Oh, Sleeper’s Shane Blay talks about touring with Wovenwar

The melodic metal-core band Wovenwar whose members consist of former As I Lay Dying members Nick Hipa, Phil Sgrosso, Josh Gilbert and Jordan Mancino along with Oh, Sleeper vocalist Shane Blay released their debut self titled album this past summer and since then have been out on the road non-stop in support of the release. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with vocalist Shane Blay prior to the bands performance in Rochester, NY about his joining the group, the creation of the new album and the status of his previous band.

Adam Lawton: How did your joining the band come about?
Shane Blay: Nick and I were in a band together from the time we were 14 till about 19 called Evelynn. We were both the guitar players. After that he joined As I Lay Dying and I joined Between the Buried and Me. Somewhere along the line I started singing and Nick had sort of followed what I was doing with Oh, Sleeper. A few months after whatever happened with Tim I was out on Warped Tour with Oh, Sleeper and the guys hit me up. They played me some of the stuff they were working on and I thought I could do some stuff over it and after the Warped tour ended I flew out to Josh’s studio and the first day I was there we wrote “All Rise”.

AL: Were there any reservations about coming into the group at the time that you did due to the stuff with Tim being still pretty fresh?
SB: I didn’t really have any reservations however I was a little nervous about taking a new spot. I am a lead guitar player so being the lead vocalist/guitarist was going to be different. I also was concerned about the backlash that could happen being that I am more of a singer and not a screamer. I can do that a little but it’s nothing something I care too much for. I had that in the back of my mind along with people’s ideas that I replaced Tim. This was not the case as Wovenwar is a new band.

AL: How much did you have to adjust your style of singing/playing to fit in with what the band was doing?
SB: I don’t think I really have taken any different approaches to how I have always done things. I had gotten down the playing and singing thing with Oh, Sleeper as I was doing some lead playing and singing so luckily I had gotten that down quite awhile ago. (Laughs)

AL: How much of the material on the album was completed when you came in?
SB: I think there were about 5 usable songs that were done. The guys weren’t quite sure which direction they wanted to go in as they could have easily gotten someone who could scream and do stuff like Tim did so there was a lot of material done in that style. When they sent me “All Rise” it had versus and choruses and I knew I could do stuff over that. Once we solidified that I was going to be the guy we wrote the rest of the record in about a month. Going back to when I first got “All Rise” I sort of procrastinated on writing for it until I was at Josh’s but it came together that day, we recorded it and then sent it to Metal Blade Records. After that the song was sent to our would-be booking agent and they thought it was awesome. Somehow In Flames heard it and they instantly added us to their European tour. Before we even had any songs out we were asked to go all over Europe which was pretty crazy.

AL: Did your writing style/process change at all?
SB: Once I was in I knew that we wanted to be marketable as a rock entity. I always tend to take a the classic approach to writing as with Oh, Sleeper I would mess with that structure a little bit but I like having verses, chorus and pre-choruses as I feel it gives people something to latch on to. That style certainly flowed over to this record

AL: With everything happening so fast for the band what has it been like getting more comfortable with your material out on the road?
SB: It’s been awesome. The tour we just finished with Periphery was our first U.S. tour on the record and it was great getting to see what people in our home country thought of the material. It’s been really awesome seeing all the great reactions night after night. We have another tour run with In Flames booked and I am sure that is going to be just as great. After that there are talks to do a headlining Euro tour which should be a lot of fun

AL: Where are things at with your involvement in Oh,Sleeper?

SB: We are sort of on an indefinite hiatus right now. After Warped Tour we all agreed to put the band on the back burner. We hadn’t gotten bigger or smaller but we had the greatest fans and we didn’t want to abandon anyone. We all have financial responsibilities so we needed to take time away. I was the only one not getting married so the chance to join Wovenwar came at just the right time. I miss Oh, Sleeper as that was a band I started and I am going to finish it but I have to get the time to be able to do that. We were supposed to do another EP but I really want to do a full length album and one more tour to end on a high note.

John O’Hurley talks about his role of Billy Flynn in the touring production of “Chicago”

Television fans know John O’Hurley as the popular J. Peterman, Elaine’s boss, on the long running show “Seinfeld.” But it is performance on another show that helps bring him to Kansas City. As a contestant during the first season of ABC’s popular “Dancing with the Stars,” O’Hurley finished in second place, losing to Kelly Monaco, an actress whose show just HAPPENED to be on ABC. Fans of the show cried foul and demanded the two have a “dance-off,” with only the fans voting for the winner. In the rematch, O’Hurley and his partner, Charlotte Jorgensen, were declared the winners, raising over $125,000 for the charity Golfers against Cancer.

Since then, O’Hurley has split his time between the stage and screen. He played King Arthur in “Spamalot” during the show’s production in Las Vegas and has played shrewd lawyer Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” both on Broadway and on the road. Well known for his voice you can hear him in such cartoons as “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command,” “Duck Dodgers,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Spongebob Squarepants.”

This week Mr. O’Hurley reprises his role of Billy Flynn in the touring production of “Chicago.” Before opening night he took time out to talk to me about the show and his career.

Mike Smith: Welcome to Kansas City.
John O’Hurley: I feel welcome. Thank you.

MS: If the Internet Broadway Database is to be believed you literally just walked off the stage of the Ambassador Theater in New York City, where you played Billy Flynn for the last six weeks, to travel here to take the part on the road.
JO: I closed on Broadway Sunday night. I had a great time there, especially during the holidays.
MS: Wow, when they say the road shows are “direct from Broadway” they’re not kidding.
JO: (laughs) Not at all. I think I still have the same socks on.

MS: You’ve played Billy Flynn over 1500 times on stage. Do you get comfortable in a part or do you try to bring something new to your performance when you can?
JO: Every night! Every night something different will happen. I say one prayer every night before I go on stage and that is “God, let me be surprised.” And every night something different happens. If I’ve done the role 1500 times I assure you that the role is 1500 times richer since I started playing it in 2005.

MS: You are, of course, best known for your work on “Seinfeld.” Was it your appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” that led to your work in musical theater?
JO: I’ve done King Arthur in “Spamalot” over 1000 times and, of course, Billy Flynn over 1500. I think a lot of my success came about because of that show. It gave me my name back. Prior to that I was known as J. Peterman. But after 2005 I was known as John O’Hurley.

MS: You do a lot of voice work. Do you have to prepare differently as an actor for a cartoon voice as opposed to a full live performance?
JO: Right now I’m involved in about fifteen cartoons…”Spongebob,” “Fineas and Ferb” and others…but it’s a lot of fun because I have an eight-year old son and it’s nice to be able to develop a body of work that is somewhat successful to him. As far as preparing, not really. The roles are already larger than life. It’s a medium that’s very BIG. The characters are larger. Subtlety is not a part of animation.

MS: How long to you plan to stay on tour with “Chicago?”
JO: I started the tour late last year, in October and I’ll continue through the end of it, which is the end of March.

MS: Do you have anything else coming up?
JO: Yes, I have a new television series with Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” that we’re working on now. We’ll be shooting later in the spring. I have a movie to do in Greece. And I’m hosting a dancing tour this summer, which will be sporadically through my vacation time. And I’m sure there will be another tour of “Chicago” next year.

 

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In Flames’ Niclas Engelin talks about touring and new album “Raven Kings”

Niclas Engelin is probably best known for his guitar work in the Swedish heavy metal band In Flames. However when he’s not holding down the six duties there Niclas spends his time working on his melodic death metal group simply titled Engel. The group’s newest album titled “Raven Kings” was released in November 2014 and Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Niclas about its creation, what it was like working with Jacob Hansen and the prospects of the group touring in the United States.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some of the background on Engel’s new album “Raven Kings”?
Niclas Engelin: After the last album “Blood of Saints” we decided to take some time and sort of regroup. We didn’t necessarily stop but we did take time to think about what it was we wanted to do with the band and just exactly how we wanted it to sound. We knew that we wanted the next record to be strong and well put together not just musically but also visually as well. We had lots of conversations about what the music for “Raven Kings” was going to be about. We took all the ideas from those conversations and sort of compiled them into one theme. Marcus and Mikael are big in to gaming and they had this vision of a post apocalyptic type game. I am not a gamer so I had to do some reading and also watched some films. We really just collected all these moods, ideas and themes and from there went to pre-production and so on.

AL: Can you tell us about working with Jacob Hansen this time around?
NE: Jacob and those guys are all friends of ours. He had wanted to work with Engel in some capacity for quite awhile now. I think we had been talking off and on about it for something like 3 years. We really liked the work that he did with Volbeat and we knew that he was capable of going the extra distance to make what was important to us happen. We talked a lot about this and I love how the album turned out.

AL: “Salvation” is a pretty intense song. What made you choose it as the album’s first single?
NE: (Laughs) It’s a very in your face song. We had never done a song as fast paced as this one before so when we were thinking about doing it we figured we could put a treatment together that really would shock people and let them know we are here.

AL: How does the creative process work for you with Engel as compared to when you are working on In Flames material?
NE: For me I have to think of these two bands as being from two different worlds. I really have to keep them very separate from one another as they are different things. The way Marcus looks at material might not necessarily be the same way Bjorn looks at material so I have to be conscious of that.

AL: What do you feel is the hardest part about balancing your time between both of the bands?
NE: For me it comes down to doing each of these when I have to do them. It’s just like getting the kids around for school each day and paying the mortgage. These aren’t things you can do only when you feel like it. (Laughs)I am always collecting ideas and working on various things. I essentially am always working. I love writing and performing music so much that I don’t mind that constant work process.

AL: What are the tour plans for Engel as we have yet to really see the band here in the United States?
NE: We have plans to start touring Europe in 2015. We will be out on a 6 week run over there and then heading back to Scandinavian. I really want to hit the United States also as it seems like every day I am being asked by someone as to when we will be there. (Laughs)

AL: What do you think has been the hardest thing about getting Engel over to the States?
NE: We want to make sure that we are going to be part of a good package that it going to make an impact. This will be our first good tour in the States and we want to make sure that the fans in the US see and hear what Engel is all about. That’s something that is very important to us.

AL: Does the band have any other plans going in to the New Year?
NE: We are getting ready to release another single off the album. We are currently in talks about what type of treatment we are going to use but I the song is going to “Fading Light”. I have met with the videos director a couple times and I do have a script but we still have a few more things to work out before we start shooting.

The Raskins’ Logan Raskin talks about debut album and touring with Motley Crue

The retro-rock act known as The Raskins, are currently out on the road as part of Motley Crue’s final tour which also features veteran rocker Alice Cooper. The band consisting of twin brothers Logan and Roger Raskin perform a unique blend of rock that harkens back to the early days of CBGB’s but with a modern twist. Media Mikes spoke with Logan Raskin recently about the group’s formation, their debut album and how they landed one of the biggest tours of the summer.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band and what made you want t pursue music?
Logan Raskin: Both my brother and I were born in raised in Chelsea, NY and our parents were in the music industry for many years. My father did lots of shows on Broadway and was the lead in shows like “West Side Story”, “Oklahoma” and bunch of others. I grew up going to those shows and watching him perform. He also would take a band with him out on the road and perform various songs from shows he appeared in and my brother and I would go out on the road with him. My mother was a pretty well known jazz singer around New York and also put a couple albums out as well. They taught us how to play music at a very young age and I think my brother and I wrote our first songs between the ages of 8 and 10. It was sort of inevitable that we would end up in the music business. Granted our parents taught us music our mother never really wanted us going in to the music business because the lifestyle was sort of tough for them and she didn’t want us to go through the same thing. Growing up on the Lower East side however music was tough to get away from. On any given night we could go to a club and see The Ramones, Patty Smith or The New York Dolls. We got bit by the bug and it was pretty much game over. We are very happy to be able to be doing music now full time.

AL: Have you and your brother always played together in bands?
LR: People always assume that we have played together our whole lives but to be honest this is the first time that we have really been in a band together. We certainly have played together over the years but never in a band. The Raskins have been together for about 3 years and it was something that started out as just a writing project. Roger and I had been composing music for television and movies for years and that’s what we were in to. We started getting a lot of fan mail from around the world from people who heard some of our work and really enjoyed it. They were always asking about where they could get our music and when they could see us live. We took about a year and recorded this first record on our own. We initially went in and recorded 60 songs. From there we took the best 12 that we thought represented us well and we put them on this record.  Next we put the band together and worked the New York area pretty heavily before making our way out to Los Angeles. We pushed the internet market really heavily as well and that’s where things really started for us.

AL: Did you have a clear cut vision of how you wanted the band to sound when you were first starting out or did your sound evolve more naturally?
LR: It was a combination of both. When we went in to the writing stage we wanted to just write as much as we could. We had an overwhelming amount of music written when we went in to do tracking and things just went from there. Our influences certainly came out and Roger and I both had a lot inside us. We wrote these songs for us as over the previous seven years we were composing music for other people. We had the opportunity to do this for ourselves and we were like kids in a candy store. The reason we did the recording of the album ourselves was that we didn’t want to have to work within a specific time frame as we both knew each other had a lot to say. What you get on the album are the influences we got from our parents along with what we were exposed to musically growing up in New York.

AL: When you are writing material do you and your brother generally work separately or collaboratively?
LR: It’s a combination of the two. We have a main studio that we work out of but we also have our own little separate studios at home. We both write music and lyrics but for this album I think I wrote more of lyrics. A lot of stuff we do completely on our own but it’s great to work together and bounce ideas off one another. Roger has given so many great songs. We work really well together. Sure we battle it out sometimes as we do a lot of hours in the studio but we have a process we go through that works well for us. We don’t try to force anything. We just try to be ourselves.

AL: What was it like taking your two piece band and developing it into a full group for touring purposes?
LR: We went through several ideas in our heads. Have both been in and out of bands over the years it’s a tough process. People sort of see us as this overnight success because all of a sudden we are out on the road with this big tour. That’s certainly not the case. We have been doing this for quite some time. We love everything about music and have had our share of struggles along the way but to have this opportunity to start off as a duo with my brother and then build a great band around us we feel that the bond of the band is extremely tight. We are surrounded by some really great musicians and even though people may see us as a duo we are a band. My brother and I felt that being in this band together with other musicians would just strengthen our bond.

AL: Can you tell us about being out on the road with Alice Cooper and Motley Crue?
LR: It has been an incredible year for us so far. When we finished the album we wanted to tour as much as possible and to really get the music out there any way we could. We started out doing a winter tour on our own and after that run ended we were asked to be a part of the Scott Wieland tour. We went out with Scott for about a month and while that was happening we were in talks for summer touring options. A few ideas were mentioned and being an optimist I mentioned some of the bigger tours going on this summer like Slash and Miles Kennedy, Kiss and Def Leppard, and Motley Crue and Alice Cooper. About 5 shows in to the run with Scott we got a call asking just how serious we were about the Motley Crue tour. We were serious as a heart attack and our booking agent thought we had a shot so we went for it. After a couple weeks we still hadn’t heard anything. We had initially submitted only for 17 shows so we weren’t sure what was going on. We ended up re-submitting for the entire tour and shortly thereafter we got a calling saying there was interest in having us. We had to wait for the guys in Motley Crue to make the final decision and luck for us they loved us and we were asked to be on for all 66 U.S. shows. It’s great being out here playing all these great venues that we always dreamed about. We played the Hollywood Bowl recently and will be playing Madison Square Garden also this year. As two kids growing up in New York City that is just going to be a dream come true.

AL: What are the bands plans after this tour run ends?
LR: We want to try and take a little time at the end of November to do some recording as we are always writing. We want to get what we have down in to demo form. Right now it likes like we will be out with HIM for 10 shows in December and we are also looking at some dates with Joan Jett, Blondie and The Cult. That will take us into next year with the possibility of going out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and maybe AC/DC. I told them to put that at the top of the priority list! (Laughs) My dad always told us to shoot for the stars and maybe you will reach a tree top. That our philosophy with everything that we do. This year has been great so far and we are excited about the future.

Korn’s Ray Luzier and James “Munky” Shaffer talk about touring with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival

The heavy metal group Korn is out on the road this summer as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The group recently released a tour version of their 2013 album “The Paradigm Shift” exclusively through Best Buy which features several new tracks along with some exclusive live tracks as well. Media Mikes had the pleasure of talking with drummer Ray Luzier and guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer during the tours recent stop in Scranton, PA about the release and how they connect with the different crowds they perform for each night.

Adam Lawton: When you are out on a tour like the Mayhem Festival is there any one thing that is the same from day to day?
Ray Luzier: We hear the same bands every day. (Laughs) What’s really great is that we get to play to diverse crowds every show. There are people who have seen us 27 times and there are people who are just seeing us that day for the first time. I’m not sure about constants but I try to stay in a similar routine from day to day.

AL: With the band playing all over the world how do you go about connecting with each of the crowds you perform for?
James “Munky” Shaffer: Every audience is different and that’s really the beauty of it. Like Ray said before you get people who have seen you a lot and you get people who have never seen you before. We are playing the same songs night after night so we try and keep that thought in our heads so we go out and put on a great show every night. We want them to really enjoy the show and to come and see us again.
RL: We may be super tired from traveling or whatever before we hit the stage but once we are up there we are energized bythe crowd. We are fans of music ourselves and still go out and see a lot of bands and buy their merchandise and what not. This is Korn’s 20th year as a band and I have been touring myself just as long. It never gets old. We are still excited to play every time we go up there.

AL: Have you guys seen any bands on this tour that you have really become fans of?
JS: Trivium is a band that has really impressed me. Their songs and how they engage the audience has really impressed me. Those guys are super tight professionally which is really inspiring. I know they have been around a few years but to see that level of commitment is really awesome. I was a mess at that stage of the game. (Laughs) I still am a mess but I have gotten a little better over time.
RL: I go out and check out the side stages from time to time and there are a lot of bands on this tour that have really impressed me. I watch bands like Mushroomhead and Miss May I and you can see just how hungry they are. They all have their own thing going for them which is really great to see.

AL: Can you give us some info on the tour version of your most recent album “The Paradigm Shift”?
JS: We initially released that album last year and after it was out for a couple months there were some songs that never got finished that we wanted to still work on. Jonathan went back in and wrote lyrics for these songs that we didn’t get to finish because we just ran out of time. They came out pretty good and we also decided to add some live tracks on the new release as well. When we are out on the road we like to have something in stores for people to buy that is fresh.

AL: Ray, how do you go about balancing your time in Korn and working with your newest project KXM?
RL: We all have side projects that we work on when we aren’t working on Korn. We just have a tremendous amount of music inside of us. I think these side projects are important for each of us to do as they help us remain creative. KXM is something that George, Doug and I have been talking about doing for years. The idea goes all the way back to my son’s first birthday party when we all were talking about jamming together. Scheduling is always the hard part as Korn is very busy but we hope to get some shows set up before the end of the year. Right now we are just working on videos and such.

Imagination Movers’ Scott Durbin talks about touring and plans for new music

Scott Durbin is one of the founding members of the popular kids television show and band “Imagination Movers”. They have a successfully show that currently airs on Disney Junior. They are also constanstly touring bringing their music to fans all over the world. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about their music, their tour plans for this summer and also what the future brings.

Mike Gencarelli: When you guys started “Imagination Movers” back in 2003, did you ever think that you would be still going this strong today?
Scott Durbin: I would have never imagined this that show would be seen in 50+ countries, translated in 12 languages and we are recognized around the world. For that part of it, I would say “Definitely no”. On the other side, we were so tenacious when we started. We believed that we wanted to create something to encourage creativity in kids, modeling problem-solving and create music for kids that challenged them and did not pacify them. This gets them off the couch and gets them moving around and also their brain moving. Even for parents, like yourself, we wanted to make it something that you could listen to over and over without starting to hate it. We also wanted to make it developmental and age appropriate, so it really connects with the kids. So that part of me says “Yes, I knew we were going to be a success”. We are coming from a real place and doing it for the right reasons.

MG: I love that you guys have such strong educational messages in your show and music while still being entertaining and having fun…
SD: I think it is important to balance them both. If there is too much entertainment it can become campy. If it is too educational, it can be a turn off. But if there is a good balance, you can get the best of both worlds. You can teach and the kids will enjoy learning. I started off teaching in elementary education for 10 years. So in those years that I taught, I saw this level of creativity in the kids was just decreasing and I saw this need for creativity. I think part of the reason why we began. We say that there was no “real people” in kid’s entertainment (going back over 10 years now) and we wanted to change that. We wanted to bring strong male role models to kids. As a teacher, you had a lot of kids that didn’t have a strong male role model at home and I found that having that was invaluable.

MG: You guys are touring all this summer and through the fall, tell us about what you enjoy most about performing live?
SD: Obviously, we have been so blessed with just being able to travel and meet our fans across the globe. We just got back from the UK. We recently did a show in Dubai. An interesting thing about Dubai is that about 80% of the people there are ex-pats from direct countries. The group that brought us over there told us that most of the Western acts they bring over there, potential 95% of the audience are expats other countries like Australia, UK, Canada, or the States. So essentially they are all Western, but when we played in Dubai the audience was Indian, Philippian, Saudi Arabian and the group that brought us in said that they have never seen the amount of diversity that we brought to one of their shows. So for us, I think being able and being accessible to such a diverse group of people makes it worth it. That was so special. It just showed how four dudes from Louisiana can resonate with a six year old from India. When we tour, we get to meet families and hear stories about how the music has affected them and that is so humbling. We are very fortunate to be able to participate in this. There is a certain glimmer of magic in what we get to do.

MG: On July 27th, you guys are playing after the Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field for a special Christmas in July concert; tell us about that?
SD: I am very excited for this. We got to do it last year and we are lucky enough to get to do it again. The hard part about this is that the Rays are playing the Red Socks. I have a real soft spot for the Rays since I have been following them much more but my dad was a huge Red Socks fan. So I grew up rooting for the Red Socks, so I am little torn here [laughs]. For the Christmas in July, we will probably play about 70 minutes and throw in some fun Christmas songs. We have a really interactive set and the kids have a lot of fun. It is actually really a family concert that moms and dads will enjoy as well. We play live music, so there is so much great energy going around.

MG: Your latest album “Back in Blue” was released last summer which includes second set of songs from season 3; do you have plans for new music?
SD: Yeah, that is a great question. The music industry is changing and how bands get music out to their fans are changing. “Back in Blue” was our first digital release only, so there was no hard copy available. That is something that was so new to us to think that we can’t give you a CD and you have to download it. There are so many great songs from that CD including “Robot Chase Song” and “Have You Ever Seen a Unicorn”. In fact, right now we are actually starting on our ninth album. We did an album called “Rock-o-matic” a few years back, which was a CD/DVD. We created about 35 minutes of additional content with videos, sketches etc and we are looking to do a follow up to that. This time we are going to get our fans to participate. They are also going to get to experience more of the making of the CD and DVD. If you “Like” our Facebook, you can find out more about this.

MG: There hasn’t been new episodes for over a year now; is there a fourth season in the horizon for the “Imagination Movers”?
SD: Right now, episodes are currently are airing on Disney Junior. I don’t know if a fourth season will ever be made. But we are currently working with a production company in Canada right now to create new “Movers” content… So I will leave that at that because I do not know how much I can say right now. Around the corner, don’t be surprised if you are seeing some new content. So we are very excited about that.

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Upon a Burning Body’s Ruben Alvarez talks about touring with RockStar Mayhem Festival

Ruben Alvarez is the guitarist for the San Antonio, Texas based band Upon a Burning Body. The group recently released their 2nd full length album titled “Red. White. Green.” Via Sumerian Records and will once again be a part of this year’s Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Media Mikes spoke recently with Ruben about the album’s release and the bands plans for this summer’s tour run.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on the bands formation?
Ruben Alvarez: We had all been members of different bands here in the San Antonio area. Danny and Sal had wanted to start up a side project and they were the ones who started Upon a Burning Body. I jumped in a month or two later. Basically this side project took off way faster than any of our other bands. People really started liking us and were coming out to the shows so we realized we had something with this group.

AL: Can you tell us about the new album “Red. White. Green.”?
RA: When the band goes out on the road it becomes very hard to write so this time around we had our producer and a couple other songwriters working with us. We still brought a lot of songs to the table as a band but we chose a couple of their songs do go along with six of ours to help change the feel of the record. We wanted to keep our style while adding some diversity. I think it’s going to be our biggest record so far.

AL: how do you guys go about adding in that diversity while staying true to your original sound/style?
RA: I have always looked at song writing and you are telling a story through music. I feel that if we can write a good story and we can add in some chaos to that it will make for a fun listen. It definitely changes with each song. A lot really depends on what we want the song to be about. We like to listen to the songs and see what type of emotion it has and then go deeper from there.

AL: Do you ever feel limited or confined to write in the genre you are identified with?
RA: There is definitely a barter that goes on. We have to stay true to our sound because this is what we have always been and what our fans like. It’s always a scary moment for a band when you transition to a bigger sound because you don’t know how many fans you may lose or gain. You have to try and keep that familiar vibe. For us it’s all about the energy.

AL: What are you guys most looking forward to about being back on this year’s Mayhem Festival?
RA: The cool thing about this year’s tour is that we are going to be on a bigger stage. When we did the tour the first time we were on a small side stage. Last time out we were playing to around 3,000 people per shows and this time were going to be playing to around 15,000 people per show. This is a big step up for us.

AL: What is it that appealed to you about joining Mayhem Festival as opposed to going out on your own solo headlining tour?
RA: I think Mayhem is just such an awesome tour to be on. For me it’s the new “”OzzFest”. It’s a big metal tour for metal heads. I love metal heads because they are just so crazy and into the bands. I think if we toured on our own we would get sort of demolished as there are so many great tour packages out there. We had to be very precise with what we want to do as a band because of that.

AL: What are the bands plans after Mayhem Festival?
RA: Things are pretty crazy right now. Even before Mayhem starts we are going to be out on a short headliner run then we are going out with Emmure for some show in Canada before we take off for Download Festival. We get a couple weeks off and then we hit the road for Mayhem and go from there.

Devour The Day’s Blake Allison talks about album “Good Man” and touring with Hinder

Blake Allison is the lead singer/guitarist for the band Memphis, TN based rock band Devour The Day. The group recently finished up a successful tour run with Hinder and has also re-released their “Good Man” EP which features a brand new set of mixes. Media Mikes spoke with Blake recently about the group’s formation, the bands re-release and their upcoming plans for 2014

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band?
Blake Allison: Joey Chicago and I have been writing songs together for a long time. We got to the point with our old band Egypt Central where Joey and I were writing all the music. When the band started everyone pitched in with the song writing equally. As that band went on and we experienced some member changes it came down to Joey and I putting all the music and lyrics together. We started writing what would have been the third record for that band and during that process our singer left us high and dry. We decided that what we had could be really great material and possibly be used for another band. We loved that band but Devour the Day is really close to our hearts. This music is exactly as we want it. In the previous band we would write the music and other members would perform it. With Devour the Day we can do everything we want and it seems to mess with our musical background better. This music is straight from the heart and for the first time in a long time we can finish a song without outside help as we are creating it.

AL: Can you tell us about the re-release of the bands “Good Man” EP?
BA: We just finished that up pretty recently. We teamed up with Brian Malouf who is legend in the music industry for making great mixes. He helped us take this whole thing on and we actually were working on in while we were still on tour. We started out shooting ideas back and forth over the phone on how we could give the songs a make over. When we signed to Caroline Records we were super excited and we thought that doing this re-release would be a great way to kick things off. Everyone here is super excited about what we have coming up for 2014.

AL: The band recently finished up a tour with Hinder. Can you tell us about that experience?
BA: Those guys are friends of ours from back when we had our first band. They are just nice people. I think a lot of people would assume that people who are famous are jerks but these guys are not. These guys are living out their dreams and are very happy doing that. Those guys have always taken care of us and when we decided we were going to tour Devour the Day I gave the Cody their drummer a call and asked him to put in a good word for us. He did and landed us a tour that has had us on the road for the better half of 2013.

AL: What was the reception like from the fans?
BA: It has been amazing! We kind of share the same audience and can be heard on the same types of radio stations. The crowds may start off looking at us like we are a little bit weird as they have never heard our songs before but by the end of the set they understand what we are about and what we are trying to do. It can be hard to come out of the gat e and connect with a crowd so we get up there and just lose it and act like idiots. (Laughs) The crowds have loved it though and we are excited to get back out there.

AL: Your song “Good Man” is doing really well right now can you tell what made you choose that song to put out first?
BA: When it came time to pick a song to release there really wasn’t much of a dispute when it came to choosing “Good Man”. That song just stood out as something different from the rest of the material. Simply put it was the strongest song on the record. That song really was the catalyst for putting everything in motion. We had a group of songs that we were going to do and once this one was completed and sent out it got a lot of attention.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands Kickstarter campaign that just wrapped up?
BA: We had discussed putting a video together and the first thing that came up was how could we make a video on a small as budget as possible. We started toying with the idea of doing a cheap video, which generally equates to a band playing in an empty warehouse. That’s just not who we are. We wanted to do something different. Joey’s brother Dan handles the non-profit side of a company called Neighborhood Film Company. They put together Kickstarter campaigns for films that help provide jobs to people in need. We thought it would be a good idea to take the same approach and we came up with the idea of doing a video recognizing all of the people who have helped us get to where we are. We are looking forward to starting work on this and the idea is to make people cry and do something different that what a typical rock band would do.

AL: Can you tell us what the band has planned for the rest of this year leading into 2014?
BA: We have some really big shows coming up towards then end of this year. We have some things in the works for 2014 but I can’t really say too much about that just yet. We are really excited though as we will be out with some newer bands that have a similar sound to us. That should be a really great time.

Stuart Ward talks about touring with Broadway hit play “Once”

Stuart Ward is currently touring North America with the touring company of the hit Broadway show “Once”. Stuart is no stranger to the show “Once” as he was in fact the understudy for the role of “Guy” in the West End production of the show. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with Stuart about “Once” and him role during their stop in Philly in their 29 city tour which runs until October 2014.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come on board with “Once” for its North American tour?
Stuart Ward: I actually was a part of the London cast of the show. I was a cover for the role of Guy. I missed out on the casting since I was on another job in Australia touring with the singer Cliff Richard. No one knows him in the US but in England he is a bit of a rock pop legend. 73 years old and he is still rocking out! So I was in Australia playing the Syndey Opera House and other great venues with him, so when I got back the show was all cast. I got a call asking if I would be interested in the understudy part and to be quite honest I really wasn’t. But they kept asking and I thought even if I get to do think just once – [laughs] there you go “Once” – it would be worth it and I would be happy. So I took it and then the day after I went on for the very first time, I got a call asking if I would be interested to play the lead in the US tour. My jaw hit the ground and I screamed a resounding “Yes”!

MG: So you are currently in Philly, tell us how the tour has been going so far?
SW: It is going great. We are just kind of settling down now. To be honest, when we were in Providence we were still working on the show and cleaning it up a bit. Then we got to Chicago and we were filming b-roll and doing recordings, so it was busy. So now in Philly it is settling down. I have had some time to explore the city and I ran up the Rocky steps [laughs]. The video is actually on my Twitter. I couldn’t help myself [laughs].

MG: What are some of the other cities that you are looking forward to hitting?
SW: I was actually looking forward to visiting Chicago. When we got there it didn’t let down at all. It had such an incredible vibe about the place. It was a bit like New York but a bit more laid back and chill. I am looking forward San Francisco as well, since it has a similar laid back vibe. I am looking forward to Florida since my mom and dad are coming down for that. I miss them hugely, so I am looking forward to getting them down. Honestly though, I am excited for all of them since I have never been to these cities before in America. So I am taking it a city at a time and having a blast!

MG: What do you use for inspiration to get you into the role each night?
SW: There is a remarkable amount of similarities between me and the character, so it doesn’t really take that much. Sometimes when you are playing a role, I think it is important to bring a part of yourself to it otherwise you are just lying. You have to have some truth in there. Usually it is 30% you and 70% your character that you built. But for this role it is actually like 90% is already there for me. I am a songwriter myself and I can relate to this character. I feel like I am actually playing my own songs out there. They all sit perfectly in my voice. It is quite easy for me to get into it.

MG: Tell us about the chemistry you have with co-star Dani de Waal?
SW: It is massive. I was so worried when I came over here because I didn’t meet her until the first day of rehearsals. I thought that 98% of my stage time is with this girl and I was thinking “God, what if she is terrible?” [laughs] I have been so lucky because she is really wonderful. She has this fantastic quality about her that fits the role of Girl so well. It is like a non-descriptive energy that is so great to play off. I feel quite blessed to have her as my Girl. It would be a horrible experience if she didn’t have all these amazing qualities but she is just fantastic.

MG: What is your favorite song to perform with the show?
SW: It is torn between two songs but think it has to be “When Your Minds Made Up”. I just think that that moment is when everything comes together and completes what they have worked for in the play. He just nails it in the studio the first time around. I always feel like he has that performance in his mind for three or four years and he is just waiting to be unleashed. I just love that moment. Not just performing that song, even when watching it, I just love the moment when he has become a songwriter – a rock star if you like.

MG: How has the show changed for you having watched it and now being the lead of it?
SW: What is great about this show and the whole creative team, is that they never wanted a copy of what has been done before. I have never had this happen before when going into a role that someone else has done. Usually you stand at the mark, turn right and say your lines. With the creative team here, they didn’t want any of that and they wanted us to make our own production of it. They approached the show like it was never done before. Half of the blocking is different and all the costumes are different. So the bare-bones of the show is the same but it is our completely own version. You will notice the differences when you come see it and if have seen the show before.

Here is the rest of the tour schedule! Check it out when it comes to a city near you!

Cleveland, OH (Playhouse Square)
Nov. 12 – 24, 2013

Toronto, ON (Royal Alexandra Theatre)
Nov. 26, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014

Boston, MA (Boston Opera House)
Jan. 7 – 19, 2014

Durham, NC (Durham Performing Arts Center)
Jan. 21 – 26, 2014

Orlando, FL (Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre)
Jan. 28 – Feb. 2, 2014

Miami, FL (The Adrienne Arsht Center)
Feb. 4 – 9, 2014

Tampa, FL (Straz Center)
Feb. 11 – 16, 201

Fort Myers, FL (Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall)
Feb. 18 – 23, 2014

New Haven, CT (Shubert Theater)
Feb. 26 – March 2, 2014

Atlanta, GA (Fox Theatre)
March 4 – 9, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA (Benedum Center)
March 11 – 16, 2014

Rochester, NY (Auditorium Theatre)
March 18 – 23, 2014

Buffalo, NY (Shea’s Performing Arts Center)
March 25 – 30, 2014

Minneapolis, MN (Orpheum Theatre)
April 1 – 6, 2014

St. Louis, MO (The Fox Theatre)
April 8 – 20, 2014

Des Moines, IA (Civic Center of Greater Des Moines)
April 22 – 27, 2014

Tempe, AZ (ASU Gammage)
April 29 – May 4, 2014

Denver, CO (Buell Theatre)
May 6 – 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (Smith Center for the Performing Arts)
May 20 – 25, 2014

Seattle, WA (The Paramount Theatre)
May 27 – June 8, 2014

Portland, OR (Keller Auditorium)
June 10 – 15, 2014

San Francisco, CA (Curran Theatre)
June 17 – July 13, 2014

Los Angeles, CA (Pantages Theatre)
July 15 – Aug. 10, 2014

San Diego, CA (Civic Center)
Aug. 12 – 17, 2014

Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Hall)
Aug. 19 – 31, 2014

Charlotte, NC (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)
Sept. 30 – Oct. 5, 2014

Dani de Waal talks about touring with Broadway hit play “Once”

Dani de Waal is an English actress, who recently joined the touring cast of the Broadway hit “Once”, playing the role of ‘Girl’. Her previous achievements on stage include “Picnic” on Broadway and “Mamma Mia!” for the role of Sophie Sheridan on West End. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with Dani about “Once” and her role as she was kicking off the 29 city tour which runs until October 2014.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what made you want to be a part of “Once: A New Musical” for its North American tour?
Dani de Waal: I saw the movie years ago when it came out, I was England at the time then. I loved it and the music and thought it was a beautiful story. I ended up seeing the show on Broadway also when I came to New York on a holiday. I remember saying to myself and secreting it to the universe that I would love to be in this show [laughs]. As it turns out, I ended up moving to New York the following year. I got an audition and it sort of happened from there. It really has been a dream come true. It is one of those shows that I wouldn’t [laughing] mind being in it for free every night. It is so incredible and doesn’t feel like a job at all.

MG: What made you connect with the character, ‘Girl’?
DDW: She is very interesting. She has this sort of cold exterior, I guess you can say. She’s hard to read. She has these walls up to protect herself. She also has a very warm and inquisitive side about the world and about people. She really believes that music can save us and change us. I share that as well in fact. Music is a universal language that can touch anyone no matter what we speak. I love how she expresses herself through the music and playing the piano. I have played piano most of my life but never have done it in a job. So that was an amazing thing for me to explore. Also singing with everyone on the stage as a band, I have never done that before either. It all has this kind of magical quality to it in playing her for this show.

MG: What is your most challenging aspect of the role?
DDW: When I first came to the part it was the piano. It was getting over the nerves of playing in front of people. So that was it initially, but now being that we are on stage pretty much the whole show once you are in it you are in it. I quite enjoy that. Stamina wise that was quite a challenge to get going but now it is something that I really love about it. You step up on stage in the beginning and sort of don’t breathe until curtain call. In a way it is a challenge but it is a great thing as well.

MG: The music is so amazing, which song is your favorite to hear and/or sing?
DDW: I have to say my favorite is “Falling Slowly” but the reprise version, which is at the very end. The song is beautiful anyway but the reprise in particular has everyone joining in and singing. It has that swell moment that is just incredible. So that one to listen to and also play, it is just such a highlight for me. Also since it comes at the end of the show, there is this great build up and then you have that moment.

MG: How you had a chance to meet Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová?
DDW: No, we haven’t met that yet. I know they were very involved with the show’s process when it first started. I am pretty sure at some point within the show’s run we are going to get to meet them. But we only recently just started touring, so hopefully soon.

MG: Is there a city that you are looking forward to visit most on the tour?
DDW: I haven’t been around America at all, so I just very excited to see all of it really. I have never been to the West Coast and we hit there next summer, so I am really looking forward that. We are currently in Chicago and it has been amazing so far, so I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Here is the rest of the tour schedule! Check it out when it comes to a city near you!

Chicago, IL (Oriental Theatre)
Oct. 9 – 27, 2013

Philadelphia, PA (Academy of Music)
Oct. 29 – Nov. 10, 2013

Cleveland, OH (Playhouse Square)
Nov. 12 – 24, 2013

Toronto, ON (Royal Alexandra Theatre)
Nov. 26, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014

Boston, MA (Boston Opera House)
Jan. 7 – 19, 2014

Durham, NC (Durham Performing Arts Center)
Jan. 21 – 26, 2014

Orlando, FL (Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre)
Jan. 28 – Feb. 2, 2014

Miami, FL (The Adrienne Arsht Center)
Feb. 4 – 9, 2014

Tampa, FL (Straz Center)
Feb. 11 – 16, 201

Fort Myers, FL (Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall)
Feb. 18 – 23, 2014

New Haven, CT (Shubert Theater)
Feb. 26 – March 2, 2014

Atlanta, GA (Fox Theatre)
March 4 – 9, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA (Benedum Center)
March 11 – 16, 2014

Rochester, NY (Auditorium Theatre)
March 18 – 23, 2014

Buffalo, NY (Shea’s Performing Arts Center)
March 25 – 30, 2014

Minneapolis, MN (Orpheum Theatre)
April 1 – 6, 2014

St. Louis, MO (The Fox Theatre)
April 8 – 20, 2014

Des Moines, IA (Civic Center of Greater Des Moines)
April 22 – 27, 2014

Tempe, AZ (ASU Gammage)
April 29 – May 4, 2014

Denver, CO (Buell Theatre)
May 6 – 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (Smith Center for the Performing Arts)
May 20 – 25, 2014

Seattle, WA (The Paramount Theatre)
May 27 – June 8, 2014

Portland, OR (Keller Auditorium)
June 10 – 15, 2014

San Francisco, CA (Curran Theatre)
June 17 – July 13, 2014

Los Angeles, CA (Pantages Theatre)
July 15 – Aug. 10, 2014

San Diego, CA (Civic Center)
Aug. 12 – 17, 2014

Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Hall)
Aug. 19 – 31, 2014

Charlotte, NC (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)
Sept. 30 – Oct. 5, 2014

Fred Durst talks about touring and new album “Stampede of the Disco Elephants”

Fred Durst is the singer for the band Limp Bizkit who burst on to the music scene in 1997 with their ground breaking album “Three Dollar Bill” which featured a unique blend of hip hop meets heavy metal. The band is set to release its 7th studio album titled “Stampede of the Disco Elephants” later this year and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Fred about the release, working with Lil’ Wayne and the bands current tour plans.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us an update on the bands upcoming album?
Fred Durst: We are putting the final touches on it right now. I hope to find a nice little spot at the end of summer to put it out. We recently put out the song “Ready to Go” from the album which is one of the more urban songs we did with Lil’ Wayne. The album is kind of a nod to the old days of the band’s sound. There are a lot of cool riffs that sound monstrous. The album is very inspired and honest.

AL: What were the recording sessions like for the album?
FD: Once we signed with Cash Money Records they told to just be ourselves and do what we do. That empowered us with the freedom to be the band that’s passionate about playing live. We went in to the studio with no preconceived notions about delivering a pop hit or whatever. We went in to the raunchiest place we could find in the valley of Los Angeles and just wrote. Things came out so fast. It was all new material that we tracked. We were all very excited and inspired by the sessions. There was one song that was written many years ago that we re-recorded. It was a song we weren’t sure we wanted to put on the record but it was one we always loved. Maybe after we hear it mastered and as a whole we will put it on the record but other than that all the material is new.

AL: With the exception of the band’s first album was this the first time that you were allowed the freedom to record what you wanted?
FD: With a band’s first album no one knows what’s going to happen. The band just goes in and makes a record but, after awhile you are forced to start chasing radio hits. The corporate thing starts to take over and things start to become about making money. We never thought like that. We were just these weird guys that when we got together this thing comes out. Sometimes we come up with a fun song or a really intense song we just don’t know. But when you have to start chasing hits you have this pressure hanging over your head. That was all gone this time around. It was incredible having that pressure off. We didn’t see this coming

so it was a great surprise for us. We have some popular songs we can play live but for the most part moving forward we are making the music we want to.

AL: Do you find it harder going back out on the road after an extended break and performing new material to crowds that may predominately only want to hear the bands hits?
FD: The live shows are what we are all about. It has always been about that and making

everyone happy. The set list is another story in its self. We don’t make a set list to make people happy we just go with the flow similar to what a DJ does. It’s about the momentum and the feeling of the night. The tour we are currently on we have been doing a lot of deep cuts that fans have come out in droves to hear. Going forward with the new material we want the fans to have fun be we also want to have fun as well. If we go too deep in to some material that throws us off as well. We are not self indulgent and are going to stand up there playing a song we think is great while the audience goes and gets a beer. We want to keep the fans engaged.

AL: How did the collaboration with you and Lil’ Wayne come about?
FD: That was awesome and something that was very organic. A lot of people who don’t know Lil’ Wayne don’t realize he is this skateboarding guy who loves rock music. Being he is one of the biggest rappers in the world a lot of people wouldn’t think he was a rock guy. We did that collaboration before we had signed to Cash Money and that was really what sparked our signing to that label. Wayne is a great guy and the entire experience has been great. It’s a total rock track with an urban undertone that is just fun.

AL: When that opportunity came to sign with Cash Money, did the band have any reservations being they are mostly known as a hip-hop label?
FD: Not for me. The band has always had an urban element and after speaking with Birdman and Slim they got it. They wanted rock and they wanted Limp Bizkit to be their first rock act. They wanted us to be able to do what we love. I knew it be perceived as different but for me that was good news and a good polarizing element. It’s great to be able to do what we do and not be forced in to a certain direction. I think for the most part everything is going really smooth.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands tour plans?
FD: We have been touring all over the world since Wes came back. Things have just kept growing however we haven’t hit the states since 2001. We wanted to get our feet on the ground and go back and play the places we started out in. We wanted to see and touch our core fans and have the feeling we did when we first started out. Things have been going good and this run takes us through June. From there we will be hitting Europe and Russia before coming back to the States for a little bit bigger package tour. We want to keep connecting with the fans and our origin. We love playing and being on stage. It’s not the get rich business anymore it’s the be grateful business. We get to go out and do what we love to do.

AL: Do you have any other projects outside of the band we can be watching for?
FD: Everyone once in awhile some cool opportunities come up for me to do some acting. I have been doing some directing lately as well as a lot of writing. The stuff I am working on now is a bit different from my first features. These are a little bit bigger movies than “The Long Shots” and “Educating Charlie Banks”. I also sold some television shows recently including one to Showtime which we have been working on lately. Being able to be creative is what I love. There’s so much that goes in to every second of a movie that people often don’t realize and I just love all that stuff.

AL: Do you ever find similarities between writing songs and writing movie scripts?
FD: No not really. I have tried to marry the two though. I think audio and visual go together somehow in this world but music is a different thing for me. I am always in the moment when I am writing lyrics. I am under the pressure of the microphone when I am recording. I don’t necessarily sit around with a pad and write songs. I listen to the music and when I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore because I am feeling something or there is a continuity I push the record but and just go. With a script every page is a minute and there is a formula. Things need to happen in specific areas. For me I think they are very different processes.

Lita Ford talks about music, touring and album “Living Like a Runaway”

Lita Ford got her first taste of success with the 70’s all-girl group The Runaways. After the groups break up Lita ventured out as a solo act in the 1980’s penning such hits as “Kiss Me Deadly” and the legendary duet “Close My Eye’s Forever” featuring Ozzy Osbourne. In 2012 Lita released a new album titled “Living Like a Runaway” which has thrust her back in to the spotlight. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Lita recently about her career and her upcoming spring/summer tour.

Adam Lawton: In the past year or so your career has undergone a resurgence. What do you think has caused that?
Lita Ford: My career has taking this leap for I think many reasons. I had been in the industry for many years and then I disappeared. In the time I was away raising my two boys people still hadn’t forgotten who I was. I am a part of the soundtrack to people’s lives. That’s something that just never goes away. Coming back I feel like I am on a more adult level now and the music has matured.

AL: Personally what do you think has been the biggest change in the industry from when you first started in 1975 to how things are now in 2013?
LF: Things have kind of come around in one big circle. That seems to be how a lot of things are. I started my career during the punk era with bands like The Sex Pistols, Blondie and The Ramones. That was a really awesome time. That led in to bands like Van Halen and Motley Crue which was the beginning of another heavy metal era. This new era of heavy metal was similar in how it came about in the way Black Sabbath did in the mid/late 60’s. The metal in the 80’s was a new kind of metal but still metal.

AL: Do you feel the perception of women in heavy metal music has changed it all since the 80’s?
LF: I think it has to a certain extent. It hasn’t changed 100% and is not completely normal. It has progressed and moved down the path a little bit further. When I started there were no real true female metal icons. There was no one to look up to as an artist. These days I have teenagers looking up to me for encouragement and inspiration. Now I am their icon. I never had something like that. I had people I looked up to like Richie Blackmore and Jimi Hendrix but no females.

AL: You have been heavily involved with Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. Can you tell us how you got involved with that?
LF: The program was started by David Fishof and he invited me to be a part of it. I ended up going down to speak with David and I also got to check everything out. I had a blast! The whole thing was just awesome. I am glad to be a part of it. I am a great teacher which I think comes from being a mom. There is no better teacher than a mom. I get to try and bring out the best in each of the campers who attend the program no matter what level they are at which is really cool.

AL: Can you tell us about you upcoming Spring/Summer tour?
LF: I will be going to Australia which I am very excited about. I love going there. The aussie’s are fucking nuts! I love them. We are also going to be hitting Scandinavia which is another really great place. It’s so beautiful there.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have in the works?
LF: We just finished work on a video for the song “Mother” which should be coming out around Mother’s Day. Vicki Blue who played bass in The Runaway’s did an incredible cinematic work on this video. It is very heartfelt and you will probably need a tissue by the time you are done watching it. I am working on a book for Harper-Collins that right now is still in the early stages of things. The idea of the book is the story of a female rocker who faces a number of ups and downs. It’s a different take on Rock and Roll. Most of the books that are out there now are all based on guys. I have quite a few stories from my career that can be written about so the book will be very real. B.C. Rich just released the first Lita Ford signature Warlock guitar which is available at most Guitar Centers around the country and we are also planning some more U.S. shows with Vince Neil and Bret Michaels.

The Machine's Tahrah Cohen talks about touring and performing Pink Floyd

Tahrah Cohen is co-founder and drummer for the Pink Floyd cover band, The Machine. The band is celebrating 25 years of performing and spreading the music of Pink Floyd. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tahrah about the music and what she loves most.

Mike Gencarelli: You and Joe Pascarell founded The Machine back in 1988. What has been the highlight of the past 25 years?
Tahrah Cohen: We have just been having a great time touring all over the world. We have been to so many wonderful places and just love spreading the music to them.

MG: Given that you guys play the entire Pink Floyd back catalog – from well-known classics like “Comfortably Numb” to obscurities like “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”, is it difficult swing back and forth through the songs?
TC: Everyone in the band really knows how to do their part really well. Whether they are playing a David Gilmour part or singing a Roger Waters part it is not a problem. We are really experts for these situations at this point.

MG: Pink Floyd was known for their elaborate stage shows that, over time, evolved into massive-scale light shows and stage sets that were really ideal for large venues like outdoor stadiums. In terms of The Machine’s live performance, how important is the visual part of the

show? Do you feel that if your audience doesn’t get to see the circular-screen film projections, lasers bouncing all over the place and pigs flying that they’ll come away disappointed?
TC: It is very important. We use the visuals as accentuations of the show. Our focus has always been the music. We do not neglect the visuals. We have the video and lasers with an elaborate light show. Our shows do come with the visual aspect but our focus is the music.

MG: Are there any Floyd songs that The Machine will not play and, if so, why?
TC: Some of the earlier music, when Pink Floyd was developing their own sound is a little amateur. It doesn’t really stand the test of time like most of the material will. Just like any musician. We stay away from certain era’s of their development but still play from their first album to their last.

MG: What are your personal favorites? And what is the one song that everybody in the band collectively enjoys playing most?
TC: Personally, I love playing “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, the whole thing – all parts. I love it. We have probably played it 2500 times, easily. Every time it is on the set list, I am still excited to play it. The crowd always goes crazy for “Comfortably Numb” every time. We go crazy for anything on “Animals”. People that love Pink Floyd love it all.

MG: Over the course of the band’s career, how have the audiences that you play to changed?
TC: They have changed as we have changed. We’ve gotten older and they have gotten older. But their are also parts of our audience has have gotten younger, as well. There is a whole new generation of Pink Floyd fans under 20 years old and they are coming now to see us.

MG: What do you (and the other members) do when you’re not out there playing Floyd, both musically and non-musically?
TC: We all have other musical projects. We are all active with other bands and shows.

MG: Finally…which one’s Pink: Roger or David? 😉
TC: Ah…that is up to you to decide [laughs].

Robbie Wyckoff talks about touring with Roger Waters and "The Wall Live"

Robbie Wyckoff is Los Angeles based session vocalist and recording artist whose voice can be heard on numerous films, television shows, hit records and national jingles. Robbie has recorded and performed with artists like Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion and Clint Black. He has been touring with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters for the on-going “The Wall Live” tour since 2010 and starts up again this July. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robbie about touring with the legendary Roger Waters and what is planned next for the tour.

Mike Gencarelli: I know it is a typical question but I have to ask, what is it like working with a legend like Roger Waters?
Robbie Wyckoff: For me it is like a dream come true. Growing up I always listened to Pink Floyd, especially “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall”. I am thrilled to think that I get to sing with Roger now, since I was and am such a fan. It is pretty amazing.

MG: Can you take us through your first meeting with him?
RW: First of all I have to give a big thank you to Jon Joyce referring me to Roger. But after round 2 of the auditioning process at James Guthrie’s studio, I got a call back from James and he said that “Roger really loves your vocals and wants you to fly to New York to meet him and record “Mother.”He was at one of the studios in NYC where they had been working on the visuals for the Wall projections. I walked into the studio and there he was working away. It was very surreal. I shook his hand and told him that it was an honor and a pleasure to meet him and thanked him for everything. Then he said “Let’s show Robbie what we have been working on.”

MG: After over 200 performances touring with “The Wall Live”, what drives you for each performance?
RW: Well first it is just the music – the songs, they just never get old. I have been in several bands and sometimes you have to sing certain songs and you dread it. With this the music is so timeless and classic and the melodies are so beautiful. For me it never gets old, it is a treat to be able to sing them. Also just being up on top of the wall and getting that wonderful 360 degree view is just spectacular. I would love to get a chance to film a little up there to show what it is like. It is just absolutely amazing.

MG: Having been touring with this show since 2010 pretty consistently, how does that weigh on you?
RW: Roger treats us very well. He makes it very comfortable. I have so many people says to me “You’ve been touring for the last two years, it must be so grueling…” and I just say “No, it is really not”. We stay in the best hotels and fly in private jets, so it is a really comfortable tour.

MG: You are taking over vocals for David Gilmour; do you consider that a daunting task?
RW: No not really, I am a big fan of Gilmour and I have a lot of respect for him and his talent. I feel like this is a custom fit gig for me because my vocal range is very similar to David’s. But when we found out that David was going to show up sometime during the first leg of the tour, it did make me a little nervous. He ended up coming to a couple of our London shows in 2010. The first night he watched the show and the second night he sat in with us and sang the chorus’ of “Comfortably Numb.” He also joined us on the final song “Outside The Wall,” along with Nick Mason who played tambourine. Man, it was such a thrill to be on stage that night standing next to the surviving members of Pink Floyd: Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour. After the show David paid me a nice complement and said “you sound great and I thought that was me up there singing.”

MG: I have always wanted to know when the wall goes up; what is like performing behind it?
RW: If people could only see what we are doing behind the wall, there is some pretty funny stuff going on. We have to put this safety net over the band, to protect the us from falling bricks at the end of the show when the wall comes down. The net is probably about 12 inches over my head. On this particular night there was some static electricity going on and little did I know that my hair was sticking straight up like a unicorn. So there I am totally focused on singing “Hey You” and the whole band is laughing around me and Roger is pointing at me laughing. [laughs] I thought I was doing something wrong. Finally someone took a photo and showed me what they were laughing at. Too funny! It’s stuff like that and maybe a few other practical jokes that the background singers are famous for. We have a blast at every concert.

MG: In July 2013, you start the wave of the tour in Europe. Where are you looking forward to going most?
RW: Just being back in Europe firstly and getting to hit some of the markets that we didn’t before. We’ll be going to Turkey, Rome, Vienna and several other European cities. You can check the tour schedule at www.rogerwaters.com. I’m really looking forward to playing Wembley Stadium. That is going to be amazing! I have family in London so it will be good to see them.

MG: Can we expect a Blu-ray release of the concert in the near future?
RW: There have been talks of Roger doing a DVD release of “The Wall Live”. But I’m not sure when it will be released. When we were in Athens, Greece, we did three days of filming of the live shows and then three more days of close-ups. They hired a large movie crew and there were about 20 plus cameras. Not to mention that when we were in Buenos Aries, we sold out nine shows over there and they documented and filmed every aspect of those nine shows as well. From backstage to the show days and everything in between.

MG: Can you give a plug for your upcoming album, “Steppin Out”?
RW: My new album “Steppin’ Out” is a Big Band/Jazz Standards album and I’m very happy with it. I’ve always loved to sing that style of music and was just finishing it up before I got the tour with Roger Waters. I had all of the vocals recorded and all the tracks recorded but had to put it on hold until we finished our first U.S. tour. I just recently signed a co-publishing agreement for that album which I’m very excited about. It was produced by Willie Murillo and he also did several of the arrangements. I’m very privileged to have some of the world’s finest musicians playing on it and I’m very thankful to each and everyone of them. I have five original songs on the album. Three written by Tony Hayes and another one written by Jennifer Paige and one I wrote with Willie Murillo called “Kiss Me Again.” There are also some other great classic cover tunes by Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire and others. Now that the deal is in place, we are working on a marketing plan and should have a release scheduled later this year.

All photos courtesy of Michael Becker, Todd Tyler, Robbie Wyckoff

Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna talks about touring with Rockstar Mayhem Festival

Joey Belladonna is the lead singer for the seminal NY thrash band Anthrax. Media Mikes caught up with Joey at this year’s Mayhem Festival where we talked about how the crowds have changed over the year and the bands recent work on several cover songs.

Adam Lawton: What has been the best experience so far on this summer’s tour?
Joey Belladonna: I would have to say the new kids. We are running in to a whole lot of different fans. There are young people, old people, new fans and old fans. It’s been really great. The whole atmosphere of this tour has been quite a bit different. It has a carnival like feel to it but it’s still a heavy metal/rock show.

AL: How have shows like Mayhem changed from the band first started playing on them to now?
JB: I think the buzz has started to pick up more. People have started taking notice that we as a band are still strong and better than ever. We aren’t a manufactured something that is just out here for nothing. We don’t mess around and the new material live is brutal.

AL: How did you go about making the set list for this run of shows?
JB: The real hard part was covering are catalog in 40 minutes. We have some songs that are pretty long. We had to try a few different things to fit in to that time frame. I think we have done pretty well touching on all aspects of our music. Sadly there is just no winning if someone wants to hear a specific song but I think we did the best we could with the allotted time.

AL: Can you give us any updates about the cover album that has been in the works?
JB: There have been some songs recorded but I can’t tell you much more than that. I haven’t really started doing vocal tracks for it yet. Things are still sort of lingering with what will become of it and if deadlines can be met.

AL: What are the plans for Anthrax after the Mayhem Festival wraps up?
JB: We will be hitting Canada and some portions of the U.S. That will take us through mid October. Then we will be back out with Testament and Death Angel for the third time around. Starting in November we will be out with Motorhead in Europe as the support act. That should be pretty cool.

AL: Anthrax did a lot of recording at the legendary Pyramid Studios in Ithaca, NY. What is your take on what’s happening with the city trying to destroy that building/business?
JB: Alex was out and saw us the other night. It awful what is happening with that situation. I can’t even imagine being told one day that you have to move out of your house because it’s supposedly unsafe. I didn’t really know what to say when we were discussing it. I passed along some info and I hope everything works out.

 

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