Category Archives: Music

Ready Steady Go!: Drake Bell Releases New Rockabilly Album with Brian Setzer

DrakeBellGuitarist Drake Bell wasn’t made for these times.

The actor/musician, best known for his work as teenage rocker Drake Parker on the Nickelodeon TV show Drake & Josh, actually grew up listening to the likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Stray Cats.

On Bell’s new album, Ready Steady Go!, he pays homage to those roots by teaming with one of his biggest musical influences — Brian Setzer — for a tastefully inspired collection of classic rockabilly favorites and new material.

In addition to Bell’s catchy original, “Bitchcraft” are his take on songs like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)”, “Still Rock And Roll To Me (Billy Joel)” and a haunting version of Setzer’s own “I Won’t Stand In Your Way”.

I recently spoke to Bell about Ready Steady Go!, his guitar work and more.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decided to do a project like this?

This is the music I grew up on. My first guitar was a Gretsch 6120, and I just loved listening to artists like Elvis, Chuck Berry and Stray Cats. But when I wanted to go make records, it was hard. I couldn’t really be on the show [Drake & Josh] and then go in and do a three-piece rockabilly-type record of Fifties music.

How did the collaboration with Brian Setzer come about?

I’ve been a fan of Brian’s for such a long time and had the opportunity to go backstage and meet him from time to time. It got to the point to where I started becoming a familiar face backstage. I still remember when I first presented the idea for this album to him. He was confused at first and said, “Wait a minute — you mean you want to make a rockabilly record?” [laughs]. I said “Yeah, this is what I’ve always wanted to do!”

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Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with
Drake Bell by Clicking Here!

Better Days Comin’: Kip Winger Discusses Prophetic New Album

Twenty-five years after the success of their platinum selling debut and nearly five years since the release of their last album “Karma”, Winger is back with “Better Days Comin’”.

Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Produced by Kip Winger, the new album is yet another testament to the band’s musical legacy. Together with guitarist Reb Beach (who’s also involved with Whitesnake), Winger has once again provided us with a collection of songs that combine tasty riffs, infectious grooves and inspired melodies.

Rounded out by drummer Rod Morgenstein and guitarist John Roth, Winger’s production on Better Days Comin’ stretches the limits of the band’s musicianship. Songs like “Rat Race” showcase the classic Winger sound (but with a heavier edge), while the prog rock influenced “Tin Soldier” dabbles with various time signatures.

Winger himself has said that for this album the band has drawn from its past to elaborate on the future. One listen only reinforces that fact. Better Days Comin’ indeed.

I spoke to Winger about Better Days Comin’ as well as his early years in music and session work. He also tells me what continues to excite him about the band.

we drew from our past to elaborate on our future
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/winger-tin-soldier-video-released/#R6ql1jSebHdegUXa.99

It’s been five years since the band’s last album (Karma). What sparked this new Winger project?

I honestly didn’t think five years had already gone by. Getting everyone’s schedule freed up is a bit of a trick, but we had a wide open schedule where Whitesnake had taken some time off. We had been meaning to do it for a while, but this was the soonest we could get to it.

How would you describe “Better Days Comin’?”

I would describe the album as a combination of everything we’ve done as a band up to this point. There’s a little bit more of every ingredient. Stronger elements of everything we do. I also took a lot of care in how I recorded this album. The sound is a lot cleaner and cooler sounding, so there’s definitely an element of production in play as well.

What was the writing process like for this album?

From the very first album, the process is the same. Reb and I will sit down with a drum beat and come up with riffs. For “Seventeen” I remember Reb just came in one day and said “Hey, I’ve got this riff.” So I programmed some drums and it was off to the races. It’s been the same ever since. We’re very riff oriented.

Where you do you come up with lyrics?

Lyrics are sometimes the bane of my existence [laughs]. If I don’t immediately come up with an idea soon after listening to a track, I’ll send it off to my go to lyricist – Donnie Purnell from Kix. He hammered out “Rat Race” and “Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine”. They’re perfect. Ballads are something that I can really sink my teeth into. “Ever Wonder”, “Storm in Me”… even “Better Days Comin’”. That song just uncorked in the first day.

As a producer, does there ever come a time when you’re completely satisfied with a song? How do you know when a song is finished?

I know from an orchestration point of view when a song’s finished. If I’m listening to a song and it goes by without me hearing anything else (which also includes taking something out) then I know that it’s complete. Now mixing is a whole different thing. Sometimes you get to a point to where you just have to let it go. But it basically all boils down to the fact that I hear things in a very certain way, and what you hear is what I’m hearing.

Tell me a little bit about your musical upbringing.

Everything in my family was about music, so I knew very early on that I was going to be a musician. I took the Yamaha piano method at age six and by the time I was seven I was already playing in a band with my two brothers. Back then, it was all emotional. I was never really that cerebral about it. I was the guy who would use music for the emotional escape.

Did you study music theory in school?

I studied classical guitar at sixteen and got open to the idea of baroque music, which was cool. But it wasn’t until the whole ‘Beavis and Butthead’ thing took hold that I decided to really start studying music. I was 35 when I started working on counterpoint and harmony. I’m fortunate that I’m now able to traverse across these huge landscapes of artistic orientation. It’s become my life.

How did you get involved in session work at Atlantic Records?

Beau Hill was living in Denver where my brothers and I grew up. His band Airborne had been signed to CBS and he was making demos for the new record. My manager met him backstage one night and he wound up producing our demo. I eventually became his go to bass guy for the music he was writing as well as his assistant at Atlantic in New York. So whenever someone like Alice Cooper needed bass for a few songs or a tour he’d call me in. Beau was also the one who introduced me to Reb.

What sparked Winger?

When I was on the road with Alice I would listen to all of the bands who were opening up for us. I realized that what they were doing was something I had already been doing for years and it inspired me. Since I already knew a great guitar player (Reb) I decided to put a band together and try to get a record deal.

After 25 years, what continues to excite you about Winger?

That’s simple. It’s composing for the band. Writing songs that push the limits of the guys who are playing them. Just listen to “Tin Soldier” from the new album. I wanted to encapsulate my interpretation of prog into a four-minute song. It’s in a poly time signature and there’s no one better than Rod Morgenstein to play drums over that. If you listen to the solo section where we let him do his thing, that’s what excites me. I want to compose music that showcases the virtuosity of these guys.

For more on Winger, check out their Official Website

Second Coming: Queensrÿche Guitarist Michael Wilton Talks Touring, New Music

Queensrÿche

Queensrÿche

Ever since the acrimonious departure of singer Geoff Tate in 2012, Queensrÿche has found itself carved into two separately distinctive camps. It’s a situation that’s led to confusion among fans over which is the “real” Queensrÿche.

Last year, founding Queensrÿche members Michael Wilton (guitars), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) along with guitarist Parker Lundgren and vocalist Todd La Torre made their case for the name by releasing a hugely successful self-titled album. A disc that stayed true to the classic Queensrÿche sound while simultaneously proclaiming the rebirth of the band.

While a decision has been reached as to which of the two Queensrÿches is allowed to carry on with the name, no official announcement has been made. Until then, Wilton and company will continue to make their case before the fans, including another tour stop at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA on Friday, April 25th.

I spoke to Wilton as he was en route to a Queensrÿche show in New York and got an update on the band, new music and what inspired him to make music his career.

What do you like most about playing at Penns Peak?

It looks a little ominous from the outside but once you get in there, they move back the tables and they rock! It’s such a cool place to play and we can’t wait to get back there. 

It’s been almost two years now since Todd joined the band. How has his addition changed the dynamic of Queensrÿche?

The internal dynamic has certainly changed in terms of musicianship. Not only does Todd sing and write lyrics, but he also plays drums and guitar. It’s more of a cohesive team. The chemistry between the bonds is now limitless in terms of what we can do creatively and we’re really excited about that.

Do you have an update on when we can expect a resolution on the dual versions of the band?

That’s coming up. What I can say is that both sides have reached an amicable settlement and it’s now just a matter of time. There will be an official press release but for now, you’ll have to wait.

Has the band been working on new music?

Yes, we’ve already begun the process for the next album. We have probably six songs demoed so far. We’re taking it in a direction suited to what we do as Queensrÿche but maybe a little more progressive and heavier. The thing is, you never know what you really have until it’s complete. It’s like carving a piece of clay and seeing how it turns out. You peel off the layers until you get to something really cool.

What’s your writing process like?

It usually starts with an initial idea. From my standpoint, it’s a riff that gets stuck in my head. Once I get the basic arrangement down I’ll start hearing a melody for it. That’s when I’ll explain it to Todd along with a subject of what I’m feeling. Then he’ll run with it and we’ll send it to every guy in the band. We all do the same thing. Eddie Jackson (bass) writes a lot of melodies and lyrics as well. There’s no shortage of dynamic input.

Growing up, were you one of those guitarists who would lock themselves in their room for hours on end practicing?

Yep, I was that guy! [laughs]. There was a time where I would do an hour of scales, then an hour of picking patterns and then another hour where I would listen to classical music and try to transpose it to guitar. It was an hour of this and an hour of that. It was very regimented and at times maniacal! [laughs]. But I come from a family that really appreciated music and had a great library for me to spend my formative years listening to and having all of these great players engrained in me. Those became the building blocks. Then it was just a matter of bringing in the “Bruce Lee” discipline.

When did you decide music was going to be your calling?

When I was in high school I was a pretty good baseball player, and it eventually got to the point to where it was either going to be that or music. But as I was getting ready to go to college to play baseball, I found the whole thing to be really political. So I started rebelling against it. Then I went to a Van-Halen/Black Sabbath concert and that was it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

What advice would you give to kids who want to chase their dreams?

I like to tell kids who are living at home without any real big responsibilities yet to get good at something. Find something you’re good at and like to do and then hone in on it. Don’t wait to do it until later on in life. No matter what it is, now is the perfect time.

What excites you about the future of the Queensrÿche?

For me, it’s being able to write together as a band. It’s liberating and makes me want to express myself fully. Writing with such a dynamic group of individuals that cohabitate well together is amazing. I’m really enjoying the process and taking it for a ride.

Queensrÿche and Red Dragon Cartel will perform
at Penns Peak on Friday, April 25th.
For more on Queensrÿche check out their official website by Clicking Here!

David Fanning Talks ‘Drink You Away’, Songwriting

David Fanning (Photo: Robert Chavers)

David Fanning (Photo: Robert Chavers)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you give me an update on your new album?

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

What’s your songwriting process like?

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

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

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

How did you wind up in Nashville?

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

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

Do you have plans to tour this summer?

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

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

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

Photo by: Markus Cuff

The Winery Dogs (Photo by: Markus Cuff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inversion: Tim Butler Returns With An Inspired New Album

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the title – “Inversion”?

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

How did you approach writing for this album?

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

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

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

“Sweet Is”

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

“We’ll Be Happy”

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

Tim Butler (Photo by: Lisa Schaffer)

Tim Butler (Photo by: Lisa Schaffer)

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

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

Who are some of your musical influences?

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

Do you have any shows lined up?

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

What do you like most about that venue?

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

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

Keep Up With Tim Butler by Clicking Here

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

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

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

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

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

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

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

Can you give me an update on your album?

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

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

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

Tell me a little about the video for the song.

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

Where do you find inspiration for your songs?

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

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

Lindsay Ell (Photo by: Jessica Wardwell)

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

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

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

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

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

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

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

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

The Both (Photo: Christian Lantry)

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

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

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

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

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

GUITAR WORLD: How did The Both begin?

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

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

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

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

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

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

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

KXM: Guitarist George Lynch Talks New Album, Film Project and Dokken

KXM

Born out of the jam sessions of drummer Ray Luzier (Korn), bassist dUg Pinnick (King’s X) and guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob), KXM’s self-titled album is an inspired collection of song and musicality that stretches the limits of traditional power trios.

Taking its name from the combination of each member’s ‘day jobs’, KXM delivers a very deep, thought provoking debut. Songs like “Stars”, “Rescue Me” and “I’ll Be Ok” showcase elements from each’s respective bands, but the album is more than worthy to stand on its own. For a project that was neither pre-determined or planned, there’s a lot of unique interaction going on within the confines of KXM. It’s the trio’s strong musicianship and creative personalities that’s produced such an inspired, eclectic album.

In addition to KXM, guitarist George Lynch is working on several other projects, including a second Dokken-esque album with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown and another super-group project with Michael Sweet (Stryper), James Lomenzo (Megadeth, White Lion) and Brian Tichy (S.U.N, Whitesnake). He’s also in the finishing stages of editing the “Shadow Nation” documentary. A film which illuminates the cost of destruction of the Native American community; to both the indigenous population as well as to their European conquerors.

I spoke with Lynch about KXM and also got an update on some of his other projects.

How did the KXM project come about?

Initially, the three of us were together at Ray’s house for a birthday party and wound up hanging out in the studio. That was when one of us brought up the idea of maybe throwing some stuff down. And it wasn’t like we all just went home the next day and didn’t think about it again. We kept following up and enthusiastically pursued it. The interesting thing is that we didn’t do any pre-production or write any songs going in. We just found this eight-day window of opportunity where we all trucked our gear up to this place in the mountains. We all hung out there and just started writing. It was that simple.

How would you describe the sound of this album?

One of the good things about this record is that it has a unique sound and formula to it, and that’s a product of the chemistry of the three of us. We had no preconceived idea of what we were going to write. Maybe I would come up was a riff that was a little “Lynch Mobby”. Then Ray would come in with a beat that was more syncopated, tribal and complex. Then dUg would come in and do things that were very unique and unexpected, which I loved.

What was the process for writing lyrics?

dUg wrote most of the lyrics. He and I got together for a few days at my studio. We really got to know each other and had a lot of long talks and I really enjoyed that. Some of the subject matter from our conversations late into the night translated into the lyrics. dUg’s lyrics are very personal, but those are the kind that really resonate with people more than anything else. You’re telling the story or describing the emotion. It’s direct, meaningful and cathartic.

What do you enjoy most about these collaborative projects?

I enjoy playing different kinds of music and building something up from nothing and turning it into something tangible. Also, most of the people I play with I love musically and as people. I like to say that my bands are like my second family. They’re people you care about, respect and create with. Even if it’s just a brief relationship on a project or for something that’s more longstanding.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Dokken Tooth and Nail album. What are your thoughts when you think back to those days?

That album was the turning point for Dokken. We had already done one record [Breaking The Chains] and had learned a lot, but were really determined to let people know that we mattered. Tooth and Nail was our real shot to prove that we had what it took to be where we thought we should be. We had a lot of energy and a lot to prove and were also starting to mature in our songwriting and tightening up as a band. All of that really peaked with the Under Lock And Key album, but I think what people love about Tooth and Nail is that it really captured the band when it was very hungry.

What’s the status of the second T&N album?

We’ve got six Dokken re-records finished but are going to change things up a bit. We’ve been talking about it and there are two things that could happen. First, we’ll change the name of the project and instead of using multiple singers, we’ll stick with two dedicated ones: [Jeff] Pilson and possibly Michael Sweet. Michael has such an angelic voice and a great sense of melody and hooks. It’s an obvious, wonderful replacement for the Dokken-esque sound that we’re known for. But then there’s a very slight chance that it could actually become a Dokken record, if a miracle happens and Don decides to play ball and play fair.

What can you tell me about your other collaboration with Michael Sweet, Brian Tichy and James Lomenzo?

It should be out sometime this Summer. Anyone who loves the older Dokken stuff and Michael Sweet is going to love this record. It sounds like the Dokken record we should have done after our last big one (Back For The Attack).

Do you have an update on the Shadow Nation Film and Shadow Train band project?

We’ve been working really hard on finishing up the editing. It’s a complicated process that takes a lot of man hours but we’re very close to finishing and then it will move on to post (production). After that, we’ll have the business of distributing it, getting it out to people and into film festivals. What I’m excited about too (beyond the film) is the record. Initially, we recorded a one CD record a few years ago that has a 70′s vibe to it. Then we went back in the studio a few more times and decided to go in a whole different direction. We went heavier and more in your face. Afterwards, we realized that we had really evolved as a band and with our writing and decided to put it out as a double CD. So, there will be a volume one and two with 19 songs that will be the companion to the film/DVD. It’s a very eclectic soundtrack.

KXM (l to r: Ray Luzier, dUg Pinnick, George Lynch)

KXM (l to r: Ray Luzier, dUg Pinnick, George Lynch)

What other projects are you working on?

Right at the moment, I’m working with Mandy Lion and an engineer and a programmer who came out of the Rob Zombie & Nine Inch Nails camps. We’ve finished seven songs a few weeks ago and have another big session where we’ll finish up the writing and recording of the basics for the rest of the record. I’m also working on another project called The Infidels with Sal and Pancho, the rhythm section from War. They’re monster funk/rock players who are just great. It’s a fun bunch of heavy, jammy funk songs with a Hendrix “Band Of Gypsys” kind of vibe.

Will Lynch Mob be touring this year?

We have some dates coming up in April and then we’ll be going to Europe this summer for some of the big festivals. We also have some plans for the States once we get back.

Has there been one moment over the course of your career that you consider most memorable?

There’s been a lot of beautiful moments and smaller ones that were just as gratifying. There was the Loud Park gig that Lynch Mob did last October in front of 25,000 people where we tore it up. That was beautiful. But then it could just be in a little club packed with 300 people. Where it’s all hot and sweaty and you just come out and blow the doors off. Or it could be as simple as a solo in the studio that you just nail. There are a lot of those kind of moments that stand out. There really isn’t just one.

For more on KXM, check out the band’s official site by Clicking Here

George Lynch’s Official Website  – Click Here * Shadow Nation Film: Click Here

 

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