Drummer Tommy Clufetos Talks About His Debut Solo Project “Tommy’s RockTrip”

Tom Clufetos has been behind the drum kit for some of rocks biggest acts including Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. Tommy’s newest project is a solo effort titled Tommy’s Rocktrip. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Tommy about the debut solo album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll”, what it was like starting his first solo project and his plans once Covid-19 restrictions are finally lifted.

Adam Lawton: Where did the desire to do a solo project originate from?

Tommy Clufetos: Because of so much being closed due to the pandemic there really has been nothing to do. Especially on the music front and for the first time in my life I had sort of a break. I got an offer to do a record and thought “why not”. It was something I had never done before I wanted to give it a shot and see if I could actually do it. I have always loved playing for other people and helping them be the best they have ever been. I am one hundred and ten percent fulfilled by doing that but this open block of time came up and decided to experiment. I decided on trying to make a cool rock record of things I liked and hope other people will like as well. That was the basis. There was no master plan or anything like that. (Laughs)

AL: Was doing a solo album something you had ever thought of doing before?

TC: No. I had never thought about doing a solo record. I had never written music or produced prior to this. I always just played drums for other people. That’s why I saw it was an “experiment”. I guess you can call me a crazy, middle aged rocker. What you hear on this album is exactly that.

AL: How did you go about putting the band together?

TC: I have known our singer Eric Dover since we worked together in Alice Cooper maybe 15 years ago or more. I knew he would be an excellent singer as he has a very versatile voice. Most of the material on the record is straight ahead rock and roll. Eric knows how to go on the wild side which is how I like my music to be played. I didn’t want this to be a bunch of people from other bands as I was shooting for  more of a group effort. I was looking for younger guys who I could sort of shape them into the way I wanted the music played. Sometimes when you are playing with guys from other bands, they may not be completely into what you are doing, or it may be a little more difficult to get out of them what you are looking for. I wanted more of a unified band sound and I think I was successful in doing that.

AL: Did you have a preconceived sound you were going for prior to putting the group together or did the style we hear on the record happen organically once you all started working together?

TC: When I decide something I definitely know where I am going. Even though it may look like I am loose with things once I know where I am going, I turn on that switch and go into hyper mode. I knew exactly what I wanted and was very hands on with this. It is my material so no one was going to tell me how to play my music. It is not that I am not open to suggestion but there was a certain style and attack I was going for. I need both precision and looseness so this thing would rock. Another thing I wanted was this to recorded totally live. We recorded in a barn, set up facing each other with no headphones. All of my favorite albums were recorded that way and they have a certain feel. It can certainly be a lot more work doing things that way but that was the approach and I stuck with it.

AL: Did you have help with the writing of the record or was that all you?

TC: I had never written a song in my life and, then I had to write twelve! I did not know what was going to happen but once I turned that switch, I went the only way I knew. I do not play a lot of instruments so at times I was yapping licks to the guitar player or giving them instructions to try and get out what I was hearing in my head. There was a lot of arduous work but I grinded it out. I did not do demos or anything like because I didn’t want to go too deep into things. I wanted to keep things fresh and on the fly. I had a very strong idea of I wanted everything to be.

AL: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make being you were responsible for more than just drums on this record?

TC: I don’t really think about that. I just tend to go. You have to come up with parts which then need to be recorded so for me I go in there and work things out. There is a lot more grunt work when you do a project like this but there are always elements of grunt work which comes with every album. One thing I have learned from playing with people is that when they are really good you don’t have to say much. When I am playing the drums, I think about the vibe of the music and what people will want to hear and I try to go there and give it to them. Usually that works out for me.

AL: As things start to reopen have you started planning to tour behind the release?

TC: I wouldn’t say there are plans but I also wouldn’t say there are not plans. I am open to whatever present itself. Even though things are starting to open up I think its still to early to think about getting back out there. I am not going to say we won’t tour as this music lends itself to being played live but, we will just have to wait and see.

AL: Do you have anything coming up with any other projects you are involved with?

TC: I just started working with The Dead Daisy’s again and we have a few gigs scheduled for mid-July. I am really looking forward to getting back on some stages and playing loud. I had played with these guys back in 2015 for a couple gigs and they must have liked me because they called me back when they were in of a drummer. I am super happy and looking forward to playing.

For more info on Tommy’s Rocktrip and their album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll” click here

Queensryche Vocalist Todd La Torre Talks About His New Solo Album “Rejoice In The Suffering”

Todd La Torre is the lead vocalist for the heavy metal band Queensryche. On February 5th Todd released his debut solo album titled “Rejoice in the Suffering” via Rat Pack Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Todd recently about the albums creation, working his friend Craig Blackwell and what it’s been like working on and releasing and album during the pandemic.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “Rejoice in the Suffering”?

Todd La Torre: This is a record I have wanted to do now for many, many years. Due to the rigorous touring schedule I normally have things keep getting moved to the back burner and shelved. Once the pandemic hit and touring was officially shut down I called my friend Craig Blackwell who co-wrote the album with me and who also plays guitar, keys and bass to help me get this done. We wrote and recorded the album in about four months. We wanted to write songs that brought us back to our roots as fans of heavy metal and something we could listen to while cruising around in our cars.

AL: Being this was something you had wanted to do for some time now how much of the album was written prior to getting together with Craig?

TL: We had the title track which was written around 2015. That was the only completed song at the time. Craig had a few other ideas and some riffs but we never really sunk our teeth into everything until March of last year. Other than “Rejoice in the Suffering” and maybe a verse for “Pretenders” that was all we really had to start with. The majority of the record was really crafted from scratch when we first got together last year.

AL: Was your writing process for this record similar to when you are working with Queensryche?

TL: For me it was very different. In Queensryche you have five guys in the band. All the guys will have different things that they have written that they then bring to the group. They may have ideas or songs that are different from what I might do and there are a lot more people involved with the process. With this it was just myself and Craig. We were able to move along pretty quickly being it was just the two of us. A lot of these were written in less than a couple days. For instance “Crossroads to Insanity” Craig gave me the music and I had all the lyrics in about a day and a half. “Vanguards of the Dawn Wall” was another one that was written in two days. A lot of these songs were done in a similar amount of time. Queensryche can take a very long time as it’s a totally different process.

AL: How did you keep yourself from going too far into the creative aspects of the record being there were just two of you working on it?

TL: I wanted things to be groove oriented. Craig is a great player and I was able to build on that and really craft the drums around his playing. He would sit down work out everything for his solos as opposed to just noodeling. No page was left unturned by any means but we defiantly didn’t want to over think things either.  

AL: Given the lack of touring and promotion options right now due to the pandemic what made you decide to go ahead and release the album when you did?

TL: The release of this was never contingent on touring live. This was just an artistic expression with me and my friend writing songs and putting them out there for people to listen to. If I am able to do some shows around the album later on in the future that would be awesome. I don’t earn a living as a solo artist as Queensryche is my priority. The timing of this release had no bearing on when I could tour or support the record like I would with a Queensryche release. By putting the record out early and ahead of others I think it’s going to get a little more hang time and I can enjoy it being out there for a whole year. Another plus of releasing the album now is that generally when you release an album you start touring the next day. You are then playing brand new material that not everyone has heard yet and the response might not be that great because of that. With this having extra time to get out to fans due to both the pandemic and my work with Queensryche I think when/if I get to do a solo show its going to make it that much better as people will have had ample time to absorb the music.

AL: What was the reception like from the other Queensryche guys when you told them you were planning to do a solo record?

TL: They have heard me talking about this for quite a few years now. When the pandemic hit we were all trying to figure out what that meant and what we were going to do. Up until that point we had been working our asses off for 9 years since I joined the band. This was a much needed break for everyone. The guys were very receptive and thought this was a great time to be able to do it. I knew if I didn’t do it now that quickly things would be starting up again with Queensryche. This could not have come at a better time for me. Things are done, the record is out and I can go on and only have to focus Queensryche. The guys were very happy for me to be able to show other sides of myself as a musician.

AL: Do you see yourself doing another solo album when time allows?

TL:  I will do another record. I already have three songs written that are much heavier. I have other riffs and ideas that aren’t yet fully completed but those will most likely be on the second record as well. I am going to let this first one get some legs and traction and then once the new Queensryche album is done and out I will start making plans to get this second one out and then once the dust settles from everything I will release another one.

For more information on Todd La Torre and Craig Blackwell visit:

www.toddlatorre.com

www.facebook.com/official.toddlatorre

www.facebook.com/craigblackwellartist

Clive Barker talks about Hulu’s Books of Blood, Candyman and Hellraiser

Clive Barker is an English playwright, novelist, film director, and visual artist. Barker came to prominence in the mid-1980s with a series of short stories, the Books of Blood, which established him as a leading horror writer. He has since written many novels and other works, and his fiction has been adapted into films, notably the Hellraiser and Candyman series.

On October 7th, 2020, Hulu is premiering the new horror anthology film, BOOKS OF BLOOD, which takes audiences on a journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three uncanny tales tangled in space and time.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Clive about the new movie and how 2021 will be the year of Clive Barker with his upcoming books and the new Candyman film being released.

Tommy Chong talks about new Cheech & Chong dispensary and video game “Bud Farm”

Iconic actor, best-selling author, Grammy Award-winning comedian, activist and America’s sweetheart of Cannabis Tommy Chong is legendary for his invaluable contribution to American counter-culture as part of the iconic comedy duo Cheech & Chong, and with a name synonymous with cannabis, has entered into dispensary license with Five Point Holdings Inc. and partnered with Cheech Marin to develop a five state dispensary chain. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about the dispensaries with Tommy as well as his new video game “Bud Farm”.

Stacey Nelkin talks about Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Blade Runner and Yellowbeard

Stacey Nelkin is known best for her role of Ellie Grimbridge in “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”. She was also cast in “Blade Runner” as the the infamous “Sixth Replicant” but ended up being cut.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Stacey about Halloween III as well as her work with the Monty Python gang in “Yellowbeard” and working with Tony Danza and Danny DeVito and the orangutans in “Going Ape”.

Ralph Bakshi talks about his sketchbook, Lord of the Rings & working with Brad Pitt on Cool World

Ralph Bakshi is the man responsible for films like Fritz the Cat, Coonskin, American Pop, Heavy Traffic, The Lord of the Rings (’78), Wizards, and Cool World.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat about drawing with Ralph as well as how he got the rights to make the animated Lord of the Rings movie in 1978 to working with a young Brad Pitt on Cool World.

Titus Paar talks creating an animatronic bear in “Fear of the Woods”

Titus Paar is the director of the new upcoming survival horror film “Fear of the Woods”s starring Vernon Wells (“Commando”, “The Road Warrior”). The film just released it’s trailer to the world and has been taking over the internet since doing so.

Here is the official synopsis for the film is “Alaska 1993, A snowstorm has trapped the small mountain town. Now it’s up to a group of rebellious teenagers to save their town that don’t believe in monsters.’

The film boasts a fully animatronic bear with no CGI and looks absolutely killer (see the trailer below). Media Mikes had a chance to ask Titus a few questions about the film and also his work with Steven Seagal.

What made you want to make a killer bear movie with “Fear of the Woods”?

When I was around 6 years old I saw the anime Silver Fang for the first time, it blew me away and that bear was the coolest monster I had ever seen (And still is)As I started making movies around 15 the dream began of one day making a live action movie called Fear of the Woods and capture the essence of the Bear in Silver Fang but with a new story.And now here we are, 30 years older making that kids dream come true.  

Tell us about the decision to use an animatronic bear and no CGI for the film?

My style of directing is to mix something old and familiar with something new that I made up. I just make movie I want to see but doesn’t exist, from a fan of film standpoint.This is a retro creature movie and I wanted to pay tribute to the guys that did it all in camera.And once I found out that we had an amazing creature work shop in Sweden called fixas.se it was nothing to think twice about.With movies like Jaws, you see its fake but you don´t care because it was there for real, that shark existed and moved like that and ate the actors. Same with our movie, we had that animatronic bear in arctic temperatures, with the maker of the creature, inside the bear operating him from inside so he could walk and run, while another guy controlled the head, mouth, eyes, smoke machine. So much fun and man but so much hard work.

I have a feeling this was a difficult shoot; Can you tell us a little about the production? 

This film truly was a struggle to make in every way. The sun went up at 9 and pitch-black at 3 so we didn’t have lunch breaks or any break really. There was two meter snow so you couldn’t walk without falling and sinking down to you belly and you know I got 74 year old Hollywood star Vernon Wells coming in. And he is supposed to be running in this with a 20 kilo coat on him, being chased by an animatronic bear in tracking shots and VFX setups… So yeah everything was hard. It´s just hard being outside in that kind of cold and we where shooting up on a mountain.But the team is used to work in these conditions and my DP Marcus Möller is one of the beat nature DPs there is so he was a big life savior. Big Camera rig, running with snow shoes all days because the director wanted to have long sweeping takes 🙂 But hey it was worth it, it looks amazing.

Insane shoot for sure. Think we all lost a bit of weight falling around in that snow, digging out the snowmobile while battling the clock. I hate filming in studios, this was a true adventure and it shows in the film. Below is the location and the film is by Marcis Möller:

Tell us about the tagline “Jaws meets Strangers Things and Silver Fang”? 

Its not the tagline but I want my influences to show. This is a combination of these things mashed together in my imagination where I just take stuff that makes my blood pump and the only read thread is me liking it really. Jaws, Jurassic park and yeah the way Spielberg makes creature movies, where the film around the creature is so interesting that the film works even if you take out the creature. Stranger Things for the homage to a time period, we are in the 90s in my movie. But it’s our version of the 90s like Stranger Things is using the 80s but making it their own universe. Silver fang is the horror in snow and the idea to bring Akakabouto to life.

How did you get “Mad Max 2″/”Commando” star Vernon Wells to appear in the film? 

Vernon and I have been friends for like 10 years. Tried to make a few movies before but movies fall apart all the time, it’s a miracle when they get made.Managed to make one together before, he has a fun part in my crazy Seagal movie Perfect Weapon. Love the guy. Grew up watching him in Mad Max and wanted to look like him (I still sport the Wez mohawke) He is a great actor and I mean he is movie history, I hope he gets to make bigger films again after this, he’ll win some awards for this role, some of his best work ever. 

I read he also did all of his own stunts at the age of 74? 

Yeah that man doesn’t complain. I asked him if I was going to bring in a stunt double and MZ stunts was ready to bring in a guy (I mean I did a Seagal film and Seagal has a stunt double for walking and he is 12 years younger than Vernon) He just looked at me and said. I’ll be alright as long as I can use my wheelchair… What do you think? I´m a fucking 80s action star I do all my own stunts. Well what can I say, he did almost kill Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and Mel (Gibson)…

Now that the trailer has been tearing up the internet; when can horror fans expect the release of this film? 

We are still in post on the film but we will do some festivals first. Want to win some awards for this and we will. So when the world opens up there are a lot of horror festivals around Halloween that will showcase it. But we also want to compete in mainstream festivals with this one, it has something fresh and people really dig it. Makes me so happy. You never know when you make these little more out-there movies if anyone else but you will like them.So it makes you very happy when they do. I have seen both sides, I won so many awards and gotten 5 star reviews many times but also been bashed like hell online and in reviews. So it’s nice to be praised for sure.

Your previous film “The Perfect Weapon”, starring Steven Seagal, was recently #1 on Netflix; what was it like working with Seagal? 

Seagal is a hard man to work with. But I knew that walking in to make that movie so I was prepared for it.It was fun doing a 80-90s B-action tribute with him, Vernon Wells and Richard Tyson from Kindergarten Cop. It was never clear in the marketing like I wanted that the movie is an ironic tribute to the B-action genre, so it was bashed for being too B. But that was the point to make the ultimate B movie. It did very well financially, was released worldwide by SONY even went theatrical in Japan and Dubai.The film brought me to Hollywood so I´m grateful to Seagal for taking a chance on me, but I would not do another Seagal movie. Working with much better and bigger talent now on my upcoming movies, you´ll see soon.I´ll say this doe, I like that Seagal is just like you expect him to be, he is larger than life, it’s not an act he puts on, I get bored easily but I was never bored hanging around with Seagal. I got so many good Seagal stories but I only tell them to people that buy me a drink.

Hey thank you Media Mikes for caring about my little crazy movie, means the world to me and the team that made it.Hope you get to see it in a festival or a platform later this year. Looking forward to hear your thoughts.

George McGrath talks about his work on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and writing the movie Big Top Pee-Wee

George McGrath is known for voicing the characters Cowntess / Fish / Globey / Flower / Pterri in “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”. He is also the writer of various episodes of the show including the theme song.

George also wrote the film “Big Top Pee-Wee” and was a writer on the HBO series “Tracy Takes On”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” and his work on the show.

Jodie Resther talks about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” & PBS Kids series “Arthur”

Jodie Resther is known best for her role of Kiki in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. She is also the voice of Francine Alice Frensky in the PBS Kids series “Arthur” for over 20 years.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jodie about “Are You Afraid of the Dark” and her voice over work in “Arthur”.

Eric Bauza talks voicing Bugs Bunny on Looney Tunes Shorts & working on Ducktales & Muppet Babies

Eric Bauza is the current voice of Bugs Bunny in Looney Tunes Shorts. He also voices Daffy Duck / Marvin the Martian / Tweety Pie for the show.

Eric also voices Fozzie in Muppet Babies, Master Frown in Unikitty!, Splinter in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various voices in Ducktales.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric to discuss taking on these iconic roles and talking about voicing his dream role.

Billy Bryan talks about playing Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, Dune and Army of Darkness

Billy Bryan is the man who created the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man suit for Ghostbusters as well as the man inside. He is also one of the puppeteers for Chucky in Child’s Play and also played the Pit Bitch in Army of Darkness.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Billy about his role in Ghostbusters as well as Dune, Child’s Play, Army of Darkness, Men in Black and meeting Dave Grohl for his work on Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.

Kevin Carlson talks about working on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Beetlejuice & working with The Muppets

Kevin Carlson is the voice/puppeteer of Clockey / Conky / Floory / Fish and Knucklehead from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”. He also worked on projects like “Beetlejuice, Child’s Play 2” and “Team America: World Police”.

Kevin has also worked with Jim Henson on projects like “Muppet*vision 3-D” and is the voice of Timmy the Tooth in “The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his roles and what it was like to work with The Muppets.

Follow Kevin on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/KevinCarlson1962/

Bill Farmer talks about Disney+ series It’s A Dog’s Life, Voicing Goofy & the 25th anniversary of A Goofy Movie

Bill Farmer is a Disney Legend. He has voiced the role of Goofy since 1987 and the voice of Pluto since 1988. He currently has a new show on Disney+ called “It’s A Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer”. He also currently voices over 20 characters on Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bill about his new show “It’s a Dogs Life”, voicing Goofy for all these years and reflecting on the 25th anniversary of “A Goofy Movie”.

Robert Wuhl talks about Tim Burton’s Batman and the legacy of HBO’s Arli$$

Robert Wuhl is best known as the creator and star of the television comedy series Arli$$ (1996–2002) and for his portrayal of newspaper reporter Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about working with Tim Burton on Batman, his appearance in Supergirl and the legacy of Arli$$.

Diane Franklin talks about Better Off Dead, Terrorvision and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Diane Franklin is an icon from the 80’s having starred in “The Last American Virgin”, “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “Terrorvision” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.

She is also an author with her latest book titled “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Curls of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Diane to discuss her rise to fame and also her current work in “The Amityville Murders”.