Interview with Robert “Bucket” Hingley

Robert “Bucket” Hingley is guitarist/vocalist for the popular ska band The Toasters. The band recently celebrated its 30th year anniversary and our out on the road bringing their brand of NYC ska to the masses. Media Mikes caught up with Bucket to discuss the bands history and their future plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the band’s current tour?
Robert Hingley: We are currently making our way out to California where we have shows booked in both San Diego and Los Angeles. The tour is about 45 dates which have all been rolled into what is the second part of our 30th anniversary tour.

AL: What is the bands line up for this tour?
RH: The band is Thad Merritt on Bass, Nate Sabnayagan on Drums, Jonny D on Sax and Chap Sowash on Trombone and I play guitar and sing. This is a smaller line up as we have tooled it down from touring with 7 or 8 guys. We have gone for more of a lean mean ska machine sound. These days it’s very hard monetarily to tour with a large band unfortunately.

AL: When you started the band in 1981 did you foresee a career which is now into its 30th year?
RH: If that idea would have been proposed to me back then I probably would have told you that you were mad! As it turns out though you would have been the one that was right and I would have been the mad one. Here I am still doing this some 5,000 shows later. I never thought the band would have the legs that it has.

AL: What do you think has been the biggest factor in keeping the band going for so long?
RH: We really play a lot of bizarre places all over the world. In that sense everything hasbeen kept pretty fresh. We are constantly trying to find new places to go rather than running over the same tracks time and time again. We also have a large pool of members to play with. There are a couple of members out with us now that are new to the mix but, that keeps everything fresh. We play the tunes a little bit different and you have to just find what’s good to help change it up. I also think playing in a niche market for a group of very hardcore fans has also helped us survive.

AL: How did the band become involved with doing the theme song for Nickelodeons’ “KaBlam!”?
RH: That was back during our Moon Ska Record days. We had a lot of stuff working with MTV then and Nickelodeon at that time was pretty similar to MTV. The cartoonist for that show was a big Bad Manners fan and he wanted to have some tracking similar to their sound. He couldn’t get them to help out so they contacted our label and we got hired to do the show. It was really just being in the right place at the right time which seems to be the secret of the universe. We have lots of people come up to us and tell us that the first exposure they ever had to the band was watching that show. It’s really shows you the power of television on people’s minds.

AL: Was there a reason the band called themselves The Moon Ska Stompers on that track?
RH: We had a lot of irons in the fire at the time as we were recording a record and touring. Some of the guys just weren’t available so I had a combination of Toaster’s members and some guys I worked with on other projects to be part of that studio session band.

AL: Are there any plans to put out a new album with the bands current lineup?
RH: Not so much and album but we have a couple songs that are ready to go. The next thing we plan to put out is going to be a 7” vinyl called “House of Soul”.  It’s ironic that the music model for 2012 has reverted to what it was in 1962. I think now the concept of an album is something kids fail to grasp. I have 14 year old daughters and I was telling them about the concept of an album and they just couldn’t wrap their heads around the thought of it. They download singles directly to their phone so the idea of going to a record store and buying an album is kind of beyond them. Things have very much reverted back to the 60’s single driven model. In a way that’s not so bad because it forces people to write good tunes.

AL: Does the band have any other plans for 2012?
RH: We have some more touring lined up as we just finished booking a European tour that kicks off in April. That will be about a six week tour. We also have some summer festivals lined up and possibly some dates on this summer’s Warped Tour. From there we will be going to Australia and Japan in the fall and then back to the states for a few more dates. I also have some music festival projects outside of the band in the works but I can’t really say too much about those at this time. I can tell you that it will involve summertime, music and beer. I think people like that stuff.


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Interview with Robert Hall

Robert Hall is the creator of the “Laid to Rest” series.  His latest installment in the series “ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2” sees the return of the new horror icon.  Besides writing and directing movies, Robert also has an effects company Almost Human.  Keep an eye out for Robert as he is going to be the next Steven Spielberg.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about his new film and also what’s to come.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you give us some background on how the character Chromeskull was created?
Robert Hall: I had set out to make a very mysterious character that harkened back to those 80’s slasher films that I loved. I figured Chromeskull probably had seen all the same movies I had. I wanted Chromeskull to be just a regular guy and not some deformed hillbilly. Over the course of each film I wanted to release a little bit of information as to who Chromeskull is. With the way the first film ended there wasn’t a lot of room for the character to do much by himself. I planned pretty early on to have a support structure underneath Chromeskull that would explain a little bit more about him. There is a company that manufactures surgical tools that has a side business run by Brian Austin Green and Daniel Harris. I wrote that role specifically for Brian.

MG: How would you compare the two productions?
RH: Looking at the films as a fan, the second film is what you would want out of a sequel. You definitely don’t want to watch the same movie again. Most of the time when a sequel is made the easy route is taken which often duplicates the previous film. I wanted to go the more realistic route and show some of the organization and Chromeskull recovery. Both movies are very different and that is what I wanted. The one cohesive element is Chromeskull and the kills.

MG: What was the most difficult challenge working on the second film?
RH: I set the bar really high with all the kills and I think that what people will be looking for with the next film. I wanted to push myself in that aspect for the second film. There also was some criticism towards some of the actor’s performances in the first film so I wanted to make sure everyone was spot on with their performances. I really listened to the fans and addressed any issues that were brought to my attention with this second film. I think we made a film that everyone is really proud of.

MG: Did intend for the second film to much gorier?
RH: I’m not a big fan of that term actually. I don’t think the “Laid to Rest” films are particularly gory. They are intense and I don’t shy away from that like a traditional film might. I think what really makes people cringe is to get into the mind set of how these kills are accomplished. I like to use what’s in the environment so things don’t look forced. I know not everyone can do things the way I do and that is what I think sets our films apart from other slasher films.

MG: The ending of the second film is left open. Do you have any ideas for a third film?
RH: I think we definitely want to expand things. The reception has been really great. I don’t think I would be directing it as I have a lot of other things going on however I would oversee it to make sure the quality is there.

MG: Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects?
RH: We are working really hard to turn the web series I did with Robert England into a movie. I think that’s going to be our next step. There are also a bunch of other little things going on that are in various stages of development. From an effect’s stand point we just finished a movie with Bernard Rose who directed “Candy Man”. We have a lot of different stuff going on.

Interview with Robert Kenner

Robert Kenner is known for directing the following documentaries the Oscar Nominated “Food Inc.” and the recent “When Strangers Click”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about working on his new documentary “When Strangers Click” as well as “Food Inc.” and also what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you give us some background on your newest film?
Robert Kenner: After doing “Food Inc.” which was a very serious topic I was sort of hijacked by the food world. It’s a great world and I think “Food Inc.” is about a lot more than just food. The film is more so about how the world of food has been industrialized. In a way “Food Inc.” taught you about how the world of food has changed and “When Strangers Click” is teaching about how the world of love has been changed. On one hand the film is about how we fall in love and on the other it’s about how the world has become a different place. For me some of the stories in the film are jaw dropping.

MG: How did you find the five people in the film?
RK: Marc Weiss had found a lot of these stories and he brought them to me. Marc was the guy who started “P.O.V.”. I initially wasn’t interested in the stories until I started to see how powerful they were. We had kept talking to people but the ones in the series really jumped out at us. They are amazing stories and characters that you could never write.

MG: How long did it take to complete the project?
RK: It was all pretty quick. We did the first pieces on spec and we added the last interview which we thought was the most unbelievable towards the end of the project. That interview was a whole new way of looking at the world.

MG: Production wise how do you feel this project differs from that on “Food Inc.”?
RK: These were much more self contained stories. Technically we broke some new ground and went to some different places. Shooting on second life was a brand new experience for me. I was amazed at how beautiful it. I was thrilled by this experience.

MG: What is the first thing you do when you decide to do a project?
RK: This project sort of snuck up on me. I went out and shot a few stories that were handed to me. We shot them all relatively quick. In the midst of shooting I thought the stories were just so great. I never really committed to making the film. We brought the stories to HBO and they fell in love with them the same way we had. The next thing I know we were making a movie. I thought I was just out there having some fun.

MG: Did you have to cut a lot of footage to get the movie to its final run time?
RK: No. That’s just where we were. I actually had one story that wasn’t going to be included but it was so well liked in ended up in the film. This was a film I never committed to making I just got sucked in. We shot for a few days and then we had a movie. It all happened so quick and easy. The film turned into so much more than I was anticipating.

MG: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
RK: I have two projects. One is titled “”. I will be small little videos about how we can change the food system combined with some very active political campaigns. The other film is about how doubt is created by tobacco companies telling you that cigarettes aren’t really bad for you. That film is titled “Merchants of Doubt”.

Interview with Robert Miles

Robert Miles is an Italian musician and DJ of electronica and alternative music and is known best for his track “Children” from his debut album “Dreamland” in 1994. Since then Robert has “23am” in 1997, “Organik” in 2001, “Miles_Gurtu” in 2004 and his latest “Th1rt3en” in 2011. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about his career, his new albums and his plans for what’s to come.

Mike Gencarelli: Before the internet was the internet, I remember hearing your track “Children” in 1995 and being blow away; how do you feel the song would be received if it was received today?
Robert Miles: Probably in the same way it got received back then. The new generation is discovering the track now and many think it’s a new tune and are surprised when they get to know that it was produced 17 years ago (amazing how time goes so fast!).

MG: Why the 7 years span between “Miles_Gurtu”, your 4th album and your latest “Th1rt3en”?
RM: I have been involved with more soundtracks work.  I opened a studio in the heart of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, became father and worked on a big remodeling project (a 500 years old ‘finca’ aka farmer’s house) in Ibiza) designing and managing it myself…very time consuming!

MG: What has been your primary inspiration for “Th1rt3en”?
RM: After “Organik” and “Miles_Gurtu”, I wanted to explore more the nature of alternative rock and use mainly electric guitar…I got in touch with Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and Dave Okumu (The invisible) as I really like the way they play their instrument and asked them if they wanted to collaborate…they accepted and we put together the parts in various sessions. I usually get inspiration from everyday life experiences …and try to convey those experiences and my feelings through my music in order to be able to connect with the audience. I am so pleased when people send me a message saying that they felt the same emotion/energy while listening to the music…it is so rewarding. Makes you think…I want to do more.

MG: How long did the album take to complete from beginning to end?
RM: The composing process 6 years…as I was working on it during my spare time (from fatherhood and all the other projects I had going) in various cities (Mainly London, Berlin, Ibiza and Los Angeles)…the recordings were done in London within two weeks from when we started.

MG: I love “Voices From a Submerged Sea”, tell us about creating that song?
RM: It’s the track with most downloads, funnily enough. A live strings orchestra was used to record it. It’s a very cinematic track and refers to the ‘voices’ that one can hear from within…An introspective piece I have done in a moment of peaceful solitude in Ibiza during the winter. A new video has been released for it (each photogram is hand made and drawn simply with a Bic pen) and you can watch it here:

MG: Is there a track on the album that you favor over the others?
RM: Maybe “The Wolf”. For its simplicity and what it conveys.

MG: Your music videos are very artistic and well designed, specifically ‘Miniature World”, what is your involvement in their creations?
RM: Thank you. I am very much involved with the artistic side of my videos, especially since I have control of my music (that’s since I have opened my own label Salt Records in London, back in 2000). It’s very important for me to deliver quality videos together with my music. Something that hopefully will stand in time and will be seen more as a art form than a promotional tool by the future generations.

MG: How do you approach remixing your songs so soon after just releasing them?
RM: Not an easy task if I have to be honest. Especially because you have listened to that track so many times already (when producing/mixing it) and you just want to move on to the next thing. But in the end I always come up with an idea, or more than one, and ‘sculpt’ the original version into something totally different. Challenging.

MG: Tell us about your reason you chose to blend alternative and progressive rock with ambient and electronic soundscapes?
RM: I come from the electronic side of the music spectrum…and since I have moved to London in 1996, I have tried to incorporate other genres into my productions…as I wanted to achieve a more ‘human’ sound (and less computer sounding) . “Organik” had world and rock music elements, while “Miles_Gurtu” had jazz influences. I am a big fan of blending electronic together with acoustic sounds. I think it’s a great combination.

MG: Tell us about the film soundtrack you’re working on for “The Turn of this Century”?
RM: It’s going to be a pretty cool project…60 minutes of music and images…and a voice over….three elements working in tandem and creating a real audio sensorial and visual ‘journey’ through the events of the last 100 years on our planet…featuring the photography of LIFE magazine….mind blowing. The ‘ journey of your life’…literally speaking! Coming soon…everywhere!

MG: Are you planning to tour at all for this new album?
RM: Unfortunately it would be almost impossible as most of the musicians that have been involved have their own band and touring constantly…So I am currently DJing and run several radio shows on different station around the globe…that displays the more electronic side of Robert Miles here: