The Damned’s Pinch talks about the bands latest release “Evil Spirits”

The Damned, easily the greatest surviving British punk band, bar none – are back with their first new album in a decade titled “Evil Spirits”. Where their peers either burnt out, or faded away into mediocrity The Damned continue to fire on all cylinders and breaking all the rules along the way. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Pinch (Damned Drummer since 1999) about the new album, the bands recent video for “Look Left” and about the bands upcoming touring plans.

Adam Lawton: With a 10 year lapse between albums, what prompted the idea/creation to go ahead with a brand new full length release?

Pinch: It was the Pledge campaign, which after launch, was so successful we could see there was the demand for a new record that we all knew was there. To see that demand become real was very satisfying and we have to heartily thank our incredible fans for that. After our last (self funded) record, we knew we had to have Dave V fully on board with this one and he stepped up admirably, committing both musically and promotionally, whereas previously he had seemed somewhat reticent to launch himself fully into the project. The record really needed Dave’s touch and I’m happy that he dusted off the cobwebs and got songwriting again. His tunes and vision really drive “Evil Spirits” nicely and I think the mix of song styles by all contributing writers underlines the Damned’s ability to pleasantly surprise both fans and new listeners.

AL: How did the writing process go for “Evil Spirits”? Do you work separately from one another or collectively?

Pinch: It was a funny chess game leading up to this album. Captain seemed to be holding back his contributions, encouraging Dave to feel he had the freedom to create whatever took his fancy. It seemed at one point that everyone was too scared to offer up demos for fear of the wrong direction being taken. Thankfully, when push came to shove and we had a producer and studio time locked down, the songs were popping into the dropbox thick and fast. We ended up with at least a couple of records worth of songs from all writers, and it was decided to let someone else choose the final songs for “Evil Spirits”. I think the record works really well as a collection and perhaps some of the songs that didn’t make it would sound great together too, but as a band, sometimes you are too close to the art to make that call clearly. Captain likes to deliver fully finished demos, very well produced I may add, whereas the rest of us offer up a mostly completed song that benefits from all members adding their personalities. Sitting in a room together with a blank notepad is not the way any of us work best, as the years of pharmaceutical inspiration are thankfully long gone. However, working under the gun, with deadlines looming, seems to drag out inspiration by the bucket full.

AL: You recently released a video for “Look Left”, can you tell us about the story behind that and what made you choose that song for a video treatment?

Pinch: I had the bones of that song kicking around for a few years, hoping that it would eventually develop into something The Damned could use. The phrase- “while everybody’s looking left, what the hell is happening right?” seemed to really sum up where I could see the programming of humanity taking us. Whilst we are being distracted by some nonsensical celebrity twaddle, there would be a vote on a crucially important social issue that would sneak its way into law. Today’s media really have fine tuned the craft of distraction to the point of perfection. When perfectly true, well researched articles are labeled fake news to fit nefarious agendas, AND everybody swallows it, where does that leave the truth? Other than being just another opinion. Ultimately, whose opinion is right and whose is wrong are things we all currently have the liberty to discuss, but with increasing media censorship, I fear for our future ability to make any kind of disagreeable statement without some kind of social punishment. It was the label that chose “Look Left” as a single to have a video, and I really had to leave the interpretation to the video director, as these guys don’t like you stepping on their visions. Also, it was nice to see someone else’s take on my lyrics and sentiment. Ultimately, Radio declined to get on board with the song, stating some kind of half baked excuse about it not fitting the listenership they were “moving toward”. If the most commercial, hooky single the Damned have ever released can’t make a daytime radio playlist, with the album sitting at number 7 in the charts, you have to wonder if that age old Damned phobia hasn’t simply moved through the decades of radio producers and makes me ultimately think- Why Bother? Let’s just go back to the biff boom crash that the band are known for and screw any notion of radio success. Sad really but it’s an unfortunate reality.

AL: The band has a number of live performances booked starting in May. Can you tell us about the upcoming UK run, the few stops you have scheduled in the States and your plans for the remainder of the 2018 tour season?

Pinch: Due to the recording of the album being pushed back, we were kind of scrambling to lock in a good live touring plan. Only WE could release a record with ZERO live dates either side of release but, that is where we find ourselves. We head off to Europe next week starting in Germany and ending in France, by way of Switzerland, Italy and Holland. A short Arena tour of the UK with Hollywood Vampires is set for June, where Mr. Vanain and Mr. Depp can compare hair style notes and the benefits of a fine snifter no doubt. Then another short Pacific North West and Canada run in early July, including Burger Boogaloo in Oakland, which we are all excited to play. It sounds like a whacky thing that we would all enjoy, AND I get to see Devo the night before which is never a bad thing. October sees us embarking on another coast to coast U.S run, starting in Boston and ending in San Diego, before coming back to the UK for our traditional winter tour to wrap up the year. Hopefully we will debut some more songs from “Evil Spirits” at some point on these dates, it’s always good to see how they translate live.

AL: Each of you tends to have a number of projects going on at one time. Can you tell us about some of those and where we can keep up to date with everything?

Pinch: Not sure what the other guys have going on at the moment, but when I am not touring, I work a production gig in the United States that sees me working with a mind bending array of legendary artists that constantly makes me chuckle. Did I ever think I would be attending to the needs of Mr. Englebert Humperdinck when I was living in a punk squat in Grantham all those years ago? Well, anything can happen with an open mind, and often does. Think! It’s not illegal …..YET.

For more info on The Damned you can visit www.officialdamned.com

Dean Devlin talks about directing David Tennant in “Bad Samaritan”

Dean Devlin went from starting out chauffeuring for Al Pacino in the early 80’s to writing/producing some one of the biggest films including “Stargate”, “Independence Day” and “Godzilla (1998)”.  Dean stepped into the director’s chair for the first time last year with the big-budget “Geostorm”. He is back again directing and producing a new film starring David Tennant and Robert Sheehan called “Bad Samaritan”. We had a chance to chat with Dean about this new movie and how was it shifting in scale from big studio to independent.

Mike Gencarelli: “Bad Samaritan” has been in development since at least 2013, can you tell us how about you became involved with it?

Dean Devlin: What happened is, back then I got a call from writer Brandon Boyce, who I have been a fan of since “Apt Pupil” and “Wicker Park”, and he said he just finished a new script but before he sent it out to the world he asked if I would make some notes. I read the script and I only had one note for him…and that was not to show it to anyone else because I was going to make this movie. I was in love with it and bought it immediately. Right after, I went on did two other projects, so I had to wait till I was done with those to get back to it, but I was desperate to make the picture from the moment I read the script.

MG: You directed, produced and wrote “Geostorm” and with “Bad Samaritan”, you produced and directed; how was your experience differ between the two?

DD: Well, the experiences were night and day. The difference is doing a movie in a studio or independently. All of my best work has been from projects where it was independent or we had the creative freedom we needed. This was night and day, the best experience that I have ever had making a picture.

MG: Yeah I would agree, the scale is very different; what was your biggest challenge on this film?

DD: It is so out of what I have ever done before. I have never done this dark tone before. For me it was top to bottom, I had to rethink everything I would do like framing a shot for example or approach music. It was a terrifying task to take on but at the same time, it was thrilling. I have an amazing team of people. We spent a lot of time doing our homework and making sure the thrill and tone were set effectively. It was so exciting to do.

MG: How did David Tennant and Robert Sheehan come on board?

DD: Again, because this was an independent movie I didn’t need anybody’s permission to cast the film. If you do a studio film, that the process can be ridiculous. This was the case were I could just cast simply best actors we could get. My dream cast was to get Robert Sheehan and David Tennant in these roles. I felt like so blessed when they both said “yes”, because I really didn’t have a second choice for either part [laughs]. You get somebody in your head and it’s really hard to rethink it. When I did “Independence Day”, we wrote that part for Jeff Goldblum. If he had said “no”, we would have had to rethink the entire part.

MG: Tell me one film that is your “go-to” film to watch? …for me it’s “The Shining”.

DD: It really depends. I would have to say there are three and if they are on television I can’t turn them off. It doesn’t matter if I catch one scene…the first is “Enter the Dragon”. Another is “Tombstone”. I have to at least stay on until he says “I’m your Huckleberry” [laughs]. The last one has to be “E.T”. Those films are the ones that I can’t get enough of.

MG: What would be a dream project for you to direct?

DD: Listen, I have been so blessed in my life that once I have a dream project in mind, it becomes my next film. I approach this whole business like a fan. I never try and figure out what is going to be a success, I think that is a mistake. For me, it is like a fan boy, what do I want to see? And if no one else is making it then I try and go make it. I have been blessed from being able to make “Independence Day” and that I got the script of “Bad Samaritan” from Brandon Boyce. Each time out has been a dream come true.

MG: I am impressed to see that an independent film like this is getting a decent theatrical release.

DD: Well you know, the new Avengers saw that we were on their date…and they knew…they knew they needed to get out of our way. Run Avengers! [laughs]. I am going to throw this out for your readers: What is the thing that is in both in the new “Avengers” and “Bad Samaritan”? Let us see if readers can figure this out. (Leave comment below!)

All Photo Credit: Courtesy of Electric Entertainment

Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf Talks About The Bands New Album “Mind Fucker”

Dave Wyndorf is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the rock group Monster Magnet. The groups latest album (Their first in five years) titled “Mind Fucker” was released on March 23rd and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Dave recently about the albums creation, its first single “I Am God” and about the groups upcoming European tour run.

Adam Lawton: It has been five years since the bands last release “Last Patrol”. Can you tell what has been going on with the band during that time and what led to the release of the new album?

Dave Wyndorf: The band tours every year predominately around Europe and the world as that’s where rock really lives. I only tour here in the states every couple of years as rock music is sort of dead here so we have to sort of wait it out. We have been in the studio quite a bit as we were re-imagining/recording two records making them sound-scapes that would allow for psychedelic, alternative listening experiences. Things never really stop we just sort of take a left or right turn down a rabbit hole and then pop up in public whenever it suits us.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the work that went into the new album and also maybe about the catchy title?

DW: I wanted to make something along the lines of a punk rock record. I wanted it to have that spirit while being this sort of proto-punk, straight ahead rock record. At the time I was doing a lot of long form psychedelia and I wanted to put this album out quick. I was kind of going from the hip and wrote this album in about three weeks. The idea was for it to be a sex, drugs and rock and roll album then the whole political and information melt down that happened from 2016 to 2018 started creeping its way into the lyrics. During the writing I had started calling the album “Mind Fucker” and thought it was the perfect title for album being released in 2018. It was really supposed to be an “I want to drive my camaro of a cliff just for fun” type of record but then the blending of all these things happened and it sort of morphed into a weird mixture of the two.

AL: Was it hard for you to transition back into writing more straight forward material as opposed to the long form material you were currently working on at that time?

DW: It wasn’t hard to dream it up but I did have to re-calibrate myself as to what I wanted as I wrote. It was a challenge. The thing with the long form sound-scape material is you are creating this place for people to be in for awhile. You take your time getting there. With the type of record “Mind Fucker” is it’s much quicker and goes right to the point.

AL: At what point do the other members of the band come into the writing/recording process?

DW: I start out by writing everything to a click track. I will arrange it the best possible way I can with melody, guitar and bass. From there I will take it to the drummer and come up with a proper arrangement. We get the meat of how things are going to go together and then we bring in the rest of the guys. I give them an idea of what each song is about and then they take things from there. I write with everyone in mind so that when the time comes the material is right in their wheelhouse.

AL: What can you tell us about the album’s first single “I Am God”?

DW: “I Am God” is just a way for me to yell at people without saying it’s me. (Laughs) I wanted to write a song about god yelling at people as it was apropos with the time. I figured this song would hit someone out there. It’s an easy song to remember and who doesn’t want to scream “I Am God” while riding down the highway? It was written with a sense of humor involved. Being the song is so blunt it just had to be released as a single.

AL: The band performed a couple shows here in the NY area recently and you are now set to tour Europe can you tell us about that run of shows?

DW: We kicked things off with a few shows in the New York area to celebrate the release of the album and, we will be announcing a whole North American tour here in the next few weeks. However, first we will be heading over to Europe for around a month and a half. During that time we will be looking for more opportunities during the summer in possibly Australia and/or South America. We are always trying to hit new places so we will just have to wait and see. I would really like to make it into China.

AL: Being a guy who is always busy do you have anything else you are currently working on right now?

DW: Right now I am really trying to sell the new album as hard as I can. Once I get back from Europe I will be diving in to writing and seeing where that goes. I try to focus on one thing at a time so I can get the most experience out of it and then when I am totally exhausted I sit down and think back on what I learned during that time. I just live life and then write about life. That’s where the music and lyrics come from for me.

For more info on Monster Magnet you can visit their official facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/

Film Interview: Director Susan Walter talks about her debut feature, “All I Wish”

 

After almost three decades working behind the scenes on other people’s films, Susan Walter has finally gotten to sit in the big chair.  As writer and director of the new film “All I Wish,” she called the shots and achieved a dream.

 

While promoting the film, which is now in theatres and also available on Video on Demand, she took time out to talk with me about finally being in charge.

 

Mike Smith:  Please tell me that Tony Goldwyn isn’t really that bad of a singer. (NOTE:  In the film, Goldwyn tries his hand at karaoke, much to the chagrin of anyone in earshot.)

 

Susan Walter:  (laughs) Tony Goldwyn is a brilliant singer!  The first time I talked to him about that scene, he said to me “you know I can sing, right?”  He wanted everyone to know that he could sing.

 

MS:  Where did you get the idea for the film?

 

SW:  I’m a huge fan of “When Harry Met Sally.”  It’s one of my favorite films of any genre’.  And what I love about it is that it takes these two characters and looks at how the spend time together over a long period of time.  So I thought what would happen if I showed characters that not only got to know each other but got to know themselves over a long period of time.  And I picked each period beginning on a birthday because your birthday is a time when you look at your life.  The stakes are super high on your birthday.

 

MS:  Most people, when they think of romantic comedy, don’t readily think of Sharon Stone, who is more known for tougher roles.  What made you cast her?

 

SW:  Sharon cast herself.  (laughs)  Literally.  She got the script originally when it was written for her character to be in her 20s, and I wanted somebody tough and vibrant to play the mother.  I sent her the script and offered her the mother and she called me and said, “I’m not playing the mother…I’m playing the lead!”  And I got chills all over my body because I knew that she was right.  She felt really connected to the character and she really spoke passionately about why she had to do it.  So that’s the version of the movie that got made.

 

MS:  Which also became a bonus because you got to work with Ellen Burstyn.

 

SW:  We were so lucky that Ellen responded so well to the script.  Sharon was so passionate about having her and when we sent it to her she responded right away.  Though Ellen’s character appears tough as nails in the film she also has a vulnerability that you can feel.  You can feel the love that she has for her daughter and it was something beautiful for me to watch.

 

MS:  You’ve spent decades working behind the scenes until you finally got the opportunity to direct a feature.  Was the experience everything you thought it would be?

 

SW:  I have to tell you, I was totally nervous into the lead-up of the movie.  I was worried.  Could I do the job?  Did I have the energy?  It takes an incredible amount of stamina to direct a feature film.  You’re on your feet all day and you need every corner of your brain to do the job.  I got so much incredible support from my cast, especially Sharon.  They made it effortless.  It was like being weightless.  I entrusted them with their characters.  I was just there as a sounding board if they had a question about a line or a moment.  The experience of directing was almost effortless.

 

MS:  You’ve worked with several name directors in the past, including the late Garry Marshall.  Did you learn anything from them that you used on your set?

 

SW:  The one thing I learned from Garry in regards to actors is to just let them play.  Make them feel safe and let them play.  And when they had an idea, it was always “yes.”  He may not have agreed with it, but he would always say, “let’s try it.”  That was the way he worked and I think some of it rubbed off on me.  I said “yes” a lot to my actors.  We played a lot.  And I think you can feel how free they felt when you watched the film.

 

MS:  What are you working on next?

 

SW:  I wrote a movie with a friend of mine who is an actress and an extremely hilarious human being.  It’s an “R” rated ensemble comedy that we’re putting together now.  Hopefully we can start it soon.  I hope it doesn’t take another fourteen years.

Actor Jimmy Bellinger Talks About His Role In The Film “Blockers”

Jimmy Bellinger is an actor who has appeared in a variety of commercials, films and, television series including “The Middle” and “Parks and Recreation”. In the newly released film “Blockers” starring Leslie Mann and John Cena, Jimmy plays the role of Chad a nerdy yet confident high school student. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jimmy recently about his character and the film and also about his widely popular Skittles commercial.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the film “Blockers” and your character Chad?

Jimmy Bellinger: “Blockers” is a fun, raunchy sort of coming of age story that follows three parents and their daughters. We first see the girls as young children and then as teenagers getting ready to attend the prom. The girls decide they want to lose their virginity and make a pact to do so. The girl’s dates are not aware that this is set to happen and it turns into this crazy thing when the parents find out and attempt to stop them. My character Chad is sort of a dorky guy but he is very confident. He loves to dance and be a showman. Chad also loves a good fedora!

AL: How did this role come about for you?

JB: It was actually quite a long process. I auditioned a few times over the course of two months before officially getting the offer. Originally I read for a character that’s not in the story anymore. I then went back and read for the role of Chad. I actually did two auditions that day as they brought me back in the afternoon to read with a group of girls auditioning for the Sam role. None of those girls ended up in the film and I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks until they brought me back to read with a different group of girls. This whole time I was never really sure if I was going to get the role or not because they could have been seeing other people that I didn’t know about. A week or so later I found out I got the part and also that they recast all three girls and the other two guys. I was lucky that I made it and am very happen that things worked out for me the way that they did.

AL: Over that time did the script change in any way?

JB: Yes it did. Originally there was this completely different character in the script and that role had been cut out so there were definitely a lot of changes made from the time I first read the script to what ended up being in the film. Things were added and locations changed but the film is still just as funny as when I first read for it and, that was what interested me in the project from the start.

AL: Were you allowed creative freedom with the character or were you asked to stay to the scripted material?

JB: There was certainly creative freedom. Yes there was a script for the character they wrote but I feel like unless you are playing a real person that existed somewhere in time you bring in pieces of yourself to each role you pay. I feel like most people want you to bring your own traits as an actor to their character. That’s essentially your job. You have ideas and there are scripted pieces so you start there and once you get going you might come up with some other things that help the character and story. The film’s director Kay Cannon is an extremely talented writer so if we weren’t pitching ideas she was coming up with things to try or add. We shot a lot of different versions of each scene so you really didn’t know what will be in the final film until you see it.

AL: The film has a very comedic cast. What was it like on set between takes?

JB: It was fun! Sets are all very similar because the days are long and when you are not shooting you are hanging out with the other cast and crew joking and having a good time. You get to talk with and meet a lot of different people. The cast was great as were the crew and, being that we were shooting a comedy and not a drama or something really serious everyone was just very relaxed and the mood was light.

AL: You also are currently the face of Skittles and appear in the hilarious Skittles-pocks commercial. How did that opportunity come about and, will you be reprising that role in upcoming ads?

JB: That came about much like this film through a regular audition. I went in to read for the part and they paired us up randomly with the girls who were their reading for the other part. I ended up being with the girl who also ended up in the commercial. After the first audition I got a call back and I could tell that they liked me because I read with the first girl again as well as a couple others. When we shot it even though it was such a short spot we tried a bunch of different things. The lines were there but I got to have a lot of fun playing within the confines of them. I had no idea what made it into the commercial until it came out. The ad started on the internet and then they started airing it and then they stopped. That usually happens after some time with commercials but then they decided to renew it and it has been playing non-stop. I am completely fine with it. Some people think it’s funny; some people think its gross or a combination of the two. I think that they are probably all right but I think that’s kind of the appeal of it as it’s weird but quick and easy. It’s just crazy how big it has become and seeing how excited people get amazes me. In terms of reprising the role that really on them however I will happily be paid to wear more skittles on my face. I am fine with that.

AL: Are there any other projects you have been working on that you would like to mention?

JB: There are some things in the works but I can’t really talk too much about those right now however, I did do an episode of the Nickelodeon show “Night Squad”. My episode won’t air until Halloween time but I do want to let people know it will be coming out and when they can look for it.

For more info on Jimmy Bellinger you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @JimmyBellinger

Anthrax’s Charlie Benante Talks About The Filming Of The Bands Upcoming DVD, “Kings Aming Scotland”.

ANTHRAX’S CHARLIE BENANTE TALKS ABOUT
THE FILMING OF THE UPCOMING DVD, “KINGS AMONG SCOTLAND”

Photo Credit: Jimmy Hubbard

Multi-Grammy nominated thrash icons Anthrax will see the band’s long-awaited live-in-concert DVD, “Kings Among Scotland,” released on April 27 (Megaforce). But before that, the band’s Charlie Benante has just posted a video clip where he talks about the filming of the live set, the decision to film in Scotland, and the challenge of playing some of the songs live for the first time ever. Check out the clip here: https://youtu.be/nHW5_f6jBWE
“Kings Among Scotland” will be available in CD (audio only), DVD and digital formats (both video), and can be pre-ordered at www.anthrax.com. When ordered digitally, the purchaser will receive “Breathing Lightning (live)” instantly.

The two-hour “Kings of Scotland” was filmed February 15, 2017 at the band’s sold-out concert at Barrowland Ballroom, the historic venue in Glasgow. The disc incorporates the band’s entire live show, and includes gems like “Madhouse,” “I Am the Law,” “Breathing Lightning” and “Indians.” The disc also features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and other B-roll shot on the band’s tour bus, backstage, in hotels and elsewhere, plus a “gear rundown” from each of the band members.

“Kings Among Scotland” was produced, directed, filmed and edited for Film24Productions by Paul M. Green (Opeth, The Damned, The Levellers), with the sound mixed by Anthrax studio producer Jay Ruston. “Kings Among Scotland” can be pre-ordered now by going to www.anthrax.com.

Anthrax is set to hit the road this summer with fellow Big Four cohort SLAYER who kick off their final world tour on May 10 in San Diego, CA On the Slayer Leg One “off days,” Anthrax will join up with Testament for a handful of shows. All dates are below.

LEG ONE
MAY
10 Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA SOLD OUT
11 Five Point Amphitheatre, Irvine, CA SOLD OUT
12 Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas, NV – Anthrax + Testament
13 Papa Murphy’s Park at Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA SOLD OUT
16 Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC SOLD OUT
17 South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, BC
18 Western Finance Place, Cranbrook, BC – Anthrax + Testament
19 Big Four, Calgary, AB SOLD OUT
20 Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB SOLD OUT
22 Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB
23 Sanctuary Events Center, Fargo, ND – Anthrax + Testament
24 The Armory, Minneapolis, MN SOLD OUT
25 Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL
26 Clyde theatre, Ft. Wayne, IN – Anthrax + Testament
27 Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, Detroit, MI SOLD OUT
29 Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON SOLD OUT
30 Place Bell, Montreal, PQ SOLD OUT

JUNE
1 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT SOLD OUT
2 PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
4 Santander Arena, Reading, PA SOLD OUT
6 Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, OH
8 International, Knoxville, TN- Anthrax + Testament
7 Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
9 KeyBank Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA
10 Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA
12 Veteran’s United Home Loans Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA
13 The Stage on the Bay, Savannah, GA – Anthrax + Testament
14 PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC
15 Orlando Amphitheater, Orlando, FL
17 Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, Houston, TX SOLD OUT
18 House of Blues, New Orleans, LA – Anthrax + Testament
19 The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX SOLD OUT
20 Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX SOLD OUT

LEG TWO
JULY
26 Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford, NH
27 Impact Music Festival, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME
29 Northwell Health at Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY
31 The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA

AUGUST
1 Times Union Center, Albany, NY
3 Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Lake, NY
4 Lakeview Amphitheater, Syracuse, NY
6 Budweiser Gardens, London, ON
7 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
9 Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO
10 Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA
12 Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN
13 Walmart AMP, Rogers, AR
15 Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, TX
16 The Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
18 Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Denver, CO
19 USANA Amphitheatre, Salt Lake City, UT
21 Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater, Boise, ID
23 Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, Portland, OR
26 SAP Center, San Jose, CA

Catherine Spencer talks about women’s sport and inequality

Catherin Spencer, the former women’s Rugby team captain has published an article in The Guardian on the subject of the inequality between men’s and women’s sport in general, and in particular about the huge investment gap.

She said that if she had been given a pound for the times she had been asked about the hurdles women in sport face, she would be a rich lady. As it is, she mourned, her bank balance is only that of a retired England Rugby captain – and a women’s rugby captain at that.

Women rugby players had to play for the love of the game

When Spencer held the captaincy, from 2007 to 2011, the players were expected to play for the love of the game. Her team included doctors, teachers, policewomen and veterinary surgeons who spent all of their free time training and playing without any financial reward – unlike today’s lady players who at least are given match fees on a match-by-match basis.

The ex-women’s captain mentioned browsing the BBC Sport website homepage recently. She searched out the women who were featured and came across Serena Williams, and the silver medallists from the British Winter Paralympian team, Jen Kehoe and Menna Fitzpatrick. These three sportswomen were amongst 33 photos of male sports athletes, which highlights the problem nicely.

Lack of media coverage for women’s sports events

Women’s sport doesn’t get anywhere near the same amount of coverage in the media that men’s sport does. The same problem occurs with sponsorships too. It creates a never-ending circle. To attract sponsorships, the sponsors want to know those they sponsor will get plenty of TV publicity. However, the TV companies don’t show much women’s sport because they maintain it doesn’t attract the same size of audience that men’s sporting events do.

Breaking the circle

Of course, from the audience’s side of the coin, they say that they can’t watch women’s sport because it isn’t broadcast enough. And so it goes – round and round in perpetuity. The chain somehow needs to be broken, but how?

Anything is possible given enough application. As Catherine herself reminded us, she captained her team in winning four Six Nations championships, plus getting to the World Cup final, all the while holding down a full-time job.

To break the underinvestment circle, all that is needed is the courage and some dedication. The recent spectacle in women’s international rugby was when France beat England. Not only was the game was seen by over 17,000 spectators (the most ever to witness a women’s test match) but more people than ever also got involved with placing bets on the outcome.

That same day 5,000 spectators watched Twickenham beat Richmond at the Harlequins’ ground. A British record.

Getting the message across

Catherine Spencer is determined to further the cause of equality for women’s sport, even though she has retired from international rugby. She is writing her own book, rather aptly titled, “Mud, Maul, Mascara.” She has also started her own agency and is getting in there amongst the almost men-only-world of after-dinner speaking.

She is doing her bit in an effort to show that women’s sport should be taken seriously and that it has much to offer; a sentiment more and more people are beginning to agree with.

Serge Levin talks about his new film Alterscape and Superstrata and talks about new Re-Animator

Last month, I was sitting reading the latest issue of Horrorhound Magazine and I came across their list for the horror films of 2018 and within that listed was a film, I had no idea even existed called ReAnimator: Evolution. The film was said to be a reboot of the franchise and directed by Serge Levin and starring Johnathon Schaech. I knew I had to seek out more information about the film and the director. I found out that it is true; he is working on a new branding of the franchise and the film has been re-titled to Herbert West: Reanimator…but before we get to that, I found out that Serge has been VERY busy with other films!

Turns out Serge is working on finishing two new films before he enters the world of Herbert West. His first film, Alterscape: is a sci-fi/drama that takes a man on a journey that transcends both physical and perceived reality. It is a real trip to watch and it also co-stars Michael Ironside (Scanners). His second film is Superstrata has Paz de la Huerta (Enter the Void) and is currently being edited by Eric Strand, the man behind Donnie Darko and Tomb Raider. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Serge about his two upcoming movies and also got the scoop on the new re-branding for the Reanimator franchise.

Mike Gencarelli: You wrote and directed the film “Alterscape”; tell us the origin of this project?
Serge Levin: The idea behind Alterscape originated from my fascination with emotions. Due to the nature of my prior work in corporate finance, I was lucky to have traveled, lived, and worked in a few different countries. Through observation and interaction with people of various cultures, I pondered on the stark differences of how emotions are expressed, interpreted, and understood.
I also wanted to explore the relationship between emotions, feelings, and memory. Coincidentally, while waiting for a flight at an airport I came across an intriguing book by Victor S. Johnston Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions. Although it was a fairly short flight, I remember devouring the whole book before I landed at my destination. My hunger for the subject matter and the author’s brilliant writing structure made it an easy read, but most importantly connected many dots in the underlying study of emotions and nervous system as a whole.

Thinking back to some stories that my stepfather, Sam Hollis a Vietnam War veteran, has told me when I was younger, and inspired by more literature about Affective Science, the first draft of Alterscape was born.

MG: How was the opening falling from the building scene shot?
SL:  Indeed, the slow motion falling sequence is one of the most important story beats in the film, so I wanted it to really stand out.

Being a huge fan of 80s film era, I loved how the director John McTiernen portrayed the falling sequence with the character named Ponytail, played by Héctor Mercado, in the film Nomads 1986. It was both creepy and surreal. I needed my falling shot to have that abstract and symbolic feel, so I was definitely inspired by what I saw in Nomads.

I wanted to take it even further and actually follow our hero as he plummets from a high-rise, which required more ingenuity and technical assembly. For the sake of art I can’t get into details as to the exact process of how we shot it, although our final execution of the sequence was as close to a real fall as you can make it.

MG: I loved the whole setting of the film. The logo and parts of the score has a cool 80’s vibe. The wormhole was rad with retro feel. I also love old tech like the ancient computers mixed with the new tech; was this all planned?
SL: I appreciate you picking up on these aesthetics because it was definitely intentional. As I already mentioned, I’m inspired by many great films from the 80s and had the urge to bring back some of those vibes, analog tech, and even colors. The story does not take place in the 80s however. We keep it vague although a few visual and dialogue references do imply a more specific time period. Amalgamating retro-tech with very advanced science was also planned from the start. David Cronenberg fans, being one myself, will definitely appreciate our set designs.

MG: Tell us about the film’s visual effects? What was your most challenging task?
SL: The script called for more than 800 visual effect shots of varied complexity. My objective was to do most in-camera with real makeup, physics, and lighting. This old-school method to me seems to convey action with more realism and depth. Obviously, certain sequences required harnessing some of the digital creative tools and applying them in a very neat way. It’s thanks to my very experienced and talented cinematographer, Richard Clabaugh (Prophecy 1 and 2, Phantoms), the process of filming always took into account what and how we would need to tackle the post-production visuals.

You referred to the vortex sequence as being one of the cool-looking visuals. I’d like to add that after we travel through it, we end up in a realm that seems to span to infinity. Actually close to 90% of that composition is actually practical, not digital.

MG: What was it like working with a legend like Michael Ironside?
SL: It was a dream come true. Michael Ironside and Charles Baker, were introduced to me by our producer Jon Keeyes, who had previously worked with both. I’m extremely grateful and honored that my story resonated with such talent.

Michael was an absolute joy to work with and simply be around. It felt like working with a close family member – that’s the kind of energy Michael projected on set. He commands such strong presence, both on screen and off. Growing up watching him, in what are now cult classics of the genre that I am most passionate about, and get to actually work with Michael Ironside, was a real treat.

Overall, I was lucky to have such a talented cast. Everyone was extremely hard working and talented.

MG: I felt a Scanners vibe within the film; was this coincidence or planned with Ironside on board?
SL: Scanners is one of my favorite horror films but I did not expect to have Michael on board until we actually signed. I was overwhelmed with joy when I found out we had a solid confirm. As far as similarities to Scanners I can see where the parallels can be drawn, however the theme, premise, and motivations are very different.

We just had our world premiere at The Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York, where we won first place (Best Feature), and one of the viewers made a reference to Liquid Sky as well. I am thrilled that our film carries those vibes and homage to the work I consider inspirational.

One day I asked Michael Ironside what he thought of our set design for the lab interiors. Right away he brought up Altered States, yet another film from the 80s.

MG: Your next film, Superstrata, is already in the books; give us a sneak preview?
SL: Superstrata is currently in post-production and I expect to have solid first assembly in a few months. I’m extremely happy with the footage that we shot and with great excitement now focusing on making the best edit.

The story revolves around a man whose psychological condition yields an unexpected side-effect enabling him to experience various quantum realities. Quantum physics and quantum mechanics are a big part of the story, but so is spirituality and the concept of interconnection through love.

Superstrata shall have many neat twists and turns, including an epic passenger jet sequence. With its many layers, stunning cinematography and big production value, it will be an impactful feature. We have awesome cast including: Robert F. Lyons, Jim Meskimen, Paz de la Huerta, and Alex Veadov.

MG: Tell me about about working with the man behind Donnie Darko and Tomb Raider, Eric Strand, and how he got involved to edit this film?
SL: Eric Strand is a veteran of his art. Working with an editor of such experience and caliber is an eye opening learning experience. Eric’s approach is very old-school, using techniques that were bullet-proof for cutting film. Our digital workflow, in my view, adds to Eric’s creative freedom and leverages his proven know-how. Eric and I connected in many ways, including the type of genres we like and the study of Martial Arts.

MG: Alex Veadov appears in both of your upcoming films Alterscape and Superstrata?; tell us about this collaboration?
SL: The first time I saw Alex in a film, it was We Own The Night directed by James Gray. I was blown away by his ability to convey so much emotion simply with his eyes. I believe Alex is one of the most talented actors of our time and have been blessed to work with him on several projects.

Our collaboration started with Alterscape when I reached out to him directly with the script and then bringing him onboard via his agent. When I started working on the Superstrata script, I already had Alex in mind for one of the roles. I’m grateful that he has been receptive to my material and his schedule worked out.

MG: What can you tell me about the planned reboot “Herbert West: Reanimator”
SL: We will be announcing exciting news regarding the Reanimator rebrand very soon. I wouldn’t call it a reboot of the original Re-Animator film, which I love and have tremendous respect for. Our adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s original story shall stay true to the underlying material yet accentuate more of its scientific and dark undertones.

MG: Is Johnathon Schaech still involved? When can we expect it?
SL: Johnathon Schaech is a co-writer together with Jon Keeyes. Johnathon is also a very talented actor and I expect to have a full cast confirmed in the near future.

It’s important to note that we are not only producing a new adaptation of a well-known literary work but also incorporating innovative high-tech applications to make this an unprecedented viewing spectacle with ancillary interactive content.

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

Photo by KGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horror legend Dee Wallace talks about the new film “Death House”

Photo by Joe Bryant

Dee Wallace is a name that needs little introduction. She is a legend in the business and is known best for her roles on films like “The Hills Have Eyes”, “The Howling”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Cujo”. This year Dee is co-starring in the new film, “Death House” among over a dozen of other horror icons. She took out some time to chat with Media Mikes (again) to discuss the film and her role!

Mike Gencarelli: This project was born from the late Gunnar Hansen. How did you get involved and did you have any involvement with him before he passed?
Dee Wallace: I knew Gunnar. He was with my agent and also we saw each other on the circuit. I got involved because he and my agent developed the original concept together. Gunnar was a dear, sweet,  kind, talented man. He is missed.

MG: As a scream queen yourself, this film is jam packed with horror legends, but you have alot of screen time with Cortney Palm, who I feel is really breaking out in the business, tell us about working with her?
DW: I loved working with Cortney. She is very professional. I love her intensity.

MG: There has to be fun behind-the-scenes stories from working with this cast? Anything come to mind quick from the production?
DW: We alternated between freezing and feeling sorry for those who were more naked than we were!

MG: Tell us what drew you in about your character, Dr. Eileen Fletcher, and did you give her any cool unmentioned backstory to get into character?
DW: I loved her because I don’t get to play many characters like her…hard and unfeeling. Interestingly, that was a real challenge for me. I am used to playing with a full heart. I don’t know if you picked it up, but Barbara and I had a whole lesbian vibe going on.

MG: I like the idea that “Death House” is like “The Expendables” of the horror genre! Do you think that this will be expanded into more films?
Well, since I died, it’s doubtful I will return! But my daughter, Gabrielle Stone, is slated for the next one so yes!, I definitely want there to be more!

MG: From working in the genre over the years with “E.T.”, “The Howling” and “Cujo”,
how do you feel the genre has changed over the years?
DW: I think people get confused between horror and slasher. A good horror film develops characters, takes time to build, and usually has some kind of message about the human situation.

MG: Tell us what you are currently working on now and what’s upcoming?
DW: I have a great Christmas horror film on Netflix called “Red Christmas”, my series, “Just Add Magic”, is showing on Amazon Prime, and I am currently shooting a wonderful film called “Every Other Holiday”. I also am slated to film in March but cannot disclose any info yet!

Cortney Palm talks about working with horror icons in “Death House”

Cortney Palm has been making her mark in Hollywood and securing her role as a scream queen with roles in films like “Silent Night” (2012), “Zombeavers” and “The Dark Tapes”. She also co-starred in the film “Sushi Girl” alongside Mark Hamill in 2012. Recently she is starring in the film “Death House” alongside about a dozen of horror icons including Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Dee Wallace. Cortney took out some time to chat with Media Mikes (again) to discuss the film and her love for the genre.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the film “Death House”?
CP: I had received message from director Harrison Smith via Twitter saying that some things had developed and he was interested in sending me a script. The script was “Death House”, and after I read it I thought I HAD to be a part of it. My managers got involved and literally a few days later I flew out to Pennsylvania to film.

MG: You are no stranger to ensemble casts after working on films like “Sushi Girl”, but tell us what was it like working with so many horror icons?
CP: Each actor brought something unique to set. An embodiment of their work and who they are as people. It’s always a joy to work with actors who have had long careers because you can learn so much from them. Kane (Hodder) and I did some improv that added depth to our characters and Barbara (Crampton) was so great in that we would work the scene before we filmed, which helped a lot.

MG: What drew you to your character Agent Toria Boon?
CP: I love her character arc. She clearly has a distinct past and simultaneously a past that is unfamiliar to her. Was it a part of a scientific test? Or something she’s trying to bury? But throughout the film she begins to unravel and question reality and her mission. I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters and agent Toria Boon is a badass, so that helps.

MG: Give us a fun behind-the-scenes story from the production?
CP: There was this one room in the prison, it was the freezer room, that we had to film in. It felt like bad juju. the camera crew had burned incense and wore crystals, but for some reason that room really took a toll on a few of us actors. Was it supernatural play? Bad energy? Or something that wanted to drain us. Whatever it was, it was a very difficult room to film in.

MG: I can see “Death House” being a great franchise, what horror icon would you like to see on board for future films if they happened?
CP: Honestly, Jamie Lee Curtis or Sigourney Weaver.

MG: How does it feel to be earning the status of scream queen in the horror genre?
CP: Am I? *Blushes* Horror films are so much fun to make. They take a lot of work, more than what people think. Buy they’re some of my favorite movies to work on, so I appreciate the fans who like to watch my work!

MG: Do you have any other projects upcoming that you would like to shout out to?
CP: “Hooker Assassin”
“Your Own Road”
“Sunflower”
“Dead Ant”

James Furlong and I also are co-producing an action/drama called “Savvy Strong”, where I play an ex-marine out for vengeance. We having a production team on board and are looking to secure more financing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reggie and the Full Effect Frontman James Dewees Talks About the Bands Latest Album “41”

Reggie and the Full Effect is the solo project of Get Up Kids keyboardist James Dewees. On February 23rd Reggie releases their first album in four years simply titled “41”. Media Mikes spoke with James recently about the albums deep subject matter, the return of James’s alter-ego Klaus and the bands upcoming tour with Senses Fail which kicks off on February 27th.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your new album “41”?

James Dewees: I started working on the music just after the release of “No Country For Old Musicians”. During that time there was stuff going on with Get Up Kids and I was working with Gerard Way as well. I tend to do a lot of projects as I find while I am working on those projects I come up with ideas that could be songs for Reggie. The music came about pretty well as I started with about twenty or twenty five demos. For the lyrics I was sort of fishing around and trying to decide what type of record to make. It came down to when I found out my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and my mother in-law at the time was diagnosed with leukemia. That next year was really just me traveling back and forth to Missouri to be with my mom and then back to Long Island for my mother in-law. Basically I was just going to doctors appointments all the time. I would do a couple shows here or there to make some money but then I would go straight back to the hospital. These events were where the lyrical content ended up coming from. My mom passed on April 9th and then my mother in-law passed away on May 9th. It was a really heavy and emotional time that made it seem pointless in trying to do my silly, funny project. Things were just a big bummer. After about the first year of that I started writing lyrics that were more about what I was going through. This was my way of going through the stages of grief. On the record there is stuff that is kind of funny then some that’s more serious, sad and angry. Music has always been my escape and it’s something that I really enjoy doing and it helped me get through all the stuff I had going on at this time.

AL: Being that you didn’t start writing until a year or so after those passing’s what was it like diving back in and reopening those wounds?

JD: I cried in the studio a lot. Trying to sing songs like “New Years Day” and “Next Time with Feeling” which are really heavy songs was difficult. Whenever I would revisit those feelings and I would remember something else about that time that I had forgotten. I did the record with Ray Toro from My Chemical Romance who is a really close friend and it was very personal and private with just him and me working on the album. This made it where it was ok to cry and be upset and I had a friend there to support and encourage me. He pushed me to keep going even during difficult times.

AL: The album also features a new track from Common Denominator. Can you tell us about that track and when/if we will finally get a full length release from Klaus?

JD: With the popularity of Trap music I thought it would be really funny that with Klaus coming from Finland he didn’t know what it was and believed it was about trapping animals. Instead of singing about drugs and whatever he is singing about trying to catch animals. I have played around with the idea of doing a whole album but every time I have started it things just don’t come together. The thing with Common Denominator is that it can’t be thought about too much. The music has to be written in about twenty minutes and if possible recorded in twenty minutes. You really can’t write the lyrics to much. You just have to start recording and see what comes off the top of your head otherwise I think it loses the humor.

AL: Can you tell us about the latest single off the album titled “Karate School”?

JD: That was a song the label picked after going back and forth for awhile about what songs to release. I chose “Horrible Year” which was released first and they chose “Karate School” there is one more song set to come out but I won’t tell you what that one is just yet. I like the song as its heavy and defiantly a traditional Reggie song. It’s not really about anything it just a song about my day. The label wanted something about the song for a press release so I came up with the Harry Potter story as I couldn’t think of anything without making it sound dull. (Laughs)

AL: The band heads out on the road with Senses Fail on February 27th can you tell us about that?

JD: That came about through a discussion with the label. We originally were going to be out on tour in January doing a headlining run but Buddy Nielsen and I started talking and decided to do a tour together. The tour starts in late February and runs through March. After that Reggie has some solo shows in early April and then I will be pretty busy with Get Up Kids.

For a full list of tour date visit: www.facebook.com/reggieandthefulleffect

Greta Van Fleet Guitarist Jake Kiszka Talks About the Bands New EP “From the Fires”

Greta Van Fleet burst onto the rock music scene in early 2017 with their debut EP titled “Black Smoke Rising”. By September the track “Highway Tune” was topping the Billboard charts. To capitalize on this momentum the band has released a second EP titled “From the Fires”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with the bands guitarist Jake Kiszka about the bands new EP, their recent tour with Halestorm and the bands plans for 2018.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some back ground on Greta Van Fleet and possibly tell us some of your influences?

Jake Kiszka: With Josh, Sam and I being brothers our influences are very similar. We were exposed to music at a very early age. I remember going on trips and listening to bands like The Allman Brothers. We had access to the same vinyl collection so I think that had a lot to do with what we are doing now. Danny also was in to a lot of the same music. Around the time I got into high school I started bringing friends over to jam and eventually Josh would start coming out and singing then a little later Sam started coming out and playing bass. A short time after all that happened Danny started coming over and was basically the last piece of the puzzle.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands new double EP “From the Fires”?

JK: We had put out “Black Smoke Rising” and we still had a bunch of songs that we had either written or recorded so to showcase some other elements of our playing we dipped into those songs. We also wanted to cover some material from a one of our influences Sam Cooke. We had those songs and some live tracks that we picked from for this release.

AL: How does your work on this release compare to that of your debut EP?

JK: The first EP was a spread of songs we had written over the course of five years. “Highway Tune” was actually the first song we had ever written followed by “Safari Song” about a year later. “Flower Power” was another song that was written about two years into the group’s existence and “Black Smoke Rising” was written right before we were set to go in to the studio and record.

AL: What type of process does the band have for song writing?

JK: We write in a lot of different ways. A lot of times one of us will bring something to the table and then we all decide if it is something we want to work on. That’s when the four of us really start to contribute to making one piece of music. We all bring things in to the writing process so it tends to vary.

AL: You guys just wrapped up a tour with Halestorm. Can you tell us about that experience?

JK: It was fantastic! Seeing people singing our songs and just rocking out was really great. I don’t think that was something any of us really expected as our sound is a bit different. The whole experience of that night after night was shocking and humbling.

AL: You guys have a string of sold out shows lined up through December. Can you tell us your thoughts on that?

JK: That’s another thing that was not expected. We really didn’t figure all those shows would sell out so quickly. It’s going to be a great thing that takes us right up until the holidays and then after that we plan to head into the studio in January to record our first full length album.

AL: What can we be expecting from that new album?

JK: The album will probably be another spread of both newer and older material that we have written at different points in time. We hope to have the album done early to mid 2018. With everything that has happened for us this past year we have gained some resources that will help us take things further with this new album. We will be looking to hit bigger venues and festivals as well as hitting some new countries also.

The Haxans Matt Montgomery talks about the bands new album “Party Monsters”

Matt Montgomery aka Piggy D is probably best known for his work as the fanged four string player in Rob Zombie, a position he has helmed for over ten years. Matt’s latest project The Haxans is the culmination of three years of work which have resulted in the band’s debut full length “Party Monsters”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Matt recently about the band, the albums creation and where things are at with the latest Rob Zombie album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how The Haxans initially came together?

Matt Montgomery: This was an idea I had kicking around for some time. I had been working on music with a girl back and forth for years. At first we started by sending CD’s with ideas on them to each other through the mail. It was very archaic. We had two songs under The Haxans name but it was just never really a good fit as we both were going in different directions musically. I knew in order to do this the way I had envisioned it I was going to have to make a change. By chance I met Ash Costello at an awards show through a mutual friend and thought she would get what the project could be. We started hanging out and finding out what stuck musically and that’s when things really started to take shape and become something.

AL: Is the “Party Monsters” album made up of all new material or does it contain ideas from the bands earlier incarnation?

MM: We started recording three years ago. What came out first was “Three Hits From Hell”. That was us trying to find our footing and musical finger print. The oldest song which is still kicking around is “Black Cat Bones” which Ash and I reworked and it made it on to “Party Monsters”. We tried a whole bunch of things both new and old for this record. Its funny how one person’s energy can change the room as I would pull some of the older songs out that I was excited about but after working on them a little bit they just didn’t have the same feel I had hoped for. We really tried to go for what made us both excited and that’s the stuff that kept making it through the filters. There was a lot of material we went through but we went with what made the clearest statement of what the record and we as a band were about.

AL: How does working on a project like The Haxans compare to the work you do with Rob Zombie or some of your other previous groups?

MM: Going back to my work with Wednesday 13 what people saw of me with that group was basically just from a live stand point. I never wrote any riffs or lyrics with them. With Rob I have wrote a little but not very much. There has been I think two songs on two records in the time I have been with him. I played on all the records but I wasn’t the guy sitting around for months figuring out where all the riffs would go. In a way “Party Monsters” is the first thing I have done since my first solo record that I did a long time ago. This album is in a way my first music statement since being a part of groups like Amen, Wednesday 13 and Rob Zombie.

AL: Can you tell us about the most recent video you filmed for the song “Young Blood”?

MM: This is our fifth video as a group and fourth for this album as we have done videos for “Vampira”, “Dirty Magic”, “Black Cat Bone” and “Lights Out” as well. We actually shot five videos in three days. “Young Blood” was shot during the first half of one of those days. We knew visually what we wanted for that one. I directed the last four videos and that made things easier as I knew what shots I wanted to get and where I wanted the camera. I only had to be in one so the rest of the time I was making sure we got coverage of everyone else. We story boarded everything beforehand but we still had to hurry to get everything done.

AL: How did you go about choosing which five songs were going to get video treatments?

MM: That was tough. You just have to listen through the songs and get everyone’s input as to which might be the ones to choose. Of course everyone has their own opinions so it can make things be a bit all over the place. The feedback I got from those who heard the songs all mentioned the songs we shot so we decided to start with those ones.

AL: Have there been any talks to do some live performances of this material?

MM: There has been a lot of talk about doing shows and we have made a few attempts however nothing has come together just yet. We were looking at options to tour in the first quarter of 2018 however schedules just are going to match up. Touring sort of goes hand and hand with why this record took three years to make. Ash and I are these two whirling tornadoes that randomly collided and that’s what we are trying to contain which is just impossible. (Laughs)

AL: Can you give us a quick update on where things are at with the new Rob Zombie album and anything else you might have in the works for 2018?

MM: I have heard things and it’s fucking nuts! It’s really awesome and that’s about all I am going to say. There is a lot of material and things are still in the demo stage so I have yet to go in and play my parts just yet. As for what else is in store for 2018 I am not sure. You would think after being in bands for so long the last thing I would want to do at my age is start another band but, I might, maybe I will start two! There are a lot of things on the list that have been there for some time but I think it’s that way for everyone. We will just have to wait and see.