Author Archives: James Wood

‘Reckless’: Songwriter Jim Vallance Discusses Working with Bryan Adams

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 5.19.14 PMIn the context of songwriting partnerships, few teams have been as long-lasting — or as successful — as that of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams.

Since being introduced by a mutual friend in a music store in 1978, Vallance and Adams have written hits that appear on Adams’ albums You Want It, You Got It; Cuts Like a Knife; and the 1984 monster, Reckless, which sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Adams will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Reckless in November with a four-disc, super-deluxe reissue package that includes bonus-track demos recorded in Vallance’s basement studio in 1983 and ’84.

Over the years, Vallance has continued to flex his songwriting muscle, penning hits with Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Lita Ford, to name just a few.

I recently spoke to Vallance about the Reckless sessions, his time working with Adams and his upcoming projects.

GUITAR WORLD: When you think back to the Reckless album, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Mostly, I remember how much work we did. Bryan and I got together in my basement studio every day for a year … noon ’til midnight. Some days were more productive than others, but we always put in the time and did the work.

What were those songwriting sessions like?

Bryan and I had a daily routine. He would arrive at noon, we’d have a sandwich and a cup of tea and then we’d go downstairs and get to work. We’d start by deciding if we were going to write a fast song or a slow song and then we’d set up a “drum loop” for inspiration. Usually, Bryan would play guitar and I’d play bass or piano. We’d jam for hours until one of us played or sang something interesting. Then we’d spend time fleshing out the idea or we’d jam some more until another idea materialized. We repeated the routine every day for months. It was always productive. There were very few wasted sessions.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Jim Vallance by Clicking Here!

‘Something Supernatural’: Crobot Guitarist Chris Bishop Talks New Album and Gear

SomethingSupernaturalThere once was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs, a period when the only thing that mattered was that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song.

Thankfully, the four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have made it their mission to bring back elements of those days.

Crobot’s new album, Something Supernatural, was produced by Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and will be released October 28 on WindUp. It incorporates a lot of riff-heavy groove and funk mixed with a modernized spin.

I recently spoke with Bishop about the new album, his gear and more. As a bonus, we’re also presenting the worldwide premiere of the new video for “Skull of Geronimo,” which was created by Bishop (who also happens to be a visual artist). Check out the interview and “Skull of Geronimo” below!

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Something Supernatural?

I like to say it’s like “Clutch meets Funkadelic” with a little bit of doom tossed in there. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things.

What was the writing process like?

We rehearsed and wrote the album in this shed behind Brandon’s house. It was inside this room that was filled with deer heads and things like that [laughs]. It was a super-cool place to jam in.

Most of the songs started out as previous ideas or as riffs and structures I brought to the table. Others would come out of jams where Jake would come up with a riff. That’s the beauty of being a riff-rock band. Sometimes the coolest pentatonic riffs are the ones people connect with the most.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Chris Bishop By Clicking Here!

Melvins Guitarists Buzz Osborne and Paul Leary Talk New Album, ‘Hold It In’

TheMelvins-HoldItInIt’s not often you get to work with one of your heroes, but for Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne, that’s exactly what happened.

Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary joined the Melvins for their new album, Hold It In, which will be released October 14. Also joining Osborne, Leary and drummer Dale Crover for this 12-song Melvins outing is Butthole Surfers’ bassist JD Pinkus.

Osborne says Hold It In is a refreshing piece of fiction in a boring world of “fact and bullshit.” If Leary’s outside-the-box approach to guitar playing and Osborne’s passion for songwriting are anything to go by, it’s definitely best to just let it ride.

The Melvins will kick off a round of U.S. tour dates October 15 in Sacramento, California. Osborne, Crover and Pinkus will be the touring roster for this run of dates.

I recently spoke with Osborne and Leary about the new Melvins record. I also asked Osborne about his Nirvana connection.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Hold It In?

OSBORNE: It’s a good cross-section of a lot of things we’ve done as well as some things we’ve never done. It’s the first Melvins record I played on where I didn’t write a majority of the material. That was a little different than what we normally do. Paul is also one of my favorite guitar players, and I’ve thought about doing something like this with him for a long time.

LEARY: For the most part, it’s a little fresher and an amalgam album. I wrote three songs on there and we’ve also got Jeff Pinkus, which provided another Butthole element.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Osborne & Leary by Clicking Here!

‘The Tiger Speaks’: Guitarist Jim Peterik Talks New Book, Ides of March and Survivor

PeterikMost rock biographies tend to follow a similar pattern. The artist’s road to redemption is paved with tales of debauchery, drug abuse, marital infidelity and a trashing hotel room or two.

Although Jim Peterik’s story doesn’t really follow that path, it’s even more special.

For instance, did you know the founder of such bands as the Ides of March, Survivor and Pride Of Lions was already playing shows alongside Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as a teen? Or that Peterik’s original role in Survivor was one of dual guitarist and lead vocalist?

Peterik’s new book, Through the Eye of the Tiger: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Life of Survivor’s Founding Member, discusses all of that and much more in a look back at the life and career of one of rock’s best songwriters.

With the help of writer Lisa Torem, Peterik reveals stories from his almost 50 years in music. Like the time the Ides of March stole the show from Led Zeppelin or when Peterik unwillingly ceded control of Survivor and took on a diminished role in order to achieve a greater good.

There are revelations of his encounters with Hendrix, Sammy Hagar and Brian Wilson; making studio magic with the late Jimi Jamison (one of rock’s greatest voices) as well as the challenges he faced becoming a husband and father. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of a how a phone call from Sylvester Stallone turned into “Eye of The Tiger.”

Through the Eye of the Tiger is more than just the memoir of a songwriting legend. It’s a classic rock and roll story that’s told through the eyes of someone who has lived through it all.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Peterik about his new book, career and his amazing guitar collection.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

It’s a good time in my life. I’m feeling good and have a lot of stories to tell. Certainly, there are a lot more stories ahead of me and quite a few stories behind me that I wanted to get out.

Read the complete
gw_logoInterview with Jim Peterik by Clicking Here!

Guitar World: Eric Johnson and Mike Stern Discuss Their ‘Eclectic’ New Album

EricJohnsonMikeSternWhat do you get when you combine two bona-fide guitar heroes in their respective genres — and then have them go toe-to-toe with each other? You get Eclectic, a new album by blues/jazz/rocker Eric Johnson and jazz master Mike Stern.

Recorded at Johnson’s studio in Austin, Texas, Eclectic — which will be released October 27 — is a tasty collection of songs highlighting the strengths of both guitarists. It features an infectious rhythm section consisting of drummer Anton Fig (The Late Show with David Letterman) and Johnson’s regular bassist, Chris Maresh.

Stern’s body of guitar goodness spans more than four decades. His career includes partnerships with such artists as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius.

Johnson’s playing has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. His six-string wizardry earned him a Grammy award in 1992 for his instrumental hit, “Cliffs of Dover,” which came in at Number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar solos of all time.

Johnson and Stern will support Eclectic with an Eastern U.S. tour beginning in November.

I recently spoke with both guitarists about their new album. Johnson also gives a bit of advice for properly playing “Cliffs of Dover.”

GUITAR WORLD: How did this collaboration begin?

STERN: I’ve known Eric for years and always dug his playing. Every time I saw him, I’d tell him that it would be great for us to do something together. Finally, I was doing this record called Big Neighborhood and had the idea of doing something with him.

JOHNSON: We had so much fun working on that record that one day the Blue Note Club in New York called and asked us if we’d like to do a joint gig together. So we put together a band, rehearsed and learned music. We ended up doing a two-week tour out of that and got offered to do a record and a few other tours that are now slated to happen.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Johnson and Stern by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Elliot Easton Discusses The Empty Hearts, The Cars and His Signature Gibson Tikibird

The Empty HeartsEven though the Empty Hearts feature members of Blondie, the Cars, the Chesterfield Kings and the Romantics — and even though their name was chosen from Little Steven Van Zandt’s super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed supergroup.

Featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar, the Empty Hearts have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock into their self-titled debut. Their new album is a raucous collection of tunes shaped by Fifties American roots rock, Sixties British Invasion and Seventies garage-punk.

I recently spoke to Easton about the Empty Hearts, his signature Gibson Tikibird and the 30th anniversary of the Cars’ Heartbeat City.

GUITAR WORLD: When did the idea for the Empty Hearts begin?

The germ of the idea started with Andy [Babiuk]. The Chesterfield Kings weren’t doing anything and Andy called me up and said, “What do you think about doing a band with me, you, Clem Burke and Wally Palmer from the Romantics?”

I wasn’t doing much at the time so I told him that if he could get it together, I was in. Andy is such a great organizer and motivator and put everything together. We found that we liked each other’s vibe and enjoyed each other’s company. Everything about it really felt good.

How would you describe the album?

It’s a reflection and celebration of all of our influences that went into making us the musicians we are. Recalling those early days of innocence when you played music for the sheer joy of it. We really wanted to make a record that reminded us of why we got into music in the first place. You hear some Who, Beatles and our garage rock influences. It’s all stuff we loved as kids starting out.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Elliot Easton by Clicking Here!

Flyleaf Guitarist Jared Hartmann Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Between the Stars’

FlyleafFlyleaf have consistently dominated the active, alternative and mainstream rock charts since their eponymous, self-titled debut was released in 2005.

With the arrival of new vocalist Kristen May and the band’s new album, Between the Stars, which was released September 16, that trend is continuing.

Produced by Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne), Between the Stars is Flyleaf’s fourth studio album. It delivers 12 hook-laden tracks that are deeply rooted in guitar-based rock.

Guitarist Jared Hartmann’s hypnotic riffs are tastefully executed, creating a surreal landscape of infectious melody that takes the listener on a sonic journey. Flyleaf is Kristen May (vocals), Jared Hartmann (guitars), Sameer Bhattacharya (guitars), Pat Seals (bass) and James Culpepper (drums).

I recently spoke with Hartmann about the new album and his musical upbringing.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of Between the Stars as compared to previous Flyleaf albums?

It’s going to be a little different than some of the other Flyleaf records. Obviously, it will be different because we have a new singer [Lacey Sturm amicably left the band in 2012], but it’s also going to be a bit different musically as well.

We used a lot of keyboards on this album to add some interesting elements to a few of the songs. We’ll see what people think! There’s something that’s similar to our previous albums but it’s also going in a new direction.

How did you connect with Kristen?

After Lacey decided to leave the band, we started looking for singers and someone suggested that we check out Kristen. Her band, Vedera, had recently broken up, so the timing was perfect. So Kristen came in, knew all of the songs and was cool to hang out with. She’s the perfect fit.

Read the rest of my

gw_logo
Interview with Jared Hartmann by Clicking Here!

Supertramp Co-founder Roger Hodgson to bring musical legacy to Bethlehem, PA

HodgsonRoger Hodgson has been widely recognized as one of the most gifted composers, songwriters and lyricists of our time.

A co-founder of Supertramp in 1969, Hodgson remained with the band for fourteen years before embarking on a solo career. It was Hodgson’s tenure with the band that became the driving force behind their monumental success. Writing music that defined a generation of progressive rock.

Hodgson wrote and sang Supertramp’s most enduring anthems, including “Breakfast In America”, “Give a Little Bit”, “Take the Long Way Home” and “It’s Raining Again”. Songs which helped the band sell more than 60 million albums. His trademark way of setting introspective lyrics to upbeat melodies resonates in the hearts and minds of people from all over the world.

Accompanied by a four-piece band, Hodgson will bring his rich, musical legacy to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Sunday, Nov 9.

Hodgson talks about his career and what fans can expect from his Bethlehem performance in a recent interview.

What can fans expect from your Bethlehem performance?

People often tell me I am one of music’s best-kept secrets. I have many fans following me around the world because the show I am currently doing with my band is so special. Even many huge Supertramp fans are admitting that the band I have put together actually sounds better than the original, so the audience is in for a wonderful surprise. This year, in addition to my popular duo and orchestral shows, I am performing with an excellent band of four very versatile musicians. They are high caliber musicians and passionate about the music.

You will hear songs that I have written on my life journey – of course I’ll be performing all the songs people want to hear from my time with Supertramp. You can expect to hear “The Logical Song,” “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit,” “Dreamer,” “School,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “It’s Raining Again,” and “Fool’s Overture”. as well as some of my later material – “In Jeopardy”, “Lovers in the Wind” and “Death and a Zoo”.

What’s your writing process like?

Songwriting is an amazing and magical process. For me, the music always comes first. There are usually a few lines of lyrics that come at the same time. For a two or three week period I sing the new song every opportunity I get. It’s like a brief love affair; the emerging song just goes round and round in my head the whole time. It has that consuming quality to it, like falling in love. The structure and melody come to me relatively quickly – the lyric usually takes much longer.

I do realize I have written some wonderful songs and have an ability for writing great melodies, but I think the reason these songs have stood the test of time so well is because they came from a very pure place and were not contrived. I never sat down to try and write a hit song. Music was where I went to be alone to express my deepest emotions, my deepest longing, my deepest pain and joy and questions. And I think that is why the songs have endured so well over time.

Can you tell me a little about your Spiritual connection with your songs?

For me, music was where I went to express my longing to know God, to know true love, my longing to feel truly at home inside myself. I put this inner quest into my songs and I believe, because they came from such a deep place, this is one of the reasons they have such an enduring quality. They touch that place in everyone who is searching for true happiness, belonging, for God – whatever you want to call it.

So, yes, a lot of my songs have a spiritual theme to them – when I write music, I am always alone and it’s very much an inner communion for me. It’s not generally known that I never wrote with the band, and the other members of Supertramp didn’t share many of the spiritual beliefs that I wrote about – so all my songs – new and old – are all very personal expressions for me.

It’s now been more than thirty years since you left Supertramp. Do you have any regrets about it?

When I left Supertramp in 1983, it was to follow my heart, which was telling me it was time to make home, family, and spiritual life my priority. I wanted to be with my children as they grew up. I had become disenchanted with the music business. Supertramp had been my baby, my life for 14 years but I felt a completion. At that point I chose to have my primary focus be my family and not my career. I also pretty much left the music industry and took my family to a healthier place to raise my kids – up in the mountains of Northern California. I moved out of Los Angeles and built a home studio so I could continue to create music and although I made a few albums, I never toured behind them. My kids are now grown and I’m older and wiser and very happy to be touring again these last years.

Contrary to what people believe, Supertramp did not break up because I wanted to start a solo career or because of difficulties between me and Rick [Davies].

Do you ever foresee a reunion of Supertramp?

Many fans used to ask me about a possible Supertramp reunion. Because I knew how much it meant to the fans, I did make an offer to Rick Davies and his agent to join the band for some special Supertramp reunion concerts in 2010, but they declined. So at this point, the time for a reunion has passed. The ship has sailed.

What inspires you as an artist?

One of the things that I like most about making music is how it has brought people together from all over the globe and how many lasting friendships have been made through a common love of my songs. It is a very special and personal connection I have with many of my fans and that the fans have with one another. I feel it’s because my songs came from my deepest longing and joy and pain and touch those same places in the hearts of the people who listen. At my concerts I’m now seeing three generations singing along with me and it’s wonderful to see more and more young people discovering my music.

Roger Hodgson will perform at
The Bethlehem Sands Event Center on Sunday, Nov 9.

‘Atlas Shrugged’: Actress Laura Regan discusses new film, “Who Is John Galt?”

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

It’s been a busy year for Laura Regan. The amazingly talented actress, whose previous roles included a recurring part on the award-winning series “Mad Men” as well as guest appearances on the shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Bones”, is now taking on an even greater challenge in “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”.

The film, the final installment of the epic Atlas Shrugged trilogy, is based on Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel about a dystopian society in the not so distant future.

With a nation’s economy approaching collapse, crime and fear begin to take over. An overreaching government strangles the country’s few remaining business leaders and amidst the chaos, society’s most productive members begin to mysteriously disappear.

Laura plays Dagny Taggart, an intellectual heroine who fights an increasingly authoritarian government. “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?” also stars Kristoffer Polaha and Peter Mackenzie and is set for theatrical release on September 12th.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura about the third installment of Atlas Shrugged, her career and more!

What were your first impressions of the Atlas Shrugged project?

I remember when it first came up, bells went off in my head. I knew that it was a big, iconic book and I was immediately intrigued and attracted to the character of Dagny. Not only is she a great literary heroine, but she’s also a strong woman with a strong inner compass. She’s secure in what she wants and what she believe is right. I found that very attractive to play. It was a role I could really sink my teeth into.

Did you have to do a lot of research to prepare for the role of Dagny?

Reading an almost 1200 page book is a lot of research on its own [laughs]. But I also talked to a lot of people who had experience with the book and how Ayn Rand’s philosophy might fit into it. From there, I set off on my own path and started thinking about who Dagny was to me — and then I gave her life.

How would you describe the story of “Who Is John Galt”?

I would describe it as a love story. The third part of the book is about the meeting of John and Dagny. They’re two very principled people who both have different ways of approaching the same problem. John’s approach is to withdrawal and to create his own type of community, whereas Dagny’s is not the same. She can’t step away from all of the work she’s put into her company and watch things crumble. It’s a meeting of how these two minds fall in love but won’t do anything about it until they’re both on the same page of this big moral issue.

How real-to-life are some of the events in this film?

What’s going on in today’s world is very frightening and I think that explains the attraction and lasting power of the book and why it’s so relevant today. There’s definitely some “science fiction” elements, but the impulse is there for people who want more control over their own lives and more power to decide on its direction.

Is there a message viewers can take away from the movie?

I can’t speak for the creators but for me, I would want people to know that they should never give up their opinion on something just because of the status quo. Don’t go with what the masses say just because you might be afraid to buck the trend. If it’s something that you really believe in, then go with it!

Did you always know that you wanted to become an actress?

It took me a while to realize that. My first love was actually ballet. I had an injury in my program that eventually led to my exit, but it wasn’t until my second year in University that I started getting more and more into drama.

Was there something in particular that gave you the acting ‘bug’?

I would say it came from taking an English Literature class and getting a chance to read all of the great classics, like Shakespeare. I remember just falling in love with it and thinking “Ok, reading this is great – but let’s do more!” It just took off from there. Each experience I had became more thrilling and before long, I was completely hooked.

What are some of the differences between doing a feature film as opposed to a guest appearance on television?

Feature films present a different kind of challenge, because you really get to see your character’s journey all the way through. With television you still have to be just as prepared, but your character’s journey may not be the journey of the show. TV is more of a narrow approach, whereas a film has a wide ranging draw.

Is there a bit of advice you can offer aspiring actors and actresses?

Never think that you know everything about your craft, because there’s always something more you can learn to enrich yourself. Maybe you’ll go to a workshop or maybe you’ll get together with other actors for a play. Whatever it is, you’ll always get something out of the experience that will enhance your next audition or role. Never stop learning.

Follow Laura Regan on Twitter @TheLauraRegan

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Discusses His New Gig with Whitesnake

JoelHoekstra2Whether he’s performing as part of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, touring with Trans-Siberian Orchestra every fall or jetting around the country for sessions and shows, Joel Hoekstra is one of the hardest-working guitarists you’re ever likely to meet.

And now he’s taken on another challenge.

It was recently announced that Hoekstra would be leaving his gig with Night Ranger to become the new guitarist in Whitesnake, replacing departing guitarist Doug Aldrich.

Hoekstra’s seven-year tenure with Night Ranger included three critically acclaimed albums and tours, not to mention being part of a killer one-two punch with guitar great Brad Gillis.

With Whitesnake, Hoesktra finds himself in a band whose ranks over the years also were filled by guitar royalty: John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Steve Vai, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Hoekstra will join a Whitesnake lineup that includes David Coverdale (vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums).

I recently caught up with Hoekstra and asked him about the new Whitesnake gig and also got a sneak peak into the band’s next album. I also asked him what he’ll miss most about his time with Night Ranger.

GUITAR WORLD: How did you first hear about the Whitesnake opportunity?

Oddly enough, Doug [Aldrich] and I are friends and were texting the night before the news came online. He didn’t mention anything about it to me at the time. All he said was there was some news coming. The next day, I woke up to hear Doug would be leaving Whitesnake.

How did you wind up getting the gig with the band?

I think it was a combination of me putting out some feelers and some people recommending me for it that led to me going out to meet with David at the end of May to hang/audition. That went well, so the next step was to go back in August to play on material for the upcoming Whitesnake album and to make sure it was going to be a good fit for both sides. At that point, I started to realize this was really happening.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joel Hoekstra by Clicking Here!

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