They call it “Broadway’s Best Party”, and for good reason. As any child of the 80′s (like me) will tell you, Rock of Ages isn’t just a musical, it’s an experience.
It’s one part theatrical stage production and one part rock concert, all performed on a gritty, LA themed stage set that makes you feel like you’re back in time. A combination love story / feel-good comedy coupled with music that defined the 80′s generation creating a truly unique party environment.
Lead actors Kate Rockwell and Aaron Finley both missed the 80′s the first time around, but now get the chance to live it again every night on stage.
Backed by a full-on rock band with guys who regularly perform in Night Ranger and Blondie, the duo (along with the rest of the company) perform as many as eight shows a week at New York’s Helen Hayes Theatre.
I spoke with both Rockwell and Finley about their own Rock of Ages experience. They also let me in on what they love most about the 80′s and offer good advice for up and coming actors!
Was being on Broadway something you both always dreamed about doing?
Rockwell: For me, it was always Broadway. From the time I was very young I remember singing along to the cast album of Godspell. Even if I didn’t know what the words meant at the time, I’d usually make up syllable sounds [laughs].
Finley: Although I grew up loving to sing and my parents had always encouraged me to pursue it, I actually didn’t know what musical theater was until I was in my 20s in college and just fell in love with it.
You weren’t around to actually experience the 80′s, but what is it you like most about that period of time?
Rockwell: In the 80′s, there was a general sense of freedom that was really prevalent in the culture. Everyone really did just want to have a great time and celebrate. I think that was a cool energy to be a part of and why people really love the music from that era. It captures that energy and carries it across generations. It really was a special time.
Finley: Everything back then was so flamboyant and over the top. What’s really interesting is that a lot of the cool things from the 80′s (like the fashion and neon colors) are starting to filter back into culture and people are getting the chance to experience it all again.
What’s it like having an actual rock band as part of the production?
Rockwell: It’s amazing. Not only are they spectacular musicians, but they’re also characters in the show. They play key roles and are just as much a part of the company as they are musicians. When I first joined the show, I remember looking to them to really understand what it was I was doing, because they represent exactly what we’re trying to recreate. They’re great people and so much fun to work with.
Finley: They’re world-class rock stars and it’s an honor just to be able to rock out with guys who not only know, but actually live the music from this era. They know their instruments better than anyone I’ve ever met.
Rockwell: And it’s not like they’ve “retired” to Broadway. They’re still recording and out touring for weeks at a time doing their real gigs. They’re not reminiscing about when was rock was great. They’re still doing great rock!
How did you get your start?
Rockwell: I knew that this was going to be my path early on. I did a lot of theater in high school and have a music degree from college with a specialty in musical theater.
Finley: For me, I always knew that I wanted to sing, but I just wasn’t sure as to what capacity. Then while I was in school, I was introduced to theater through a show called “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”.
I got to play Joseph and had a blast. Being in a show where I could sing, act and be on stage in front of everyone was everything I loved all rolled up into one. I ended up switching majors and jumped into theater. I worked professionally in Seattle for seven years and then decided to make the move with my family to New York to see what could happen.
What’s the best thing about living New York?
Finley: I’m still somewhat of a newbie here, but I think it’s the diversity. There’s so much to see and so many different things to do. There are actually more languages spoken in New York than anywhere else in the world. I’m still taking it all in and processing it, but it’s just fascinating with all of its diversity.
Rockwell: The immediacy is what I love the most. The fact that at any time, anywhere in this city you can have whatever you want. You can find anything at any time, day or night.
Is there any advice you can give to up and coming actors?
Rockwell: The most important thing to remember is that you can’t be anyone else, you can only be yourself and no one else can be you. You may never be the tallest or be able to sing the highest, but you’ll always be the only person who can do what you can do. Sometimes it might be difficult because you can get boxed in and people may try to tell you what you are or what you’re not. But the more you stay true to yourself, the more success will come to you.
Finley: I think it’s also important to not let it be the one thing that dominates your life.
Being able to explore and do lots of different things is key. Whether it be sports, hobbies or other interests, open yourself up to new things. The more life you’re able to experience, the better the actor you’ll become.
In Ambushed, agents Maxwell (Dolph Lundgren) and Beverly (Carly Jones) are closing in on an international cocaine smuggling operation that’s being run by criminal mastermind Vincent Camastra (Vinnie Jones). But when Beverly goes undercover with mid-level drug dealers Eddie and Frank (Gianni Capaldi and Daniel Bonjour, respectively) she finds herself in deeper then she can handle. The case then becomes personal for Maxwell who has to combat ruthless killers and a dirty cop (Randy Couture) in an all-out action filled finale.
Ambushed is told from the point of view of Eddie and Frank; two seedy guys who want nothing more than to become bigger players in the game. But their quest for glory goes awry and in the process sets off a murderous series of events.
Couture plays crooked detective Jack Reiley, an officer disgruntled with the current state of the LA system who decides to strong-arm his way into the drug business for a fast pay-day and early retirement. Meanwhile, Lundren plays DEA agent Maxwell, a man who’s seen his own share of destruction, but has kept his path on the straight and narrow.
What I didn’t like: Although the context of the story certainly gives a general indication, my biggest complaint with Ambushed was the lack of a definable plot and difficulty in determining just who the actual “bad guy” really is. Is it Eddie and Frank? The criminal mastermind, Vincent? Or is it the dirty cop, Jack? The film leads you in many different directions, none of which making any real sense. In fact, many of the scenes through out the film appear to have either been rushed or leave you just scratching your head. For instance, there’s a chase scene between Lundgren and Couture’s characters that initially begins on foot in broad daylight, but ends with Lundgren catching Couture long after dark in the pouring down rain.
What I did like: I enjoyed watching Lundgren and Couture’s characters develop over the course of the film. Let’s face it, both of these guys are already giants of “bad ass”, so it was no surprise that it was only a matter of time before they faced off against each other.
There’s also a scene where Eddie and Frank are bantering on about the violence in a Bugs Bunny cartoon that I thought was terrific. While Eddie’s describing the animated scene in detail, a real-life violent confrontation is playing out at the exact same time across town. It’s a pity the rest of the film didn’t follow through with this kind of formula.
Lundgren fans will certainly find something to savor with Ambushed, but for me the film came up empty. Although living up to the title’s expectation, I ended up feeling incomplete and wanting more. (Two of Five Stars)
The other day I watched a video clip from director Peter Jackson’s upcoming movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; part two in a trilogy of films based on the classic 20th century novel by J.R.R Tolkien.
Jackson, as you may know, was also the director of The Lord of The Rings trilogy of films (the sequel to The Hobbit) which netted him Oscar nominations for all three, as well as the coveted Best Picture Award for the final film “The Return of The King”.
The Hobbit is one of my favorite stories of all time, and one of the few books I like to re-read every few years. Seeing this awe-inspiring video and realizing that the new movie was coming lit the fire for me, so I once again decided take the plunge. But as I dove into my worn, weather-beaten paperback copy of The Hobbit, I quickly became reacquainted with the same gnawing feeling in my gut that happens every time I read it (or any one of the other “Rings” books for that matter).
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy worlds with dragons, wizards and trolls. Perhaps it’s the chivalry of noble men with magic rings or the notion that good always triumphs over evil that keeps me coming back. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was consumed with playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up. In any case, I love stories about bands of brothers who stick together on a journey and see it through to the end.
And that’s where my problem with Gandalf comes in.
Gandalf is the wizard in the story who “nudges” poor little Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) on his journey with a bunch of dwarves to slay a dragon and obtain a ransom of wealth. Gandalf is one of those dudes who can pretty much destroy the whole damn world if he wants to. So why he seems content to send little people out on a dangerous quest is a mystery.
But it’s not the fact that he takes hobbits and dwarves off to fight dragons that upsets me. It’s the fact that Gandalf also likes to play “Now you see me, Now you don’t” that really pisses me off.
You see, Gandalf is one of those guys who likes to get everyone together, tells them how horrible the journey is going to be and even promises to go with them on what seems like an impossible quest. Then at some point early on during the course of the adventure, he conveniently pulls the disappearing act, and his 23 skidoo tends to occur just after an early battle. Gandalf will say something like: “Urgent matters to attend to, if you must know” or some other such nonsense. And no amount of tears or pleading from the little guys will make him change his mind.
What’s worse than Gandalf actually leaving the group is the fact that he somehow “magically” returns dozens of chapters later, just in time for the final battle and to obtain a share of the glory. Then all the way home Gandalf never has to leave again. Nope, travels with Bilbo every step of the way for months at a time. WTF?
As I finished the last page where Gandalf and Bilbo are laughing about their “adventure” together, I couldn’t help but imagine if something like that happened today. Suppose you and a team of others were building a state of the art high-rise building. Early on, your best crew member (Gandalf) leaves for no reason, but then comes back months later to hammer the final nail and claim he was a part of it. Instead of gold and glory, I’d be willing to wager Gandalf would be sporting a black eye.
Oh, you may have fooled the hobbits and the dwarves Mr. Gandalf, but not me. I’m on to you wizard.
I’m sure the last thing you’d probably expect to see me do is waste a blog post talking about some of the cars I’ve owned over the years. But, I’m very nostalgic (as most of you already know) and considering that it’s been more than a quarter century since I really came into my own as a solo driver, I decided to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about two of the first automobiles that got me around on the highways and byways of this land that I love.
After you first receive your official drivers license, one of the coolest things you can do is go used-car shopping with your parents. There are aisles and aisles of horsepower as far as the eye can see, and having a say as to what car you’ll be showing off at school is one of the most important social decisions any new conqueror of the K-turn can have.
My very first car was a gray 1973 Toyota Corona wagon that my Mom purchased for $500 (along with some money I had made from working at McDonalds). It was 1986 and truth be told, I didn’t even care what kind of engine was under the hood. Four? Six? Eight cylinders? None of that nonsense even mattered to me. For all I knew, it could’ve had hamsters running in those wheel thingies for power (and if you must know, sometimes the car really did seem to drive that way).
As new drivers often do, I drove my gray Corona everywhere. Always looking for any excuse or opportunity to take it on some errand, whether up the street or across town. And considering that gasoline was around .89 cents a gallon at the time, it only made sense. Yes sir, once I became legal walking and bicycle riding went the same route as the dinosaur as far as I was concerned.
I still remember the very first day I drove it to school too. With my trusty neighbor Mike riding shotgun, we drove the back roads of Easton in the early morning sunshine. Windows down and the radio blasting Ozzy, we slowly made our way into the upper parking lot of Easton High School.
Once parked, we gathered our brown paper bag covered text books and made our way inside, making sure to give a salute to the poor unfortunates who had just arrived via the dingy, yellow school bus. It was the least I could do to let them know I still cared a bit for their plight.
Sadly, my beloved Corona began to deteriorate over the course of the school year. In December, the headlights just stopped working for no apparent reason. The following March, the right front fender began rusting off and peeling away. Fortunately for me, duct tape was the same color as my car and worked well to hold things together, but rust eventually would become my Corona’s worst enemy. At one point, the passenger side door would not open at all and in order to get in you literally had to pull a “Dukes of Hazzard” and climb through the window.
Shortly before graduation, the poor Toyota was involved in a wreck (would you believe I was turning into on coming traffic and someone just hit me?) Sadly, it was time to say good-bye to my beloved friend.
But that was when fate stepped in.
Because around that same time, my Aunt sold her well maintained 1974 Ford Torino to my brother. Bro had been driving the car for a few months, but started moving on to Mach 1 Mustangs and pick-up trucks. In a true example of brotherly love, he entrusted his beloved Torino into my care.
I was so in love with this car that I even had my picture taken next to it right before I went to attend graduation and get my HS diploma.
This car provided me quality transportation for many months post high school; being my trusty steed on youthful excursions to the mall and spending late nights parked at the Starlite Drive-Inn watching movies.
But one evening, while coming home from the mall with a bunch of friends disaster struck. I remember we were driving on the highway, just a few miles from home when I heard this blaringly loud “pop” and the engine light came on. The car was slowing down rapidly, and it felt as though I had just run over some huge piece of metal. I was fortunate to get the car off of the busy highway and onto the shoulder just as the engine completely shut off and would not re-fire. All of the love I once had for this car immediately turned into rage.
A day later, after the Torino had been towed back to the house, my brother freaked out on me. He just couldn’t understand how his well maintained 14 year old car had suddenly blown up without warning. He did some quick checking of things under the hood and then asked me the one question that to this day I still don’t have a proper answer for:
“WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER CHECK THE OIL??”
Oil? OIL? I had driven the car for months and months and honestly, the thought of checking the oil level had never occurred to me. In my defense though, this was 1988 and you would think technology had developed enough to at the very least have a warning light come on to alert me that the engine was almost out of oil. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not a drop of oil was found in the engine and it had seized; blowing a piston into the crankshaft and destroying it completely. The car was dead.
The formerly “well-maintained” Ford Torino would now sit in silence on the hill outside of our home until I could afford the $300 to put a replacement engine into it. But even with the engine replaced, the Torino never ran quite the same again and, much like it’s predecessor, eventually went to junk car heaven.
I thought of this story again today (in November of 2013) when the “Maintenance” light came on my 2012 Toyota Corolla. Needless to say, I have a 15,000 mile appointment tomorrow morning.
I’m taking no chances.
For actress Andrea Powell, it’s more than just a sci-fi blockbuster. It’s a story about real people in extraordinary situations.
Powell, whose impressive resume already includes “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” and ABC’s “The Gates” joins Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield in “Ender’s Game” [based on the novel by Orson Scott Card and opening November 1st].
Powell plays the role of Theresa Wiggin, the mother of Ender (Butterfield), a boy chosen to save the world from alien invasion.
Ender’s Game will certainly give people a lot to talk about. It’s big and splashy, with breathtaking special effects (some done in ways that have never been seen before), and retains many of the great messages from the book.
I spoke with Powell (a hero herself) about her role in “Ender’s Game” as well as her involvement in team DetermiNation, a program which raises funds and awareness for The American Cancer Society.
How would you describe the story of Ender’s Game?
It’s a futuristic sci-fi story about an extraordinary young man who has the fate of the world in his hands. Asa Butterfield’s performance as Ender is fantastic. For such a young actor, he has a lot to bear carrying the movie and he’s completely up to it. It’s definitely a blockbuster, but it’s also a story about leadership, ethics and morality.
What attracted you most to this project?
I loved the idea of a science fiction novel that has big things to say about leadership, morality and the retaining of values in difficult situations. The way Gavin Hood [Director] approached the film was also interesting, because he did it from the perspective of the people involved.
Tell me a little bit about your character, Theresa Wiggin.
Theresa is a brilliant strategist. She’s a mom at her core and wants to protect her family and instill good values in her children. But she’s also got a struggle ahead of her. When Ender is chosen, he has to go away and there’s a certain amount of pain and loss that’s associated with it. At the same time though, she understands that what he’s doing is truly for the good of the world.
Let’s discuss your involvement in team DetermiNation.
Team DetermiNation is a group of endurance athletes who run races and raise money and awareness for The American Cancer Society. I’ve been heavily involved with them for years as both a spokesperson and running three half-marathons. I lost my father to cancer more than ten years ago and also have a lot of friends and family members who have been touched by cancer. It’s a terrible disease and too many people have to deal with it.
Do you have any advice for up and coming actors?
I always encourage people who want to become actors to primarily try to live an interesting life. Travel, learn about art and music, make friends and observe people. If your entire life is all about acting, then you won’t have any “real people” experience to draw from.
What’s next for you?
I have a holiday movie called “Christmas in Conway” that’s premiering December 1st on ABC. I play Cheri Oteri’s side kick and get to do a little comedy.
What satisfies you the most about your Ender’s Game experience?
The opportunity to work on such a wonderful script with a truly kind-hearted and talented director. When it’s all going on, you have no idea that what you’re working on is a gigantic Sci-Fi blockbuster, but then you look around and see Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and all of these other wonderful artists and you quickly realize that what you’re doing is part of something really special.
At the beginning of season one of “Orange Is The New Black”, show creators were a bit unsure as to what direction actress Selenis Levya’s character (Gloria Mendoza) was going to take.
But by the end of episode thirteen, it was quite clear that Mendoza had become a central fixture of the groundbreaking NetFlix series; taking over the prison kitchen system that had once been dominated by the feisty Red (Kate Mulgrew).
It’s a testament not only to the show’s brilliant writing, but also to Leyva’s sassy portrayal of Mendoza that’s allowed her character to develop over the course of the series; one that revolves around the story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted of a decade old crime.
Filming for season two is already underway with more amazing developments, plot twists and turns and surprises in store.
I had the opportunity to speak with Levya about her role as Mendoza as well as some of her other upcoming projects. She also discusses the appeal of shows like OITNB and when she knew she wanted to be an actress.
What first attracted you to Orange Is The New Black?
I am a huge fan of “Weeds” and after hearing that Jenji Kohan was writing and also the executive producer, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m a big fan of dramedy, and Jenji’s known for dealing with seriousness and adding elements of comedy to it. That really speaks to me.
How do you prepare for a role like Gloria Mendoza?
Gloria’s definitely a New Yorker. She’s someone who was raised in the city and there’s a certain sass and fierceness that all New Yorker’s have. I was born and raised in New York, so I was able to dig into my own sassiness and bring that forward.
Years ago, I worked in a theater arts program where we went to juvenile facilities and worked with teenagers who had been incarcerated and developed workshops and plays with them. I never would have thought that years later I’d be looking back at that time for my own research, but it was wonderful to have that kind of experience.
What’s the atmosphere like on the set?
It’s amazing. We all were kind of like freshmen in college for season one and immediately formed this close bond with each other. For season two, we’re more like sophomores, but we’re still this one amazing family.
Were you aware at the time of how successful the show would become?
I had a feeling it was going to be groundbreaking. Not just because of the amazing cast members and what I watched them do, but also because the writing is so good. We have a transgender on the show and women of various ages, shapes, sizes and platforms. It was something that had never been done before.
What do think makes shows like OITNB more appealing than those on network television?
I think a lot of it has to do with being allowed more creative freedom. The beautiful thing about Netflix is that you’re able to put it all out there at once. Network television is more censored and there are a lot of factors you have to take into consideration regarding viewership. Here, we’re able to take big risks where as the networks have to play it safer.
Was being an actress something you always aspired to be?
I always knew. I didn’t grow up in a houseful of artists, but my parents always used to watch telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) with lots of drama, tears and crazy plots. I remember just loving the idea of being able to express all of these emotions. I used to lock myself in my room and reenact all of these scenes. I knew then that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.
I have a supporting role in the upcoming film “St. Vincent De Van Nuys”. Its outrageous and funny. Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy are comedic geniuses and for me to be attached to something so fantastic is amazing. I also have an indie film called “Living With The Dead”. It’s a story that’s completely different from what audiences have been used to seeing me do and a lot more serious. I’m really looking forward to them.
What can fans can expect from Season 2 of Orange Is The New Black?
The next season is going to be deeper. We’re really exploring more of the stories with the characters and the different people who make up the amazing world of Orange Is The New Black; both inside and outside of prison. We’re still shooting so I can’t say exactly what surprises lie ahead, but I can tell you that I’m in the season and that I’m in the kitchen. It’s going to be spicy, and a lot of fun.
Being a great blues guitar player is something you can’t teach. It’s also something you can’t learn through osmosis or pick up from memorizing a songbook. It comes from the soul and either you’ve got it or you don’t. In the case of Jared James Nichols, the former applies.
Sure, the twenty-two year old guitarist took a few lessons in the beginning [and even did a stint at Berklee], but Nichols has spent most of the last eight years being locked inside of a room; taking everything he loves about the blues and finding his own voice.
Nichol’s latest album, Old Glory & The Wild Revival sounds more like the title of an old western movie, but it’s really about movement. Produced by Warren Huart, who’s credits include Aerosmith and The Fray among others, Nichols’ EP is a refreshing reminder that real blues comes from within.
I spoke with him about the new album, his playing style and gear.
Why the title: Old Glory & The Wild Revival?
“Old Glory” is what I call my Les Paul. It’s kind of a miss mash, crazy looking old custom with a ’58 body and ’68 hardware. I really liked th guitar when I bought it because it was so bad ass; all beaten and torn up. It kind of reminded me of the old American flag. It had such a great sound that I decided to use it on the record. Besides a Dobro, I used it for all of the guitar parts. The “wild revival” symbolizes what I want to create with the blues movement. I figured “Old Glory and The Wild Revival” because that’s what’s happening.
What was it like working with Warren Huart?
I met Warren while he was working with Aerosmith at The Swing House [where we recorded the EP]. I was at the studio while they were recording and Steven [Tyler] really liked my playing and asked Warren to work with me. Once they were done, Warren approached me about getting together. Not only did he produce the album, but he also mixed it and co-wrote four of the songs on it as well. We did a lot together.
Tell me the origin of the song, “Let You Go”
It started out as an old Jimmy Reed meets Lightnin’ Hopkins kind of feel. Although it sounds nothing like it, that’s where I got that main slinky guitar riff and it cued the whole song. I started jamming it and Warren said “Hey, what’s that?” So we started talking about the band Free and how amazing Paul Kossoff was. We mixed in a lot of different influences. It was very organic and we didn’t over think it. After the main riff, the song pretty much wrote itself.
Why the ‘V’ as opposed to the traditional Strat for the Blues?
For me, it’s always been about trying to sound different. Some people are just too safe with guitars and music in general. I was attracted to the V, not just because some of my heroes like Albert King and Lonnie Mack played them, but also because of the tone. It’s a really flat long piece of mahogany that has this great mid-range bite. I’ve played Strats forever, but got burned out on them. i wanted something different and moved to the V to get more of the humbucker sound. Once I did that, I also dropped the pick as well. The V [and the Les Paul] just have a much fuller sound.
Did you find it difficult dropping the pick?
From a practicing stance and having to relearn licks it was at first, but playing without a pick is much more intimate. You can get so many different sounds just using his fingers. The pick has a sharp sound, but I developed my own by using my fingers. It was a weird transition at first, but it also helped me break the rules and just go for it.
Tell me about your “connection” to Stevie Rae Vaughan.
When I was growing up, I lived right next to Alpine Valley where he died. A lot of the people I’m related to were actually first responders to the accident. So growing up, it was always apparent to me that he played his last concert there. I remember when I first heard him play, I was like, “Oh, so THIS is how you play guitar. Now I know exactly what I need to do!”
What’s your live set up like?
In a usual club setting, I’ll use either the Flying V or Les Paul along with a 2×12 cabinet and 50 watt Blackstar head. I’ve been using them for about a year and a half and like to run it like an old Marshall. It’s loud and in your face. I’ve recently modded the Les Paul so it’s almost like a Junior now. It’s got just one pickup with one volume and one tone. For pedals I have T Rex Yellow Drive which I use for more gain and boost. I have a Chicago Iron Octavia [which gives me some freaky stuff] along with an Xotic Effects EP Booster. It’s the least amount of stuff to get my fingers through the speakers.
You also studied at Berklee. What was it like being a “blues” guy being in that “structured” environment?
It was my first time being out and surrounded by amazing players and music. I knew when I got there that I didn’t want to be a teacher or one of those guys who knew every mode in every position. I just wanted to be the blues guy and play what I was feeling. I had a hard time trying to play that kind of music. I was feeling the blues in more ways than one. I already knew what I wanted to do. I just had to get out there and do it.
For more on Jared James Nichols, be sure to check out
his Facebook page by Clicking Here!
Ronnie Radke and Falling In Reverse Launch Bury the Hatchet Tour with Escape The Fate: “It Was Time”
Ever since Ronnie Radke’s not-so-amicable departure from Escape The Fate, his subsequent incarceration and the formation of his new band, Falling In Reverse, both bands — and to an extent, their fans — have waged a semi-constant battle in the press.
Now, however, Radke has buried the hatchet with his former band.
To prove it, Falling In Reverse and Escape The Fate have joined forces to launch a major-market tour — the Bury the Hatchet Tour — which will make its way across the US beginning January 15, 2014.
Falling In Reverse’s sophomore album,Fashionably Late, which was released in June, introduces hip-hop and electronic elements to the band’s current combination of metal core and radio-friendly choruses, creating its own unique sound. The new album is also the first to feature bassist Ron Ficarro and drummer Ryan Seaman.
We recently caught up with Radke and discussed the album, the tour — and the end of his long, often bitter feud with Escape The Fate.
Read the rest of my Revolver Mag interview with Ronnie Radke
and see Tour Date information by Clicking Here!
Since first hitting the scene in 2011 with her monster hit “We Run The Night”, DJ Havana Brown has been taking the world by storm. The Australian born beauty has built an impressive following; not only for her abilities as a DJ, but also for her hook-laden singles and catchy melodies. Her impressive resume includes stints as the supporting act for such artists as Lady Gaga, The Pussycat Dolls and Rihanna.
So it should come as no surprise that Brown’s latest single, “Warrior” combined with her already infectious charisma and string of #1′s will only add fuel to the fire in her pursuit of pop domination.
I spoke with Brown about her latest album, “Flashing Lights”, her career and the origin of two of her biggest songs.
How would you describe the “Flashing Lights” album?
I’d describe it as adventurous, club-pop. It’s edgy, but definitely influenced by the clubs. It’s pop because of the tempo, melodies and the catchy lyrics.
What’s your writing process like?
I always begin with the production and like it to be at a certain point to where I start getting a vibe from it. Once I get the vibe, it helps with building the concept and mood of the song. The production is just as important as the melody and the lyrics.
Let’s discuss the origin of a few of your songs: We Run The Night.
I was in Australia working with different writers and producers and had this idea in my mind. I wanted a pop record, but I wanted there to be Dutch breakdown after the chorus. I wanted a certain kind of sound and I could hear it in my head. Some people were telling me it was too “pop” or that it was too “club”. Fortunately, I was able to work with a duo here who totally got both worlds. They wrote and produced the song. It was the inspiration for what I was after, and “We Run The Night” was born.
When R3hab first played me that beat, I knew the song couldn’t be about something typical. It had to be about something quirky. It was actually inspired by the song “Short Dick Man”, taking it and having a little bit of fun with it.
Have you noticed any differences between American audiences and those from Australia?
Not really. A few years ago, the States were a bit more into hip hop and RnB. But now, the music world has become a much smaller place and everyone has access to the same kinds of music.
Tell me how your career began?
I was part of a group when I first left high school. We were doing a mixture of dance, RnB and reggae and eventually moved to the U.K where we were signed to a record label. It was a cool sound we created, but our album unfortunately never saw the light of day.
After the group fell apart, it became a very difficult time for me. We had signed a deal and I thought this was my time and that I was going to be able to do what I love for the rest of my life. After it had collapsed, I remember being in limbo and not sure of what I wanted to do.
The London party scene was incredible and I started going out partying nearly every single night. For a solid six months I would just go out and dance my sorrows away [laughs]. One night, I remember looking up at the DJ and thinking “Now THAT is the best job!” You didn’t have to worry about the politics of the music industry or getting a record deal and you could create a major success on your own. I liked the idea of being able to perform and entertain a crowd. That would be an amazing job.
Literally, the next morning I was messaging the guy who was part of the group (DJ Panos) and telling him what I wanted to do. Back then, I didn’t know any females who were in the industry, so I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. But he told me he thought it was a brilliant idea and offered to teach me a few things. Those were the words I needed to hear. Once I started DJ’ing, everything fell into place and it was such a smooth transition. I felt like I was on the right path and I knew this was where I was meant to be.
For “Sid ‘n Susie Under the Covers, Vol. 3: The ’80s, Susanna Hoffs’ third album of cover songs with power popper Matthew Sweet, the Bangles vocalist/guitarist stuck to a decade that was very kind to her — the 1980s.
Unlike the duo’s two previous albums, which focused on material from the ’60s and ’70s, Under the Covers, Vol. 3 relies less on mainstream hits and focuses more on deeper album tracks.
Along the way, Hoffs and Sweet paint a broad spectrum of sonic art — complete with totally gnarly renditions of tunes by artists including Roxy Music, the Smiths, XTC, Lindsey Buckingham and R.E.M.
I recently spoke to Hoffs about the new album, which will be available November 12. We also discussed a few of her favorite memories from the ’80s.
As an added bonus, here’s my favorite Bangles song from the 80′s.
GUITAR WORLD: How did you and Matthew Sweet decide which songs to cover for this album?
Because we’re both fans of the music, it was so easy to pick songs. The hard part was actually trying to stop [laughs]. Musically it was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun finding ways to reinvent the songs and put our own stamp on them. We also got to think outside of the box because we approached things as a duet. It gave us a chance to really get into the emotion of the songs.
You can the rest of my Guitar World interview with Susanna Hoffs by Clicking Here!