For the better part of 20 years, guitar virtuoso Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has performed at sold-out shows and festivals around the world.
Thal, whose unique guitar work is an undisputed highlight of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album (2008), also headlines as a solo act and helps raise awareness for several constructive causes, including the Red Cross, Operation Smile and the Earthquake Relief Fund.
Although it’s been nearly seven years since he’s released a solo album, Bumblefoot is back with Little Brother Is Watching, his 10th full-length solo release.
It’s an inspired collection of eclectic, modern rock that’s packed with tasty guitar work and lyrics about life in the digital age and beyond. The songs, including the album’s title track, reflect a change in perception of who’s watching who, while “Don’t Know Who to Pray to Anymore” and “Livin’ the Dream” focus on self-reflection and the need to question everything.
Although he’s unable to discuss his current Guns N’ Roses status, you can tell in speaking with Thal that he’s at a good place in his life right now, and it’s even more obvious when listening to Little Brother Is Watching.
I recently spoke with Bumblefoot about the new album, his songwriting, gear and another new project, Art of Anarchy.
GUITAR WORLD: What spawned or inspired this new album?
It’s been too long since I’ve done an album. Although I did some one-off singles in 2011, it’s been a while since I did a full collection of music. Due to touring, there was never enough time to dedicate and keep momentum in a studio. Now that I’ve got that time, it was time to make that happen.
How would you describe Little Brother Is Watching in terms of how it relates to some of your previous work?
The foundation for everything I’ve done has been punk and classic rock. That’s what I grew up on. Everything else is icing on that cake. As I got older and with all of the time that’s passed and life experiences, there were more stories to tell. I just got more direct about telling them.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Bumblefoot by Clicking Here!
When it comes to Hollywood actresses, you’d be hard pressed to find one who is as confident, inspiring or more hardworking than Brooke Lewis. Because whether she’s acting or producing, this beautiful Philadelphia, PA native has made a name for herself in the film and television world.
As an actress, Brooke has appeared in many different genres of film but is perhaps best known for her work in thrillers and mob themed stories like “iMurders” and “Sinatra Club” as well as for the comedic portrayal of her vampire “alter-ego”, Ms. Vampy.
If all that weren’t enough, Brooke is also a board certified life coach; using her talent and experience to encourage her clients to become more courageously confident and to discover their own inner voice.
Brooke has another busy year ahead of her with passion projects like “The Mourning” as well as the sequel to the hugely successful film, “Starship: Rising”. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her upcoming roles as well as her work as an actress and life coach!
Tell me a little about your background.
I’m one of those people who knew what they wanted to do in life early on. As a child, I was very sensitive and a bit insecure. It wasn’t until I started taking drama classes that I discovered that acting was a great outlet for me to express myself and feel emotion. I started my career back East in Philadelphia where I did a lot of theater work. Then I went to New York where I did a few off Broadway shows like Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding before finally making the move to LA.
What can you tell me about your new film, “The Mourning”?
It’s a labor of love project. I first met Marc Clebanoff [writer/director] a few years ago when we did an action film called “Break” with Michael Madsen and David Carradine. I did a supporting role in the film and had a lot of fun. The two of us went on to do a few other films together and we eventually became good friends. In 2011, Mark and Michael Walton came to me and said that they wrote a great supporting role for me in a new film they were working on. It’s a drama with a sci-fi twist where I got to play a tremendous supporting role along with Louis Mandylor, who’s a tremendous actor. It has everything that makes for a great gritty indie film and it was a blast working with true artists who were really committed to the project!
What attracted you to the script?
By nature, I’ve always been a big fan of thrillers, but the thing I loved the most about it is that it’s a love story. Every good film starts with a good script and this is one of the most beautiful stories about love, life and how things change.
How would you describe the story of “The Mourning”?
It’s the story about a young guy who lives in a small town. He and his best friend go off to the Gulf War and without giving too much away, one of them comes back and the other one doesn’t. Now it’s twenty years later (present day) and this person who’s been missing suddenly reappears.
You have another film that’s about to be released, “Starship: Apocalypse”. What can you tell me about that?
Neil Johnson is another director who has been a blessing to work with. The first film, “Starship: Rising” came out last year and was a huge hit overseas. The sequel is a fun, spaceship driven, full blown sci-fi piece that I had the best time working on. I play Staris, who is a bad-ass fighter pilot. She’s strong and sassy and fights for what she believes in. She has integrity and will keep to her beliefs in order to protect her federation. She is one of my favorite roles.
How did you become involved in life coaching?
I’ve always been the kind of person my friends and associates would come to looking for advice and shortly after the economy crashed a few years ago I decided to explore that different side of me. I was so inspired by helping teens and young actresses that I took a year and a half off, went back to school, took the boards and became a certified life coach. I’ve since launched my business, Be You Be Fearless Life Coach. I really love what I do!
What other projects are you working on right now?
Director Greg Lamberson came to me about a new film he was working on called “Killer Rack” and told me that he needed me for a specific role. I was a bit skeptical at first but after reading the script was just blown away! It’s comedy at its best with a twinge of horror. Yes, it is literally about a killer rack of boobs, but here’s the catch. I’m all about coaching female empowerment and body image and this film has a great subtext and message to it. It’s a supernatural comedy about what happens when you get plastic surgery because you think it’s going to make you happy but then things go terribly wrong!
What’s the best advice you can give to young actors and actresses who may want to follow in your footsteps?
I tell young actors every day that if there’s anything in this world that fulfills them other than acting then they should go do it, because acting is such a challenging process. But if you’re like me and it’s the only thing you’re passionate about and the only thing that fills that place in your soul, then you definitely have to do it!
Photos by: Roger A. Scheck
When Fathom Events, Cinema 1 and Eagle Rock Entertainment decided to partner up to present a monthly classic music series, they figured what better way to kick things off than by bringing in one of the most beloved rock bands of all time: Aerosmith.
Taken from the band’s headlining appearance at last year’s Download Fest at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, Aerosmith Rocks Donington is a one-night-only concert event that will screen on 300 theaters nationwide 7 p.m. today, Thursday, February 26.
The Donington show once again finds the band at the top of their game. It features a 19-song set that features many of band’s iconic hits, including “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way,” “Dream On,” “Love in a Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”
Aerosmith is one of the biggest rock bands of all time. Together, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer have sold more than 150 million albums worldwide in addition to receiving four Grammys and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In addition to releasing a DVD of the live show this spring, Aerosmith also has announced they will hit the road this summer.
I spoke with bassist Tom Hamilton about Aerosmith Rocks Donington, music, gear and some of his most memorable moments.
GUITAR WORLD: How did this live project begin?
It’s something that’s been building for a long time. This isn’t the first time we’ve filmed a show and presented it, but the ability to capture it and have it sound great and have the visuals for it be really strong has gotten better and better over the years.
Our feelings about playing at Donington is what really inspired us. We’ve played there several times in the past. It’s a festival that’s been going on for years and is very historic. So we got together with Dick Carruthers, who’s one of the best rock filmmakers around, and said, “Ok, let’s see how good we can make it!”
As a performer, do you feel a sense of added pressure knowing that this is live and there’s no going back?
Of course. Knowing it’s live always makes your brain concentrate a little more on making it work. We knew going in that we were filming and that we had a great director and great cameras. But we always try to out do ourselves every night, whether we’re recording or not. For us, it was more of an opportunity to make something exciting!
You can read the rest of my Interview with Tom Hamilton by Clicking Here!
Rock icons Whitesnake are set to return with their 12th studio album this spring. The Purple Album will be released in North America on May 19th via Frontiers Music SRL. The Purple Album is a re-imagination of classic songs from David Coverdale’s time as the lead singer for Deep Purple’s Mark 3 and Mark 4 studio albums.
The album is currently available for pre-order on Amazon in a deluxe edition format featuring 2 bonus tracks, 4 music videos and a Behind The Scenes featurette on the recording of the album. A standard edition and a double LP vinyl format will be available in the near future. Plans are also underway for a special limited box set edition with memorabilia and merchandise. All details will be announced soon.
“It’s a tribute. A homage. It’s a huge thank you from me to Deep Purple for the opportunity I was given over 40 years ago,” states Coverdale. “As I said to Ritchie, you guys set me on an incredible journey that continues today and I couldn’t have asked for better teachers. The University of Deep Purple was an extraordinary, amazing school to learn from. We can’t wait to play these songs in concert!”
From the opening notes of the classic track “Burn,” to album closer “Stormbringer,” Whitesnake are back and better than ever. Songs like “Lady Double Dealer,” “Soldier of Fortune” and “Sail Away” are given a new energy in the very capable hands of the current Whitesnake lineup featuring David Coverdale on vocals, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra on guitars, Michael Devin on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums.
Click below for video of the first single, “Stormbringer':
The Purple Album: Tracklisting:
2) You Fool No One (interpolating Itchy Fingers)
3) Love Child
4) Sail Away
5) The Gypsy
6) Lady Double Dealer
8) Holy Man
9) Might Just Take Your Life
10) You Keep On Moving
11) Soldier Of Fortune
12) Lay Down Stay Down
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
14) Lady Luck
15) Comin’ Home
Lady Double Dealer – Music Video
Sail Away – Mix Music Video
Stormbringer – Music Video
Soldier Of Fortune – Music Video
Purple Album Behind The Scenes
Purple Album EPK
Whitesnake – U.S. Tour Dates:
|May 28th||Airway Heights, WA||Northern Quest Casino|
|May 29th||Tacoma, WA||Emerald Queen Casino|
|May 31st||Vancouver, BC||Hard Rock Casino|
|Jun 2nd||Santa Rosa, CA||Wells Fargo|
|Jun 4th||Las Vegas, NV||The Joint|
|Jun 5th||Scottsdale, AZ||Talking Stick Pool Amp|
|Jun 6th||Pala, CA||Pala Casino – Starlight Theater|
|Jun 9th||Beverly Hills, CA||Saban Theatre|
|Jun 11th||San Francisco, CA||Regency Ballroom|
|Jun 15th||Colorado Springs, CO||Pikes Peak Center|
|Jun 17th||Shawnee, OK||Grand Events Center|
|Jun 19th||Biloxi, MS||Hard Rock|
|Jun 22nd||Grand Prairie, TX||Verizon Theater|
|Jun 23rd||San Antonio, TX||Majestic Theater|
|Jun 25th||El Paso, TX||Socorro Event Center|
|Jun 27th||Greeley, CO||Greeley Independence Stampede|
|Jul 2nd||Rama, ON||Casino Rama|
|Jul 3rd||Sterling Heights, MI||Freedom Hill Amphitheatre|
|Jul 5th||Northfield, OH||Hard Rock|
|Jul 7th||Huber Heights, OK||Music Center @ The Heights|
|Jul 8th||Wabash, IN||Honeywell Center|
|Jul 10th||Mahnomen, MN||Shoot Star Casino|
|Jul 11th||St. Paul, WI||Myth|
|Jul 14th||Clear Lake, IA||Surf Ballroom|
|Jul 18th||Merrillville, IN||Star Plaza|
|Jul 20th||Greensburg, PA||Palace Theater|
|Jul 22nd||Hampton Beach, NH||Hampton Beach Casino|
|Jul 24th||Lincoln, RI||Twin River Casino|
|Jul 25th||Atlantic City, NJ||Trump Taj Mahal|
When five survivors of a horrifying tragedy experience trauma-induced phobias a year after the event, they seek treatment from Dr. Andover (Robert Englund) in hopes of finding the answers they need to get cured.
“Fear Clinic” is a new horror/thriller based on the hugely popular FEARnet web series which also stars Fiona Dourif (“Curse of Chucky”), Thomas Dekker (“Backstrom”, “Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles”) and Cory Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour.
Dourif plays the role of Sara; one of the five survivors of the tragedy whose own worsening symptoms have led her to seek refuge in Andover’s hyperbaric Fear Clinic chamber.
Dourif is no stranger to the horror world, having already appeared in such films as 2013’s “Curse of Chucky”. Horror enthusiasts also know that Dourif’s father, Brad Dourif, is a legend in the genre for his portrayal as the voice of Chucky in the original “Child’s Play” film and it’s subsequent sequels.
By putting a face to an emotion, “Fear Clinic” has a plot that is surprisingly dark and equally as visceral. It’s a film that also lends itself well to becoming a franchise, as there are many more avenues of phobia that can be explored.
I recently spoke to Fiona Dourif about “Fear Clinic”, her career and what she thinks makes horror such a great genre.
How did you become involved in “Fear Clinic”?
I originally got a call from my manager and was given a skeleton of the script of the story. I immediately thought the concept was really cool. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Ohio!
What was it about it that attracted you to the story?
I liked the whole concept of cerebrally confronting your fears by acting them out. The whole idea that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. I thought that was really cool and it comes across well in the finished film.
How would you describe the story of “Fear Clinic”?
A shortened version might be this – a doctor has come up with an instrument where you can confront your fears and be free of them. But then…. there are some problems! [laughs].
What was it like working with Robert England?
Robert is one of the most pleasant people to work with. He’s personable and cool and elevated everyone’s spirit a lot. He really held the ship together.
What was the filming process like?
It was mostly shot in one location. There were long days where we all hunkered down in what used to be an old folks home in a small town in Ohio. It was also used as a church that had services on Sunday mornings.
What makes horror so great?
There’s something tingly and exciting about fear. In some weird way, it’s also kind of sexy. It’s simple and extreme and makes you feel present. Horror also has an awesome fan base. They’re so loyal and are always excited.
What was it like growing up for you with your dad being the voice of Chucky?
Nothing but cool! Even though I wasn’t really into school as a teenager one of the coolest things about me in high school was being able to tell everyone that I was the ‘Seed of Chucky’! [laughs]. Then when I got the chance to be a part of it as an adult it was mind-blowing. I feel so lucky to be a part of that legacy.
Was acting something that you always wanted to pursue?
My dad put a moratorium on it as a kid, which looking back now was probably a good idea. Although I did produce a few History Channel documentaries in my twenties, it wasn’t until I realized the only reason I wasn’t acting was because I was afraid was when I made the switch. That’s when I said, “Ok. Let’s give this a try!”
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
It’s what we call pilot season right now and shows are getting cast so I’ve been very busy. There are a few films in the air right now, but nothing is set in stone just yet. Although it does look like “Chucky 7” is going to happen. I love Don Mancini [creator of Child’s Play franchise] and would do that series for the rest of my life if they’ll have me. Right now, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll see what happens!
Last question: Does Fiona Dourif have any fear or phobias?
You know, I’m really scared of aliens! [laughs]. Growing up, my mom made her living as a psychic and she really believed in them. She would often say that aliens are here, they’re all over the place and they’re going to get me! To this day it still freaks me out! [laughs].
Fear Clinic is available now on DVD/Blu-Raya
In the Starz original docu-series, “The Chair”, executive producer Chris Moore (“Project Greenlight” “Good Will Hunting”) gives two first-time filmmakers the opportunity to create their own feature-length film.
Both “rookie” directors are given the exact same script and budget as well as having the final say on all aspects of the film. It was a challenge that filmmaker Anna Martemucci was more than up for, and her finished film is an out of the park home run.
Told from a balanced perspective, “Hollidaysburg” is a beautifully shot, funny, coming of age story about a group of friends who come home for Thanksgiving break after their first semester at college.
In addition to “Hollidaysburg” Martemucci (along with husband Victor Quinaz), have already completed two other films: 2013’s “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Periods”, a collection of twelve short films put together in a Monty Python-esque fashion that was released last December.
I recently spoke with Martemucci about “Hollidaysburg”, her time on “The Chair” as well as some of her current and upcoming projects.
How did you become involved in “The Chair” docu-series?
Chris Moore had seen our first movie, “Breakup At a Wedding”. It was a film my husband, Victor directed and one that I co-wrote, produced and also acted in. I got to work with Victor side by side on the project, so it’s a movie that really means a lot to me. Chris hired us to do some work for him as writers on a web series that he was producing and it was on the set of the series that the idea of me doing “The Chair” began.
What attracted you to the project and influenced the direction you wanted to go?
The thing that really attracted me to the project was the idea that I would be able to make a teen movie that was set in Pennsylvania. Those two elements sold me right away. It was then just a matter of me knowing what I could to bring to the project as a director. I tend to write from an autobiographical place so I really wanted to make it personal and specific. I knew that I would have to do a major overhaul on the script in order to make it my own, so that’s what I did!
How would you describe “Hollidaysburg”?
It’s a coming of age comedy that deals with sex from a feminine point of view. Even though our main character is a dude, I really wanted to offer something that I haven’t seen before in the genre and something that was a more balanced gender look at sexual coming of age.
Did you look at your role on “The Chair” as a competition or was the plan always about creating a work of art?
From the beginning I looked at it as an opportunity to make a film. It’s very rare that someone will come to you and say, “I have the budget for you to do a film. Go do it!” There was so much to think about and I was given all of the control. I was completely focused on making the best movie possible within the crazy constraints of budget and time. I kept pushing the envelope to make sure that the movie I was making was something I believed in.
What were some of the challenges you faced making “Hollidaysburg”?
One of the biggest challenges was finding the right actors and getting Carnegie Mellon University to release our two female leads. They were two active students at the time of our shooting. Aside from those things, it was brutally cold and there were always periods where there was a lot of snow, and then times when there wasn’t any snow. We worried about continuity a lot. Keeping everyone warm was also a struggle, for sure! [laughs].
Is “Hollidaysburg” reflective of the type of films you’d like to make?
One of the most beautiful things about the whole experience was coming into a directorial voice that I had been honing for a long time and then getting the chance to speak in that voice cinematically. Seeing the final product and getting to share it with people was huge for me. It was a major transformation for me as a writer who did a lot of things with her husband into becoming a director. Although I love to do comedy and drama and films that are somewhere in between, the voice of “Hollidaysburg” is very much consistent with my voice as a filmmaker.
What other projects are you currently working on?
It’s great to have partners who keep things moving. Victor, Phil Quinaz and I just finished another movie a few weeks ago that’s very exciting. We’ve also completed a film called “Periods”, which is the feature film version of our short film series. It’s a journey through time that God himself takes you on. Kind of in the vein of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” or “Mel Brooks’ History of The World Part 1”. It’s got a lot of “Hollidaysburg” actors in it plus great cameos from such recognizable guys as Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, and Willy Garson.
What excites you the most about the future?
I’m looking forward to making more movies and would also love to see “Hollidaysburg” reach a larger audience, which is something that we’re working on. I’m so proud of this film. I know that more opportunities will come my way. This was a huge experience for me and I’m just excited to keep making films with this voice of mine.
Hollidaysburg, Periods and Breakup At A Wedding
are all available on iTunes or at Amazon.com
The Chair is available now on DVD
“Good morning. This is US Airways calling to let you know that there is a delay in your flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte. As a result, you will need to contact an airline representative to change your connecting flight itinerary. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”
This was the message that greeted me first thing this morning. As if the return to sub-zero temperatures in Easton weren’t bad enough, realizing that there would be no connecting flights from Charlotte to Allentown isn’t exactly something I needed to hear on the last day of an amazing journey. But as I now sit here on a plane en route to Philadelphia with a ninety-minute car ride to follow, I know that nothing is going to dampen my mood. So while we cruise at altitudes above 30,000 feet, let me take the time to tell you about my final day in Hollywood.
I spent most of yesterday cruising around Los Angeles with one of my favorite people. Someone who; although she is a fan of the dreaded San Francisco 49ers, is one of the coolest, most talented people I’ve never ever met.
Carrie Carnevale is a filmmaker who has written and directed amazing short films that have won her quite a lot of acclaim over the years (including many times by yours truly). And like most of the other people I’ve met on this west coast excursion, Carrie and I had up til now only known each other through emails and various telephone conversations. Today was going to be the day we would meet each other after nearly three years of this back and forth banter. There was a heightened sense of excitement in the air.
When Carrie arrived at the hotel, it was a surreal moment. Yes, I had already experienced this giddy feeling of meeting people for the first time a lot during this trip but this meeting was extra special. After making our long overdue introductions we soon ventured off to spend the afternoon doing touristy stuff.
During our trip I was unfortunately introduced to real Los Angeles traffic. So bad was it that we ended up having to change our plans on a few occasions. But I didn’t care one bit. Carrie and I talked for hours about our lives, our work and families as well as all of the other things that friends do. Carrie even managed to hook us up with a few actresses from her films: Anna Hanson and Ashley Watkins. Two people I’ve interviewed who I had also never met and two of the most creatively inspiring and independent women doing their thing in a place where the deck is often stacked against them – and they are succeeding! I could literally go on for hours about them and their awesome projects but in the interest of time, I’ll save those stories for future articles you’ll read!
After spending most of the day with Carrie, the final destination on my adventure was a planned night of debauchery with actor David Banks (a fellow metal head) cruising the Sunset Strip and visiting all of the metal head clubs where our favorite music began. But what happened next was completely unexpected and no doubt the last thing you would ever think I would do.
As I’m walking Hollywood Blvd to the rendezvous point where David is going to pick me up, he suddenly sends me this interesting text:
“Hey man. I just got invited to a red carpet fashion show event down on Melrose Avenue. Wanna go?”
This red carpet event would be another chance for David to have his picture taken and to talk about his killer new movie, “CUT!” which had it’s premiere last night. Then came the big decision for Metal Head James Wood —- Do I go visit the infamous Sunset Strip and bars like The Whisky and Viper Room (places I have never been to) or, do I go to a fashion show red carpet?
We went rogue.
For the next several hours, David, his super cool companion Karen and I walked the red carpet, drank free booze and hob nobbed with Hollywood’s fashion elite. I could not tell you what the event was for or 99% of the people who were there. All I know is that there were so many beautiful women dressed to the nines as well as a few I’d rather not ever think about again. Although I did recognize actress Bai Ling on the carpet, most of the rest of the people at this event were complete unknowns (at least to me).
Following our adventures on the carpet, David took us back to the Arena Cinema for the last showing of “CUT!” for the evening. Together, the two of us sat and watched his movie again on the big screen. I recall looking over at him several times during the course of the film and seeing the biggest smile on his face. He was witnessing the end result of years of hard work, and I could not be happier for my friend. Forget about the Sunset Strip. This was David’s dream and he had made it come true.
This morning, David and Karen picked me up and drove me to LAX. As the radio in his car blasted some of our favorite tunes we talked about the music as well as his movie. Both of us promising we’d get together again soon. My guess is that this time our reunion will include the trip down Sunset Strip that never happened.
But then again, maybe there will be another red carpet event to go to!
This trip has been the adventure of a lifetime. Me, James Wood was at a Hollywood premiere, walked a red carpet and connected with amazing people who are strangers to me no more. It’s been fun, exciting, exhausting and everything in between.
In addition to missing my family and the small town I grew up in, this trip has made me realize that dreams really do come true. All it takes is a spark, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. I’m ready.
I hope that by reading this journal of my adventures in Hollywood it gives you the inspiration to follow your own dreams. It certainly did for me.
Now, let’s go home.
To say that yesterday was surreal is a bit of an understatement. It was actually the culmination of three years of phone calls, emails, interviews and follow-up conversations about this amazing new horror/thriller, “CUT!” which finally saw it’s premiere in Hollywood last night.
It was an evening where I finally got the chance to meet all of the wonderful people I’ve been writing about and to come face to face with a fellow brother in hair metal. Someone who would have taken on the world with me playing in bands on the Sunset Strip back in the glory days.
The story of how I met actor/musician David Banks is an interesting one. One that has its own musical connection as well at involves an incredible actress from a cult-classic horror film.
Back when I first started doing interviews, one of my angles was to seek them out through milestone events. Such was the case in 2012 when Wes Craven’s film, “The Hills Have Eyes” reached its 35th anniversary. Through hard work, due diligence and a little bit of luck, I had the opportunity to speak with Suze Lanier-Bramlett, who was the star of the original film as well as an accomplished musician and songwriter herself (Suze was also married to the legendary Delaney Bramlett).
Suze and I spent the better part of forty-five minutes discussing everything about the original “Hills Have Eyes” as well as her latest CD – Swamp Cabaret (which by the way is wonderful). After we were through I asked Suze if there were any other projects she was currently working on. Without hesitation, she told me she was involved in this little indie horror film project called “CUT!” where she got to play the role of herself. It was something that was new, interesting and exciting.
That’s what got the ball rolling for me. I decided to seek out these filmmakers and see what it was all about.
The first person I was able to contact was David Banks, who was one of the producers, writers and actors. What I thought was only going to be a fifteen minute interview wound up turning into a nearly two hour conversation. You see, David and I have almost the exact same taste in music.
Long story short, the two of us became instant friends. Not only talking about “CUT!”, but all of the bands and music we grew up loving in the 80s. David’s enthusiasm and passion was infectious and it was through him that I was able to reach out to many of the other actors involved in the film for interviews, including David Rountree, Dahlia Salem and Gabrielle Stone.
Fast forward to January of this year. David and I were emailing back and forth and he told me that the film was finally complete and that they would be having a Hollywood premiere.
That’s when I came up with the idea of paying tinsel town a visit.
The premiere was as exciting as any high energy metal show I’ve been to – and more. It was connecting with friends who up until that point had been nothing more than words typed in an email or a voice on the end of a telephone 3,000 miles away– and I just sat back and took it all in. I’m sure there were some people who noticed me standing aloof in the corner, wondering why I was there all by myself. The smile on my face would tell them the story. It was incredible.
Some quick highlights:
Suze Lanier-Bramlett gave me the biggest hug when we finally met and made it a point of getting the introverted James Wood on to the red carpet for pictures with her.
Dahlia Salem and I talked for quite a while about her upcoming appearance on Patricia Arquette’s new show, “CSI: Cyber”. She was telling me how great it was for her to be able to work with Patricia and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if she wins the Oscar next week?” [Arquette is up for Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood”]….What a question to ask an actress!
David Rountree, who is terrific in CUT!, told me about a new project he is working on in New Orleans next month and promised to talk more about it as things got rolling. It was a truly magical evening.
As David Banks and his beautiful companion drove me back to my hotel at 2am, I couldn’t stop telling him how great it was to be here and to finally meet him in person. Tonight we’ll be getting our metal on by visiting places like The Rainbow, The Whisky and Viper Room. Venues David and I would have surely frequented (and no doubt played in) back in the day if we had grown up in Hollywood.
As their car drove off into the wee hours I couldn’t help but go back to the conversation David and I had a month ago when he first told me about the premiere. He said, “You know, it’s too bad you can’t come out for this. It would be so cool to have you here.”
And somewhere in that statement there’s a lesson to be learned.
Yesterday, I decided to spend most of my time wandering through the streets of Hollywood. As someone with an east coast perspective, I saw walking down Hollywood Blvd as equivalent to taking a stroll through Times Square in New York City.
In some ways the two largest cities in America are very similar to each other. There are plenty of pizza joints, tattoo parlors, strip clubs and city tours available. Crowds of tourists from all walks of life roam the city streets (the size of which much less in LA than in NYC), and costumed people and unknown rap artists peddle their wares to those who inevitably cross their paths.
Side note: — I can’t tell you how many times I refused a picture with Catwoman and Spiderman or turned down the next Jay Z’s CD that was offered to me free of charge.
My day began as they normally do whenever I visit a new town – by seeking out the nearest Starbucks. While sitting there drinking my morning java this attractive blonde walks in, orders some sort of high-tech drink and sits down at the table next to me where a gentleman is already seated.
Unaware of my nosiness, the woman proceeds to pull out a portfolio and begins chatting with this fellow about all of the things she’s involved with. In this impromptu meeting session she tells him about her artwork, the photographs she’s taken for local magazines, how she’s in the process of making a video for some musical group I’ve never heard of, but one which made the dude sitting across from her sit up straight with curiosity.
Before long the two of them are exchanging email addresses and Facebook account information with the promise of connecting again soon. It felt like a twenty-first century version of “have your people call my people”.
That’s when it hit me. There is so much creativity in this town.
I know. I know. This sort of thing happens in every town all across America. But there’s something about it happening in Hollywood that feels different.
There’s no doubt that Hollywood is one of the hardest places in the world to make your dreams come true. And yet, that’s where thousands of amazing artists, musicians and actors continue to pound the pavement every day trying to make it happen.
I liken it to winning the lottery. There’s a million to one chance that you’ll succeed. So much riding against you that it makes it easy to just give up. But the people here seem to take the “if you don’t play, you can’t win” attitude very seriously, and it’s inspiring to be around.
The rest of my day was spent wandering the streets in search of a little fame and fortune of my own. I made it a point to look down at the stars on The Walk of Fame as much as possible. What I discovered was: A) There are a lot of people who made significant contributions to radio, television and film whose names I didn’t recognize and B) About 80% of the names I did recognize were people who were long dead.
The Chinese Theatre was another interesting place to visit – if only briefly. I loved seeing all of the hands and footprints that were left in the cement. Seeing dates as far back as 1928 was surreal and I pictured what life must have been like in this town nearly a century before Hollywood became “Hollywood”.
Then there was the a-ha moment on the walk back to my hotel.
In my touristy slowness, this dude with shoulder length blond hair passes by with a Gibson hardshell guitar case in his hands. He’s wearing a denim jean jacket and ball cap along with a pair of bright red Chuck Taylor converse sneakers. No doubt he is either en route to band practice or just coming from a rehearsal.
I imagined the backpack he was also carrying over his shoulder contained cables, picks and guitar strings as well as the chord changes and secret lyrics to the next big radio hit.
I quickly fumbled for my camera to capture the moment. Not because taking a picture of just another kid with rock star dreams would be so typical of Hollywood. No, my intention was much more selfish.
Thirty years ago, that dude would have been me.
It’s 4:00 am and I am sitting in a hotel room somewhere in the heart of Hollywood, California. It’s a small room with an even smaller bathroom next to it. One with no more than a stand-up sink and shower with the barest of essentials.
There is no food in this hotel room to speak of and the only drinking water is what comes from the bathroom spigot. An option even the most renegade of Hollywood notables would want to reconsider. It’s a private and cramped space to spend the next few days but one that will do very nicely.
After all, it is only me.
For the better part of the last hour I’ve been seated at a round table next to the door listening to the sounds of an empty, portable refrigerator hum its docile tones while outside, the beeping from a garbage truck with its transmission in reverse welcomes in a new LA morning.
I’ve spent most of the last twenty-four hours either in the air, on a bus in highly congested LA traffic (what they say about it is true) or walking many miles as a junkie East Coast tourist just taking it all in. In between checking emails, sending texts, running to baggage carousels and Flyaway buses as well as finding time to eat, the day was a complete whirlwind.
During this trip I will finally meet a few of the people I’ve been conversing with online for the past several years. Amazing people I’ve interviewed and written about several times during that span, but ones who’s own existence is known to me only through emails and telephone conversation. It’s going to be exciting and surreal at the same time.
Of course, somewhere along the way I’m also going to find time to write, which is another one of the main reasons I’m here. This trip is a nice retreat to catch up on some articles I’ve been meaning to get to while at the same time getting into the real meat of a few new stories! I am looking forward to sitting in a Hollywood coffee shop and letting others hear the sound of my laptop keys clicking away while I busily write down my thoughts and emotions.
And right now there are certainly a lot of them!