Category Archives: Interview
“It wasn’t like we were at war,” Coney Hatch singer/guitarist Carl Dixon says when asked why there hasn’t been a reunion or new album in almost 30 years.
“We all had just gone off in other directions and were committed to the new projects we had taken on.”
Dixon was the singer for the Guess Who in 2008 when he was involved in a devastating car crash that left him physically unable to perform. It was then that Dixon’s loyal friend (and Coney Hatch bassist) Andy Curran organized a fundraising event in Toronto to help Dixon’s family through that tough time.
Joined by guitarist Steve Shelski and original drummer Dave Ketchum, it would be the first time the four original members of Coney Hatch were in the same room together in years. Although the band didn’t play together that night, the event gave them a new-found sense of purpose.
Over the next few years, the reunited Coney Hatch would perform several shows, including one at Firefest in 2011.
The band’s first trip to the UK would become a career-defining moment and also give them the opportunity to record a new collection of songs. The resulting album, Four, is a good representation of the tough, punchy, rock and roll sound Coney Hatch is known for, combined with an off-the-cuff, more relaxed, natural feel.
I spoke with Dixon (now fully recovered) and Shelski about the new Coney Hatch album as well as their gear and first big-time tour.
Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Dixon and Shelski by Clicking Here!
Twenty-four-year-old Lindsay Ell is a true triple threat. Not only is she an accomplished guitarist who can go toe to toe with the big boys, but she’s also a unique vocalist and gifted songwriter.
Growing up, Ell honed her craft in bluegrass camps until she was discovered at age 13 by BTO/Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman. Ell soon found herself becoming immersed in the power of the blues and sharing the stage with the likes of Buddy Guy and Keith Urban.
Ell is traveling the globe as the opening act for the Band Perry’s We Are Pioneers World Tour. Her hook-laden single, “Trippin’ On Us,” impacts country radio on December 16 [It's available on iTunes now]. Her debut album is expected early next year.
I spoke with Ell after a recent European show about her music and gear. She also offers good advice for any guitarist, male or female.
Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Lindsay and watch her performance with Buddy Guy by Clicking Here
Vocalist Margo Rey’s Christmas classic, “This Holiday Night” has become a staple of December. A vision of the holidays as seen through the eyes of a child, the beautiful song conjures up warm images of family tradition and memories of years gone by.
Rey describes her style of music as ‘Organica’; a unique blend of musical texture and groove, but it’s the infectiousness of her voice that really makes you stand up and take notice. Her album, “Habit” remained on the charts for an astonishing 21 weeks and contained the singles “Let the Rain” and “Saturn Returns”, both co-written with the legendary John Oates.
Her latest single, a cover of the Squeeze song “Tempted” adds her distinctive vibe to the classic 80′s hit.
In addition to her amazing vocal prowess and songwriting skills, Rey’s personal mission really makes her a true inspiration. A cancer warrior, Rey volunteers her time and talent to Brides Against Breast Cancer, an organization that contributes to programs for cancer patients and their families while raising funds in a rather cool and unique way.
A recent bride herself, Rey is married to comedian Ron White. While presenting an interesting dynamic, their relationship is a communion of two artists in awe of each others craft, while not being in competition with each other.
I spoke with Rey about her passion, her music and her cause.
You consider your style of music ‘Organica’. How would you describe it?
It’s an unorthodox hybrid of adult pop music that’s deeply rooted in jazz and R&B grooves with a lot of ambient vocals and texture. I like my vocals to be lush and for them to be an instrument as well.
Tell me the origin of your song “This Holiday Night”.
I really wanted to write a song that sounded like a Christmas classic. A song about the way a child experiences all the goings on in a house around the holidays. I had this idea that it was going to be a waltz and I wanted every line to end with “this holiday night”. I started out writing the melody, chords and most of the lyrics and then called up my friend Barrett Yeretsian, who had been working on songs for my “Habit” album. The two of us started kicking around images of what the holidays were like when we were growing up. We put the pieces together and that’s how it happened.
Let’s discuss a few tracks that you wrote with John Oates from the “Habit” album.
Let The Rain
John and I actually wrote “Let The Rain” the day that we first met. He had written some chords based on some of my music and when I heard it, I remember saying, “I think I have something for that.” It was a melody and lyrics that I had written around the time Ron and I were getting engaged. I had a lot of verses, but wasn’t quite sure what to make the chorus about. That’s when I told John about how I used to love playing in the rain with my Mom in the summer’s in Texas and he told me to write the song about that. So we came up with the melody for the chorus together and from there it took on a life of its own.
I had just been diagnosed with cancer four days before our writing session and the doctors were trying to get me to stay to get an MRI. I said, “No way, man! I’m going to write a song with John Oates” [laughs]. I remember telling that story to John and his eyes got really big and he was worried. I said “No! No! I’m going to be fine. This is a cancer free zone!” I showed him a chorus that I had been working on and he thought it was fantastic, but he told me that it has to be my story. So I went back to my condo that night, wrote the rest of the lyrics and we put it all together the next day.
Tell me a little about your most recent single, “Tempted”.
I’ve always loved the band Squeeze and that song always made me happy whenever I sang it. So when my radio team approached me about releasing a cover song, I told them that I wanted to do “Tempted”, but with an R&B groove.
Did you always want to be a singer?
When I was young, I used to always sing in the grocery cart whenever I was at the store with my mom. I would always sing a lot of crooner songs by Nat King Cole, Engelbert Humperdinck or Hank Williams. Then one day when I was 4, I was at my brother’s school play when this girl who was supposed to sing “Oh Jolly Playmate” started crying because she had suddenly developed stage fright. I remember going up to the school principal and telling him that I could sing, and that I knew all the words. So he let me go out and sing in front of 300 people.
A lot of things crystallized for me in that moment. It was the first time that I had ever sang with a mic and saw my shadow in the spotlight behind me. I knew right then that it was something that I wanted to do and so a few years later, I started classical training.
Let’s discuss your involvement with Brides Against Breast Cancer.
I volunteer a lot my time towards this cause and this past May, they selected me as a National Ambassador. The money they raise goes to providing free programs and services to people living with cancer. Programs people need where the doctor kind of leaves off; like wellness, nutrition and counseling. They even provide these services for family members too.
The really cool thing is how they raise money: by having brides and gown designers donate their wedding gowns. Some of the gowns that are donated by designers are unused, while others may have only been used one time. Then they’ll take the gowns that are donated on a “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” that travels to roughly 120 cities a year, selling them at a discounted price. I travel to some of the events to tell my story and to inform people about how important it is to provide these services. What better way is there to give that dress that made you so happy a life of its own than to make someone else happy and also provide programs and services to people who need them? It’s a win-win.
What’s next for you?
I’m putting together an arsenal of songs to release in the coming year. A ballad called “Colors Never Fade” that’s about standing up to what it is that scares you and never fading or getting washed out in a sea of gray. “Beautiful Train Wreck” is a song that has a cool, funky groove. It’s about how we’re all beautiful even when we’re in the midst of being a train wreck. We’re all trying to find our way. Then there’s “Happy”, which is another song that I wrote with John [Oates]. It’s about the simplicity of just being happy and how it’s never too late to be kind.
For more information on Brides Against Breast Cancer Click here
Check out Margo Rey’s Official Website By Clicking Here
Actor Brendan Dooling may have missed out on the 80′s the first time around, but he’s more than making up for it during the pre cell phone days of “The Carrie Diaries” (the prequel to the hugely successful “Sex & the City”). Dooling plays Walt Reynolds, the best guy friend of a young Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb).
Walt is undergoing his own 80′s journey of self-discovery. One that goes much deeper than gnarly fashion sense or the allure of Culture Club albums. Dooling’s performance as a closeted gay man trying to find out where he belongs is stellar, even generating an incredible fan base of followers to his character’s storyline.
I spoke with him about his role on “The Carrie Diaries” as well as his other projects and how he got his start.
What was the audition process for “The Carrie Diaries” like for you?
Originally, I had read for the role of Sebastian [Carrie's love interest], but for the callback they asked if I would read for Walt, who was the other principal male role. So I came in the following day with Walt’s sides prepared and I guess the rest is history [laughs].
Have you found it difficult or challenging portraying a gay character?
Not really. It’s challenging in that it’s a lifestyle that I personally don’t live, but there’s no great chasm between someone who’s straight and someone who’s gay. Everyone feels the same way about a lot of the same things. It’s nice though that (according to Twitter followers) I’m doing the role justice and that I’m believable. That’s the most important thing.
What’s the chemistry like on the set?
That’s the best part for me. I enjoy the show and being on the CW, but the thing that makes it all work are the people I work with. It’s a really harmonious, friendly cast, crew and production. There are no egos and everyone is looking out for each other.
You missed the 80′s the first time around. Now that you’re on a show set in that time period, what are your thoughts about it?
I think the music was such a defining factor of the era. It’s something that really brings the show together. I also remember the first time I saw those big, block cell phones they used back in the 80′s and seeing how it all started. The funny thing about it now is all of us waiting in the wings for another take while we’re texting and Tweeting [laughs].
What can fans expect as this season progresses?
There’s a lot more of Walt and Bennett [Walt's love interest]. A few episodes ago, you saw Walt trying to branch out and meet new people, but Bennett is really where his heart lies and we’ll get to see a lot of them this season. We’ll also be getting into more of the realities of what the 80′s were like for this particular community. It will be more truer to the time and represent it more accurately.
Tell me a little about your recent film, “Breathe In”.
It’s a film starring Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones that was directed by Drake Doremus, the same director who did “Like Crazy”. This is his first studio movie. It’s the story about an exchange student who comes over to stay with an American family and ends up falling in love with the father. It throws everything out of whack. For her, for his daughters and for his wife. I have a supporting role and help move the plot along. It was a lot of fun.
How did you get your start in acting?
I had a lot of energy when I was eleven and always liked being in front of a camera. I grew up in Bellport Long Island where I attended Gateway Acting School and met Robin Allan. She was the school’s director who took me under her wing and was the one who told me that I could do this for real.
What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
I definitely like to stay active. I’m a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball. I love to play pick-up games in Brooklyn where I live. Otherwise, I spend most of my time focusing on the auditions.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I have a supporting role in a film I did last summer called “Doctor Me” that should be coming out sometime next year. It’s a fantastic, dark modern take on Alice In Wonderland. It’s directed by Ty Hodges and stars Toby Hemingway and Emily Meade. I want to support it as much as I can because it’s made by such wonderfully talented, good people.
Follow Brendan Dooling on Twitter by Clicking Here
After reaching mainstream success on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Voice”, singer Terry McDermott is showing no signs of slowing down. Since the show’s conclusion, McDermott’s been busily writing and recording new music while simultaneously building a loyal following.
His fan base, known collectively as “McHobbits”, have rallied behind the singer’s every endeavor; even propelling his first hook-laden single, “Pictures” to the #1 spot on the iTunes Rock Singles chart in less than 24 hours.
McDermott’s follow-up single, “Lose This Feeling” is a personal introspective that forges new ground while also paving the way for his forth-coming EP (due early in the new year). Penned along with friend and musical collaborator Todd Burman, “Lose This Feeling” continues the trend of showcasing McDermott’s infectious songwriting ability as well as his commanding vocals.
On Sunday, December 8th McDermott will have the honor of performing the National Anthem at the New Orleans Saints NFL game before heading off for more shows in Vietnam, the U.K and Jamaica. McDermott’s band, The Bonfires includes guitarist David Rosser (Afghan Wigs); bassist Alex Smith (World Leader Pretend); drummer Eric Bolivar (Anders Osborne) and keyboardist Rich Hyland, who played in a rival Scottish band back in Aberdeen when McDermott was a member of the band Driveblind.
I spoke with McDermott about his upcoming EP as well as what he thinks makes classic rock (the genre he highlighted while competing on “The Voice”) so special.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
It’s a five-song EP with a culmination of material that was written with the band along with some songs I wrote with the guitar player from my previous band. There’s also a song on there that I wrote with a Grammy winner friend of mine that I’m really excited about.
What was the inspiration behind your new single, “Lose This Feeling”?
The basic inspiration for the song was always there. It was just a matter of capturing it at the right time. I had spent a lot of time working with Todd [Burman] at his Hollywood studio. He told me about an idea that he had and wanted me to come in and work on it with him. It was shortly before that encounter that my daughter had been born.
I had lost my mother eleven years ago and when my daughter was born she was a spitting image of her, which was something I wasn’t really prepared for. It really made me think about the bitter-sweet nature of our existence on this ball of rock. It’s that perpetual feeling. One of being so blessed and lucky to have this wonderful child in your life and then thinking about the strange, sometimes cruel nature of it. It’s part of life. That became the inspiration for the song.
Was there a reason why many of the songs you performed on “The Voice” were from the classic rock genre?
That style of music is what really inspired me growing up and made it very easy for me to enjoy my time on the show.
What do you think makes that style of music so appealing?
If you go back to the music industry in the 1970′s when bands like The Eagles were selling records, people were buying and cherishing albums. They were physically picking albums up off the shelves, taking them home and wearing them out. Bands back then were held up on a pedestal with tremendous loyalty from their fans and as those fans aged, the bands never lost that sparkle.
You also can’t take anything away from the songwriting either. It was much more singer/songwriter oriented back then as opposed to today. Just listen to any Glen Frey or Don Henley track. They’re timeless pieces. They’re songs that you can break down to just one man and a guitar and the quality will still shine through. Anything that has longevity like that should feel like classic rock, because it’s got a chance to stay on the shelf.
How important are the fans to you and your music?
You really can’t talk about one and not the other. There’s something very organic and truthful about playing shows and having your fans fly in from all over the country just to see you. It’s very rewarding. It’s also a great example of the modern-day synergy that exists between the fans and the artist. Where the record label has become superfluous to many to some degree. If you’ve got the fan base who believes in you, you can bring material to them and cut out the middleman.
It’s a great time and a lot of fun to be an independent artist. You have more flexibility to control your own destiny.
I’m sure the last thing you’d probably expect to see me do is waste a blog post talking about some of the cars I’ve owned over the years. But, I’m very nostalgic (as most of you already know) and considering that it’s been more than a quarter century since I really came into my own as a solo driver, I decided to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about two of the first automobiles that got me around on the highways and byways of this land that I love.
After you first receive your official drivers license, one of the coolest things you can do is go used-car shopping with your parents. There are aisles and aisles of horsepower as far as the eye can see, and having a say as to what car you’ll be showing off at school is one of the most important social decisions any new conqueror of the K-turn can have.
My very first car was a gray 1973 Toyota Corona wagon that my Mom purchased for $500 (along with some money I had made from working at McDonalds). It was 1986 and truth be told, I didn’t even care what kind of engine was under the hood. Four? Six? Eight cylinders? None of that nonsense even mattered to me. For all I knew, it could’ve had hamsters running in those wheel thingies for power (and if you must know, sometimes the car really did seem to drive that way).
As new drivers often do, I drove my gray Corona everywhere. Always looking for any excuse or opportunity to take it on some errand, whether up the street or across town. And considering that gasoline was around .89 cents a gallon at the time, it only made sense. Yes sir, once I became legal walking and bicycle riding went the same route as the dinosaur as far as I was concerned.
I still remember the very first day I drove it to school too. With my trusty neighbor Mike riding shotgun, we drove the back roads of Easton in the early morning sunshine. Windows down and the radio blasting Ozzy, we slowly made our way into the upper parking lot of Easton High School.
Once parked, we gathered our brown paper bag covered text books and made our way inside, making sure to give a salute to the poor unfortunates who had just arrived via the dingy, yellow school bus. It was the least I could do to let them know I still cared a bit for their plight.
Sadly, my beloved Corona began to deteriorate over the course of the school year. In December, the headlights just stopped working for no apparent reason. The following March, the right front fender began rusting off and peeling away. Fortunately for me, duct tape was the same color as my car and worked well to hold things together, but rust eventually would become my Corona’s worst enemy. At one point, the passenger side door would not open at all and in order to get in you literally had to pull a “Dukes of Hazzard” and climb through the window.
Shortly before graduation, the poor Toyota was involved in a wreck (would you believe I was turning into on coming traffic and someone just hit me?) Sadly, it was time to say good-bye to my beloved friend.
But that was when fate stepped in.
Because around that same time, my Aunt sold her well maintained 1974 Ford Torino to my brother. Bro had been driving the car for a few months, but started moving on to Mach 1 Mustangs and pick-up trucks. In a true example of brotherly love, he entrusted his beloved Torino into my care.
I was so in love with this car that I even had my picture taken next to it right before I went to attend graduation and get my HS diploma.
This car provided me quality transportation for many months post high school; being my trusty steed on youthful excursions to the mall and spending late nights parked at the Starlite Drive-Inn watching movies.
But one evening, while coming home from the mall with a bunch of friends disaster struck. I remember we were driving on the highway, just a few miles from home when I heard this blaringly loud “pop” and the engine light came on. The car was slowing down rapidly, and it felt as though I had just run over some huge piece of metal. I was fortunate to get the car off of the busy highway and onto the shoulder just as the engine completely shut off and would not re-fire. All of the love I once had for this car immediately turned into rage.
A day later, after the Torino had been towed back to the house, my brother freaked out on me. He just couldn’t understand how his well maintained 14 year old car had suddenly blown up without warning. He did some quick checking of things under the hood and then asked me the one question that to this day I still don’t have a proper answer for:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER CHECK THE OIL??”
Oil? OIL? I had driven the car for months and months and honestly, the thought of checking the oil level had never occurred to me. In my defense though, this was 1988 and you would think technology had developed enough to at the very least have a warning light come on to alert me that the engine was almost out of oil. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not a drop of oil was found in the engine and it had seized; blowing a piston into the crankshaft and destroying it completely. The car was dead.
The formerly “well-maintained” Ford Torino would now sit in silence on the hill outside of our home until I could afford the $300 to put a replacement engine into it. But even with the engine replaced, the Torino never ran quite the same again and, much like it’s predecessor, eventually went to junk car heaven.
I thought of this story again today (in November of 2013) when the “Maintenance” light came on my 2012 Toyota Corolla. Needless to say, I have a 15,000 mile appointment tomorrow morning.
I’m taking no chances.
For actress Andrea Powell, it’s more than just a sci-fi blockbuster. It’s a story about real people in extraordinary situations.
Powell, whose impressive resume already includes “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” and ABC’s “The Gates” joins Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield in “Ender’s Game” [based on the novel by Orson Scott Card and opening November 1st].
Powell plays the role of Theresa Wiggin, the mother of Ender (Butterfield), a boy chosen to save the world from alien invasion.
Ender’s Game will certainly give people a lot to talk about. It’s big and splashy, with breathtaking special effects (some done in ways that have never been seen before), and retains many of the great messages from the book.
I spoke with Powell (a hero herself) about her role in “Ender’s Game” as well as her involvement in team DetermiNation, a program which raises funds and awareness for The American Cancer Society.
How would you describe the story of Ender’s Game?
It’s a futuristic sci-fi story about an extraordinary young man who has the fate of the world in his hands. Asa Butterfield’s performance as Ender is fantastic. For such a young actor, he has a lot to bear carrying the movie and he’s completely up to it. It’s definitely a blockbuster, but it’s also a story about leadership, ethics and morality.
What attracted you most to this project?
I loved the idea of a science fiction novel that has big things to say about leadership, morality and the retaining of values in difficult situations. The way Gavin Hood [Director] approached the film was also interesting, because he did it from the perspective of the people involved.
Tell me a little bit about your character, Theresa Wiggin.
Theresa is a brilliant strategist. She’s a mom at her core and wants to protect her family and instill good values in her children. But she’s also got a struggle ahead of her. When Ender is chosen, he has to go away and there’s a certain amount of pain and loss that’s associated with it. At the same time though, she understands that what he’s doing is truly for the good of the world.
Let’s discuss your involvement in team DetermiNation.
Team DetermiNation is a group of endurance athletes who run races and raise money and awareness for The American Cancer Society. I’ve been heavily involved with them for years as both a spokesperson and running three half-marathons. I lost my father to cancer more than ten years ago and also have a lot of friends and family members who have been touched by cancer. It’s a terrible disease and too many people have to deal with it.
Do you have any advice for up and coming actors?
I always encourage people who want to become actors to primarily try to live an interesting life. Travel, learn about art and music, make friends and observe people. If your entire life is all about acting, then you won’t have any “real people” experience to draw from.
What’s next for you?
I have a holiday movie called “Christmas in Conway” that’s premiering December 1st on ABC. I play Cheri Oteri’s side kick and get to do a little comedy.
What satisfies you the most about your Ender’s Game experience?
The opportunity to work on such a wonderful script with a truly kind-hearted and talented director. When it’s all going on, you have no idea that what you’re working on is a gigantic Sci-Fi blockbuster, but then you look around and see Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and all of these other wonderful artists and you quickly realize that what you’re doing is part of something really special.
At the beginning of season one of “Orange Is The New Black”, show creators were a bit unsure as to what direction actress Selenis Levya’s character (Gloria Mendoza) was going to take.
But by the end of episode thirteen, it was quite clear that Mendoza had become a central fixture of the groundbreaking NetFlix series; taking over the prison kitchen system that had once been dominated by the feisty Red (Kate Mulgrew).
It’s a testament not only to the show’s brilliant writing, but also to Leyva’s sassy portrayal of Mendoza that’s allowed her character to develop over the course of the series; one that revolves around the story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted of a decade old crime.
Filming for season two is already underway with more amazing developments, plot twists and turns and surprises in store.
I had the opportunity to speak with Levya about her role as Mendoza as well as some of her other upcoming projects. She also discusses the appeal of shows like OITNB and when she knew she wanted to be an actress.
What first attracted you to Orange Is The New Black?
I am a huge fan of “Weeds” and after hearing that Jenji Kohan was writing and also the executive producer, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m a big fan of dramedy, and Jenji’s known for dealing with seriousness and adding elements of comedy to it. That really speaks to me.
How do you prepare for a role like Gloria Mendoza?
Gloria’s definitely a New Yorker. She’s someone who was raised in the city and there’s a certain sass and fierceness that all New Yorker’s have. I was born and raised in New York, so I was able to dig into my own sassiness and bring that forward.
Years ago, I worked in a theater arts program where we went to juvenile facilities and worked with teenagers who had been incarcerated and developed workshops and plays with them. I never would have thought that years later I’d be looking back at that time for my own research, but it was wonderful to have that kind of experience.
What’s the atmosphere like on the set?
It’s amazing. We all were kind of like freshmen in college for season one and immediately formed this close bond with each other. For season two, we’re more like sophomores, but we’re still this one amazing family.
Were you aware at the time of how successful the show would become?
I had a feeling it was going to be groundbreaking. Not just because of the amazing cast members and what I watched them do, but also because the writing is so good. We have a transgender on the show and women of various ages, shapes, sizes and platforms. It was something that had never been done before.
What do think makes shows like OITNB more appealing than those on network television?
I think a lot of it has to do with being allowed more creative freedom. The beautiful thing about Netflix is that you’re able to put it all out there at once. Network television is more censored and there are a lot of factors you have to take into consideration regarding viewership. Here, we’re able to take big risks where as the networks have to play it safer.
Was being an actress something you always aspired to be?
I always knew. I didn’t grow up in a houseful of artists, but my parents always used to watch telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) with lots of drama, tears and crazy plots. I remember just loving the idea of being able to express all of these emotions. I used to lock myself in my room and reenact all of these scenes. I knew then that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.
I have a supporting role in the upcoming film “St. Vincent De Van Nuys”. Its outrageous and funny. Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy are comedic geniuses and for me to be attached to something so fantastic is amazing. I also have an indie film called “Living With The Dead”. It’s a story that’s completely different from what audiences have been used to seeing me do and a lot more serious. I’m really looking forward to them.
What can fans can expect from Season 2 of Orange Is The New Black?
The next season is going to be deeper. We’re really exploring more of the stories with the characters and the different people who make up the amazing world of Orange Is The New Black; both inside and outside of prison. We’re still shooting so I can’t say exactly what surprises lie ahead, but I can tell you that I’m in the season and that I’m in the kitchen. It’s going to be spicy, and a lot of fun.
Being a great blues guitar player is something you can’t teach. It’s also something you can’t learn through osmosis or pick up from memorizing a songbook. It comes from the soul and either you’ve got it or you don’t. In the case of Jared James Nichols, the former applies.
Sure, the twenty-two year old guitarist took a few lessons in the beginning [and even did a stint at Berklee], but Nichols has spent most of the last eight years being locked inside of a room; taking everything he loves about the blues and finding his own voice.
Nichol’s latest album, Old Glory & The Wild Revival sounds more like the title of an old western movie, but it’s really about movement. Produced by Warren Huart, who’s credits include Aerosmith and The Fray among others, Nichols’ EP is a refreshing reminder that real blues comes from within.
I spoke with him about the new album, his playing style and gear.
Why the title: Old Glory & The Wild Revival?
“Old Glory” is what I call my Les Paul. It’s kind of a miss mash, crazy looking old custom with a ’58 body and ’68 hardware. I really liked th guitar when I bought it because it was so bad ass; all beaten and torn up. It kind of reminded me of the old American flag. It had such a great sound that I decided to use it on the record. Besides a Dobro, I used it for all of the guitar parts. The “wild revival” symbolizes what I want to create with the blues movement. I figured “Old Glory and The Wild Revival” because that’s what’s happening.
What was it like working with Warren Huart?
I met Warren while he was working with Aerosmith at The Swing House [where we recorded the EP]. I was at the studio while they were recording and Steven [Tyler] really liked my playing and asked Warren to work with me. Once they were done, Warren approached me about getting together. Not only did he produce the album, but he also mixed it and co-wrote four of the songs on it as well. We did a lot together.
Tell me the origin of the song, “Let You Go”
It started out as an old Jimmy Reed meets Lightnin’ Hopkins kind of feel. Although it sounds nothing like it, that’s where I got that main slinky guitar riff and it cued the whole song. I started jamming it and Warren said “Hey, what’s that?” So we started talking about the band Free and how amazing Paul Kossoff was. We mixed in a lot of different influences. It was very organic and we didn’t over think it. After the main riff, the song pretty much wrote itself.
Why the ‘V’ as opposed to the traditional Strat for the Blues?
For me, it’s always been about trying to sound different. Some people are just too safe with guitars and music in general. I was attracted to the V, not just because some of my heroes like Albert King and Lonnie Mack played them, but also because of the tone. It’s a really flat long piece of mahogany that has this great mid-range bite. I’ve played Strats forever, but got burned out on them. i wanted something different and moved to the V to get more of the humbucker sound. Once I did that, I also dropped the pick as well. The V [and the Les Paul] just have a much fuller sound.
Did you find it difficult dropping the pick?
From a practicing stance and having to relearn licks it was at first, but playing without a pick is much more intimate. You can get so many different sounds just using his fingers. The pick has a sharp sound, but I developed my own by using my fingers. It was a weird transition at first, but it also helped me break the rules and just go for it.
Tell me about your “connection” to Stevie Rae Vaughan.
When I was growing up, I lived right next to Alpine Valley where he died. A lot of the people I’m related to were actually first responders to the accident. So growing up, it was always apparent to me that he played his last concert there. I remember when I first heard him play, I was like, “Oh, so THIS is how you play guitar. Now I know exactly what I need to do!”
What’s your live set up like?
In a usual club setting, I’ll use either the Flying V or Les Paul along with a 2×12 cabinet and 50 watt Blackstar head. I’ve been using them for about a year and a half and like to run it like an old Marshall. It’s loud and in your face. I’ve recently modded the Les Paul so it’s almost like a Junior now. It’s got just one pickup with one volume and one tone. For pedals I have T Rex Yellow Drive which I use for more gain and boost. I have a Chicago Iron Octavia [which gives me some freaky stuff] along with an Xotic Effects EP Booster. It’s the least amount of stuff to get my fingers through the speakers.
You also studied at Berklee. What was it like being a “blues” guy being in that “structured” environment?
It was my first time being out and surrounded by amazing players and music. I knew when I got there that I didn’t want to be a teacher or one of those guys who knew every mode in every position. I just wanted to be the blues guy and play what I was feeling. I had a hard time trying to play that kind of music. I was feeling the blues in more ways than one. I already knew what I wanted to do. I just had to get out there and do it.
For more on Jared James Nichols, be sure to check out
his Facebook page by Clicking Here!
Ronnie Radke and Falling In Reverse Launch Bury the Hatchet Tour with Escape The Fate: “It Was Time”
Ever since Ronnie Radke’s not-so-amicable departure from Escape The Fate, his subsequent incarceration and the formation of his new band, Falling In Reverse, both bands — and to an extent, their fans — have waged a semi-constant battle in the press.
Now, however, Radke has buried the hatchet with his former band.
To prove it, Falling In Reverse and Escape The Fate have joined forces to launch a major-market tour — the Bury the Hatchet Tour — which will make its way across the US beginning January 15, 2014.
Falling In Reverse’s sophomore album,Fashionably Late, which was released in June, introduces hip-hop and electronic elements to the band’s current combination of metal core and radio-friendly choruses, creating its own unique sound. The new album is also the first to feature bassist Ron Ficarro and drummer Ryan Seaman.
We recently caught up with Radke and discussed the album, the tour — and the end of his long, often bitter feud with Escape The Fate.
Read the rest of my Revolver Mag interview with Ronnie Radke
and see Tour Date information by Clicking Here!