Scythia’s Dave Khan talks about upcoming album “Into the Storm”

Dave Khan is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the mythical Canadian metal band Scythia. The group recently released a hysterical music video for the song “Bear Claw Tavern” which has been racking up hits via YouTube.com. Media Mikes spoke with Dave recently about the formation of the band, their upcoming album titled “Into the Storm” and how the idea for their successful video came about.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on how the band started?
Dave Kahn: The band began in 2008 with me and a guy I went to college with. It really all started out as a joke. We quickly found out after doing some shows that we had some catchy material that people liked. We decided to keep some of the fantasy elements we were using but also to become a bit more serious about doing the band. We have a good selection of rowdy tavern music and progressive metal songs because we suffer from a bit of an identity crisis at times. (Laughs) We try and unite those two things with a common denominator be it a melody or something that ties the song to the band.

AL: How did you go about finding members who were interested in doing a band like this?
DK: The funny thing about that is it never happened through the usual channels like musician postings or things like that. When we did put out postings we never found anyone who was on the same page with what we wanted to do. It was more just us getting out there and doing are thing. Initially it was people from college which was a bit chaotic at times as we all came from different backgrounds. Everyone was throwing in different styles which caused a lot of pull. When someone left the group I tried to replace them with someone I knew. I would try and find people who were from outside of our group and familiar with the band. I was looking for people who didn’t look like typical metal heads.

AL: What was it that interested in the fantasy concept?
DK: I have grown up with a great love for fantasy books, movies and games. It has always been a secret side life of mine. I felt the band was the best medium for giving that side of me some attention. I wanted to get up there and creatively show off these ideas I had in my head. Within the last few years in popular culture it has become ok to be a nerd. People are now embracing fantasy stuff and making it socially acceptable and cool.

AL: Can you give us some background on the bands upcoming album?
DK: People wanting to check out the new album can stream a couple of the songs via our band camp page and on CD Baby. We don’t’ want everyone to hear the entire album just yet as we want to make sure that info about the album is out there and we want to have a solid release date. We are almost set to start taking pre-orders and currently have two singles out. “Bear Claw Tavern” and “Into the Storm” are available now.

AL: How does the creative process work for you guys/girl?
DK: I and Terry are the primary story/song writers. This album has had more collaboration than our previous ones as in the past we would write on our own and then bring things together and add in the instrumentation. This time Terry camped out at my house and we both sat in front of my pro tools rig and we did everything together. This was far more collaborative. The other two band members provided input as well but they didn’t do as much of the creative work.

AL: Tell us how the idea for the “Bear Claw Tavern” video came together?
DK: On our last release we had sort of a drinking song on there called “For the Bear”. That song got people excited especially when we were doing shows in North America. People really got in to it and I knew we needed to do something big. At the time we were shooting a video that I think we paid $250 for and after that we said that for the next video we wanted to shoot one at a tavern. The more we thought about it we realized that people who watch videos want to watch ones that are good. We knew we didn’t want to do another video like the one we had just done. I went and talked to Director Richard Olak because I knew he had an idea about fantasy. Now when I started this I never realized how much things could cost. Richard brought me up to speed on things and I explained to him that this was something we had to do. He brought up the idea of crowd sourcing and ultimately that is what we did. We raised about $2500 through Indiegogo.com. That money allowed us to get a start on things so we gave it to Richard and told him to just run with it. Just before we were set to start shooting Richard came to me and told me that the only time the tavern could give was from 12am to 12pm on a holiday. He told me that he had to basically ditch his entire story line due to the tavern only being available at that one time. That was something that I didn’t want to hear. (Laughs) Richard told me he had all the actors and crew coming and that they would figure something out on the fly. I was a bit hesitant that this was going to happen without any issues. I ended up being completely wrong as things went great! We got there and Richard told us to just rock our asses of. That’s what we did and they were able to get our stuff done in about 3 takes. We saw some of the characters on set beforehand but didn’t really have an idea what they were going to be doing. After taking a break we came back to set and everything in the place had changed. There was a little person running around with a hot dog trying to give it to a wizard! (Laughs) I knew then that the video was going to be really cool. We sat and watched the rest of the shoot which was really great. Everyone who worked on this video was really awesome.

AL: Besides the release of “Into the Storm” what other plans does the band have going in to 2014?
DK: We are in the process of booking a tour which will take us through Canada and the United States. Unfortunately it is going to keep us more towards the western half of those countries for now. We are also working on some festival in the east which will hopefully give way to some shows in Philadelphia and New York. After the release of the “Bear Claw Tavern” video we have been getting requests to go all over. We would love to make all those requests happen but in order to drive to some of these places is not always feasible as it’s quite of an investment. We are also looking to tour Europe this year as well.
For more info on Dave and his band Scythia you can check out their official website at www.scythia.ca

MMA Fighter “Suga” Rashad Evans talks about training for upcoming UFC 161

Photo Credit: Jerico Angeles

Rashad Evans better known as “Suga” is a former UFC Light Heavy Weight Champion who on June 15th will return to the ring after a three-month break to fight Dan Henderson for a chance at the #1 contender position in the Light Heavy Weight bracket. Media Mikes caught up with Rashad recently to discuss his preparation for the fight and to see if he has any plans to appear in more feature films and television series.

Adam Lawton: What initially interested you in trying out for season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter”?
Rashad Evans: I watched the first season of the show and thought it was something that I needed to try. I knew Josh Koschek from wrestling and through his work at the University of Buffalo. He told me he was getting into and after seeing him on the show I knew it was something I had to do. The real opportunity came when Dan Severn was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I was affiliated with Dan at the time and he told me that the UFC was looking at one of his guys as they wanted a heavy weight. Dan told me he thought I would never be a heavy weight but I asked them to still let me try. He said that he would give them a heads up about me but I would still have to do the video and all that stuff. I did all that and I guess they liked what they saw so I went to Las Vegas and did the try out.

AL: You have been one of the few coaches on the show that have been on both sides of things. What was it like going back to a show you won but this time as a coach?
RE: Going back as a coach was a little bit of a look at how far I have come along in my career. When you are riding a roller coaster you very rarely get a chance to look and see what is going on. Prior to being on the show initially I didn’t have any sort of perspective. Going back as a coach I was able to see where I came from and look in to the eyes of the guys competing and see their mind set. It was really cool to experience all those emotions again and quite refreshing actually.

AL: Have you been trying any new training techniques to physically get ready for your fight with Dan Henderson on June 15th?
RE: I actually haven’t tried anything new. I have more so gone back to the old way of doing things. I have gotten out of my grinding mode which is more of a mindset than actually grinding my body down. I am doing those extra little things that I have to do to make sure that I am ready for the fight. Everybody has different things they do to get ready but I have to make sure I am doing what I need to do. It may be getting up at 5am to get my running in or to be at the gym hitting the heavy bag after practice. Those are the things I have to do and the sacrifices I need to make to ensure I am ready for the fight.

AL: How have you been preparing mentally knowing that this could be one of your last shots to contend for the title?
RE: I haven’t tried to put a lot pressure on myself or putting myself in the “do or die” mode. I know I don’t want to go out losing 3 matches in a row. I don’t want to back myself in to a corner where I am afraid to try and do things. However I do know there is a sense of urgency to go out there and put on a good show. I also am putting a sense of urgency on my performances to come. Once you see behind the curtain things can be a little bit disheartening. Having been in the UFC for awhile now and seeing how things happen it can kind of not motivate you as your going through the motions of things. You have to be able to find something within yourself that allows you to challenge yourself independently from any chance to fight for a title. You have to have the will to go in that ring in

Photo Credit: Jerico Angeles

fight. When I first started it wasn’t about television or people reading about things I have done it was about me going out there and having fun. Somewhere along the line I had gotten out of that.

AL: Do you find taking extended time off between fights makes it harder to want to get back in the ring?
RE: Yes, It does challenge you more after taking an extended break. When I came back prior to the Tito Ortiz fight I was really pumped up and didn’t have a lot of down time or distractions. When I came back for the Jones fight I had a lot of stuff going on at that time. I was going through a divorce and all the things that come with that. It was a really difficult time in my life. The last 2-3 years of my life have been hard and I have been tested both emotionally and spiritually. In order to get past that stuff I have had to put myself in the right frame of life and competing.

AL: When you’re not in the ring you have ventured in to both television and movies. Do you see yourself wanting to do more of that after your career in fighting is over?
RE: I would be very happy if that is what I am able to do after my career in fighting is over. I would love to do television and be able to give the fans my perspective on fights. That is something that is fun to do. It is also a challenge. It is a fun challenge and I love this sport. It has saved my life and to be able to stay close to it in some capacity would be really amazing.

Shirley Jones reflects on her career, musicials and plans for upcoming memoirs

Depending on your age you’ll have different memories of Shirley Jones. For my parents era they will be of her roles in some of the most popular movie musicals of all time, including “Oklahoma,” “Carousel” and “The Music Man.” If you’re my age you remember her best as Shirley Partridge, working mom and vocalist on the popular television series “The Partridge Family.” Young people today remember her as the randy Grace in the comedy “Grandma’s Boy.” No matter your memory, it’s safe to say that Shirley Jones has had one of the most incredible careers in the history of entertainment.

Born outside Pittsburgh, a lucky bus ride put Ms. Jones on the path to stardom. Intending to become a veterinarian, she instead walked into an audition for the musical team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. So impressed was the casting director that he called both gentlemen at their homes and had them come listen to her sing. Two weeks later she was on Broadway and the rest is history. Twice married (to the late Jack Cassidy, father of her sons Shaun, Patrick and Ryan) and currently celebrating almost 36 years with comedian Marty Ingels, Shirley Jones has certainly lived an incredible life.

Media Mikes spoke to Ms. Jones recently in conjunction with two upcoming events. The first is a benefit screening of the film “Carousel” in Omaha on May 24th. The second is the upcoming release of her autobiography to be published next month by Gallery Books.

Mike Smith: How does a young girl from Pennsylvania end up becoming an Academy Award winning actress?
Shirley Jones: (laughs) It’s a stroke of luck. I was very fortunate at my first audition in New York. I was actually on my way to college to become a veterinarian. I wasn’t going to be in show business I was going to be a vet. I had graduated from a small town high school. I went to an audition for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s casting director and he called both Rodgers and Hammerstein to hear me. I sang for them and two weeks later I was in my first Broadway show. That’s how fast it happened. I spent three months in the Broadway production of “South Pacific.” Then they flew me to California to screen test for the role of Laurey in “Oklahoma,” and that’s how that happened. And it all happened in less than a year.

MS: And they say show business isn’t easy!
SJ: (laughs) I know. But you know something, I’m not sure that could happen today. It was just the time…where I was…it was one of those things that happen rarely. I was the only person put under personal contract to Rodgers and Hammerstein. I was never under contract to a studio.

MS: What was that experience like…to have your career guided by two genuine legends?
SJ: incredible. It truly was incredible. It was so great for me. I did three shows while under contract with them. By the time I got into movies the studio system was over so in a way it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because then I went on to do everything, from television to films and everything else. And Rodgers and Hammerstein were so wonderful to be with and work with. They produced the movie version of “Oklahoma,” not the studio. We did some shooting at MGM but the majority of it was shot at Nogales, Arizona. They were on the set every day for seven months.

MS: You’ve appeared in some classic movie musicals. “Oklahoma.” “The Music Man.” “Carousel.” Do you have a favorite among them?
SJ: My favorite score is “Carousel.” Without a doubt, of all the things I’ve done, that’s my favorite. I think it’s some of the most beautiful music ever written. In fact, Richard Rodgers always claimed it was his finest work. When I perform in concert I always open with “If I Loved You” and I close with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” To me it’s the most beautiful music. The movie is wonderful, though I thought it could have been a little bit better. We had a very old director (Henry King, director of films like “Twelve O’Clock High” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”) but a great cast. Frank Sinatra was scheduled to play Billy Bigelow. We had done all of the rehearsals…even all of the pre-recordings, which is what we did back then. We had spent three months in pre-production. We were going to shoot the film in two separate processes – regular Cinemascope and Cinemascope 55 – and when Frank got to the set in Maine he asked why there were two cameras. Henry told him we would be shooting each scene twice. Frank told him, “I signed to do one movie, not two,” got in his car and drove back to the airport. So I got Gordon MacRae on the phone, who was in Lake Tahoe doing a nightclub act with his wife, and I said, “how would you like to play Billy Bigelow in “Carousel,” and he said “give me three days I have to lose ten pounds!”

MS: What a great call. I’m a big Sinatra fan but I can’t see anyone but Gordon MacRae in that part.
SJ: Me too. And that voice. Nobody sang like Gordon. He had the best voice of all time.

MS: You won an Oscar for your role in the film “Elmer Gantry,” a role many of your musical fans may not have expected to see you in. How did that part come along?
SJ: It was an incredible role. Burt Lancaster fought for me to play that part. By the time I’d finished doing musical motion pictures – “Music Man” hadn’t come out yet – Hollywood had stopped making musicals pretty much because the European market wasn’t very receptive to them. My career was pretty much over. When you were a singer at that time they didn’t consider you an “actress” so to speak. I went and did some television, which was looked at as a big step down for movie actors. They were doing some wonderful dramatic shows like “Playhouse 90” and “The Philco Playhouse.” But I had some wonderful roles. I had a great part opposite Red Skelton in a “Playhouse 90” show called “The Big Slide” and Burt Lancaster happened to have seen me in that part, playing an alcoholic “Sunshine” girl in the Mack Sennet era. And he loved my performance. And after he saw me he fought for me to play the role of Lulu Bains in “Gantry.” He called me while I was in San Francisco doing a nightclub act with my husband Jack Cassidy. I pick up the phone and I hear, “Hello, Shirley, this is Burt Lancaster.” I said, “sure it is” and I hung up! (laughs) Thank heaven he called back and said, “No, this IS Burt Lancaster.” He told me to go get the Sinclair Lewis novel “Elmer Gantry” and look at the role of Lulu Bains. On your day off he asked me to fly to Los Angeles and meet with the films writer/director, Richard Brooks. Of course I did as he asked. I flew in and met with Richard Brooks, who originally did not want me for the part. He had somebody else in mind. He was the writer/director but Burt was the co-producer and he was very definite about having me play Lulu, which was so great. I got the part. Richard Brooks would always shoot his films in sequence so I wasn’t due on set until the middle of the film. But Burt would have me come on set every day to watch the other actors and to watch how Richard Brooks directed. On my first day of shooting I had to do the hardest scene in the film – standing in the house of prostitution and telling the other girls how I had met Elmer Gantry – and I didn’t have one bit of direction from Brooks. He sat in his chair smoking his pipe like I wasn’t even there. I went home that night in tears thinking he was going to fire me. I didn’t have to work the next day and they screened the rushes of what had been shot the day before. Brooks called me afterwards and said, “Shirley, I owe you an apology. Not only are you going to be great in the film but I predict you’re going to win an Academy Award.” And that’s how that happened. Burt was the one that got me the part and it changed the course of my whole career. My career would have been literally over had that not happened. But I went on to do 20 more feature films after that.

MS: And now, of course, it’s time for the obligatory “Partridge Family” question.
SJ: (laughing) Of course.
MS: What do you think it is about the show, and the music, that it is still popular some four decades after it first premiered?
SJ: Well, it was really a new definition of a television series. I was the first working mother on television. I was actually offered “The Brady Bunch” first and I said “no” because I didn’t want to go into a television series and play a regular mom taking the roast out of the oven. But when I was offered “The Partridge Family” I thought it was very unique. The fact that the whole family was working together musically but you still had stories about the kids and the mama…I loved the idea. And the fact that David, my stepson, was going to play my son was just great. It also gave me an opportunity to stay at home and raise my kids, which was something I couldn’t do making films because I was constantly away on locations everywhere. When they were younger I could take them with me but now they were school age, which was another reason I wanted to do a series. And the agents and managers at that time were all telling me, “Don’t do a television series, Shirley, because if it is successful you’ll BE that character for the rest of your life.” They were pretty right about that but it was still great for me to do.

MS: They don’t make as many film musicals today as in the past, but some of the them are pretty well done. “Les Miz” comes to mind as a recent achievement. What is your opinion on the movie musicals of today?
SJ: I thought “Les Miz” was wonderful, but I’d also seen the Broadway show and thought it was divine. Everybody in the film was wonderful. Hugh Jackman is one of my favorite performers. When I was visiting Australia he and I did bits from “Oklahoma” together on stage. (NOTE: Jackman starred as Curley in an Australian production of “Oklahoma” in the late 90’s) He was just great. But they don’t do that many musicals anymore, as you know. But the ones they do do I think have been successful.

MS: You’re publishing your memoirs next month. What was it like to sit down and review your career?
SJ: It wasn’t easy (laughs). In fact I thought “do I really want to do this?” But it came out very quickly and easy. All of the things that have happened I was fortunately able to recall for the most part. And all of the people that I worked with…I worked with some of the greatest movie stars of all time. I’ve had two incredible husbands. Both crazy, but wonderful. I’ve got three incredible sons and an incredible stepson. I’ve got twelve grandchildren now. And I was an only child which makes it even more interesting.

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).

Jason Christopher talks about slasher "Nobody Gets Out Alive" and upcoming "Monsters Within"

Jason Christopher is the writer/director of the 70/80’s slasher inspired “Nobody Gets Out Alive”. The film is in-your-face and will leave hardcore horror fans very happy. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason to chat about the film and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: You handled everything from editing to producer to writer and directing “Nobody Gets Out Alive”, tell us about the origin of this project?
Jason Christopher: The flick came about with my producer and I making a small no budget movie. We made this movie where we were the only crew and hired three actors and had a solid story. With no budget the movie didn’t turn out how we really wanted it to but we screened it sold out in 45 min and turned away 200 people. That’s when my producer was like, “lets get a real budget and make a real movie, what other scripts you got?” I wrote “NGOA” when I was 17 years old. Always wanted to write a slasher flick paying homage to the flicks I loved. It wasn’t until my Dad passed away randomly that I actually sat down and wrote it. I had a lot of hate and anger wrapped in my head from the incident so it motivated me to make the Hunter Isth character. We got 36k bucks and made the movie.

MG: Out of all those tasks which was the most challenging for you?
JC: I consider myself a director and editor. I like writing but I’m not a good writer, I’ll admit. I have more of a vision with my eye through a camera than I do with my hands on a laptop writing. I do the fun side of producing, putting things together. My producer does the money and business side of things. That’s just not my thing. But with writing it’s a draft of your story, directing you’re seeing the story come to life and another draft, and editing is the final draft to me.

MG: The film is a nice homage to 70/80’s slasher pics, tell about your inspiration?
JC: I was born in ’87 so I didn’t get to witness first hand of all the best slasher flicks. But I watched them all when I could. “The Prowler”, “Black Christmas” (74), “Friday The 13th Part 3”, “Halloween 2″(82). Those are my favorites and I think they show in the flick.

MG: The gore in the film is solid and doesn’t cut away; I commend you for not being afraid to offend!
JC: My Dad always told me to make something controversial. I did a lot in “NGOA” by trying to be unique with the kills. There’s a lot more I wanted to show but I didn’t. Was thinking of how a distributor would feel because I definitely didn’t want the movie to sit on a shelf and never get picked up. After seeing “A Serbian Film” I was like, “damn this dude really didn’t care”. Love that flick for that reason.

MG: Do you recall what was the film’s final body count?
I think there’s a total of eight on screen. In earlier drafts there were a bunch more but I took them out due to not having money in the budget. *Spoiler* Originally the two convenience store victims weren’t supposed to be in but after a few cuts of the movie we decided to go back and put them in.

MG: How did Clint Howard get involved with the film?
JC: My producer set that one up. We had enough money to get a small cameo in the flick. We were tossing around names and I randomly said, “Clint Howard!” He took it and ran with it and set the whole thing up. Clint was great, he’s such a smart-cool dude.

MG: What do you have line-up next?
JC: This script I wrote titled, “Monsters Within”. I really can’t say much, don’t even know if I’m allowed to announce the movie title but whatever. It’s what I’m definitely working on getting off the ground. Money is always a bitch and we’re definitely aiming way high for the budget. Got a great name for the lead attached and I’m so excited for this movie. It’s everywhere – sci-fi, horror, slasher, mystery. It’s pretty cool.

Brett Alan Coker Talks About His Upcoming Project (And How You Can Help)

I worked in the movie theatre business for 20 years. In that time I met hundreds of young adults who loved movies and planned to make them some day. But I’ve only had one who, at the age of 17, had already written no less than (5) full length feature films (and I still have the scripts to prove it). His name is Brett Alan Coker and he is now working with Kickstarter to help fund his next project. Hoping to get the word out, Coker talked with Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: Tell us about your new project.
Brett Alan Coker: The project is called “Lenexa (a docu•mys•tory)” and it’s a quasi-documentary. It is going to be done in the form of a documentary. But it is part truth and part fabrications. It is going to be a blend of coming-of-age tales from my own life and made-up stories of characters that I have created over the years with my writings.

MS: Sounds simple.
BAC: I really don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it is hopefully going to be a love letter to Kansas and to the city of Lenexa, as well as a home movie and a mystery.

MS: Talk about the story of “Lenexa”:
BAC: It is all predicated on an suburban legend of a treasure left behind by a group of guys that were petty thieves in the late 90’s. As the story unfolds you receive more and more information about the guys whom created and left the treasure, as well as deduce what the treasure actually is. If it in fact exists, what it is, and where it is. All the information needed to figure out the truth about mystery of the treasure will be in the documentary. But it is up to the viewer to piece it together.

MS: You’ve written several scripts. Have you filmed any of your work?
BAC: This project, hopefully, will be the first of many. Using the funds I am attempting to raise from Kickstarter.com I will be able to get the equipment and software I need to do this film, and many others after. I don’t know what you know about Kickstarter.com, but it’s a website that helps people crowd source funding for creative projects. It’s an all or nothing thing. I am looking for raise $5,000 by March 11th, 2013. And if I don’t hit that goal, I don’t get a dime. I could have $4,997.00, and if I don’t get the last $3.00 then…nothing.

To give a hand to Brett’s project, just visit:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thebac/lenexa-a-documystory-a-feature-length-film

Testament’s Alex Skolnick talks about upcoming book and working with Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Alex Skolnick is best known as the guitarist for the legendary thrash metal band Testament.  Alex also performs with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and his jazz group The Alex Skolnick Trio. Media Mikes caught up with Alex on the floor of the New York Comic Con to discuss his upcoming book.

Adam Lawton: What led to your decision of writing a book?
Alex Skolnick: I have wanted to write a book for years as I am a fan of books. For a long time I had thought that if the music thing ever got too difficult to deal with I would look to literature as an option. I would never slow down on music and guitar playing but the music business is tough. The business side of things is completely separate from the music itself. It is very challenging and there are a lot of perils. I actually have ideas for several books in my head. I think the first one that I wrote had to be very personal and about me. I have lots of other ideas and eventually would like to branch in to fiction. This first book is really sort of a memoir. I am inspired by memoir/autobiographical books. This book has been a long time coming but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I really buckled down to get this out. This is a legitimate story that I think will appeal to more than just guitar and rock fans. In the book I talk about the high levels of resistance I encountered as a youth. I come from an academic family and I really rebelled against them by joining a band in high school. That was an amazing and very defining moment for me. I played with Testament the first time from the ages of 16 to 23. During those years you do a lot of growing and a lot of musicians are just beginning their careers at 23. I did my first album at 18. The book segway’s from my childhood and adolescence into joining the band which would become Testament. Our story is a bit different as we didn’t have a hit record with a set career path. This was a band that every album was a struggle. We got a lot of respect from the fans but never really from the industry. We never had gold/platinum records or won a Grammy yet we existed.

AL: Did you find writing the book was similar in any ways to writing music?
AS: Yes. Absolutely! Physically the process is very different. I would imagine if you compared different types of sports and how you play them there are differences however there is also some overlap. You get in to similar zones. What I found between guitar playing and writing is there’s this inspiration process that happens. With music you can try and get inspired by listening to music or going to concerts. Sometimes the best ideas come when you pick up your instrument after not playing for awhile and a great idea comes out. You just have to capture those ideas and with writing it was very similar. Usually the ideas are completely un-presentable in their raw form. I would just write page after page of stuff I wouldn’t want anyone to ever see but after awhile within those pages some pretty cool stuff starts happening. From there you have to go back and pick the best parts. It’s the same thing with music. You are hopefully trying to create some result. You have to do this quite a few times and abandon some huge chunks. Though this can be hard it is very important to de-clutter things. This process requires a lot of humility.

AL: Will fans get to see you out on tour with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra this year?
AS: I won’t be going out with them this year. I just have so much going on with Testament right now. The band is scheduled to go to Europe and the UK this coming year for some shows and we are also booked to go to India as well. My book is going to be coming out right around this same time so I have some things in the works to promote that as well. I worked with Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 9 seasons which was great but it was a lot. Ultimately all the projects I have going on right now I am more closely tied to.

Check out video for Texas in July’s latest song “Cry Wolf” and pre-order the upcoming album now!

Texas In July has just premiered a brand new track today, called “Cry Wolf” from their self-titled album that will be out on October 9. This is the very first song revealed off of the new album. Texas In July is the follow up to their Equal Vision Records debut, One Reality, which was released in April 2011 and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard New Artist/Heatseekers Chart and also placed on the Billboard 200, Rock, Independent, and Hard Rock charts. The band has just returned from a tour in Australia, and will next headline a Canadian tour with support from labelmates Glass Cloud, before heading out on the full US Unshakeable Tour supporting For Today this fall. They will close out the year on a UK/European tour as direct support to Miss May I this winter. All upcoming tour dates can be seen here. Pre-orders for the new album also launched last week, with each bundle coming with an instant digital download of “Cry Wolf”.

Pre-order link – http://texasinjuly.merchnow.com/

 

C.J. Ramone talks about playing with Ramones and his upcoming album

C.J. Ramone was the man chosen to fill the vacant bass player position in the Ramones after Dee Dee Ramone left the band in 1989. C.J. remained in that role until 1996 when the band decided to retire. Since then C.J. has been involved in a number of different bands and projects and is set to release his first album under the name C.J. Ramone later this year. Media Mikes was very fortunate to be able to talk to C.J. about his time in the Ramones and about his upcoming album titled “Reconquista”

Adam Lawton: What were your thoughts on the Ramones documentary “End of the Century”?
CJ Ramone: I like it for the most part. It is a good film but I thought there was too much time dedicated to the “I Hate Johnny” fan club. That film actually started out much differently. By the time everyone gets their hands on it and asks for things to be taken out or added it never is really the movie maker’s vision anymore. Michael Gramaglia who was one of the directors of the film is a friend of mine and I know that what was finally released had been so influenced by everyone that I am sure he would have rather done without that.  I liked a lot of the stuff in the film but I think there are some things in it that the fans don’t really need to know especially with a band like the Ramones who fought to keep their integrity intact. The band wanted fans to enjoy them for what they were which was a great rock and roll band. Some of that stuff just didn’t need to put out there or said. That stuff had nothing to do with the band. I know people who have made the argument about dynamics between band members is always what feeds the music but I just  thought there were some un-needed things in the film. I think I am in it for a total of 30 seconds. This was really funny because I remember doing about 3 or 4 hrs. of interviews. The important thing for me about the movie as far as I am concerned is what Johnny and Joey said about me and what I brought to the band. That was a big compliment. It was a great feeling to be left with and knowing that they really appreciated me. That was cool.

AL: You made significant contributions to all areas of the band however the media has really played down your involvement. What are your feelings toward this?
CJ: I get asked this quite a bit but more so in relation to not being included into the Rock Hall induction. I got out of the Marine Corp. and 5 weeks later I was playing my first show with the Ramones. I come from a very punk rock, anti-establishment background. I could care less about the media or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That goes against anything I ever believed about punk or rock and roll. I am a grunt and I have always been a grunt. I have always been the guy who takes care of the shittiest things without complaint. To me those opinions did not count. The two opinions that did count the most came from Johnny and Joey. They said both publicly and privately about what my contribution was and that’s what I left the Ramones with. I didn’t need a pat on the back from the media or from the Rock Hall. My pat came from Johnny, Joey and the fans. That’s what I hang my hat on at the end of the day. I know that even some people from the Ramones organization and even Mark have tried to minimize what I did with the Ramones. That doesn’t really mean anything to me. I wish I could say I argued my point and could tell everybody but I don’t feel compelled to do that.

AL: Johnny was always known as the tough guy. However his recent biography we see him in much different light. What was the Johnny like that you and the rest of the band dealt with on a daily basis?
CJ: Johnny was a complex dude. He wasn’t a dum-dum. He understood the dynamics of the band and of the industry. Realistically Johnny was a really smart business man. I think that is an uncomfortable role for some people to see him in being he was in a punk rock band. People want to see him as the anti-hero type. He knew how to make money and ran a tight ship. He ran things his way and there was never any doubt with who was in charge or who made the rules. If that may have caught some people off guard well that sucks. I know it caught me off guard at first but I recognized that early on and I made sure I proceeded cautiously. I wasn’t afraid of him or afraid of being kicked out of the band but I loved the Ramones. When I got into the band I wanted to make sure that I made them better. I wanted to bring something to the band and make sure that I wasn’t just a filler guy. Johnny kind of demanded that from me anyways. He didn’t want me to sit in the background. He wanted me up front entertaining the crowd and I knew that. Being I was just out of the Marine Corp. which was very mission oriented he made it clear what my mission was from the start and I tried to do that the best I could. That’s how he was. He expected from you what he expected from you and anything less was not acceptable. At the same time he wasn’t the type you could bullshit. If you said something to him and he thought you weren’t being honest or he didn’t agree he would let you know. That’s not an easy type of person to be around but he was a good business man and really a punk. He didn’t give a shit who you were or what your status was. If you were an asshole you were an asshole and he would let you know. The other thing to was if Johnny had not been in that band and it would have just been another art thing with Joey and Dee Dee they would have never went anywhere. Something would have happened where they weren’t able to keep it together long enough to make anything happen. That’s a fact. Johnny was the ass kicker and every band needs one of those. Did he take advantage of that? Sure. He felt entitled to because he made it easy enough for everyone else to just show up and do their job. He was doing all the behind the scenes stuff. Naturally you are going to feel entitled to an extra slice of the pie. No matter what it is in the world somebody has to be kicking everyone else’s ass to keep them in line and doing their job. That’s just the way of the world.

AL: You joined the band at a turbulent time in their history. What for you was the hardest part about coming into the band at that time?
CJ: I was so excited to be there and unbelievably overwhelmed to be in the Ramones that all the negativity and the other stuff you always hear about I didn’t really see it in the beginning. I was in the Ramones and everything else was secondary. Johnny was clear with his expectations and I was more than happy to make it happen. I was very motivated, focused and happy to be there. Johnny told me the stories about Dee Dee and Mark from back in the early days and I thought they were cool. I thought the stories were great because they did such crazy stuff. Mark really saved the day a lot of times because of his sense of humor. He had an unbelievably great sense of humor and could make you laugh in the worst situations. He a lot of the time made an unbearable situation bearable. It takes some smarts to know when to do that and how far you can take it. The only time it was really uncomfortable was when I would look over and see Johnny and Joey on stage being afraid that I wouldn’t live up to it. As I started to see things more I just learned I had to be smart and maintain my relationships with both Johnny and Joey. I had to be smart. It was almost like a tight rope walk.

AL: Do you think the recent Ramones marketing push will hurt the bands legacy at all?
CJ: Not really. The legacy is what it is and the Ramones history is what it is. There is no arguing it. Does it cheapen the brand name? Probably, somewhat. This is what happens though. Realistically these days’ people demand it. Ramones fans especially are manic collectors of stuff. It’s something that is just going to happen. Once you make it to that legend status which that band has then all bets are off. It’s part of the natural aging process. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about your current solo project?
CJ: I have done a couple bands such as Los Gusanos and Bad Chopper. In 2009 it was my 20 yr anniversary playing with the Ramones. I decided I was going to get out on the road and celebrate with the fans by playing Ramones music. I contacted Mark but he was busy at the time and I also contacted Daniel Ray. Danny was interested and we got out there and the offers started rolling in more and more. Celebrating my 20 year anniversary resulted in two or three years of touring. It got to the point where the promoters were saying that if we wanted to come back again we were going to need new material. I had some songs that I had worked out and I decided I was going to do a tribute record to the Ramones. It is going to be a very Ramones like record. It has been together for awhile and I worked with a number of different producers and musicians. When I started to think it wasn’t going to happen I got in touch with my friend Steve Soto from the Adolescents and told him what I was doing. He said to give him some time to work on it and within two weeks he had a studio set up in Orange County and we had gotten Jose Mendeles who we had both worked with before to play drums. I flew out to Orange County and we recorded with Jim Monroe who was the owner/engineer of the studio we were using. We had a slew of Orange County musicians come in and play on this record. Jay from Bad Religion, Johnny Two Bags from Social Distortion and Billy Zoom from X all played on the album. Within 3 weeks we had the record recorded and we are now just waiting on final mixes and mastering. We are hoping to have everything done by July. It’s going to be released under C.J. Ramone and this is going to be really the first album that I did everything. It’s totally my vision. Steve Soto and Jim Monroe did a great job with the production but this is the first one I am doing as C.J. Ramone. The album is going to be called “Reconquista”. If I had to describe the sound it is like “Rocket to Russia” meets “End of the Century”. I am unbelievable proud of this album. It is the best songwriting and singing I have ever done.

AL: Will you be touring after the album comes out?
 CJ: I am not sure what heck we are going to do for this year. I have been trying to make this record for 2 years. It was just one problem after another. We are kind of hoping that once the record comes out and the word gets out that we will be able to hook up with some shows. I will actually be down in Nashville in early July to play the NAMM festival. Mosrite Guitars puts out a C.J. Ramone bass and they are throwing a big party down there that I am playing. From there I will be flying over to the Azores for a big festival and then in September I possibly have a big tour planned in Argentina.

Relativity Media Upcoming Releases – Fall 2011

Check out the latest titles Relativity Media has planned for the Fall 2011, including SHARK NIGHT 3D, MACHINE GUN PREACHER and IMMORTALS.

 

In Theaters September 2, 2011

DIRECTOR:                  David R. Ellis (The Final Destination)

WRITERS:                    Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg

CAST:                          Sara Paxton (The InnkeepersSuperhero Movie), Dustin Milligan (“90210”, Final Destination 3), Chris Carmack (“The O.C.”, The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations), Joel David Moore (Avatar), Katharine McPhee (The House Bunny), Sinqua Walls (Friday Night Lights”),  Donal F. Logue (Max Payne), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project), Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn), Chris Zylka (The Amazing Spider-Man)

PRODUCERS:             Mike Fleiss, Lynette Howell and Chris Briggs

EXEC. PRODUCERS: Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley, Douglas Curtis, Nick Meyer, Marc Schaberg, Matthew Rowland, Clint Kiske

A sexy summer weekend turns into a blood-soaked nightmare for a group of college students trapped on an island surrounded by voracious underwater predators in Shark Night 3D, a terrifying thrill ride from director David Ellis (The Final Destination, Snakes On a Plane), featuring a red-hot young cast including Sara Paxton (Superhero MovieLast House on the Left), Dustin Milligan (“90210,” Slither), Chris Carmack (“The O.C.”), Joel David Moore (Avatar), Chris Zylka (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Katharine McPhee (The House Bunny).

Arriving by boat at her family’s Louisiana lake island cabin, Sara (Sara Paxton) and her friends quickly strip down to their swimsuits for a weekend of fun in the sun. But when star football player Malik (Sinqua Walls) stumbles from the salt-water lake with his arm torn off, theparty mood quickly evaporates. Assuming the injury was caused by a freak wake-boarding accident, the group realizes they have to get Malik to a hospital on the other side of the lake, and fast.

But as they set out in a tiny speedboat, the college friends discover the lake has been stocked with hundreds of massive, flesh-eating sharks! As they face one grisly death after another, Sara and the others struggle desperately to fend off the sharks, get help and stay alivelong enough to reach the safety of dry land.

WEBSITE:                    http://www.iamrogue.com/sharknight3d

FACBOOK:                  http://www.facebook.com/SharkNight3D

TWITTER:                   http://twitter.com/sharknight3d

MACHINE GUN PREACHER

In Theaters September 23, 2011 (NY/LA Limited Platform)

DIRECTOR:                  Marc Forster

WRITER:                      Jason Keller

CAST:                          Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Madeline Carroll, Michael Shannon, Souleymane Sy Savane

PRODUCERS:              Robbie Brenner, Craig Chapman, Deborah Giarratana, Marc Forster, Gary Safady

EXEC. PRODUCERS:  Gerard Butler, Michael Corso, Kyle Dean Jackson, Myles Nestel, Louise Rosner, Adi Shankar, Alan Siegel, Spencer Silna, Bradford Simpson

            Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior ofhundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers, the impassioned founder of the Angels of East Africa rescue organization in Golden Globe-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s BallFinding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption.

When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region’s vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it’s most needed—in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they evenreach their teens.

But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA’s intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives—and eventually his own. The explosive, real-life tale of a man who has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease and enslavement, Machine Gun Preacher also stars Michelle Monaghan (Due Date), Kathy Baker (Cold Mountain), Madeline Carroll (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Academy Award® nominated Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and Souleymane Sy Savane (“Damages”).

WEBSITE:                    http://www.machinegunpreacher.org

 

 

 

In Theaters November 11, 2011

DIRECTOR:                  Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell)

WRITERS:                    Charles Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides

CAST:                          Henry Cavill (Superman: Man of Steel), Stephen Dorff (Somewhere), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Luke Evans (The Raven, The Three Musketeers), Kellan Lutz (The Twilight Saga), John Hurt(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

PRODUCERS:              Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Ryan Kavanaugh

EXEC. PRODUCERS:  Tucker Tooley, Tommy Turtle, Jeff G. Waxman

Visionary director Tarsem Singh (The CellThe Fall) transports us in this epic tale of treachery, vengeance and destiny in Immortals, a stylish and visually spectacular 3D action adventure. As a power-hungry king razes ancient Greece in search of a legendary weapon, a heroic young villager rises up against him in a thrilling quest as timeless as it is powerful.

The brutal and bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and his murderous Heraklion army rampage across Greece in search of the long lost Bow of Epirus. With the invincible Bow, the king will be able to overthrow the Gods of Olympus and become the undisputed master of his world. With ruthless efficiency, Hyperion and his legions destroy everything in their wake, and it seems nothing will stop the evil king’s mission.

As village after village isobliterated, a stonemason named Theseus (Henry Cavill) vows to avenge his mother, who was killed in one of Hyperion’s brutal raids. When Theseus meets the Sybelline Oracle, Phaedra (Freida Pinto), her disturbing visions of the young man’s future convince her that he is the key to stopping the destruction. With her help, Theseus assembles a small band of followers and embraces his destiny in a final, desperate battle for the future of humanity.Immortals is produced by Gianni Nunnari (300), Mark Canton (300) and Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter).

WEBSITE:                    http://www.immortalsmovie.com

FACBOOK:                  http://www.facebook.com/immortals

TWITTER:                   http://twitter.com/immortalsfilm