‘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

‘When Times Get Ruff': New ‘Doodle’ Book Benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities

WhenTimesGetRuffIt’s hard to believe that we’re already on the third installment of our Doodle Dog Book series. What started out as a dream by two high school friends has turned into something bigger than either of us could have ever imagined.

But Michele and I both believe that the real fulfillment in accomplishing a dream comes from giving it a purpose – and that’s exactly what we’ve done, by donating 100% of our profits from sales of our first two books to worthy causes.

In keeping with this trend, all personal proceeds from sales of our brand-new book, “Doodle: When Times Get Ruff” will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, a non-profit organization which provides a home away from home for families with seriously ill children staying and receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.

“Doodle: When Times Get Ruff” tells the story of Chloe, a young girl who faces uncertainty when her younger brother Christopher becomes ill. With help and love from both family and friends, Chloe is able to overcome her fear.

If you’re already a fan of the first two books you’ll notice the return of a few familiar characters, but with an added twist. You may also discover a few “easter eggs” that have been hidden somewhere within the text as well.

As an added bonus, from now until December 31st, Michele and I will be donating all future profits from sales of our first two books, “Doodle” and “Doodle Meets The Pound Pup” to RMHC of Central Ohio as well.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mackenzie Schuler, the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, to find out more about her job and what goes on at RMH. We hope that after reading this interview with Mackenzie and seeing all of the good work that she and the rest of the staff and volunteers at RMHC of Central Ohio do for their community, you will consider purchasing a copy of our book or helping us spread the word!

Ruff

How did you become involved in non-profit work?

I grew up in Iowa with a family full of outdoors men. During my senior year in high school, my Grandpa was sitting up in a tree stand when it suddenly gave out. He fell fifteen feet and broke all of the vertebrae in his neck and back; completely shattering his spine. While he was in the hospital being treated my mom, grandma and aunt would all take turns staying either in his room or in the hospital waiting room. I remember they would be there for days on end and I got to see firsthand how draining it was for them to be in that environment and not have any break or an oasis to get away from it. I had originally intended to be a journalism major but that experience shifted my focus to non-profit work. I had two great internships while I was in college and fell in love with it.

RonaldMCdonaldWhat’s the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio?

Our mission is to serve the families of seriously ill children in central Ohio and we create, find and support programs that do just that. When a family checks in, we don’t ask them to pay anything. That means we have a large gap that we have to makeup through fundraising. 

People may already know what the Ronald McDonald House is, but we also have a number of other things – including the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile which is basically a traveling, pediatric doctor’s office that goes around and visits kids who may not be able to get access to healthcare otherwise. It travels north to Mansfield all the way down to southern Ohio.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Well, there is no “typical” day in a non-profit setting [laughs]. We get to wear many different hats. I remember one Saturday I was here and we were all unloading head boards. We don’t hire anyone to do it for us. We do all of the work ourselves. So one day I might be meeting with a family to talk about their experience at RMH and the next day, I might be moving furniture or reupholstering chairs.

My main focus here though is being the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. I do all of our social media as well as all of internal and external communications. I also work directly with families to tell a story each month for our electronic newsletter. I’ll work with our Family Services department to find a family who would be willing to talk about their experience and then tie it back to everyone who helps give their time, money and effort to the Ronald McDonald House.

What can you tell me about the recent expansion at RMH?

Currently, we have 80 guest rooms and have just added a 42-room expansion. With 122 rooms, it makes us the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. It’s really exciting. In addition to the rooms, we’ve also added things like a roof-top garden and a salon area. We have lots of common spaces for families to spend their time together and keep their lives as normal as possible in not so normal circumstances. We’ll be having a Community Open House on Sunday, Sept 14th from 1-4pm. We want to use this opportunity to thank people for all of their support and want them to feel like they’re a part of the project as well.

What are some of the ways people can help?

There are a number of ways you can get involved. When you visit our website you’ll find a tab there that says “How You Can Help”. It can be anything from volunteering regularly to making a meal or even collecting pop tabs.

StoriesOfHope

Is there something that people might not know about RMH that you think they should be aware of?

One of the things people might not be aware of is that we rely 100% on donations from the community. We also have a very small staff, so in order to keep our facility running we have volunteers that are here from 9am – 9pm every day of the week. Our volunteers also help us save money. As an example, since we don’t have a hired cleaning staff, our volunteers are the ones who keep our house spotless. It’s because of their hard work that we’re able to save over a million dollars a year.

What is the best part of your job?

There are so many great stories that are told every day here at the Ronald McDonald House. I love the mission and how no one is ever asked to pay. It’s an amazing service provided to the community. One where the only thing the family has to be concerned about is helping their child heal. They don’t need to focus on anything else. Only on what’s important.

 For more information on
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio – Click Here!

Click here to Order a Copy of Doodle: When Times Get Ruff

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!

‘Fragile’: Midge Ure talks Retro Futura, new album, Ultravox and the 80s

Midge Ure (Photo: van der Voorden Photography)

Midge Ure (Photo: van der Voorden Photography)

After many years of being out in the wilderness when it came to playing in America, Midge Ure is back!

With a vast career of accomplished guitar work from his days with Rich Kids and Thin Lizzy to the synth sounds he utilized with Visage and Ultravox, Ure will be teaming up with fellow 80s giants Howard Jones and Tom Bailey for this year’s Retro-Futura Tour. A jam-packed show that will cross the U.S and also features China Crisis and Katrina (ex-Katrina And The Waves).

Coinciding with Ure’s visit to the States will be the release of his brand new studio album, ‘Fragile’ (coming August 19). It’s Ure’s first new studio album in more than a decade.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ure about Retro Futura, “Fragile”, his first taste of America with Thin Lizzy and how he helped change the world with one little Christmas song.

How did you get involved with the Retro Futura tour?

I had been away from America for quite a long time and about a year and a half ago decided to go back and play clubs and just enjoy the feeling of being there again. I had a fantastic time. This year, I was thinking of doing some more acoustic shows when my agent told me about the tour. He told me about Howard and how Tom would be doing Thompson Twins material for the first time in years and about the other artists. I thought it was a great idea and jumped at the chance. It’s a fantastic package.

What can fans expect from your set?

I think the answer can be found in the title of the tour. It’s looking at the old hits and playing the soundtrack of people’s lives. So I’ll be doing the hits: a few Ultravox things; maybe a few Visage things and a few solo songs as well.

What made the 80’s so great?

I think the Eighties were very similar to what it was like in the early Sixties. It was a time when The Beatles came along and a musical revolution was happening. The revolution involved fashion and teenagers having their own music and not just something that was a hand me down from their parents. There were also some really diverse songwriters and bands that came out of the Eighties. On top of that, there was a technical revolution happening where synthesizers and small four-track recorders came into the mainstream. All of these things came together to form a fantastically creative period that still resonates now.

MidgeUre-FragileHow would you describe your new album, “Fragile”?

It’s a culmination of influences from the day I was born – and not just the musical ones. It’s the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read and the things I’ve experienced. All of the stuff that makes us who we are. For instance, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t fallen in love with Mick Ronson’s guitar playing back in the early Seventies, or if I hadn’t been a fan of Thin Lizzy. I want people to put this album on at the beginning and play it straight through til the end. Not just cherry pick tracks. Just listen to the entire thing and let it take you on a little journey.

What is your songwriting process like?

I see an album as a diary where you write about the things that affect you. The good, the bad, the things that you’re happy about. Life is a rich pallete of colors. I usually start with a seed of an idea and then sit down and add little bits of music to it. It’s almost like building a jigsaw puzzle. You put the elements together and start seeing it all come together. The more pieces you put in, the bigger it gets. It may take weeks or even a few years but eventually, you know that it’s finished because you’ve got a completed picture.

Will you be touring the new album here in the US?

Yes. My plan is to come back to America in January for a few weeks and do an acoustic show featuring a substantial amount of the “Fragile” album. Then I’ll come back again sometime in March to cover more of the country.

After Gary Moore abruptly left Thin Lizzy, you were asked to fill in for the rest of the tour. Can you tell me how you got the gig?

I was a fan of Thin Lizzy from the first album. They actually derived from another band called Skid Row, a three-piece Irish band who had a 16-year-old Gary Moore playing guitar for them. I was a big fan of them. And then I heard about this other guy, Phil Lynott who fronted his own band and I went to see them when they came to Glasgow in Scotland. Phil was such a great writer, singer and charismatic front man.

One day, I remember bumping into Phil walking around the streets of Glasgow. This was before Thin Lizzy became really big. I was driving my band’s van at the time and drove Phil to my parents’ house where my mother fed him – because she thought he was too skinny [laughs]. Phil and I became friends and met up in London after I had joined the Rich Kids in 1978. We just started hanging out together and I did a few sessions with him.

I was actually in the studio putting the finishing touches on the Visage album and had just joined Ultravox when Phil called. He told me that the band was in Arkansas and that Gary wasn’t in the band anymore. Then he asked me if I could hop on a plane and come out and finish the rest of the tour with them. It was an unbelievable experience and my first taste of America.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Band Aid project, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” What was your original goal with that song?

Our big goal was to see if we could get a #1 record at Christmas in the U.K. We originally thought we could raise £100,000 ($200,000), but no one in the industry saw that there would be this massive media machine surrounding it. Once the record company said they were going to donate their profits, the pressing company said they would donate theirs and then the dealers did the same thing. So instead of £100,000 we wound up raising £3m on that single!

At what point did you realize the real impact the song was going to have?

When we had all of those artists come in on that day to add their strength, we knew we had something special. But the moment I remember most is driving home at the end of that 24-hour period. After having recorded all of the vocals, Phil Collins’ drums and completing all of the mixing, I remember being completely exhausted. Just before I turned into my driveway, I heard Bob Geldolf on BBC Radio 1 with a cassette and they played the song. Literally, an hour after I had finished mixing the song I was listening to it on my car radio. I had never experienced anything like that before and it was spectacular. Radio 1 didn’t play anything that was unsolicited, but they played that cassette every hour on the hour. It was then that we knew something big was happening.

Are there any other memorable highlights of your career you can share?

The great stuff that happens to most musicians is the stuff you don’t see or don’t recognize. For me, one of them was sitting one on one with Eric Clapton playing old blues tunes. There was no one there to witness it and no photographs or recording of it exists, but I know that it happened. Then there’s doing a duet with Kate Bush. How cool is that? Going into Kate’s studio to hear what she had sung on my song. Figuring she may have spent ten minutes knocking off a vocal when it turns out she must have spent days multi-tracking all of these choir-like vocals on my song. It was so incredible. Stuff like that is just as powerful as the big stuff the world sees. It’s the little things in the big picture that are the big picture for me.

What are you most looking forward to about The Retro Futura Tour?

I love the idea of coming back to America and getting to places that I might not get to play on my own. There are a lot of people out there who still remember and appreciate this music. I also remember going out with Howard back in 1989 when I was touring the “Answers to Nothing” album. So, we’re kind-of completing the whole circle by going out with Howard again. I’m really looking forward to it.

Retro Futura Tour

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. 3: Tempe, AZ – The Marquee
Sept. 4: San Diego, CA – Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
Sept. 5: Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Beach
Sept. 6: Sandy, UT – Sandy Amphitheater
Sept. 8: Dallas, TX – Verizon Theatre
Sept. 10: Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live

‘Museum’: Former White Lion Vocalist Mike Tramp Talks New Music, Guitars and Touring

TrampFor former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp, it’s no longer about filling arenas, selling T-shirts or playing the old songs. Today, Tramp focuses on one main thing: following his heart.

It’s why he’s spent the better part of the past two years touring the world with just a guitar, playing everywhere from sports bars to small hunting lodges deep in the Pennsylvania wilderness, places where Tramp says he feels right at home.

And although there have been glimpses of Tramp’s inner-self in his White Lion past (“When the Children Cry” comes to mind), perhaps there’s no better reflection of Tramp’s soul than his new album, Museum, which will be released August 18.

From the Seventies vibe of songs like “Down South” to his own frustration (“Trust in Yourself”) and personal healing (“Better”), Tramp’s pain, love and frustration are on full display. Listening to Museum, one quickly discovers the bloodline that is Mike Tramp. There’s no makeup or make believe. Just plenty of truth.

I recently spoke to Tramp about his new album, gear and the satisfaction he gets from his vagabond touring lifestyle.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe this new album as a whole?

It’s a true reflection of me as a songwriter and about not being controlled by the “image” anymore. It’s knowing that the guidelines, doors and walls that surrounded White Lion back in the Eighties just don’t exist for me anymore. I’ve taken a step to try to create something that’s recognizable and has connections to my past, but is still part of the future.

Why the title Museum?

I fell in love with music when I was growing up in the late Sixties and Seventies, back when so many bands would just record an album and not worry about whether or not it would fit in with the other songs they’ve done before. I remember being in the studio and saying, “This is like being inside of a museum in its own time.” These are displays of songs that represent who I am.

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gw_logoInterview with Mike Tramp by Clicking Here!

Girl Power: G.R.L. Talks New Music, Tour Plans

It’s been more than three years since the ladies of G.R.L were first brought together by former Pussycat Doll, Robin Antin.

Originally created to be a reboot of the group Antin made famous, the women of G.R.L. (Simone Battle, Lauren Bennett, Emmalyn Estrada, Natasha Slayton and Paula Van Oppen) instead took on a life of their own – appearing in the video for Pitbull’s song “Wild Wild Love” as well as releasing several infectiously good singles of their own, including the track “Vacation” which featured former Spice Girl Mel B.

G.R.L.

G.R.L.

On July 29th, the long awaited G.R.L self-titled debut will officially be unveiled, giving the ladies their first taste of album exposure. Coinciding with the release of the EP, G.R.L will soon embark on a trip down-under to promote their new music.

The thing that sets G.R.L. apart from many of their counterparts (both male and female) is their ability to create infectious songs that become even more addicting on subsequent listens. Songs like “Show Me What You Got” and their recent single and video for the song “Ugly Heart” infuse hooky R&B and pop-rock grooves with positive, girl power messages.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the ladies of G.R.L about their new album, touring and their thoughts on becoming the model for the next generation of Girl Power!

How excited are you that the EP is going to be released?

Natasha: I’m kind of nervous, actually [laughs]. We’ve worked really hard on it. It’s our baby and we’re finally putting it out there for the world to see. We’re very excited to see what the response will be.

Lauren: There’s also a song on the EP that no one has heard yet, which is a bit different then what we’ve put out thus far. We’re excited to see how fans will feel about that new song.

How would you describe the new album?

Simone: It’s very charged, with a lot of girl empowering anthems. We have some R&B and some 90’s throwback jams as well as an electro, pop-rock song. Then there’s “Ugly Heart” which is unique in its own way. It’s a mix of a bunch of different vibes.

Emma: We love positive messages and songs that make us want to dance immediately. If something can make us move, then we know we’re really feeling it from the inside and we become passionate about it.

What can you tell me about the song “Ugly Heart”?

Natasha: “Ugly Heart” is a song about inner-beauty and about how you should never judge a book by its cover. Just because someone has a pretty face, doesn’t mean their inside will match. And if you don’t have inner-beauty, then we’re going to leave you far behind!

What are your touring plans?

Paula: We’ll be going to Australia at the beginning of August. We’re excited about that because “Ugly Heart” is doing really well over there. While we’re there, we’ll be doing a performance on X-Factor Australia and will be traveling to places like Sydney and Melbourne to promote the record.

You’re all involved with so many different aspects of a project. Everything from recording to choreography. Is there a part of the process that you enjoy more than others?

Lauren: I love getting cool outfits and dressing up. As a little girl, it was always fun to put on a fancy dress. Now, being an adult and being able to dress up and be on stage or in a music video is one of the coolest things for me.

Natasha: I love performing and meeting the fans. The performance and seeing everything come together. Just being able to express myself on stage and getting the fans to sing and dance along with us is awesome.

Simone: I love the creative process of it. Being in the studio until two or three in the morning until a song is finished. I love all of the aspects of it, but being in the studio is one of my favorite things.

What was it like working with Pitbull for the video “Wild Wild Love”?

Lauren: I was nervous, because we didn’t really know how things were going to go until we got on set. We had never met Pitbull prior to the show and after he walked in the room the director handed me this sheet of paper and said, “Ok, here you go. You’ve got to read these lines with Pitbull.” I remember being incredibly nervous, but he was so nice and professional. It went really smoothly.

Paula: He’s also a lot of fun to work with. I remember after we shot the video, we all went out on a boat and he showed us around. He definitely knows how to have a good time.

Mel B appeared in your video for “Vacation”. What was it like working with her and sort-of picking up the torch to be the next generation of Girl Power?

Natasha: We grew up idolizing The Spice Girls. I remember wanting to be Sporty Spice and having all of my friends dress up with me. Having Mel B being in our video and giving us advice was the coolest thing and a dream come true.

Lauren: Mel B represents one of the biggest girl groups in the world of all time. For her to be a part of our journey is one of the best things we could ever have.

What are you most looking forward to about the new album and what’s next for G.R.L.?

Lauren: We’re not really sure about where things are going to go. All we know is that we’ve waited so long for this moment and things are happening really quickly now. Australia is really picking up on the new record. I’m really excited that the ball is rolling!

G.R.L (Track Listing):

1. Ugly Heart
2. Show Me What You Got
3. Rewind
4. Don’t Talk About Love
5. Girls Are Always Right

Ted Nugent Brings Rock Revival, Spiritual Jam To Penns Peak

Guitarist, hunter and American advocate Ted Nugent is certainly no stranger to the backwoods of northeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, a recent stop at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe a few years ago became the setting for Nugent’s 2011 live CD/DVD Ultralive Ballisticrock. Yeah, folks around these parts know that when Uncle Ted’s in town (like he was last night at Penns Peak) – attendance is mandatory!

Ted Nugent Bring The Heat to Penns Peak

Ted Nugent Brings The Heat to Penns Peak

Nugent’s live show is one part sermon, one part history lesson and one part spiritual revival. It’s a line drawn in the sand where (like most things) Nugent is either admired and solidified for the attitude, or despised for it. But Nugent says let the chips fall where they may. He believes in focusing on quality of life in all of those arenas, because quality of life comes from all of those issues.

Together with his killer band made up of Derek St. Holmes (guitar/vocals); Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums), Nugent infused the senses with an arsenal of material at The Peak. Channeling the same blues masters that inspired his own guitar prowess, while continuing to wave the flag for a love of God and country.

In addition to giving the audience a master class in virtuoso musicianship, Nugent thanked the crowd for making his “Spirit of the Wild” the #1 hunting show in the world; took credit for being the most hated man in America by a President; instructed the crowd that the biggest duty of any American is to raise hell and even called upon the spirit of his longtime mentor and blood brother Fred Bear before launching into what Nugent calls the “greatest guitar riff of all time”- “Cat Scratch Fever”. Nugent even gave his fellow hunters and NRA members a dose of “Shut Up & Jam!” – the title track from his new studio album released earlier this month.

Ted Nugent and Greg Smith bring their message to the masses

Ted Nugent and Greg Smith bring their message to the masses

Ted Nugent is on the verge of playing his 6,500th live show. To put that into perspective, that would be like playing a concert a night (every night) for almost 18 years. But Nugent himself will tell you that every single one of those shows is the most important show on Earth. It’s why he continues to surround himself with others who are also masters of their craft, and why fans like me are so grateful.

Driving down the long hill that leads from Penns Peak back to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and to my home, I realized that even though the world may be in rough shape, our future is in good hands.

Ted Nugent Set List: (Penns Peak)

Gonzo
Just What The Doctor Ordered
Free For All
Turn It Up
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
I Can’t Quit You Baby (Otis Rush cover)
Live It Up
Queen Of The Forest
Need You Bad
Shut Up & Jam
Hey Baby
Fred Bear
Cat Scratch Fever
Stranglehold
Great White Buffalo

‘Begin Again’: Actress Shannon Maree Walsh Discusses New Film, Music

Shannon Maree Walsh

Shannon Maree Walsh

Shannon Maree Walsh’s introduction into the world of entertainment may not have been by conventional methods, but the champion gymnast turned actress is certainly making a name for herself in the new film, “Begin Again”.

Directed by John Carney (“Once”), “Begin Again” tells the story Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), a struggling record label exec living in New York City. One night, while drinking at a bar in the East Village, he encounters Gretta (Keira Knightley), a fiercely independent young songwriter whose music captivates him. Walsh plays nerdy musician Rachel, a cellist in Gretta’s band.

Following its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and closing this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, the film was released theatrically on July 2nd.

Walsh has been a national gymnastics champion four times, but recently shifted her passion to acting with great success. Her first role was in Wes Craven’s “My Soul to Take” and other credits include Law & Order: SVU and The Michael J Fox Show.

In addition to finishing up her degree at Georgetown, Walsh also currently finds time to play in Suite 27, a musical group featuring members of the band from “Begin Again”. The band recently performed at the film’s premiere and have future plans to gig in and around New York City.

I recently spoke to Walsh about her role on “Begin Again”, her music and what’s next for the aspiring young actress.

What attracted you to this project?

At the time of my audition I found out that Keira and Mark were already cast. I love period films and am a huge fan of both of them. I also happened to watch “Once” (John’s first movie) and it was insanely good. With that in mind, I knew immediately it was a project I wanted to be a part of.

How would you describe the story of “Begin Again”?

I think some people might go into it thinking that they’re going to get a rom-com [romantic comedy], but that’s really not was this is. It’s a story about how music develops relationships between people. The foundation of the relationships and romances between the best friends is music. The best part of this movie is that the comedy doesn’t just come from humorous lines that are written. It’s the situational things in life that make it spontaneously funny.

What can you tell me about your character, Rachel?

Rachel is the top of her class. A very nerdy cello player who is sick and tired of playing only classical music. She’s a bit skeptical about joining the band in the beginning, only because she has no idea who these people are or why they even chose her. Then she discovers that she really loves playing this music. It’s all original and nothing that she’s ever played before. It helps her come out of her shell, get loose and go somewhere that she’s never gone before.

What was the filming process like?

I have to say that this was the coolest set experience I’ve ever had. John [Carney] is hysterical and creates such a trendy and relaxed environment. From the first day, the atmosphere was like “Let’s just go with it and see what happens!” It was amazing and our band really bonded a lot. By the end of it, we had forgotten that the camera was rolling and it was just like hanging out with friends. The chemistry you see is very real.

You actually had to learn how to play cello for this film. What was that like?

I already had experience playing the violin, but I remember going in John asking me if I could learn the cello. So for the next four weeks, my journey of three-hour a day, private cello lessons began. It was challenging, but very rewarding!

Your band “experience” actually continued after filming was complete.

Yes, that was one of the coolest parts of the whole experience. None of us in the band had ever known each other before. We’re all people from different backgrounds and places who immediately connected. It’s the most hodgepodge mix of people with a huge age range.

After filming was complete, we all kept in touch and then this past spring one of the band members said, “Let’s make this a ‘thing’ and do some gigs together” – and everyone was immediately on board. So we all got together and just started playing. It was so much fun that we ended up playing at the premiere after-party. We’ve even launched a KickStarter campaign trying to get the band to play around the city and actually do what we did in the movie. We’re called “Suite 27”.

Can you tell me a little about your transition from gymnast to actress?

I was a gymnast from the ages of 3 to 17. I was always very competitive but once the time came to start applying to colleges I realized that my heart was just not into it anymore. I had run my course with the sport. I decided that I wanted to do something that at the time seemed like the opposite of gymnastics and for some reason, that thing was acting. I was a senior in high school when I started acting.

What other projects are you working on?

Right now, my focus is on getting my University degree. I have six more classes before I graduate. The plan is to get the degree and then settle in New York to concentrate on acting. That’s my number one priority!

Follow Shannon on Twitter : @shannonmaree22

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