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.

Weston Cage talks about music and solo album “Wes Cage”

Weston Cage is no stranger to the entertainment business. The son of Hollywood heavy weight Nicholas Cage, Weston has dabbled in everything from acting and soundtrack scoring to fronting his own underground metal band “Eyes of Noctum”. Weston’s newest project is his first solo music effort simply titled “Wes Cage”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Weston recently about the project which he describes simply as “Ghost Metal”.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your new single?
Weston Cage: “Tell Me Why” is one of those songs that is very different from the rest of the tracks on the album. The record was written with a specific formula in order to have traditional ghost metal sound. It is true to the essence of what I was going for. “Tell Me Why” has a lot of classic roots as it’s a little thrashy while the chorus sticks out. We used a detuned piano in the background along with a lot of industrial elements. My wife wrote the lyrics which are sort about this tortured individual. What’s amazing about the interpretation of the song is that the lyrics can be taken in any way that the listener wants.

AL: What was it like working with your wife on the song lyrics?
WC: It was very refreshing. It was easier for me as the lyrics I write tend to be a bit wordy. Sometimes we have to go in and sort of Frankenstein up my lyrics to make them a little more workable. Having Danielle come in for this track was really great.

AL: Can you tell us about the decision to shift from being in a band to being a solo artist?
WC: I definitely wanted to cater to a larger audience. I also wanted to experiment with some things that are disliked in the black metal genre. I wanted to add more industrial elements and draw on some of my world influence. I wanted to be able to just explore a little more. The other tracks on this new album have more of a symphonic/industrial element to them. Again I just really wanted to be free to explore my influences.

AL: What type of process do you take creatively when working on new material?
WC: It’s a pretty interesting process actually.  I am very unorthodox. I meditate and, during meditation I go so deep that I start to hear things which stem from the unknown. I might hear a melody or something and then elaborate from there. Before I know it I have two or three riffs and the rest of the song starts to come together. I use a variety of instrumentation while creating.

AL: Coming from a family mostly known for film what do you think it was that sparked your interest in music?
WC: Music has been a passion of mine from very early on. When I heard some of my great grandfather and great uncles music I got inspired. Some of that music from “The Godfather” really sparked my interest. As a kid there was always music playing in the background. Everything from Enya to Nine Inch Nails along with other music that had these vast array of sounds. Those definitely planted the seeds in my blood.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have in the works?
WC: I have quite a few films lined up right now. I have one that will be shooting Portland that is sort of like a grittier version of “Harold and Kumar”. There are a few others that will be quite interesting as well. One film is dealing with Babylonian/Sumerian history. Musically has been pretty focused on this new solo stuff. On average I have been writing about 15 songs per month. Right now I think I have enough material for 4 more albums.  It will be the gnarly reduction process that I have to get myself through to get rid of the songs that maybe aren’t the best.

 

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Choo Choo Soul’s Genevieve Goings talks about first solo children’s album “Do You Know”

Genevieve Goings is best known for her work with Disney Junior’s Choo Choo Soul. You might also know her as Miss Hugs from Fisher-Price’s Little People product line. She just released her first solo children’s album called “Do You Know” with amazing and fun new music for kids (and parents) to enjoy and learn from. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Genevieve (again) to discuss the album as well as her new role at Disney Junior.

Mike Gencarelli: This is your first solo children’s album; tell us about the evolution of “Do You Know”?
Genevieve Goings: Yes it is, I am just so happy that it is finally out! It started when I was working with Fisher Price. It sparked something inside me. When we came to the end of that project, I felt like I had more creativity left in me. It is more important with programming and corporations not to stuff the education aspect down kid’s throat, so to speak. There is more of a storyline with magic and the discovery. So none of my clients are looking for those straight educational songs but I have had so many ideas for these songs. I thought how about if I put out the educational album and I can stick with the magical storytelling songs for them. I think when I completed the song “How Many Fives Around The Clock?”, that was when I knew I had something special. That song is so cool, catchy and fun. So it all started with that.

MG: How does these songs differ from Choo Choo Soul?
GG: When I was working on the songs, I had a white board up jotting down ideas and putting different pictures up on a cork board. I was looking at photos for Choo Choo Soul and I was thinking who that person would be if is she wasn’t in that costume. I was making a list of my favorite parts of Choo Choo Soul, like the fact that I have a costume and not showing any skins. I wanted to find the places where I can push the boundaries. Some of those are just being really super silly and not following any of the rules for songwriting, especially in the song “Aeiou”, which is just completely ridiculous and I love it [laughs]. I think a lot more humor came out in this album as well. It still really pulls from my roots in R&B and soul music though. I discovered myself also while making this album. I have been and still am the train conductor, but I got to find out who is Genevieve by herself.

MG: “My Telephone Number is…” is one heck of catchy song and honestly can’t get it out of my head; tell us about how the song came to be?
GG: I thought it encompassed the idea of what “Do You Know” is. I couldn’t find any other songs like this out there. I did that with the whole album. I wanted to see what was needed out there. I also went out and asked parents what song topics they wanted. I feel like that melody is so catchy and fun. I even got responses already from parents that their kids were learning their own number due to it. So that is so amazing to hear.

MG: The video for “My Telephone Number is…” was very fun; what future videos do you have planned for this album?
GG: “Inside Voice” was just released, which I just love. It is such a fun video to shoot. I also have a video “How Many Fives Around The Clock?” and “Rainbow Colors” coming up but they were shot on a green screen and are just waiting to be animated. So that is very exciting.

MG: Congrats on being named the new host on the “Radio Disney Junior” hour on Radio Disney! Tell us about this new gig?
GG: Thanks! They are really pushing the new Watch Disney Junior app. They added a radio function to the app. I am hosting that whole radio station for that app. It is a loop that plays throughout the day. There is a “Pirate and Princess Hour”. There is a “Storybook Hour”. There is a “Magic of Disney Hour”. So it started with me working with the app and then I guess they thought, “Why we don’t bring her over to the real radio station”. So I have been recording for that as well now. I have been doing voice over so long that I expected a script but it is a free formed thing and I am able to talk with just the kids and it has been so amazing.

MG: Tell us about the PSA you recorded for Disney Junior as well?
GG: I love this PSA! When you purchase Disney Junior branded products that say “Give a book, Get a book” on it, you get a code and go online to enter it. You select a region you want to give a book to and they really are delivering actual book. Then you also get a digital copy of a book yourself. I have always been into literacy and teaching, so this is really great.

MG: With these two new Disney Junior projects; any plans for new videos or songs in the works for Choo Choo Soul?
GG: We don’t have any planned right now but I have been doing some other new songs with Disney Junior’s “The Power of Doing Good”, which is their new initiative now. I have been doing some commercial voice work for them. It is definitely promising that they are keeping me around and using my voice. It is such a production to put on for Choo Choo Soul with the cast of kids, the costumes and the animation. We are also trying to share Disney Junior with so countries around the world. So you take a show like “Sofia the First”, it is easy to translate into 36 different languages but not so much for myself and my voice. But I wouldn’t say the door is completely closed for Choo Choo Soul. Like the way that the PSA was, there could be more opportunities that way. I guess as long as I can fit into the costume [laughs].

Click here to purchase “Do You Know” on CD

Click here to download “Do You Know” on iTunes

Guns N’ Roses’ Gilby Clarke talks about solo tour with Quiet Riot and Faster Pussycat

Gilby Clarke is a guitarist/producer best known for a 3-year tenure as the rhythm guitarist of Guns N’ Roses replacing Izzy Stradlin in 1991. Following his departure from the group, Clarke began solo career as well playing guitar with a number of groups such as Slash’s Snakepit, Heart and Nancy Sinatra, Clarke recently announce he will be heading out on the road this summer for a solo tour along with Quiet Riot and Faster Pussycat. Gilby spoke with Media Mikes recently about the upcoming tour as well as his new single and the new video for his song “Tijuana Jail” which was originally released in 1994.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on your new single?
Gilby Clarke: I had been trying to put a record together however I just wasn’t happy with things. In the past I always put a record out when I felt I had 10 or 12 strong songs that I would be happy listening to. I just didn’t have that and to put something out that I ‘m not happy with was not what I wanted to do. I decided that I am just going to release singles now. I have a couple tours lined up so I figured I would put out one good song and then follow it up with another a couple months later.

AL: Did the music industry and how music is distributed these days have any impact on your decision to release only singles?
GC: I think the industry being the way it is now allowed me to do things this way. (Laughs) It didn’t drive me the decision but it did allow me to do things this way.

AL: You also recently released a video for an older song of your “Tijuana Jail” correct?
GC: Yes. Before I dropped the new single I wanted to put out a few other points of interest. “Tijuana Jail” is an older song as it came out in 1994 but it’s the most popular song when I play live. We play the song differently now than we did 20 years ago so I wanted to do a video for the song and put a new touch on it. When I originally recorded the song Slash played the solo so to go all these years with a song I didn’t play lead on was something I wanted to fix. (Laughs) We worked on the song at my home studio and it’s really just a recording of our rehearsal of how we do that song live.

AL: Can you tell us about your upcoming summer tours?
GC: Over the past 10 years or so I have been playing as a trio. When I first started doing my solo stuff I always had another guitarist with me. As the years changed it started to become more fun to just do things by myself. I like the challenge of makes a multi guitar song in to a single guitar song. I am having a lot of fun doing things this way and that’s really what it’s all about. For my solo tour I’m going to be going overseas for some shows including a show in Hungry which is a country I have never been to before as a solo artist. We also will be hitting Spain which is another place I haven’t been to in awhile. After that wraps up I will back in the states for a summer tour with Quiet Riot and Faster Pussycat.

AL: What do you find to be the biggest difference in performing overseas as compared to here in the states?
GC: The biggest difference I have noticed performing overseas is that a lot more people come out to the shows. In the states the rock market is sort of fashionable and it goes through phases of being cool or not. Right now big bands like Black Sabbath and Aerosmith are doing great but smaller bands like mine are having a tough time unless you do a multiband line up. My solo band is more of a club band and right now clubs are rare in the states. Things are the complete opposite overseas as there are tons of clubs to play and the scene is thriving.

AL: You recently performed with Guns n’ Roses minus Axl at the Rock Hall inductions can you tell us a little about that?
GC: Most of the Guns guys still play together quite often. The hard rock scene is relatively small and we all know each other fairly well. What was different about the Rock Hall show compared to the other times we have gotten together was it was specifically Guns n’ Roses tunes. It was a little strange playing some of that material as I had never performed it with some of the other members. I had played with Steven Adler before but we never did any Guns material. It was both interesting and fun as Steven has a completely different feel than Matt Sorum who I played with more often. Personally I had the time of my life and I think we did a great job under the circumstances. It’s something I will never forget.

AL: What were the rehearsals like leading up to the performance?
GC: We really only decided to do the show a couple days before. Duff had called me I think the Thursday before the induction he told me they had decided to play and they wanted me there. I couldn’t refuse my friends. I know Izzy is the guy’s first choice and I get that as I am a fan of the band myself. Knowing Izzy wasn’t going to be there I was happy they asked to be a part of it.

AL: Was there any animosity leading up to or during the event?
GC: We all knew that Axl wasn’t coming. We all got the same information as everyone else. There was no extra phone call or anything like that. In a way that sort of lifted what could have been a black cloud over everyone’s head. I do think however that if Axl had shown up things would have been fine. It’s been a lot of years and this was a celebration of the band and the fans that supported it. I don’t think there would have been any problems but that black cloud was there. We just all went about our business and didn’t really mention his name. Duff did a show in Cleveland the night before and I think it was about 1 or 2 in the am when we all finally got together. We did a few songs with Matt and a few with Steven and then went and did the show. I think we kicked ass and it turned out well.

 

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Stryper’s Michael Sweet talks about new solo album “I’m Not Your Suicide”

Michael Sweet is best known as co-founder, writer, lead guitarist, lead vocalist and front man of the Christian rock band Stryper which were synonymous with their over the top black and yellow stage attire in the 1980’s. Michael was also co-lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Boston from 2007-2011. In the past couple of years Michael has been busier than ever releasing a new Stryper album in 2013 and more recently a solo album titled “I’m Not Your Suicide” and an autobiography titled “Honestly: My Life in Stryper Revealed”. Media Mikes spoke with Michael recently about his recent body of work and what he feels has contributed to his and the bands recent re-surge.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your new solo album?
Michael Sweet: A lot of people often wonder why I put out these solo albums. I am always writing songs and sometimes some of those songs don’t fit in with the Stryper material. I listen to all different kinds of music and I like to be able to go and express myself and show people the other side of myself. The material on this new album is still edgy however they wouldn’t exactly fit on a Stryper album. I tried some different things with this album and it was a lot of fun. I tried some country music as my dad had written a #1 country song in 1979 so I wanted to show my roots a little bit.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest appearances on the album?
MS: I took everything with this album song by song. For instance I was working on the song “This Time” and though Kevin Max would be great to have in there. He has a unique quality in his voice and he fit perfectly with that song. Then for “Taking on the World Tonight” Tony Harnell was a no brainer. All of the people on the album are dear friends of mine. I had never done an album that incorporated guests but it was something that I had always wanted to do. This was the album where it finally happened. I have Doug Aldrich and Chris Jericho on a track, Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines on a track and Dave Mustaine’s daughter Electra sings with me on Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. Everyone brought something to the table which took each song to the next level.

AL: Did you have an idea as to what you wanted each guest to do on their tracks or were they free to experiment?
MS: I had an idea for some of the parts. For example the song Doug Aldrich appears on I knew he was the guy I wanted to play the solo. I sent him the song and he sent it back and it was just perfect. It was so simple of a process. The same thing happened with Electra’s performance. I had been thinking about having a female voice on that song and I had become good friends with Dave Mustaine over the years and mentioned the idea to him about having his daughter sing on the track. She has such a pure and angelic voice. They both thought the idea was great and Dave produce Electra’s vocals and it sound great! It was like clockwork as everything went as planned.

AL: Can you give us a little bit of background on your recent autobiography?
MS: I needed to write this book for myself. There is a lot of healing still taking place within my heart and my soul. There have been a lot of things that have happened in my life. There were a lot of questions from throughout my career that were still getting asked today so I wanted to answer all of those at once. That’s what I did with this book. There was a fine line I had to walk between being brutally honest and not hurting people. I’m not sure if that is totally possible. Anytime you talk about someone in a different light than what they want to be talked about in your going to offend or hurt them.  That is certainly the case with some of the stories in the book. I think I did a good job of not going down some of those dark paths that purposely hurt people. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and that’s not what the book is about. I cover everything from when my mom managed Stryper to the choice we made that led us to bankruptcy. The book is my take on the situations as it’s told from my perspective.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of the more painful memories?
MS: It definitely was. As I was sitting there rethinking these stories part of me was revisiting those emotions while another part was saying that I had moved on but obviously I really hadn’t as there was still some pain and emotion there. This book was a big step in the right direction as I come clean with the mistakes I have made be it good or bad.

AL: Within the past couple of years Stryper has started to make a resurge. What do you feel has contributed to that?
MS: I think for the most part it’s been hard work. The band has worked very hard. After I finished the album with Stryper I went immediately back in and started work on this solo album. After that recording wrapped up I went back in the studio again but this time with Michael Sweet and George Lynch. It’s a constant evolution of continuing on and growing. I couldn’t have it any other way.

AL: Can you tell us a little bit about the project you have going on with George Lynch?
MS: This was a project I co-wrote with George and it was one I got to produce as well. The group has Brian Tichy on drums and James LoMenzo on bass. It’s really a great band and album that I am super excited about. That should be coming out in early 2015. We plan to tour around this release as well.

AL: Do you have other projects you would like to mention?
MS: Stryper has a bunch of shows planned for the rest of this year before we take off most of next year to work on the new album. I will also be out doing some solo shows as well. Right now I have my schedule booked through the end of 2016. There’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of it all. Maybe by 2020 I can start to think about retiring. (Laughs)

Creed’s Scott Stapp talks about new solo album “Proof of Life”

Scott Stapp is probably best known as the singer for the Grammy award winning rock band Creed who’s music dominated the airwaves in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In 2005 after Creed’s initial breakup Stapp began a solo career with the release of “The Great Divide” which was certified platinum within a month of its release. Scott is back with his second solo album titled “Proof of Life” a very dark and personal record that reflects on Scott’s life over the past few years. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Scott recently about the album and his thoughts on the future of Creed.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some of the background that led up to the recording of this album?
Scott Stapp: This album to me symbolizes the next chapter in my life. It concludes the first half of my life and opens up the next. A lot of life was lived in between “The Great Divide” and now. I went through some of the darkest days as a human being between these two albums. I battled depression which led to fighting a battle with drugs and alcohol. That stuff was like a tornado that wrecked a lot of things in my life. This album really symbolizes me coming to grips with those things, understanding them and finding my way out. The school of hard knocks and life had to happen in order to get me to place to where I could write this record. I had to come out of the fog to be able to write this record. I had to realize that the stuff that happened in the past wasn’t going to happen again.

AL: What was it like revisiting some of those more painful memories while writing the album?
SS: It was very cathartic. It was part of the process of getting through and coming out of those periods. It was party of making peace with that and developing incite and an honest reflection on that so I could grow and mature. All though there were things I wish didn’t happen or wished I could forget I was able to repurpose those experiences and see that those things didn’t happen for nothing. There was purpose in those things so that I could pay it forward and share how I made it through. This added a deeper purpose to my life both in and out of rock and roll.

AL: Can you tell us about the song “Break Out” which you wrote with your son?
SS: Jagger actually wrote the first three lines of the chorus a few years ago however we never got around to finishing the song. I just kept challenging him to work on it and finish the song as he was working on being in a band with some friends of his. During the writing process this song kept coming in to my head. I was connecting with the theme and the words so I went to Jagger and told him I was going to finish the song he started. Part of me working on the song became an exercise and instruction to him on how to turn his ideas in to songs. He has some really great ideas and it was definitely a bonding experience for the both of us. When it came time to finish the song I worked with Julia Michaels which was really great. I liked seeing that we could connect over similar emotions.

AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming tour you have planned?
SS: We just wrapped up our first run of US and European shows which went really good. This will be the second round of shows in the states and I am really excited to be able to bring this music and performance out on tour. It’s a rock and roll show that also encapsulates our journey as human beings. I am very connected to that. The stage performance and my connection with the emotions in each song and how I connect with those things are very important to me. I want the audiences to not only feel the power of rock and roll but also feel the spirit and emotion that each song represents.

AL: You had a number of musicians perform on the CD. Will some of them also be a part of the live band?
SS: I was fortunate that in the studio I got to use the best of the best. I was able to use guys like Josh Freese and Kenny Arnoff to Tim Pierce and Phil X among others. There was a lot of chemistry during those studio sessions and it was important for me to capture that with the live band as well. I am really excited with the group of guys I have behind me. I have Andy Wood on guitar, Chad Szeliga former of Breaking Benjamin on drums, Travis Colmer is my second guitarist and then I have Andy Waldeck on bass. Andy is a really talented guy that has worked with Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and a bunch of others. These guys have such a desire and passion for this band and project. These guys have rekindled that fire and drive to perform. Its great working with like minded guys with that same passion for what they are doing.

AL: Do you feel this new found passion will transfer over to new Creed material?
SS: It’s always there. The door is never closed and we are still together. When the time is right and that fire and organic desire is all there I am sure we will make another record. Until then I don’t think it would be worth it as it would be a disservice to the fans.

Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach talks about new solo album “Give’ Em Hell” and TV show “Sing Your Face Off”

Sebastian Bach is probably best known as the lead singer of the band Skid Row a band that were catapulted to success during the age of videos on MTV with such classic songs/videos as “18 and Life”, “I Remember You” and “Monkey Business”. Bach left the group in 1996 and went on to appear on a number of television shows and enjoyed several successful stints on Broadway in plays like “Jekyll & Hyde”. Along with his other ventures Bach has continued to record and release solo albums with the latest being titled “Give’ Em Hell”. Media Mikes spoke with Sebastian recently about the album and if he plans to someday return to Broadway.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little info on the new album?
Sebastian Bach: I started working on the album about a year ago. I had quite a few of my friends help out and be a part of as well. I have Duff Mckagan on there along with John 5 and Steve Stephens. The album I think came out really cool. I also did videos for the songs “Temptation”, “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Taking Back Tomorrow” which I think all turned out great.

AL: Is the material on this album older material you have been holding on to or is it all brand new and how did you go about choosing the guests who appear?
SB: This is all brand new stuff that I put together. When it came to picking out musicians I just went and asked my friends if they would be interested in playing. John 5 actually did a song on “Kicking and Screaming” which was my previous solo release. He was an obvious choice to ask again.

AL:  What are your tour plans for the release and who will you be bringing out with you as part of your band?
SB: This time around I’m going to have Jeff George and Johnny Chromatic on guitars, Bobby Jarzombek on drums and Jason Christopher on bass. We are always adding more shows so people can check out www.sebastianbach.com for a full list of those.

AL: Can you explain a little more about your recent statement regarding Facebook likes and how they relate to album sales?
SB: When you are doing interviews it can be similar to walking in a mine field. You never know what people are going to respond to or make a big deal out of. I was never talking about my album. I was talking about how the number of “Likes” you have on your Facebook is really a meaningless number. I’m not really sure what Facebook totally is as it’s not very meaningful to my career. (Laughs) I never complained about fans not buying my record but I was more wondering why they were on my page.

AL: What is it that keeps you writing and recording new music when a lot of bands from when you first broke on the scene have been content playing their back catalogs and not recording anymore?
SB: I am a big fan of music. Music is what I like so that is what I want to keep doing. It’s that simple.

AL: Do you think we will see you returning to musicals and television anytime soon?
SB: I have a new television shows premiering on ABC called “Sing Your Face Off”. That will debut on May 31st 9pm. As for Broadway that is definitely something I want to do more of. I have actually been talking to a number of people lately about getting back in to some productions but nothing has been totally locked in yet.

AL: When you first started appearing on Broadway did you notice a big difference in how you performed as compared to when you are on stage with as band?
SB: It quite a bit different. For one thing you don’t have the band up there with you which makes the stage quite a bit different. Each production is very different so you have to be very prepared for each performance.

Social Distortion’s Jonny Wickersham talks about debut solo release “Salvation Town”

Photo by Erika Harding

“Salvation Town” is the debut solo release from Social Distortion guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Produced by David Kalish the album is an interesting departure from Wickersham’s previous body of work as the album is packed full of acoustical performances. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jonny recently about the album and what it was like working with Jackson Browne.

Adam Lawton:Can you give us a little background on your new solo album?
Jonny Wickersham: I started recording the album awhile back and it’s probably been 3 years now since we first started working on it. At the time when I started Social Distortion was very busy promoting and touring behind the “Hard Times and Nursery Rhythms” album. I didn’t initially have a lot of time to work on things. When I went in to record the first track it ended up being more than just working on the song but it was a chance for me to work with one of my idols, Pete Thomas who was Elvis Costello’s guy on drums. Once we finally got started things moved along pretty well and the whole experience was just great. I was really inspired by all the people who were willing to work with me on this album.

AL: What do you think was the main reason you waited until now to release a solo album?
JW: My good friend David Kalish who produced the album was always on me about doing a solo record. I kept putting it off because I didn’t think it was something I could do. I had always written songs however I never had any other vehicle to do them other than with the bands that I was in. I would write material and whether it was Mike Ness or the Cadillac Tramps or Duane Peters they would take what they liked from what I had brought in and then add their own parts especially, when it came to lyrics. I had never really learned to sell one of my songs or perform it. There’s a big difference between being in the recording studio and singing a song and being up in front of a crowd and playing. Then those two things are completely different from me sitting in my living room with an acoustic guitar performing for my cat. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest performers that appear on the record?
JW: The guest performers were something I didn’t put a lot of thought in to beforehand. Things just sort of happened off the cuff. I was certainly a fan of everyone involved and really worked out on a song to song basis. We did this record differently than what I am used to. I am used to working up songs as a band, demoing them and then going down to the studio to record the tracks. The bass and drums lay down a foundation and then everything else is built on top of that. There is a process to the whole thing. With “Salvation Town” it was much different. We laid down some acoustic guitar to a click track and then usually just Dave and I would go back and add a simple drum beat and bass line. From there we would try and think ahead of what the song could be. We would just have these ideas of about who might be able to add something really cool to the tracks. We ended up getting David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and his two sons David Jr. and Vincent, Gaby Moreno who was just so great and of course Jackson Browne. The song Jackson appears on is one that I have had for quite some time. It started out as straight ahead punk sounding song but with this being a different record I wanted to give it a different style. As we were working on it I said to David that I thought it could be Jackson Browne song. I never thought Jackson would be a possibility but David called me the day after mentioning and said that Jackson was down for it. I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later Jackson came in to do his parts. Everything happened very organically. Having Jackson Browne and David Lindley on my album is just gnarly! (Laughs)

AL: Was there any point during the three years of working on the album that you got discouraged?
JW: There were so many discouraging times that I can’t even count. I am a stickler and very detail oriented. I am also one of those guys that have to exhaust every possibility so I was driving David crazy with this thing however; I think we balanced each other out perfectly in the studio. I wanted to make a good record that shows where I am at in my life while reflecting my influences. I didn’t want things to be over produced but at the same time I didn’t want it to sound like a demo. There were times where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s when I would get sketchy. It was all new to me. Fortunately over the years I have learned that you have to let things take their course.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour behind the release?
JW: Yes! As much as possible. We just recently played at South by South West. With the exception of the aweful tragedy that happened outside of the venue where we were playing the show was really great. It was trip being out there front and center. Every night I am always worried about how I am going to sound. (Laughs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firewind’s Gus G. talks about new solo album “I Am The Fire”

Gus G. is probably best known as the guitarist for heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne and for his own band Firewind. Gus can no add solo artist to his impressive list as in early March he will release his debut solo album titled ”I Am The Fire” via Century Media Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Gus recently about the new album and its creation.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your new album “I Am the Fire”?
Gus G.: This is my first solo album and it features a lot of different collaborations with a variety of musicians. There are guest bass players, singers and drummers. It’s a bit of a different approach this time around especially if you compare it to what I have done with Firewind.  This solo album I wouldn’t even classify as heavy metal. I think it’s definitely more of a hard rock album. There a mixture of styles and it showcases a different side and background of my playing. You will hear a lot of acoustic and instrumental type sounds on this record.

AL: What made now the best time to release a solo album?
GG: We were on a break from Ozzy because he was out working with Black Sabbath and after our singer left Firewind in 2012 I had some ideas that I wanted explore however they didn’t really fit Firewind. After completing some prior commitments we decided to take a break while we searched for a new singer. This time off from both projects gave me the time to start working on these ideas while I was at home.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest appearances on the album?
GG: The main singer on the album is Mats Leven from the band Candlemass. He and I wrote 5 songs together and he sings on 4 of those. I did a song with the band Devour the Day which is actually the first single off the record titled. I also worked with Michael Starr from Steel

Panther and David Ellefson from Megadeth. There were a lot of people involved in the creation of this album. Jay Ruston who produced the album was very instrumental in bringing a lot of these guys in to the project. I took things track by track and Jay guided me through things.

AL: How did you go about putting the songs together for the record and did you make any adjustments to your guitar tone or playing?
GG: I mainly write the music. I will start from there and then go back and work on lyrics. I wanted to have people co-write with so I may have had a song title or something like that but for the most part I would send the tracks out and just tell whoever to surprise me. That’s really how we did things on this album. For the tone side of things I pretty much used all the same gear I normally use. I did experiment a little but you can still hear my sound and style on the record. I tried some new tones on this one and also id some acoustic guitar playing as well.

AL: Can you tell us why you chose “My Will Be Done” to be the first single release?
GG: I thought that track was going to be pretty suitable for radio. It has a sound that I think would fit well in to that format. I had hooked up with Devour the Day through my label and when I first heard their material it blew me away. When we started writing the song I knew it was going to one that was very strong and could be a single.

AL: Have you started to plan out any touring to help support the release?
GG: Yes. I will be starting out with some shows in Greece and then in May I will be tour with Marty Friedman called “Guitar Universe”. There have been talks about hitting some of the festivals this summer and I would love to tour the States as well.

AL: Has there been anything mentioned as to when you and Ozzy will start working together again?
GG: There has been nothing official yet. He is pretty busy with Black Sabbath and there is nothing I can really confirm. I don’t know a lot about that stuff. (Laughs) I know when he is ready we will all be there with him.

Monte Pittman talks about newest solo album “The Power of Three”

Monte Pittman is an accomplished solo artist/guitarist who has played with everyone from Adam Lambert and Prong to being a part of Madonna’s touring band since 2001. Monte’s newest solo titled “The Power of Three” is melding of styles which were produced by legendary heavy metal producer Flemming Rasmussen. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Monte recently about the new album and how he diversifies his playing style.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first inspired you to pick up the guitar?
Monte Pittman: The first thing that sparked it all was being 3 years old and discovering my sister’s Kiss records. I’ve wanted to play music since I can remember. I don’t recall ever wanting to do anything else. When I was 13, I finally got my first guitar. A year later I started taking lessons with the best guitar teacher in the area, started my first band, and played my first gig.

AL: Can you give us some background on your new album “Power of Three”
MP: It combines some of the styles that I grew up listening to and that I still listen to today. Sometimes as the years pass by you can fall out of touch with a band you grew up listening to but there are also albums that are just as good as the first time you heard them when listening today. I looked at the kind of songs I was missing in my live set and wrote them.

AL: Your previous solo release was also titled “Power of Three” Are there any links other than the name between the two?
MP: Originally, it was going to be 3 EP’s and that would be my third album. A couple things changed all of that. One was when Flemming Rasmussen pushed me to focus on the heavy material I was writing. Another was playing when Flemming and I recorded for Brian Slagel and him signing me to Metal Blade. If I had to do it all over again, I would have called it “Another Lesson I’ve Learned” which is the first acoustic song on that EP. Also, retailers don’t want you to call a recording a title that is a music format. “M.P.3: The Power of Three, Pt. 1” meant “Monte Pittman 3”. Now I look at it as that EP ends the chapter, or Part 1, of my previous releases and Metal Blade’s “The Power of Three” begins a new dawn.

AL: Can you tell us about the video for “Before the Mourning Son” and what made you choose that song to release as a single
MP: When I played the album for Brian Slagel, he wanted to play “A Dark Horse” & “Before The Mourning Son” for the rest of the Metal Blade staff. That’s why I chose those as the first two singles. We had done an “artwork / order now” video for “A Dark Horse” so when it came time to make a “performance” video, I went with “Before the Mourning Son”. The song showcases a lot of different things too so it was the perfect choice.

AL: Being a metal guitarist what types of steps to do you take to adjust your sound/style when working with acts like Adam Lambert and Madonna?
MP: Madonna has just about every style you can play with well over 30 years of an outstanding career. I just approach each song with a fresh outlook on what it needs for the time we are doing it. We rarely repeat ourselves. For Adam, I wanted his band to have as much balls as I could bring to the table. I was concerned with other singers from that show having bands that almost reminded you of karaoke and I thought he should have a strong band that worked for the venues he was playing. It has to have attitude and passion behind the music because that’s what translates to the audience. Just playing the overproduced multi tracks and trying to pass that off to the audience doesn’t cut it. I wanted the band to be a “band”. Not some people way back there in the dark. That came back to bite me in the end but it is essential to play to your crowd and be one with your audience.

AL: Are there plans to tour behind the release and what other plans do you have for 2014?
MP: I’m playing March 12 in Austin for SXSW. I’m playing March 14th in Dallas and March 16th in Longview. Now I’m connecting the dots there and back. On April 5th at The Whisky, it’s me, Holy Grail & Gypsyhawk. Keep checking in at www.montepittman.com for all of the latest news.

Richie Ramone talks about his 2014 tour and debut solo album “Entitled”

Former Ramones drummer Richie Ramone who was a member of the legendary punk group from 1982-1987 and penned such classic songs as “Somebody Put Something in my Drink” and “I’m Not Jesus” has just returned to the music scene after an extended hiatus with a debut album titled “Entitled”. To support the release Richie and his band our out touring the U.S. and Europe and Media Mikes sat down with Richie recently to discuss his time with the Ramones and why he felt now was the time to release a solo album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you originally were chosen to join the Ramones?
Richie Ramone: There was a big 3 storey house in Brooklyn were we all used to party and hangout. There was also a recording studio there. I just happened to be there one day and Little Matt who was a roadie for the Ramones was leaving after hanging out and I happened to ask him where he was going. He told me that the Ramones were auditioning new drummers and that he had to be there. I told him to my name in the hat for consideration and a short time later I got a call from Monte Melnick the bands manager and the rest is history. I just happened to be in that building at the right time. I didn’t know any of those guys initially as it was an open audition.

AL: What was the band atmosphere like when you joined?
RR: They were worn out. Things were good but of course Joey and Johnny tended to fight a lot. I was just this kid from New Jersey. I was new blood and once I got in there things just settled down. When someone new comes to the band everyone is on their best behavior. (Laughs) It was a good climate in that band for many years. John and I both loved baseball and when I first joined we would go to games at the different ball parks together. Sadly as time went on and it came time to do business things just didn’t work.

AL: What is your take on the recent marketing explosion of Ramones merchandise that often doesn’t include yours, Marky or Cj’s names?
RR: They won’t put mine or Marky’s name on the t-shirts anymore. Apparently the one with Tommy is the biggest seller. If you are able to find an original Richie shirt it’s worth around $300 or more. I’m not part of that merchandising thing anyhow and these days I have mine own merchandise and things are fine. I know the Ramones still sell around 20-25,000 records a year and things are going well. I think things were a bit cheapened when after I left they tried to make it seem like I never existed. People knew I was there. I went through a lull for awhile and now I have risen to the top.

AL: Being you along with CJ were both very instrumental in the continuation/success of the Ramones what were your feelings toward being excluded from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions?
RR: When you see bands with multiple members in a situation like that there really needs to be a decision to take everyone or just the original core members. That’s how it’s supposed to work and when the Ramones went in it didn’t work that way. I still went to the ceremony and spoke on Joey’s behalf. It all worked out. Big fucking deal I didn’t get a statue.

AL: Why did you choose now to come out with a solo album?
RR: I have no idea! I didn’t even pick up a drum stick for 10 or 12 years. In 2006 Joey’s brother Mickey invited to me to perform at the Joey Birthday Bash. That kind of got the fever going. In 2007 I did “Suite for Drums and Orchestra” with the Pasadena Pops and did some shows and then did a few more Birthday Bashes the following 2 or 3 years. From there I started writing and the material turned out real good. People started saying that I should do an album. I had never done a solo record before and one thing just sort of led to another and here I am now. Things weren’t really ever planned they just happened.

AL: How did you go about putting together the material and the band which plays on the record?
RR: I wrote all of the stuff in my home studio. I found Tommy Boland who plays guitar on the record through a friend of mine. I play all the instruments but for this I needed real players. Tommy added a lot of color. I knew I wanted a little heavier guitar sound with solos. I wanted a little metal in there and that’s what I got with Tommy. Jiro Okabe came in and played bass on the record. Playing the material live is a little different. Tommy wasn’t available for this run and Jiro’s vocals didn’t work so I let him go. The live sound has to be a little harder as it’s more stripped down. There are only 4 of us up there and we don’t use any backing tracks. We just plug in and go. This line up of Clare Misstake on bass, Alex Kane on guitar, and Ben Reagan on guitar/drums is really fucking good. I am excited to be out with them.

AL: Where do you generally start when working on new material?
RR: It happens all different ways. Sometimes it starts with a beat, sometimes with a chord progression or a lyric idea. I am not a guy who writes about politics or anything like that. I just write about stuff that happens in my life. A lot of times what’s happening in your life is also happening in other peoples as well.

AL: The U.S. tour runs through March. Does the band have any plans scheduled after that?
RR: We will be heading to South America for the month of May and then will be in Europe and Italy in June. We are going to be touring all of this year. We have to see how this all goes and maybe will do another record. I have more material that I have been thinking about but I want to see how well this first record is going to be received. If the kids want more I am going to give them more.

AL: What has the overall reception been like for the record/tour?
RR: The reception has been real good. Especially from the people who come out to the shows who already have the album. It’s hard if no one has listened to the record before hand because there’s no relationship built around those songs yet. Some fans coming out may get a little bewildered at the new material. That was a big part of why a waited a couple months to tour behind the release as I wanted people to have a chance to sit with the material.

AL: What do you feel is the biggest change in the music scene now as compared to the 1980’s?
RR: In the old days you generally just hid from the fans. I would put my sunglasses and just stay hidden. Now you are totally exposed. It’s a huge difference! Touring is still touring. You’re riding in a van all day and then wait in a cold room till you go on. The music industry has changed also. I just come out and have fun with the fans as that’s who it’s all about. 5 minutes after our set is done I am out at the merch table meeting everyone and taking pictures with them. They pay their hard earned money and we give them a show.

Mountain’s Leslie West talks about new solo album “Still Climbing”

Leslie West the legendary front man for the band Mountain is back with a brand new solo album titled “Still Climbing”. The album features 11 tracks and is classic West through and through. The album also boasts an amazing line up of guest musicians ranging from Johnny Winter to Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Leslie recently about his work on the album and his career in the music business.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album?
Leslie West: I started on the album about a year ago in June. I took my time deciding which songs I wanted to do and who I wanted to play with me on them. I was able to just take my time which kept things from getting jumbled up and eliminated the idea of having a deadline. Things really worked out well.

AL: What was the band line up for this record?
LW: My bass player is Rev Jones; on drums we had my engineer/co-producer Mike Goldberg. Once the album was all recorded we sent it to Mike Frazier in Canada for the mixing. Mike has worked with everyone from AC/DC to Metallica. It was good sending the album to someone we knew could do a really good job mixing it. Mike was able to come in with a fresh set of ears as he wasn’t there during the initial recording process. There were also a bunch of guest musicians like Mark Tremonti, Jonny Lang and Dee Snider who came in and played on some tracks.

AL: When the guest musicians would come in did you have an idea what it was you wanted them to do or did you let them play what they wanted?
LW: With Jonny Lang I knew what I wanted and had the song down. Jonny was doing a show in New Jersey so we picked him up at the airport and brought him over to the studio. Johnny Winter who also is on the album was the same way. My co-producer recorded Johnny in Connecticut but when the track was all finished it sounded like we were right next to each other. Dee Snider came down to do his part for the song “Feeling Good” and we had a really great time.

AL: Are the songs that make up the album ones that you and your band worked on collectively?
LW: No. I wrote the original songs and the others I did all the arrangements. I ended up writing some song with the help of my wife despite my reluctance to have her involved. I would start writing songs on my iPad and then via iCloud things would be popping up that she had added. I asked her if I could use some of that stuff as I had some songs that didn’t have words and some words that didn’t have music. That’s basically how it went. I would go in the studio and we would just build the songs. I used my guitar layout and played to a click track. That could be why it took so long. The song “Fade In to You” is one I originally heard on the television show “Nashville”.  I really liked the song so we reworked it and gave it my sound. I think it turned out great.

AL: Having been in the music business since the 1960’s what do you feel has been the biggest change personally from when you started in the business to where you are now?
LW: I had two legs when I started. (Laughs) Digital was something that really changed things. When I started you had to make edits with a razor blade and some tape. Things would take forever but now you can just move things around very quickly. I think it’s just amazing. When we were recording to analog if you didn’t like an edit you would have to redo it by un-taping it and then re-taping it. You had to find a spot where there was no noise in order to make that edit.

AL: Some artists are very opposed to the idea of digital but you seem quite open to it. Is this true?
LW: I have been very accepting both with this new album and the previous one as well. With digital you have a lot more time to create the music. You can make changes very easily. As far as sounds go I use what comes directly out of the amps. We may have added a little reverb or whatever but for the most part what you hear is what you get. Mike did a great job of capturing the actual sounds coming from my amp.

AL: Has there been any talks of touring in support of the release?
LW: There are a few scheduled for November that we are currently working on. It will most likely be a run of select shows. The biggest thing is I haven’t been able to find a tour bus that is built to handle a wheel chair. It’s hard to believe but there really isn’t anything out there that will allow me to tour like I used to. For now we hit select venues. I can’t quite get used to prosthetics yet as I have been working with them at rehab. They strap the guitar on me and then have me stand to see how long I can balance. The most I have been able to stand for is 40 seconds. I don’t want to have to worry about falling down on stage so I sit now. That’s just the way it is. I am still able to play without that worry of falling.

AL: Other than the standing aspect has the loss of your leg changed the way in which you perform?
LW: Yes. I am no longer able to walk around obviously so when I find a spot that works for me on stage that’s where I stay for the rest of the performance. Having just the one foot also makes it a little more difficult to hit my floor pedals so we have some on a small table next to me and one or two on the floor. I don’t really use a lot live now as I have started using Blackstar amps which have a great tone straight out of the head.

AL: Can you tell us about your new website?
LW: We have the Mountain website still but they are currently working on one for my solo stuff. It will be located at www.Lesliewestofficial.com so people will want to be watching for that.

 

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Lightnin Malcolm talks about new solo album “Rough Out There”

Lightnin Malcolm is a Mississippi based blues musician who has performed with everyone from Big Jack Johnson, T Model Ford and Sam Carr to name just a few. Lightnin’s newest solo album “Rough Out There” which features the grandson of T Model Ford on drums was released recently and has been garnering a lot of attention from the blues world.  Media Mikes spoke with Lightnin recently about his writing style and what he likes most about the new album.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on your latest album “Rough Out There”?
Lightnin Malcolm: The album features 14 new songs and is a little over an hour’s worth of music. The record  is primarily duo music with guitar and drums. It’s what we like to call stompin’ music and it’s for people who want to just get up and have a good time. The words are kind of serious so the music is a combination of things. There are parts that will make you think and parts that will take your mind off things and let you just enjoy and have a good time.

AL: How does this album differ from your previous work?
LM: I love all of my albums as they are like children to me so it’s hard to compare them or pick one over the other. I think this latest one has shown my growth as a musician especially my work as a song writer. I have T Model Ford’s grandson Stud playing drums on this album and he is just dynamite. There are horns on a few of the tracks as well as slide guitar which were done by Luther Dickinson. Luther is probably one of the best slide guitar players in the world. Even though we are normally just a two piece we have been adding a lot of things lately. The cores of our songs are based on the rhythm of the guitar and the drums. I think with each album I am getting better at getting my message across through my songs.

AL: What type of writing process do you use?
LM: It all really depends as I have written a lot of songs. A lot of times is just comes out of nowhere. There have been times where I have been out somewhere and had to ask to barrow some ones phone so that I could call my phone just to sing a line or hum a melody in to my voice mail. I don’t want to forget it because I may come up with 3 songs that I think are the best thing I have ever written. Then I come with 3 more songs. I am always out on the road as I get to live a unique life and see a lot of things. I think that plays a big part in how and what I write songs about.

AL: Were all the songs on the new album ones that were recently written or are they older songs that have been around for some time?
LM: Some of them are brand new and some of them have been kicking around for 10 or 15 years in my head. It’s real easy for me to write songs but when it comes down to picking what will be on the album is when it becomes difficult. There are just so many directions in which you can go. I have a new group of songs I have been working on recently that are very serious but I am not sure I want to put all of those on the same album because I don’t want it to be a downer or anything. I want every record to be a party record. No matter how serious a record might be I want the end result to be uplifting.

AL: How did you go about connecting with the players you have on the album?
LM: I have known these guys for a long time now. I play with The North Mississippi All-Stars and have met and become friends with guys through that. Stud our drummer I have known since he’s was 1 when I used to drum for his grandfather T model Ford. He was practically sitting in my lap while I was up there playing by the time he was 3 or 4. He knows what kind of sound I like and the drive I am looking for. Along with what I like he has created his own sound which is really great. Most of the people on this album are guys I go way back with and we are like family.

AL: Are there any songs off the new record that you really enjoy playing live?
LM: Man I like them all! “Reality Check” is a nice two piece song that is challenging to do live as it is just guitar and drums. There is nothing else going on in that song. That really shows off our two piece style. Over the years I have played some big shows just as a two piece so I learned how to pull off songs as a two piece even though they weren’t written that way and never thought they would be performed that way. Now I am not afraid to try anything as I have continued to develop my sound. “Reality Check” is a challenging one that people love and “My Life’s a Wreck” is one of my favorites as well. I love playing all of my material.

AL: Can you tell us about your current tour?
LM: We are currently in the middle of a 40 date tour. We have been down through Texas up to Colorado and over to Arkansas. Stud and I are always out on the road. When these dates wrap up I will be back out on the road doing double duty with the North Memphis All Stars. I will be opening those shows along with performing with the All-Stars. After that I have a few days off and then head overseas for about 4 weeks of shows there. I am constantly on tour through November.