MEET THE NEW GUY – Media Mikes welcomes writer Michael D. Smith

It is with great pride that we at Media Mikes are able to introduce you to our new film reviewer/writer:  Michael D. Smith.

Michael began his film critic path by writing movie reviews for his college newspaper for a couple years. After graduation, he wrote reviews for his hometown paper in Harrisonville, Missouri for six years before becoming the Arts & Entertainment editor and film critic at a publication in Overland Park, Kansas. a position he held for three years.

Our newest “Mike” – Michael D. Smith

In 2009 was offered an opportunity at KCMETROPOLIS.ORG where he predominately covered independent/art house films.   He will now cover them for Media Mikes as well as contributing commentary when the mood takes him.

Michael is a long-standing member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest film critic group in America.

You can find his first review for Media Mikes, of the film “Mountain,” HERE

B. Harrison Smith talks about working with horror legends in his new film “Death House”

Photo by KGE

Harrison Smith is the writer and director of the new horror film “Death House”, which is being called the Expendables of the horror genre! This film is jam packed with dozens of icons including Kane Hodder, Dee Wallace, Tony Todd, Bill Moseley and many more! B. Harrison took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about the film and what we can expect for the future!

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you first got involved with “Death House”?
B. Harrison Smith: All of that can be found here. It’s my personal blog called Cynema. It has four articles called “The Road To Death House” series which answers everything you need to know.

MG: How much did Gunner Hansen complete before his passing?
BHS: Gunnar did the original script. That’s covered in the “Road to Death House” series on my blog. The script that’s shot is 90% mine. I kept his concept of the Five Evils and the issue of good and evil’s dependency on each other. However Gunnar’s original script was about a team of filmmakers going into an abandoned asylum where they were killed off. So it’s pretty different. He gave the script his blessing before he died. He was happy with what I did. He was such a good person.

MG: What was it like to work with so many horror legends?
BHS: Educational. They know so much. They’ve seen so much and how the industry has evolved and changed for the better and worse. I loved the fact that I grew up watching them in theaters and late night cable and video and now I work with them. That’s the best thing.

MG: Were there any talent that you reach out to that turned you down or that you weren’t able to get for this film?
BHS: Sure and it was due to scheduling. When the money finally moved it didn’t jive with everyone’s schedule. Robert Englund was in the middle of three projects and flying to Scotland. Bruce Campbell was smack dab in the middle of the Evil Dead tv show but they were really nice about it and supportive. What can you do? The project had been on and off again for years. They had to work. Hopefully the next one we will get them!

MG: What was one of the coolest moments you had on set during production?
BHS: There were a few but one that comes to mind was watching the interaction between Kane, Bill, Michael. They’ve known each other so long. They’re icons and they fuck with each other like high school kids. They did this three stooges “hello, hello, hello” bit and it was classic.

I also got to eat lunch with Sid Haig who just told me so much about the industry over the last 50 years. He’s a wealth of information and stories and I was so privileged to have him share them with me.

MG: On the flip side, what was the hardest part of the production?
BHS: Having a low budget and 24 day shoot schedule. I think most indie filmmakers will cite money and time as the biggest issues. There were no divas. No “creative differences.” The people part and crew part was easy. Time and money…they’re the hurdles.

MG: According to IMDB I see there is a prequel in the cards, “Dawn of 5 Evils”, is this next for you? Give us a tease on what we can expect?
BHS: Producer Rick Finkelstein wants it and I’ll oblige. It’s a prequel and that title will change. That’s just a working title for now but It will examine the backgrounds of the Five Evils and their origins.

MG: What is your wishlist cast for the next film in the franchise?
BHS: Ah hell, if I do that and leave anyone off then I piss off potential cast. I hope everyone for the sequel returns and I look forward to new faces as well.

MG: Fun question, if you could remake/reboot one horror film, what would it be?
BHS: I’m not against remakes when they’re warranted. There have been some great ones: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” ‘78, “The Blob”, “Night of the Living Dead”. So if I had my choice, I’d love to get a crack at remaking “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death.” I love the original but I think there were things limited by budget and time. The original sits on my DVD shelf and it scared me since a kid.

MG: Favorite childhood horror film that inspired you to your current role today and why?
BHS: I always say the original “Jaws” is the movie that made me want to make movies. But I’m not sure I classify Jaws as a horror film. But that’s the one. I was 8 when I saw it in 1975 in theaters and I told my mom afterward that I want to make movies when I grew up. I wish she’d lived to see that happen.

Seth Avett discusses new album “Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith”

Singer/Songwriters Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield have combined their talents for the first time on record with the release of “Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith”. The album features 11 stripped down songs handpicked from singer/songwriter Elliot Smith’s diverse catalog. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Seth recently about the creation of the album, the duo’s tour plans and other projects Seth has in the works for 2015.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background info on the album and what was about Elliot Smith’s work that initially appealed to you?
Seth Avett: Elliot Smith is one of those artists that I feel if you are meant to hear his work you will. I think what drew us to him is what draws people to most music. It’s sort of a cascade of beautiful melodies that we have attempted to follow in a very real way. The writing is very honest and it attempts to show you through the lyrics. I have always been drawn to music that does this and I think Elliot is one of the strongest examples of that over the last few decades. How this all sort of came together was that Jessica opened for the Avett Brothers at a show we were doing in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2011. We hung out with Jessica for a few days and on the last day that we were hanging out at the venue it was her and I in a small practice room with just a piano. I started plinking out the chords for the song “Twilight” and Jessica was very into it. I sort of had a moment where I thought everything just sounded amazing. I don’t think I thought of a record at that moment but I could sort of feel things aligning. I had a small hand held recorder with me and made a recording of what we were doing. I ended up listening to that over and over again which got me thinking about what it would be like to do a whole album like that.

AL: How did you go about choosing the tracks from Elliot’s diverse catalog?
SA: I try to always do my best and follow the path of least resistance. We sort of gravitated to songs from later in Elliot’s career with a big focus on songs off of “From a Basement on the Hill”. Jessica and I gravitated towards that album as it was a personal favorite of both of ours however we also wanted to make sure that we represented Elliot’s other works as well. Basically we each brought in 7 or 8 songs and then started to see how they would go together with us singing them. Pretty much what we ended up taking to the recording studio made the album with the exception of the song “L.A.”. That song almost made it. It had really great energy but ultimately we chose not to go the full way with it.

AL: How did you go about balancing your duties as both performer and producer?
SA: Any sort of conflict I might have had I think certainly came more from trying to do the material justice. My production style is more of a non-production type style. I like to let the music take shape and let it go with the flow a little bit. I don’t like thing to feel like I have to make a suggestion or plan for everything. I really enjoyed being able to produce this record and was extremely honored in the fact that Jessica trusted me enough to make those production related calls and to push her performances. Our trust for each other certainly was taken to another level with this project.  From a performer stand point I sort of look at the two roles as one in the same. I love being very hands on and rolling up all of the roles into one and just running with it worked well for me.

AL: Do you find your creative process to be the same working on a project like as compared to your work with The Avett Brothers?

SA: It changes entirely. When I am making music with my brother things tend to trickle down to the band. That process is much more laborious as there are more than just myself giving input or direction. There is a lot of passing back and forth during that creative process. When I am writing for just myself there is less of that back and forth collaboratively. I feel working from both sides’ benefits the overall process as a whole.

AL: Can you tell us about the shows you have planned in support of the release?
SA: The shows are going to have a very stripped down approach. The plan is to only have three performers on the stage. We will have a stand up bassist, acoustic guitar and a pianist/vocalist. The shows will be very intimate and I hope will provide a nice back and forth with the audience. We will be playing a lot of songs of the album as well as some of both mine and Jessica’s solo material. The tour is to support the record but the show its self will not read that like.

AL: Can you tell us about any other plans you have for this year?
SA: It’s going to be a busy year. The band is already chomping at the bit to get out there as the winter is generally our down time. We are fully into making a new record at this point though as couple months back we were in California working on new material. We have already played a few of the new songs which will be on the record live but there should be more new tings starting to surface here shortly. For live shows this is going to be a really great year. We won’t be doing as many shows this year however the shows that we are doing are going to be very special.

CD Review “Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith”

“Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith”
Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield
Ramsuer Records
Produced by:  Seth Avett
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Singer/Songwriters Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield are together for the first on “Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith”. The twelve song album is a stripped down and straight forward collection of songs from the diverse catalog of singer/songwriter Elliot Smith. Though this is the duo’s first release together the combination of Avett and Mayfield is almost flawless as the two complement each other quite well. The recordings have a very natural and warm feel which makes this an album you can put on after a long day and just escape into the music.

Tracks like “Between the Bars” and “Twilight” have a captivating almost lingering effect which draws the listener back to them time and time again while songs like “Somebody that I Used to Know” which features a more upbeat arrangement and the indie rock feel of “Roman Candle” breaks things up nicely giving the album a nice balance before being closed out with a somber duet of Smith’s “Memory Lane”. Whether you are a casual fan or dedicated diehard of the artists featured on this album I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great musical experience

Track Listing:
Between the Bars
Baby Britain
Fond Farewell
Somebody That I used to Know
Let’s Get Lost
Twilight
Ballad of Big Nothing
Angel in the Snow
Pitseleh
Angeles
Roman Candle
Memory Lane

Grammy Winner, Michael W. Smith talks about new album “The Spirit of Christmas”

Photographer: Cameron Powell

A few weeks ago I got a weird text. It said “do you want to do an interview next week?” When I replied “with?” I got back “you. Michael Smith.” I was excited. Someone wanted to interview ME! Actually I was told that I would be the interviewer and the subject would be Christian singer Michael W. Smith. I was even more excited!

A winner of (3) Grammy awards, as well as (40) Dove awards, Michael W. Smith has enjoyed success not only on the Gospel/Contemporary chart but in the mainstream as well. This month he has released his fourth album devoted to Christmas, entitled “The Spirit of Christmas.” The album, on which Smith duets with such singers as Vince Gill, Michael McDonald and Bono, consists of both long time favorites (“Silent Night,” “What Child is This”) and new originals.

As he readied to embark on a short tour to support the album Smith kindly took some time out to speak with Media Mikes.

Mike Smith: This is your fourth Christmas-themed album. What is it about the music that makes you want to revisit it?
Michael W. Smith: You know this is the music I grew up with. All the way back to when my sister and I used to pull out the Christmas LPs and play them for four months straight! When I hear those songs they just take me back to my childhood. Especially the first part of this record, for sure.

MS: This album consists of duets. There are a few performers on it that your fans might surely expect, like Vince Gill and Amy Grant. But then you’ve also got Bono and Michael McDonald. How were you able to get them on board?
MWS: Well first let me tell you that I’m still pinching myself that it happened, you know? We had these people picked out from day one…before we even recorded one song. We had the whole record sequenced. We had a plan and we had a wish list of who we wanted to invite. And everybody said yes. I’ve known Michael for about 10 years and I’ve known Bono for 12 years. These guys get asked to do stuff all the time, so the thought that they said “yes” is still pretty miraculous to me and I’m very, very grateful.

MS: Is there anyone out there that you’d like to sing with that you haven’t so far? Do you have a wish list?
MWS: I grew up being a huge Barbra Streisand fan, you know. I’ve always loved her voice…I’ve loved her movies…”Funny Girl,” “Funny Lady.” Recently she’s kept a low profile though I know she has a new album out. (NOTE: Ironically, Barbra Streisand’s latest album, “Partners,” is also a duets album). I would love to record with her.

MS: Do you have a favorite song on this new record?
MWS: Oh, man…that’s so hard to pick. I mean, if I had to pick…gosh, it’s hard to pick! Wow. “Almost There,” which is an original song that I did with Amy (Grant). There’s something really special about it. I love…I think it’s one of my favorite songs that I have written….”All is Well,” that Carrie (Underwood) does. And the one song that I get choked up on is “Peace,” which is the one I do with Michael McDonald. And Michael actually co-wrote that song, so I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he wanted to jump in and be a part of it.

MS: When you’re writing songs, do you sit down and write about a certain theme, like Christmas? Or do you later go back and realize that a certain song is right for the project you’re doing at the time?
MWS: Definitely the latter, because I never know what I’m going to write. Obviously if I’m working on a Christmas record I’m going to be a little more intentional. I’m going to be thinking about textures…how a bell sound will go with a piano sound…something that might inspire me to be a bit festive. A bit “holiday-ish,” you know? On “Almost There” I knew I wanted it to be a little haunting. I mean when you’re on that 12 hour drive to the beach how many times do you ask mom and dad “oh my gosh, are we almost there?” My friend, Wes King, came up with the idea which was why not imagine Mary riding on that donkey. She’s pregnant and she can’t find any place and she’s wondering how long it’s going to take…you wonder if she ever said to Joseph, “are we almost there?” And that was the premise for the lyric.

MS: Are you going to tour at all to support the album?
MWS: Oh yeah! The Christmas tour started the Saturday night after Thanksgiving and we’ll be doing about fifteen shows around the country.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
MWS: I know it sounds a bit insane but I actually released three records this year. I did an exclusive record for Cracker Barrel called “Hymns.” That came out early in the year. Then the pop/worship record, “Sovereign,” came out in May. And now, of course, the “Christmas” album has just been released so it’s been a pretty busy year. After the “Christmas” tour we’re going to tour with “Sovereign” all over…South Africa…Asia…Europe. That will all happen in 2015.

MICHAEL W. SMITH’s Upcoming Tour Dates

December 18, 2014 Spokane, Washington
December 19, 2014 Portland, Oregon
December 20, 2014 Seattle, Washington
December 21, 2014 Abbottsford, British Columbia
January 11, 2015 Nashville, Tennessee

For more information go to www.michaelwsmith.com

Blu-ray Review “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: 75th Anniversary”

Starring: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell
Director: Frank Capra
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Sony
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2014
Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2014 (Click here for more information)
Run Time: 130 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is celebrating its 75th anniversary and it has never looked better. This film earned Jimmy Stewart his first Academy Award® nomination, along with 11 other nominations. It is easily one of Frank Capra’s best films. It was also Capra’s final film for Columbia. This film does in a wonderful collectible Digipak packaging with an all-new essay by Film Historian Jeremy Arnold. Easily one of the best restored Blu-ray releases this year.

Official Premise: An idealistic, newly-appointed senator (James Stewart) heads to Washington, where he single-handedly battles ruthless politicians out to destroy him. Winner of the 1939 Academy Award® for Best Writing (Original Story), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a timeless and stirring ode to the power of democracy.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” looks simply stunning on Blu-ray. For this release it was restored and mastered with 4K transfer in 1080p. The black and white film is presented in its original 4×3 aspect ratio but looks outstanding. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio Mono surround track. It works well with the dialogue and score.

The special features are another win for this release. There is an audio commentary with Frank Capra’s son, Frank Capra Jr. There are a bunch of vintage features included. “Frank Capra Jr. Remembers…’Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'” focuses on the director from Capra’s son. There is “Conversations with Frank Capra Jr.: The Golden Years”, which looks into his father again and the 1930’s in Hollywood. “Conversations with Frank Capra Jr.: A Family History” features Capra’s son looking into his family life. “Frank Capra: Collaboration” is a look back into Capra’s life and career.

“The Frank Capra I Knew” features Jeanine Basinger, Curator of the Frank Capra archives at Wesleyan University, talking about the director. “Frank Capra’s American Dream” is easily the best feature, which is a feature-length documentary, narrated and hosted by Ron Howard with interviews including Martin Scorsese, Garry Marshall, John Milius, Robert Altman, Michael Keaton, Richard Dreyfuss, Angela Lansbury, Garry Marshall, Marshall Herskovitz, Bill Duke, Oliver Stone, and Peter Falk. Lastly there are trailers included.

Dog Fashion Disco’s Todd Smith talks about new album “Sweet Nothings” and Summer Tour

Back in late 2006, the experimental metal band, Dog Fashion Disco, announced to their fans that they had decided to call it quits. They had just spent the last 12 years constantly pushing themselves to be more creative and crazy, playing different styles like ska, piano, and metal with many calling them circus metal. They had recently just released their sixth studio album, Adultery, and were reaching more fans than ever before. Since then, they have played a couple of reunion shows running through a marathon of fan favorites and keeping the camaraderie alive amongst the bandmates. In late 2013, the announcement was made that not only would DFD get back together, but they would be putting out a new album, called “Sweet Nothings”. They would then launch a highly successful Indiegogo campaign and realized that fans not only wanted a new album, but that they want two new albums, a music video and some overseas shows in Britain. Media Mikes recently caught up with the lead singer, Todd Smith, about their upcoming summer tour, the release of “Sweet Nothings” and the hectic schedule they’re about to enter.

Jeremy Werner: I guess the first thing that automatically comes to mind is what was it that lead you guys getting the band back together and put out another album?
Todd Smith: Since the break-up, we’d done several reunion shows and we’re all friends…so because the demand was still there and people were planting those ideas in our head about doing another tour, another album, so forth and so on, we figured why not? Like I said, we’re all very close friends. We enjoy creating and performing music together. It was just like a reunion with old friends who happen to make music together. It seemed like a no-brainer really.

JW: Your last album, back in 2006, “Adultery”, was what a lot of fans and critics would say is your best album. Was there any pressure heading back into the studio to match that same level or was it just business as usual?
TS: For the most part it was business as usual. Of course, opinions are subjective. I’m flattered that people love “Adultery” so much and are pleased that we went out on a high note, and I think we’re reemerging on a high note as well. Everyone who’s heard “Sweet Nothings”, is gushing over it and saying they love it. Will it be as well received as “Adultery”? I have no idea, but I think people are definitely gonna think it’s a solid release. I definitely do, the rest of the guys in the band do. The engineer that we recorded with said it was the best sounding he’s ever had come out of his studios. There’s a lot of positive things being said about the new album.

JW: Going back to the people who’ve heard it. You guys played the full album for a group of people that paid a certain amount towards your Indiegogo campaign. Was the room just ecstatic?
TS: Oh yeah, absolutely. There were loud cheers and applause after every song. A lot of smiles. As far as the comments when we were mingling after we played the record, they were gushing as well. They were really digging it. It’s a lot to digest in one sitting, but the reaction we got was very positive.

JW: Did the crowd have any favorites?
TS: I mean…they all seemed to be well received, but as for a crowd favorite…it’s kind of hard to tell. I had quite a few glasses of wine. (laughs) The memory’s a bit spotty, but I remember we all had a great time and they seemed to like every song, so I really can’t pinpoint a favorite.

JW: Now I remember a while back you mentioned that you guys might avoid playing new music on your upcoming tour, is that still true?
TS: Jason and I had a conversation that we totally misunderstood each other. I was saying that I would entertain performing two new songs, but we have such a catalogue of music, that I think giving people just a hint of a few new tunes and then just playing through a retrospective from each album we put out would probably be more pleasing to the crowd. So we’re going to do two new songs for the most part, every night. If for some reason we decided to just do one new song a night, that might happen as well.

JW: Going back through all your songs, what are some of the songs that you might be playing that you have rarely, if ever, played?
TS: Let me think…I mean we haven’t played in so long, I don’t remember what was in rotation back then, but we’re gonna revisit “Satanic Cowboy”. I’m trying to think what else…”Dr. Piranha”, we haven’t played that in a while. “Valley Girl Ventriloquist”, we’re gonna do that one. Pink Riots, we’re gonna do that one. Besides the reunion shows, they haven’t been played in many, many years. There’s gonna be plenty of songs to choose from every night. We’ll try to cover all our bases.

JW: Please tell me “Darkest Days” is one of those.
TS: One of those is “Darkest Days” (laughs)

JW: (laughs) Awesome, I love that song. With DFD’s music, it’s always been experimental. Sometimes it’s different from song to song or completely changes tempo within the song. It’s very Mr. Bungle with how you guys can just flip on a dime. So I gotta ask, with the new album, what kind of musical ideas went into this or is there a running theme on “Sweet Nothings”?
TS: There’s definitely not a running theme. The album is all over the place. It starts out with a jazz…smokey lounge…kind of 1940’s kind of vibe and then ends with a song that starts out acoustic country…mellow…goes to dub and ends with a three minute section of stoner rock doom metal. So it’s all over the place. We have a short attention span and we like a lot of different types of music so we tend to write a lot of different styles and try to incorporate them into an album. Even several styles into one song as you know. A lot of twists and turns, and I think our fans love twists and turns. They’re fun to perform live.

JW: I see you guys haven’t released a single yet. Is there a song you’re looking at as your first single?
TS: As far as I know, the first single would be a song called “Taste So Sweet”. It kind of goes back to maybe, “Committed to a Bright Future” era with a catchy hooky chorus, lots of horn lines. We’re making a video for that in July. So that’ll most likely be our first or second single. We had talked about a song as a lyric video, initially a song called “We Aren’t the World” which is more of an “Adultery” vibe. It has tons of horror lines, cello, lots of moods, lots of twists and turns, a big epic chorus. That would probably be the first one we do a lyric video for just to get something out there because we’re not available to do the video shoot and release the “Taste So Sweet” video until July.

JW: I want to touch upon your Indiegogo campaign for a bit. A lot of bands will put it up and will slowly watch the money crawl to their goal, but with you guys it was extraordinary how fast and how many people latched on as soon as it was live. I bet as a band, it’s a great feeling to reach your goal that quickly.
TS: To meet our goal of $30,000 in 27 hours was completely unexpected. I remember going about my day, that first day, and just seeing the totals just go up and up and up and up. I hadn’t checked in a few hours and they were way up. Our fans are absolutely incredibly and I don’t just say that lightly. Granted we’d possibly still be making music if we had no fans because we enjoy it, but they keep the train rolling. We’re very humbled by the generosity of everybody and how much they actually cared about DFD getting back together and how they care about whatever project we do. We’re very lucky in that respect.

JW: I’m sure before starting you guys didn’t have stretch goals in mind, but after that response, you got to. Even more amazing is reaching all of them. Didn’t you guys break the top 10 most successful Indiegogo music campaigns?
TS: Yeah. I think we’re in the top 10. In regards to the stretch goals, once we hit $30,000 and added the first stretch goal of $50,000 for the video, I mean I thought that was gonna peak and it just kept going and going. We ended up at $85,000 which is a staggering amount. Shows how much people love Dog Fashion Disco.

JW: You guys are incredibly busy with side projects like Polkadot Cadaver, El-Creepo, Knives Out and other things…and with such an impressive and positive response to DFD…do you think DFD now deserves your undivided attention and everything else kind of has to sit on the back burner for the time being?
TS: I would say that everything is on the back burner now. The last stretch goal was to do two albums to be released within a year of each other. So with all the tours we have coming up, there’s really no time to devote to anything else besides Dog Fashion Disco, which is fine. We just wrapped up, mixed, mastered, put a nice little bow on “Sweet Nothings” and we’re already psyched to get back into the studio, wishing it was happening next month. Everybody will go into their little corners and start writing and then we’ll reconvene in December and have another album out by next May or June.

JW: Might be too early, but do you have any ideas for the next album?
TS: Not really. I definitely wanna utilize the horns a lot like we did on “Sweet Nothings”. I mean, they’re just too good not to have. So ya know, a lot of twists and turns. Maybe have more extremes. I’d like to do like a 50’s doo-wop kind of song and then a song that’s just the heaviest thing we’ve ever done. Just a lot of polar opposite dimensions and dynamics to the album. And really like there are no rules, not like there are any rules on “Sweet Nothings”. Going into it, wanna try to do something new and push the envelope as far as what we’ve done before.

JW: So what is the future now of Polkadot Cadaver, El Creepo, Knives Out and other projects?
TS: It’s really hard to predict. I would love to do another El-Creepo record. Something that’s a little more acoustic and mellow. That’s always fun to do. Polkadot has a handful of shows that we’re doing until the end of this year. We’re going out with Bam Margera and his band in August, doing a run on the east coast and then doing a full national tour with him in October and November for Polkadot. So that would be the next in line to revisit after the next DFD record considering that that band tours as well. Kind of like a missed opportunity if we don’t put out a record and do more shows. I would say DFD and Polkadot would work simultaneously and then maybe El-Creepo would be the next thing to get to. As far as Knives Out or anything else, I would seriously doubt that there would be another album that we would put out with Knives Out. It doesn’t make any sense. The band doesn’t tour and the members aren’t available to do shows, so it’s like…what’s the point?

JW: Looking at this upcoming year, in terms of tours, it looks like the one big thing of note is that you guys will be heading across the big pond for the first time.
TS: This would actually be our second time. The first time Dog Fashion went over there was 2001.

JW: Oh shit, I guess my Dog Fashion Disco history is a bit rusty…so I guess the obvious dumb follow up question would be are you excited?
TS: We’re extremely excited and psyched that the first two shows have been sold out and that the third is on it’s way to being sold out. So that’s incredible, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. The weekend is gonna be a blast. We’re looking forward to it.

JW: Because it’s doing well in ticket sales, do you see yourself branching out in Europe?
TS: Our agent overseas is actively seeking out a support band for Dog Fashion Disco. Most likely that would happen next year. I would love to go deeper into Europe. That would be blast. So hopefully that will happen next summer.

JW: I’m out of questions, any last thing you wanna tell the fans?
TS: I just wanna say thanks for all the support on Indiegogo and support they constantly give us. Spread the word: the new Dog Fashion Disco album, “Sweet Nothings”, is coming out July 22nd. We’re psyched to be back on the road and hearing people’s reactions to the new album.

You can check out Dog Fashion Disco on their summer tour, ‘The Merica F*ck Yeah Tour’, playing alongside Psychostick and The Bunny The Bear, at the following dates:
May 29th: Amityville, NY
May 30th: Albany, NY
May 31st: Pennellville, NY
June 1st: Watkins Glen, NY
June 2nd: Trenton, NJ
June 3rd: Providence, RI
June 5th: Westland, MI
June 6th: Cleveland, OH
June 7th: Cherry Valley, IL
June 8th: Joliet, IL
June 9th: Minneapolis, MN
June 10th: Merriam, KS
June 11th: Waterloo, IA
June 12th: Des Moines, IA
June 13th: Lincoln, NE
June 14th: Denver, CO
June 16th: Salt Lake City, UT
June 17th: Sacramento, CA
June 18th: West Hollywood, CA
June 19th: Las Vegas, NV
June 20th: Tuscon, AZ
June 21st: Scottsdale, AZ
June 23rd: San Antonio, TX
June 24th: Houston, TX
June 25th: Fort Worth, TX
June 26th: Oklahoma City, OK
June 27th: St. Louis, MO
June 28th: Indianapolis, IN
June 29th: Columbus, OH

Kevin Smith talks “Clerks III” and “Tusk” during 2013 New York Comic Con

Media Mikes had the pleasure of attending the AMC “Comic Book Men” panel held during this year’s Comic Con Convention in New York on Oct. 10-13. The panel featured show creator Kevin Smith along with cast members Brian Johnson, Walter Flanningan, Ming Chen and Michael Zapcic. Though the panel was originally meant to discuss season 2 of the hit AMC show the audience quickly turned it into their opportunity to grill Smith about a few of his other upcoming projects, namely “Clerks III” which Kevin had this to say.

Kevin Smith: “Clerks III” is currently going well enough to where the script is done and we are just waiting on finding our money. In an effort to keep my mind off of worrying about finding money for that movie I wrote this film titled “Tusk”. That is what I am going to be doing next. In a few weeks I will be heading to North Carolina to start filming. The film stars Justin Long and Michael Parks and it’s basically about a kid trying to turn another kid into a walrus. The film is based off of a UK add on a Gumtree website where there was actually a guy who made up this hoax about a person looking for someone to wear a walrus costume they made. The hoax was done by a guy named Chris Parkinson who we reached out to and actually made a producer on the film. Without his dopey idea I wouldn’t have come up with this. So while waiting on the money for “Clerks III” which I wanted to take to Sundance as it will be the 20th anniversary of the first “Clerks” films things were looking less and less likely so I wrote this stupid walrus movie. I wrote it in about 20 days under the mindset of not really wanting to make a movie but if I had to what would I want to see. I loved Michael Parks in “Red State” so I just built this around him with the idea that it would make it easy for me to sit on set for weeks and weeks as I would get to watch Michael work. When I got the script done it was like pornography and Michael Parks. (Laughs) We just pushed the ideas we had and thanks to some really good weed we said “fuck it” and tried pretty much everything. Over the next couple of months this film started to become more real than “Clerks III”. This is a much smaller scaled film that is easier to get in and out of. “Tusk” has now taken the place of “Clerks III” at Sundance this year as I thought fans would want to see something different rather than just more “Clerks”. We will still be doing “Clerks III” however not until March or April of 2014. I hope to have it done for the 20th anniversary as the original film came out in October of 1994. All of the crew from “Comic Book Men” will be in this film as could most of the people here in this room. “Clerks III” is going to be a massive fucking movie! I say that without a hint of irony.

DVD Review “Hurricane Smith (1992)”

Actors: David Argue, Carl Weathers, Jurgen Prochnow, Louise Mc Donald
Directors: Colin Budds
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Run Time: 86 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I can’t explain why but I am big sucker for cheesy 80/90’s action films. I can’t help it. It is like an addiction. Plus who doesn’t love Carl Weathers. Before this film, I grew up watching him as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” series and Dillon in Predator. Of course everyone knows him as Chubbs Peterson from “Happy Gilmore”. He is just such a kick-ass guy and he does just that in “Hurricane Smith”. Like I said, this movie screams 90’s action but that is what makes it so good. It is not trying to hide anything. If you feel the same way that I highly recommend you picking up this DVD.

Official Premise: He’s been taken for a ride, roughed up and dumped in the gutter. But that won’t stop him. He’ll tear through Bribane, like a…well, his nickname is “Hurricane”! The man who put the Action in Jackson now puts the Hurricane in Smith. Determined to locate his sister, Billy travels from small-town Texas to Australia’s teeming Gold Coast. There, his search plunges into the street war of drug mobsters who’ll soon wonder what hit them. Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot) costars as stone-cold evil gangster Charlie Dowd. And Cassandra Delaney is the good-hearted hooker who helps Billy as he blasts through a Down Under of high-rise chic and quaint Victoria buildings, of glorious beaches and back-alley gambling. For action that’ll blow you away, brace for Hurricane Smith.

Warner Archive is behind this release and it is the first time that “Hurricane Smith” is getting a DVD treatment. This film has been newly remastered and looks pretty awesome, especially for a 90’s film.  The film comes with an 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks very impressive. The audio included is also an impressive Dolby Digital track, it works for the film’s action and cheesy yet funny dialogue.  There are no additional special features included here. I just need to say that Warner Archive deserves an award for giving these great titles some love and attention that would otherwise just remain stuck in the VHS age.

DVD Review “Sugarfoot: The Complete First Season”

Starring: Will Hutchins, Slim Pickens, Sheb Wooley and Dennis Hopper
Created by: Michael Fessier
Distributed by: Warner Archive
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 982 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I have to admit, I have never been the biggest fan of the Western genre.  In fact, “Sugarfoot” was never on my radar in the past.  I have heard of it but never saw any episodes. Will Hutchins really does a great job on his role and I really loved that character. The show itself is filled with guest stars right from the pilot including Slim Pickens, Sheb Wooley and Dennis Hopper as Billy the Kid. This show has also brought fame to many other well known talent including Bob Steele, Guinn Williams, Don Barry, Paul Fix, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, James Garner, Charles Bronson and many more.  “Sugarfoot: The Complete First Season” features the first 20 episodes of the series over this 5-disc set.

Official Premise: Based on The Boy from Oklahoma (1954), an easygoing Western starring Will Rogers Jr., Sugarfoot debuted on ABC-TV on September 17, 1957, where it alternated every other week with Cheyenne. Will Hutchins ably ambled into the boots of Tom Brewster, a peaceable lad aiming to get a law degree via a correspondence course, with a nose for danger and a heart of steel. Sarsaparilla sipping “sugarfoot” Tom has one major difference from the likes of Layne and Bodie, however, he would rather reach for his thinking cap than for his pistols (Not that he can’t ping a peso from twenty yards, mind you!

Since this first season DVD release only includes 20 episodes, this show ran for four seasons with nearly 70 episodes. So I assume that Warner Archive is planning to releases the remaining seasons as well in the coming months.  So if you are a fan of this classic Western show then this show be music to your ears.  The episodes looks great for a show that is nearing 60 years old.  I am not aware if Warner Archive did a full restore on them but I was impressed enough.  Even though Westerns are not my cup of tea, I look forward to the rest of the seasons just to enjoy the timeless action and amazing cameos.

Kavan Smith talks his role on new DirecTV Original Series “Rogue”

Photo Trevor Brady

Canadian born, Kavan Smith took to athletics as a young man, excelling in football and martial arts. As a teenager he and a friend began writing skits and performing them everywhere, from the city bus to the neighborhood shopping mall. After high school he began working on an Economics degree but left school after a year and a half. He later enrolled in the Performing Arts Program at Mount Royal University. After graduating he landed a lead role in the Canadian television series “Destiny Ridge” and hasn’t looked back.

Sci-fi/fantasy fans will recognize him from roles on such shows as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Smallville,” “The Twilight Zone” and two different “Stargate” series. He also appeared opposite Tim Robbins and Gary Sinese in Brian de Palma’s “Mission to Mars.”

Premiering this week, you can catch Smith with co-star Thandie Newton in DirecTV’s new original series “Rogue,” While relaxing at home in the Great White North, Smith took time out to speak with Media Mikes about the new show, dancing to Dick Clark and what his next project might be.

Mike Smith: Give us a quick introduction to “Rogue” and your character, Tom Travis.
Kavan Smith: “Rogue” is a visceral, raw, sexy kind of gangster cop show. Thandie Newton plays the lead…the show takes a female perspective of a usually male dominated role. I play her husband. She gets her family into trouble…there are some consequences to her actions…and she has to go out and seek justice. Her husband, Travis…my character…spends the bulk of the series trying to hold their family together. It’s a very complicated endeavor because she is doing a lot of things that he is unaware of. He has no idea of the consequences or the stakes. He doesn’t understand why she’s not “stepping up” at home. It’s very emotional. For me it’s a very redemptive character. As an actor…it’s all I’ve ever done…all I’ve ever wanted to do…I’ve had to take some jobs that maybe I didn’t want to take. So for me this role is very redemptive. It’s a great character to play.

MS: What drew you to the project?
KS: There’s a scene in the third episode….he doesn’t understand why she can’t meet him halfway on…
SPOILER ALERT
…Dealing with the death of their son…I’m not giving anything away, it happens in the first episode…and they have a really massive blow-out, ending in a three page monologue for my character. That was the audition piece and when I saw it…it was the meatiest thing I had seen in a long time. You could be as melodramatic as you wanted to but it played so well understated. When I read it…I have kids of my own and the idea of losing one is unimaginably painful. My kids are still young and ever since I had them the idea of anything happening…it’s so raw for me that I can channel that. So I saw this piece and I knew immediately that I could do this. Of course I had no idea at all if I would be what they wanted. When they did the call back audition it was basically a screen test. Thandie had a lot of input over who would be chosen and we were on fire! We went places with that scene that I had no idea we were going to go. When I walked out of that room I knew I wanted that job desperately.

MS: You’ve been on shows like “Blade,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Stargate,” “Outer Limits.” A lot of very genre-specific roles. Was that something you intended or just the luck of the draw?
KS: I think it’s really just the luck of the draw. Most of the work I’ve done in the states…I spend a lot of time here in Canada. My wife is Canadian. My kids were both born here. So I’ve tried to stay up here as best I can while continuing to read for roles and it just so happens that in Canada in the past…in the 1990s and early 2000s, they really catered to a sci-fi type of genre. I’ve enjoyed all the jobs that I’ve had but it really wasn’t by choice. My resume’ is a little “sci-fi heavy,” but I think that’s more about where I live then my own personal taste.

MS: In one of your early roles you played the young Dick Clark in the Annette Funicello television bio “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Did you have the opportunity to meet Dick Clark and, if so, did he give you any advice? (NOTE: Clark, known as “America’s Oldest Teenager,” passed away almost a year ago, April 18, 2012).
KS: Wow! That’s going way back…I’m so surprised you picked that one out of the hat! (laughs). No, I didn’t get the chance to meet him but the role was a lot of fun. When I was a kid my parents were really into “American Bandstand.” My brother and I would watch it with them and, even though we had no musical training whatsoever we were convinced that we were dancers. So I certainly danced a lot to Dick Clark.

MS: Your bio states that while in college you developed a love for writing. Have you written any scripts that you’d like to produce some day?
KS: Yes, as a matter of fact. I’ve taken several steps at writing a novel. When I was a kid I got caught in that loop where you think you’re a lot smarter then you are. I wanted to write a ground breaking novel and I made several attempts at it, but they were ALL less than I expected. Screenwriting is less of an art form but I thought I would get familiar with it. I’ve always read like crazy but I never took Literature when I was at University. I started writing screenplays for myself. I’ve gotten really fantastic at writing the first 80% of a great story…and then the ending falls. Because I’m committed to “Rogue” and they own my contract and have the right to keep me on hold for quite a while, over the past year I’ve written a series. I’ve already got ten episodes done that I want to try and pitch. I’m taking my time with it. I’ve got the first five episodes completely finished and the following five basically laid out. So in the meantime while I’m waiting to hear what’s happening with “Rogue” I’m toiling away on those stories. I think there’s nothing quite like it out there right now and I’m hoping I can garner some interest. Maybe “Rogue” will open a few doors for me. So keep your fingers crossed.

Photo Trevor Brady

MS: Last question, though you may have just answered it. Besides “Rogue” do you have anything else in the fire?
KS: Unfortunately I don’t. Contractually I can’t take anything that would establish me on another series. There were a couple of feature films scheduled to be made here that I was the first choice for but one moved production to Australia and I didn’t want to be away from my kids. The other went to Europe so same thing. I let both of those go. I’ve narrated some documentaries when I’ve had time. But in the mean time I’m waiting to hear from “Rogue” and playing Mr. Mom – which is the greatest role ever…as cheesy as that sounds. And I hope to finish up this series of my own and see if I can garner any interest in that. Being on hold buys my the freedom of time, which is very rare in this business. I’m really hoping the show gets picked up so I can afford to do this again next year. (laughs)

7 Horns 7 Eyes’s Aaron Smith talks about New Album

Aaron Smith is the guitarist for the progressive metal band 7 Horns 7 Eyes. The group’s latest album titled “Throes of Absolution” recently released via Century Media Records at the end of April. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Aaron recently about the band and their new album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Aaron Smith: We started around 2006. 7 Horns 7 Eyes is sort of the evolution of a rock band I was in high school. Around senior year some friends and I really started to get into metal music. We started writing heavier music and the band was born out of that. We put out a self released EP that is still available on the internet. If you have heard it you can tell it sounds quite different than how the band sounds now. We have grown older and are musical tastes have shifted some.  In 2009 we got a new drummer and guitar player and that’s when I would say the sound of the current band started.

AL: What can we expect from the band’s new album?
 AS: I think a lot of our influences shine through on this recording. You can hear some poly rhythmic stuff on there as we are big fans of Meshuggah. We tried not to rip them off though. There is a lot of ambience and textures. We wanted to make the atmosphere bigger than just guitars, drums, bass and vocals. We really wanted to have a more epic feeling. There is quite a bit of technical guitar playing on the album but, we try to keep it tasteful. I don’t feel music has to be technical all the time just to catch someone’s attention.

AL: Did you guys shoot any videos for the album?
AS: We are cooking up something right now. There hasn’t been any official releases as of yet. There are a few samplers out there that show our album art work while walking you through 30 second clips of the album. There is also some older footage out there of us playing the Key Club in Los Angeles.

AL: What do you think makes 7 Horns & Eyes stand out amongst other bands in the same genre?
AS: I do a majority of the song writing so I can kind of speak from that point of view. When I write I try to not use something that sounds like something else I may have heard. There are a lot of bands I love that inspire me to right but at the same time it doesn’t make me want to emulate them in every way possible. When we are putting songs together there is a strong focus on taking our influences and taking our time to create a fresh spin. What I find the most exciting is when I record something new that I have never heard before. In my mind I think is what makes us unique.

AL: What are the bands tour plans for the release?
AS: The first tour up is with our label mates Stealing Axion. We will be out with them for around 3 weeks. The tour is mainly going to focus on the western part of the States. The tour is called “The Dual Destruction Tour”. It will be mainly to promote our album and Stealing Axion’s digital track that they are releasing. The tour is being sponsored by Guitar World which is pretty cool. That will be sort of our first tour experience in support of the album. There is another tour coming up in Mid-July but it has not been announced yet.

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 www.nealsmithrocks.com

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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Book Review “My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith”

Author: Kevin Smith
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Expanded and Updated Edition
Release Date: September 22, 2009

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Yes, you are not misreading the cover wrong Kevin Smith is a New York Times Bestseller author.  This book is a very personal in-depth diary into the life of Kevin Smith.  The expanded and updated edition of the book adds a behind-the-scenes look  at the making of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”.  A new afterword is also included which pretty much brings us up to date on what Kevin has been up to and what he has (or had) planned for 2009.  The subtitle of “Uncomfortably Candid” is definitely not an understatement either as the entries in this book are just as vulgar as his film scripts.  Nonetheless fans of Smith, will eat it up and get a chance to get inside of his mind.

If you think that the life of Kevin Smith is all razzle and dazzle you might be disappointed though coming into this book.  You will find that some of it is dull and uneventful but between watching his TiVo, Kevin also finds time to make kick-ass movies like “Clerks II”.  The book isn’t all jokes though, he also dives into the personal details of Jason Mewes’ drug addiction battle. Like myself you really need to be a die-hard fan of Smith in order to really take away the most from the book.

If you are looking for a typical autobiography, this is not what you would be looking for.  I actually enjoyed the diary format of “My Boring-Ass Life”, because it feels more personal and complete.  We get to experience Kevin’s full account for each day in his life as he completes his  journey entries.  Once you get started with this book it is almost hard to put it down and it is a rare book that actually gets better as it goes on.  If you don’t own this book already, it is recommended highly that you pick it up but get ready to laugh and be offended at the same time.