Bassist Sam Rivers Discusses His New Band SleepKillers and Their Self Titled Debut Album

Sam Rivers is best known as a founding member and bassist for the band Limp Bizkit. His new band Sleepkillers which includes Damien Starkey, Bobby Amaru and Adam Latiff is set to release its debut self titled album on January 25, 2019. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Sam recently about the group’s formation, the new album and their video for the song “Dirty Foot” which premiered Nov. 2.

Adam Lawton: How did Sleepkillers come together?

Sam Rivers: As far as the writing that went into this first record goes it was me and Damien Starkey. I was living in Jacksonville at the time and we had been talking on the phone about getting together and doing some jamming. I ended up going over to his studio and after a couple of hours of just having fun we had the basis of three songs. We wanted to keep going so we just dove in. Soon after that Limp Bizkit was going back on tour and Damien had some stuff of his own going and we kind of lost touch. During that time we had both played the tracks for people and they kept saying we should turn what we had into a full length record. About a year and a half later we reconnected and after a couple bumps in the road we are here now with a finished record.

AL: At what point in time did the rest of the band come together?

SR: Bobby Amaru came in when we were still working on some of the songs. He helped us really turn things around. Adam Latiff didn’t come in until later. This was going to be just a small project for Damien and me but we took it further and needed people to play live. Bobby wanted to play drums and we couldn’t disagree. He may be the singer of Saliva but he is one hell of a drummer! Adam was a friend of Damien’s for a long time and now he and I are friends and he is just a great fit and an amazing guitarist.

AL: Did returning to the material over a year later cause you to change any of the initial recordings?

SR: I think the sound was really already there so we just rolled with it. We worked really hard at making sure everything blended together and matched up and I think we did a good job. We had that initial vision from when Damien and I first got together and that’s what we stayed with.

AL: Do you see Sleepwalkers as being more of a side project or, something you hope to do full time?

SR: I think we are going to go with it. Right now it’s just a great time. Our plan for right now is to push out as much material and content as we can. That will help us find our core fans which we can build tour and things like that around. I think the biggest thing right now is for us to get this record out and show people that we are a band. As time goes on we are going to evolve so this will be something we do full time but it’s going to be wrapped around our other work.

AL: What can you tell us about the first single “Dirty Foot”?

SR: That was a hard decision. Damien and I kept going back and forth between two or three different songs and we just couldn’t decide. We played it for a few close friends and they all had different picks. This was really odd because we had thought they would choose at least one of these three. That wasn’t the case so that didn’t really help. We took it to some of our peers and people who we really respected and let them listen to it and then sit on it for a bit. That gave us a different view on things. We still hadn’t agreed that “Dirty Foot” was going to be the one but after everything we decided that it had everything we wanted to showcase in our first single and we went with it.

AL: Can you tell us about the video you just released for the song?

SR: We had been trying to find someone who was not only in our budget but someone who was going to put their one hundred and ten percent in to this as well. We talked with David and gave him some of our ideas and from there he just ran with it. We just gave him the clearance so from there we could see what he could come up with. Our biggest thing was once we found someone we wanted to get behind them and stick with them. That’s not to say we won’t ever work with anyone else but we wanted to really see what David could do and open it up to keep going.

AL: Has there been any talks of touring in support of the release?

SR: That’s something we are planning and look to do at some point. We do have a few shows currently lined up which we will be streaming worldwide. There is no way we can hit Europe and all those places at one time so we thought this would be a cool way for us to get to those places and give them a feeling for what one of our shows is like.

For more in on Sleepwalkers you can visit their official website at www.sleepkillers.com

 

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Ted Nugent Announces New Full-Length Album Titled “The Music Made Me Do It”

Multi-platinum guitar legend Ted Nugent announces a new full-length album.
THE MUSIC MADE ME DO IT, due out Friday, November 9th via Round Hill Records.

The effort is Nugent’s first studio album in four years. The album features Greg Smith (Billy Joel, Alice Cooper, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow) on bass, Jason Hartless (Joe Lynn Turner, Mitch Ryder) on drums, and the Motor City Madman himself on lead guitar and vocals. Accompanying the CD is a Bonus DVD, LIVE AT FREEDOM HILL, an electrifying full-length concert captured at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

In advance of the album’s release, Nugent has just released the live music video for title track, “The Music Made Me Do It”. The video was shot at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California during Nugent’s summer tour and showcases the raw energy of his legendary live performances, offering a taste of the new studio material he recorded over the last year for the upcoming album, THE MUSIC MADE ME DO IT. To access the full album, THE MUSIC MADE ME DO IT, please click here. Please consider the album for feature and review coverage. Ted Nugent is available for interviews, please let me know if you would like to set something up.

Ted Nugent has carved a permanent place in rock n’ roll history as the ultimate guitar-shredding showman, selling more than 40 million albums and performing in excess of 6,700 (and counting!) high-octane live shows. As a budding musician, Nugent was strongly influenced by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddly, and knew he wanted to pursue that type of sound and attitude. Early bands, The Royal Highboys, and The Lourds, paved the way for the Amboy Dukes – and their psychedelic JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE MIND kicked young Ted’s career into hyper drive. The axe maniac soon broke out as a solo artist, where the guitarist’s prodigious talent, earshattering volume and over-the-top stage antics quickly earned him the moniker of Motor City Madman.

Cranking out hits like CAT SCRATCH FEVER, JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED, FREE FOR ALL and the iconic STRANGLEHOLD, Ted Nugent garnered international acclaim and truly hit his stride, becoming one of the top-grossing tour acts in America. His no-holds-barred career now spans six decades of multi-platinum hits. The ultimate Road Warrior, touring and recording continue at Ted’s breakneck pace. Nugent and his inimitable sound have been featured on VH1’s Behind the Music, A & E’s Biography and more. He was recently named Detroit’s Greatest Guitar Player of All Time by readers of MLive. For more information, please visit www.tednugent.com.

Black Stone Cherry to Release Sixth Studio Album Titled “Family Tree”

BLACK STONE CHERRY TO RELEASE BAND’S SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM TITLED FAMILY TREE
VIA MASCOT RECORDS / MASCOT LABEL GROUP ON APRIL 20

BLACK STONE CHERRY is set to release their sixth studio album, Family Tree via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group on 20th April 2018. Burnin’, the first musical taste of the new collection is available today, along with the ability to pre-order the release in various physical and digital formats. Check out the lyric video for Burnin’ here: https://youtu.be/zOryfVbQEY0 and pick up your digital version here. Physical album formats, including a UK exclusive clear vinyl option limited to just 1500 copies are available here.

Family Tree is the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s Kentucky, which debuted at #5 on the Official UK Album Chart. Like Kentucky, BLACK STONE CHERRY opted to self-produce and track Family Tree at David Barrick’s Barrick Recording in Glasgow, KY, the same studio where the four-piece recorded their eponymous debut. BSC also opted to not over-rehearse upfront of the album sessions, instead preferring the immediacy and spontaneity of in-the-moment takes. The band also entrusted frontman Chris Robertson to mix the songs, which perfectly fit the loose, creative process that birthed Family Tree.

Family Tree boasts BSC’s tried-and-true lucky number with its 13 songs, and like all BSC releases, features songwriting contributions from each member. Drummer John Fred tells us, “Family Tree showcases all of our collective musical influences and how we have taken those to create something that is truly our own unique Southern American rock ‘n roll sound.” Two special guests appear, one bringing the concept of family full circle. Chris’ 5 yr old son contributes backup vocals on the swaggering You Got The Blues, while the other, revered jam-band musician Warren Haynes (Allman Bros/Gov’t Mule) offers a guitar cameo and vocals on the delta stomp of Dancing In The Rain. The band first met Warren 17 years ago as freshly-signed youngsters on their first visit to New York City.

The concept of family looms large in the world of BLACK STONE CHERRY’s four band members. Sticksman John Fred Young’s father Richard and his uncle Fred, are founding members of the Grammy Award-winning country rock n’ roots band, The Kentucky HeadHunters. BSC’s four high school-aged friends – Young, plus frontman/guitarist Chris Robertson, guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Jon Lawhon – grew up honing their craft in the Headhunters’ Practice House, an abandoned property on the Young family’s farmland. John Fred says, “We grew up in the Kentucky Headhunters’ rehearsal space, looking up at posters of Cream, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, the Stones, Montrose, and the Faces. We were like kids someone took in a time capsule and put in the woods,”

Family Tree’s tracklisting runs as follows:

Bad Habit
Burnin’
New Kinda Feelin
Carry Me On Down The Road
My Last Breath
Southern Fried Friday Night
Dancin’ In The Rain (featuring Warren Haynes)
Ain’t Nobody
James Brown
You Got The Blues
I Need A Woman
Get Me Over You
Family Tree

BLACK STONE CHERRY’s first visit to UK shores in 2018 will be as direct special guests to Guns n’ Roses at Download Festival (www.downloadfestival.com) on Saturday 9th June. The band’s honest, gutsy, no-nonsense approach to their live show has allowed them to rock 12,000-cap arena dates across the UK for a number of years. Expect this to be their modus operandi for the foreseeable future in the wake of the release of Family Tree.

Shallow Side set to release 6 song EP titled “One” on Jan. 13 w/ Tour kicking of Feb. 1st

Rock is dead, they say? Hogwash. Don’t even bring up such an idea with the four-piece Cullman, Alabama-bred rockers Shallow Side, who have taken it to be their personal holy mission to spread the glory of modern rock & roll as far and as wide as they can to anyone who will listen. “The energy and excitement of rock & roll is missing nowadays, and we need it now more than ever,” believes Shallow Side’s frontman, vocalist Eric Boatright. “Our goal is that we want to revitalize that entire genre and remind the world how rock & roll can be such a strong force in everyone’s lives.”

The proof of Shallow Side’s pure rocking prowess can be found within the deep grooves of their new EP titled ONE, which is being released by Thermal Entertainment on January 13, 2017. ONE is one tight, ass-kicking affair from the get-go, from the wham-bam all-out jam of the opening track “We Roll” to the fist-waving defiance of “Rebel” to the put-up-or-shut-up manifesto of “Fight or Flight” to their all-guns-a-blazing modern-day take on a well-loved rock classic, Styx’s “Renegade.” (Oh, mama!)

Ultimately, Shallow Side is creating new music that fuses the best intentions of classic rock with modern crunch by planting their flag at the intersection of where Shinedown meets Styx and Journey meets Daughtry. One song Shallow Side fans will be grooving along with right from the start is the current single from ONE, “Fight or Flight,” which unifies the ideas set forth with the one-two punch of “Rebel” and “Renegade,” the EP’s initial radio hits songs. “That’s the heaviest song on this EP,” Boatright clarifies. “It tips the hat to the rock & roll market that exists today and also says, ‘If you guys want to run heavy, we’ll run heavy with you. We can do that — and we’re not scared of it, either. We’re very good at it.’”

Shallow Side’s main message is one of unity. “When we first started, rock & roll wasn’t for us,” Boatright concludes. “We wanted to go to a concert, enjoy the music, sing along, and be a part of the overall song and dance. We’re now looking to bridge that gap to bring the family together to where rock & roll was at one point. The mission since we began was to take the wheel and steer it back into a direction where everyone from all walks of life could enjoy a good rock show.”

Considering the band’s all-in philosophy, it appears that ONE is most definitely the best name for this raucous EP. Let’s all join together and revel in having Shallow Side show us the ONE true way to the future of great rock & roll.injuries while touring and it hasn’t slowed us down enough to lose momentum.”

The band just received their highest honor to date being selected Loudwire’s Best New Artist of the Year (past winners included Saint Asonia and Baby Metal).

The new 6 song EP is a prelude to a full length release to come out later this year.

Shallow Side are:

Eric Boatright (Vocals)

Cody Hampton (Bass/Guitar)

Seth Trimble (Guitar/Keyboard)

Heath Fields (Drums)

WEBSITES

http://shallowside.net/

http://www.facebook.com/ShallowSideBand/

http://twitter.com/ShallowSideBand/

http://www.youtube.com/user/shallowsidemusic

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

01-13-17 in Cullman, AL at Cullman Civic Center (CD Release Show & Kick Off)

02-01-17 in Knoxville, TN at The Open Chord

02-02-17 in Johnson City, TN at The Hideaway

02-03-17 in Spartanburg, SC at Ground Zero

02-04-17 in Jasper, AL at Jars 64

02-08-17 in St Louis, MO at The Firebird

02-10-17 in Junction City, KS at The Devils Tail

02-11-17 in Omaha, NE at Shamrocks Pub

02-12-17 in O’Neil, NE at The Chesterfield West

02-13-17 in Sioux Falls, SD at Bigs Bar

02-15-17 in Colorado Springs, CO at Sunshine Studios

02-17-17 in Las Vegas, NV at Radio Contraband Convention (performing awards night – private)

02-19-17 in Scottsdale, AZ at Rock Bar

04-29-17 in Las Vegas, NV at M Resort Spa Casino (Rock Into Spring)

05-27-17 in Madison, WI at Alliant Energy Center (Bratfest)

 

Against Me! to release new album titled “Shape Shift With Me”

AGAINST ME! TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM, SHAPE SHIFT WITH ME,
VIA TOTAL TREBLE / INGROOVES ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

FULL-LENGTH FOLLOW UP TO THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED STUDIO ALBUM,
TRANSGENDER DYSPHORIA BLUES, NOW AVAILABLE FOR
PRE-ORDER ON ITUNES AND AMAZON

FIRST SINGLE, “333,” NOW STREAMING ONLINE

DRUMMER ATOM WILLARD TO BE FEATURED AS GUEST MUSICIAN ON
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS THIS WEEK STARTING TONIGHT, JULY 18

LAURA JANE GRACE’S FORTHCOMING MEMOIR, TRANNY: CONFESSIONS OF PUNK ROCK’S
MOST INFAMOUS ANARCHIST SELLOUT, TO BE RELEASED BY
HACHETTE BOOKS ON NOVEMBER 15

FALL NORTH AMERICAN HEADLINE DATES AND TOUR WITH BAD RELIGION
AND DAVE HAUSE ANNOUNCED

STREAM: “333” (FROM SHAPE SHIFT WITH ME)

Celebrated American rock band Against Me! are proud to announce the Friday, September 16 release of its highly anticipated forthcoming full-length album titled Shape Shift With Me. Being released on the band’s label Total Treble (in partnership with INgrooves) and serving as the follow up to the band’s critically acclaimed studio album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Shape Shift With Me is now available for pre-order on Amazon (LP, CD) and iTunes where an instant download of the album’s lead single, “333,” is now being offered for those who purchase the album. Stream “333” via YouTube or on Spotify.

Coinciding with the announcement of the new album, drummer Atom Willard will be making nightly appearances this week as part of the 8G Band on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Starting tonight, Monday, July 18, Willard’s guest musician slot can be seen this week through Thursday, July 21 at 12:35/11:35c on NBC.

Additionally, the band has announced its upcoming North American fall tour dates that will both include headline appearances and dates with Bad Religion and Dave Hause. A full listing of dates can be found below with tickets and information on Against Me!’s official website, http://www.againstme.net.

Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace recently announced the release of her upcoming memoir titled TRANNY: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout. Set for release on November 15, 2016 through Hachette Books, TRANNY is a searing account of Grace’s search for identity and true self. The highly anticipated book also reveals the struggles and victories that the artist experienced in her quest for gender transition. Written with Noisey editor Dan Ozzi and illuminated by Grace’s never-before-published journal entries reaching back to childhood, TRANNY is an intensely personal and revelatory look inside her struggles with identity and addiction. Grappling with everything from sex, drugs, failed marriages, music, and soul of a punk rock star, this memoir paints a vivid portrait of one of the most revolutionary transgender icons of our time.

Recorded, mixed and engineered by Marc Jacob Hudson (Taking Back Sunday, Saves The Day) at Rancho Recordo, Shape Shift With Me, Against Me!’s seventh full length album, has the distinction of the first album frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has written truly from the heart, with no metaphorical cloaks cast over the lyrics. It’s an album about love, that deceptively complex emotion we all struggle with yet has somehow eluded most of Grace’s songwriting for the past 20 years.

“Tons of people have written about love. But while love is cliché, it’s infinitely relevant,” Grace says. “For me, having always been in a punk band that was expected to be political, I never felt like I had that option to write about feelings in that way. That’s what I ended up being drawn to this time. It’s writing in a way I thought I could never write before, and not giving a shit about expectations.”

As such, Shape Shift With Me is a loose concept album about traveling the world and falling in and out of love, with Grace serving as the narrator. But even though she was opening herself up to new songwriting topics, she knew what her mission was from the start.

“Is there a record that is about relationships from a trans perspective?” she asks rhetorically. “There needs to be more records about trans rights and everything like that, but feeling like I already did that, I wanted to move on to write commentary on living from a trans perspective. I wanted to write the transgender response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St., Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville and the Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free. All those records are relationship records. There’s been an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.”

With Grace’s new motivation came a new outlook on the band, as well. Previous albums found the songwriting process to be a largely solitary experience, but she embraced the spirit of collaboration for Shape Shift With Me—so much so that when Cody Votolato of the Blood Brothers sent her some demos of songs he was working on for another project, she became inspired and ended up co-writing “Boyfriend” and “Norse Truth,” two of the album’s most memorable tracks, with him.

“It was just about opening up to whatever comes my way karmically,” Grace says. “Whatever everyone in the band is willing to offer, I just wanted to be open to it. I didn’t want it to be like what it was in the past where it may have felt closed. I want it to be different.”

In a career already full of classic punk records, Shape Shift With Me feels like the definitive Against Me! album—it’s poppy and catchy (“Rebecca,” “Suicide Bomber”), aggressive and in-your-face (“ProVision L-3,” “Dead Rats”), sentimental and longing [Crash,” “All This (And More”)]. Moreover, it’s the culmination of four years of existence as Laura Jane Grace—there’s no going back now, so she might as well embrace it.

“While I’ve always wanted the moon and the stars, I have a certain amount of humbleness,” she admits. “I just want to play shows and make records and write songs. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Of course I always want the biggest and best things for those shows and records and songs, but when it comes down to it, I just love doing it. I have no other ambitions or career goals.”

Against Me! will be making the following North American headline appearances as well as touring with Bad Religion and Dave Hause this fall. Dates below with more headline shows to be announced soon.

SEPTEMBER
14 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Stache #
15 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre #
18 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall #
19 – Boston, MA – Royale #
20 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall #
21 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda #
23 – Chicago, IL – Goose Island 312 Block Party
24 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom #
25 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe at Old National Centre #
27 – Northampton, MA – Pearl Street #
28 – Providence, RI – Fete (Lounge) #
30 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom *

OCTOBER
01 – Huntington, NY – The Paramount *
03 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza *
04 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza *
05 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore *
06 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring *
08 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore Charlotte *
09 – Atlanta, GA – The Buckhead Theatre *
11 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues-Orlando *
12 – St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Landing *
14 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live *
15 – San Antonio, TX – The Aztec Theater *
16 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues-Dallas *
18 – Kansas City, MO – Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland *
20 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue *
21 – Las Vegas, NV – The Foundry Hall @ SLS *
24 – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater *
26 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo *
27 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theatre *
29 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades *
30 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre *

NOVEMBER
03 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre *
04 – Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Palladium *

# = headline show
* = w/ Bad Religion, Dave Hause

Shape Shift With Me track listing:
01. ProVision L-3
02. 12:03
03. Boyfriend
04. Crash
05. Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be
06. 333
07. Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
08. Dead Rats
09. Rebecca
10. Norse Truth
11. Suicide Bomber
12. All This (And More)

Bella D. talks about her new album titled “The Crystal Ceiling”

Bella D. pushes the boundaries of artistic hard rock with a unique signature blend of operatic vocals and intricate steampunk themed storytelling. This blend of interesting styles can be heard on Bella D’s new album titled “The Crystal Ceiling” which will be released on May 13th. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Bella D. recently about the albums creation, her partnership with drummer Charlie Zeleny and her plans for upcoming live performances.

Ryan Albro: How did you and Charlie Zeleny come together to work on this project?

Bella D.: Charlie went to high School together but we didn’t really know each other. We just saw each other in the hallway kind of thing. We actually met in college as we had a class together and that’s where our friendship started. I did a lot of theater at the time and I got him a lot of jobs as a theater music and stuff. He and I worked in together a lot and then we parted ways for a little while his career went 1 way and my career went another way. When I got the wild hair to finally do this album I knew I really needed a partner to help me with it. It was one of these things where the album became so big that there was no way I was going to be able to do this by myself. After talking with Charlie he asked me to do a video with him which got us back in touch with each other. I told him the idea about the album and he said he might be interested, Charlie wanted to see if we could write a song together before we invested a lot of time in the project so that’s what we did first. We sat down and wrote one song which went very quickly. From there we tried another and so on. All of a sudden things just exploded and the album literally started to take on a life of its own.

RA: Where did the idea for the dystopian, steampunk theme come from?

BD: It came from me. Charlie’s alter ego is very cyberpunk but I have always been very theatrical and I have always been in love with the Victorian age. I wound up discovering steampunk and fell in love with the idea of a very modern world, with modern objects that are all run by clockwork, steam power. There is something very romantic and badass about it at the same time. Steampunk started off as kind of very small niche and now you are starting to see it a lot more.

RA: The majority of great song lyrics generally can be traced back to writers telling very personal stories in the form of song. What was it like for you to tell not only your own incredible story, but to shape it into a hard rock, steampunk fueled album?

BD: Charlie and I worked very closely together on this album. The album is made up of a lot of my experiences which at times was very emotional for me. We all go through these moments where we feel like we’re beaten up, either by life or just by every day conflict. We are all beaten up and we are all fighting against something and the album sort of reflects that battle. It is one of these things that you have to go into full force and swing that sword, shoot the gun, whatever genre you’re fighting whether its fantasy or steampunk or modern cyberpunk. That is the general feel of it. I have gone through a couple really rough patches in life and I really drew from that. That’s where the story came from.

RA: How did you going about selecting the musicians who appeared on the album?

BD: That all comes down to Charlie. I always joke that he has got this little black book, not of women, but of every musician he has ever worked with. I think it rivals the New York City phonebook. He has had a fantastic career and is really amazing at what he does so because of that he has been able to build up some great connections with all of these artists. Charlie reached out to everyone with the idea of what we were doing and they were like that’s insane, I want in. That’s basically all that happened and the even crazier thing is that none of these artists were in the same room with each other at any time. This was all done digitally. Charlie would plug the performances into pro-tools and tweak little things here and there to make everything sound fantastic.

RA: What can you share about the comic book series that’s coming out with the album?

BD: Basically the music and the story coincide with one other. When we wrote the concept album I wrote the lyrics with a story in mind but not in such a way that you’re going to sit down a listen to a recording of a musical. This is a concept album and each song stands on its own 100% but, if somebody really wanted to sit down and listen and actually enjoy the whole concept of it they could. I really wanted to be able to tell my vision with this album. Being a huge comic book fan and knowing how popular comics are right now it made perfect sense to make this something that if people want to know what was going on story wise in the music they could follow along in the book. I worked with a really great artist who I think captured the first portion of the story quite well.

RA: What do you want listeners to take away from the album and your story?

BD: I think the biggest lesson I’d love people to take away from this is an understanding that we all have been there, we all have been that person who’s been struggling and feeling like the world is literally falling apart around them. The biggest message is that you can make it through, but you have to work at it, you have to pick yourself up, you have to have those moments of “yeah this stuff is horrible” but I’m still going, I’m still alive, I’m still breathing and today I’m going to kick its ass.

RA: What are some of the plans you have for live performances of the material?

BD: We are doing a release party at Carroll Place in New York City on May 19th. As far as live performances past that we don’t have anything locked in yet. I am working on getting into Comic Con as I would love to perform there, especially since I am releasing a comic along with the album. We also have two lyrics videos being released online soon and also a full production video of another song. That’s all in the can ready to go, it looks fantastic, we’re just waiting for the release date.

Dweezil Zappa talks about Randy Rhoads tribute album “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”

Guitarist Dweezil Zappa appears on the latest Randy Rhoads tribute album titled “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”. The album which pays tribute to legendary Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads reads like a who’s who of hard rock musicians. Along with Dweezil the album also features the likes of Tom Morello, Rudy Sarzo and George Lynch. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Dweezil recently about his work on the album, his first exposure to Randy’s Music and also about his first solo album release in over 10 years.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Randy Rhoads and his music?
Dweezil Zappa: I grew up listening to music my dad made and whatever he was listening to around the house. I didn’t really know about other music until I was about twelve. We never listened to the radio or anything like that. Around that same time I started to get into guitar. I liked all of my dad’s music but I thought it was a bit hard and not the easiest place to start. At that time the most popular music on the radio was hard rock music. I would hear bands like Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne when I was hanging out at a friend’s house or what not and I was super into what Randy was doing. When I started reading about him and his playing what really stuck out was just how much he practiced. You could tell what he was did in Quiet Riot and a short time later with Ozzy was just leaps and bounds ahead. Hearing that made me very dedicated to the instrument. Seeing what he was able to accomplish in a very short amount of time made it seem possible to me. I could start from one place and get to another in big steps.

AL: How did you get involved with the album and, what do you think make’s it stand out above other tribute album?
DZ: I have been in touch with Randy’s family over the years in different ways and been involved in a few different tributes they have put on. This particular record was being produce by Bob Kulick who had contacting me to work on previous projects he was involved in. It was a simple thing to want to be involved with as everyone who worked on the project is really great and just good people. Randy’s playing was something that was very life shaping for me and ever night that I’m out doing a show I try and throw in a Rhoads lick as sort of a tip of the cap. It’s one of those things I decided to do a long time ago. So getting to just be part of this has been great.

AL: How did you go about approaching your performance?
DZ: I felt that what Randy did was so great that I didn’t really want to change it any way. Bob wanted us to make the pieces our own so I did do that to an extent but, I tried to keep things true to what Randy did. I feel like in order to play Randy’s music you have to play it as he did.

AL: Were you involved in the song selection at all?
DZ: All of the songs on the record are ones I appreciate. The one I was invited to play on buy Bob was “S.A.T.O.”. That song has always been one of my favorites. The solo is one of the ones that Randy didn’t have completely composed solo for. Most of his work is done as a complete composition but this song has always felt like it was more free form with him just going for it. With that being said the song still has great structure and flow. What’s also cool about this song is that it goes through a series of chords that are a little different than what he had been playing over. There are elements of major pentatonic along with a few other things that are different. There are also some bluesy elements to it as well. He really seems to have dug in and just went for it which I love.  I added a few slight changes of my own and who knows they may have been things Randy may have done later on.

AL: What do think it is that keeps Randy’s legacy still going some 33 years after his passing?
DZ: I think you have to put things in to context by what he did and the time that he did it. That makes a difference. There wasn’t anyone doing what he was doing at the time. The intricacies of his recordings can still be listened to today and you can hear all the pieces and how they are connected. His style of arranging and songwriting hadn’t been done up to that point. He added classical styling’s making his work very sophisticated. There were a lot of rhythmic things in his riffs which I think made him stand out. He was in his early twenties when he did all of this and the fact he was here so briefly adds to his body of work which really stands the test of time. Everyone took notice of him and those two albums were burned in peoples mind. The energy and emotion just jumped out of the speakers. I think all of these things helped Randy and his body of work transcend time.

AL: Can you give us a quick update on some of the other projects you are currently working on?
DZ: I have a lot of things in the works right now. I have a new solo album in the works. I haven’t been able to make a record of my own for over a decade as I have been busy doing Zappa plays Zappa. I have a pledge campaign started at www.pledgemusic.com and the plan is to have it out sometime in April. There’s a lot of stuff on the record which sort of showcases everything that kind of got me into the guitar and taken me to where I am. There are a lot of different styles and influences on there. I even did a track by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir on guitar. It’s a very song oriented album with lots of strange moments of guitar spread throughout. I am also working picking out dates for the next run of Dweezilla boot camps. Along with that I recently shot a new DVD lesson series, I will be out doing more Zappa plays Zappa date along with a few other appearances.

Eric Johnson talks about live album titled “Europe Live”

Eric Johnson is a platinum selling guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist who’s extensive career dates back to the mid 1970’s. Johnson’s latest offering is a live album titled “Europe Live” which is a collection of tracks recorded during Johnson’s recent European tour. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Eric recently about the new release as well as his current plans for a new studio album.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in doing a live album as opposed to a traditional studio album?
Eric Johnson: We were touring Europe and at some point during that run the company who put out the European version of my album “Up Close” contacted me asking if they could record some of the shows. It wasn’t anything that was planned ahead of time. After everything was done they sent me the tracks to see what I thought. We went through all the tapes and there ended up being quite a bit of stuff we were able to work with.

AL: So the album is a collection of takes from a number of different shows?
EJ: We recorded 4 different cities with the bulk of the performances coming from the Amsterdam show. The forth city we recorded in was Paris and that was just a board tape. It was never meant for anything. I decided to put one acoustic song on the record which was different from the electric stuff and that ended up coming from that board tape. What you hear is the actual two track tape from the board as there was nothing we could really do to that track being is was done from the board.

AL: What do find to be the most challenging aspect of doing a live album?
EJ: Keeping everything live and performance oriented is certainly the hardest part. When you have that reference point of the live material there is a raw spark that happens. When you deviate from that it’s really obvious. This has been a great thing for me to do and I have found a lot of entertainment in it.

AL: Do you see yourself doing more live recording as opposed to studio recording?
EJ: Yes, Definitely. Even working live in the studio is something I am open for. The more you are able to do in real time the more energy and emotion I think the work will have. This has made me rethink my entire way of doing things as I want to be able to incorporate more of the live process whenever I can.

AL: For the shows that were recorded to you alter the night’s set list in any way from the nights that weren’t being recorded?
EJ: Not really. We just did our sets and I didn’t think much about the recordings. Other than a couple extra lines running off the amps to the back room I never actually saw what was going on. There wasn’t a vibe of we were making a live record it was more of just someone was out there recording the show that night. Everything was very off the cuff.

AL: With your last studio album being a reworking of the “Up Close” album do you have plans to start on a new studio record any time soon?
EJ: Right now I am currently working with Mike Stern on a collaboration record. We have finished all of the recording and we are in the middle of mixing as we speak. That album should be out in November. The album is sort of a fusion record as Mike comes from the jazz world and I from the rock world. It’s mostly an instrumental record with the exception of one track. The album is very song oriented and not just a bunch of riffing. I am really excited about it as it turned out great. I also am finishing up a solo acoustic record that I hope to get out soon. Doing an acoustic record is something that I have wanted to do for about 10 years now. I am a big folk music fan so I am excited to do something in that style.

AL: When you are working on a record outside of the rock genre what steps do you take to adjust your playing and tone?
EJ: I just try to keep my ears open and learn more about music. I try and take the new things I have learned and incorporate those things into my own sound and playing. Being around other musicians from different areas they are naturally going to play things that I don’t know. I am always listening to try and make my playing better and to support those I am playing with. It’s been a great learning experience for me.

AL: Do you have any tour plans in place for this spring/summer?
EJ: We have a 3 week Midwest tour planned for August. That will take us to Chicago, Minneapolis and a few other places. In November Mike and I will be doing a 2 week tour of the East Coast.

Dream Theater’s James LaBrie talks about solo project with Matt Guillory titled “Impermanent Resonance”

James LaBrie is probably best known for his work as the vocalist for the progressive rock band Dream Theater. Outside of his work with Dream Theater, James is also a successful solo artist. Together with keyboardist Matt Guillory, James has released a new solo album titled “Impermanent Resonance” and Media Mikes had the chance to recently to speak with both of the guys about what it was like working on the album.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new album “Impermanent Resonance”?
Matt Guillory: The album is a continuation of what we establish with the “Elements of Persuasion” album and more so with the “Static Impulse” album. With the new album we tried to make everything more heavy and melodic. We really wanted to push the melodic side of things by strengthening the hooks and melodies. I also believe that “Impermanent Resonance” is a much more dynamic and diverse.

AL: At what point of the writing/recording process James do you bring in your lyrics?
James LaBrie: There are two ways that we go about things. Matt will often approach things by writing lyrics or subject matter ahead of time prior to the music being written. He also works the more traditional way as well in that you craft the lyrics to fit the melody. That is the way in which I will usually write. I like everything to be established. It’s much easier for me to wrap things around a preconceived melody. The process can sometimes take 3 different stages in that I may present an idea to Matt and he takes what he wants from there. Matt is the main composer so he is the one creating where the song is going to go. The 3rd stage is one where we bring in other writers to collaborate with. On the new album we brought in Peter Wichers to help with a few songs. We have a few different ways in which we write.

AL: Is this also the way that your work when writing material for Dream Theater?
JL: Yes. We use three different stages when it comes to the Dream Theater material. Things may come out of jams we do during sound checks. Other times we all just sit down in the studio and start showing each other ideas we have stored on our iphones. A lot of the material really is created through our interactions with one another and bouncing those ideas back and forth.

AL: Matt for you what was it like bringing in outside writers?
MG: It was really seamless. We have done this before in the past but things went really great this time around. Bringing in Peter Wichers was great. His contribution with riff writing and ideas for verses was a very nice collaboration.

AL: Do each of you try to bring in a finished product before presenting to the other guys or is it more of a collaborative effort during the creating process?
MG: Before I present something to anyone else I try and get it pretty well developed. Most of my ideas start as vocal melodies that I then build everything else around. I try to have things pretty solid before sending the song out. From there it becomes more about tweaking the song.
JL: When Matt and I decide that it’s the right time to start putting together ideas for another album we do like to feel like we are starting fresh. We want to basically have a new canvas to paint on. I think it is always important for Matt and me to feel that we are representing ourselves musically with what we are creating. It’s definitely a combination of things.

AL: Did having the same line up for this album and the last album makes things easier from a writing/recording standpoint?
MG: Absolutely. It was really cool to do another record with the same line up. I love consistency. I think it’s cool how everyone has their own unique identity as a player that they bring to the table. It makes things really special. Everyone is such a high caliber musician that it made things super easy. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.

AL: Are there plans to tour in support of the album?
JL: I think ultimately we want to do a tour that would be considered extensive. I think the immediate situation is that I have an obligation to Dream Theater and we start a world tour come January. This band that Matt and I have is one that has to be a little more patient. Everyone is behind wanting to tour the album but that won’t probably start to become a reality until the Dream Theater to conclude. We are definitely going to do a tour and try to get into as many areas as possible.

AL: With both of you having other priorities is it hard to put something like this on the back burner because of those commitments?
MG: It is for me. When I poor my heart and soul into something that is what I want to do. I have to try and stay focused. Working that way is better for me even though at times I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. This is so important to me and I want to make it the best it can be.
JL: The same stands for me. Dream Theater is my main gig but this thing Matt and I have is something that has developed over 14 years. We are both very much committed to it. I think every time there is a release it shows that it is in fact a priority for us. This is something we are both dedicated to as we realize that you are only as good as your last outing. It is something that fortunately we are able to let things develop. We feel this release is complete and probably our best album to date.

Beyond Dishonor releases first teaser trailer for upcoming album titled “Generations”

If you are not having fun, the crowd isn’t having fun—this sums up the philosophy of Beyond Dishonor. Comprised of five members with very disparate influences, styles and quirks, this stalwart of the resurgent New Jersey Metal scene combines all of those myriad differences between them and, somehow, creates music that is brutal and aggressive enough for the most hardcore of fans and yet groovy enough to be accessible to those on the fringe.The music is wrapped around the lyrics of singer Reese Dunlap, who’s literary, filmographic and intellectual obsessiveness pervades each song with hidden meanings, double entendre’, and tongue-in-cheek jabs. It is their sense of humor, their unabashed desire to be serious without appearing pretentious and a high level of stage experience that has helped shape this 5 piece. Currently they are recording their upcoming 2013 release “Generations” with Andreas Magnusson at Planet Red Studios (Oh Sleeper, Impending Doom, A Life Once Lost, Black Dahlia Murder, This or the Apocalypse).

Samantha Crain talks about new solo album titled "Kid Face"

Samantha Crain is a singer/songwriter set to release her 3rd full length solo album titled “Kid Face”. Samantha describes her sound as a mixture of Folk with some Country elements. Media Mikes had the chance to ask Samantha a few questions about the new album as well as how her background in fiction writing sparked her interest in wanting to perform music.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little bit of background on your career thus far?
Samantha Crain: Unfortunately it’s not an incredibly interesting story at all. (Laughs) My dad had bought me a guitar when I was younger however I was never really interested in it growing up. I probably taught myself a few chords on it but that was it. I grew up sort of obsessed with writing stories so when it came time for college I went for writing. A couple of years in to that I had a moment where I wanted to get out of Oklahoma as I was feeling a little crowded. At some point I picked up the guitar again and started teaching myself. I began pairing some of my short stories and poems to music and after a little while I began booking shows for myself. This was sort of a means to travel and see new places. My career really came out of finding a way for me to pay my way around the country. It ended up turning in to something that I really love doing.

AL: Around what time did you become a signed artist?
SC: After writing and touring on my own for some time my first EP found its way to Dolph Ramseur owner of Ramseur Records. We ended up speaking and decided to re-release the EP on his label as a means to reintroduce me to those who maybe weren’t able to get one of the handmade copies. Things really came out of being out there and playing a lot of shows.

AL: How does your latest album “Kid Face” compare to your previous work? And did you try anything different this time around?
SC: With my background being in fiction writing I really held on to that with the first two records. As I have gotten older and been able to experience more things I have been able to shift my writing from being fiction based to being more autobiographical. That’s probably the main difference between my new album and my previous releases. As far as differences go this time around I went back to more of my folk roots. Some of my previous songs had a rock feel to them but I moved away from that and back to how I started. This album is definitely a softer folk/country album.

AL: Does your background in writing tend to lead you to start with the lyrical aspect a song or do you start with instrumentation first and write around that?
SC: When I first started writing songs I had a lot of material lyric wise to work with so I started there. Music was sort of the afterthought. However the longer I do this it seems the songs are less apt to come to me. I have to be really smart about catching inspiration when it comes. I generally collect words or ideas in a notebook.  When I have time to work on songs I will lay all these notes out and try and put them together to form a song.

AL:  Do you have any tour plans set up in support of the new album?
SC: We have a few album release shows scheduled that will feature the entire band that played on the album. Those shows will take us up until the start of the South By South West festival. After that for the full tour we will probably scale the band down some as it is easier to travel that way.

Vlad Yudin talks about directing the long-awaited follow up to "Pumping Iron" titled "Generation Iron"

Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard

Growing up in Russia, Vlad Yudin took advantage of his countrymen’s love of movies by seeing pretty much everything he could.  Be they action films from America or the more “art” films of Europe and Asia, each time he left the theatre he could envision himself making movies one day.

After a successful series of documentaries on rap artists like Big Pun and Twista, he turned to features.  His first film, “Last Day of Summer” earned good reviews and can currently be seen on the various Showtime cable television channels.  His next project is “Generation Iron,” a revisit to the world of professional bodybuilding that was made popular in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron,” the film that introduced Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world.  What was intriguing about “Pumping Iron” was not the actual body building contest but the mental contest played between the participants.  In one segment Schwarzenegger senses that Lou Ferigno is not mentally ready to compete and slowly begins to attack him.  By the time Ferigno took to the stage he was already a loser in his mind, enabling Schwarzenegger to win his 7th consecutive Mr. Olympia title.  The film also serves as an early example of the sheer willpower that Schwarzenegger has to achieve whatever his goals may be, from Mr. Olympia to Hollywood star to Governor of California.
While in post-production on “Generation Iron”, Mr. Yudin took time out to talk about his inspirations, the benefits of bootlegging and his upcoming projects.

Mike Smith: As a young man growing up in Russia what inspired you to try your hand in the film business?
Vlad Yudin: As a young boy I enjoyed going to the movies…all kinds of movies. Living in Russia gave me access to films from all over the word. European films, American films, Asian films…I used to watch everything. I would watch a film and think about what it would be like to make one. So that’s where the interest came from and I kept that interest growing and growing and growing and little by little I got into it.

MS: We’re there a lot of western films available to you?
VY: In Russia in the early 1990s there was a lot of bootlegging going on. You could get almost anything on VHS tapes. So we would buy them and trade them with each other. That gave us a chance to see everything from action films to horror films.

MS: Addressing “Generation Iron.” What made you want to revisit a film like “Pumping Iron” and update it?
VY: Well first it’s important to mention that “Pumping Iron” was a monumental film. Not only as a documentary, but as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s introduction to the world. It changed the entire fitness industry and introduced body building to the world. In the 35 years since it’s been released the fitness industry has gotten huge…it’s big all around the world, but the sport of body building is still relatively unknown. It seemed like a great sport to revisit and to try to introduce some characters who just happen to be body builders. I think that’s what made the first film so interesting and fun to watch. The guys were just so colorful. So to me it made sense to revisit it.

MS: Besides the present day body builders will there be any appearances by some of the original “Pumping Iron” stars, like Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferigno?
VY: (laughs) I will only tell you that there are a lot of cameos. And that fans of the original “Pumping Iron” will not be disappointed.

MS: The competition aside, to me the best parts of “Pumping Iron” were the behind the scene looks at the various competitors and their lives. Will “Generation Iron” continue that theme?
VY: Definitely. That’s what really made the film. The great access I had to these guys behind the scenes…how they prepare. I mean, the most important thing is the preparation. In body building, when you go on stage and pose you’re showing off what you’ve been working on for the last year. Dieting…working out…your lifestyle…pushing your body to its limits every day. This is all of the stuff that takes place off stage. This film is about how much these guys want to win and how seriously they take it.

MS: A lot of your work to date has been documentaries. Do you hope to branch out and create fictional feature films?
VY: Absolutely. I would love to work in both directions. To me it comes down to making an interesting film…be it a documentary or a narrative feature. As long as the film is interesting to watch.

MS: Do you have a project planned after the release of “Generation Iron?”
VY: A few projects. “Generation Iron” is scheduled to come out this summer. Then we have a graphic novel being developed called “Head Smash” which will then be developed into a feature film. The graphic novel will be unveiled this year at the San Diego Comic Con. We also have a horror film in post production called “Catskill Park,” which should be ready by the end of the year.