Pretty Rosebud: Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre Discuss Emotional Film

Pretty Rosebud

While working on various film and television projects, actress Chuti Tiu was motivated to write a story about the reflecting values of women in Asian-American culture. Together with actor/director (and real-life husband) Oscar Torre they’ve brilliantly captured that vision as well as the essence of crossing from one stage of life to the next with their emotional new film, Pretty Rosebud.

In Pretty Rosebud Tiu plays the role of Cissy Santos, a career driven woman desperately searching for what will truly make her happy and in the process makes questionable decisions and encounters family rebellion. Moving and at times controversial, the film explores the traditional roles of women in immigrant culture and what happens when those expectations are ignored. Pretty Rosebud also stars Kipp Shiotani as Cissy’s out of work husband Phil, himself going through a transitional struggle of his own.

In addition to his supporting role, Oscar Torre shines in his directorial debut. With no formal education in film production but having spent countless hours on set as an actor, Torre delivers a true sense of Tiu’s flawed, believable characters going through transition. A coming of age for adults and a passion project for both Tiu and Torre, Pretty Rosebud takes a personal, intimate look at family rebellion and infidelity. More importantly, it’s a story about about striving to find your own voice.

The film is set to premiere at the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto, Canada in early April to be followed by a theatrical run in select cities across America. More festival and release dates will soon follow to make this must-see film accessible to all.

I spoke with Tiu and Torre about the making of Pretty Rosebud and more.

Chuti Tiu

Chuti Tiu

What inspired you to write the story?

Chuti Tiu (Tiu): In terms of values, I really wanted to explore the conflict between immigrant parents and first generation American born children. As children, we’re taught to follow the sometimes stereotypical pressures from family tradition, religion and culture. It’s only when we become adults that we realize it might not be something we want. Then there’s the idea of infidelity. When a man is unfaithful, society doesn’t seem to be as antagonistic as much as if it were a woman. I wanted to explore that as well.

 

 

Oscar Torre

Oscar Torre

Oscar, did you always plan to direct the film?

Oscar Torre (Torre): Originally, I hoped to just have a part as an actor, but as we started looking at directors and thinking about what we were looking for I began to think that it might be something I could do. I had never directed anything before and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on that pressure and responsibility. Finally, I just threw it out there and to Chuti’s credit, we were both on the same page.

Tiu: I remember the first time Oscar read the script. He really loved it and wanted me to make it. Then as our relationship grew, he encouraged me more and more. I have to credit his encouragement and belief in me that it got done.

What was the filming process like?

Torre: It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I really enjoyed the creative aspect of putting it all together. From story boarding, to determining camera shots and even choosing colors for the walls. Then being able to go out and actually shoot a film that had already been inside my head for months. There were some challenges along the way when things didn’t work out the way I had originally envisioned, but I really enjoyed the process of overcoming them.

What was it like working with Kipp Shiotani?

Tiu: Kipp was wonderful and was really involved in the creative process. For us, it was almost like playing tennis. You’re really able to volley back and forth when you find someone who is just as passionate as you are about the craft and story.

What can you tell me about the film’s upcoming theatrical run?

Tiu: We’ll have our Canadian premiere in Toronto next month and will then be having showings in LA, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Milwaukee and Miami.

Torre: We’ve also been chosen for the Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii at the end of May and have a few more festivals lined up. Then we’ll be looking into a larger theatrical release and VOD.

What other projects are you currently working on?

Tiu: I’m currently writing a project of my own that has to deal with the issue of death and how we wrap our heads around it. I also play Nurse Lailani in a series called Chasing Life which premieres this summer on ABC Family.

Torre: I play a lead role in a film called “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe” that’s coming out April 15th on Red Box. I also have a script for a short film that I’ll direct and also star in with Chuti. It’s the story about two characters from two different worlds who have nothing in common but meet once a week in a motel room. There are a few twists in the story as well. Then there’s Lunarticking, which is a film Chuti and I co-wrote along with a friend. It’s an emotional thriller that we hope to start filming at the end of the year.

Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre

Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre

How does completing this film compare to some of your other projects?

Torre: It’s much more rewarding. In a way, it’s like having a child. You don’t know what he or she is going to grow up to be like or how they’ll be perceived by the world, but you’re proud with each step that you take. Having people come up and tell us they identify with the characters is the real gift. It was our vision, but it took the help of a lot of people behind the scenes to make it happen. As an actor and director you often get a lot of credit, but if you don’t have a great team bringing their own creativity and input you don’t have a film. Our cast and crew was extremely diverse in background and it was important to have that kind of family to work with. They’re all part of this journey and its been fantastic.

Tiu: As an actor, I always thought of myself as one of the colors being used for an amazing painting. For this project, Oscar and I have been the painter and the canvas as well as some of the colors. It’s been our baby from the blank page on up and it’s great to see that we’ve been able to move and inspire people. It’s why we create art in the first place.

For more information on Pretty Rosebud Click Here
Follow Chuti Tiu and Oscar Torre on Twitter: @ChutiTiu @OscarTorreActor

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

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

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

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

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

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

KXM

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

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

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

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

How did the KXM project come about?

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

How would you describe the sound of this album?

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

What was the process for writing lyrics?

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

What do you enjoy most about these collaborative projects?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What other projects are you working on?

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

Will Lynch Mob be touring this year?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Machine Head: Actress Sharon Hinnendael Talks New Horror/Thriller

MachineHeadThe deserts of Los Ranchos, CA aren’t exactly what you would call your typical spring break destination. But for long-time college friends Rachel (Sharon Hinnendael), Chloe (Nicole Zeoli) and Mila (Christina Corigliano) it’s the perfect place for a week of booze, boys and fun in the sun.

When Rachel’s wealthy father offers her the keys to a friend’s amazing desert house, it’s almost a dream come true. That is until she discovers that access to the beautiful home comes with a catch…

Rachel has to take along her two younger, obnoxious sisters (real-life twins Morissa and Alana O’Mara).

Rachel makes plans for her boyfriend and his pals to meet them at the home later that night, but during the drive up the girls find themselves terrorized by a mysterious black muscle car with tinted windows.

Upon reaching the isolated home things really begin to unravel. The boys never show up and the three friends soon discover that what first appears to be a prank turns out to be something much, much worse.

Although an original story on its own, Machine Head scores bonus points by using mild bits and pieces from several great horror films to help get its message of terror across, including elements of Halloween, Scream and even Friday the 13th. And when you combine that trio of terror with three hot girls and a muscle car, what’s not to love?

I spoke with actress Sharon Hinnendael (Rachel) about her experiences working on Machine Head and what she loves most about making horror films.

What attracted you most to this project?

I really liked the script. It wasn’t a typical horror film. I was excited about it from the first time I read it. It was fun and scary. Then I met Jim [Valdez, Director], Christina and Nicole. Everyone was so cool and we all focused on what our job was and brought it to life. This group of people I got really close to. The whole filming process couldn’t have been better.

How would you describe the story of Machine Head?

It’s a story about girls wanting to go away for a break and have a relaxing time, but then they start getting messed with and can’t figure out why or who. I remember we did a lot of night filming in Palm Springs which was really intense. Sometimes we would be out there late at night and I would think “Wow, this is creepy. If this really happened it would be terrifying!” [laughs].

What makes horror such a great genre?

The thing I really love about these movies is being on set and seeing how they’re made. I remember growing up watching The Shining and just being absolutely terrified by it. I have a very creative mind so in the middle of the night I would sometimes see things that weren’t there, or turn something that was there into something else [laughs]. It really had an effect on me. Making horror movies is a cool process to be a part of. Having something be that strong where it can terrorize you really interests me.

Sharon Hinnendael

Sharon Hinnendael

You have an intense crying scene in this film. How do you prepare for that?

For certain scenes, I think of things that are going on in my life and use that emotion to make it happen. For this one, my uncle had passed away a year before we filmed. I was close to him and remember for that scene I really thought about him and it helped me. Part of the job is having to get to that place pretty quickly.

Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

I was in plays in high school and loved it but originally never thought about making it a career. I was from Green Bay and started modeling when I was 12 and went to New York and Europe and worked a few other places. The original plan was for me to move to Brooklyn, but a manager I was working with at the time convinced me to come to LA for a month to give it a go. While I was there I booked a few jobs and things started happening. I really love the acting part of the process.

Is there any advice you can give to other actors?

Really love what you do every day and don’t think of money or fame. The whole goal or the process is to come out of a project having had fun and made others feel something.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I have a film that’s going to be doing the festivals called “Anatomy Of A Love Seen”. It’s a lesbian love story that’s all improv and really intense. It’s one of my favorite projects because the creativity was all my own. I have a few other things coming up as well. My life is pretty crazy right now.

Machine Head comes to DVD on March 25th

Wild Heart: Saxophonist Mindi Abair Discusses Dynamic New Album

MindiAbair-WildHeartSaxophonist Mindi Abair is one of the most creative artists in music today. Already known for her acclaimed jazz prowess, Abair has been the featured sax player on American Idol for two seasons, toured with the likes of Duran Duran and Aerosmith and even did a stint with the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. But on May 27th, Abair takes reckless abandon to a whole new level with her new album, Wild Heart.

For this project, Abair brings along some musical heavy weights that include Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Jim Peterik (Ides of March/Survivor), Waddy Wachtel, Max Weinberg and even an emotional duet with the legendary Gregg Allman. By capturing the raw emotion, power and synergy Abair delivers an album unlike any she’s ever done. Wild Heart is definitely not your father’s jazz record, nor one that you sit down with over a glass of wine. Rather, it’s an album to rock out to and savor.

As an added treat, Abair has partnered with Pledge Music to give fans the opportunity to interactively experience Wild Heart. The campaign offers exclusive packages ranging from dinner with Abair and her band to shout-outs at concerts, signed CDs and much more.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Abair about her amazing new album and more in this exclusive interview.

What inspired the Wild Heart project?

Over the last few years, I found myself moonlighting; doing a lot of rock and roll, blues and organic music. I remember touring with Aerosmith and seeing the sheer abandon they brought to the stage night after night. Then I went on the road with Max Weinberg and played with [Bruce] Springsteen for a night. I was inspired and didn’t want it to just be something that I experienced. I wanted to bring some of that energy into my own project. This record really captures the mojo I had been playing with for so long, and it was so much fun bringing in people I love and respect to help me create this sound.

Let’s discuss a few of the songs from the album:

I Can’t Lose:

You can’t just write songs about the bad experiences in your life. Sometimes, you’ve got to write about being on a winning streak. That song came about because I changed a few things in my life and things started happening. I started doing American Idol, then Steven Tyler came to me and asked me to go on tour with Aerosmith. They were always a huge influence on me. I was in this life event phase where things were just going my way and I felt like writing a song about it. Whatever it is, right now I can’t lose.

Mindi Abair (Photo: Greg Allen)

Mindi Abair (Photo: Greg Allen)

Amazing Game / Train.  What’s it like to write a song with Jim Peterik?

I first met Jim on a jazz cruise when he was there to promote his Lifeforce CD. We became great friends and have written a lot of songs together. I love writing with him. Words and melodies just flow out of him. He lives, breathes and cares so much about every note, word and chord. With “Train” we wanted to write something that had energy and really conveyed that change of life attitude. You know you want to change, yet you’re stuck in that rut. But there’s a train coming, and you’re going to jump on and leave it all behind. I always tell Jim that he brings the “eye of the tiger” to his writing, and the two songs we wrote for this album (Amazing Game and Train) both have the eye of the tiger in them. That’s the force of nature that Jim Peterik is.


Kick Ass (with Joe Perry of Aerosmith)

I wrote the song with Matthew Hager who produced my first four cds. I always thought it was a great song but I wanted more power from it. Then I remember sitting in the studio one day and suddenly pictured Joe Perry with his shirt half-ripped open, walking down the runway with his guitar in front of 50,000 people and killing it on guitar. Then I said, “Wait! I KNOW Joe Perry! This could actually happen!” [laughs]. So I made a phone call and we were literally in the studio within a week. He brings so much power and testosterone to a track. It was amazing to sit there and play off him. He pushes you to better yourself and that’s exactly what he did on that track.

The Shakedown (with Waddy Wachtel)

I first started playing with Waddy back in 1995 when he was the music director for Adam Sandler’s band. Whenever I’m on stage with him, that whole atmosphere is my zen. When he said that he wanted to be a part of this project it made me so happy. So we went into his studio and wrote that song. Another cool thing about the song is that my dad actually plays B3 on the track as well.

How did Max Weinberg get involved on the track?

I toured with Max shortly after Clarence [Clemons] died. He needed a sax player and I went in and the two of us hit it off and ended up going out on the road for a few weeks. We became really good friends and I asked him to be a part of the project. Working things out with our tour schedules was tough, but we planned it out for when we were both in New York doing separate gigs. I booked a studio, we each came in before our sound checks and made it happen.

Just Say When (with Gregg Allman)

“Just Say When” is not even a song. It’s Gregg. When he plays he always reaches out and touches the depths of your soul. I spent three days at his house and we wrote that song together. It was crazy to be there with him and live his existence for a few days and just be creative. It was a master class in musicality. It’s real and very representative of both of us.

What made you decide to do a Pledge Music campaign for the album?

I really love what I saw people doing with it. You’re capable of giving so much more than just a CD and letting fans become more involved in the project. I’ve got really incredible fans, so offering up a few things is a way for me to be closer to them and also gives a window into the soul of this record.

What first attracted you to the saxophone? 

My dad played sax and I grew up on the road with his band. He always looked like he was having a good time whenever he played. In school band, I remember they had put some instruments out on the floor and said “choose”. So I thought back to him and chose the sax. It was also a point in music history when there were a lot of great players in pop music: Maceo Parker, Clarence Clemons, David Sanborn and others. Sax was a viable instrument even going back to the inception of rock and roll. There was a time when you couldn’t have a band without a guitar and a sax. With this album, I wanted to make a saxophone record that hearkens back to a time when sax was the coolest instrument on the planet.

Over the course of your career has there been one moment that stands out to you as most memorable?

It’s been an awesome journey. Getting to play with Bruce [Springsteen] was pretty amazing. Going out on tour with Aerosmith was another huge highlight. To get to play and sing with them every night was a dream come true. But the real high for me is every night on stage with my band. I never take for granted the fact that I get to go out there and play music that I wrote and share it with people. To have this beautiful conversation from the stage is really special.

Mindi Abair Official Website: http://www.mindiabair.com/
For more on Mindi PledgeMusic Campaign Click Here

Guitarist Dave Meniketti Discusses Y&T’s 40th Anniversary

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

You’d think a band that’s been around for 40 years might just be going through the motions at this point.

But for Dave Meniketti and Y&T, that’s hardly the case.

The band’s current lineup — Dave Meniketti (guitar/vocals), John Nymann (guitar), Brad Lang (bass) and Mike Vanderhule (drums) — continues to bring its own unique blend of hard rock to legions of fans around the world.

Since finalizing their first lineup in 1974, Y&T have performed more than 3,000 shows, released 18 albums and three greatest-hits packages — and they’ve sold more than 4 million units. Many of the biggest acts to come out of the Eighties became popular by opening for Y&T, including Metallica and Mötley Crüe.

Add years near-continuous touring and songs like “Mean Streak” and “Summertime Girls,” and it’s no wonder fans say that Y&T sound better than ever.

With another steady year of touring ahead and talk of more new music, Meniketti and company show no signs of slowing down in 2014. I recently spoke with him about his playing, the band’s anniversary and a few surprises they have in store to celebrate the occasion.

GUITAR WORLD: What are your thoughts when you think about Y&T’s 40th anniversary?

It’s an odd feeling when you say it or stick it on a piece of paper. Throughout our career, we never looked past a year in advance wondering what we were going to do. So it’s a little weird thinking I’ve had this gig for 40 years. But it still feels great to be in this band and play songs for crowds who are always so cool to us. Why would I ever want to stop doing that?

gw_logo
Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Dave Meniketti
By Clicking Here!

CUT! Wins Big At Indie Fest!

Congratulations go out to Psycho Rock Productions and the feature film CUT!, which just won FOUR major awards at the prestigious Indie Fest Film Festival.

CUT! won THREE prestigious Awards of Excellence and ONE Award of Merit from the Indie Fest, including awards for Best Feature Film, Best Director (David Rountree) and Best Leading Actor (David Banks). CUT! also won the Award for Merit for Best Overall Sound Impact.

Director/Producer David Rountree was all smiles saying that “we were thrilled just to be accepted into Indie Fest. To win in four major categories was a tremendous accomplishment for our film. Winning has really been a reward for all of the hard work that so many people have put forth into making this film what it has become.”

CUT

The Indie Fest recognizes film professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film industry. Information about the Indie Fest and a list of recent winners can be found at www.theindiefest.com.

AWARDS
Best Feature Film
Best Director: David Rountree
Best Leading Actor: David Banks
Merit Award: Overall Sound Impact

In winning an Indie, Psycho Rock Productions joins the ranks of other high profile winners of this internationally respected award. Thomas Baker, Ph. D., who chairs the Indie Fest, had this to say about the latest winners, “The Indie is a very difficult award to win. Entries are received from all around the world. The Indie helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries. The goal of the Indie is the help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

You can check out my interviews with the cast of CUT! below.
The film is expected to be released theatrically this summer:

David Rountree and Dahlia Salem * David Banks * Lauren Nash * Gabrielle Stone

I Am the Fire: Gus G Discusses Debut Solo Album and Working with Ozzy Osbourne

Gus GGuitarist Gus G has spent the better part of the last decade solidifying his place as one of metal’s reigning guitar virtuosos.

He’s recorded more than a dozen studio albums and performed around the world as a member of Arch Enemy, Dream Evil and Firewind. And let’s not forget he was handpicked by Ozzy Osbourne in 2009 to become his new guitarist.

But Gus G’s debut solo album, I Am The Fire, which will be released March 18, is a new adventure. The album, which was mixed by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Stone Sour, Steel Panther), gives Gus the opportunity to explore a different side of his creativity and showcases his skills as a producer and songwriter.

Apart from a few signature Gus G instrumentals (“Vengeance” and “Terrified”), I Am the Fire veers away from the traditional heavy/power metal vibe and leans more toward a straight-ahead classic rock sound. The album also features a multitude of guests, including vocalists Mats Levén and Jeff Scott Soto and bassists Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson.

I recently spoke with Gus G about I Am the Fire, his playing and how he got the gig with Ozzy.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the I Am the Fire project begin?

I had some time off with Ozzy because he was busy with the Black Sabbath reunion and started coming up with ideas that didn’t really seem like a Firewind record.

They were more on the hard rock side of things rather than metal. One singer I’ve always wanted to write with was Mats Levén, who sang on the Yngwie Malmsteen album Facing the Animal. We’ve known each other for about 10 years and had always talked about doing something together. So I sent him a few demos, and that’s what got things started.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Gus G by Clicking Here!

Chameleon: Fourplay Drummer Harvey Mason Discusses His New Album

HMChameleonChameleon is the Concord Records debut album from legendary session drummer Harvey Mason and draws upon the rich jazz-funk heritage of the 1970s.

Co-produced by Chris Dunn, Chameleon (Releasing April 29th) showcases some of the most talented young musicians in jazz today: trumpeter Christian Scott, bassist Ben Williams, pianist/keyboardist Kris Bowers and guitarist Matthew Stevens.

Bringing even more firepower are trombonist/vocalist Corey “CK” King, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, vocalist Chris Turner, and keyboardist Mark de Clive-Lowe.

Chameleon features seven of the era’s most enduring classics infused with modern day shine, including an imaginative new arrangement of Mason’s signature song and title track. For this new version of ‘Chameleon,’ Mason invited Bill Summers to reprise his famous hinedewho intro to ‘Watermelon Man,’ a song from Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters LP which Mason played on and arranged.”

Fans concerned about Chameleon sounding retro will take comfort in knowing that Mason has delivered an album that interjects fresh new elements on each subsequent listen.

In addition to being one of the most in-demand studio musicians of all-time, Mason still regularly records and performs as a member of the super-group Fourplay along with Bob James, Nathan East and Chuck Loeb. I spoke to him about Chameleon, his time working with Herbie Hancock and more.

How did the idea for Chameleon begin?

I first came up with the idea of creating Chameleon while I was playing solo in Japan with different configurations. Most of the people there have seen me never play with Herbie [Hancock] during that era and would often tell me that I needed to record the band and this music. My thought was that if I did it, I wanted to change the music and not play the same thing that I played back then. Chris Dunn was the one who suggested we re-record many of the songs, but use younger guys. So we chose a bunch of people, gave them songs to arrange, went into the studio and this is what we came out with. I’m very happy with it!

Harvey Mason (Photo: Devin DeHaven)

Harvey Mason (Photo: Devin DeHaven)

How is a project like this different from one done with Fourplay?

With Fourplay, the four of us have known each other for a very long time. We all write for the project and bring our own songs in and each guy produces his own song. It’s a democratic band and we all play live in the studio. With this project, I had never played with many of the guys before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But it was a magical moment. You’re just experimenting to see what happens and reacting to it.


Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album: If I Ever Lose This Heaven

Originally I didn’t plan on having any vocals, but Chris suggested the song. We asked Chris Turner to come in and sing it and I asked my son to produce the vocals. They came out with a song that I feel is worthy of being played on almost any radio station and Chris sang it incredibly well.

Chameleon

We gave the song to Ben Wendell (Kneebody) who came up with a great blueprint for it. Then I added Bill Summers and his patented whistles. The arrangement really sounds fresh and goes through a lot of different colors and changes.

What was it like working with Herbie Hancock on the original version?

I’ve loved Herbie from the time I was a kid when he was working with Miles (Davis). To get to be in the studio with him during that era to create and write was amazing. Whenever we play together its magical. We have a special chemistry together.

Was there a meaning behind the track Studio Life (Hold It One Second)?

I had played a drum solo that didn’t make it on a song. It was just a little snippet, but Chris thought that we could put something else with it. So we pieced it all together. It really gives people an interesting view of the recording process and what goes on in the studio.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a musician?

It was innate. Growing up, I always had this thing where I wanted to be a drummer. Even from the time I was crawling around, I was always banging on the floor with spoons and hitting pots and pans. Then in school, I had an opportunity to play drums in the orchestra. I remember my teacher there was also a violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra and he really pushed me to be the best I could be.

What led you to become a studio musician?

Originally, I had thought about becoming a lawyer. While it was fun to play music, I wanted something that might be a little more stable. I had given thought about going to law school but then read an article about Larry Bunker and studio musicians and said “That’s what I want to do!” Right at that point I decided to switch gear. I applied to a couple of music schools, got accepted and the rest is history! I eventually went to LA and started making my way in the studio. I just kept playing without any intention of going out on the road. That’s why my discography is so large.

Harvey Mason (Photo: Devin DeHaven)

Harvey Mason (Photo: Devin DeHaven)

What’s the origin of Fourplay?

Bob James and I were friends for many years. He was coming to LA to record and asked me to help him put together a couple of bands for the project. So I put together two bands for him and one of them had Nathan (East) and Lee (Rittenour). It was the band that Bob decided to use for the entire CD. I remember it sounded so good while we were in the studio that Bob asked us if we would consider being in a band and each one of us said yes. At the time, Bob was working at Warner Brothers and went to Mo Ostin (president) to ask him if he’d support us. He immediately said yes and the next thing you know we’re in the studio and are off and running!

In your view, what makes jazz such a great form of music?

The fact that you’re able to create and play what’s in your heart and soul. You’re able to interact with other players and have the freedom of being able to spontaneously create with no preconceived ideas. It’s pure creativity and improvisation. The only thing you’re restricted by is your own mind.

For more on Harvey Mason check out his Official Website by Clicking Here!

Another Long Night Out: Brian Culbertson Goes Back To His Roots For New Album

AnotherLongNightOutIt’s hard to believe that’s its been twenty years since multi-instrumentalist hitmaker Brian Culbertson released his debut album, “Long Night Out”. An album he created on a shoe-string budget while a student at DePaul University.

In the years since, Culbertson has become one of the most recognized artists in jazz, but always kept thinking about those early days recording in his Chicago apartment. Patiently waiting for the right time to explore the material again.

On “Another Long Night Out” Culbertson returns to his roots by revisiting the album that jump started his career. For this fresh update, Culbertson re-imagines his debut by enlisting the help from some of the greatest artists in contemporary jazz. Retaining the essence of each song while bringing the production quality to 21st century standards.

On its own, “Another Long Night Out” stands out as a time capsule of sonic goodness. Proving that a project twenty years in the making was certainly worth the wait.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Culbertson about “Another Long Night Out” and what he believes makes jazz so special.

Looking back at that first album twenty years later, what thoughts come to mind?

It’s hard to believe that its been twenty years. It seems like the older you get the faster it goes. But as the years go by, you start to find out who you are and I finally feel like I’ve hit a good stride with what life is all about for me. I’m in a good place balancing life with music.

What made you decide to revisit “Long Night Out”?

On the first album I was really limited with equipment, funds and the people I knew. Although I always liked how the songs stood on their own, I always wished the sonic palette and sound of the album could be what it is now. My goal was to redo the production of the album and bring it to life.

You have a lot of guest guitarists on the new album including Lee Rittenour, Chuck Loeb and Steve Lukather. Was there a reason you chose them?

When you get into that top echelon of guitar god, everyone does what they do best. I knew in essence what each one would bring to the song and that’s why I called them about those particular pieces. In the case of Lukather [Beautiful Liar], I knew he would just destroy it [laughs]! He came over and we literally played the song three or four times and every time it just kept getting better and better!

Saxophonist Candy Dulfer also appears on the album. What’s it like working with her?

She has such an amazing attitude and was so excited to be a part of the project. She really wants to get things perfect and I love her for that because I’m the same way. Those sessions were a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

Were there any special moments that stood out during the recording process?

I had Will Kennedy from the Yellow Jackets come in and play drums on one of the first sessions that we did. Will was a huge influence on my drum programming on the first album. To have him playing the grooves I was trying to emulate twenty years ago was a trip.

What’s the origin of the original “Long Night Out” album?

I started songwriting in junior high school and was one of the first generation of kids to grow up with the early four-track recorders and the beginnings of the Macintosh. I always knew that I wanted to get into music production and songwriting but never set out to be an artist per se. But once I moved to Chicago and started listening to the jazz station there I started thinking that it might be something I could do. So I put together a three song demo and sent it to the one person I knew who lived in LA. My friend played it for the president of his record label and a few weeks later called me up and offered me a record contract. It was crazy!

What happened from there?

The label wanted to put the album out in February, and by that time it was already August. They wanted it completed by November, so the next three months were pretty intense. I remember that right before I came to LA for the mastering we were still pulling all nighters mixing it. It was crazy. That’s why I decided to call it “Long Night Out”.

Do you have plans for another new album?

In terms of writing, the plan is to start working on some new material this summer. And I will let this out of the bag slightly. I’m going to be working in Minneapolis. It’s going to be funky [laughs].

Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson

What’s your songwriting process like?

I write in a few different ways. Sometimes I’ll just sit down at the piano or keyboard and start improvising. I’ll record the melodies and then go back and listen to see if anything really stands out. “City Lights” was one of those songs where I just literally sat down and started playing that melody. Other times though, I’ll get a groove going with a drum beat and then start layering parts on top of the beat. On those songs, the last thing I do is write the melody. I love fitting the melody into the track and making it groove as much as the beat and the bass.

How do you come up with a song title?

It’s actually pretty difficult to name instrumental music. Usually, it’s based on how the song makes you feel. On that first record, I remember half of the songs were still untitled when we were mastering it. I even had the art department calling and telling me to hurry because they had to go to print [laughs]. So I started brainstorming with a few friends about what to name them. In the case of “Beautiful Liar”, that was a song I had already written my senior year of high school. I was taking private composition lessons and had to write a pop song based on lyrics my instructor had given me called ‘Beautiful Liar’. I originally wrote it as a vocal tune based on those lyrics. When the time came to record the album, I just played it on the piano and kept the title. So there are words to the song that no one has ever heard [laughs].

What makes jazz so great?

The fact that there are no rules and you can do whatever you want. There’s so much freedom that it allows you to keep moving forward to morph and change. The live aspect of it is great too. Typical pop shows are so structured that they’re exactly the same every night. With jazz, it can be completely different from night to night. That’s what I love about it.

For more on Brian Culbertson check out his official website by Clicking Here!

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