Author Archives: James Wood

‘Muck': Writer/Director Steve Wolsh talks new horror film

MuckAfter narrowly escaping from an ancient burial ground buried under the marshes of Cape Cod, a group of friends emerge from the thick darkness, tattered and bloody. They soon stumble upon an empty Cape Cod vacation house and break in to take shelter. But whatever was in the marsh is still after them and the group soon learns that the evil that’s hunting them isn’t the only thing that wants them dead.

Shot in state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD resolution, “Muck” is the debut film by writer/director Steve Wolsh. The film stars horror icon, Kane Hodder [“Friday The 13th series], as well as 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Jaclyn Swedberg.

What makes “Muck” so interesting is the fact that it’s actually the second film in a horror-fueled trilogy. Although releasing the second film of a three-part series first may cause some confusion, there is more than enough suspense, gore and beautiful women in this first “chapter” to lay a foundation for what will surely become one of horror’s most engaging film trilogies.

I recently spoke with writer/director Steve Wolsh about his vision for “Muck” in this exclusive interview.

What made you decide to take on the role of filmmaker for this project?

I’ve always wanted to make films but always held a real job as well as having other responsibilities. I was about to turn thirty and finally realized that this was the time. So I quit my job, sold everything and made a movie. Even though I had a limited budget I really wanted to do something that was different and unique. It’s three stories and 347 pages of script with “Muck” being the middle 86 pages. It was the part of the story I wanted to tell first. Then we’ll do the prequel and then the sequel.

What inspired the story?

I wanted to tell a story in Cape Cod because that’s where the house I own is (which is also the one used in the film). I wanted a certain look and feel and that was motivated by the idea of telling a story in an unnatural way. I just started writing and at some point had all the ingredients for a trilogy. Even though this film is the middle part, everything will eventually make sense. There are so many options for characters and things we can do. It’s more than you get from your typical horror film, and all of that flowed into “Muck”.

How would describe this story of “Muck”?

It’s almost like a bad dream, because there’s no beginning and no end. And even though you may not understand it at first, you’ll want to watch it again. It pays homage to old school horror by taking some of the things that you’ve seen before but exaggerating them. For example: in some typical horror films there always seems to be a hot girl walking around in her underwear. That’s when I thought, “Ok. What if we had a chick walking in her underwear from the opening scene?” [laughs]. Those are some of the things that we did.

How did Kane Hodder get involved in the project?

He was the very first person I wanted. I really wanted to start a franchise and there was no better way to do that than by getting Kane Hodder. What makes “Muck” work was not only the vision of the movie, but also the continuity. Kane read the script, loved it and wanted to be a part of it. He came out for three days, filmed for one and went through six hours of makeup. He was a blast to work it.

You wore so many hats on this project [writer, director, producer]. Did you encounter many challenges during the filming process?

There were many, but this was something that I’ve always wanted to do. Some days you get kicked in and some days everything goes right. You take the good with the bad and learn how to navigate. There was no rulebook. You just have to do it.

One of the things that makes “Muck” so interesting is your desire to not to use any CGI for effects. Why did you decide to go that route?

As a horror fan, I think people enjoy it more without CGI. It reminds them more of the old school horror. The idea of having fake blood come up through a pitchfork and then spraying out looks much better than filming a scene and then adding imaginary blood afterwards. The challenge of figuring out how to do it also makes it more fun. Like, how do we drag someone off the balcony by a rope and then fall 35 feet? Or how to we drag a naked girl up the stairs with a real axe? [laughs].

What can you tell me about the prequel, “Muck: Feast of Saint Patrick”?

In a lot of ways, it’s nothing like “Muck” because there are certainly other things to be worried about in the marsh. In “Muck”, you also don’t see the characters of Desiree, Noah, Billy and Kylee as normal. You only see them as freaked out and hurt. In the next film, you’ll get to meet them and know them better. What’s interesting is that you’ve never seen a horror movie where you see people die, but know that they’re still “safe”. Some people may love it or hate it because they might not understand it, but I’m slow plating you. There are things best left to the imagination. You’ll appreciate it more when you find out the answers. It’s three films worth of movie but I’m not giving it to you all at once. When you watch the prequel and then watch “Muck” again, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on. And when it’s all over, it’s going to be something bigger than you get with typical horror.

Now that “Muck” is completed, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to getting to work on the next movie. I’m ready to get back at it and take all of the things I’ve learned from this one into the next. That’s going to be exciting. I’m really proud of the fact that this movie exists. It feels really gratifying to know that my movie is in stores in places I’ve never been to. The fact that “Muck” exists and is part of the universe forever is the thing I’m most proud of.

“Muck” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

‘Tech N’ Roll’: Seek Irony Guitarist Alex Campbell Talks New Album and Gear

SeekIronyModern rock/electronica band Seek Irony arose out of Tel Aviv, Israel’s burgeoning music scene.

But it wasn’t until founding members—and brothers—Kfir and Rom Gov relocated to Austin, Texas, that things really began to change.

Shortly after their arrival, the brothers welcomed several new band members, including Berklee-trained guitarist Alex Campbell.

As evidenced by the band’s recently released debut album, Tech N’ Roll, Campbell’s arrival takes Seek Irony to a different level altogether. “Devil in Me” and “Skin 2 Skin” reflect dark themes while still tastefully showcasing the band’s ability to combine electronic elements with inspired, hard-rock riffs.

Seek Irony features Kfir Gov (vocals), Rom Gov (drums), Mikael Oganes (synths), Adam Donovan (bass) and Alex Campbell (guitar).

I recently caught up with Campbell to ask him about Tech N’ Roll, gear and more!

GUITAR WORLD: How did you get involved with Seek Irony?

Back In 2013, I was doing a solo band while I was on a break from school. I was unsure if I was going back to Berklee and ultimately decided to audition for the band. I went down and met Rom and Kfir, and we really hit it off. They gave me music to learn; I auditioned, got the gig and have been full time ever since.

How did you approach recording for the band’s new album, Tech N’ Roll?

Rom and I come from a Dream Theater world in our approach to our instruments. My focus was to maintain that understanding on the guitar and translate some of that into the new music. It’s driven and heavy and a good mixture of hard rock and electronica.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Alex Campbell by Clicking Here!

Actor Terry Dale Parks talks upcoming blockbuster projects, career

TerryDaleParkFans of science fiction blockbusters will certainly be seeing see a lot of Terry Dale Parks this year. The Oklahoma born actor will be seen in no two of the most highly anticipated films of 2015.

First up is Terminator: Genisys, a film that returns Arnold Schwarzenegger to the series he made famous that opens July 1.

Next up is “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”, the sequel to last summer’s blockbuster and the second part of the young-adult dystopian science fiction trilogy written by James Dashner. The film opens in theaters on September 18.

And if all that weren’t enough, Parks also has a recurring role on the upcoming ten-episode ABC drama, “Astronaut Wives Club” alongside actors Yvonne Strahovski and Desmond Harrington.

I recently spoke with Parks about these blockbuster projects and how he got started in acting.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about Terminator: Genisys?

For purists of the original Terminator films, this one is completely dedicated to taking it back to the original feel of the first films, particularly with the whole Sarah and John Connor relationship. Plus, there’s some great twists and turns that no one will see coming. Even the way they’re able to have Arnold return is so creative. The storyline is definitely for the Terminator purists.

What was it like working with Arnold?

It was amazing. I remember when we first got to New Orleans for a table read. Arnold was there and there was such energy in the room that everyone was excited. The interesting thing about Arnold is that he has gone through a character arc in his own life – especially with his political career. He has such a kind, almost fatherly essence and charm to him that was just fascinating to watch.

Another film you’re involved in this year is “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” . How did that project come about?

I’ve always been a big Sci-Fi fan and one night on a whim, I decided to go the movies to see the original “Maze Runner” film. It just blew me away. It was such an entertaining ride and the chemistry with the kids was amazing. The next day, I happened to get a call from my agent who told me that I had a reading scheduled for Maze Runner 2. The turnaround was so quick that within a week, I found myself standing outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico with the same kids I had just seen in a movie only a week ago! [laughs].

We’ll also be seeing you in a recurring role in “Astronaut’s Wives Club”. What can you tell me about that?

It’s based on a series of books that follows the mission of astronauts from the 1960’s. It was during a time when all of these big things were going on: the civil rights movement, rioting and war. The astronauts back in those days were like superheroes. They did things that were not humanly possible – like going to the moon. I think the great thing about the story is that we’re able to see that these people are human beings and put their pants on one leg at time just like everyone else. I play the role of Jim Webb, who was the government official in charge of overseeing NASA. He wasn’t necessarily a well liked person from the astronauts’ perspective, but he’s a very interesting character.

Can you tell me a little about how you got started in acting?

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma with an older brother who was very artistic. The two of us would always watch sketch comedies together like The Carol Burnett Show and Saturday Night Live. He’s one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met and we would often put together our own sketches for the neighborhood kids to watch. Then when I was in junior high school my brother started getting involved with competitive drama. I remember following him around to his tournaments and was just fascinated by it. It made me realize there was something else to do in high school other than play football. That’s when I started to get involved.

What happened next?

After college, I moved to LA and spun my wheels there for a long time. It eventually got to the point to where I was either going to be homeless or I could go home to the ranch I had recently inherited. It was a no brainer. I decided to move back to Oklahoma and started working a day job. Then one day, a friend of mine wanted to take me to a casting director workshop. I was hesitant at first but had such a great time and a few weeks later the director cast me in a film with Thomas Haden Church and Joshua Jackson called “Lone Star State of Mind”. That led to more films and the next thing you know, I was back in Los Angeles! It’s funny how things come together.

What excites you the most about the future?

I feel like I’m at a point in my career where I’m in the right place at the right time. I just finished another great role on “NCIS New Orleans” with Scott Bakula, who is another fantastic guy. It’s really rewarding for me to be involved in projects where I can pick up a lot and be around people who are so good at what that they do. It’s been a really rewarding career.

Photo by: Peter Konerko

Three Days Grace Guitarist Barry Stock Discusses Gear and New Album, ‘Human’

ThreeDaysGrace-HumanHuman, the new album by Three Days Grace, is the first to feature new vocalist Matt Walst, who happens to be the brother of TDG bassist Brad Walst.

Besides bringing a familiar face to the band, Matt’s arrival heralds a new-found dynamic; Human introduces heavier, darker shades to the band’s songwriting and sound. New tracks like “I Am Machine” offer inspired, hook-laden riffs while “Painkiller” tackles more personal topics from a unique point of view.

Human, which will be released March 31, reunites Three Days Grace with producer Gavin Brown, who was at the helm for the band’s platinum-selling self-titled debut in 2003.

Three Days Grace also includes guitarist Barry Stock and drummer Neil Sanderson. We recently tracked down Stock to discuss the new album, his gear and more.

GUITAR WORLD: What was it like reuniting with Gavin Brown?

Gavin is awesome because he brought us back to the past. When he’s with us, it’s almost like having a fifth member of the band. He really has an ability to see inside of us and pull out these really deep feelings. He’s also great at making it not just about the lyrics but more like a conversation. He really gets involved in the music and creating sounds, and it was a blast working with him.

How would you describe Human?

Human is the perfect title for this record because there’s been a lot of inner-struggle and loss in the last few years. We’ve had a few people close to us pass on and some addiction and personal issues. This record is really about the last few years of our lives.

What was the writing process like?

We did a lot of writing for this album while we were on the road. It was all about gathering riffs, melodies and vocal ideas. Then we would all get together in a room and start throwing all of the ideas around. It started from there. Songs can come from anywhere. Whether it’s a cool riff, a chorus idea or even just an emotion.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Barry Stock by Clicking Here!

‘Turn’: Actor Samuel Roukin Discusses Revolutionary War Spy Drama

SamuelRoukin2

What do you get when you combine phenomenal writing and acting with a historical based spy thriller? You get, “Turn: Washington’s Spies”, the new AMC drama series that tells the true story of spies during the American Revolution who helped give rise to modern espionage tactics and gave freedom to our country.

“Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season” is a new 3-disc set that’s available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD. The package contains all ten episodes from the show’s first season as well as a plethora of bonus features, including a history of the show, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.

English actor Samuel Roukin plays the role of John Graves Simcoe on “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. A ruthless lieutenant whose high stakes, emotional affections for the beautiful Anna Strong (Heather Lind) is matched only by the viciousness he holds for the rebel alliance.

I recently spoke with Roukin about the release of the first season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. He also gives me a sneak peek at the brand new season of the series, which airs April 13 on AMC.

How did the role of John Graves Simcoe come about for you?

I had originally read for a bunch of roles for the show when they offered me the role of Simcoe. In the original pilot, Simcoe is killed. So we filmed the scene where Simcoe was shot and I thought that was all there would be. Then after the show was picked up, I remember getting a call from producers telling me that the show just wasn’t the same without Simcoe and that they were going to rewrite the pilot and keep the character on the show. That’s really how it all began.

What was it about the show that attracted you?

One thing you must know is that in England, we get taught absolutely nothing about the American Revolution…. and we all know why! [laughs]. But when pilot season comes around each year, the really good scripts just pop out. Apart from that, the writing on this pilot was just phenomenal. You could see the world and the characters and the relationships were very clear. I immediately connected with the material and wanted to be involved. I wasn’t thinking about Simcoe initially, but when the time came my whole creative outlook just opened up. I saw so many options with this guy and had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do with him. He’s a character of such depth and complexity with so many different layers and extremes. He’s someone who’s completely viscous and unpredictable and it’s been great fun developing him.

In season one we see quite a bit of Simcoe’s affections for Anna. Will we be seeing more of this dynamic unfold in season two?

Absolutely. Simcoe really believes that there’s something there with Anna, and it’s interesting that he’s not just trying to intimidate her. In his mind, he really believes he has a chance with her and that there’s some sort of connection. That’s what keeps him coming back. I think he’s genuinely in love with her.

In the season one finale we see a brutal execution scene. Do you feel at that moment we’ve started to see the real face of John Simcoe?

What’s great about the development of the story is that by the end of season one every character has been changed significantly. For Simcoe, he’s always been expected to toe the line under an authority in which he believes to be indecisive and lacking in real military might. So when the crisis moment happens and the town they’ve been sent to defend is under attack, in his mind it’s very clear what needs to happen. I think one of the most dangerous things about Simcoe is that he knows exactly what the solution to the problem should be — even though it doesn’t chime with most human beings [laughs]. In his mind, Major Hewlett [Burn Gorman] wasn’t doing his job and the rebels needed to be sent a message. So in that regard he’s really acting on military instinct. He’s also hell bent on revenge for what’s happened to him and it was the perfect opportunity for payback.

What can fans expect from season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”?

From Simcoe, you’ll see what happens to him after his arrest. We know through history that he eventually takes over the Queen’s Rangers and we’re heading towards that. The Queens Rangers are a group of Special Forces sent in to do specific jobs and are a lethal force. Generally speaking, the tempo and velocity of the show goes off the charts in season two and it becomes a more intense, high stakes spy show with some really brutal events that take place. It’s all very exciting.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor when you were growing up?

Yes. From a young age I was drawn to it. My parents would always take me to the theater when I was growing up and I grew up in a family where there was a lot of storytelling and it fascinated me. I got involved in theater early on but didn’t know that it could be a job until late into my childhood. For me, it was always just one big, fun thing to do. But once I found out that you could do it for a living, that was it! Everything I did from that point on was driven on making it happen!

If you had to describe season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies” in just two words, what would they be?

That’s easy. “High intensity”.

Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season
Is available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD
Season Two premieres Monday, April 13 on AMC

‘Fallen’: Author Annie Lobert Talks Powerful New Book, Testimony and Mission

FallenAlthough some may wonder why author Annie Lobert decided to name her new book, “Fallen”, the title of her first book has a dual meaning. Not only is Lobert’s journey of falling down and rising up a story of redemption, but the book’s title also comes from the name Lobert used in her job as a former prostitute and sex trafficking victim (although Lobert’s working names was pronounced “fallon”).

Growing up with aspirations of becoming an artist Lobert’s personal testimony of sex, drugs and violence is at times tragic, often reaching the lowest of lows. But in the end Lobert discovers that the love she longed for was with her all the time. And her new found peace has given her the strength to help others overcome their own personal demons.

Today, in addition to being the wife of Stryper guitarist Oz Fox, Lobert runs “Hookers For Jesus”, a Christian faith-based non-profit that addresses the issues of prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual violence.

I had the pleasure of speaking with this inspirational woman about her book, journey and mission.

How does someone who grew up wanting to become an artist, musician and dancer get involved in sex trafficking?

Those were all my aspirations and the things I wanted to do when I was growing up, but I had also come from a very hard childhood. My father was an alcoholic and was very demanding and ruled with an iron fist. We were raised in a strict military family and my father never let go of that mindset while we were growing up. He never gave me the attention I longed for and as a result I became very needy and insecure.

When I reached high school I started noticing that boys were looking at me – and I liked the attention. I thought that if I could get attention from men then I would be happy. So I sowed my oats, went out into the world and did a lot of underage drinking.

How did you first become involved in the sex industry?

After high school I had the idea of going to college and becoming a smart corporate businesswoman while learning about music on the side. Instead, I ended up going to the nightclubs on Tuesdays and Thursdays with my friend and met these guys who eventually became our sex traffickers. Hustling men out of money was something I thought I was made for. I was making $500-$1000 an hour and thought I’d be set for life. I eventually began working for escort services and at strip clubs. It turned into a culture and a lifestyle.

When did your life really begin to change in the industry?

I met a man at a club I was working in one night who I thought was my knight in shining armor. He was a drug dealer who took me to Las Vegas and one night when I came home from “work” proceeded to tell me to give him all of my money and then beat the crap out me. From that moment on he told me he was my pimp and I was his working girl and that I had to do whatever he asked me to do. Then he told me how sorry he was to have to do what he did and that he loved me and how he only did it to teach me a lesson. The craziest part of the whole thing was that even though I was shocked at getting beaten, I was still in love with him. I just fell into it and that’s how I became a sex trafficking victim.

Did anyone at any point ever offer you any help?

I met a lot of men who actually wanted to help me. One of them would always say, “Annie, you are destroying yourself!” He helped get me out of the industry and off drugs. We had a great partnership and even started a business together in Las Vegas. But our business eventually failed and I decided to go back to the only thing I knew would keep me going. Every day became a ritual. It was always get up, get high and go turn a trick. I knew better but felt comfortable about doing it because I was in so much pain mentally, physically and emotionally. I knew that no one just wakes up one morning and says, “Hey! I’m going to be a pimp or a prostitute!” But the truth was, I had been in the industry for 16 years an was now in my thirties and had thrown away all of the respect I had for my body and for myself. The pimps in my life had taken everything from me and broke me down. I thought it was over.

At what point did you hit rock bottom?

It took years for it to happen. I had never taken heavy drugs before but the first time I tried cocaine I became completely addicted. One night I was doing a lot it and wound up overdosing. It felt like a knife had gone through my chest and was stabbing me over and over. That’s when I had a heart attack and near death experience. I could actually see my coffin and watched my body float away into a dark place. And that’s when something in me cried out. I had gone to church when I was a young girl so I already knew who Jesus was and for a moment I was no longer that person in the wilderness crying out for help because there was a wolf. I just said, “Jesus, help me! I’m going to die!”

What happened next?

I wound up being taken to the hospital and remember as I was lying there being treated the doctor came up to me and told me that it was a miracle I wasn’t dead. He said, “God must have been with you.” It really clicked in my head that God had heard my prayer — and that’s where my journey started. From that day I pretty much stopped everything and started getting my life back together. I had woken up to the fact that I had been forgiven and it was a great epiphany to know that I was still loved.

Photos By Denise TruscelloJune 28 2014AnnieWhat inspired you to start Hookers For Jesus?

After everything I had done there was one person who still welcomed and accepted me — and his name is Jesus. I was so thankful that I was taken out of such a dark place that I wanted to give that same wonderful life change to another human being that was in the same place I was in. That’s what started Hookers For Jesus and basically it’s this: “We fish for people who are drowning.” Matthew 4:19.

What made you decide to write this book?

I’ve wanted to write a book for years about my story. What started out as one sheet of paper soon turned into a rough draft. By the time I had most of it written I had gone through five editors and also gotten the help from a ghostwriter named AJ Gregory. It’s been quite a journey.

What would you like people to take away from reading “Fallen”?

I want to let people know that no matter how far they’ve fallen their life actually means something and they can always get back on track. The truth is you don’t have to have been a prostitute or a victim of sex trafficking to understand what I’ve been through. When you fall, there are people out there who can pick you up as well as a higher power and greater source. All you have to do is reach out to them. The best way to receive help is to first realize that we can’t do everything on our own.

 

 

Spirits of the Western Sky: Justin Hayward Talks PBS Package, Solo Albums and The Moody Blues

JustinHaywardJustin Hayward—whose career has spanned a staggering 50 years—has played a huge role in modern music history.

Whether it’s his tasteful guitar playing with the Moody Blues or as a solo artist, or his endless catalog of classic songs—including “Nights in White Satin” and “Question”—Hayward is a true living legend.

Hayward recently assembled a five-DVD package, The Ultimate Collection, which can be yours when you make a pledge to PBS. Included is Spirits…Live, a DVD taken from a recent tour in support of Hayward’s 2013 solo album, Spirits of the Western Sky.

Also included are Justin Hayward Live at San Juan Capistrano and Justin Hayward Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both of which have been long out of print. Hayward rounds out the collection with two more DVDs, Watching and Waiting and The Story Behind Nights in White Satin, both of which are exclusive to PBS.

I recently caught up with Hayward to discuss the PBS project, his music, guitars and, of course, the Moody Blues.

GUITAR WORLD: How did this PBS project begin?

It really started with Red Rocks in 1992 when a promoter, who assumed [the Moody Blues] had always played with orchestra—when actually, we had not—pitched the idea to PBS about having us perform with the Colorado Symphony. We had never played with an orchestra before, so we decided to give it a go. Then during my recent shows with Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins, a few people from a big PBS station in Minneapolis came down to see it and loved it. They put together this idea, and I really liked it. It’s been a lovely relationship.

In addition to your Spirit’s…Live show, there’s a DVD in the package called Watching and Waiting. What can you tell me about that?

Watching and Waiting came out last November. I did quite a lot of songs on that tour that I had never done before. Even things the Moodies had never done that I had written. They worked well in this acoustic format and were really lovely.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Justin Hayward by Clicking Here!

‘Wolflight’: Guitarist Steve Hackett Discusses His New Solo Album and Genesis

WolflightYou could call Steve Hackett’s new album, Wolflight, a rock record, but it’s so much more than that.

Besides its healthy doses of rock, R&B and jazz, the album, which will be released April 7, reveals the Influence of 19th-century composers and features some unusual instrumentation, not to mention a healthy dose of Hackett’s inspired guitar work.

“Love Story to a Vampire” uses tension to describe an unresolved domestic drama, while “The Wheel’s Turning” finds Hackett recalling nostalgic childhood memories.

Musicians on Wolflight include Hackett’s longtime collaborators Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums) and Nick Beggs (bass), along with Yes bassist (and Squackett bandmate) Chris Squire on “Love Song to a Vampire” and drummer Hugo Dagenhardt on “Dust and Dreams.”

I recently spoke with Hackett about Wolflight and Genesis, as well as his plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte.

GUITAR WORLD: It’s been nearly four years since your last solo album, Beyond the Shrouded Horizon. Why such a long wait?

For the past few years, I’ve been actively involved in bringing back to the viewing public the Genesis dream that was. It’s taken up so much of my time that I had to put new stuff on hold for quite a while. The effect of that allowed me to concentrate my mind on what it was I’d like to do outside the confines of Genesis. I think that helped create a more broad based album than before.

What can you tell me about Wolflight?

Although the influence of world music is very strong, it’s essentially a rock album. Having said that, there are many guest appearances of things that go well beyond just the guitar, bass and drums. There’s a fair amount of orchestra; instruments such as the tar [from Azerbaijan], in this case played by Malik Mansurov, who kicks off the title track.

We’ve also got some duduk played by Rob Townsend, who normally plays sax with me as well as whistles and flutes. Along with Malik, we’ve twinned the tar with a digeridoo, which is played by Sara Kovacs. All of this is in addition to electric and acoustic guitars. I really wanted to mix things up and felt the genres that normally don’t get mentioned would be rich seas to plunder. There are even moments where there are hints of flamenco and French chanson as well as rock, pop, blues and jazz.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Steve Hackett by Clicking Here!

‘Cannibals’: Richie Kotzen Talks New Album, The Winery Dogs and Gear

CannibalsIn a career that has spanned more than 25 years, guitarist extraordinaire Richie Kotzen has built an impressive resume of albums that showcase his unique shredding prowess, vocals, songwriting and vast musical knowledge.

On Kotzen’s recently released 20th solo album, 2015’s Cannibals, we find the guitarist exploring some interesting new territory.

“In an Instant” and “Come on Free” offer a tasty, Seventies-AOR sound, while “The Enemy” showcase Kotzen’s slide guitar skills. Kotzen also makes the new album a multi-generational affair by including his daughter’s piano-driven song, “You.”

I recently spoke with Kotzen about Cannibals, his songwriting and his current gear setup. He also provides an update on the next Winery Dogs projects and more.

GUITAR WORLD: Lately, you’ve been busy with the Winery Dogs and releasing a compilation package called The Essential Richie Kotzen. What made you decide to release a new solo album?

I felt like it was time. I really had not released a new solo record since 2011. I remember saying to myself around that time that I’d like to take a break from myself and do a collaborative project. The Winery Dogs came at a very good time because the songs I was working on at the time, “Elevate,” “Damaged,” “I’m No Angel” and “Regret,” all ended up on that record.

They were things that we either finished or ideas that were started that ended up on the record. Plus we all wrote new material. After spending the last year and a half doing the band, I really wanted to get back to what it was I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. So I went back into the archives and found some songs I started writing many years ago. There also are brand-new songs, like “Cannibals,” on there too.

This is one of those records where I did what I felt and one that creatively and artistically was true and accurate. I don’t like having to meet a deadline or live up to someone else’s expectations. I’m at my best when I’m left to my own devices.

What’s your songwriting process like these days?

I don’t believe in consciously setting aside a time to write. For me, writing is an emotional, creative thing that requires a lot of variables to line up. To write a real song, there are a lot of things that have to go on emotionally. In my experience, the most truthful material I’ve written comes from unexpected moments. Ideas will come at you many different times and in many different ways. You just have to be prepared to recognize that inspiration and roll with it.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Richie Kotzen by Clicking Here!

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal Discusses His Eclectic New Album, ‘Little Brother Is Watching’

BUMBLEFOOT1 - Photo by Catherine AsanovFor the better part of 20 years, guitar virtuoso Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has performed at sold-out shows and festivals around the world.

Thal, whose unique guitar work is an undisputed highlight of Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album (2008), also headlines as a solo act and helps raise awareness for several constructive causes, including the Red Cross, Operation Smile and the Earthquake Relief Fund.

Although it’s been nearly seven years since he’s released a solo album, Bumblefoot is back with Little Brother Is Watching, his 10th full-length solo release.

It’s an inspired collection of eclectic, modern rock that’s packed with tasty guitar work and lyrics about life in the digital age and beyond. The songs, including the album’s title track, reflect a change in perception of who’s watching who, while “Don’t Know Who to Pray to Anymore” and “Livin’ the Dream” focus on self-reflection and the need to question everything.

Although he’s unable to discuss his current Guns N’ Roses status, you can tell in speaking with Thal that he’s at a good place in his life right now, and it’s even more obvious when listening to Little Brother Is Watching.

I recently spoke with Bumblefoot about the new album, his songwriting, gear and another new project, Art of Anarchy.

GUITAR WORLD: What spawned or inspired this new album?

It’s been too long since I’ve done an album. Although I did some one-off singles in 2011, it’s been a while since I did a full collection of music. Due to touring, there was never enough time to dedicate and keep momentum in a studio. Now that I’ve got that time, it was time to make that happen.

How would you describe Little Brother Is Watching in terms of how it relates to some of your previous work?

The foundation for everything I’ve done has been punk and classic rock. That’s what I grew up on. Everything else is icing on that cake. As I got older and with all of the time that’s passed and life experiences, there were more stories to tell. I just got more direct about telling them.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Bumblefoot by Clicking Here!

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