing those ideas back and forth.

AL: Matt for you what was it like bringing in outside writers?
MG: It was really seamless. We have done this before in the past but things went really great this time around. Bringing in Peter Wichers was great. His contribution with riff writing and ideas for verses was a very nice collaboration.

AL: Do each of you try to bring in a finished product before presenting to the other guys or is it more of a collaborative effort during the creating process?
MG: Before I present something to anyone else I try and get it pretty well developed. Most of my ideas start as vocal melodies that I then build everything else around. I try to have things pretty solid before sending the song out. From there it becomes more about tweaking the song.
JL: When Matt and I decide that it’s the right time to start putting together ideas for another album we do like to feel like we are starting fresh. We want to basically have a new canvas to paint on. I think it is always important for Matt and me to feel that we are representing ourselves musically with what we are creating. It’s definitely a combination of things.

AL: Did having the same line up for this album and the last album makes things easier from a writing/recording standpoint?
MG: Absolutely. It was really cool to do another record with the same line up. I love consistency. I think it’s cool how everyone has their own unique identity as a player that they bring to the table. It makes things really special. Everyone is such a high caliber musician that it made things super easy. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.

AL: Are there plans to tour in support of the album?
JL: I think ultimately we want to do a tour that would be considered extensive. I think the immediate situation is that I have an obligation to Dream Theater and we start a world tour come January. This band that Matt and I have is one that has to be a little more patient. Everyone is behind wanting to tour the album but that won’t probably start to become a reality until the Dream Theater to conclude. We are definitely going to do a tour and try to get into as many areas as possible.

AL: With both of you having other priorities is it hard to put something like this on the back burner because of those commitments?
MG: It is for me. When I poor my heart and soul into something that is what I want to do. I have to try and stay focused. Working that way is better for me even though at times I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. This is so important to me and I want to make it the best it can be.
JL: The same stands for me. Dream Theater is my main gig but this thing Matt and I have is something that has developed over 14 years. We are both very much committed to it. I think every time there is a release it shows that it is in fact a priority for us. This is something we are both dedicated to as we realize that you are only as good as your last outing. It is something that fortunately we are able to let things develop. We feel this release is complete and probably our best album to date.

Cinderella’s Tom Keifer talks about solo album “The Way Life Goes” and tour plans

Tom Keifer is best known as the charismatic front man for the popular 80’s rock band Cinderella. Tom still performs regularly with Cinderella who celebrated their 25 year anniversary in 2011. Tom’s newest project is a solo effort which has been in the making for quite some time. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Tom recently about working on the album and his upcoming tour plans.

Adam Lawton: What prompted you to decide that now was the time to release a solo album?
Tom Keifer: There never was a set time frame for me to do a solo album. I had first started thinking about doing one in the mid 90’s when Cinderella broke up for a bit. The album has been a work in progress for years. I started writing back then but never really recorded anything. I finally started recording in 2003. I did this independently as I didn’t want to deal with a label. From the time we actually started cutting tracks till now took almost 10 years. That was something I never intended. It is finished now and it’s a good window of opportunity because Cinderella decided to take a break from touring as we have toured hard the last 3 years. The timing worked out really well. Things just sort of happened as I didn’t have a plan 15 years ago that now would be the time to release this. (Laughs)

AL: With the album taking so long did you find yourself going back and making changes to some of the older material?
TK: It was a constant process. Once the songs were selected we would work on those and then go in and record a few more. Then we would go back and rework the older ones. There were quite a few periods of time where I wasn’t working on the record because of touring with Cinderella. Those breaks from the record were really great periods of objectivity. That’s not something you normally get. We made all of the Cinderella records in 6 month time frames where we worked 6 days a week. This album was much different because there was no label behind it. I could push save on Pro Tools and come back to it in a few months.

AL: Do you prefer working on an album like this that is more open ended as opposed to having that push to get it done by a certain time?
TK: I really like how this record came out and I left no stone unturned. I think everything came out real well. However I don’t think anyone is ever 100% happy with a record. There is always stuff you hear that bothers you. It was cool though to have the luxury of time but there are parts for me that I like more than others.

AL: Were the songs that made it on to the album more recent ideas or are they a collection of works from over time?
TK: Everything had been written prior to 2003. I picked about 14/15 tunes and usually from that point on I don’t write anymore for a record. I had a collection of songs dating back to the mid 90’s so there was a large body of work to choose from. I picked 14 that I thought were the best and fit together the best. I always seem to have a song somewhere. (Laughs)

AL: What led you to choose “The Flowering Song” as the album’s first single?
TK: It’s hard to pick singles sometimes because then you start thinking. (Laughs) For the first rock single that one was pretty unanimous between me and my wife who I co-wrote the song with. My friends and management all liked the feel of that track and eventually the label that picked up the album chose that song to be the first rock release. People really liked that track from first listen and we didn’t try to over think things.

AL: What are the tour plans for the release?
TK: We will be back out on the road starting in May. We will be working our way east after we hit the west coast. We are taking things one day at a time and how the record does will really dictate how long we are out for.

Brett Alan Coker Talks About His Upcoming Project (And How You Can Help)

I worked in the movie theatre business for 20 years. In that time I met hundreds of young adults who loved movies and planned to make them some day. But I’ve only had one who, at the age of 17, had already written no less than (5) full length feature films (and I still have the scripts to prove it). His name is Brett Alan Coker and he is now working with Kickstarter to help fund his next project. Hoping to get the word out, Coker talked with Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: Tell us about your new project.
Brett Alan Coker: The project is called “Lenexa (a docu•mys•tory)” and it’s a quasi-documentary. It is going to be done in the form of a documentary. But it is part truth and part fabrications. It is going to be a blend of coming-of-age tales from my own life and made-up stories of characters that I have created over the years with my writings.

MS: Sounds simple.
BAC: I really don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it is hopefully going to be a love letter to Kansas and to the city of Lenexa, as well as a home movie and a mystery.

MS: Talk about the story of “Lenexa”:
BAC: It is all predicated on an suburban legend of a treasure left behind by a group of guys that were petty thieves in the late 90’s. As the story unfolds you receive more and more information about the guys whom created and left the treasure, as well as deduce what the treasure actually is. If it in fact exists, what it is, and where it is. All the information needed to figure out the truth about mystery of the treasure will be in the documentary. But it is up to the viewer to piece it together.

MS: You’ve written several scripts. Have you filmed any of your work?
BAC: This project, hopefully, will be the first of many. Using the funds I am attempting to raise from Kickstarter.com I will be able to get the equipment and software I need to do this film, and many others after. I don’t know what you know about Kickstarter.com, but it’s a website that helps people crowd source funding for creative projects. It’s an all or nothing thing. I am looking for raise $5,000 by March 11th, 2013. And if I don’t hit that goal, I don’t get a dime. I could have $4,997.00, and if I don’t get the last $3.00 then…nothing.

To give a hand to Brett’s project, just visit:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebac/lenexa-a-documystory-a-feature-length-film

Blu-ray Review “Project X”

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Starring: Thomas Mann, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Running Time: 88 minutes

Film: 1 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

Maybe I am getting old but to have a film with this kind of warning…I just shake my head.”No one should attempt to recreate or re-enact any of the scenes, stunts or general activities portrayed in the film.”  I have seen all the “Jackass” movies and they do not come even close to this trash.  The film has aimed to be a comedy but is jokeless, it contains no plot and just proves that our teen society is out of control.  I can tell you one thing my kid will never see this film, its like having too much candy…it will rot your brain.

Since the film shot with handcam, it is choppy and raw, so it is not really a film that shines on Blu-ray.  It is still presented well in its 1080p transfer.  It’s audio contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which work with the film’s madness.  Warner’s delivered the goods like normally, including a Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy.

The special features are terrible just like the film.  “The Pasadena Three” is a featurette on the three idiot teens and how they got their roles “acting”, if you can call it that. “Declassified” is a basic behind-the-scenes look at the production or lack their of.  There is “Xpensive: Tallying Up the Damages” which looks into the aftermath of the crazy night. Lastly there is two cuts of the film, the theatrical and the extended cut.  Though the theatrical cut was enough “Project X” for me for a lifetime.

Premise: “Project X” is an out-of-control comedy that follows a group of buds who set out to throw the most epic 17th birthday party ever. The film documents a high school party that gets completely out of control, shot from the perspective of the digital cameras that the kids have with them.

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CON-X KC to benefit Wounded Warrior Project

CON-X Kansas City, a three day Horror, Sci-Fi and Pop Culture Convention, will be held September 14-16, 2012 at the Ramada Conference Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Each year the convention chooses a worthy charity to highlight. This year they have chosen the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between their time on active duty and their transition to civilian life. The event will include film screenings, a dealers room and Q&A sessions with some of the featured guests.

Among the guests scheduled to appear: Walter Koenig (“Star Trek”), Denise Crosby (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Margot Kidder (“Superman the Movie,” “The Amityville Horror”) Bob Gunton (“Shawshank Redemption”), James Tolkan (“Back to the Future” series, “Top Gun’) and Kansas City native Sandahl Bergman (“Conan the Barbarian,” “All that Jazz”). Also scheduled to appear are stars from the “Stargate” and “Paranormal Activity” series.

For more information go to www.conxkc.com
To make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project go to www.woundedwarriorproject.org

Film Review “Re:Generation Music Project”

Directed By: Amir Bar-Lev
Starring: Skrillex, DJ Premier, The Crystal Method, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, LeAnn Rimes, Dr. Ralph Stanley
Distributed by: D & E
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

In “Re:Generation”, acclaimed director Amir Bar-Lev (“The Tillman Story”, “My Kid Could Paint That”), has gathered an incredible amount of musical talent for a documentary that is well suited for the iPod era.

The main concept of this film is a simple one. Five popular DJs are partnered with musical genres they rarely if ever work with and each is expected to create a whole new track in a matter of days. This leads to pairings as unusual as electronic music artist Skrillex with the remaining members of The Doors and Pretty Lights with country legend Dr Ralph Stanley. The set up could be the conceit of a reality show to exploit the differences between generations but both the artists and filmmakers smartly recognize that this is not the goal here. Instead we see professionals getting honestly inspired by their collaborators. Taking on classical music, New York-based DJ Premier is especially fun to watch as he’s taught how to conduct the Berklee Symphony Orchestra. His piece stitches together rapper Nas with eleven classical works from Mozart to Brahms to wonderful effect.

The starriest of collaborations is the jazz work created by producer Mark Ronson in New Orleans with Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Dap-Kings and Zigaboo Modeliste. In a piece themed to gumbo, Ronson perfectly captures the spirit of the project when he says “You mix it all up in a pot and see what works.” In an age where people walk around with entire musical libraries in their pockets, this sentiment is clearly already accepted by modern listeners. Using available technology to create actual seamless blends like these is the natural next step.

Adding to the talent on display is the fact that the doc is beautifully shot. You can feel the excitement of the working studio through Bar-Lev’s fly-on-the-wall footage. When the final products are eventually performed, the sense of accomplishment is palpable as Bar-Lev cuts between the isolated artists recording and the wild, entertained crowds. It’s remarkable to see concert goers open to artists they may never have encountered otherwise. One can only hope the DJs take the inspiration they found during this film and continue to work outside their comfort zones.

 

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