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”
“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

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:

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.

GWAR’s Blothar The Berserker Talks New Album “The Blood of Gods”

GWAR fans were first introduced to Blothar the Berserker in 2014 when he returned to Earth shortly after the death of Oderus Urungus. Since that time Blothar has cemented himself as the formidable leader of the crack addicted space aliens from Scumdogia. On October 20th the band will release their 14th studio album titled “The Blood of Gods” via Metal Blade Records. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Blothar recently about  the new album, the bands upcoming fall tour and which celebrities they have in their sites to slay.

Adam Lawton: The band recently wrapped up its debut appearance on this summer’s Warped Tour can you tell us a little bit about that?

Blothar: It was miserably hot! With us coming from Antarctica and being over a million years old it wasn’t exactly a glory gig getting dressed in a semi truck and then exposing ourselves to a whole new group of young people. Despite all the annoyances and high level of venereal diseases that were flying around we did it. We had trouble even getting good drugs out of these kids. What is ecstasy anyways? I don’t want drugs to make me feel good. I want drugs to amplify my misery! It was however a delight to see all the innocent faces upturned and the light drain from their eyes as they witnessed something they had never seen before and possibly never will see again. It’s always fun to play to a crowd who has never seen us before so it was a good time.

AL: Gwar’s new album “The Blood of Gods” will be your first full length recording with the band. What do you think you were able to bring to the album?

Blothar: Without Oderus we knew we had to do something different. If we had just gone and done the same thing we knew it would probably come off as a cheap imitation. There are things that Oderus did that were wonderful and they were his so, for us to try and recapture that was much less interesting. Gwar has always been a group effort. When Oderus was around people could work behind the scenes and not be visible as Oderus’s role in the band was to be the front man and be seen. Now that he is gone there is room for everyone who helped create this project to become more known. Everyone in the band has risen to the occasion beyond anything I could have imagined. Who knew Balsac was such a great lyricist. That guy knows the Gwar voice better than anyone. Oderus was a great writer and his songs were jammed full of words and phrases. I made a deliberate choice to scale back on the lyrics and let the sounds be the focal point.  I mainly wanted to add the hooks and melody. This is definitely a different approach from the last few Gwar albums. That’s not to say they never had these types of elements but I think this album has more of those things and the music has more space.

AL: Was coming up with a new style part of the reason an album featuring you took so long to complete?

Blothar: Yes. We had to find a way to be able to make music without Oderus. We went down a few different paths before we got to where we are with this album. There was also a lot of material that was created during this time. We needed to focus on eight songs that seemed to have what it took to be a Gwar record in order to make the best record we possibly could. A lot of material came very last minute which tends to be fairly typical. Between April and May we wrote a lot of the music. Once we figured out what we were doing and how it was supposed to go that’s when things took off. Prior to all of this the band was very distracted with lots of other things aside from having to work without the guy who had such an important vision. We didn’t know how to deal with the massive hole that was left and it took awhile to figure everything out.

AL: The first single released from the record was titled “Fuck This Place”. With Gwar having been around for millions of years now why have you just decided to say fuck this place?

Blothar: Gwar has always been this sort of cosmic Gilligan’s Island. We are stuck on this planet that we can’t get off and the few times we have gotten off we get sucked right back in. “Fuck This Place” I think is in some ways like all the rest Gwar being in the wilderness. We are looking around and now that Oderus is gone things look a lot different. Balsac wrote this song because he just didn’t like what he saw anymore.

AL: The album also features a cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood”. Was this the bands idea or just another trick by manager Sleazy P. Martini to try and make more money off the fans?

Blothar: When you do a cover really you are not making any money for yourself. Sleazy doesn’t like that so he had AC/DC killed and replaced by animatronic puppets. As a result we now collect all of their publishing. What Sleazy wants is important and the theme of us dealing with corporatization is all across the new album. We did the first recording of this song for the AV Club. I think that recording is actually a much better vocal performance that what ended up on the album. I wish we did that first version now. (Laughs) It’s a tough song to sing. Like most AC/DC songs its bit ridiculous as you don’t really know what it’s about.

AL: The band heads back out on the road the same day the album releases (Oct. 20). Who has the band decided to kill this time around?

Blothar: People keep expecting the Trump family to show up. Maybe they will? It would be nice to just move through all of them at one time. He does have a lot of kids though. Sawborg Destructo has been making some noise lately so he might show but, as far as celebrities goes aside from Trump I’m not sure. That guy we found out is immortal. We have been ripping his guts out every night and he keeps coming back for more! We can’t figure out a way to keep him down.

AL: Do you think “Blood of Gods” will finally silence the #BlotharRuinedGwar movement?

Blothar: No! It’s not going to silence it. What it is going to do is kick it into overdrive. That’s what I am expecting it to do anyways. This album is polarizing and people are going to either like it or not like it. Gwar has such an immense history that musically it’s difficult because people will hear this record and hear things they maybe haven’t heard since “This Toilet Earth”. At the same time you have people who will listen and there experience from the band has been from “Violence Has Arrived” on and they are expecting a more metal sound. “Blood of Gods” is somewhere in between. It definitely is a lot different as compared to the group’s last three albums.

Act of Defiance’s Matt Bachand talks about the bands new album “Old Scars, New Wounds”.

Matt Bachand is probably best known for his work with the heavy metal band Shadows Fall however since 2014 he has been a member of the band Act of Defiance which features former Megadeth members Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick along with former Scar the Martyr front man Henry Derek. The band is set to release their second full length album titled “Old Scars, New Wounds” and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Matt about the release, his switch to bass guitar and the plans prospective tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the band’s new album “Old Scars, New Wounds”?

Matt Bachand: Everything was different for us this time around with this record. With the first record Chris and Shawn wrote a majority of the album and they did it pretty quickly. They went from not having a band at all to having a record out in a matter of months. When I came in the material was pretty much done. I did write some bass lines around things which was a bit different from me but it was fun to be doing something different. This time around we had a good chunk of time to work the material and provide input. We all wrote a bunch of stuff for the album and you can definitely tell that this is a band no and not just a project.

AL: Can you talk about the decision to record separately from one another?

MB: That was done more by necessity than anything. We didn’t have a budget that would allow us all to travel and stay in one place while we recorded so we worked on things in each of our own locations. With all of us living in different parts of the country the cost would have been astronomical just for travel not to mention studio time. Once everything was done we sent it to Dave Otero for mixing and after a few tweaks everything was sounding good. Dave was awesome to work with and gave us a great sounding product.

AL: What has the transition from guitar to bass been like for you?

MB: I had known Shawn for a long time going back to when Shadows Fall toured with King Diamond and he was a tech for them. He knew I played bass in a cover band around where I am from and also knew that Shadows Fall was going to be taking a break for awhile so they gave me a call. Even though I had played bass in a cover band I had never really written music from a bass perspective. I think part of the appeal for me in wanting to do this was it was something different from what I had been doing. On that first record I was basically just writing and playing around what had already been written. I was focusing on now being apart of the percussion section as opposed to just riffing. With the bass playing off of what the drums are doing I really wanted to make sure I locked in with Shawn first.

AL: What are the plans for the band to tour behind the release?

MB: We are trying to pull some things together as we speak. We had a few things lined up but unfortunately they have fallen through so we are working as quickly as we can to remedy the situation. In the mean time we are working on some play through videos and things like that to keep things moving and to keep everyone involved with the band.

AL: Has there been any talk of Shadows Fall coming out of hiatus any time soon?

MB: Everyone is super busy right now so we haven’t really talked about it. Jason is playing with Overkill and Jon is with Anthrax and I am doing this project so everyone has a lot going on right now. A couple other guys in the band have families now so we have to figure out the timing. After 20 years of being in a band life eventually gets in the way so everyone has slowed down. Nothing is out of the question for us to play again it just has to be the right time for everyone.

For more info on Act of Defiance visit

Former Misfits Vocalist Michale Graves talks “Beginning of the End” tour

Michale Graves is a singer/actor who first burst onto the music scene as the front-man for the mid 1990’s reincarnation of the seminal punk rock band The Misfits. Since his departure from the group Michale has enjoyed a successful solo career and appeared in a number of different short film projects. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Michale about his career and his recently announced “Beginning of the End” tour which has him and his band revisiting all aspects on the singers 20+ year music career.

Adam Lawton: What was going on with the Misfits at the time of your departure?

Michale Graves: There was a lot going which led up to the bands break up in Orlando. There were a lot of things going on that were dysfunctional for the band. Looking back having been removed from the situation for almost 20 years now, I was a difficult young man to deal with at times. Here I am the lead singer of one of the most influential/popular punk rock band of all time. I was difficult at times. With that being said I contributed an awful lot of work to that bands vision, soul and direction. I was very much a huge reason the team we started off as was experiencing so much success. After the “American Psycho” album especially I wasn’t really being respected for what I brought to the band. I was being treated like and unruly, bothersome kid. If I said something that wasn’t liked I was told that if I didn’t like what was going on I could go home as there were a 100 people willing to take my place. That didn’t make me feel very special. That was a very disrespectful place for those core guys to take. Things were a real mess at the end. Guys didn’t talk or stand up for each so everyone was practically alienated from one another. We weren’t a team anymore with the same goal in mind. Things were just a mess. I decided to give it all up so I could keep my integrity and not be some sort of yes man for a thing I helped build. Everything aside when the four of us were together we were a great band. When we were a unit we working together we were great! It’s sad and unfortunate that things drove us apart.

AL: After the Misfits you started a solo career and also working with other artists such as Marky Ramone. What was it like being out from under a band and being able to do your own thing?

MG: It was very tough at first. I worked with Dr. Chud still for a bit after we left the Misfits but it was hard. That was a starting over point for me. By the time I started working with Marky I very confident in my ability and I was in great shape. I had it in my mind that there was no other person aside from Joey that could sing those songs as good as me. That was a highlight of my career for sure. Getting to perform and talk with Marky was just great. To be around that crew was very special. I remember when all those guys were alive and still the Ramones. Being from New Jersey I was in the same circle as all those guys. They were always around so all those years later to be the guy with Marky and be privy to certain conversations it was an incredible time for me. We were a great band.

AL: In April you released your first live DVD titled “Black Thorn 51 Live” can you tell us about that?

MG: We filmed that in Queens, NY as a three piece. Mikey Pain is playing bass and Tony Baptist is on drums. There had been a shortage of high quality, high produced videos of us performing that I felt like we needed to put something out. We taped the show and after listening to it we felt it sounded really good so we pulled the trigger. This is the tip of the iceberg for what is coming. Right now I am focusing on a major uptick in video production and content across my social sites including my new official site that is being built. There’s going to be a lot more content coming out. I am feeling a momentum with my career right now that making for an exciting time. A lot of my stuff has been very scattered which I think has made it harder for people to grasp what I am doing so I am working on consolidating all of that in hopes of providing a clearer vision for people.

AL: You have started appearing in a number of short films recently. Can you tell us about that?

MG: A couple years ago I partnered with Mark Allen Stuart to create a company called Hydraulic Entertainment. That’s where all my past records live. There is a ton of music we produced through that company. Most of the films that have been done are ones that Mark has come up with. He would write and produce them and then I would appear in them. For me as an artist I was able to step away from the writing role and jump into the acting side of things. We have started with short films to help us get our feet wet in an effort to create bigger things. There is defiantly a lot more to come. I am working on a project right now that has me both behind and in front of the camera. We have a lot of talented, motivated people in the industry with us on this. It’s pretty exciting.

AL: For you was it film or music that grabbed your attention/interest first?

MG: I think it was music first for me. My earliest memories related to music come from listening to records and the radio with my uncle. I always remember music having a profound effect on me. When I listen to music as strange as it may sound it’s almost like I can see it. It stirs something inside me that causes all these other internal things to start up. Acting quickly followed but things have just been all encompassing really. I have always had this urge to communicate.

AL: Can you tell us about the “Beginning of the End” tour you just kicked off?

MG: This is a very large tour. We are going to be trying to cover as much ground as we can in an effort to raise my visibility within the industry and get myself in front of fans who might not realize what I have been doing as of late. I have found there’s a good chunk of people who the last time they saw me was 1999. This new show is a powerful, physical assault. We are playing all of the legacy Misfits songs that people love. We are playing tons of songs from the “American Psycho” and “Famous Monsters” albums. We are doing around 30 songs a night and I have brought back the make-up to help showcase the story I try to create each night over the course of our set. If fans want to meet me I am super accessible at each show as I enjoy meeting and talking with everyone so please come out and say hello.

For a complete list of tour dates visit Michale’s Official Facebook page at

Tetrarch guitarist Diamond Rowe talks about the bands new album “Freak”

Photo By: Jeremy Saffer

The Atlanta, GA based Nu-Metalcore band Tetrarch are set to release a brand new full-length album on September 29th titled “Freak”. The band is currently out on the road with Devil Driver and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with guitarist Diamond Rowe about the creation of new album, the bands plans for the remainder of 2017 and got her thoughts about being a female guitarist in the heavy metal scene.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of the band?

Diamond Rowe: I started Tetrarch with my best friend while we were still in high school. It took us a little while to hone our sound and really figure out what it was we were going for but things came together and from there we just started touring. Our sound is a mixture of early Nu-Metal with a few modern elements.

AL: Did/Do you ever have any reservations about being a female guitarist in a scene that is predominantly men?

DR: When I started playing guitar and playing in bands I never honestly thought about the fact that I was a female playing metal music. I didn’t see it as anything really different. It wasn’t until people started bringing it to my attention that I noticed this was something different. I was never nervous or hand any reservations as I just did what I could to make the band work and get better at guitar. With they’re not being a lot of females out there playing metal it’s kind of cool to be somewhat influential. We are starting to see a few more females come up in the metal world however there still aren’t a lot of African-American females performing in bands. Being a female metal guitarist I think people might expect you to not be that good (Laughs) so I just go out there and really try to be the best as I can at my instrument.

AL: Can you tell us about the band’s new album “Freak”?

DR: We had never done a full-length release prior to this record. In this day and age it’s not really necessary to release more than one or two songs at a time via an EP. We wanted to do something different this time so we could give people more of who we are. As we were writing I noticed we were getting a lot of influence from more than just metal music and that there were quite a few different music elements present. Lyrically a lot of the subject matter is about weird things and/or embracing differences. We started looking at being weird in a positive way as opposed to negatively. The title “Freak” really came out of that approach.

AL: How did the bands creative process work this time around and, what was it like working with Producer Dave Otera?

DR: Josh Fore and I the predominant writers in the group. We live together so it seems we are always working on something. One of us might start out with a riff and then the other builds on or vice versa. Once we have the basics of a full song will take it to the other guys and they will put their spin on it. Dave actually mixed one of our first EP’s. People had said they really liked the sound so we knew he was someone we wanted to work with again. When it came time to do this record he was someone who came up naturally during the selection process of where to go. Dave is a big name in the death metal scene so working with him certainly brought a new/different perspective to things. Dave was excited to work with the band as we were something a little different for him and things went well. Dave is very easy to work with and made things comfortable.

AL: The band is out until till late September, What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year and going forward in to 2018?

DR: We will be out on this run of shows for a couple more weeks with Devil Driver. After that we return home for a few days and then we head out with Devil Driver for a few west coast dates. We also will be shooting a couple videos in that time as well. The album comes out September 29th and we will be doing a festival show in Texas in November and we might possibly do a short run shows towards the end of November. Once the New Year starts we will be out there in full force pushing this album.

For more info on Tetrarch you can visit their official website at

Singer Michael Monroe Talks New Compilation Album “The Best”

Legendary Hanoi Rocks singer and solo artist Michael Monroe is set to release “The Best” a 2 disc retrospective compilation showcasing tracks from the Finish rockers 10 album solo career along with a handful of unreleased tracks and a new single. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Michael recently about the release and also about the work he and his band are doing for their next studio album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your new collection release titled “The Best” and how you went about selecting which tracks from your catalog would be included?

Michael Monroe: There was a time limit to get everything figured out so basically what I did was choose two songs from each of my solo releases. I did choose to include 4 songs from “Demolition 23” as that material has not been available for almost 20 years now. From that record alone we included “Nothings Alright”, ”Hammersmith Palais”, “You Crucified Me” and “Deadtime Stories” which is a very special one. That song is dedicated to Stiv Bators and the lyrics and everything are in homage to him. A lot of the songs that appear were originally released as singles with accompanying videos. The “Nights Are So Long” album didn’t have either of those so I chose “It’s A Lie”. The version included on this compilation was originally recorded in 1985 and features a duet with me and Stiv. This was done right around the time that I was thinking of starting a solo career. It previously had only been released as a bonus track in the States and Germany with the “Piece of Mind” album. This is a much better version that one I did by myself for the album due to Stiv not being able to make it to the studio. That stuff is all included on disc 1. Disc 2 of the set features tracks from my three most recent albums “Sensory Overdrive”, “Horns and Halos” and “Blackout States” as well as a few other tracks including a cover of “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf which features Slash. Slash is someone who has always been great to me and was really significant during my solo years so I wanted to include a piece of that. Ultimately fans will get a two disc set featuring 29 tracks including the new single “One Foot Outta the Grave”, 4 unreleased tracks, a handful of bonus songs and a few songs from each album. I think fans will really enjoy what we have put together.

AL: Was this material all remixed and re-mastered or are these the original versions of each song?

MM: We really didn’t do much in the way of re-mastering. We did bring up levels on some of the older recordings and we tweaked things a little here and there so each track matched. When you’re pulling songs from different albums for a compilation like this you have to make sure they are all have a consistent sound. Svante Forsback who masters a lot of the records made in Finland did a great job with this. He wasn’t trying to make something sound like a certain era he was just out to get the best sound possible for each song.

AL: What was it like revisiting a lot of this material?

MM: I think it was a healthy thing to do. I got to look back at my career thus far and it put things in perspective for me. I think “The Best” is a really great representation of what I have done as a solo artist. It in a way was like doing an autobiography. Looking back I may not be the biggest or most famous but not everyone has to be that. As long as I have my integrity and never compromise for the wrong reasons and keep making quality material that’s all I need. I think a lot of this material really stands the test of time unlike today with a lot of things where after 20 years or so it just doesn’t hold up.

AL: Were the unreleased tracks ones that you have had for awhile or are they fairly recent compositions?

MM: We had “Fist Full of Dynamite” and “Simple Town” left over from the last album sessions. They were supposed to be used as bonus tracks before now however that weren’t needed. “One Foot Outta the Grave” is a pretty fresh song. That was recorded in February in Helsinki. The others material was stuff I had around on tape.

AL: Can you tell us about the new studio album you are currently working on?

MM: We have a lot of creative energy in this band. I have given everyone the freedom to write as much as they would like and then we pick the best material to record. We don’t let any egos get in the way. This band has been together for seven years now and we all know each other really well. Steve Conte and Rich Jones are really great songwriters. I don’t have to be the only one writing lyrics as these guys are capable of writing stuff that I instantly relate to. Depending on the situation we may write together or alone as we each live somewhere else in the world. There is never a lack of songs which makes things easy when it is time do a new record. We write then we pick the best songs and go in and record.

AL: Are there any plans for you and the band to tour this year?

MM: We are going to be doing some date in the UK in December. At the moment we’re going through a management change as in the past few years I haven’t had proper management. Hopefully by making these changes we will be able to tour more. We have done some smaller shows in the States over the past couple years but to really get noticed outside of New York or Los Angeles you have to be on one of the bigger tours. The plan is to keep doing what we are doing and hopefully we will catch some breaks. I have had some pretty bad luck throughout my career but I don’t let that get me down and am looking forward to the future.

For more info on Michael Monroe you can visit

M.O.D. Vocalist Billy Milano Talks About the Bands New Album “Busted, Broke & American”

Billy Milano is the outspoken vocalist for the legendary hardcore/thrash band M.O.D. On July 7th the group will release its 10th full-length studio album titled “Busted, Broke & American” via Megaforce Records. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Billy recently about the album which was an extremely personal record Milano as well as his thoughts on the current state of hardcore and the possibility of this being the group’s final album.

Adam Lawton: M.O.D. went through a couple rough patches during the making of the new album which was originally slated to be released a couple years ago. Can you tell us about that?

Billy Milano: I have never been one of those guys that say’s I “have” to do something because of music. A lot of people know me from music but that’s not all of who I am. I did the “Red, White and Screwed” album in 2007 and then toured it for a year and a half. During that time one of the things I realized was that I had been forcing myself into a position I didn’t want to be in. I needed some time for myself as I just didn’t care anymore. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the band it’s just that I generally do about a two year run with a group of guys and then that’s it. People change and I tend to get angsty unless, they bring something to the table. I don’t agree with people being involved in my life that are all encompassing. I am an adult and want to be able to go and live my life how I want to without any interference. When I came back from California in 2012 after the first sessions for this album there was a myriad of problems. There were guys in the band I was tired off, the producer I was working with wasn’t the right guy for the job and what we ended up with didn’t work for me. I took about a whole year off after this. Also at this time my dog Buster was very sick. To watch him go through what he did was heart breaking and I couldn’t leave him. I started playing guitar again at this time and that’s when this record started to come to life.

AL: The band is back with Megaforce Records. Can you tell us how that relationship came back together?

BM: I had started working on the record again and it was starting to turn out special. I had a couple labels that were interested at the time and out of nowhere Missy the owner of Megaforce calls me up to talk about doing a 30th anniversary edition for the “U.S.A. for M.O.D.” record. I thought that would be really cool and while we were talking I asked her if she would be interested in hearing the new record. I played it for her and she liked what she heard. From there we decided to work together on this record and also to re-release three M.O.D. records from our back catalog. Megaforce has been very good to us and the packaging has come out amazing.

AL: What are your thoughts on the recent upswing that hardcore music is experiencing right now and, where do you feel M.O.D. fits in with today’s music scene?

BM: A lot of people have always looked at M.O.D. and wondered what is it? If you listen to the records it’s not hardcore, thrash or punk. It’s got a little bit of everything in it. I think it has a hardcore punk attitude which is something I myself have always been, a New York Hardcore Skinhead even as hairy as I am now I still consider myself that. (Laughs) When we would start putting together a tour I would think to myself about bands who we could tour with and it was hard because there was no one else really like M.O.D. We just didn’t fit any one specific category. M.O.D. has a core group of fans and I accept that because that is what I have offered. I have only offered a cursorary involvement with M.O.D. live around the world because I feel there are other things in my life that take precedent. That’s not what musicians who are successful think like. In my case growing up in an Italian family with 11 brothers and sisters with tight nit community around us gave me a different attitude towards things. As to addressing where M.O.D. fits on the tooth of the gear to this day this is something I still can’t answer. I know we have a great record coming out to go along with some of the other great records we have put out in the past. “Busted, Broke & American” is a very memorable record. I think it’s coming to a point where it wasn’t the timing of other things going on that might be good for it as much as it was the timing of where I am at. Things are coexisting together and that’s something you just can’t plan. It just happens. I have always just been Billy Milano. There are a lot of hardcore bands out there doing reunions and playing shows right now and I think a lot of that has to do with the vinyl market. Bands are able to release their back catalogs for the first time on vinyl and getting deals based on that which allows them then to put out new music. The anniversary of “U.S.A For M.O.D” and the history M.O.D. had with Megaforce Records certainly helped me get this new record out and I am grateful for that.

AL: You stated in a press release that “Busted, Broke & American” very well could be M.O.D.’s last album. Is that still the case as we get closer to the July 7 release date?

BM: Yes, Absolutely! Do I think I could write another record like? No. Too much pain went into this record. Watching my dog die while writing this and learning how to play guitar again was just awful. At my age the stress that comes along with doing a record is not something I want to deal with. This was a very personal record to me and I put a lot into it. I mixed this thing seven times because it was so personal. It was Busters record. I don’t think I am doing another record. Will I do a single or an EP? Sure. I think I can write a few great songs every one or two years and put out an EP with somebody. It would be cool to do something with M.O.D. and maybe some unsigned punk bands and put that stuff out and expose people to new music. For me that would be a better legacy than a follow up record. I have always tried to help unsigned people. I have brought in unknown musicians to my records because I wanted to bring people into that pool of the music industry.

AL: Are there any plans to perform the new album live?

BM: I have no live shows planned at this moment. We haven’t even been able to rehearse as we are minus a drummer at this moment. I had a guy lined up but due to some personal things he was not able to keep going with us. We will find a drummer eventually. There are always guys out there that want to get paid to play. Our music isn’t Rush or Dream Theater. Maybe more like “Mystery Science 3000 Theater” but not those other groups. (Laughs) When we are ready will be out there ripping it. In the mean time I am focusing on two books I am writing. The first one is my personal book and the second is a cook book which I am doing for my mom. I have another band I am working with called “Billy Be Damned”. I play rhythm guitar in that band. If I had to describe it, it would be a mixture of The Pogues meets Stiff Little Fingers meets the Clash and Foo Fighters. It’s heavy but it’s not metal.

Be sure to check out our exclusive review of “Busted, Broken & American” here. And for more info on Billy and M.O.D. head over to