Author Archives: James Wood

David Fanning Talks ‘Drink You Away’, Songwriting

David Fanning (Photo: Robert Chavers)

David Fanning (Photo: Robert Chavers)

While growing up on a 100-acre farm in Ardmore, Alabama David Fanning always dreamed of being a recording artist. Honing his musical skills while listening to his parents sing in a capella groups, he quickly learned the secrets behind harmony and performance.

Today, as part of Nashville’s production team New Voice, Fanning has produced #1 hits for both Thompson Square and Parmalee. But with all of his success Fanning never lost sight of his true calling, and it wasn’t long before a chance phone call by a friend about a pop superstar reignited the fire to return to his roots.

Fanning’s debut single, a unique country version of Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away,” has quickly gained buzz from fans and media alike (even receiving praise from Timberlake himself). Fanning’s rendition has enjoyed regular airplay on SiriusXM’s The Highway and will officially launch on country radio April 28th.

I spoke with Fanning about “Drink You Away” and also got an update on his forthcoming album and tour plans.

Where did the idea to record a country version of “Drink You Away” originate?

Justin [Timberlake] was coming to town to perform at an arena and one of my friends from radio, Storme Warren called me up and told me he was going to have him on his show. Then he asked me if I’d be interested in doing a country version of one of Justin’s songs to play for him while he was in the studio. I had three days before he was going to be there so I told him that I’d give it a try.

I hopped in the studio that night and recorded the basic track and the next day put on vocals and mixed it. Then I emailed the song over to Storme and he played it for Justin on the radio. The cool thing about it was that everything happened so fast. Sometimes when you produce, there might be a tendency to over think it. For this song, I had no time and it came out just as it was supposed to.

What are some of the elements that make a song suited to be “country-fied”?

The lyric is usually the first thing that lends itself to being country. People can relate to that. Sometimes in pop, it just goes for the beat or the music. In country music, the lyric and story really has to mean something. Any song that has a cool groove or makes you want to bob you head or pump your fist feels good. 

Can you give me an update on your new album?

We’ve cut about eight sides so far, including “Drink You Away”. The nice thing about producing your own record is that you’re in control of getting the perfect songs. We’re looking at an end of year release date.

What’s your songwriting process like?

I don’t have one set way of doing things. I have a cabin out by the lake where I like to go and post up for a few days to just forget about the grind and write. When I’m working with another artist it can be different. Sometimes, someone might just come in with a title for a song and other times you might just whittle away on an idea and work it into something.

Did you always know you wanted to have a career in music?

I always intended to be an artist and never really thought about doing anything else. My parents were in 50′s/60′s a capella groups singing bebop music and they were always very supportive of what I wanted to do. I got started playing in bands and doing solo work and even bought my own Pro Tools rig when I was 14 to start putting together my own recordings.

How did you wind up in Nashville?

I actually grew up about an hour away from Nashville, but took a 2000 mile trip to get here because I decided to go to LA for a while first. I had grown up thinking that everything was huge out on the west coast. But once I got there, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. So I moved to Nashville and started sending out emails to connect with people in town.

One of the guys I met was Kevin Neal, who runs Buddy Lee Attractions and books Jason Aldean. Jason was just getting going at the time and Kevin introduced me to Tully Kennedy, Rich Redmond and Kurt Allison who were in Aldean’s band. We all hit off well and started New Voice Entertainment. We began working on my project and discovered that we worked so well together as a production team. That was around the same time we were introduced to Thompson Square and all of the stars started to align. Having the opportunity to produce really gave me a much deeper understanding of creating music. Now it’s time for me to get back to where I started from, and that’s working on my own album.

Do you have plans to tour this summer?

We’re working on an up to date list of shows. June kicks it all off. It’s going to be a rock out year and I can’t wait to get out there and play!

For more on David Fanning be sure to check out
his official website by Clicking Here!

Dog Camp: Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy Discuss the Winery Dogs’ Immersive New Camp for Musicians

Photo by: Markus Cuff

The Winery Dogs (Photo by: Markus Cuff)

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with three of rocks’ most talented musicians, here’s your opportunity.

Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy — better known as the Winery Dogs — have announced Dog Camp, their first-ever immersive program for aspiring musicians of all ages and levels.

The event is set for July 21 to 25, 2014, at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, New York.

Attendees will be able to take part in instrument specific clinics and will learn about songwriting mechanics and the music industry. They’ll even get to enjoy intimate performances by the Winery Dogs.

If you’re a guitarist, bassist or drummer, there’s a course path for you to follow. But Dog Camp promises to be a deeper experience; the campers will be living, hanging out and jamming together. You’ll also be able to ask the hosts as many questions as as you want — and Kotzen, Sheehan and Portnoy will initiate one-on-one and group sessions to help you realize your goals as a player.

I recently spoke to Kotzen and Portnoy about Dog Camp and what’s next for the band.

GUITAR WORLD: What was the reason behind the inaugural Dog Camp?

Kotzen: It was something that was brought to our attention by our manager. Billy and I have done our fair share of clinics and have also participated in Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. The idea of being in a position where you can actually sit and talk and play with people who are buying your records or are listening to what you do is inspiring.

gw_logoRead the rest of my interview with Kotzen & Portnoy
By Clicking Here!

Inversion: Tim Butler Returns With An Inspired New Album

TimButler-InversionInversion, as defined by Merriam-Webster is a change in the position, order, or relationship of things so that they are the opposite of what they had been. For Tim Butler, it’s a phenomenon and EP project that’s taken three three years to arrive.

Finding himself at a crossroads of his musical career, the Glenside singer/songwriter took a hiatus from regular album releases and shows. Choosing instead to lay low until his musical energy was re-fueled. Thankfully, Butler’s creative juices are once again firing on all cylinders. His new EP is a blend of catchy melodic pop combined with tasty guitar work and inspired topics.

Whether he’s singing about love, moving forward or just being happy, rest assured Butler’s songs speak to the positive side in all of us. And in times like these, it’s something we all need to be reminded of.

I spoke with Butler about Inversion as well as his return to one his favorite venues.

It’s been three years since we heard new music from Tim Butler. What spawned the Inversion project?

As many of my fans know, I took some much needed downtime. For the first time in my music career I was becoming a little burned out from regular gigging. I was in a sort-of creative slump, which was something I was not used to at all. Although I did do some random shows during that period, I decided to lay low for the most part. Eventually, it got to the point to where I really started to miss making music. I had a few songs I had never recorded and decided to sit down and see what would happen. I ended up writing a few new songs too.

Why the title – “Inversion”?

I was really indifferent as to what to name this project. In the past, I’ve always just named projects after a song if I wasn’t inspired otherwise. This one was almost called “Sweet Is”, which isn’t too bad. “Inversion” though is simply another way of describing my return to songwriting and sharing my music.

How did you approach writing for this album?

Although my approach was not all that different from what I’ve done in the past, I just really let these songs go and let whatever happened happen. I wanted the sound to come together a little more organically and didn’t try to over think it. I carried that same process over to the band and then into the studio. I like the outcome, a lot!

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Inversion: “Moving Forward”

It’s a song about how I processed this particular project and about getting out of a creative slump. It’s more of a reflective song for me.

“Sweet Is”

That was a song that I wrote a few years back. It was written about a very special relationship and appreciating the simple, yet huge things that make it special. I performed the song solo for a long time but never recorded it. I loved hearing it come together.

“We’ll Be Happy”

My favorite of the new bunch. It encompasses everything I love about pop tunes and what I have become known for: melodic hooks, great production value, harmonies and a song that just makes you smile. The main jist behind this tune comes from my writing philosophy. It’s about just letting things be the way they are. Express the music as you want to and be happy with it.

Tim Butler (Photo by: Lisa Schaffer)

Tim Butler (Photo by: Lisa Schaffer)

Where do you find the inspiration for your songs and lyrics?

Inspiration usually comes from experiences for me. Sometimes it can be about who I am listening to at the time. I tend to be a “music first” kind of writer and specifically choruses. I’m more attentive to sound and that’s what inspires lyrics.

Who are some of your musical influences?

That’s the single toughest question I get asked. When I first started writing songs I was mainly influenced by three artists/bands: Crowded House, Michael Penn and Matthew Sweet. Michael Penn is just flat out an amazing songwriter on all fronts. He’s respected in many circles but highly underrated. Mathew Sweet brought melodic sound to my head. Catchy rock and roll BUT with a guitar driven push that I’ve always loved! Crowded House and the Finn brothers….say no more. For me, their library of tunes embraces everything I love. I’m also a huge fan of bands like Velvet Crush, The Foo Fighters and Superdrag. Basically, anything that’s melodic pop.

Do you have any shows lined up?

Right now, all of the focus will be on May 3rd at Puck, which will also be a band reunion. I’m really looking forward to getting back on stage and sharing the EP. Following that, I’ll start game planning for more shows. EP support is now the new priority.

What do you like most about that venue?

Puck has always been a favorite of mine and the band as well. I love the stage and the in-house production. It’s a cool room that lends itself well for music listening. I’ve also found Doylestown to be an attractive place for my fan base. It’s all about location.

Tim Butler Will perform at PUCK on Saturday, May 3rd.
For Details and Directions: Click Here

Keep Up With Tim Butler by Clicking Here

Guitarist Lindsay Ell Talks New Music, Touring and The Grand Ole Opry

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

She’s the true triple threat. Not only is guitarist Lindsay Ell able to go toe to toe with the big boys on her instrument, she’s also a unique vocalist and gifted songwriter. Honing her craft in bluegrass music camps before being discovered at age 13 by BTO/Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman, Ell soon found herself becoming immersed in the power of the blues and eventually sharing the stage with the likes of Buddy Guy and Keith Urban. As evidenced by her latest single and video [Trippin’ On Us] and recent tour supporting The Band Perry, Ell is fast becoming a rising star in country music circles.

Ell is currently gearing up for another round of tour dates, one of which includes her Grand Ole Opry debut on April 15th. She’s also back in the studio finishing up work on her debut album that’s expected to be released this fall. An album that can be described as a female Keith Urban meets Sheryl Crow; with a little bit of John Mayer thrown in for good measure. It’s edgy, guitar driven country and all Lindsay Ell.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ell and getting an update on her music.

When you think about The Grand Ole Opry and performing there for the very first time, what thoughts come to mind?

It’s incredibly humbling. Growing up, my Grandpa would always listen to the Grand Ole Opry and we were raised with it being such a special thing in my family. It’s going to be to be a surreal moment getting to step into that circle on April 15th. My parents are flying in and I’m so thankful that they can be there. My Grandpa has passed away but I know he’ll be there with me and I’ll be thinking of him the whole time.

Can you give me an update on your album?

We’re in the studio this week cutting more songs and will probably go in one more time. We’re hoping to release the album in the fall but will be releasing another new single in the coming weeks. I’m so excited about this new music. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning! [laughs].

What’s the origin of the song, “Trippin’ On Us”?

I wrote it with two friends of mine from Nashville: Vicky McGehee and David Fanning. It started out with a melodic guitar riff and the song just evolved from there. The thing I love about country music is that the lyrics really need to tell a story and I love the challenge of finding something that’s going to hit home with fans.

Tell me a little about the video for the song.

Roman White directed the video. He’s done videos for Carrie [Underwood] and Taylor [Swift] and was a pleasure to work with. It was a quick shoot. We started before 5am and finished it all in one day.

Where do you find inspiration for your songs?

The coolest ideas and concepts for a song can come out of anything. For me, I actually find a lot of it from just people watching. It’s amazing when you can sit back and watch what’s going on around you. Like hearing fragments of conversations from people who just pass by or when you’re getting into your car and you hear the DJ say a few random sentences on air. I’ve become a lot more receptive to my environment and the world around me.

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

Why do you enjoy playing Gibson Les Pauls and Martin guitars so much?

I grew up with all different kinds of guitars because everyone in my family played. I remember picking up a Les Paul for the first time when I was little and just loved the way it sounded. I like how you can have a clean sound but can really dig in and not have to change that much of your set up. It’s an easy guitar to communicate with.

Martin guitars have always been considered the pristine ones in my family, so when I saved up enough money to buy my own, it quickly became my favorite. I had the chance to speak with Martin about a year ago and it made sense that we’d start working together. I love how they’re such a family based and centered company. They’re all about values and tradition.

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

April 15th will be a big one. I’m also really excited for this record. All of the music I’ve recorded up to this point has built towards this moment. The first few singles and videos give a taste, but the album itself will tell the real story. It’s been a long, exciting journey and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

For more on Lindsay Ell be sure to check out her Official Website by Clicking Here.

Voices Carry: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Discuss Their New Band and Album, ‘The Both’

The Both - Aimee Man & Ted Leo (Photo: Christian Lantry)

The Both (Photo: Christian Lantry)

Aimee Mann is an Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter and bassist who has scored hits as a solo artist and with ‘Til Tuesday.

Guitarist Ted Leo is a Midwestern punk rocker who’s established a reputation for musical genius as a solo act and with his band, the Pharmacists.

Now, both artists have joined forces and are calling themselves the Both.

Their self-titled debut album, which will be released April 15, speaks to the friendship and mutual respect Mann and Leo share. From the hook-laden harmonies and Bronze Fonz references of “Milwaukee” to the social messages of songs like “Volunteers of America,” The Both is an album with the DNA of Mann and Leo strongly imprinted on it — and one refreshingly unique and engaging debut.

I recently spoke with Mann and Leo about their new album and collaboration.

GUITAR WORLD: How did The Both begin?

Mann: Ted was opening for me on my last album and tour, and the music he was playing really piqued my interest. I remember while he was playing I’d often start thinking to myself, “You know, I really want to play bass on that song!” and after a while, I asked him if I could sit in. We started playing and having so much fun that it led to the idea of writing some songs together that eventually became this record.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World interview
With Aimee Mann & Ted Leo by Clicking Here

A Letter To Mickey Rooney

RooneyDear Mr. Rooney,

I woke up this morning to the sad news that you had passed away. While I suppose I really shouldn’t be all that upset (considering you did live to the ripe old age of 93) I can’t help but feel a sense of emptiness inside whenever I think that you will no longer be here.

No, you do not know who I am but I certainly know you. Years ago, my grandmother told me all about how she loved watching your performances as Andy Hardy in “A Family Affair” and “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy”. Films that were well before my time.

For the next few days, I’ll be reading obituaries from people and publications who will try their best to memorialize your life and body of work. Most of them will remember you for things like your honorary Oscars, hanging out with Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn or being one of the last real heroes from Hollywood’s Golden Age. And I’m sure the gossip columns will once again bring up your failed marriages (including a short one to legendary actress Ava Gardner) or claims of elder abuse.

But me? I will always remember you for just one thing. Not for Andy Hardy or Mr. Yunioshi from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or even the mentally challenged Bill Sackter, the role that won you a Golden Globe and Emmy Award. On the contrary, I will always remember you as Santa Claus, the clay mation character you portrayed in those wonderful 1970′s Rankin Bass specials that I enjoyed watching every year as a child.

Because whether you know it or not, you taught me valuable lessons in your performances as Kris Kringle. Important, philosophical things like:

How to put one foot in front of the other:

And most importantly, how to believe in Santa Claus.

Whenever I watch these specials (even all of these years later) I am young again and you are still here.

So as you go forth on to your final destination, take comfort in the fact that generations of children (even forty-five year old ones like me) will always think fondly of you at the end of every year.

Godspeed Mr. Rooney.

Your friend,

Jimmy

Flowers In December: Actress Gabrielle Stone Discusses New Film Project

Wallace-StoneWhen writer/director JT Mollner first sat down to write “Flowers in December” a few years back, his main inspiration was his friend, legendary actress Dee Wallace.

Having seen flashes of her real character range in films like “The Frighteners”, Mollner wanted to write something equally dark, but much more realistic for Wallace. But what started out as a sort of one woman show quickly evolved into an ensemble piece featuring other interesting characters and a dark, complex love story. A story that Mollner himself says is one of the most interesting and compelling things he’s ever written.

Flowers in December tells the story of Hannah, a hard living “bad girl” in her mid 50’s who gave up on life years ago when she lost her one true love to uncontrollable circumstances. Now, meandering through her days on auto-pilot, she lives a gritty, yet stable life in a West Texas trailer park with her new husband and 22-year-old daughter, Holly. Even though on the surface it seems she’s picked up the pieces, a deep obsession with her lost love still consumes her, and she will stop at nothing to reunite with him. Even if it means the destruction of her new family, madness, or worse.

The film stars Dee Wallace (E.T, Cujo, The Frighteners) along with her real-life daughter Gabrielle Stone (CUT!, Speak No Evil, Zombie Killers), Robert Craighead (Children’s Hospital, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and JB Blanc (The Count of Monte Crisco, Breaking Bad).

Mollner, along with producer Chris Ivan Cevic have recently launched an Indigogo campaign to help turn their vision into a “cinema ready” film. With typical film projects, everything is already panned out. But the cool thing about Indigogo is that everyone who contributes becomes more personally involved in the film’s success. Here’s your chance to help make that happen.

As a “thank you” for contributing to the project, there are numerous rewards available. Everything from Executive Producer Credit to signed DVD’s, autographed posters, a chance to visit the set and even a rare opportunity to be the only featured “extra” in the film.

I spoke with actress Gabrielle Stone about her role in the film and how fans can help.

How did you become involved in “Flowers In December”?

I signed on after JT sent me the script. I’ve done two shorts with him before, both that were winners at The Hollyshorts Festival and received distribution. The script was fantastic and he had an amazing cast assembled that drew me to the project.

What attracted you to the story?

I love the theme of the script. It’s all about the positives and negatives of love and relationships. How love can trap us in unhealthy circumstances as well as set us free. In a short film, it explores numerous different outlooks in various relationships.It’s the story of a woman’s undying love for someone and how it affects her and those around her.

Flowers in December Cast (l to r: Robert Craighead, Dee Wallace, Gabrielle Stone, and JB Blan)

Flowers in December cast (l to r: Robert Craighead, Dee Wallace, Gabrielle Stone, and JB Blanc)

Tell me a little about the Indigogo project and how fans can help!

You can simply go to the website and select how much you’d like to contribute. They’ve set up a bunch of perks you can receive. There are some great photos and videos being released every few days for people to check out as well.

Let’s discuss another one of your upcoming projects. What can you tell me about your role in “Zombie Killers”?

I play Nikki Slater, the main characters girlfriend. She’s a tough chick with a good heart. It was definitely an awesome role to bring to life.

As an actress, do you feel any added pressure having to work with your mom?

Not at all. I love my mom and she’s my best friend, but on set she’s just another co-star I’m working with. We had a great time shooting our one scene together. It was the first time we had gotten the chance to work together. She plays my boyfriend’s mom in the film.

What is your favorite movie that your Mom has made?

“Cujo”. I still think she should have been up for the Oscar for it. After that film I knew I would always be safe…cause my mom could kick ass with a shotgun! [laughs].

What else are your currently working on?

“CUT!” should be out later this year and “Speak No Evil” just got picked up by Lionsgate and will be releasing later this year as well. I’ll be shooting “Stray” starting in May for three weeks in Pennsylvania. I get to work with my Zombie Killers co-star Dan McLaughlin again so I’m looking forward to starting it. Then a week after I wrap on “Stray” I’ll be in NYC shooting ‘Once When I Was Dead’, a festival short with Scott Perry.

How early on in life did you know that acting was going to become a passion?

I always thought I wanted to be an actress because I watched both my parents do it growing up. But it wasn’t until I did my first short film (which was with JT Mollner) that I realized I never wanted to do anything else.

For more info on Flowers In December and how to contribute Click Here!
(Even if you are unable to make a financial contribution please help
spread the word with others on social media, email or by word of mouth!)

Against All Odds: Author / Humanitarian Joey Parker Discusses Inspirational New Book

JoeyParkerMovementJoey Parker was at a crossroads in his life. Growing up in a very conservative town in Idaho, he often struggled with his own personal identity and relationships as well as with college and his purpose in life. It wasn’t until a trip to Africa that Joey was able to find his true calling. A passion to make a difference in the world that would result in the creation of an entire movement.

Today, Joey’s humanitarian efforts have not only resulted in raising funds and awareness for those suffering in third world countries, but also for the major social and ecological issues here at home. Joey also regularly contributes articles and interviews highlighting the positive side of Hollywood for his own website as well as for MTV Act.

Joey’s first book, The Joey Parker Movement: Against All Odds is an insightful collection of personal stories offering today’s youth encouragement in overcoming life’s obstacles. From dealing with anxiety to coping with heartache and death, the book is a primer for building a better perspective and world. With celebrity contributions from the likes of Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Kristin Cavallari and even a foreword by Paris Hilton, Joey’s book is a story of one man’s dream for the future and a how-to guide for living a better life.

I spoke with Joey about his inspiring new book and movement.

How did the idea for the book come about?

I always thought my story was unique and interesting and the idea of writing a book was something that was always on my bucket list. About two years ago, I reached out to a publishing company that was following me on Twitter and about a week or so later we had a conference call. They loved the idea and concept for it and the process began.

What was the writing process like for you?

I’ve never done anything like this before so I spent a lot of time writing at night, writing in coffee shops and going back and forth with my editors. It was a learning process, but such an amazing project to work on. In the book I talk about many different subjects that were tough for me to go through. I think it will really help other people come into their own as well.

A lot of celebrities made contributions to the book. Tell me a little about that.

All of my relationships in the book came about randomly through Twitter, interviews or through some of the work that I’ve done. I’ve maintained many of those relationships so when the opportunity came to reach out with the idea for the book, they all loved it and wanted to write-up pieces for it.

Joey-ParisWhat made you decide to include the foreword by Paris Hilton?

Paris has such a unique voice. A lot of people tend to see her through a different lens (i.e. tabloids), but she’s a smart entrepreneur who’s grown such an incredible business empire. She’s a fascinating person in pop culture and there’s a lot of pop culture throughout the book. I really wanted to add her voice to the foreword.

What was the inspiration that started The Joey Parker Movement?

It was during a time when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life and figuring out who I was as an individual. I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was go on a really big trip, so I went to Africa. While I was there I saw a whole other side of the world I never thought I would get to see. When I came back I knew I wanted to do something. I just wasn’t sure what it was.

What did you do next?

I decided to start blogging and writing about the positive side of pop culture. I began writing articles, Tweeting and reaching out to celebrities for interviews. I wanted to show a different side of Hollywood. The positive side. There’s so much negativity out there and people just tearing each other down. I want to embrace the good. That’s where the theme of my website and book came about.

How would describe The Joey Parker Movement?

It’s an evolving theme that’s based on living with a positive attitude and embracing the good in life. For the website, it’s about embracing the good in Hollywood and showing a different side that people don’t often get to see.

What disappoints you the most about what’s going on in the world today?

I am disappointed in the lack of compassion that so many politicians around the United States have when it comes to LGBT rights. I was just at a hearing in Boise, Idaho where I was able to talk with protestors who were urging Idaho politicians to “Add The Words” to the Idaho Human Rights Act (adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”). For months, activists went to the capital to protest yet politicians throughout Idaho once again ignored the people. After my visit to Boise, three LGBT teens committed suicide.

The time is now to speak up, and politicians need to wake up. We must begin to pass laws that protect our people. The youth of our country need support and I hope through my book the younger generation can find some extra hope that boosts them forward.

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Consequently, what excites or encourages you about what’s going on in the world today?

How passionate our generation is. I believe we are a unique generation that is ready to push toward a positive future. We truly are ready to make a difference. We are sick of the cycle we have seen in the past and are ready to take it into our own hands. We are vibrant go-getters ready to take on the obstacles we have ahead and pave our own ways.

What’s the message you’d like people to take from reading your book?

Happiness is an inside job. Looking within ourselves may be scary, but it’s facing our inner battles that unlocks the path toward true happiness.

For more on The Joey Parker Movement
Be sure to check out his official website by Clicking Here!

Pretty Rosebud: Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre Discuss Emotional Film

Pretty Rosebud

While working on various film and television projects, actress Chuti Tiu was motivated to write a story about the reflecting values of women in Asian-American culture. Together with actor/director (and real-life husband) Oscar Torre they’ve brilliantly captured that vision as well as the essence of crossing from one stage of life to the next with their emotional new film, Pretty Rosebud.

In Pretty Rosebud Tiu plays the role of Cissy Santos, a career driven woman desperately searching for what will truly make her happy and in the process makes questionable decisions and encounters family rebellion. Moving and at times controversial, the film explores the traditional roles of women in immigrant culture and what happens when those expectations are ignored. Pretty Rosebud also stars Kipp Shiotani as Cissy’s out of work husband Phil, himself going through a transitional struggle of his own.

In addition to his supporting role, Oscar Torre shines in his directorial debut. With no formal education in film production but having spent countless hours on set as an actor, Torre delivers a true sense of Tiu’s flawed, believable characters going through transition. A coming of age for adults and a passion project for both Tiu and Torre, Pretty Rosebud takes a personal, intimate look at family rebellion and infidelity. More importantly, it’s a story about about striving to find your own voice.

The film is set to premiere at the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto, Canada in early April to be followed by a theatrical run in select cities across America. More festival and release dates will soon follow to make this must-see film accessible to all.

I spoke with Tiu and Torre about the making of Pretty Rosebud and more.

Chuti Tiu

Chuti Tiu

What inspired you to write the story?

Chuti Tiu (Tiu): In terms of values, I really wanted to explore the conflict between immigrant parents and first generation American born children. As children, we’re taught to follow the sometimes stereotypical pressures from family tradition, religion and culture. It’s only when we become adults that we realize it might not be something we want. Then there’s the idea of infidelity. When a man is unfaithful, society doesn’t seem to be as antagonistic as much as if it were a woman. I wanted to explore that as well.

 

 

Oscar Torre

Oscar Torre

Oscar, did you always plan to direct the film?

Oscar Torre (Torre): Originally, I hoped to just have a part as an actor, but as we started looking at directors and thinking about what we were looking for I began to think that it might be something I could do. I had never directed anything before and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on that pressure and responsibility. Finally, I just threw it out there and to Chuti’s credit, we were both on the same page.

Tiu: I remember the first time Oscar read the script. He really loved it and wanted me to make it. Then as our relationship grew, he encouraged me more and more. I have to credit his encouragement and belief in me that it got done.

What was the filming process like?

Torre: It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I really enjoyed the creative aspect of putting it all together. From story boarding, to determining camera shots and even choosing colors for the walls. Then being able to go out and actually shoot a film that had already been inside my head for months. There were some challenges along the way when things didn’t work out the way I had originally envisioned, but I really enjoyed the process of overcoming them.

What was it like working with Kipp Shiotani?

Tiu: Kipp was wonderful and was really involved in the creative process. For us, it was almost like playing tennis. You’re really able to volley back and forth when you find someone who is just as passionate as you are about the craft and story.

What can you tell me about the film’s upcoming theatrical run?

Tiu: We’ll have our Canadian premiere in Toronto next month and will then be having showings in LA, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Milwaukee and Miami.

Torre: We’ve also been chosen for the Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii at the end of May and have a few more festivals lined up. Then we’ll be looking into a larger theatrical release and VOD.

What other projects are you currently working on?

Tiu: I’m currently writing a project of my own that has to deal with the issue of death and how we wrap our heads around it. I also play Nurse Lailani in a series called Chasing Life which premieres this summer on ABC Family.

Torre: I play a lead role in a film called “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe” that’s coming out April 15th on Red Box. I also have a script for a short film that I’ll direct and also star in with Chuti. It’s the story about two characters from two different worlds who have nothing in common but meet once a week in a motel room. There are a few twists in the story as well. Then there’s Lunarticking, which is a film Chuti and I co-wrote along with a friend. It’s an emotional thriller that we hope to start filming at the end of the year.

Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre

Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre

How does completing this film compare to some of your other projects?

Torre: It’s much more rewarding. In a way, it’s like having a child. You don’t know what he or she is going to grow up to be like or how they’ll be perceived by the world, but you’re proud with each step that you take. Having people come up and tell us they identify with the characters is the real gift. It was our vision, but it took the help of a lot of people behind the scenes to make it happen. As an actor and director you often get a lot of credit, but if you don’t have a great team bringing their own creativity and input you don’t have a film. Our cast and crew was extremely diverse in background and it was important to have that kind of family to work with. They’re all part of this journey and its been fantastic.

Tiu: As an actor, I always thought of myself as one of the colors being used for an amazing painting. For this project, Oscar and I have been the painter and the canvas as well as some of the colors. It’s been our baby from the blank page on up and it’s great to see that we’ve been able to move and inspire people. It’s why we create art in the first place.

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Follow Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre on Twitter: @ChutiTiu @OscarTorreActor

Chris Robinson Brotherhood Guitarist Neal Casal Talks Gear and New Album, ‘Phosphorescent Harvest’

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Phosphorescent Harvest is the third studio release from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

The album — which features Robinson, the former Black Crowes vocalist/guitarist, along with guitarist Neal Casal, keyboardist Adam MacDougall, drummer George Sluppick and bassist Mark Dutton — is a treasure trove of soul that advances the band’s bluesy, kaleidoscopic sound.

Songs like “Shore Power,” “Badlands” and the beautiful “Wanderer’s Lament” contain tasty, inspired guitar arrangements; meanwhile, Robinson’s lyrics are thoughtfully constructed from dreams and casual observation.

Starting in April, CRB will embark on a tour in support of the new album. It’s a tour that will take them through the highways and byways of the U.S. for remainder of the year.

In addition to working with Robinson, Casal has performed alongside other heavyweights, including Ryan Adams and Phil Lesh. He’s also released a reflective book of personal photos that were shot during his years touring with Adams.

I recently caught up with Casal to ask him about the new CRB album (which will be released April 29), his playing, photography and more.

Christ Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

GUITAR WORLD: How do you approach doing a Chris Robinson Brotherhood album as opposed to some of the other projects you’ve been involved with?

CRB is the most expansive band I’ve ever been in terms of freedom of expression in guitar playing. Chris really encourages us to bring our adventurousness, personality and whimsical character into our playing. I got to really do my thing all over this record. It’s a guitar player’s dream.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Neal Casal
by Clicking Here!

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