As an early member of the KISS Army, all I can say is that I did my duty. So don’t blame me.
Ever since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its doors in the mid 80′s, I joined my fellow brethren in bitching and moaning for KISS to be inducted. And over the years, I’ve painfully watched as other artists and bands (many deserving, most not) walk through the Hall’s hallowed doors while Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were unjustly ignored.
Regardless of whether or not you like their music, there can be no denying that KISS deserves a place alongside The Beatles, Hendrix, U2 and (gasp!) ABBA.
In the 1970′s KISS was literally the biggest thing on the planet.
1. You NEVER, EVER saw them without make-up. It was big part of their schtick and one that they took very seriously.
2. They were SO huge that each member created their own solo album and released them all simultaneously.
3. Dolls were made in their likeness.
4. They were in movies, on television and in comic books.
5. Kids (like me) dressed up like them for Halloween.
I remember being a naive eight year old reading the TV guide when I noticed that one of the members of KISS was going to be in a movie that was coming on. Can you imagine my horror when I turned on channel 4 to discover that my hero was actually actress Jean Simmons in a black and white movie. I thought they had spelt Gene’s name wrong.
But that was the kind of impact KISS had. We read about them, listened to their music, bugged our parents to buy their merchandise. Most of all, we wanted to be them. When the “Dressed To Kill” album came out, I thought they were cool. When the “Alive” album came out, I wanted to be a rock star.
Late last year, it was revealed that the band would finally receive their long overdue induction into the Hall. Euphoria ran amok in the KISS Army, while tears of joy ran down the faces of the now middle-aged fans who had dreamt about seeing their beloved four original members reunite in make-up for one final soiree.
But alas, then came the shit storm.
For some reason, whether it was monetary, too much trouble or (most likely) that they simply just continue to hate each other’s guts, the band has announced that they will not play in any line-up at their hall induction. Kind of ironic when you consider that it was Simmons and Stanley (the only two original members still with the band) who have bemoaned the Hall for decades for not accepting them.
Over the years, original members of the band have written tell all books and released ho-hum records. Their induction was the one thing fans wanted most and the only thing that would make KISS relevant again. It’s sad to think that these guys can’t put aside their differences for just one night.
After finally getting their long overdue reward, wouldn’t it have been cool for KISS to put on an induction performance the likes of which have never been seen before? Maybe do it and then announce your retirement during your acceptance speech and seal the band’s legacy with the ultimate rock moment? Sadly, we’ll never get a chance to see anything now.
Gene Simmons once declared that KISS is a band that’s unlike any other. In light of what the band has done to the legions of fans who finally got them into the Rock Hall of Fame, I’d say he got that right.
Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty has released several solo projects over the past few years, including ‘Flood The Engine’ (a side project with Keith Horne, Andre LaBelle and Jimmy Kunes) and ‘Drive’, a collection of cover songs paying tribute to music that inspired him as a youth.
But it’s Leverty’s new single, “The Bloom Is Off The Rose” that takes more of those same influences and builds a wall of texture, tastefully blending in the guitarist’s own unique sound and vocal style.
It’s the third single Leverty has recently released. A trifecta that also includes the blues-based “Ace Bandage” and country themed “For Better or Forget It”. Leverty is slowly amassing an arsenal of songs with the intention of releasing a new solo album. One that will not only be diverse in its sonic quality but also stay true to his roots as both guitarist and singer/songwriter.
Leverty and the rest of Firehouse (CJ Snare, Michael Foster and Allen McKenzie) are showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to having recently performed a sold-out show in Leverty’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, the band has announced a string of new tour dates that includes this year’s Monsters of Rock Cruise and U.K’s Firefest.
I spoke with Leverty about his new music as well as got an update on Firehouse.
Where did the idea for ‘The Bloom Is Off The Rose’ originate?
I got the hook when I heard someone mention it on TV. It was a phrase that I had never heard before and when I looked into it, I discovered that it’s really used when talking about the economy. Whenever the economy takes a downturn they’ll sometimes say, “the bloom is off the rose”. I wanted to put the human element into that phrase. So I started thinking about my past, the present and the people I’ve seen get hurt by other people. I also thought about how some people think they’re so special, that is until you pull away the facade and find out that they’re not.
What was the recording process like?
Michael Foster from Firehouse plays drums on it and Keith Horne plays bass. I really wanted the guitars to have different kinds of texture and give it a David Gilmore / Stevie Ray Vaughan type of sound along with some of my own. I consciously wanted to make it sound more eclectic.
Let’s talk about a few of your other new songs: Ace Bandage
I was actually in the shower when the line “I’m an Ace Bandage” came to mind. I remember telling my wife and daughter about how “I’m an ace bandage, wrap me around your heart” and everyone just could not stop laughing. I knew I had to finish it just for the entertainment value. It’s a very blues based kind of song that basically says if you were my woman and I was your Ace bandage, then I’m there to support you, hold you up and make you feel better.
The song was also involved in a racing sponsorship. What can you tell me about that?
It was used for Tyler Jett Motorsports, a race team that a friend of mine, Gene Ostrowski is involved with. He’s out of Berwick, PA and has also sponsored a Firehouse race car. Any car that’s out there racing with a title to a song that I was involved with I’m honored to be a part of.
For Better Or Forget It
That’s a country genre song that I actually co-wrote with my wife. I had originally written it with piano and Fender Telecasters but then decided to put some heavy guitars on it for the rhythm section. I had the hook about a marriage where the husband and wife are complaining because he said the preacher said “For better or for worse” while she thought he said “For better or forget it”. It starts off where everything is kind of cool but then she sees a Mercedes Benz instead of the Chevy S-10. Then she wants fancy clothes. This guy is working his ass off to support them but she’s like, “it’s for better or forget it”. It’s a little bit comedic.
Let’s discuss a few of the shows Firehouse has coming up:
Monsters of Rock Cruise: If I wasn’t performing, the cruise is something that I’d want to go on just to see my favorite bands. The people who organize it are all top-notch professionals and make it an awesome experience for the fans as well as the bands. It’s a great party and so much fun.
Firefest: It’s another wonderful festival that focuses on the melodic rock genre. We love going over there. It’s a really good, multiple night event. The cool thing about it is that it’s an international event and people come from all over Europe to see it. When we meet fans after the show, we always find out that a lot of them are from as far away as Spain or Greece.
Do you have a funny story you can share from Firehouse’s heyday?
There are so many funny stories from those days because we were all practical jokers and lived for the next opportunity to crack up. One of my favorites though happened in the winter of ’91. We were doing a show in Colorado Springs, CO with Slaughter and decided to play the ultimate practical joke on them. We outfitted our drum tech in nothing more than a diaper, a bow and arrow and a pair of Angel wings. During the first verse of their song, “Fly To The Angels” he walked right up to Mark (Slaughter) and put his arm around him as he was singing. All of the guys in the band loved it and we still laugh about it today [laughs]!
What’s the origin of the song “Love of A Lifetime”?
That song is about the search for the right person and the feeling you get when you finally do find the one. CJ came up with the hook and the chorus and had plotted it out on a Fender Rhodes. I took what he had and wrote the guitar intro melody and solo.
Did you know at the time how much of an impact the song would have?
We always thought it was a good song, but you never really know what people are going to grab hold of. To take it a step further, you never know what the record company is going to grab a hold of and make a priority. When “Shake & Tumble” came out, our album (Firehouse) sold 100,000 copies. Then “Don’t Treat Me Bad” came out and the album went Gold. That was when Epic records knew that they had something special and put the love and muscle behind making the video for “Love of A Lifetime”. That song resonated with a lot of people and become more than just a hit. It was a big song for us, but also for the people who got married to it. It’s pretty cool to think that we had that kind of an impact on people. To where they actually used our song for their wedding. It’s a wild feeling.
In the world of network television, it’s a blessing for a series to get seven seasons. A long lifespan by any measure of the entertainment business. But for actor and writer Barry Floyd, it’s all just part of The Game. Floyd and the rest of the cast from the successful BET show will return for a seventh season beginning March 4th.
Last season, fans of the show saw Floyd’s character “Tee Tee” Carter transition from being a sidekick to Malik Wright (Hosea Chanchez) to becoming more involved in his own Cluck Truck business. This season, fans will get to see Tee Tee in an even more dramatic light as things take a turn for the worse. As an actor, Floyd was originally only set to appear in a few episodes of the show, but his character was so well received that he was added on as a series regular.
In addition to acting, Floyd is also a lead-writer and director of the online sketch comedy series, “Purple-Stuff TV” along with having several other projects in various stages of development. I spoke with him about the new season of The Game as well as some of his other passions.
What can fans expect out of this new season of The Game?
Without giving too much away, I will say that my character gets into some trouble with his Cluck Truck business and takes a big financial hit. Fans are going to see Tee Tee at a really low point in his life as he tries to recover and get back to where he was. For me, it was a great opportunity to do some dramatic acting and be able to flex that muscle.
How would you describe your character?
Tee Tee is probably the most relatable character on the show. Everyone else has sort of a larger than life personality. They’re all either professional football players or agents or people associated with the world of pro athleticism. Tee Tee just happens to be a guy who’s along for the ride. Over the course of the show people have seen his transition; starting out as a sidekick to creating his own business and building it from the ground up. His path mirrors someone in real life. Someone who’s just starting out and builds something from nothing. I think Tee Tee is an inspiration for people like that.
What’s the chemistry like on the set?
After seven seasons it’s become a well-oiled machine. When Hosea, Wendy (Raquel Robinson) and I are together, its rapid fire. We just know each others tendencies and styles of acting.
How did the role of Tee Tee come about?
I was working as a production assistant on the show ‘Girlfriends’. One day, they were doing a rehearsal in front of network executives and one of the actors wasn’t there for some reason. So they asked me to just stand in and say his lines. I took it very seriously and when I did it, I got a lot of laughs. The casting director also happened to be there and asked me if I’d be interested in reading for the role of Tee Tee in ‘The Game’. I went in and read for it, not really knowing what to expect. But I ended up booking it and became an actor.
What are some of the other projects you’re currently working on?
In addition to working with Brandon Broussard on our sketch comedy show Purple Stuff TV, we’re also working on a new project that’s a male version of a show similar to ‘Sex in The City’ and ‘Girls’. One where it’s the men who can be brutally honest about dating and sex. I’m also working with Sebastian Burton on a pilot with a working title of ‘Show Up or Shut Up’. Sebastian was on the show ‘Ultimate Gamer’ and is big in pro gaming circles. He’s won a lot of tournaments and actually makes a living playing video games. The pilot is based on his life as a pro gamer.
Was becoming an actor something you always aspired to?
I went to college at Temple and got a film and media arts degree with an original goal of moving to LA to become a screenwriter and write movies. Acting was an opportunity that fell into my lap and I quickly discovered a passion for it I never knew that I had.
What did you enjoy most about the transition of Tee Tee over the course of The Game?
It kind of mirrors my acting career. I started out as a production assistant who had the opportunity to act on a show. The first few seasons I remember just being happy to be there, surrounded by these veteran actors and trying to soak up everything I could. But as time went on, I came into my own and instead of seeing myself as someone who was lucky to be there, I saw myself as someone who deserved to be there and earn a spot to grow as an actor. I still continue to grow every day.
Guitar fans already know about B. Hagen (The Commander-In-Chief) from the amazing guitar duel she recorded with Thomas Valeur. The video of the 24 year old Norwegian guitarist performing Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen Op. 20 went viral and became one of Guitar World magazine’s top viral videos of 2013. But Hagen’s creativity goes well beyond the instrument. She’s just released her first children’s book, “The Freezing Snowman”.
Written and illustrated by Hagen herself, this beautiful 46-page book tells the magical story about a snowman suffering from the elements and unable to help himself. For young readers, the story demonstrates not only the power of persistence, but also the rich rewards for helping those around them.
I spoke with Hagen about her book, the guitar duel and the other projects she’s currently working on.
What made you decide to write a book?
Originally, I thought it would make a cool Christmas present for my younger siblings. But when the rest of the family figured out what I was up to, they all pushed for me to self publish it.
How did the idea for the story come about?
I was making a snowman with my two youngest siblings back in the winter of 2012. I remember needing a hat and a scarf for him so I asked my youngest brother Eric if I could borrow his. He was not at all interested in any of HIS things being used, so I told him that the snowman was freezing and desperately needed something to keep himself warm. That was how the idea of the Freezing Snowman was born.
What is the real story behind The Freezing Snowman?
It’s about many things and can be interpreted in many different ways. At first, I was thinking it was about someone being utterly miserable; in a situation they cannot influence. The snowman is not really happy until he starts melting, which is obviously ironic. The kids hold on to him though, just like kids do when they have a pet that is suffering. It might be better for the snowman to “die”, but that would be terrible for the children as they refuse to let go of who they love. They have given him an identity and perceive him as living. The mother of the children (who is a grown up) doesn’t see this. That of course leaves the question of whether or not the snowman is alive or only exists in the imagination of the children. Ultimately, I think this book is about love.
How long did it take you to write and illustrate the book?
I started making the drawings during the winter of 2013. I showed them to my then 7-year-old brother just to see what he thought and he got very excited about the story and wanted more. The writing took me a bit longer, as I waited to get feedback from my 19-year-old brother and mother. I remember there was a major discussion in the family about the ending. I then re-did all of the illustrations later in the year using different materials. The original drawings were all made on cardboard, which I cut myself.
Do you come from an art background?
I do. I had my first exhibition when I was 13, when I was doing geometric abstraction. My big dream since I was 5 was to become a designer. I got accepted into my high school’s advanced art program and later took classes with Linda Cohn and Kirsten Leenart at the Hyde Park Art Center. Everyone expected me to pursue a career in visual arts, but I took a 4 year break from art to focus on my music. I still design my own stage outfits and in late 2012 started doing art again. All of the illustrations in the book were made on Langton watercolour paper using Faber Castell watercolour pencils, Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolours, Derwent Inktense Blocks and Staedtler pigment liners. I also used a variety of brushes and a very handy sponge!
Tell me a little about your Guitar Duel. How did you choose the song and how long did it take to prepare?
I grew up listening to classical music. Itzhak Perlman’s recordings were always played, and the “Zigeunerweisen” was a personal favourite. It was my manager/mother (Elisabeth) and my idea to do a guitar recording of it. It took me 5 months to prepare and I even got injured: dislocating my collar-bone while practicing. But I always like a challenge, and it feels really good to be able to play such a fantastic song. I’m thrilled at how well it has been received!
What other projects are you working on?
I’m currently preparing for a new guitar duel with a very successful British based classical guitarist. We have picked two of the pieces already and will have our first rehearsal soon. As far as my solo career is concerned, I have another tv appearance at the beginning of next month. I’ll get to play two of my original songs on ”Good Morning Norway” and will also be interviewed. I’ll also be performing at the Musikkmesse in Frankfurt, which I’m really looking forward to! And I was just a guest on the biggest Saturday night TV talk show in Norway. More than 600,000 people saw the program so that was very cool!
Do you see yourself writing more children’s books in the future?
That would be great! I have tons of ideas for more stories, both picture books and morbid short stories for older children. Most of them, if not all are inspired by my siblings or my own childhood.
What satisfies you the most having completed your first book?
The illustrations look good in print! Now it’s time to see what children think about it!
For more info on The Commander-in-Chief and The Freezing Snowman
check out the Official Website by Clicking Here!
In the U.S you can purchase a copy of the book here!
Author Andrew Golub is not your typical Duran Duran fan. Over the course of three decades, the Pacific northwest native has amassed a rather impressive arsenal of band memorabilia. It’s a collection that includes everything from rare articles and artifacts to carefully restored posters and prints that document every chapter of Duran Duran history. Selections from Golub’s archive have already been showcased in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as well in an A&E Biography, two film documentaries and several public exhibitions.
Golub’s 260-page book, “Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran” presents an interesting perspective of the band’s career as well as his own fandom. Through the use of full-color posters from 1978 to the present, Beautiful Colors documents the band’s evolution through vintage artwork and stunning photography by Christine Born.
The book has received overwhelming praise from members of the fan community as well as from Duran Duran themselves, with keyboardist Nick Rhodes contributing a touching forward. Beautiful Colors is a book for any fan of Duran Duran or those with a penchant for 80′s nostalgia. Moreover, the book is a true testament to the power of music.
I spoke with Golub about the book and his fascination of all things Duran Duran.
What was your primary motivation behind the Beautiful Colors book?
A book was always a possibility given the breadth of my collection and I’ve received many gentle urgings to produce something like this from friends and fans over the years. From exhibitions to my website, I strived to make my collection more accessible to the global fan community as well as the band. Due to their sheer size, posters tend to be the most dramatic category in the archive and the type of memorabilia I feel most proud of. So the concept behind Beautiful Colors felt like a natural decision.
How did you determine which pieces to include?
Since the collection is bursting with treasures, selecting posters for inclusion was a challenge. But once I decided to focus only on official promotional posters (from record companies, concert venues, etc), the choices became clear. Posters are designed to capture attention and ignite the imagination. They represent memories and milestones, for the band as well as the fans. I feel as if I’m working to preserve history through a medium that would otherwise be lost in time. My book may commemorate Duran Duran’s history, but the memories on each page belong to fans around the world.
When did your love of Duran Duran begin?
The first strains of Fab Five Fever nestled into my DNA when I was 13 – the later part of 1984. The combination of charismatic photo sessions, captivating videos, and spectacular, memorable music was all it took to activate my inner Duranimal. My days were soon filled with trips to supermarket magazine racks, brainstorming on how to fund purchases of DD material and of course, taking good care of the items in my growing collection. Hard to believe there was a point when my whole collection fit inside my bedroom. A fortunate thing since my mother refused to build an annex on to the house for memorabilia maintenance [laughs].
What was it about their music that really interested you?
Nick’s soaring keyboard arrangements against Roger’s rock-solid beat, John’s velvety funk-infused bass, Andy’s electrifying guitar licks, and Simon’s lush, wonderfully cryptic lyrics. Every song offered something fresh and exciting with each new listen. “Seven and The Ragged Tiger” was my first album, launching a full, swift occupation of my senses. The synthesized rapture of “The Reflex” captured my imagination first, followed by the harmonized bliss of “New Moon on Monday,” and the rest of the record overwhelmed with awesome. I found Duran Duran’s music stayed with me long after I stopped listening, and I felt myself yearning for more—discovering other albums, learning about the members, and essentially assembling a portrait of the artists behind my favorite tunes. The music was my gateway drug.
What made you decide to start collecting pieces of Duran Duran memorabilia?
Being attracted to Duran Duran’s strong visual style, acquiring memorabilia seemed like a natural direction. Photos offered glossy, handsome images and magazine articles were often accompanied by fan-friendly, full-page pin-ups. But posters took Duran Duran’s exciting, photogenic persona to an even higher plane. While I’ve enjoyed filling out the archive with many odd and fascinating artifacts, the posters have always been the heart of my collection and the clearest visual representation of Duran Duran’s professional history.
How do you acquire pieces for your collection?
Much of my effort revolves around careful networking, reaching out to those within the concert promotion industry and building credibility with my archive. The biggest challenge comes with every new tour, when the whole world becomes a potential harbor for poster production. That is also when I become most aware and appreciative of all the wonderful friends and fellow fans keeping me in mind across the globe!
Do you have a particular favorite?
Without picking a single, most prized item, I would highlight the posters I’ve been able to find from the band’s earliest chapters. Whether testing new material in Birmingham clubs, cutting their teeth as a support act or exploring their New Romantic roots, Duran Duran’s formative years remain the most elusive to document through posters. I have moments of quiet incredulity and deep pride when I look at the first chapter of my book, populated with more posters than I ever expected to include.
Have you ever gotten to meet the band?
I have met the band on several occasions and each encounter has been intensely meaningful and ingrained as a life highlight. Every time I am fortunate enough to meet Duran Duran I am reminded of why I do what I do, why the band deserve nothing less than absolute lifelong celebration and I walk away with renewed commitment to my archival work.
What’s your favorite Duran Duran song? Album?
I was introduced to Duran’s sound through the Ragged Tiger album, particularly “The Reflex”. That record and single will always occupy a premium spot for me. However, Rio is bursting with some of my biggest faves. Especially “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, “Save A Prayer” and “Hold Back The Rain”. Timeless classics which never fail to elevate my heart rate, tap my emotions, and transport me to a very happy place. In the band’s recent years, All You Need Is Now is nothing short of crazy-awesome, having re-captured the same visceral, joyous feel that got me hooked in the first place! “Runway Runaway”, “Blame The Machines” and the title track are pure brilliance that I enjoy down to the molecular level.
What has the band had to say about your book?
The band has been incredibly supportive through Twitter and Facebook, and after a recent trip to present the book to Duran’s management in New York I learned the band assessed Beautiful Colors as “magnificent.” It was important to create something that both the band and the fans could be proud of. In addition to charting the band’s history, I set out to honor the bond between the band and their faithful following as well as my own connections within the global fan community. This passion is a powerful common thread we all share, and I feel blessed to be part of something so special, enduring and so much bigger than myself.
For more information on Andrew Golub and
Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran Click Here!
To See Golub’s portion of an American Collector’s documentary
(38 minutes in): Click Here
For more than thirty years Gary Chapman has seamlessly blended contemporary pop, country, Christian and southern gospel, racking up an impressive musical resume that includes multiple Grammy nominations and Dove Awards (including “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year”).
Chapman’s first new studio album in over a decade, “The Truth” features sixteen new studio recordings and features special vocal appearances by the likes of Allison Krauss, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Tanya Tucker and John Rich. On a more personal level, The Truth also showcases performances by Chapman’s daughter Sarah on “Put it in His Hands,” and wife Cassie on the Christmas-themed, “All About a Baby.”
In addition to the new album, Chapman’s wife Cassie will take part in the upcoming TNT reality series “Private Lives of Nashville Wives” which premieres on February 24th.
I spoke with Chapman about his new album as well as Private Lives of Nashville Wives. He also delivers the truth when it comes to finding faith in troubled times.
It’s been more than ten years since your last studio album. What sparked this project?
My dad had lived with me and my wife until he died about four years ago. The thing that really brought him comfort toward the end of his life was me sitting beside his bed and playing some of the songs that he had taught me many years ago. There was something really powerful about going over those songs. I wanted to write an album and find a body of songs that really mattered and one that might live beyond me. That’s what I set out to do.
Why the title “The Truth”?
It’s pretty direct. I didn’t want to hide anything. It’s important for me to try to break down the stereotype that Christians have about somehow “having it all together”. The fact is, we don’t. We all have the same issues and struggles as everyone else. I wanted to do it in an all-embracing way. I like to refer to it as a Christian record for people who maybe aren’t church-goers or might not even be professing Christians yet, but they have something inside of them that requires something more.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album: “The Rough Crowd”.
I actually found that song along with “I Didn’t Find Jesus” years ago and knew that at some point I wanted to cut them. When I did record it, one of my co-producers (Ray Hamilton) said “You know, this song could really benefit from more personalities.” At first I fought him on it, but once we started talking about who it could be, it all started to make sense. Having Tanya Tucker sing about the woman at the well and John Rich saying he cussed, raised hell, drank and stumbled but knew someone was with him – it just doesn’t get much better.
“All About A Baby”.
My wife Cassie has a really beautiful voice, but getting her into the studio was like pulling teeth [laughs]! We have a nine-month old girl that we adopted so when I found “All About A Baby” it made total sense. It’s a Christmas song if you had to categorize it, but it’s really not. The message is year round.
“Put It In His Hands” was a song you recorded with your daughter, Sarah. How did that come about?
Sarah has such a cool, distinct voice and I’ve been wanting to sing something with her for quite a while. I wrote the song about a moment I had with my dad towards the end of his life. To have a three generational impact was what I was going for.
What is your songwriting process?
One of the things that I love about my formula is that I don’t have a plan. It changes every single time. Sometimes it will be an observation that may culminate into a thought or a hook. Then I’ll take it and store it away. I don’t tend to write things down very much. My logic has always been if the ideas are really good, then they’ll always come back. And they do. Over the years I’ve learned that the songs that just overwhelm you and make themselves undeniable are the ones that really matter. I wait for those moments.
What can you tell me about Cassie’s show, Private Lives of Nashville Wives?
A film crew follows around six Nashville couples as they go about their lives. It really is completely unscripted. Sometimes it’s centered around an event, but everyone tends to move through life the same regardless of whether or not there’s something going on. One of the story lines documents the process of me making this musical project and another one is about the baby. Cassie and I are big proponents of adoption and it’s a really great story.
Will this show be different than some of those other wife reality shows?
Whenever you get six women together you’re bound to get drama, but it won’t be one of those “weave pulling, drunken brawls” that some of those shows turn into [laughs].
What do you think is the secret to having faith in troubling times?
I think you have to know where the bottom is before you know where you stand. You have to clear away all of the distraction from your vision and really come to grips with your own mortality. That will happen as you get older but the younger you can make the decision, the better the life you’re going to have. You eventually have to submit to the reality that you need God. And if you truly believe that he is who he say he was and remains, everything is better. The good times are better and the bad times are endurable. Everything changes when you’ve got a new-found perspective.
Since forming in Germany in 1965 the Scorpions have become one of the most successful international hard rock bands of all time; selling upwards of 75 million records worldwide while playing more than 5,000 concerts in over 80 countries.
Known for colossal hits that include “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “No One Like You” and “Wind of Change”, the band was ranked #46 on VH1′s “Greatest Artists Of Hard Rock” special, while “Rock You Like A Hurricane” came in at #18 on the channel’s list of “Greatest Hard Rock Songs”.
In 2010 the band announced a final studio album, “Sting In The Tail” that would coincide with an epic Farewell World Tour. It’s a tour that to the delight of fans has been going on for more than three years. Late in 2012, just as the band was finishing up their final show of the year, they were approached about doing an intimate, all acoustic project they had never done before. The result: Scorpions MTV Unplugged.
Taken from two dynamic acoustic performances from the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens, Greece, this deluxe CD + DVD package and Blu-Ray features new acoustic versions of the band’s best-loved classics as well as five brand new songs.
The Scorpions is Klaus Meine (vocals/guitar), Rudolf Schenker (guitars/vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitars), Pawel Maciwoda (bass) and James Kottak (drums). Additional musical support on MTV Unplugged includes contributions from Swedish musicians and producers Mikael Nord Andersson (guitars, mandolin, lap steel, vocals) and Martin Hansen (guitars, harmonica, vocals). The duo is also responsible for the arrangements on MTV Umplugged.
I spoke with Matthias Jabs about MTV Unplugged and got an update on the band’s current activities. We also discussed the 30th anniversary of the band’s monumental album, “Love At First Sting”.
What made the band decide to undertake an unplugged project?
It was something that we had never done before and something that we had missed out on in the 80′s because we were so busy. Now that we had the time, we went to Stockholm and worked with Swedish producers. They’re also great musicians and ended up being on stage with us.
How was it arranging the songs into an acoustic format?
In some ways it was easy, but for some of the songs that everybody knows it presented a much greater challenge. We also chose some songs that we had never performed live before. We really wanted to make it special for the fans with the acoustic guitars and classical orchestra. The end result is quite good. It’s interesting and different, especially with all of the guest musicians.
Did you find it more challenging performing songs this way?
Playing in an acoustic setting is very unforgiving and the arrangements were done in such a way that you couldn’t just pick up one guitar and play the entire set. There were many different tunings and capos that we used. And the deeper we got into the project, the more instruments and tunings would come out. We ended up adding piano, mandolin, accordion and even a harp. We also had close to 56 acoustic guitars on stage with us!
Why did you choose this particular venue?
MTV originally wanted to release the album in the late fall before Christmas. Summer is always vacation time in Europe so to be outside in September, we decided to go to Greece. They have the best climate and great audiences. The temperature was so perfect you didn’t even have to think about it. The amphitheater actually sits on top of the highest mountain in Athens. From the top, you can look down at the city and see the millions of lights below. it’s almost like looking down into Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills. It’s a stunning view.
Is the band planning any U.S. tour dates this year?
Yes, we’re working on playing some U.S. shows maybe in late summer.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Love At First Sting”. When you think about that album, what comes to mind?
We knew we had something special. Even though “Blackout” was very successful and our first major success as a headliner in the U.S., “Love At First Sting” topped it. Songs like “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Still Loving You”, which became a big hit in Europe. “Big City Nights” was another song that was played on the radio a lot. There are so many good songs on the album that made it so strong. I remember it was a bit hectic recording and we almost missed the deadline, but once we heard the first mixes we had a very good feeling about it.
How did Rudolf come up with the riff for “Rock You Like A Hurricane”?
Rudolf and I were actually talking about it before hand. I had told him to try to find riffs that used pauses and accents. Not ones that just play continuously through all the time. So we talked about it, and that’s when he came up with that riff. At the time, I remember being more concerned about writing the lead guitar intro for it, which was something I had already done for “No One Like You”.
What was the process like for building the intro?
The rule was find a riff, then put a melody on top and then play it in harmony. I still remember the first time I played it for the producers and band when we were in the studio. I played the first line and then the harmony part and everyone went, “OH, YES! HERE COMES THE SUN!” [laughs]. We knew we had something great. I felt the exact same way with “No One Like You”. It instantly sounds like a hit, even when you hear it for the very first time.
In the 80′s, new bands like Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi supported Scorpions before making a name for themselves. What was your criteria for choosing them?
Good songs are what made the difference. All of the bands you mentioned that supported us, starting with Def Leppard in 1980, Iron Maiden in ’82 and Bon Jovi in ’84 all became huge, but we chose them because we liked their song material and attitudes. That’s what was the deciding point.
What can you tell us about the band’s new album of unreleased 80′s material?
While we were digging into the archives we found a lot of unfinished songs that we didn’t use for various reasons. Mostly material from the Blackout and Love at First Sting era, which was our most creative time. We now have 12 basic tracks down that we’ll finish recording sometime this summer and maybe even include a few new songs as well. The ideas are from then, but the album’s from now. We’re hoping to release it next year.
What are some of the biggest highlights of your career?
The US Festival in 1983 was amazing because it was so unexpected. All of a sudden, we were coming out of the studio to play in front of 300,000 people. Then there was Rock in Rio in ’85, the Moscow Music Peace Festival, Monsters of Rock in ’89 with Van-Halen and Metallica. There are so many highlights, it’s hard to find a dull moment. But I think the biggest highlight is that we’re all still together and are still friends after creating this great career. We’re still having fun making music both in the studio and playing live. That’s the real highlight.
In retrospect, do you think that “Sting In The Tail” and The Farewell Tour might have been a bit premature?
The original idea was that this was going to be the last studio recording. For the last 35 years we’ve been recording an album, going on the road for 2 1/2 years, coming back home, recording an album…. It’s become routine, but we never wanted to stop making music. We just wanted to scale it down a bit. We also said that we’d be open for special projects, like MTV Unplugged and digging down for older, unreleased material. Those are things we don’t do everyday. The fans love it, and that’s reason enough to do it.
For more on Scorpions, check out their official website by Clicking Here!
“A divided young man must fight for life and love in his estranged, nightmare-like reality.”
Writer Ian Brightman has put much of his own life experience into “Shattered”, a short film/passion project with a script that’s taken him nearly three years to complete. Starring Hunter Garner and Jenna Stone, “Shattered” is a film that will make you rethink your entire life and realize that sometimes no one can help you, except you.
Brightman has recently started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project and bring the film to the big screen. Backers of the film will have the option of several “rewards” to choose from as a way of saying thanks for their generous support. From a private link to screen the film to producer credit and even the opportunity to appear in the film itself, everyone that takes part in the project will be recognized for their contribution.
In typical film projects, everything is panned out and you go in and do your job, but the cool thing about Kickstarter is that everyone becomes more personally involved in the film’s success by actually making it happen and getting the word out.
Shattered tells the story of Asher (Garner), a young man who finds out that no matter how hard he pushes, he can’t seem to help himself. He finds this out every time he sleeps when his dreams emotionally scar him with images of his ex, Aria (Stone). His nightmares also mentally torture him with the vision of dying at the hands of Gabriel, a physically identical young man. In reality, Asher attempts to solve his issues with Aria along with what may be causing his nightmares.
Actress Jenna Stone is no stranger to the suspense thriller, having played the lead role of Ali in the horror film “A Haunting In Salem” as well as a strong supporting role alongside Charlie O’Connell and Marie Bollinger in “Huff”. For Stone, it’s not only about creating an experience for the audience, but also about releasing emotion and that moment of truth.
I spoke with Stone about her role in Shattered and more in this exclusive interview.
How did you get involved in this project?
It was a passion project that was written by a friend of a friend. When they started talking about it, they asked me if I’d be interested in one of the roles and after I read the script was immediately on board. It’s a short film about two guys battling inner demons and given the choice of love or fighting for yourself. It’s going to be very visually appealing. You really get to see the extreme sides of the characters on many different levels.
How would describe the story of Shattered?
It’s about twins and takes place in dreams, which is another one of the reasons I really liked it. I’ve always been interested in how people dream and how the subconscious works. The story itself takes place in the mind and becomes an inner battle between life and death. There’s a blurred reality and at times you’re not really sure what’s real and what’s not. That’s what makes it scary. It fits into the psychological suspense thriller category in that it makes you think a lot.
Tell me a little about your character, Aria.
Aria has good intentions. She’s a sweet girl who’s going through life confused and not knowing what she wants in a relationship. She knows that it would be logical to not be together, but it’s too hard emotionally.
Are there any other projects your working on?
I’m working on another film called “Jack & Cocaine”. I play “Cocaine”, a LA prostitute who meets a guy named Jack in the same field of business. Her mother died when she was a teenager and was also a prostitute and drug addict. She didn’t set a very good example and that’s why Cocaine got involved in the work that she did. She ends up seeing a psychic who helps her talk to he mom and the journey ends up being about trying to find her father. It’s a self growth, love conquers all type of film and I’m very excited about that one too!
For more information on “Shattered” and the Kickstarter Campaign, Click Here!
I’d like to use this topic whenever I stumble upon something cool or unique from my past. Not only will the nostalgia of finding these treasures remind me of a much more innocent time, but writing about the things that I discover will really help put in perspective what my goals in life were at the time.
During the mid to late 80′s I kept semi-regular journals describing what was going on in my life as well as the things I had in mind for when I made it to the big time. One of the things I often liked to do in my journal was pretend that someone was doing an interview profile of my life for my fans to enjoy.
This one was from ironically enough, 25 years ago today. A journal entry from February 8th, 1989. In it, I ask myself questions and answer them. Enjoy!
Rocker’s Profile 1989
Rocker’s Name: James Edward Wood
Birthdate: October 5th, 1969
Instruments: Guitar, Vocals, Piano
Years Playing: 3 years
Date Started: May 24, 1985
Favorite Guitarists: Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Randy Rhoads, Van-Halen
Favorite Bands: Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon
Unfavorite Bands: Slayer, Megadeth, One hit wonders
Favorite Songs: Dust In The Wind (Kansas), Armageddon It (Def Leppard), All of Hysteria & Pyromania, Too many others to list
Favorite Album: Hysteria, Pyromania, Blizzard of Ozz, (Ozzy Osbourne), Appetite For Destruction (Guns n Roses)
Favorite Food: Cheese Fries, Country Club Melts
Band Experience: Silent Rage Mar 11, 1988 – July 6, 1988
Favorite Guitars: Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Explorer, Fender Stratocaster
Hobbies: Songwriting, Teaching Music
Current Goals: Become respected for music
It’s interesting to see how much things have (or haven’t) changed in a quarter century. Obviously, you could tell that I was (still am) a huge Def Leppard fan. It’s also worth noting that at the time this interview was taken I had only ever been in one band. As of today, I’ve been in six. And in 2006, after more than twenty years of waiting, I finally was able to purchase my very first Gibson Les Paul.
But if you were to ask the dude being interviewed if he ever saw himself working a 9-5 job in the 21st century, I’m sure he would have laughed in your face. Because the truth is, all I saw at the time were gold records, tour buses and a sea of women calling my name. Responsibility? HA! That was the furthest thing from my mind in 1989.
Such was the naivety of youth.
Have you ever wanted to learn the nuances of songwriting and the music business from one of greatest guitarists of all time?
Look no further than the inaugural Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp, which takes place June 23 to 27 in Saratoga Springs, New York.
And yes, that’s Vai as in Steve Vai, the virtuoso guitarist, composer and producer. The camp is billed as the entire manual for being an independent musician — condensed into three days of classes.
The focus of the camp will be the evolution of a song. Attendees will learn how a song gets written, recorded, mixed, mastered, distributed and marketed. Camp admission includes lodging, meals, classes, live performances and jam sessions. Attendees who sign up by March 31 will receive a free Ibanez RG guitar, courtesy of Hoshino.
Guitar World recently spoke to Vai about his Song Evolution Camp. We also discussed his early practice regimen and what he considers to be the highlight of his career.
Read my Guitar World interview with Steve Vai by Clicking Here!