Author Archives: James Wood

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Talks ‘Purple,’ Whitesnake’s New Deep Purple Tribute Album

Shortly after Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord died in 2012, Whitesnake vocalist—and former Deep Purple frontman—David Coverdale reached out to guitarist Ritchie Blackmore about the possibility of working on a project together in Lord’s honor.

WhitesnakeGroup

Although both musicians were on different pages creatively at the time and couldn’t come to an agreement, the two former Deep Purple members were able to find closure, bury the hatchet on past grievances and move on.

Then Coverdale’s wife, Cindy, suggested that David pay tribute to Lord with Whitesnake. Now Whitesnake is about to unveil Purple, a new studio album that puts insanely good spins on Mark 3 and 4 Deep Purple classics and tastefully pays tribute to one of the pioneers of progressive rock.

Purple, which will be released May 19, also marks the debut of Whitesnake’s new guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, who recently replaced Doug Aldrich. Hoekstra’s resume includes Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra and Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

These days, Whitesnake includes Coverdale (lead vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Hoekstra (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums).

I recently spoke to Hoekstra about Purple and what it’s like being a part of Whitesnake.

What’s it been like to work with David Coverdale?

Working with David has been great! He’s rock royalty with all of these great stories about working with Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore. He really understands music and was very gracious in the studio in allowing us to play what we wanted to play. Now, we’re gearing up for the other aspect—playing these songs live. You talk about songs that lend themselves well to live performance? These songs were written in live performance. It’s going to be exciting.

How did the Purple project begin?

The project actually began before I was even in Whitesnake. Shortly after Jon Lord passed away in 2012, David reached out to Ritchie. He just wanted to touch base with Ritchie and thank him for helping to jump-start his career. The two of them then went into discussions about doing something together in memory of Jon, but [as I hear it] they were on different pages. It was David’s wife, Cindy who then suggested that David do it with Whitesnake. It was a great concept and a total honor for me to be a part of.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Purple, starting with “Lady Double Dealer.”

That was actually my audition for Whitesnake. I remember when I went out to Reno to meet the guys, that was the song they pulled up. They asked me what I would do for a solo. So I laid down a solo and then in the next section they started taking about a harmony solo and asked me to come up with something. So I wrote the solo that actually ended up making the record. Afterwards, they pretty much said, “Well, dude, come jam with us! Let’s do this!”

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview With Joel Hoekstra By Clicking Here!

‘The Drownsman’: Actor Ry Barrett Discusses Aquatic, Supernatural Thriller

TheDrownsmanAfter nearly drowning in a tragic lake accident, a young Madison (Michelle Mylett) finds herself bound to an uncontrollable fear of water. Unable to rid herself of her hydrophobia, four of Madison’s friends stage a desperate intervention. But in doing so, they unknowingly release a supernatural serial killer that’s determined to drag them one by one into a dark, horrifying place from which they may never return.

The premise for “The Drownsman” contains all of the goodness from many of the classic horror films of the 80’s but with its own unique twist. That being, an all female lead cast. Something that even by today’s standards is unheard of for films of the horror genre.

Directed by Chad Archibald, The Drownsman also stars Caroline Palmer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss and Clare Bastable.

Actor Ry Barrett has a history of playing nefarious villains in horror but his role of Sebastian Donner (aka The Drownsman) may be his best yet! Barrett gives life to a monster that has every evil intention of Freddy Kreuger or Pinhead, yet possesses his own twisted, demonic purpose.

I recently spoke with Barrett about his work on The Drownsman and more in this exclusive interview!

How did this project come about for you?

Chad Archibald and I go back a long way as friends and he was telling me about the idea. He asked me if I would read the script just to give him some feedback. I really liked the character so I asked if I could read for it. Originally, they were looking for an older man who was a bit more lanky and skinny. But I went in and read for the character and even wrote a separate monologue, just to see if I could creep them out. They liked what I did and changed their minds about what the character was going to be.

What was it about the script that attracted you to the role?

It all goes back to my love for these kind of characters. I loved the Hellraiser and Nightmare On Elm Street franchises. The whole idea of these tortured individuals who come back for revenge though some sort of supernatural outlet really appealed to me. I already knew it was a movie I’d love to see, so I definitely wanted to play a role in it.

How would you describe your character, Sebastian Donner?

He’s a tortured, mysterious individual who has this shoddy past. Early on, you see that he’s a serial killer who drowns women in various ways in order to receive comfort. The reason he does it is touched upon in the film but something happens through one of his victims that turns him into this supernatural entity that’s stronger, more powerful and evil.

What was the filming process like?

It was a lot of fun. There was intense make-up work and the aspect of water and shooting in winter in northern Canada posed some challenges, but it was very rewarding and great experience.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was great. I had worked with Michelle on a film called “Antisocial” that had some pretty intense scenes. So we had already built up a level of comfort and rapport together. The girls had a great chemistry even before I stepped foot on set. It was cool to jump into this family where everyone was pulling for each other. We all worked well together. 

You mentioned your relationship with Chad. Can you speak a little about how that worked in “The Drownsman”?

Chad and I go way back and have done many projects together. We know each other so well that we’ve developed this form of short hand communication. He’s able to get exactly what he wants with very few words because he knows me so well. It’s nice to work with someone who knows you in that way.

What do you love most about horror?

I love all the different things about the genre. It draws on the fears that we don’t really understand and is something everyone can relate to. There are fun horror films and ones that just want to shake you. Then there are others that just want to talk you on a ride. “The Drownsman” is one of those movies that entertains you in a scary, fun way and also takes you on that ride.

Ryan Barrett HS2Did you always know that you wanted a career in acting?

I was more focused on playing in rock bands when I was younger but have always been a movie lover.

Shortly after a few of my friends had come out of film school, they asked me to be a part of one of their projects because they knew I had also taken drama in school. That experience changed my whole outlook. From then on, I was hooked!

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

The Demolisher; which is a film I produced and acted in will be premiering at FanTasia this year. It’s directed by Gabriel Carrer. I also have another film called “Save Yourself” that will also be hitting festivals soon. 

What excites you the most about the release of “The Drownsman”?

I’m hoping that people really enjoy it. It’s a fun, throwback horror film that takes you back to the films of the 80’s. A time when a lot of people grew up and fell in love with the genre. This is a love letter to those kinds of films.

The Drownsman is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment

Richie Kotzen Talks Tech 21 Signature RK5 Fly Rig, ‘Cannibals’ and Dog Camp 2015

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen

We always love talking to Richie Kotzen. This time, we decided to talk tone.

Kotzen played a huge part in developing the Tech 21 Signature RK5 Fly Rig, which happens to play a major role in how he gets his signature sound.

While Kotzen primarily uses his RK5 live in conjunction with his standard amp rig, this compact unit embodies an entire rig on its own. At its heart is the all-analog SansAmp, which makes it possible to go direct to a PA or mixer. For effects, you have the essentials: a reverb, a delay with tap tempo, a powerful boost and Kotzen’s Signature OMG overdrive.

Below, we discuss the RK5, the Winery Dogs his new solo album and more.

GUITAR WORLD: How did your relationship with Tech 21 begin?

They had sent me a few of their delays and other pedals to try out. I took a liking to the delay and started using it as my primary one. During tours with my band, I found myself doing these fly gigs where I would fly in, do a show or two and then fly out. I really wanted something compact and easy to deal with.

What I wound up doing was combining their delay pedal with the overdrive I was using at the time and then added a foot-switch mechanism for my amp and put it all into one little box. It was crude and wasn’t always super reliable, but I showed it to Andrew Barta at Tech 21 when he was in LA and he agreed it was a great idea. It took a good six months in developing until it was exactly right.

Was there a lot of trial and error involved in the process?

The delay was simple because I already knew what I wanted. The overdrive was a little trickier. I learned a lot about circuits by comparing things but relied a lot on my ears. It went through several variations until Andrew came up with a design that’s just right. I can put that pedal in front of any amp and still get a good sound.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Richie Kotzen by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Mick Mars Talks Final Mötley Crüe Shows, New Music and More

MotleyCrueMötley Crüe recently announced the details of their final round of North American dates.

The tour—Crüe’s last, ever—will conclude on New Year’s Eve in their hometown of Los Angeles, the same city where they began their career more than 34 years ago.

Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee first announced plans for their two-year-long Final Tour last year, when they signed a “cessation of touring” document. It was an agreement that solidified the end of their touring career.

To celebrate their legacy and thank their fans, Mötley Crüe are offering exclusive VIP packages for their final tour dates; these packages include opportunities to meet the band and offer up-close-and-personal views of the show from a newly designed stage setup.

In addition to accumulating worldwide album sales in excess of 80 million units over the course of three decades, Mötley Crüe also have garnered three Grammy nominations, four best-selling books and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I recently spoke with guitarist Mick Mars about the final Mötley Crüe shows, new music and more.

GUITAR WORLD: With these last few tour dates in LA being announced, has it begun to sink in that this is the last go-around for Mötley Crüe?

Yes, absolutely. This is it. We’re done after this one. I think ending in LA is kind of like coming full circle. Although the place we actually started in, [the Starwood] is torn down and the venues we’re playing now are a lot bigger than when we started! [laughs].

What will you miss about not touring with Mötley Crüe?

It’s a bittersweet thing, but all four of us are still in business together as a corporation. So we’ll still see each other. And even though I may not see the guys on stage, I’ll still be touring myself.

What were some of the challenges the band faced coming up in the LA scene?

From what I recall, a lot of the LA bands that were going around at the time were trying to copy Quiet Riot, who were already signed. So it really came pretty easily for us because we came out with a different look and sound. We were something that was different.

You can check out the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Mick Mars By Clicking Here!

‘Peace Out’: Guitarist Gunnar Nelson Talks New Nelson Album, Guitars and ‘After the Rain’

GunnarNelsonTwenty-five years ago, two long-haired blond twins set the world on fire with their debut album, After the Rain.

At a time when glam metal was giving way to grunge, Nelson touched a nerve with the album’s hook-laden title track and “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” a Number 1 single.

Today, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson are still going strong. They perform full-band shows as Nelson, pay tribute to their father with their Ricky Nelson Remembered shows and take part in all-star Scrap Metal performances across the country.

While Nelson’s upcoming album, Peace Out [set to be released May 19] might be considered the rock band’s swan song, it might also be their best album, ever. Peace Out is an infectious collection of songs showcasing the maturity of the songwriting as well as Gunnar’s guitar prowess.

Next year, Gunnar and Matthew will begin a new duo project focusing on guitars and vocals. So if Peace Out truly is the end of the rock version of Nelson, Gunnar and Matthew are certainly going out in style.

I recently spoke with Gunnar about Peace Out and his gear and got his thoughts on the 25th anniversary of After the Rain.

GUITAR WORLD: How does Peace Out compare to some of Nelson’s previous records?

Honestly, if I were to recommend a Nelson record to someone who has never heard the band before, it wouldn’t be our first record [After the Rain]. It would be this one. This one features the best of the songwriting, guitar work and vocals. Most of all, the theme of the record is positive, and that’s what this band is 25 years in. When most everyone else is trying to be tough and rock, we want to make people feel good about listening to music.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Gunnar Nelson by Clicking Here!

‘Prom Ride’: Actress Deanna Pak talks new horror-based thrill ride

DeannaPakEveryone knows that senior prom is supposed to be a night of elegance, rejoicing and celebrating with good friends. But when a psychotic killer hijacks a group of teens’ stretch limousine on their way to the event, the group’s night of celebration unexpectedly turns into one of desperation and despair.

Directed by Kazeem Molake, “Prom Ride” is a new horror/thriller that will be released just in time for this year’s prom season. With a talented cast of actors combined with shooting a majority of the film within the confines of a limo, it offers a unique take on the horror genre.

For multi-talented actress Deanna Pak, “Prom Ride” is another opportunity to flex her creative muscle. Pak plays the role of Junie, one of the “less experienced” members of the entourage who still wants to be cool with all of the popular girls.

I recently spoke with Pak about her role in “Prom Ride”, her career and more in this exclusive interview!

What attracted you to the story of “Prom Ride”?

For me, it was a story that was entertaining and scary at the same time. It was also unique in the sense that some parts use iPhone footage while others use the master shot. So it tells the story but also tells our version of it as well. It has a glimpse of found footage in addition to the horror and I thought that was really cool.

How did you become involved in the project?

It was through a typical audition process. I remember we started shooting up towards the end of 2013. The original goal was to release it last prom season but special effects weren’t quite complete. So they decided to wait until now!

How would you describe the story of “Prom Ride”?

It’s the story about a group of teens who are all best friends going to prom. One of the friends gets the group a huge, amazing stretch limousine to take them all there. On the way, someone hijacks the limo and we all become trapped inside trying to survive. Whoever is behind it then pits us against each other and threatens to kill us if we don’t comply. So needless to say, things get pretty crazy inside of the limo! [laughs].

What can you tell me about your character, Junie?

Junie is more of the innocent girl of the bunch. She and her date both had a crush on each other for the longest time and finally get together to go to the prom together. But she also has a few secrets she keeps to herself.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was amazing. We spent so much time together rehearsing and then it was somewhere around ten straight days filming in the limo, so it became like family. We were all friends and that made it so much fun. 

What was it like working with Kazeem?

Working with Kazeem was a great experience. The thing I love about him is that he knew exactly what he wanted and was able to get it across in a very constructive way so that we would all look as good as possible.

What can you tell me about your background?

I started dancing when I was twelve and it became my main focus. Then in high school, I decided to try acting in school plays and Community Theater in addition to dance production. The part I love the most about dancing and acting is being able to tell a story. By the time I was in my second year of college I realized that acting was something I seriously wanted to pursue and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

Right now I’m currently involved in a martial arts/horror film. The director is a good friend of mine and it’s going to be a lot more action than I’ve ever done before. They have a strong cast and I’m very excited about it.

Is there a bit of advice you can share with aspiring actors? Something you’ve learned along the way?

Be yourself and be happy with who you are. That energy alone will take you a long way. Of course, your craft is very important and you should continue to master it but learn and study as much as you can about the business. Focus on the things you want to do and then work from there. Being a student forever is my best advice. Never stop learning.

What excites you the most about the release of “Prom Ride”?

I expect people will love this film. It’s a really fun movie to watch. For me to be able to be a part of this project was great. I loved the creative they way they shot most of the film from inside of the limo. The whole thing was a great experience!

“Prom Ride” will be released on April 24th

Actress Sara Castro talks career, upcoming projects

SaraCastroSara Castro is making a difference, both in life and in the entertainment world. Since her arrival to the LA scene, the beautiful actress has sought to become a beacon of hope and positivity in the roles that she plays and in the life that she leads.

Whether it’s portraying a young mother with a belief in miracles in the film, “The Shift” or donating her personal time and energy to various charitable causes, Castro’s mission is to become an inspiration to others as well as lending a hand to those that are less fortunate.

Born and raised in Chicago to Colombian parents, Castro has been performing ever since she was a little girl. And with no less than two new film projects already in the works this year, Castro’s star will only continue to rise.

I recently had the chance to speak with this amazingly talented woman about her life, career and passion as well as her upcoming projects!

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

I’ve always been involved in the arts in some way when I was growing up. Whether it was singing, acting or dancing. I even remember going to the movies a lot when I was growing up and always walking out feeling like I was one of the characters. I’d also make it a point to look around during the movie and see how people were paying attention to the film and how it had moved them. That’s what made me think it would be something cool to do.

What made you decide to make the move to California?

I did plays while I was in school and took some acting classes in college but eventually got a degree in liberal arts and journalism. I did a lot of short and independent films back home as well as anything that involved singing and dancing. But the thing that actually brought me to California was journalism. One day, I decided to make the move by myself.

What was it like suddenly finding yourself alone in California?

It was scary because I had come from a very big family and had always been protected by them. But I knew that I had to take that leap of faith and journalism was a way to get me out of my comfort zone, which was being at home. I’m so happy about that because I don’t know any other way I could have done it. But once I got here, I realized that journalism wasn’t for me and what I needed to do was move to LA in order to do what was next. I’ve been here ever since.

I’d like to ask you about one of your recent projects, “The Shift”. What can you tell me about the film and your role?

It was a wonderful experience. It’s a real heart wrenching movie and a wake-up call. You walk out of it wondering what you would do if you were in that same situation. It’s a story about dying with dignity. A topic that’s been in the news a lot lately and this movie really makes you think about it. I play the role of Carmen, the mother of an eight-year-old girl who’s dying of cancer. Carmen is very religious and believes in miracles, but that presents a struggle with a certain nurse who believes that a patient shouldn’t have to go through pain.

What attracts you to a project or script?

It’s the message and how authentic and real it is. I look for roles that have lots of substance and can challenge me. I love it when people can see me in a character and empathize with it. I want to send out good messages that make people reflect in good ways. Roles like that are very empowering.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I have two films that I’ll be shooting this year. The first is called “Outcall” where I play Francesca. She’s a girl putting herself through law school but at the same time is working as a call girl for the most powerful Madame in LA. One day, the cops go up to her and tell her to cooperate with them to help bring down the Madam or else. It’s a really cool, intense and action oriented plot.

The other film is “The Long Way” which is the story about a guy who drives from a small town in Oregon to LA to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Along the way, he happens to run into my character, Angie; a real wild child who teaches him a thing or two about life.

Both films are going to be directed by Richard Friedman, who’s a veteran TV and film director. I’ve worked with him a few times in the past and he’s so amazingly talented.

Can you tell me a little about your philanthropy?

Paying it forward is so important to me. I come from a third world country (Columbia) and whenever I go visit, I see how there are less fortunate people there and it really hits home. I love helping kids and other people who need assistance. Autism is another big deal for me as well as helping the homeless.

What excites you the most about the year ahead? What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to the opportunity of inspiring other women. I come from a single parent home where my mom has always been a pillar for me. She really motivated me throughout my life to work hard and smart and I want to be able to do the same for other women.

Is there a bit of advice you can give to someone who has dreams similar to yours?

Believe in something bigger than yourself and know that there is a powerful force somewhere in the universe that’s guiding you. It will humble and ground you and help guide you. Be persistent, always put in 120% and never let anyone say that you can’t fulfill your dream. For me, what drives me the most me is how wonderful I feel on set and being part of a project that grows into something beautiful.

Visit Sara Castro’s Official Website By Clicking Here!

Moody Blues Bassist John Lodge Talks New Solo Album, ‘10,000 Light Years Ago’

John Lodge210,000 Light Years Ago is the superb new studio album by legendary Moody Blues bassist John Lodge.

It’s Lodge’s first album of new solo material since 1977’s Natural Avenue.

The album contains some of Lodge’s most personal songs and even features guest performances by former Moody Blues members Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder.

I recently spoke with Lodge about the new album and some highlights from his career with the Moody Blues.

GUITAR WORLD: It’s been quite a while since your last solo album. What spawned this project?

I’ve been thinking about making an album for a few years now. It was based on a thought process I had where the future is always in reach but the past is gone forever. But I didn’t want to make an album that was retrospective. I wanted to make one that was about who I am today.

How would you describe the album as a whole?

I always look at the song “10,000 Light Years Ago.” When I wrote that song, I knew that’s what the album was going to be called. Then when I looked at the lyrics, it really told me what I wanted to write about. Standing there fearlessly and thinking about what’s going on in the world. To me, it’s an eclectic collection of songs that all end up 10,000 light years ago. Everything from the past has made me what I am today.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, starting with “In My Mind.” How was that song conceived?

I remember I had a flute line going through my head along with chords that kept getting bigger and bigger. I wanted the keyboards to create this audio/visual universe and for the guitars to run through it all. Then I wanted it all to easily come back down into a very easy, close lyric and twelve-string playing away and then building back up. It was a visual image in my mind.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with John Lodge by Clicking Here!

My New Facebook Page

FacebookLogoJust wanted to pass along a quick note out to everyone. If you’re on Facebook, my new page has all of my recent articles, interviews and rants in one location.

There you’ll find links to all of my Guitar World and AXS articles and interviews that I’m not permitted to cross post.

Here’s a sample list of some of my recent AXS interviews:

  • Kristian Bush (Sugarland) on his debut solo album, “Southern Gravity” which was released on April 7th.
  • Rock And Roll Hall of Famer John Oates on his new live album with Daryl Hall called “Live In Dublin”
  • Comedian Ron White on his career and upcoming projects.
  • Thompson Square guitarist Keifer Thompson on the duo’s infectious new single, “Trans Am”.
  • Y&T guitarist Dave Meniketti on his career and upcoming documentary.
  • Radio host Kerri Kasem on her famous father, Casey Kasem and mission to end elder abuse.

All of these and much more are available on my Facebook page. Please take a look and if you like what you see, give it a “like” and help spread the word!

Thanks so much for reading my articles and interviews!

‘A Fool to Care’: Boz Scaggs Discusses His New Album, Working with Duane Allman and More

BozScaggsFor his new album, A Fool to Care, Boz Scaggs once again teams up with producer Steve Jordan and puts his distinctive spin on a host of classic songs—plus a handful of new originals.

The album, the follow-up to 2013’s Memphis, features a guest appearance by Bonnie Raitt, who duets with Scaggs and adds her characteristic slide guitar to “Hell to Pay.” The song, which Scaggs wrote himself, is a knowing indictment of corruption on a personal and political level.

I recently spoke with Scaggs about his new album, recording with Duane Allman several decades ago—and about his 50 years in the music biz.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe your new album, A Fool to Care?

That’s an enormous question. It took four days to record and probably 50 years to conceive. When we started talking about doing this album, we considered a theme being the music I was inspired by [when I was] growing up. That led to some discussion about the material. We really wanted to focus on music out of Louisiana and Texas, but then we started talking about other songs we like. Guys like Curtis Mayfield came up. Then the interest broadened and we started picking them out of the air.

There’s a song by the Band on there and others by the Spinners and Al Green. Then there were a few songs that a friend of mine wrote and one I wrote one myself. It’s all styles of music that I love. We had an open ticket to do anything we wanted to do. If it felt good, we took a swing at it.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Boz Scaggs by Clicking Here!

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