Category Archives: Music

‘World On Fire’: Slash Discusses New Solo Album, Gibson Les Pauls and Guns N’ Roses

Slash_-_World_on_FireOver the course of his illustrious career—one that includes time in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver—Slash has amassed album sales of more than 100 million, garnered a Grammy (to go with his seven nominations) and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Slash also has seen plenty of success with his solo albums. Both his Slash and Apocalyptic Love offerings landed in the top five of the Billboard albums chart.

World On Fire, which will be released September 16, is Slash’s second album with his official band, the Conspirators, which features Myles Kennedy (vocals), Brent Fitz (drums) and Todd Kerns (bass).

From the infectious up-tempo aggressiveness of the album’s title track to the sexual politics of songs like “Battleground,” “Dirty Girl” and the coming-of-age “Bent To Fly,” the 17-song opus delves into a wide range of topics. World On Fire also features a rocking instrumental, “Safari Inn.”

Produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Falling In Reverse, Incubus), World On Fire is a diverse record that covers a multitude of musical feels with a rawness and energy that’s reminiscent of Slash’s early work with Guns N’ Roses.

Make no mistake about it: World On Fire is not a solo project. It was recorded by a band with all four members contributing their strengths as a whole.

Slash is touring with Aerosmith on the “Let Rock Rule” tour. I recently spoke with him about World On Fire, touring, his love of Les Pauls and, of course, some of the most memorable moments from his career.

Read my complete
gw_logoInterview with Slash by Clicking Here!

My End Of Summer Week In Review

Wow! It’s hard to believe it’s Labor Day weekend. It seems like it was only yesterday that summer had started and now, here we are already at the end of August.

This has been a very productive summer of writing for me and this past week in particular in terms of interviews. And to prove that I’m not just a “metal-head” (even though it says that in my bio) – contemporary jazz, alternative rock and blues genres were all on the agenda!

These are my latest interviews that you can find now on AXS.com:

PeterWhitePeter White: Some of you may know Peter as one of the most popular instrumental players in contemporary jazz. But did you know that he credits his guitar playing to Al Stewart? Peter’s first real “gig” was with Al back in 1975.

Imagine this – you’re a wide-eyed teen fresh out of high school. You audition for a group, get the gig and the next thing you know… you’re in Abbey Road studios recording ‘The Year of The Cat’ with Al Stewart!

Read my interview with Peter where we discuss this story as well as his incredible new album, ‘Smile’ that’s coming out in October.

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FlyleafAlbumKristen May: Since their eponymous, self-titled debut album in 2005, Flyleaf has consistently dominated the active, alternative and mainstream rock charts.

Kristen May is the new vocalist for the band and in my interview with her we discuss the band’s infectious new album, “Between The Stars”, her musical upbringing and how a best-selling book turned blockbuster film ignited the album’s first single.

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PopovicIt’s been an extremely busy summer for guitarist Ana Popovic. Apart from touring Europe and the U.S in support of her most recent album Can You Stand The Heat, the Serbian blues powerhouse will soon join a multitude of other guitar greats for this year’s Experience Hendrix Tour.

I recently caught up with Popovic to discuss her upcoming visit to Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA, the Hendrix Tour and what she loves about Blues guitar!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to read my articles and be sure to follow me on Twitter @JimEWood  and  ‘Tumblr’ – I follow back!

Have a great Labor Day!

‘One For The Road’: Cinderella Guitarist Jeff LaBar Delivers First Solo Album

Jeff Labar CD CoverFor several years, Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar had always promised to make good on his quest to record a solo album.

After years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. LaBar’s new album, One for the Road, was recorded in Nashville with long-time friend and engineer Ronnie Honeycutt and features mixing by Cinderella bandmate Fred Coury, with mixing and mastering by Chris Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob, Lita Ford).

What’s unique about LaBar’s first solo endeavor is that not only does it showcase LaBar’s guitar playing, but it also highlights his singing and songwriting prowess. Aside from drums by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta, all of the instruments and vocals on One for the Road are performed by LaBar, a true “solo” album.

The new album also captures the magic and spirit of a genre of music LaBar helped define. “No Strings” has a classic Cinderella feel, while songs like “Asking for a Beating” and ”Nightmare on My Street” take on a far heavier edge. Then there’s the acoustic-flavored “Hello or Goodbye,” which speaks to LaBar’s folk influences.

I recently caught up with LaBar and asked him about One for the Road, which was released today, August 26, plus guitars and more!

Read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Jeff Labar by Clicking Here!

Richie Kotzen Discusses New ‘Essential’ Package and Memorable Moments from His Career

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen

With styles ranging from rock and blues to jazz and soul, Richie Kotzen has built an eclectic career as guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Over a period of 20 years, Kotzen has accumulated a loyal fan base and has consistently sold out shows throughout the world.

Still, there are many who question what Kotzen is capable of musically. Kotzen’s new Essential package is sure to answer that question.

The Essential Richie Kotzen — which is slated to be released September 2 — contains material curated from Kotzen’s entire career (which has spawned 18 solo albums), not including his work with Poison and the Winery Dogs.

The new package was purposely designed to give listeners the most comprehensive, concise introduction to Kotzen’s extensive body of work.

The Essential Richie Kotzen includes two CDs of classic Kotzen material as well as two new songs, along with a DVD of music videos, acoustic performances and bootleg material. It’s the ultimate collection of music for Kotzen fans.

I recently spoke with Kotzen about the Essential package, his upcoming solo album and some of the most memorable moments of his career.

You can read my completed
gw_logoWith Richie Kotzen by Clicking Here!

F#CK: Buckcherry Guitarist Keith Nelson Talks New EP, Signature Les Paul

Never a band to play by the rules, Buckcherry have made a career out of pushing the boundaries — and buttons — of conventional rock while doing things their own way. It’s a strategy that has paid off with successful studio albums and singles over the last decade.

Keith Nelson (Photo: Matt Christine)

Keith Nelson (Photo: Matt Christine)

Buckcherry’s boldest and perhaps most controversial release to date might be Fuck, a new EP that unapologetically rattles the speakers as much as it will the censors.

The new EP, which will be released August 19, consists of six hook-laden tracks that feature guitarist Keith Nelson’s gritty riffs and vocalist Josh Todd’s sharp-tongued lyrics — including an unconventional yet tasty spin on Icona Pop’s hit song “I Love It,” which the band has (naturally) renamed “Say Fuck It.”

Buckcherry — Josh Todd (lead vocals), Keith Nelson (lead guitar), Stevie D. (rhythm guitar), Xavier Muriel (drums) and Kelly Lemieux (bass) — will soon team up with Godsmack, Seether and Skillet for this year’s Uproar Festival, which kicks off August 15 in Detroit, Michigan.

Meanwhile, Nelson has contributed “Louis,” one of his original 1959 Les Pauls, to the Gibson Custom Shop, where the staff has painstakingly analyzed every detail of the guitar’s look, sound and wear to create a near-perfect replica for Collector’s Choice #17. You can see a photo of Gibson’s version of the guitar in the gallery below.

We recently caught up with Nelson to discuss the new EP and the process behind the making of his “new” Les Paul.

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

‘The Stories We Could Tell': Super Group Mr. Big Returns With New Studio Album

MrBigAlbumAfter forming in 1988, Eric Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums) immediately began to solidify their place in music history by combining inspired songwriting with trademark “shredding” and awesome vocal harmony.

Now, hard rock’s original super group Mr. Big is back with a vengeance and a new album, ‘The Stories We Could Tell’. The band’s eighth studio album is slated for release on September 23rd via Frontiers Music SRL.

Over the course of their 25 year career, Mr. Big has produced songs that have traversed the spectrum of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal or blues rock. Their hits, including “Alive and Kicking,” “Just Take My Heart” and the chart-topping ballad “To Be With You” propelled the band to international success and multi-platinum record sales.

On ‘The Stories We Could Tell’, the original lineup returns with some of their strongest material to date. The new album is the follow-up to the band’s 2011 release ‘What If’, another critically acclaimed album that marked the band’s return to their signature hard rock sound.

The new album was produced by Pat Regan, known for his work with bands like Deep Purple, Warrant and Keel.

Mr. Big

Mr. Big

In sadder news, Mr. Big recently announced that drummer Pat Torpey has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the diagnosis has left him unable to perform his normal drumming duties on the band’s upcoming World Tour. Mr. Big intends to announce a drummer in the near future who will handle most of the band’s drumming duties on tour and expects Torpey to jump on the drums on suitable live songs as well as participating in the group’s acoustic set.

“To me, this is the album that we’ve threatened to make decades ago” says Eric Martin. “A classic, groovin’, blues-rock record with the spirit and spark of our Rock & Soul idols from the 70’s. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or are just starting, you’re going to dig where we are coming from and where we’ve been.”

The track listing for “The Stories We Could Tell”:

Gotta Love The Ride
I Forget To Breathe
Fragile
Satisfied
The Man Who Has Everything
The Monster In Me
What If We Were New?
East/West
The Light Of Day
Just Let Your Heart Decide
It’s Always About That Girl
Cinderella Smile
The Stories We Could Tell
Addicted To That Rush (Live – Exclusive Bonus Track)

‘Blisland’: Katrina Leskanich Brings New Album, Hits to Retro Futura Tour

Katrina Leskanich

Katrina Leskanich

Singer/songwriter and Grammy nominee Katrina Leskanich continues to ride the wave.

Shortly after signing a world-wide deal with Capitol Records in the 1980’s, Katrina And The Waves’ signature song, “Walking on Sunshine” became a breakthrough smash and a staple of the MTV movement. The success of the band’s debut would be followed up with whirlwind tours and other hits including ‘Do You Want Crying’, ‘Sun Street’, ‘Love Shine A Light’ and ‘That’s The Way’.

As the innocent, feel-good music of the 80’s transitioned into the grunge and alternative sound of the 90’s and beyond, Katrina kept busy by recording and performing at festivals and shows in the UK and all over Europe – never quite making it back to the U.S.

That is, until now.

For U.S. fans eager for the return of Katrina’s signature voice and songs, the wait is over! Katrina will be joining fellow 80’s alumni Howard Jones, Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins), Midge Ure (Ultravox) and China Crisis for this year’s Retro Futura – a tour that will take the artists all across North America, celebrating the music that defined a generation!

Coinciding with Katrina’s first U.S tour in nearly twenty-five years is the release of her brand new studio album – “Blisland” [release date: August 19th]. An inspired collection of infectious songs and tasty guitar work that also includes a live, “Borderline Blues” version of “Walking On Sunshine”.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Katrina about the upcoming Retro Futura Tour, “Blisland” and what made the 80s so great!

How did you get involved with the Retro Futura Tour project?

I had worked with Rick Shoor [Paradise Artists] back in the day when he worked with Frontier Booking International. When they were setting up the tour he remembered me and thought it was worth the call. I was all in. I intend to have loads of fun and catch up with a lot of people.

When was the last time you toured the U.S.?

The last time was probably somewhere around 1989. We had a little bit of success with a song called “That’s The Way” and went over to do some shows, but it wasn’t like it was a proper tour. Doing this tour is going to be a lot of fun.

What can fans expect from your set?

For sure, I’m going to play “Walking On Sunshine”. I’m also going to play two songs off of my brand new album, “Blisland” as well as a few other Katrina and The Waves songs. One of the songs I’ll be doing is my own version of our song “Going Down To Liverpool”. The reason the band got signed in the beginning was because The Bangles actually did a version of that song. I feel we have The Bangles to thank for initially getting us signed to Capitol Records. Mostly, I’m just going to bring my Fender Telecaster to rock out and have a good time!

What inspired your new album, “Blisland”?

I wasn’t expecting to make a record. It’s actually been ten years since I released a new studio album, but once I got invited on this tour I decided to go for it. It felt good to express myself and get some things out that had been bottled up. The album was very much influenced by a place in the world that I always tend to be attracted to – the southwest. In the southwest of England, there’s a place called Cornwall and it was there where I discovered a little village called Blisland. I thought that was such a great name, so I decided to pull over. They had a fantastic pub called The Blisland Inn and about four hours later [and four-pints] I made up my mind that I was going to make a record and call it “Blisland”.

It’s based on the genre of music that I had grown up listening to. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Mama Cass Elliot and bands like The Raspberries and Rare Earth. I even wrote a song with ZZ Top in mind [Texas Cloud]. There’s also a fun song with country influences [Farmer's Song] that was inspired by my parents living out on a farm and not having a clue about anything that was going on in the world.

Let’s discuss a few other tracks from the new album:

Blisland.

As the song says, “Blisland” can be anywhere, as long as you have a heart. I’ve lived in about twenty-five different places in the world and ended up here in London. It’s a song about how anywhere can be home and a reflection of how the southwest makes me feel.

Sun Coming Upper.

I had a few bad years in my life and it was a bit of a nightmare time. It’s talking about loss and wondering when I was going to get a “high”. It was fun to think of the idea of the sun coming up as a kind of drug – a sun coming “upper”.

Every Step.

That’s an out and out love song. It’s about falling in love with somebody, taking every step with them and then looking back and remembering that every step with them was love. It’s as simple as that.

What can you tell me about your musical upbringing?

I was one of six children who grew up in a Catholic family and every Sunday we were trotted off to church, which usually involved a lot of singing. Whenever my parents would set us down for meals in the evening, they would have us sing holy songs before we ate. So there was always a lot of music in the home and my parents encouraged us to play lots of instruments. It grew from there. My parents eventually bought me a guitar and when I was in high school, I remember sitting around in a circle with friends singing Carole King, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens songs. I loved the idea of singing early on, and still do.

“Walking On Sunshine” is such an iconic song, but when you first heard it what did you think?

Originally, we felt it was something that was a bit uncharacteristic of the band. We had always thought of ourselves as being similar to bands like The Velvet Underground or The Ramones. So when Kim [Rew, songwriter/guitarist] came in with the song, it was something that was on the lighter side of our repertoire.

In the beginning, I remember whenever we played it; people would literally flee the dance floor [laughs]. It wasn’t until we sent out a demo of four songs to a bunch of DJs that everything started to change. We were thinking about going with the song “Do You Want Crying” as our first single but all of the DJ’s said “No, we want the song that starts out with the drums and the “OW!” [laughs]. Even our bass player (Vince de la Cruz) didn’t really care for the song but would often say to Kim, “You know that song, Walking On Sunshine? Well, I can’t get it out of my head!” We took that as a good sign. So we persevered with it, Capitol records stuck it out and the rest is history!”

What do you think made the 80s so great?

The music from the 80’s was very melodic and identifiable. It was so clean and very easy to listen to. When people come to these shows and see someone like Howard Jones play, it’ll be easy for them to feel the beat. The other thing about the 80’s is that it was a time when people were really able to express themselves eloquently through fashion and dress. It was also pre 9/11 and all of the other really scary stuff we have to live with now. The 80’s were such an innocent time.

What are you most looking to about Retro Futura?

I’m so happy to be back in America and being able to play some new material as well as a few of the old songs. I’m also excited to be a part of a tour with other musicians that I really love and respect. Our itinerary has us all over the place. We even a two-day drive from Chicago to LA. Make my day! I’m happy! It’s going to be the tour of a lifetime.

Katrina Leskanich Official Website: http://www.katrinasweb.com/

Retro Futura Tour Dates

Aug. 21: NYC – Best Buy Theater
Aug. 22: Philadelphia – The Keswick Theatre
Aug. 23: Brookhaven, NY – Pennysaver Amphitheater
Aug. 24: Boston, MA – Wilbur Theatre
Aug. 25: Cleveland, OH – Cleveland Performance Arts Center
Aug. 26: Toronto, ON – Koolhaus
Aug. 27: Chicago, IL – Ravinia Festival
Aug. 29: Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
Aug. 30: Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery *
Aug. 31: Lincoln, CA – Thunder Valley Resort & Casino **
Sept. 03: Tempe, AZ – The Marquee
Sept. 04: San Diego, CA – Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
Sept. 05: Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Beach
Sept. 06: Sandy, UT – Sandy Amphitheater
Sept. 08: Dallas, TX – Verizon Theatre @ Grand Prarie
Sept. 10: Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live @ Universal CityWalk

Steve Morse Talks Deep Purple History and U.S. Tour, Plus New Flying Colors Album, ‘Second Nature’

Deep Purple’s latest album, 2013’s Now What?!, marked the opening of next chapter in the band’s 46-year career.

Deep Purple

Deep Purple

Blending the spirit of classic Seventies Deep Purple with modern production and a progressive mindset, the album reached Number 1 in several countries, including Germany and Russia, and gave the band its first British Top 20 album in 20 years.

Guitarist Steve Morse is celebrating his 20th anniversary with Deep Purple by joining the band for a month’s worth of U.S tour dates that will take them from Washington state to Florida — and pretty much everywhere in between.

The band’s current lineup is Ian Paice (drums), Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Steve Morse (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards).

I recently spoke with Morse and got an update on the Deep Purple tour, his gear and the new Flying Colors album, Second Nature, which is due for an August 30 release. In Flying Colors, Morse is joined by Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue and Casey McPherson.

GUITAR WORLD: How has reaction been to Deep Purple’s Now What?!?

It’s been really good, and I credit that to Bob Ezrin [producer] for keeping the energy and focus of the band and for getting that little bit extra out of everyone. There was a heavy emphasis on pre-production for this album, and Bob really worked hard behind the scenes — even before we had recorded a single note.

What can you tell me about the musical influences that inspired the track “All the Time in the World”?

Don Airey is a big fan of American-style music. He can just pick up and start playing any Booker T. & the M.G.s tune or any jazz standard. He’s really eclectic in that way. Then there’s Ian Paice, who was into R&B, swing and jazz even before he came into Deep Purple. We all have our different influences. That particular song has a Motown, rhythm-and-groove kind of feel to it.

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

My Rock Star Moment

Me - August 6th, 2004

Me – August 6th, 2004

Even though it happened ten years ago, it still feels like it was yesterday.

I was standing alone in my upstairs bathroom. An introverted thirty-four year old man looking at himself in the mirror — and shaking like a leaf. It was 3 pm and soon I would have to muster up enough courage to drive over to South Bethlehem for sound check.

August 6th, 2004 is a day I will NEVER forget.

I suppose it’s best to give you a little bit of a back story before I continue on with this tale. So here goes..

From the first day I picked up my grandmother’s hand-held potato slicer, pretended it was a guitar and did my best Ace Frehley interpretation, it’s been my dream – shredding my guitar on a huge stage while staring out into a sea of people. And so began the days of callused fingers, long walks downtown to the music store for weekly lessons and countless hours spent practicing Mel Bay scales and Metal Method licks.

Unfortunately, my new found interest in music, repetitive practice and Les Paul guitars also brought along with it the constant torment and ridicule by my siblings and their friends. Many of them telling me (in not so many words) that what I was doing would never amount to anything. But rather than wallow in denial and self-pity, their words only served to reinforce my passion. So while other kids of the MTV generation played sports or hung out with friends after school playing Atari, I spent most of my afternoons trying to figure out how Eddie Van-Halen got his Kung-Fu. I was so sure of what the future held that I even wrote entries into my journal describing all of the things that were going to happen to me after I had officially “made it” as a rock star.

on a side note, I’m still waiting for the hordes of women to chase me down the streets of New York City.

The crowd

The crowd

Yes, I had dreamed about this moment forever…. and suddenly, forever was now!

On August 6th, 2004, my band was going to be the opening act for Clay Aiken at Musikfest – on the biggest stage of them all! Yes, THE Clay Aiken!

OK, before you start giggling uncontrollably, remember this. Clay Aiken had just placed second in season two of American Idol and was almost on the same level as Justin Bieber, One Direction or any of those other boy bands. That is to say, people were going absolutely bonkers for him. It was the fastest sellout in the festival’s history (6,000+ people) and we had the greatest singer ever in our arsenal who had gotten us the gig…..

…but here I was, standing in the bathroom…a complete nervous wreck!

To this day, I’m not sure how I held it all together. Somehow, my “Rock Star Moment” was here, and I wasn’t about to let it slip away. Grabbing my Les Paul and blue-flamed do rag, I slowly made my way to Bethlehem.

The rest of that evening was a bit of a whirlwind for me. There was time spent setting up gear in front of the stage, testing guitar levels and watching the thousands of people standing in line waiting to get in. Then there was the anticipation of going out there and feeling a rush that no drug could ever deliver.

Prior to August 6th, the most people I had ever played for was maybe 40 in some smoky bar at two in the morning. And even though I was fully aware that they weren’t there to see us, I got to taste the experience of walking out on stage in front of six-thousand people!! Finally looking out, instead of always looking in.

I liked what I saw.

mu

I’ve never had that kind of experience since and most likely never will again. It was through the love of music, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck that the cosmos aligned for me that particular summer night – and it was the beginning of a special journey we would all share together as a band.

As a seven-year old boy imitating his guitar hero on a vegetable slicer it seemed like such a far away dream. But just the idea of having a dream – no matter how small it might be or how long it takes you to achieve is something that doesn’t fade after the lights finally go out and the music stops. When you realize that dreams do indeed come true, the magic becomes a part of you forever.

Tell me, what are some of your rock star moments?

‘Rock Your Face Off': Kix Guitarists Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe Talk New Album

Two decades can be a long time to wait for a new studio album, but Kix prove the wait was certainly worth it.

Kix

Since reuniting in 2003 and adding bassist Mark Schenker to the lineup, Kix have experienced a resurgence in popularity—as well as a passion to create new music. Rock Your Face Off, which was released today, August 5, is the band’s first new studio album in nearly 20 years. It also continues in the band’s high-energy tradition.

Produced by Taylor Rhodes, Rock Your Face Off is a collection of blues-inspired rock that combines catchy hooks and tasty riffs with the inspired musicianship and party atmosphere Kix are known for.

Kix consists of Steve Whiteman (vocals), Ronnie Younkins (guitar), Brian Forsythe (guitar), Jimmy Chalfant (drums) and Mark Schenker (bass).

I recently caught up with Younkins and Forsythe to discuss the new album, gear and more.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Rock Your Face Off?

Younkins: It’s high-energy rock and roll with hard-driving guitars and bluesy rock solos. Every instrument is present and in your face, and Steve’s vocals are better than ever. I’m so proud of this album.

This is the first new studio album from Kix in nearly 20 years. What sparked this project?

Forsythe: When we first reformed at the end of 2003, our intention was to just have fun. We never realized it would take off like it did. But after several years of doing shows around the Baltimore area and expanding out into the country, people started asking us about a record. We knew it was time.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Forsythe and Younkins by Clicking Here!

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