Birthday Reflections At 45

BirthdayCakeToday is October 5th, 2014: My 45th birthday.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was reminiscing about my life on my 44th birthday?

I swear, time is going by WAY too fast. I am now officially half-way to 90. A staggering accomplishment if I do say so myself.

I’m grateful every day for all of the blessings in my life: a loving family, friends, good health and being able to do something I really love to do – write.

I’m not sure if I’ll make it to be a nonagenarian but what I do know is that for each year that goes by time seems to be going at breakneck speed – and I don’t think I like it.

Case in point: my daughter turned thirteen this year. And although there have certainly been a few teen drama moments that have tried my patience, I still find myself always thinking that in five short years she will begin building a life on her own.

Slow down.

2014 has been a year of firsts for me. This year saw me achieve some monumental interviews. Pipe dreams for the kid who played guitar endlessly throughout high school in his upstairs bedroom. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Ted Nugent, Steve Vai and Don Felder (The Eagles) among many others.

I’ve also had the once in a lifetime opportunity of attending Jim Peterik’s book release event in New York City where I got to see him perform an intimate acoustic set for an audience of about thirty people. I sit here now with a smile on my face recalling how the music he made with the band Survivor got me through my own teenage drama in the 1980’s. When times were tough, I knew I could always find solace in songs like “I Can’t Hold Back,” “High On You,” “The Search is Over,” “Is This Love,” “Man Against The World” and “In Good Faith”.

Photo: Kat Gallaso

Photo: Kath Galasso

Jim’s music was so influential to me that at my high school graduation party my friend Nathan Brown and I set up an impromptu jam session. Out on my parent’s patio, Nathan and I set up his drum set and I plugged in my guitar. Then for the next two hours — to the delight chagrin of those in attendance, the two of us jammed along to the entire “Vital Signs” album while it spun on my mother’s worn out turntable.

For me to now sit in a small club and watch Jim Peterik do a few of those same songs in 2014 was nothing short of incredible.

Slow down.

As I think of that post graduation party I am suddenly reminded that 2014 was also a year of loss. Nathan Brown and I had been the best of friends when we roamed the halls of Easton High School. Dreaming about (and often forming) short-lived bands that at the time we thought would take over the world. I still remember all of those conversations we had late in the night talking about everything we were going to do once we “made it”. Nathan was the best man at my wedding in 1995 and someone who always knew how to make you laugh. In short, he was one of a kind.

I always thought that our bond of brotherhood would be inseparable, but life sometimes has a funny way of throwing a wrench into even the best of circumstances. Sadly, towards the end of the 1990’s and the start of the 21st century, the two of us lost touch. Although we would eventually reconnect at a concert three years ago, we never really hung out again like we used to. It was the usual case of “maybe someday”. Yep, there would always be a someday — right?

Ironically, on September 11th of this year, Nathan’s name popped into my head for some reason. Suddenly, “someday” was today! I decided to do a quick Google search on him to see if maybe he had a Facebook or something so that I might reach out to him. But when the first hit came back from the search engine, my heart just sank.

It was his obituary.

Nathan had passed away suddenly in his home on August 9th. He had already been gone for more than a month. His final service was already over and I am still devastated for not being there to at least say goodbye and pay my respects.

Please….Slow down.

As I begin to celebrate my 45th year on this bouncing ball my heart is heavy but I’m feeling optimistic. There’s a big world out there just waiting to be explored. Family and friends to love, books to read, articles (and books) to write, music to create and new dreams to find.

But my real wish on this October 5th is to have the strength to seize each day and then slow down. I still want to enjoy those big moments, but now I want to savor the small ones just as much. I’ve realized there’s only so much time we are given here in this life.

And I plan on making the most of it.

‘Retrogrenade': Gary Cherone Talks New Hurtsmile Album, Extreme and Van Halen

If you follow the career path of frontman extraordinaire Gary Cherone, you can’t avoid bumping into some serious guitar-rock royalty.

Hurtsmile - Photo by: Marc Lacatell

Hurtsmile - Photo by: Marc Lacatell

Whether it’s his partnership with Nuno Bettencourt in Extreme, fronting the mighty Van Halen or performing with his idols Brian May and Tony Iommi at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in the early Nineties, Cherone has performed with true living legends.

But perhaps no guitarist knows Cherone better than his brother. That’s why Hurtsmile — which consists of Gary Cherone, his brother Mark Cherone (guitar), Joe Pessia (bass) and Dana Spellman (drums) — is a reflection of Cherone’s personal tastes.

Inspired by the records they grew up on, Hurtsmile’s new album, Retrogrenade, which will be released October 7, is full of swaggering guitars, soaring vocals and Cherone’s trademark eclecticism.

From the fiery opening track, “Rock and Roll Cliché,” to songs like “Hello I Must Be Going” and the politically charged “Big Government,” Hurtsmile finds inspiration through a joint collaborative process. It’s not “retro” in the sense that they’re trying to sound like someone else. It’s a sonic nod to some of their early influences.

I recently spoke with Cherone about Retrogrenade, Extreme and some memorable moments from his career.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the writing process for Retrogrenade differ from the band’s first album?

On the first record, Mark and I wrote a majority of the songs. For this one, everyone contributed to every song. Joe really stepped up and contributed songs rather than just contributions within another song. Songs like “Walk Away,” “I Still Do” and “Sing a Song” were ones that Joe and I wrote. Mark and I also wrote songs together and then there were collaborations between all of us, including Dana. That to me is the real strength of this record.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Gary Cherone by Clicking Here!

‘Reckless’: Songwriter Jim Vallance Discusses Working with Bryan Adams

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 5.19.14 PMIn the context of songwriting partnerships, few teams have been as long-lasting — or as successful — as that of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams.

Since being introduced by a mutual friend in a music store in 1978, Vallance and Adams have written hits that appear on Adams’ albums You Want It, You Got It; Cuts Like a Knife; and the 1984 monster, Reckless, which sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Adams will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Reckless in November with a four-disc, super-deluxe reissue package that includes bonus-track demos recorded in Vallance’s basement studio in 1983 and ’84.

Over the years, Vallance has continued to flex his songwriting muscle, penning hits with Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Lita Ford, to name just a few.

I recently spoke to Vallance about the Reckless sessions, his time working with Adams and his upcoming projects.

GUITAR WORLD: When you think back to the Reckless album, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Mostly, I remember how much work we did. Bryan and I got together in my basement studio every day for a year … noon ’til midnight. Some days were more productive than others, but we always put in the time and did the work.

What were those songwriting sessions like?

Bryan and I had a daily routine. He would arrive at noon, we’d have a sandwich and a cup of tea and then we’d go downstairs and get to work. We’d start by deciding if we were going to write a fast song or a slow song and then we’d set up a “drum loop” for inspiration. Usually, Bryan would play guitar and I’d play bass or piano. We’d jam for hours until one of us played or sang something interesting. Then we’d spend time fleshing out the idea or we’d jam some more until another idea materialized. We repeated the routine every day for months. It was always productive. There were very few wasted sessions.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Jim Vallance by Clicking Here!

‘Something Supernatural’: Crobot Guitarist Chris Bishop Talks New Album and Gear

SomethingSupernaturalThere once was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs, a period when the only thing that mattered was that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song.

Thankfully, the four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have made it their mission to bring back elements of those days.

Crobot’s new album, Something Supernatural, was produced by Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and will be released October 28 on WindUp. It incorporates a lot of riff-heavy groove and funk mixed with a modernized spin.

I recently spoke with Bishop about the new album, his gear and more. As a bonus, we’re also presenting the worldwide premiere of the new video for “Skull of Geronimo,” which was created by Bishop (who also happens to be a visual artist). Check out the interview and “Skull of Geronimo” below!

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Something Supernatural?

I like to say it’s like “Clutch meets Funkadelic” with a little bit of doom tossed in there. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things.

What was the writing process like?

We rehearsed and wrote the album in this shed behind Brandon’s house. It was inside this room that was filled with deer heads and things like that [laughs]. It was a super-cool place to jam in.

Most of the songs started out as previous ideas or as riffs and structures I brought to the table. Others would come out of jams where Jake would come up with a riff. That’s the beauty of being a riff-rock band. Sometimes the coolest pentatonic riffs are the ones people connect with the most.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Chris Bishop By Clicking Here!

Melvins Guitarists Buzz Osborne and Paul Leary Talk New Album, ‘Hold It In’

TheMelvins-HoldItInIt’s not often you get to work with one of your heroes, but for Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne, that’s exactly what happened.

Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary joined the Melvins for their new album, Hold It In, which will be released October 14. Also joining Osborne, Leary and drummer Dale Crover for this 12-song Melvins outing is Butthole Surfers’ bassist JD Pinkus.

Osborne says Hold It In is a refreshing piece of fiction in a boring world of “fact and bullshit.” If Leary’s outside-the-box approach to guitar playing and Osborne’s passion for songwriting are anything to go by, it’s definitely best to just let it ride.

The Melvins will kick off a round of U.S. tour dates October 15 in Sacramento, California. Osborne, Crover and Pinkus will be the touring roster for this run of dates.

I recently spoke with Osborne and Leary about the new Melvins record. I also asked Osborne about his Nirvana connection.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Hold It In?

OSBORNE: It’s a good cross-section of a lot of things we’ve done as well as some things we’ve never done. It’s the first Melvins record I played on where I didn’t write a majority of the material. That was a little different than what we normally do. Paul is also one of my favorite guitar players, and I’ve thought about doing something like this with him for a long time.

LEARY: For the most part, it’s a little fresher and an amalgam album. I wrote three songs on there and we’ve also got Jeff Pinkus, which provided another Butthole element.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Osborne & Leary by Clicking Here!

‘The Tiger Speaks’: Guitarist Jim Peterik Talks New Book, Ides of March and Survivor

PeterikMost rock biographies tend to follow a similar pattern. The artist’s road to redemption is paved with tales of debauchery, drug abuse, marital infidelity and a trashing hotel room or two.

Although Jim Peterik’s story doesn’t really follow that path, it’s even more special.

For instance, did you know the founder of such bands as the Ides of March, Survivor and Pride Of Lions was already playing shows alongside Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as a teen? Or that Peterik’s original role in Survivor was one of dual guitarist and lead vocalist?

Peterik’s new book, Through the Eye of the Tiger: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Life of Survivor’s Founding Member, discusses all of that and much more in a look back at the life and career of one of rock’s best songwriters.

With the help of writer Lisa Torem, Peterik reveals stories from his almost 50 years in music. Like the time the Ides of March stole the show from Led Zeppelin or when Peterik unwillingly ceded control of Survivor and took on a diminished role in order to achieve a greater good.

There are revelations of his encounters with Hendrix, Sammy Hagar and Brian Wilson; making studio magic with the late Jimi Jamison (one of rock’s greatest voices) as well as the challenges he faced becoming a husband and father. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of a how a phone call from Sylvester Stallone turned into “Eye of The Tiger.”

Through the Eye of the Tiger is more than just the memoir of a songwriting legend. It’s a classic rock and roll story that’s told through the eyes of someone who has lived through it all.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Peterik about his new book, career and his amazing guitar collection.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

It’s a good time in my life. I’m feeling good and have a lot of stories to tell. Certainly, there are a lot more stories ahead of me and quite a few stories behind me that I wanted to get out.

Read the complete
gw_logoInterview with Jim Peterik by Clicking Here!

Guitar World: Eric Johnson and Mike Stern Discuss Their ‘Eclectic’ New Album

EricJohnsonMikeSternWhat do you get when you combine two bona-fide guitar heroes in their respective genres — and then have them go toe-to-toe with each other? You get Eclectic, a new album by blues/jazz/rocker Eric Johnson and jazz master Mike Stern.

Recorded at Johnson’s studio in Austin, Texas, Eclectic — which will be released October 27 — is a tasty collection of songs highlighting the strengths of both guitarists. It features an infectious rhythm section consisting of drummer Anton Fig (The Late Show with David Letterman) and Johnson’s regular bassist, Chris Maresh.

Stern’s body of guitar goodness spans more than four decades. His career includes partnerships with such artists as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius.

Johnson’s playing has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. His six-string wizardry earned him a Grammy award in 1992 for his instrumental hit, “Cliffs of Dover,” which came in at Number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar solos of all time.

Johnson and Stern will support Eclectic with an Eastern U.S. tour beginning in November.

I recently spoke with both guitarists about their new album. Johnson also gives a bit of advice for properly playing “Cliffs of Dover.”

GUITAR WORLD: How did this collaboration begin?

STERN: I’ve known Eric for years and always dug his playing. Every time I saw him, I’d tell him that it would be great for us to do something together. Finally, I was doing this record called Big Neighborhood and had the idea of doing something with him.

JOHNSON: We had so much fun working on that record that one day the Blue Note Club in New York called and asked us if we’d like to do a joint gig together. So we put together a band, rehearsed and learned music. We ended up doing a two-week tour out of that and got offered to do a record and a few other tours that are now slated to happen.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Johnson and Stern by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Elliot Easton Discusses The Empty Hearts, The Cars and His Signature Gibson Tikibird

The Empty HeartsEven though the Empty Hearts feature members of Blondie, the Cars, the Chesterfield Kings and the Romantics — and even though their name was chosen from Little Steven Van Zandt’s super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed supergroup.

Featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar, the Empty Hearts have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock into their self-titled debut. Their new album is a raucous collection of tunes shaped by Fifties American roots rock, Sixties British Invasion and Seventies garage-punk.

I recently spoke to Easton about the Empty Hearts, his signature Gibson Tikibird and the 30th anniversary of the Cars’ Heartbeat City.

GUITAR WORLD: When did the idea for the Empty Hearts begin?

The germ of the idea started with Andy [Babiuk]. The Chesterfield Kings weren’t doing anything and Andy called me up and said, “What do you think about doing a band with me, you, Clem Burke and Wally Palmer from the Romantics?”

I wasn’t doing much at the time so I told him that if he could get it together, I was in. Andy is such a great organizer and motivator and put everything together. We found that we liked each other’s vibe and enjoyed each other’s company. Everything about it really felt good.

How would you describe the album?

It’s a reflection and celebration of all of our influences that went into making us the musicians we are. Recalling those early days of innocence when you played music for the sheer joy of it. We really wanted to make a record that reminded us of why we got into music in the first place. You hear some Who, Beatles and our garage rock influences. It’s all stuff we loved as kids starting out.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Elliot Easton by Clicking Here!

Flyleaf Guitarist Jared Hartmann Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Between the Stars’

FlyleafFlyleaf have consistently dominated the active, alternative and mainstream rock charts since their eponymous, self-titled debut was released in 2005.

With the arrival of new vocalist Kristen May and the band’s new album, Between the Stars, which was released September 16, that trend is continuing.

Produced by Don Gilmore (Pearl Jam, Linkin Park and Avril Lavigne), Between the Stars is Flyleaf’s fourth studio album. It delivers 12 hook-laden tracks that are deeply rooted in guitar-based rock.

Guitarist Jared Hartmann’s hypnotic riffs are tastefully executed, creating a surreal landscape of infectious melody that takes the listener on a sonic journey. Flyleaf is Kristen May (vocals), Jared Hartmann (guitars), Sameer Bhattacharya (guitars), Pat Seals (bass) and James Culpepper (drums).

I recently spoke with Hartmann about the new album and his musical upbringing.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of Between the Stars as compared to previous Flyleaf albums?

It’s going to be a little different than some of the other Flyleaf records. Obviously, it will be different because we have a new singer [Lacey Sturm amicably left the band in 2012], but it’s also going to be a bit different musically as well.

We used a lot of keyboards on this album to add some interesting elements to a few of the songs. We’ll see what people think! There’s something that’s similar to our previous albums but it’s also going in a new direction.

How did you connect with Kristen?

After Lacey decided to leave the band, we started looking for singers and someone suggested that we check out Kristen. Her band, Vedera, had recently broken up, so the timing was perfect. So Kristen came in, knew all of the songs and was cool to hang out with. She’s the perfect fit.

Read the rest of my

gw_logo
Interview with Jared Hartmann by Clicking Here!

Supertramp Co-founder Roger Hodgson to bring musical legacy to Bethlehem, PA

HodgsonRoger Hodgson has been widely recognized as one of the most gifted composers, songwriters and lyricists of our time.

A co-founder of Supertramp in 1969, Hodgson remained with the band for fourteen years before embarking on a solo career. It was Hodgson’s tenure with the band that became the driving force behind their monumental success. Writing music that defined a generation of progressive rock.

Hodgson wrote and sang Supertramp’s most enduring anthems, including “Breakfast In America”, “Give a Little Bit”, “Take the Long Way Home” and “It’s Raining Again”. Songs which helped the band sell more than 60 million albums. His trademark way of setting introspective lyrics to upbeat melodies resonates in the hearts and minds of people from all over the world.

Accompanied by a four-piece band, Hodgson will bring his rich, musical legacy to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Sunday, Nov 9.

Hodgson talks about his career and what fans can expect from his Bethlehem performance in a recent interview.

What can fans expect from your Bethlehem performance?

People often tell me I am one of music’s best-kept secrets. I have many fans following me around the world because the show I am currently doing with my band is so special. Even many huge Supertramp fans are admitting that the band I have put together actually sounds better than the original, so the audience is in for a wonderful surprise. This year, in addition to my popular duo and orchestral shows, I am performing with an excellent band of four very versatile musicians. They are high caliber musicians and passionate about the music.

You will hear songs that I have written on my life journey – of course I’ll be performing all the songs people want to hear from my time with Supertramp. You can expect to hear “The Logical Song,” “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit,” “Dreamer,” “School,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “It’s Raining Again,” and “Fool’s Overture”. as well as some of my later material – “In Jeopardy”, “Lovers in the Wind” and “Death and a Zoo”.

What’s your writing process like?

Songwriting is an amazing and magical process. For me, the music always comes first. There are usually a few lines of lyrics that come at the same time. For a two or three week period I sing the new song every opportunity I get. It’s like a brief love affair; the emerging song just goes round and round in my head the whole time. It has that consuming quality to it, like falling in love. The structure and melody come to me relatively quickly – the lyric usually takes much longer.

I do realize I have written some wonderful songs and have an ability for writing great melodies, but I think the reason these songs have stood the test of time so well is because they came from a very pure place and were not contrived. I never sat down to try and write a hit song. Music was where I went to be alone to express my deepest emotions, my deepest longing, my deepest pain and joy and questions. And I think that is why the songs have endured so well over time.

Can you tell me a little about your Spiritual connection with your songs?

For me, music was where I went to express my longing to know God, to know true love, my longing to feel truly at home inside myself. I put this inner quest into my songs and I believe, because they came from such a deep place, this is one of the reasons they have such an enduring quality. They touch that place in everyone who is searching for true happiness, belonging, for God – whatever you want to call it.

So, yes, a lot of my songs have a spiritual theme to them – when I write music, I am always alone and it’s very much an inner communion for me. It’s not generally known that I never wrote with the band, and the other members of Supertramp didn’t share many of the spiritual beliefs that I wrote about – so all my songs – new and old – are all very personal expressions for me.

It’s now been more than thirty years since you left Supertramp. Do you have any regrets about it?

When I left Supertramp in 1983, it was to follow my heart, which was telling me it was time to make home, family, and spiritual life my priority. I wanted to be with my children as they grew up. I had become disenchanted with the music business. Supertramp had been my baby, my life for 14 years but I felt a completion. At that point I chose to have my primary focus be my family and not my career. I also pretty much left the music industry and took my family to a healthier place to raise my kids – up in the mountains of Northern California. I moved out of Los Angeles and built a home studio so I could continue to create music and although I made a few albums, I never toured behind them. My kids are now grown and I’m older and wiser and very happy to be touring again these last years.

Contrary to what people believe, Supertramp did not break up because I wanted to start a solo career or because of difficulties between me and Rick [Davies].

Do you ever foresee a reunion of Supertramp?

Many fans used to ask me about a possible Supertramp reunion. Because I knew how much it meant to the fans, I did make an offer to Rick Davies and his agent to join the band for some special Supertramp reunion concerts in 2010, but they declined. So at this point, the time for a reunion has passed. The ship has sailed.

What inspires you as an artist?

One of the things that I like most about making music is how it has brought people together from all over the globe and how many lasting friendships have been made through a common love of my songs. It is a very special and personal connection I have with many of my fans and that the fans have with one another. I feel it’s because my songs came from my deepest longing and joy and pain and touch those same places in the hearts of the people who listen. At my concerts I’m now seeing three generations singing along with me and it’s wonderful to see more and more young people discovering my music.

Roger Hodgson will perform at
The Bethlehem Sands Event Center on Sunday, Nov 9.

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