GUNS N’ ROSES’ DUFF McKAGAN RELEASES “CHIP AWAY” AND ANNOUNCES MAY 31ST RELEASE FOR SOLO ALBUM TENDERNESS

ALBUM PRODUCED BY AND FEATURING GRAMMY®WINNER SHOOTER JENNINGS

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR KICKS OFF MAY 30 IN PHILADELPHIA

TOUR WILL SEE McKAGAN BACKED BY SHOOTER JENNINGS + BAND

FANS IN LOS ANGELES CAN CATCH SPECIAL GRAMMY®MUSEUM PERFORMANCE ON APRIL 4

Guns N’ Roses bassist and New York Times bestselling author DUFF McKAGAN has released “Chip Away,” a new track from his much-anticipated solo album, TENDERNESS (UME) – click HERE to listen.

“’Chip Away’ is somewhat of a rail against cable news and divisive agendas…all for the almighty dollar,” says McKagan. “The song also highlights the fact that history repeats itself over and over, and that we will all get past this, together.”

“Chip Away” follows the recent release of lead track “Tenderness” and both songs are available as instant downloads by clicking HERE to pre-order TENDERNESS ahead of its May 31st release. 

The full track listing for TENDERNESS is as follows:
“Tenderness”
“It’s Not Too Late”
“Wasted Heart”
“Falling Down”
“Last September”
“Chip Away”
“Cold Outside”
“Feel”
“Breaking Rocks”
“Parkland”
“Don’t Look Behind You”

Also available for pre-order is a special limited edition TENDERNESS deluxe book, which includes the album on 180-gram yellow & red starburst vinyl, the CD, and features an exclusive lithograph signed and numbered by McKagan. The hard cover book contains 40-pages of photos from the recording sessions and also presents liner notes written by Duff detailing his experiences with each song and the project as a whole. The vinyl features 10 tracks and a unique sequence carefully selected by McKagan and the album’s GRAMMY®-winning producer Shooter Jennings, while the CD includes 11 tracks.

TENDERNESS sees McKagan reflecting on his experiences traveling the globe over two and a half years on Guns N’ Roses’  Not In This Lifetime tour.  Encountering heartbreak, anger, fear, confusion and divide on his travels during this tumultuous time in our world history, McKagan channeled a collective hurt into songs of monolithic power. 

“We’re becoming divided at a time when we need each other most,” says McKagan. “When huge industries get replaced because of modernization, it’s time to retrain and bolster up those who get swept aside. Homelessness and drug addiction are avoidable in this country if we come together and get private and public cogs turning together in a positive direction. We can at least try to tackle mental illness while we’re at it. But alas, we stump and lie, point fingers and divide. We’re way better than this. As a father, I must say and do something now because I love my girls and my wife, and I love my country, and I feel I must be strong and use my voice now, do it while I’m able or perhaps never get a chance ever again.”

McKagan and Jennings began recording Tenderness a year ago this month, working out of Station House studios, located in Echo Park, CA, where they wrote and recorded in-between McKagan’s tour with seminal rock band Guns N’ Roses and the release of Jennings’ eponymous album, ShooterTENDERNESS features Jennings and his band along with appearances by The Waters and The Suicide Horn Section (which features Duff’s brother Matt McKagan on trombone), amongst others.

Twelve months later, they’re gearing up to take these songs on the road for a North American tour that kicks off May 30 at TLA in Philadelphia. Prior to the tour’s launch, Los Angeles-based fans can catch McKagan and Jennings discussing the album and giving a special performance at the GRAMMY® Museum in downtown LA.

Don’t miss your chance to see Duff McKagan live. Tour dates are as follows:

DateCityVenue
Thu, May 30, Philadelphia, PATLA
Fri, May 31, Washington DCCity Winery
Sat, Jun 01, Boston, MACity Winery
Mon, Jun 03, New York, NYIrving Plaza
Thu, Jun 06, Chicago, ILThalia Hall
Sat, Jun 08, Nashville, TNThe Cannery
Mon, Jun 10, Austin, TXScoot Inn
Thu, Jun 13, Los Angeles, CAEl Rey Theater
Fri, Jun 14, San Francisco, CAGreat American Music Hall
Sat, Jun 15, Portland, ORAladdin
Sun, Jun 16, Seattle, WAThe Showbox

Ace Frehley Releases New Music Video for “Rockin With the Boys”. New Solo Album Due 10/19

ACE FREHLEY RELEASES NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR “ROCKIN’ WITH THE BOYS” VIA BILLBOARD MAGAZINE
ALL NEW SOLO LP, SPACEMAN, DUE THIS FRIDAY
NYC POP UP STORE ANNOUNCED FOR STREET DATE

FREHLEY TO APPEAR ON GOOD DAY NY

2018 TOUR DATES ON SALE NOW
PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

Watch “Rockin With the Boys” here

Founding KISS guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame member ACE FREHLEY has released the music video for “Rockin’ With The Boys.” Filmed live in Detroit Rock City, this is the first music video we’ve seen from The Spaceman since he released the video for “Fire and Water.”

That video featured KISS frontman Paul Stanley and was off of Origins, Vol. 1, released in 2016. The video was done by veteran director Justin Reich.

This is the second song Frehley has released this year, from his forthcoming all-new Spaceman album, due October 19, 2018, via Entertainment One (eOne). Frehley previously released the track “Bronx Boy” in April.

Spaceman, Frehley’s eighth solo LP, features nine new original tracks, plus a cover of Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back,” a ripping power pop makeover of the original.

Ace Frehley will be appearing on GOOD DAY NY/WNYW Fox 5 tomorrow, October 16, 2018, at 9 AM EDT, performing his new single, “Rockin’ With The Boys” in its entirety.

Additionally, an Ace Frehley “Spaceman” pop up store powered by Looney Tunes is planned for Friday, October 19 at the Sam Ash Music store, located at 333 W 34th St. in New York City. Ace will be appearing from 5-7PM EDT signing copies of his new album.

Spaceman LPs and CDs will be available to purchase as well as the limited edition Orange Vinyl only currently available at indie store locations in the U.S.

“No need to worry, I’ll be home soon, ’cause I’m rockin’ with the boys,” Frehley sings on “Rockin’ With the Boys,” which tells the tale of life on the road. Ace says he wrote the original version of the song back in KISS’s heyday in the ’70s. Both “Rockin With The Boys” and “Bronx Boy” are available on all streaming platforms today, and are iTunes instant grat tracks for fans who preorder the album.

In addition to Ace’s distinctive guitar sound on each track, Ace played bass on all of the songs on Spaceman except for two. The listener might recognize the mighty dinosaur growl of a bass tone belonging to Gene Simmons on the album opener, “Without You I’m Nothing,” which Gene also co-wrote, and “Your Wish Is My Command.” Both songs were recorded at Frehley’s home studio in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Ace’s reconnection with Simmons and fellow KISS vocalist-guitarist Paul Stanley (who joined Ace on a cover of Free’s “Fire and Water” for 2016’s covers LP Origins, Vol. 1) might be chalked up to the fact that Frehley has been sober for more than a decade (he celebrates 12 years of sobriety in September). Ace’s clean living no doubt has a lot to do with his productive streak, which began with the release of his top 20 Anomaly album in 2009.
Spaceman (a title suggested by Simmons, himself) serves as the first collection of all new Frehley-penned material since 2014’s Space Invader, which debuted at #9 on the Top 200 Chart. The LP scored the highest charting position of any former or current KISS band member ever and marked Frehley’s first return to the Top 10 since KISS’s 1998 Psycho Circus reunion album.

Space Invader received praise from critics. Rolling Stone wrote, “Gene Simmons has claimed Ace Frehley doesn’t deserve to wear Kiss’ Kabuki clown paint, but the former Spaceman’s first solo LP in five years says otherwise,” while Associated Press hailed, “…the original Kiss lead guitarist has recorded his best solo album since his groundbreaking self-titled album in 1978.”

Widely known as the original “Space Ace” and founding guitarist for 16 cumulative years (over 2 tenures) of the multi-platinum selling rock band KISS, Frehley is demonstrably the most popular original member. In addition to having the best-selling solo album career (vintage or current) among the original foursome, Frehley’s self-titled Ace Frehley, released in 1978, went on to sell over one million copies, producing the only Top 40 single, “New York Groove,” from any of the legendary KISS solo albums (peaking at #13).

Upcoming 2018 Dates
Oct 27, 2018 – Oct 28, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV, KISS Mini Golf
Oct 31, 2018 – Nov. 5, 2018 – Miami to Key West and Nassau, KISS Kruise VIII
November 7, 2018- Pensacola, FL, Pensacola Saenger Theatre
November 9, 2018- Clearwater, FL, Capital Theatre
November 10, 2018- Melbourne, FL, King Center for the Performing Arts
November 11, 2018- Miramar, FL, Miramar Ampitheatre

Track Listing
1. Without You I’m Nothing
2. Rockin’ With the Boys
3. Your Wish Is My Command
4. Bronx Boy
5. Pursuit Of Rock and Roll
6. I Wanna Go Back
7. Mission To Mars
8. Off My Back
9. Quantum Flux

KISS to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Solo Releases with 4LP Vinyl Box Set

The Iconic Rock Band’s Four Same-Day-Released Solo Albums Come Together To Celebrate Their 40th Anniversary In
A Limited-Edition 4LP Vinyl Box Set Via Casablanca/UMe On October 19

Forty years ago today, each one the four founding members of KISS — Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss — released their respective solo albums all on the same day to much fanfare, chart success, and platinum sales. And now, four decades later, all four of these pioneering albums are celebrated in KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection, a limited-edition 180-gram 4LP box set by Casablanca/UMe that’s earmarked for release on October 19.

Preorders commence today, September 18, for the limited run of 2,500 vinyl box sets, available exclusively through KISS’s artist webstore (https://www.shopkissonline.com) and The Sound of Vinyl (https://SOV.lnk.to/KISSSoloAlbumsText). Each heavyweight 180-gram LP features a unique color to match its associated cover art; Gene Simmons appears in red vinyl, Paul Stanley sports purple vinyl, Ace Frehley contains blue vinyl, and Peter Criss is in green vinyl. All four albums are housed together in a deluxe black-matte slipcase that features glossy black images of the four artists’ faces surrounding a silver-foil print of the infamous KISS logo.

Also included in this set are four 12-by-12-inch posters of each album cover, plus an exclusive turntable slipmat that shows all four of artist Eraldo Carugati’s iconic, painted album-cover face images all connected together.

All four of these solo albums served to showcase the wide range of talents of each KISS bandmember.Gene Simmons, co-produced by Simmons and Sean Delaney, features the band’s bassist and co-lead vocalist switching over mainly to acoustic and electric guitar duties for songs that highlight his penchant for Beatlesque melodies, funk, and hard rock. Highlights include a remake of “See You In Your Dreams” (initially found on KISS’ 1976 benchmark album, Rock And Roll Over) and a cover of the 1940 Disney classic from Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Guest musicians include Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Bob Seger, Cher, Donna Summer, and Katey Sagal.

Meanwhile, Paul Stanley was co-produced by Stanley and Jeff Glixman and it showcases all-original material and stellar work across the board from the KISS lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, in addition to lead and acoustic guitar work from longtime KISS axe associate Bob Kulick. The super-catchy track “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)” reached No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Ace Frehley, produced by Eddie Kramer and Frehley, finds the lead guitarist doing what he does best. Frehley’s foot-stomping cover of “New York Groove,” originally a 1975 hit by the British glam band Hello, peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Guest musicians include Anton Fig on drums (a sometimes KISS session musician who later became a member of Frehley’s Comet) and bassist Will Lee, both of whom went on to become core members of both of David Letterman’s late-night talk-show house bands led by keyboardist Paul Shaffer.

Finally, Peter Criss was produced by Vini Poncia, a onetime Ringo Starr co-writer who later produced a pair of key KISS albums, 1979’s Dynasty and 1980’s Unmasked. Most of the songs on Peter Criss had been written back in 1971 for the drummer/vocalist’s aptly named pre-KISS band, Lips. The album also boasts a rousing cover of Bobby Lewis’s No. 1 1961 hit single, “Tossin’ And Turnin’,” a song that KISS often wound up playing live during their 1979 Dynasty Tour.

Preorder KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection here: https://SOV.lnk.to/KISSSoloAlbumsText

KISS – KISS SOLO ALBUMS [4LP 180g vinyl]

GENE SIMMONS
SIDE A
1. Radioactive
2. Burning Up With Fever
3. See You Tonite
4. Tunnel Of Love
5. True Confessions
SIDE B
6. Living In Sin
7. Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide
8. Man Of 1,000 Faces
9. Mr. Make Believe
10. See You In Your Dreams
11. When You Wish Upon A Star

PAUL STANLEY
SIDE A
1. Tonight You Belong To Me
2. Move On
3. Ain’t Quite Right
4. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me
5. Take Me Away (Together As One)
SIDE B
6. It’s Alright
7. Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)
8. Love In Chains
9. Goodbye

ACE FREHLEY
SIDE A
1. Rip It Out
2. Speedin’ Back To My Baby
3. Snow Blind
4. Ozone
5. What’s On Your Mind?
SIDE B
6. New York Groove
7. I’m In Need Of Love
8. Wiped-Out
9. Fractured Mirror

PETER CRISS
SIDE A
1. I’m Gonna Love You
2. You Matter To Me
3. Tossin’ And Turnin’
4. Don’t You Let Me Down
5. That’s The Kind Of Sugar Papa Likes
SIDE B
6. Easy Thing
7. Rock Me, Baby
8. Kiss The Girl Goodbye
9. Hooked On Rock ’N’ Roll
10. I Can’t Stop The Rain

Film Review: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

 

SOLO:  A STAR WARS STORY
Starring:  Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson and Emelia Clarke
Directed by:  Ron Howard
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hrs 15 mins
Walt Disney

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

For more than four decades, those words have promised great adventures and memorable characters.  And most of the time those promises were kept.  I crossed my fingers going into this one but I’m happy to report that the new film “Solo,” like Gary Busey in the 1990s, is indeed a promise keeper.

Brash and full of confidence, we meet a young Han (Ehrenreich) and his lady friend Qi’ra (Clarke) right after they’ve been double-crossed while doing a deal at the behest of the evil Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt).  The good Lady is not pleased but, before she can punish the duo, they make a run for it.  While Han makes his way to safety, Qi’ra is caught.  Knowing he must go away, Han joins the service, determined to become a pilot.  Wonder how that’s going to turn out for him?

Set, in my mind, about 10 years before the events we know as EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE or, simply STAR WARS, “Solo” is an origin story in the true sense of the word.  Taken under the wing of smuggler/thief/jack of all trades Tobias Beckett (Harrelson) we learn many things about Han.  Where he got his blaster.  How he met Chewbacca.  Heck, we even find out where he got his name.  Through the course of his adventures, he meets a young, kindred soul named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a card cheat who has an almost unhealthy amount of capes in his closet.  Together, the two adversaries begin a cautious friendship that, we now know, will continue for many years.

There is a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to be known as the guy who forgets to yell SPOILER ALERT!  What I will say is that director Howard has set the pace for a film that could easily stand alone.  All in all, “Solo” is a welcome piece in the continuing “Star Wars” saga!

 

Related Content

 

Guitarist Michael Landau Talks About His New Solo Album “Rock Bottom”

Michael Landau is world renowned session musician and producer who has worked with everyone from James Taylor and Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis. Outside of his work as a session player Michael has released a hand full of solo albums and on February 23rd will release his newest solo album titled “Rock Bottom”. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Michael recently about the albums creation, his studio work and his touring plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some details on your new solo album “Rock Bottom”?

Michael Landau: My last couple of albums had been instrumental albums. With this new one I reunited with my old pale David Frazee who I played with in Burning Water in the 90’s. We wrote a bunch of tunes and I got to rock again. I wanted to do vocal music again and put out something that had a little harder edge to it. We did this album to actual tape as I still have a tape machine in my studio. The album has a real nice creamy tape sound that’s just big and gooey.

AL: Are the songs that made it on the album all newly written songs or are there some that have been around for awhile?

ML: A few years ago I got together with my brother Teddy and Alan Hertz as I had some tunes I had written and we recorded those over the course of a couple days. It took me awhile to getting to finish those however once I reunited with David things came together pretty quickly and we also started to write new material.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit more about who you have playing on the album with you?

ML: The drummer is Alan Hertz who has toured with throughout the years. My brother Teddy who doesn’t really play professionally is a rock solid bass player. I love the way he plays as he has a really big tone. He actually co-wrote a couple of the songs on the album. David and I did those three or four records together in the 90’s and he is just a great vocalist and lyricist. He writes really interesting melodies and I am just a big fan of his. Also playing organ on the record is Larry Goldings. Any record I do I try and get him on there as he is one of my all time favorite musicians.

AL: When you are working with a group or on your own where do you traditionally start with your songwriting process?

ML: I play a lot every day. I don’t have a real practice regime or anything but I do play around the house quite a bit. Songs always start with some kind of riff. There was one song I wrote titled “Freedom” which is this sort of spooky ballad that I had lyrics for first. Mostly things start with toying around with riffs that come about when I am playing at home. From there I will edit them and move things around until everything comes together.

AL: Having done predominately instrumental albums over the last few years, what was it like delving back in to lyrical based music?

ML: David did most of the vocal on the record. I would say he wrote probably seventy percent of lyrics as well. There are one or two tunes that I sing but I don’t think I wrote the lyrics for those. It’s fun for sure as I enjoy singing if it’s a range I am comfortable with. Lyrics are fun for me to write even though I don’t write them that often.

AL: With you having done a lot of work/playing for other musicians how do you go about putting your personal touches on someone else’s material?

ML: One of the things I think I do well is backing up a vocalist. I try and contribute parts that will enhance the material while still being respectful of the tune. I kind of pride myself on being able to do that quite well. For a long time when I was doing sessions people would hire me as they had an idea of what I was about sonically so when you go in there you have to sort of fit in but push and add to things without taking anything away. Overtime with experience I learned that being able to edit myself made things quicker rather than having whoever I was working with at the time have to do it.

AL: The album is set for release in late February. What are your plans once it is out?

ML: The plan is certainly to get out there and play this material live. Europe is obviously easier for a musician like me to put together a tour over there. We actually have a nice four week run of shows set up over there in support of the album. We are looking at hitting Asia also this year along with some dates here in the States. After that I will be touring Europe with the Steve Gadd band right after my tour finishes’ so I will be over there for quite a bit. I have some more James Taylor duties to handle this year as well and those start in either April or May. There have been talks to end that tour by doing a couple shows with the Eagles so that should be really great.

For more info on Michael Landau you can visit his official site at www.mikelandau.com

Related Content

 

World-Renowned Guitarist JOHN 5 Releases New Album “Season of The Witch”, Kicks off solo tour in support.

World-Renowned Guitarist JOHN 5 Releases New Album “Season of The Witch”, Kicks off solo tour in support.

“Season Of The Witch”, the brand new full-length instrumental solo album from world-renowned guitarist JOHN 5, is out now and can be ordered via iTunes, Amazon and John-5.com, or streamed via Spotify.

In celebration of the album’s release, JOHN 5 and The Creatures are kicked off their U.S. tour in Fife, WA on March 3rd. The tour will hit roughly 35 cities (with more potentially TBA), coming to an end in Chicago, IL on April 16. Tickets and VIP are available now – visit http://www.john-5.com/main/tour for more information.

JOHN 5 and the Creatures “SEASON OF THE WITCH” Confirmed Tour Dates:
3/3 – Fife, WA @ Louie G’s
3/4 – Everett, WA @ Tony V’s Garage
3/5 – Portland, OR @ Star Theater
3/9 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub
3/10 – San Jose, CA @ The Ritz
3/11 – Fresno, CA @ Fulton 55
3/12 – San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
3/16 – Fullerton, CA @ The Slidebar Rock-n-Roll Cafe
3/17 – West Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go
3/18 – Las Vegas, NV @ Vamp’d Rock Bar & Grill
3/19 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
3/20 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
3/22 – Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
3/23 – San Antonio, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Bar & Live Music
3/24 – Tyler, TX @ Clicks Live
3/25 – Houston, TX @ Scout’s Bar
3/26 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
3/29 – Raleigh, NC @ Kings
3/30 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighbourhood Theatre
3/31 – Greensboro, NC @ Blind Tiger
4/1 – Wilmington, NC @ Calico
4/2 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Shaka’s
4/3 – Richmond, VA @ Capitol Ale House
4/5 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East – Downstairs
4/6 – Derry, NH @ New Tupelo Music Hall
4/7 – Queens, NY @ Blackthorn 51
4/8 – Boonsboro, MD @ The Stage House
4/9 – Falls Church, VA @ The State Theatre
4/10 – Sellersville, PA @ Sellersville Theater
4/11 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh
4/12 – Cleveland, OH @ The Agora Ballroom
4/13 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House
4/14 – Indianapolis, IN @ Vogue
4/15 – Westland, MI @ The Token Lounge
4/16 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies

JOHN 5 online:
www.john-5.com
www.facebook.com/John5official
www.twitter.com/john5guitarist
www.instagram.com/john5official

Stephen Pearcy talks about his new solo album “Smash”.

Stephen Pearcy is the founder of the heavy metal band RATT a band whose songs “Round and Round” and “Lay It Down” dominated the airwaves throughout the mid 1980’s. Since that time Stephen has released a number of solo albums with the newest one titled “Smash” slated for release in late January. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Stephen recently about the album, its creation and the group’s upcoming tour.

Adam Lawton: How much time was put into the creation of the new album “Smash”?

Stephen Pearcy: Quite a lot went into the album actually. We started this project well over a year or two ago. Originally it was called “Sucker Punch” and it was going to be a four song, four EP type thing. Beau Hill did the mixing and mastering on the first batch of songs and it sounded amazing. During this time I was on and off the road and we just kept writing. I finally decided to take the band in the studio to start tracking and ended up getting a call from Frontiers Records. They really liked the song “Take It” which I felt was a good schematic to start with. Things took off from there and we started re-writing some of the previous songs and also write new ones as well. Eric my co-writer was coming up with some really great stuff and at the end of the day we had enough material for a double album. We took the best ones from there and started recording about six months ago. We really wanted to make sure we had the best songs possible for this album. We didn’t want a lot of studio effects on the tracks so when we thought they were good enough we left them alone. We wanted the album to have both light and dark subject matter along with tings they wouldn’t expect. At the end of the day I think things really worked.

AL: How many songs from the first writing/recording session made it on to the finished album?

SP: We took thirteen songs. We re-recorded one as an acoustic track similar to “Led Zeppelin III” but there were actually seven more songs that we started tracking that we didn’t use. It was very hard to pick which songs were going to be on the album because there were so many good ones. I picked what I thought was crazy and different. Each of these has something different going for it. For the mixing and mastering we also did some different things as we mixed it so that even turned up to eleven it’s not going to squash out. No matter how loud you go with it your still going to be able to hear everything.

AL: Was the albums diversity something you planned or did that happen naturally over time?

SP: That was done deliberately. I wanted a lot of the songs to start off with choruses which just would get nailed into people’s heads. Some of the songs have a more laid back approach. There were times in the writing process where I would finish the lyrics for a song and decide to start over because I felt it didn’t express what the song was actually about. I was writing all the time and practically on everything I could find. From burger bags to napkins and match books I was writing on it. There wasn’t a minute that went by that I wasn’t working on these songs. Eric was writing really great stuff also and sometimes I didn’t even want to tap into my stuff because his was so good. Everything we were doing was relevant to the Smasher character which is on the front cover of the album. It’s all in retrospect to him because that’s what the record is about. What people think is good is not and what is light is dark. If people really read the lyrics they will get the idea. Normally I don’t like putting lyric sheets in albums but I am glad I did with this one as I wanted people to understand what I was saying as its all pretty heavy.

AL: Being a producer yourself can you tell us about the decision to bring in an outside producer for this project?

SP: This wasn’t the first time I had worked with Beau. When we first started working on these songs I was curious to hear what he could do with this material. He and I are friends and his schematic for producing is what I have used for years. The stuff he did was crazy so I wanted to keep him in the mix. When he wasn’t able to work on the final stuff the band sort of jumped in and we did well. Matt our bassist is an engineer so he was able to do all the recording.

AL: Who did you have play on the album with you this time around?

SP: Eric Ferentinos has been around now for almost fourteen years. He is the lead guitarist and co-writer. Greg D ‘Angelo who played drums in White Lion has been with me for about the last six years, Matt Thorne plays bass has been around since the early days of RATT going back to 1981. We also have Frankie Wilsey back on guitar.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour?

SP: The “Smash” tour kicks off in February and will run through July. We have quite a few offers for shows but I am not trying to interrupt what could happen with RATT. We will be hitting a lot of different places this time out and my motto has always been “We go where most bands fear to go”. It doesn’t matter the size of the place or how many people are there we bring the same show every time. We don’t discriminate so if someone wants there ass kicked we will be there!

For more info in Stephen Pearcy you can check out is official website at www.stephen-pearcy.com

Eric Johnson hits the road to support first all acoustic solo album “EJ”

ERIC JOHNSON HITS THE ROAD TO SUPPORT FIRST
ALL ACOUSTIC SOLO ALBUM TITLED EJ

Tour Kicks Off At Jackson, MS’ Duling Hall on October 5 And Wraps In His Hometown of Austin, TX At The Paramount Theatre on November 19

Austin, TX – Eric Johnson will hit the road next week in support of his first acoustic solo album titled EJ. Thirty years after his breakthrough solo release ‘Tones’ brought him national recognition, the new release showcases nine original compositions and four covers. Johnson shares, “Ever since I was young, I’ve played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life. This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side.”

Johnson, long known for his painstaking approach to making records, used a much more immediate attack for the self-produced EJ. “Almost all of that material was cut live,” Johnson explains. “Some of the songs I actually sang and played at the same time – just live in the studio. Recording this way gave it more of an honest realism and organic emotion. Especially on the acoustic, you just have to get in there and play.”

On the original compositions “Wonder,” “Fatherly Downs,” and “All Things You Are,” Johnson frames his voice with his prized 1980 Martin D-45, a gift from his late father. He plays the steel-string on his superlative instrumentals “Once Upon a Time in Texas,” “All Things You Are,” and “Song for Irene.” He conjures the beautiful, pensive tones of “Serinidad,” another original instrumental, on a Ramirez nylon-string guitar. A spirited steel-string arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” rounds out the solo guitar tracks.

Johnson recasts another Simon and Garfunkel favorite, “Scarborough Fair,” for voice and piano, and plays piano on the originals “Water Under the Bridge,” “November,” and “Wrapped in a Cloud,” an ensemble track with acoustic bass, cello, drums, and percussion. In a move that’s sure to surprise his fans, Johnson rearranged Jimi Hendrix’ “One Rainy Wish” for guitar and piano, capping the performance with a jazz-inflected piano solo. Rounding out the record is Johnson and guest guitarist Doyle Dykes’ superlative cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s 1951 classic, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.”

Throughout his career, Johnson has approached music as a healing force, a way to enhance a listener’s consciousness and conjure joy and inspiration. “That’s what I’ve always appreciated most about other artists,” he says. “Some artists inspire us to wake up and get back to the clarity of consciousness. With this record, I’m trying to do that too, because I appreciate it so much in other people.”

Confirmed appearances include:
10/05 Jackson, MS Duling Hall
10/06 Atlanta, GA Center Stage
10/07 Rocky Mount, VA Harvester Performance Center
10/08 Elkins, WV Mountain Stage
10/09 Cleveland, OH Music Box Supper Club
10/11 Oakmont, PA The Oaks Theater
10/12 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
10/13 Richmond, VA Tin Pan
10/14 Sellersville, PA Sellersville Theater
10/15 Westbury, NY The Space At Westbury
10/16 Washington DC The Hamilton
10/18 Fairfield, CT StageOne
10/19 Fall River, MA Narrows Center For The Arts
10/20 New Brunswick, NJ State Theatre
10/21 Beverly, MA Cabot Theatre
10/22 Cohoe, NY Cohoes Music Hall
10/23 Shirley, MA Bull Run Restaurant
10/25 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
10/26 Londonberry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
10/27 Norfolk, CT Infinity Hall
10/28 Brownfield, ME Stone Mountain Arts Center
10/29 Londonderry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
10/30 Pawling, NY Daryl’s House
11/01 Ferndale, MI The Magic Bag
11/02 St. Louis, MO Old Rock House
11/03 Minneapolis, MN Dakota Jazz Club
11/04 Milwaukee, WI Back Room @ Colectivo Coffee
11/05 Chicago, IL City Winery
11/06 Nashville, TN City Winery
11/09 Charlotte, NC McGlohan Theatre
11/10 Durham, NC Carolina Theatre
11/11 Charleston, SC Charleston Music Hall
11/13 Asheville, NC Diane Worham Theatre
11/15 Clearwater, FL Capitol Theatre
11/16 Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
11/18 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
11/19 Austin, TX Paramount Theatre

Hardcore legend Harley Flanagan talks about his debut solo album “Cro-Mags”

Punk mainstay Harley Flanagan is often recognized as one of the most influential members of the NY hardcore/punk scene of the early 1980’s. His band the Cro-Mags set the early standard for hardcore which is still followed and recognized to this day. Harley recently released his first solo album titled “Cro-Mags” and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with him recently about the album, his trials and tribulations with his former band and also about his upcoming book.

Ryan Albro: At what moment did you decided it was time to release your first solo album?

Harley Flanagan: I had some ideas in my head that I had been working on and at one point I was fortunate enough to have some studio time made available to me so I decided that I was going to use that time to start laying down some demos. From there one thing led to another and it wound up turning into this album.

RA: What was the writing process like working on a solo album versus previous albums?

HF: It was really the same process as I am the guy who came up with riffs. Back in the old days, I would have be recording them on a cassette player or when I was living with Squatch I used to call up Parris’s house and tell him not to pick up the phone so I could hum riffs on his answering machine. He’d learn the riffs and then we’d meet up later and we’d play them together. Now I sit around the house and record them on my phone. Whenever a riff comes I put it down and I work with it. I had a ton of riffs on my phone and when the studio time became available I went in and just waded through everything and picked out a bunch that I thought had an old school type of feel. I wanted to write a bunch of short songs that just come in, punch you in the face and walk right over you. I actually wrote everything believe it or not on an acoustic. I am actually thinking about releasing an acoustic version online just for fun because that’s how this whole album was originally recorded

RA: What made you decide to name the album Cro-Mags, considering the issues you have with the band?

HF: I basically felt like it was time for me to reclaim something that is rightfully mine. All bullshit aside, my hand has always been extended to those guys and even after all the shit went down at Webster Hall and along with everything else, my hand is still extended. The fact of the matter is that so called band is just John and occasionally Matthew. There’s nobody playing in that so-called band that has ever written a Cro-mags song and the Cro-mags have not written a song since I haven’t been involved. They are like a tribute band doing songs and other covers. This new record sounds more like Cro-Mags than anything anybody’s done since. I’m taking back the name. That magic is never going to be recaptured without everyone being involved. I believe that and I know that and that’s why I’m the sentimental fool that’s always fucking extending my hand to these guys, but obviously it doesn’t mean as much to those guys as it does to me. The good that game out of it far outweighs the bad, but unfortunately there has been a lot of bad. For me that whole interruption in 2012 and then putting out this album and really venting my feelings about that moment has been a real positive thing for me because it has helped me exorcise a lot of those demons.

RA: You also have a book coming out can you tell us about that?

HF: As far back as I can remember people have been telling me I should write a book, at least going back to like the 80’s but, I never really wanted to. Despite being told I have some really great stories it’s just never been something I had the desire to do. When I was going through some particularly tough times in my life I started thinking that in case anything happens I do want my side of the story to get out. I already knew that hardcore had made enough of an impact culturally where there would inevitably be books written and bullshit said and bullshit told. I was like I’m going to get my side of this out and I’m going to tell my story, the actual story. If I don’t I’m going to wind up with some asshole telling my life story the way they perceived it or the way they want it told to serve their purpose. I started writing everything down that I could remember going back as far as I could to my early childhood. Over the years of working on it I kept going back and fact checking and, double checking and, confirming facts with my family members. My mom was helpful with that before she passed away. I did a lot or research on everything. I wrote this book with the intention of it being something that people would want to read and them to see what it was like living in that time period through the eyes of a child, through the eyes of someone that was there growing up in it. There has been a lot of books about punk rock but there haven’t been any written by someone who was 10 years old when this happened. It goes through my whole life. It starts off with the day that Webster Hall went down and then right when that started to erupt it goes back to my early childhood and it retraces everything through as much as I could. Obviously I had to cut a lot of shit out or it would have been like a 10,000 page book but I wound up getting an editor and after everything was written and really narrowed down to the most powerful stuff. People can get a taste of what will be in the book if they check out www.harleyflanagan.com

RA: Lastly, What are your plans for touring in support of the new album?

HF: I have looked into doing some shows and some touring but so far the right show hasn’t come up. I work 6 days a week, I love my job, I love the people I work with and I love being home with my wife and spending as much time with my kids as I can. For me to get out there and tour it has to be the right shows. When the book comes out I will definitely be doing a book tour and, the idea is I would like to try and book shows that coincide with that so I can perhaps do a book thing during the day and maybe a show that same evening in the same city. That way you can kill two birds with one stone while having fun.

Drummer Anton Fig talks about re-release of solo album “Figments”

 

Drummer Anton Fig has been performing both live and in the studio since the mid 1970’s.  He has worked with artists such as Bob Dylan, Madonna and most notably as the drummer for David Letterman’s house band the CBS Orchestra. Anton released his first solo album “Figments” in 2002 and recently re-released it in 2015. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Anton recently about the albums re-release and its creation and also about his impressive session work.

Adam Lawton: “Figments” was originally released in 2002. Can you tell us about the decision to re-release the album?
Anton Fig: When the album was initially released there were a few people who heard it however at that time the transition from retail to online sales was just starting to take place. Stores were closing up and the stuff on the web was still just starting to happen. Things weren’t the way they are now with social media and everything so it was hard for people to access the album. I felt the album still sounded fresh and vibrant and with there being a number of ways to get the word out about it re-releasing the album seemed like a good thing to do.

AL: Thinking back to when you first started working on the album what do you feel was the driving element in releasing your first solo album after being in the music business for quite some time prior?
AF: I always had said to myself that once it became easier to record and digital recording was more available that I would put out a record. Going into a traditional studio is quite expensive so being able to record from your home and not have to travel and all that made things much easier. I did travel a little bit to work with some of the people on the album and I did my drums in a studio but all the mixing and overdubs I did at home which was relatively inexpensive. In 2002 home recording was still new. Nowadays everyone has the ability to record digitally from just about where ever. By doing things the way I did back in 2002 it was more affordable at the time. All the songs that make up the album were ones that I had sort of saved up over time. From there I went about putting the right people to each of the songs.

AL: How far back in your career did you actually start writing some of this material?
AF: I was in a band in the 80’s called Spider. We were managed by Bill Aucoin who had managed Kiss and we were always encouraged to write in that group. After that group ended I just kept writing. Over the years I had built up a group of songs that I wanted to get out there. I picked the songs I liked the best and just went from there with finding the right combination of players for each one.

AL: Do you find it hard for people to really take notice of an album like this being you are mostly know for your drum work?
AF: I think what surprised people most was the fact that “Figments” isn’t really a drum record. This is a song record along the lines of a Phil Collins album or something like that. There aren’t drum pyrotechnics or anything like that as it more about song production. That’s the record I wanted to make. I feel it adds something because it has a bit of a surprise element to it based just on that score.

AL: Did you creative process differ any on this album as opposed to some of the others you have appeared on?
AF: When I am working on someone else’s project generally my main concern is the drums. They are the ones in charge of the overview of things and how they want the song to sound. I am there to try and help them realize that vision as quickly as possible. When you are doing your own record you have to have that overview. Once I had the drum sounds down I sort of forgot about them and had the big picture more on my mind. It actually helped my drumming a lot as I was forced to look at the big picture as opposed to only the drumming.

AL: When you are approached with session work opportunities what is it that you look for in a project prior to agreeing to work on it?
AF: I think mostly it’s if I am the right person for the session. I look at if it’s something that I can be mostly myself in. If they are asking me to do something that I am not really suited to do you almost want to tell them to get so and so to do it but, I generally try to do all of the projects I am asked to do. Nowadays I have a set up where I can do drums remotely as I have my own studio. In a situation like that you are not in a room with a producer or artist so you have to decide what the best way to approach things are and how much of yourself you can put into that session. It can be a bit harder working that way at times.

AL: One of the groups you have been involved with over the years was with Kiss and later on Ace Frehley. How did that relationship come about?
AF: At the time I think Peter Criss had broken his arm or something like that and wasn’t going to be able to drum on the upcoming album “Dynasty”. I worked on that album and from there I got asked to do another album with them titled “Unmasked”. With Ace I was playing in my band Spider at the time and we were auditioning bass players. One of the guys who came in was friends with Ace and mentioned he was looking for a drummer for his solo project. He got me an audition with Ace and from there I ended up doing the record and becoming friends with Ace. Right after that is when I got the gig with the Late Night Show so that’s where things ended with the band. I have played on a good majority of Ace’s stuff most recently “Anomaly”.

AL: Up until recently your work with Kiss was done as a ghost writer. Is it hard going into projects like that where you know you will not to be credited?
AF: With Kiss I knew upfront that I wasn’t going to be credited. They told me I would be paid well however I could not talk about it. That was always my understanding with them so I never talked about it. Gene Simmons mentioned it in a book of his recently and my name was also added to the liner notes of the re-issued “Dynasty” album. Once they started talking about I also started talking about it. It was over 20 years or something like that where I didn’t say anything about my involvement. I knew we had an agreement and I stuck to it. Today it’s hard to do something like that as there are no secrets.

 

AL: Are there plans to tour behind “Figments”?

AF: I would like to but with every song having a different line it would be quite difficult. The album is almost like a playlist that you would put together. It would be hard to fully recreate the albums line up. I suppose I could put together a band and do some of the songs. I think if a song off the record gets a lot of attention and people are asking for it then I will think more about taking it out on the road. For now though I am out with Joe Bonamassa and have be selling the album at the shows so I am out there with it.

 

Related Content

The Runaways’s Cherie Currie talks about latest solo album “Reverie”

Cherie Currie got her start in the music business while still in her early teens fronting the iconic all girls group The Runaways. Though the group only lasted a short time Currie went on to become a successful solo performer and chainsaw artist. Cherie’s latest solo album titled “Reverie” is her first in 35 year’s and features collaborations with former Runaways manager Kim Fowley and former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Cherie recently about the albums creation, what it was like working with Kim and Lita again and her thoughts on a Runaways reunion.

Adam Lawton: What made now feel like the best time to for you to release a new solo album?
Cherie Currie: I started performing again in 2010 when The Runaways movie came out. I had the chance to open for Joan at the Pacific Amphitheater and I found it nice to not be covered in gas and oil for once as being a chainsaw artist for the last decade that happened quite often. (Laughs) The reception from that show was a great one and things just started rolling from there. I had Matt Sorum drumming for me and he also was the one who put the band together. We ended up going in and doing a record for Joan’s label Blackheart. Someday I hope for that record to see the light of day. From there I decided to put myself on the road without management as I just wanted to get out there and play. I did about 4 tours in the US and Canada. When that was over Kim Fowley reached out to me after hearing I might be interested in working with him again. I jumped at the chance to work with Kim again despite knowing he was very ill. The whole idea of letting go of that bad blood I had towards him as a kid and to be able to re-experience him as an adult was absolutely a treasure to me. Getting to have my son be a part of this process was also really great. The experience was just amazing.

AL: Besides working with Kim on this project you also worked with Lita Ford. How did that opportunity come together?
CC: Lita and I had become friends for the first time in our lives actually about three years ago. She had asked me to do a duet with her a couple years ago titled “Rock This Christmas Down”. I actually flew in mid tour to do this session. The single turned out great and after Kim reached out to me to do this album I called Lita and asked if she would be a part of it. Lita had hurt her hand prior to the session so she wasn’t able to play guitar however she did sing on a couple tracks. It was a lot of fun to be able to work with her again.

AL: What was it like working with both Kim and Lita now as compared to when you were in The Runaways?
CC: When you are 15 years old, never sang in a studio before and you have this tall man towering over you and yelling things can be a bit tense. It was a totally different experience this time. I have always thought about those times but now being a parent myself I can understand where Kim was coming from a little better. Kim didn’t have a great childhood so it’s hard to imagine him in his 30’s knowing what to do with 5 teenage girls. He did the best he could. Years ago he and I spent hours on the phone burying the hatchet. He apologized to me but he also knew that we were going out in to this big bad world and that we needed tuff skin. He did things in the only way he knew how. I look back now and wish I had the brain then that I have now but I just didn’t. I think I would have laughed a lot more than cried. Kim was just such a character which he was up until the day he passed away.

AL: Is the material that makes up this album stuff that you have been working on for some time or is it newly written material?
CC: “Inner You”, “I’m Happy”, “Dark World” and “Queens of the Asphalt Jungle” were all written in one afternoon at Kim’s apartment. Two days later we were in the studio and shortly after that Kim became so ill that he couldn’t continue. Kim turned the record over to my son Jake and he and I started writing together. The track “Believe” is one I wrote about 19 years ago. I am really happy that we recorded that song as it has just been sitting around. “Shades of Me” I wrote with Jake and it’s a duet which Jake sort of went into kicking and screaming. He was bit unsure about doing a duet with his mother. (Laughs) He ended up sounding so good that I told him to just keep singing. The two Runaways songs were ones that I had been performinglive. I used my band to record those along with Lita. The song “Reverie” was a song that was originally done 3 years ago for a film. That never ended up happening and we used that song as we felt it was a cool tune. We really rushed to get this album done before Kim passed but we ended up just shy.

AL: Describe the working/creative relationship like between you and your son?
CC: We have done 4 tours together now and while out on the road we are roommates. We have spent a lot of time together both on the road and on stage. Since he was 13 I have always drug him along with me. His very first radio show was Jonesy’s Jukebox. There was my son playing guitar with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. I knew then he had something and was very talented but I had no clue he would go on to be as good as he is. He is such an amazing writer, producer and musician.

AL: Have you set up any plans to tour in support of the release?
CC: Eventually. I am going to be picking up the chainsaw again. I had to put it down to make this record and I have quite a bit of work for clients along with another pretty substantial carving that needs to be completed. I am going to focus just on the chainsaw for a few months and then I will be putting the band back together and see what happens.

AL: With all the recent collaboration amongst former Runaway band members are there any talks of all of you getting together for a project?
CC: I always did and it was something I always wanted to believe would happen but I don’t think that anymore. I was the last one standing again saying that this thing was going to happen but I just can’t anymore. I am always the optimist but it just doesn’t seem to be something Lita or Joan are interested in doing. For years I was always the one telling people not to give up but sometimes you just have to admit it and walk on. From there you can move on with your life. I can’t miss out on things in my life because I am constantly wishing for the band to get back together. I just really had to let it go. I have been blessed recently in that I have got to work individually with Joan, Kim and Lita. I am very happy with that.

Robben Ford talks about new solo album “Into the Sun”

Robben Ford is a highly accomplished guitarist who has collaborated with everyone from Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and Kiss. He was also named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century” by Musicians magazine. Robben recently released a new solo album titled “Into the Sun” and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with him about the album, its creation and Robben’s roots in music.

Adam Lawton: You have a bunch of guest performers on your new album “Into the Sun”. Can you tell us about those and what you feel each artist brought to the tracks they performed on?
Robben Ford: The whole notion of having guests on the album really came from my management. I just started working with new management and when they first brought this idea to me it was something that I didn’t really want to do. I am a little precious about my work as it’s sort of like a painting you do and then someone comes along and adds something else to your work. It may not always feel like that but it can. I decided to listen to them and it turned out to be really great. I am so pleased with the result. The first one’s that come to mind are Keb’ Mo and Warren Haynes. I have known both of those guys for many years now and had the chance to work with them both on several different occasions. Both are great guys and easy to work with so having them be a part of the project was a no brainer. Sonny Landreth was another great one and someone who I had actually already planned to have on the album. We have known each other for quite some time but never had the chance to really spend a lot of time with one another and I saw this as the chance. I actually played on one of his records in the past. Also on the album are Robert Randolph, Tyler Bryant and ZZ Ward. The song Robert does with Keb titled “Justified” is great! The two of them sound great on there. Both Tyler and ZZ I checked out on YouTube after they were suggested by management and I liked them both. ZZ was the one person who came in and recorded live with us in the studio. Everyone else we sent the music to. My only instruction to them was to just play. All of the collaboration was really successful. I was afraid that having so many guests might break up the continuity of the album but that wasn’t the case.

AL: Did giving those guest performers such simple directions provide for a lot of back and forth collaboration?
RF: I really just let them play to the tracks. From there we did whatever editing was necessary. It did take a little finesse on my part though in order to balance to the two guitar parts out. I had asked everyone not to play to me as I had already laid down my guitar part for each song. I sort of said give it a listen then go through with my part off and just play. Again everything worked out and I am really happy with it.

AL: Where does writing a song start for you?

RF: No matter what I think in the beginning things always end up turning out differently. I think that is true with any creative process really. It has to change. I tend to just sit down and start writing songs. In this particular case I wrote with my friend Kyle Swan. Kyle is really out there and at the same time really good. It is hard to pin down exactly what he does but it is super creative. I like his energy and where he is coming from. I found out recently that jazz music is our common thread. He went to school for jazz and in to a lot of the greats. Even though jazz isn’t what you’re hearing that background is there. Jazz has always been an undertone for my music. Kyle also helped me break through some lyric barriers as I am sort of a traditionalist in the way I write. I like to be clear and for a story to have a beginning, middle and end. I am also a little bit of a perfectionist as well.

AL: Is it hard to let another artist in during the writing process?
RF: When it comes down to it I want my material to be really good. I am always up for collaborating with other artists to get a song to where I want it. It’s one of those things where I am not actively searching for people to work with but it is something that I think about quite a bit. I have worked with a variety of people over the years in different ways but a really successful collaboration I would have to say is the one Michael McDonald and I had for a few years. Michael is the only other person I have written with a lot. We did quite a bit of material a lot of which has never been heard. I was really happy to find Kyle Swan as I like to see his creativity. Kyle thinks way outside the box so much so that sometimes I have to reel him in.

AL: Looking at things from a gear perspective you are sort of traditionalist in that you predominately use vintage equipment. Is it hard to stay true to those vintage roots with the constant progression of technology?
RF: I don’t find it difficult at all. I find it more difficult to change. I haven’t found any good reasons to change to new equipment. I am using Dumble Amps which do everything I need. I have actually used the same amplifiers on all my recordings since 1983. I like vintage guitars so I really have no interest in modern guitars what so ever. Pedals and such I just see them as the salt and pepper of my sound. They just add a little bit here and there however they are not my sound.

AL: Looking back on your career is there point in time that you felt was most beneficial to your career as a whole?

RF: Probably the two years I spent with Joni Mitchell. When I joined that group I was 22 years old with very little experience. I had practically none when it came to playing with experienced players. Up to that point I played in small bands with my friends. When I joined that band suddenly I was playing with people who had far more experience. They were all very kind to me and I was able to learn from them during that time. Joni was probably nevermore brilliant or beautiful as an artist as she was at the time I joined her band. It was a completely unbelievable and rewarding experience working with her. I would do it all again if I could.

AL: Is it fair to say that this experience was what made you want to go further in your career as a musician?
RF: Had I not had that experience I am not sure what would have happened. It’s hard to say because the trajectory I had in my mind was that of a blues guitarist trying to learn jazz. Entering into the “Pop” world and being around a group of people who were very supportive certainly affected me. Had I not been around that I probably would have gone the way of many of my contemporaries and been more of a jazz oriented player with blues as my background.

AL: What type of plans do you have in the works for the coming months?
RF: I am going to be out on the road the next couple of months. For a full list of dates people can check out my website at www.robbenford.com but I start touring in April here in the States and then I will be over in Europe for a couple weeks before heading back to the States for some shows on the west coast. People can also check out Robben Fords Guitar Dojo for a variety of guitar related lessons and material. I partnered with a great company that helped put this out and it’s a lot of fun to do. I will also be doing another guitar camp in the Catskill Mountains this year at the end of August so that’s another thing I am really looking forward to.

Bumblefoot talks about latest solo album “Little Brother is Watching”

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal is a guitarist/songwriter/producer who has been making his way in music since the late 1980’s. He is probably best known for his work with Guns n’ Roses on the long awaited “Chinese Democracy” album and from the bands recent live film release “Appetite for Democracy 3D”. Bumblefoot’s latest solo release (his 10th to date) is titled “Little Brother is Watching” and features 11 tracks which delve in to a variety of unique sounds and subject matter. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Bumblefoot recently about the new album, his creative process and his other plans to stay busy throughout 2015.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on “Little Brother is Watching”?
Bumblefoot: This is my latest solo CD. It has 11 songs which if I had to describe it I would consider it melodic rock. I think it’s going to appeal to guitar players. The album took about 9 months to complete which seems to be how long all of my albums tend to take. From the time I hit record to the time they hit the merch table at my shows its 9 months. The weird thing about it is that during those 9 months I always gain exactly 8 pounds. No matter what I do or don’t do its always 8 pounds that I gain during those 9 months. After the album comes out those pounds just sort of disappear. It’s just weird. I just sort of noticed this happened one day. It’s like I was having these invisible babies every time I went in and made a new album. (Laughs)

AL: Where do you generally start when you begin work on a new album?
Bumblefoot: It usually just starts in my head. Even before that there is usually something that happens where I get an idea for a song like walking into a wall. Something in life happens and then I start putting things together in my head. I don’t play a note or anything. I am just hearing things between my ears and putting it all together. I do this for each song. The first time I actually play them is when I go in with my drummer Dennis and we play them acoustically. From there we will talk about things, lay down scratch tracks and build things from there.

AL: Have you always worked this way or has it been sort of a progression?
Bumblefoot: It has sort of become that way. When I am working with other people it tends to be different but for my solo stuff it usually happens all in my head before anything else. If it sounds good in there then hopefully it will sound good once it all comes out. I think it works good for this way because the ideas can sort of simmer and I can get familiar with before going in to the studio.

AL: Are you the type of musician who is always coming up/working on new material or do you have to set time aside away from touring and such?
Bumblefoot: I have never been able to force myself to write and while I’m out on the road I have never been able to write either. For me touring has always been about giving yourself to everybody else. Everyone else gets your attention so when you are writing music you need to put all that attention inwards. The two have never meshed for me prior to this album. With this new record I forced myself to do it. It definitely hurt. (Laughs) In March/April of last year I was in South America doing shows and started coming with things for the new album. I was a bit of a nut case. We actually figured out the drums in May and then I went back out on the road. After that run was over I jumped on a bus for the Guitar Gods tour for 5 weeks where I did a lot of writing.

AL: Can you tell us about the addition of having fans play on the record?
Bumblefoot: There are 6 songs on this album where I have 100 people singing. When the album was almost done we decided to have a listening party and invited 100 people. We would play a song, do a brief Q&A and then I would play a section of the song and have those in attendance sing on those parts. We did that for each of the 6 songs. I took those tracks with me into the studio and mixed them into the album. I think it came out sounding really good. I wanted to have these songs have parts where the audience was part of the song they were hearing.

AL: Do you find being a solo artist to be as equally rewarding as when you are working in a band setting?
Bumblefoot: Everything is going to have its own set of likes and dislikes. The goal is to have diversity in life. You want to make sure your doing enough things to where you always feel refreshed and you don’t get bored or wore out. You have to keep things interesting. One thing can’t be your everything so it’s great to be able to do a variety of things. For me being just a guitarist in a band is one thing, signing and writing is another and producing and engineering is one more. Everything is different so when I put it all together I am very musically complete and gratified.

AL: What type of tour plans do you have in place to support the release?
Bumblefoot: I don’t have a tour booked just yet. I want to take some time to get the word out about the album. I want to make sure there is time for interviews, videos and all that stuff before I go and book a tour. By giving the album some time I can then figure out exactly where we should go and set up shows. You have to have a strategy when putting out an album. I would love to go and play every place possible but the cost of doing something like that can be quite high. I really like the idea of doing residencies where I can set up and play the same venue over a couple nights. Doing shows like that makes things a lot easier on everyone and it’s a bit more affordable for everyone.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other things you have going on/coming out this year?
Bumblefoot: Art of Anarchy which is sort of a super group featuring Scott Weiland, John Moyer, Jon and Vince Votta and I is something I have been working on lately. Our first album should be out sometime in May. I have known Jon and Vince for a long time and they approached me about doing this. They had Scott already in mind as the vocalist and then we brought in John on bass. Besides playing guitar I also worked as producer and engineer. Outside of that I have also been doing some production work for the band Generation Kill and I have been doing some guitar stuff for Darryl McDaniel’s from Run-DMC.  At the end of March I will be at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas with Michael Schenker, Glenn Hughes and a bunch of other really cool people. I also have my own line of guitar cases and hot sauces that people can check out. There is a lot of fun stuff going on over the next few months.

 

Related Content

The Rods’ Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy talks about new song “Great Big Fake Ones”

Media Mikes had the great pleasure recently to speak to not one but two legendary heavy metal musicians. Dave “Rock” Feinstein and Carl Canedy make up 2/3rds of the band The Rods a band which has been carrying the flag for heavy metal and hard rock since the late 1970’s. Both members have new solo albums out along with a newly released Rods single titled “Great Big Fake Ones” and we spoke with the guys recently about these new releases and their plans for the coming year.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to re-issue “Heavier Than Thou” and
“Hollywood”?
Dave “Rock” Feinstein: “Heavier than Thou”, and the “Hollywood” albums have been albums that wanted by the fans for a long time.  We felt that now was a good time to re-issue them.  They are both slightly different than a traditional RODS album, so I think that’s what makes them so interesting to the fans.
Carl Canedy: We’ve been in the process of re-issuing a lot of our back catalog that we own the rights to. These two CD’s in particular were something the fans had not had a chance own in a re-issued, re-mastered format. Fans have been emailing us for years asking when they’d be available. So like Dave said it simply was time.

AL:  What can you tell us about the newly recorded Rods track “Great Big Fake Ones”?
DF: There are many words that have been used to describe the song, but when Carl brought the song in, the three of us just felt that it was so funny, and just different enough to make the fans want to hear it.  You have to take it for what it is.  It’s not a traditional RODS song, but it is a very catchy tune that should make you laugh.
CC: The guys have been really cool about doing a song this since I initially brought it to them. It’s clearly a “one-off” type of song. The fans who’ve heard love it. I think as long as you realize it’s “tongue-in-cheek” you can enjoy it for what it is. Personally I love it and think it’s quite amusing. I gave it to the guys and when it came time to record it was done quickly. Rock and Garry really nailed the vocals.

AL: You both recently released new solo albums. Can you tell us about those and some of the guests who appear on the albums?
DF:  “Clash of Armor” is my forth solo release now and was done mostly by myself and Nate Horton. On my previous releases I have had quite a few guest performers. In the past guys like John West, Michael Butler, Jeff Howell and Matt Barnes have all come in to help me on various tracks as has Nate. On the song “Bitten By the Beast” from my 3rd solo release I had Carl and Garry come in. I played guitar and Ronnie James Dio did the vocals.
CC: On my CD, I have John Hahn, a Leviathan artist who is a Mike Varney discovery. I’ve known John for quite a few years as I played on his first solo CD in the “90’s. Mark Tornillo has 3 vocals, Joe Comeau has 2 vocals and David Porter has 2 vocals. Chris Caffery came in and did some soloing on 2 tracks as well as several other artists who graciously brought their talent to this project.

AL: With a career spanning multiple decades what do you find these days to be the most rewarding part of being a musician?
DF: It’s rewarding to still be able to create new music.  Of course playing live is the ultimate rush, and to know that there are still fans around the world checking out our music and wanting more.

AL: Are there any plans to perform this new material live and what type of
plans do The Rods have in place for 2015?
DF: I think I can speak for the three of us that we love to perform live, and if a song of ours merits being performed live, then we will do so.  Right now for us we take every request to perform seriously, and try to do as much as we can to make these live appearances happen, For us and for the fans as well.
CC: We do have a few dates in the works that are not yet confirmed and we have confirmed the Defenders of Old Festival in March with Exciter. We’re excited about this show as it’s the first time in years we’ve been to the NY area. Also, I love the band and the guys in Exciter so I’m looking forward to the reunion.

Markéta Irglová talks about her latest solo album “Muna”

Photo by Hordur Sveinsson

Markéta Irglová is known best for her work with the band, The Swell Season with Glen Hansard. The two also starred in the film “Once”, which these also took home the Oscar for Best Song from the film. Markéta released her first solo album “Anar” in 2011. Her latest solo album “Muna” is a continuation of that album. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Markéta about the album and her music.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about where you pulled your inspiration for your latest solo album “Muna”?
Markéta Irglová: I usually draw inspiration for my work based on experience and what is going on in my life in terms of what resonates. I find that I am not able to write about something that I can’t connect with from an emotional place. So it ends up being things that I am drawn to at that time. It could be things that I am reading or stories that I heard. At the time for “Muna”, I was having an introspective journey and asking myself a lot of questions about life in general. In the past, I would have written songs about relationships because that was how I was learning to relate to the world. This album was a lot about widening my relationship with the world and looking for my own sense of spirituality and outlook on life. In that searching, I came across a lot of material that actually helped me in my own life as well.

MG: How did you come up with the title “Muna”? (Icelandic for “remember”)
MI: For me this is part two of a trilogy of records, which “Anar” was the first. When I finished making “Anar”, I knew that it had to be the first of these three records. It would be connected to the others and be a continuation and extension of each other. I wanted there to be a synchronicity between these three records. I wanted each record to also have a title of one word and consisting of four letters. When I was recording “Muna” in Iceland, I was wondering what it would be called and I was looking for a word. I was thinking that remembering is sort of a theme for this record. The idea of remembering something that you forgot a long time ago and trying to chase that memory again. So I asked my engineer/producer, “How do you say remember in Icelandic?” He said “Muna” and I said “Perfect, that is the title”.

MG: Can you compare your recording experiences of “Anar” and “Muna”?
MI: I recorded “Anar” in Chicago and I didn’t have a huge budget for it. I liked the idea though of keeping it simple anyway. I wanted to go in for a couple of weeks and have the recording sessions with local musicians and my friend Aida (Shahghasemi), who I have been playing with at the time. I originally went in to record an EP and ended up having way more material than I needed for an EP, so it turned into a whole record. When I was making “Muna”, I wanted to build on the experience of “Anar” and wanted to have a more lush sound with string arrangements. At the time when I was looking for a studio, I was recommend to a recording studio in Iceland. I knew it was a long way to travel but we decided to do it. Again a lot of local musicians got involved and it developed a more structured lush sound for this album.

MG: The album has religion overtones throughout, especially including part of “The Lord’s Prayer” in the track “Without a Map”; tell us about spiritual influence for this album?
MI: Yeah, I was reading a trilogy of books called “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. It happened by accident really, I was visiting a friend of mine and while she was making me some tea, I was going through her books and I just came across these books. I didn’t understand how someone could be having a conversation with God. Was he actually having talks with God or did he make it all up? I didn’t know the answer but I liked what I was reading and ended up getting stuck into these books. At the same time, I was allowing myself to ask all these questions as well. So that was one of the main influences for me. There is also a musical called “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which is something that I saw when I was four years old. It really inspired my entire musical journey through my life and even now it still resonates with me with the songs and performances. It is a musical, so the story is told with song and there is this sort of call and answer between them. I think my approach to song writing is very similar. I have these conversations within these songs, I ask questions and answer them through the music. I ended up reaching through myself and finding out answers to questions that I realized that I already knew the answers to.

MG: “The Leading Bird” is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album; can you talk a little bit about how it was born?
MI: “The Leading Bird”, I actually co-wrote with my friend Aida. She is a friend of mine that I met when I moved to New York. She is a daf percussionist, which is like a Persian drum. She is also a vocalist. She first wrote a poem and then was writing music to it and she told me she was having an issue finishing it. She asked if she could play it for me and maybe I could help her. She played me this idea which was the verse and the bridge of what became “The Leading Bird”. She didn’t know where to take it. We forgot about it for some time and was both working on other things. I was writing this piece a while later on the piano, which I was really liking. It would become the cord progression of the chorus for “The Leading Bird”. When working on it, it occurred to me that it was perfect for Aida’s song. I thought if we joined these two songs together it would be perfect. When I saw her again, we joined the melodies together and put her lyrics over my parts and it was like it was always meant to be. It was a really incredible experience and I have never written a song like that before in my life. It was very inspiring to have this song born in this way.

Photo by Hordur Sveinsson

MG: My other favorite is “This Right Here”; any story behind this one?
MI: “This Right Here” is a very traditional love song with piano and vocal. It was actually written, the entire thing, music and lyrics within one afternoon. I had just sat at the piano and the song just appeared to me. That doesn’t happen very often. Usually an idea will appear and then I put a lot of effort in in order to crystalize the lyrics and music. But this song just kind of appeared, finished in a way. I don’t know how but it did [laughs].

MG: Was there any plan to the order of the songs on the album?
MI: Yeah, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to approach the track list. Mio (Thorisson), my partner, and I had been doing a lot of the post production on the album ourselves. We would burn CDs and listen to them in the car when we went on drives. We would then go back and fix different parts. We also burned them with the tracks in different order. Over the course of listening to these songs together and in different environments, it started to become really clear as how they should be arranged to showcase the gradual growth of the record over the 50 minutes.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming North America and Europe tour?
MI: It is going to be five of us on stage. Aida, who plays the daf and sings with me. Rob Bochnik and Joe Doyle are the bass player and guitar player, who were also part of The Swell Season and also in The Frames. The four of us have done some shows together before when we went to Asia last summer and it worked out really well. I am really excited that they are in for this tour. Also Rosi Golan, a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter is joining us as a support act and also will be on stage for our set as a vocalist as well. So it is going to be a lot of fun.