‘Dirt Road’s End’: Sugarcane Jane’s Anthony Crawford Talks New Album, Touring with Neil Young and More
Sugarcane Jane have amassed an extremely loyal following by performing what they like to call, “organic music at its finest.”
Anthony Crawford and his wife, Savana Lee, are both virtuosos. Crawford is a songwriter who plays guitar and mandolin while Lee alternates between rhythm guitar, tambourine and snare drum.
Sugarcane Jane’s new album, Dirt Road’s End, provides a rich, homegrown brand of Americana that draws deep from a well of influences, including country, jazz, rock and gospel. The album was conceived and co-produced by legendary Americana/roots singer-songwriter Buzz Cason.
Dirt Road’s End, which was recorded on a classic Otari MTR-90 tape recorder, traverses a spectrum of moods and stories, including the autobiographical “Ballad of Sugarcane Jane” which features Anthony’s driving guitar work, and “Heartbreak Road,” which steams with rock energy and bluegrass spirit.
I recently spoke with Crawford about Dirt Road’s End, recording “old school” and what it was like touring as a member of Steve Winwood and Neil Young’s bands.
GUITAR WORLD: To someone who might not be familiar with Sugarcane Jane, how would you describe your sound?
“Saving the planet one good vibe at a time” is our slogan. Savana and I are energy pushers and write songs that make people feel good. Although we have songs in our repertoire that have deeper meaning, the lyrical content for Dirt Road’s End is more light hearted. Savana and I are in love with each other, and that shows in our music. Ultimately, it’s energetic Americana that’s positive and light hearted.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Anthony Crawford by Clicking Here!
To many Eighties music fans, Jim Peterik will always be the maestro behind classic songs like “Eye of the Tiger,” “I Can’t Hold Back” and “Burning Heart.”
But prior to launching Survivor in 1978, Peterik was the front man for another successful group—the Ides of March—whose signature 1970 song, “Vehicle,” is still played regularly on the radio and in TV shows and films.
This year, the Ides of March are celebrating their 50th anniversary. In honor of the occasion, Peterik and company have released a new five-disc set, Last Band Standing: The Definitive 50-Year Anniversary Collection.
The box set includes four Ides albums: Vehicle, Common Bond, World Woven and Midnight Oil. Also included are early singles like “You Wouldn’t Listen” and “Like It or Lump It,” plus random tracks the group recorded after reforming in the Nineties, not to mention three brand-new songs.
The fifth disc is a DVD that features a 2014 Ides show from the House of Blues in the band’s native Chicago. It features songs that span the band’s career, plus re-arranged versions of Survivor songs and hits Peterik wrote with 38 Special and Sammy Hagar.
I recently spoke with Peterik about the Ides of March’s 50th anniversary box set, his new project with Marc Scherer and more.
GUITAR WORLD: When it dawns on you that this is the 50th anniversary of the Ides of March, what comes to mind?
There are so many thoughts. We always used to think we had an identity crisis. I remember we started out as a British invasion wannabe band, emulating bands like the Kinks, Zombies and Beatles. Then we got enamored with brass and started a Memphis/soul thing.
Then the big moment came when we had the whole brass section and went in and cut “Vehicle” and toured the country with groups like Cold Blood and Janis Joplin. We threw out all of these different incarnations. When I listen to it now as a whole, it all hangs together. There’s a group personality and a positivity that really shines through the music.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Jim Peterik by Clicking Here!
1. an opening, hole, or gap.
2. a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera.
It was underneath the smell of cut grass and gasoline that I first noticed the hole. A medium-sized perforation about the size of a tennis ball that was sticking out like a pockmark on the face of my freshly manicured lawn.
On first glance I estimated its size to be approximately three-inches wide by four-inches deep. A perfectly shaped cylinder unlike any of the typical oblong-shaped chasms that are dug by man. On the contrary, I was certain this particular hole was delivered by one of the masters of dirt and dig – a varmint. The enemy of perfectionist yard enthusiasts everywhere.
Now, I’ve always prided myself in keeping a tidy yard and have been mowing my one-third of an acre plot religiously every Saturday morning during the mowing season. Always making a point to follow-up the proper mow with a good trimming around the base perimeter of the fence line as well as going the extra mile to get every rogue dandelion that curiously survives the spraying by the professional weed service I pay top dollar to in order to make my lawn the envy of the neighborhood.
And now — there’s a freaking hole in it.
For the last twenty years mowing the grass has been the only thing that has really given me any sort of happiness. During that same span of time the long, blondish lawn on my own head has disappeared and the chiseled abs I once had have succumbed to the inevitable phenomenon I like to call age mass. I’ve been in and out of jobs over the years, habitually single and even survived a bout with colon cancer at the tender age of thirty-six. For the most part you could say that my life has been pretty much status quo.
But I wasn’t always the lawn-loving, bald, thick in the middle-man you see here before you. At one point in my life I actually had dreams. Dreams of becoming the next Edward Van Halen as guitarist for the hair metal band, Silent Rage.
You’ve heard of us, right?
Don’t worry. I won’t shed a tear if you haven’t. But I will say that Silent Rage was one of the 80s most well-known hard rock groups. I mean, we played gigs everywhere from Maine to South Florida; opening for bands like Winger, KIX and Heaven’s Edge. We even had a showcase for the Adverse City Records honchos in New York City, who promised us a two-album recording deal in early 1991.
Yep, the world was going to be our oyster. That is until Kurt Cobain, Alice in Chains and the rest of those Seattle grunge lunatics shot that dream to hell. Forcing the band to dissolve and me to have to sell off most of my gear and take on the first of countless jobs just to make ends meet. Eventually leading to the middle-aged conundrum I now find myself in.
In a world where age, health and hair have forsaken me, mowing the lawn is the only thing I have any sort of control over. So you’ll have to excuse me if I get a little upset when a rabbit or groundhog comes into my inner sanctum and decides to dig a hole.
How did I not notice this obtrusive hole while I was mowing, you ask? Good question. I pondered the same thing myself. Surely I would have seen a tennis ball sized hole as I was making passes over it with the lawn mower, yet I must have somehow overlooked it.
But what made the whole thing even stranger was the fact that there was no dug-up loose dirt in the area surrounding the hole. In fact, the earth near the hole was hard packed and completely dry. Giving every indication that the hole had actually been there for a long, long time.
Now, I may be forty-five years old and been diagnosed with presbyopia at my last eye doctor visit, but even I would have noticed a blatant hole sticking out like a sore thumb several weeks into the mowing season. I decided to kneel down to get a closer look at the intruder’s work, hoping to find a clue as to what brand of rodent had been infiltrating my land.
As I started moving loose grass clippings out of the way a drop of sweat slipped off of my brow and fell into the hole. There, beneath the warm June sky something began shining out of its depth. At first I thought it might be a quarter or some small piece of glass or stone reflecting off the hot summer sun. Instead, it turned out to be nothing material at all.
It was a beam of light. A light shining out from somewhere within the hole. It was almost as if someone was on the other side of the hole shining a flashlight outward and into my eyes.
A lump began to develop in my throat and I actually felt my heart skip a beat. I’ll be honest with you here. I seriously gave consideration to making a run for it. Something about this whole thing just didn’t seem right. But instead of running, I decided to do what only a fool would do. I laid down flat on my stomach and peered my eye right inside that cantankerous hole.
Screw you, Alice in Wonderland.
What I felt when I first looked into the hole was reminiscent of a pirate who had been lost at sea for months. A pirate who would spend most of the day peeping through his spyglass in a vain search to find land but only finding endless sea. Until one day, just as he’s about to run out of food and water, he discovers the thing he had been searching for. The only thing that mattered.
As I looked down into the hole I could see a white-colored, cloudy canvas. Like I was flying through a sea of cumulus clouds, with edges clean and soft. A canvas whose brightness covered the entire spectrum of my senses and then; as if on cue, having already known of my intentions to see what lied beyond, the canvas of clouds quickly parted into some dream-state dimension
From a third-person perspective I saw myself in this surreal state just as clear as day. Only it wasn’t the forty-five year old me I saw. Instead, it was a much younger version of me, no more than twenty-one.
Nearly forty pounds from my midsection had all but disappeared and every last one of my long blond hairs had miraculously returned. The real me had a sense of confidence he hadn’t felt in a long time.
For all intents and purposes, it felt like the year 1990. Like watching some old home movie, but in the highest of definition. One where every nuance of every movement was noticeable – the sights, the sounds, the feeling. From that moment, I realized I no longer wanted to just look into the light inside of the hole. Instead, I wanted to become a part of it.
I watched from above as this younger version of me stood somberly next to his idling, green, 1976 Chevrolet Vega wagon. A dark brown suitcase sat next to the car as it sputtered in and out of stalling. I was certain that it wouldn’t be long into my trip before the car would leave me sitting on the side of the road.
It was 1990.
The familiar sounds of Westminster Chimes began to play from the St. Agnes Church a few blocks away. I had enough time to count each chime as it signaled the hour of day.
By the time it reached the ninth chime I had already determined that it was early morning based on the positioning of the sun in the eastern sky and by the faint sounds of another lawn mower leveling the landscape some distance away. It was also at that moment that I realized I was at West Chester University again and even more importantly, I was fully aware of what was about to happen next.
A young, attractive woman slowly approaches the vehicle. She had fair skin, a creamy complexion and the familiar long brown hair that ran down beneath her shoulders. With deep blue eyes that breathed a life in me that I’ve never felt before nor ever will again. She wore the blue denim jacket her parents had bought for her in high school, with matching jeans and scuffed up Chuck Taylor’s that have seen a lot of miles from the long walks we had taken together over the last two years. The smile she had that could light up a room was now replaced with sadness. I knew going in this was not going to be easy.
Christine is was my everything.
“Have everything you need?” Christine asked in her casual, nonchalant fashion. The faux me was already quick to answer.
“Yes. Enough to get me through to Scranton.” I said. Of course, I was lying. As Christine already knew from our many journeys in the beat-up old wagon, the Vega constantly burned oil and overheated. I figured I might only make it as far as Allentown before I’d have to stop.
“Did you get all of your paperwork complete?” she said, hoping that somehow I might have overlooked something. Something that would have delayed the inevitable.
“Uh-huh. Got the final papers from the bursar’s office yesterday. It’s all done. Turned in my keys to the resident advisor this morning, gassed up the car and here we are.”
“You know, you don’t have to do this.” Christine said solemnly. “Can’t you at least stay until the end of the semester and see what happens?”
Tears began to fill her eyes.
“ I can’t.” I said. “You know I’ve waited a long time for my music to take off. This gig up north promises shows for the next three months. Good pay too. Mike our drummer even says that it may lead us to a showcase in New York City if we’re good enough.”
There was an odd silence and then she said those same five words I still ask myself in my darkest nights.
“Are you good enough, Jim?”
Even though I already knew the answer, at that moment someone greater than me had pressed “pause” on this supernatural VCR.
“Choose.” a voice said.
“Choose?” I asked looking at the now frozen in time Christine. I could not take my eyes off of her.
“You can change the outcome. I’ve given you the choice.” the voice responded.
“But I already know what happens” I thought to myself, now knowing that whatever voice was speaking to me could also read my mind.
“Twenty-five years ago you decided to leave college for music.” the voice responded. “You now have the chance to change it.”
“Change it?” my conscience said. Could I really sacrifice these last twenty-five years? Is it possible to get a second chance in this life?
It’s true. I did turn my back on college and Christine [who was already halfway through her second year of pre-med] in exchange for a chance to become the guitarist for Silent Rage – the next great hair metal band. But instead of staying in school to get my teaching degree, marrying Christine and living happily every after, I took my beat-up Fender Strat on the road for two years performing to semi-packed crowds before the advent of grunge destroyed me and nearly every other 80’s hard rock band that existed and ended my musical dream.
During those ensuing years Christine and I fell out of touch. I don’t know if she ever did become that doctor but I am sure that her end result was better than mine. I did try looking her up on Facebook and LinkedIn after my battle with cancer [being face to face with death has a tendency to make you want to tie up loose ends] but came up empty-handed.
“Are you good enough, Jim?” the voice asked me again.
“This isn’t that movie, ‘Groundhog Day’.” my conscience told me. “No one can really go back. You only get one life and the trick is to make the most of it.”
Sure, grunge was a setback. And I know that if I had been made that decision back in 1987 instead of 1990 things might have been completely different. But age, health, relationships, job-hopping and even that little drinking episode I had that led to a night in the drunk tank were all setbacks. But none of those things really destroyed me. They only made me who I am
“Are you good enough, Jim?”
I looked at the frozen Christine. I looked at the frozen twenty-one year old me. I looked at the idling Vega that would wind up stalling out halfway to Pottstown, leaving me stranded on the side of Route 100 for two hours. Until a friendly trucker came by and offered me a lift into town where we talked about music and The Gulf War over a six-pack of Coors Light.
What happened next I can’t explain. It was as if the dream sequence I had become immersed in had suddenly become a puddle and a huge omnipotent hand had disturbed the still water. I saw Christine and the Vega and the young me ripple away into darkness while the real me drifted off into another stream of consciousness. I woke up lying face down next to the hole on a warm bed of freshly cut grass.
As I was pulling myself up off the ground I noticed that the sun had already begun its soft descent into the deep western sky. I smiled. The light and hole that once seemed so painfully intrusive to me was now gone and in its place was a breach that no longer seemed like it was the end of the world.
Shortly after Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord died in 2012, Whitesnake vocalist—and former Deep Purple frontman—David Coverdale reached out to guitarist Ritchie Blackmore about the possibility of working on a project together in Lord’s honor.
Although both musicians were on different pages creatively at the time and couldn’t come to an agreement, the two former Deep Purple members were able to find closure, bury the hatchet on past grievances and move on.
Then Coverdale’s wife, Cindy, suggested that David pay tribute to Lord with Whitesnake. Now Whitesnake is about to unveil Purple, a new studio album that puts insanely good spins on Mark 3 and 4 Deep Purple classics and tastefully pays tribute to one of the pioneers of progressive rock.
Purple, which will be released May 19, also marks the debut of Whitesnake’s new guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, who recently replaced Doug Aldrich. Hoekstra’s resume includes Night Ranger, Trans Siberian Orchestra and Broadway’s Rock of Ages.
These days, Whitesnake includes Coverdale (lead vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Hoekstra (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums).
I recently spoke to Hoekstra about Purple and what it’s like being a part of Whitesnake.
What’s it been like to work with David Coverdale?
Working with David has been great! He’s rock royalty with all of these great stories about working with Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore. He really understands music and was very gracious in the studio in allowing us to play what we wanted to play. Now, we’re gearing up for the other aspect—playing these songs live. You talk about songs that lend themselves well to live performance? These songs were written in live performance. It’s going to be exciting.
How did the Purple project begin?
The project actually began before I was even in Whitesnake. Shortly after Jon Lord passed away in 2012, David reached out to Ritchie. He just wanted to touch base with Ritchie and thank him for helping to jump-start his career. The two of them then went into discussions about doing something together in memory of Jon, but [as I hear it] they were on different pages. It was David’s wife, Cindy who then suggested that David do it with Whitesnake. It was a great concept and a total honor for me to be a part of.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from Purple, starting with “Lady Double Dealer.”
That was actually my audition for Whitesnake. I remember when I went out to Reno to meet the guys, that was the song they pulled up. They asked me what I would do for a solo. So I laid down a solo and then in the next section they started taking about a harmony solo and asked me to come up with something. So I wrote the solo that actually ended up making the record. Afterwards, they pretty much said, “Well, dude, come jam with us! Let’s do this!”
You can read the rest of my
Interview With Joel Hoekstra By Clicking Here!
After nearly drowning in a tragic lake accident, a young Madison (Michelle Mylett) finds herself bound to an uncontrollable fear of water. Unable to rid herself of her hydrophobia, four of Madison’s friends stage a desperate intervention. But in doing so, they unknowingly release a supernatural serial killer that’s determined to drag them one by one into a dark, horrifying place from which they may never return.
The premise for “The Drownsman” contains all of the goodness from many of the classic horror films of the 80’s but with its own unique twist. That being, an all female lead cast. Something that even by today’s standards is unheard of for films of the horror genre.
Directed by Chad Archibald, The Drownsman also stars Caroline Palmer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss and Clare Bastable.
Actor Ry Barrett has a history of playing nefarious villains in horror but his role of Sebastian Donner (aka The Drownsman) may be his best yet! Barrett gives life to a monster that has every evil intention of Freddy Kreuger or Pinhead, yet possesses his own twisted, demonic purpose.
I recently spoke with Barrett about his work on The Drownsman and more in this exclusive interview!
How did this project come about for you?
Chad Archibald and I go back a long way as friends and he was telling me about the idea. He asked me if I would read the script just to give him some feedback. I really liked the character so I asked if I could read for it. Originally, they were looking for an older man who was a bit more lanky and skinny. But I went in and read for the character and even wrote a separate monologue, just to see if I could creep them out. They liked what I did and changed their minds about what the character was going to be.
What was it about the script that attracted you to the role?
It all goes back to my love for these kind of characters. I loved the Hellraiser and Nightmare On Elm Street franchises. The whole idea of these tortured individuals who come back for revenge though some sort of supernatural outlet really appealed to me. I already knew it was a movie I’d love to see, so I definitely wanted to play a role in it.
How would you describe your character, Sebastian Donner?
He’s a tortured, mysterious individual who has this shoddy past. Early on, you see that he’s a serial killer who drowns women in various ways in order to receive comfort. The reason he does it is touched upon in the film but something happens through one of his victims that turns him into this supernatural entity that’s stronger, more powerful and evil.
What was the filming process like?
It was a lot of fun. There was intense make-up work and the aspect of water and shooting in winter in northern Canada posed some challenges, but it was very rewarding and great experience.
What was the chemistry like on set?
It was great. I had worked with Michelle on a film called “Antisocial” that had some pretty intense scenes. So we had already built up a level of comfort and rapport together. The girls had a great chemistry even before I stepped foot on set. It was cool to jump into this family where everyone was pulling for each other. We all worked well together.
You mentioned your relationship with Chad. Can you speak a little about how that worked in “The Drownsman”?
Chad and I go way back and have done many projects together. We know each other so well that we’ve developed this form of short hand communication. He’s able to get exactly what he wants with very few words because he knows me so well. It’s nice to work with someone who knows you in that way.
What do you love most about horror?
I love all the different things about the genre. It draws on the fears that we don’t really understand and is something everyone can relate to. There are fun horror films and ones that just want to shake you. Then there are others that just want to talk you on a ride. “The Drownsman” is one of those movies that entertains you in a scary, fun way and also takes you on that ride.
Did you always know that you wanted a career in acting?
I was more focused on playing in rock bands when I was younger but have always been a movie lover.
Shortly after a few of my friends had come out of film school, they asked me to be a part of one of their projects because they knew I had also taken drama in school. That experience changed my whole outlook. From then on, I was hooked!
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
The Demolisher; which is a film I produced and acted in will be premiering at FanTasia this year. It’s directed by Gabriel Carrer. I also have another film called “Save Yourself” that will also be hitting festivals soon.
What excites you the most about the release of “The Drownsman”?
I’m hoping that people really enjoy it. It’s a fun, throwback horror film that takes you back to the films of the 80’s. A time when a lot of people grew up and fell in love with the genre. This is a love letter to those kinds of films.
The Drownsman is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment
We always love talking to Richie Kotzen. This time, we decided to talk tone.
Kotzen played a huge part in developing the Tech 21 Signature RK5 Fly Rig, which happens to play a major role in how he gets his signature sound.
While Kotzen primarily uses his RK5 live in conjunction with his standard amp rig, this compact unit embodies an entire rig on its own. At its heart is the all-analog SansAmp, which makes it possible to go direct to a PA or mixer. For effects, you have the essentials: a reverb, a delay with tap tempo, a powerful boost and Kotzen’s Signature OMG overdrive.
Below, we discuss the RK5, the Winery Dogs his new solo album and more.
GUITAR WORLD: How did your relationship with Tech 21 begin?
They had sent me a few of their delays and other pedals to try out. I took a liking to the delay and started using it as my primary one. During tours with my band, I found myself doing these fly gigs where I would fly in, do a show or two and then fly out. I really wanted something compact and easy to deal with.
What I wound up doing was combining their delay pedal with the overdrive I was using at the time and then added a foot-switch mechanism for my amp and put it all into one little box. It was crude and wasn’t always super reliable, but I showed it to Andrew Barta at Tech 21 when he was in LA and he agreed it was a great idea. It took a good six months in developing until it was exactly right.
Was there a lot of trial and error involved in the process?
The delay was simple because I already knew what I wanted. The overdrive was a little trickier. I learned a lot about circuits by comparing things but relied a lot on my ears. It went through several variations until Andrew came up with a design that’s just right. I can put that pedal in front of any amp and still get a good sound.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Richie Kotzen by Clicking Here!
Mötley Crüe recently announced the details of their final round of North American dates.
The tour—Crüe’s last, ever—will conclude on New Year’s Eve in their hometown of Los Angeles, the same city where they began their career more than 34 years ago.
Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee first announced plans for their two-year-long Final Tour last year, when they signed a “cessation of touring” document. It was an agreement that solidified the end of their touring career.
To celebrate their legacy and thank their fans, Mötley Crüe are offering exclusive VIP packages for their final tour dates; these packages include opportunities to meet the band and offer up-close-and-personal views of the show from a newly designed stage setup.
In addition to accumulating worldwide album sales in excess of 80 million units over the course of three decades, Mötley Crüe also have garnered three Grammy nominations, four best-selling books and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I recently spoke with guitarist Mick Mars about the final Mötley Crüe shows, new music and more.
GUITAR WORLD: With these last few tour dates in LA being announced, has it begun to sink in that this is the last go-around for Mötley Crüe?
Yes, absolutely. This is it. We’re done after this one. I think ending in LA is kind of like coming full circle. Although the place we actually started in, [the Starwood] is torn down and the venues we’re playing now are a lot bigger than when we started! [laughs].
What will you miss about not touring with Mötley Crüe?
It’s a bittersweet thing, but all four of us are still in business together as a corporation. So we’ll still see each other. And even though I may not see the guys on stage, I’ll still be touring myself.
What were some of the challenges the band faced coming up in the LA scene?
From what I recall, a lot of the LA bands that were going around at the time were trying to copy Quiet Riot, who were already signed. So it really came pretty easily for us because we came out with a different look and sound. We were something that was different.
You can check out the rest of my
Interview with Mick Mars By Clicking Here!
Twenty-five years ago, two long-haired blond twins set the world on fire with their debut album, After the Rain.
At a time when glam metal was giving way to grunge, Nelson touched a nerve with the album’s hook-laden title track and “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” a Number 1 single.
Today, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson are still going strong. They perform full-band shows as Nelson, pay tribute to their father with their Ricky Nelson Remembered shows and take part in all-star Scrap Metal performances across the country.
While Nelson’s upcoming album, Peace Out [set to be released May 19] might be considered the rock band’s swan song, it might also be their best album, ever. Peace Out is an infectious collection of songs showcasing the maturity of the songwriting as well as Gunnar’s guitar prowess.
Next year, Gunnar and Matthew will begin a new duo project focusing on guitars and vocals. So if Peace Out truly is the end of the rock version of Nelson, Gunnar and Matthew are certainly going out in style.
I recently spoke with Gunnar about Peace Out and his gear and got his thoughts on the 25th anniversary of After the Rain.
GUITAR WORLD: How does Peace Out compare to some of Nelson’s previous records?
Honestly, if I were to recommend a Nelson record to someone who has never heard the band before, it wouldn’t be our first record [After the Rain]. It would be this one. This one features the best of the songwriting, guitar work and vocals. Most of all, the theme of the record is positive, and that’s what this band is 25 years in. When most everyone else is trying to be tough and rock, we want to make people feel good about listening to music.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with Gunnar Nelson by Clicking Here!
Everyone knows that senior prom is supposed to be a night of elegance, rejoicing and celebrating with good friends. But when a psychotic killer hijacks a group of teens’ stretch limousine on their way to the event, the group’s night of celebration unexpectedly turns into one of desperation and despair.
Directed by Kazeem Molake, “Prom Ride” is a new horror/thriller that will be released just in time for this year’s prom season. With a talented cast of actors combined with shooting a majority of the film within the confines of a limo, it offers a unique take on the horror genre.
For multi-talented actress Deanna Pak, “Prom Ride” is another opportunity to flex her creative muscle. Pak plays the role of Junie, one of the “less experienced” members of the entourage who still wants to be cool with all of the popular girls.
I recently spoke with Pak about her role in “Prom Ride”, her career and more in this exclusive interview!
What attracted you to the story of “Prom Ride”?
For me, it was a story that was entertaining and scary at the same time. It was also unique in the sense that some parts use iPhone footage while others use the master shot. So it tells the story but also tells our version of it as well. It has a glimpse of found footage in addition to the horror and I thought that was really cool.
How did you become involved in the project?
It was through a typical audition process. I remember we started shooting up towards the end of 2013. The original goal was to release it last prom season but special effects weren’t quite complete. So they decided to wait until now!
How would you describe the story of “Prom Ride”?
It’s the story about a group of teens who are all best friends going to prom. One of the friends gets the group a huge, amazing stretch limousine to take them all there. On the way, someone hijacks the limo and we all become trapped inside trying to survive. Whoever is behind it then pits us against each other and threatens to kill us if we don’t comply. So needless to say, things get pretty crazy inside of the limo! [laughs].
What can you tell me about your character, Junie?
Junie is more of the innocent girl of the bunch. She and her date both had a crush on each other for the longest time and finally get together to go to the prom together. But she also has a few secrets she keeps to herself.
What was the chemistry like on set?
It was amazing. We spent so much time together rehearsing and then it was somewhere around ten straight days filming in the limo, so it became like family. We were all friends and that made it so much fun.
What was it like working with Kazeem?
Working with Kazeem was a great experience. The thing I love about him is that he knew exactly what he wanted and was able to get it across in a very constructive way so that we would all look as good as possible.
What can you tell me about your background?
I started dancing when I was twelve and it became my main focus. Then in high school, I decided to try acting in school plays and Community Theater in addition to dance production. The part I love the most about dancing and acting is being able to tell a story. By the time I was in my second year of college I realized that acting was something I seriously wanted to pursue and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
Right now I’m currently involved in a martial arts/horror film. The director is a good friend of mine and it’s going to be a lot more action than I’ve ever done before. They have a strong cast and I’m very excited about it.
Is there a bit of advice you can share with aspiring actors? Something you’ve learned along the way?
Be yourself and be happy with who you are. That energy alone will take you a long way. Of course, your craft is very important and you should continue to master it but learn and study as much as you can about the business. Focus on the things you want to do and then work from there. Being a student forever is my best advice. Never stop learning.
What excites you the most about the release of “Prom Ride”?
I expect people will love this film. It’s a really fun movie to watch. For me to be able to be a part of this project was great. I loved the creative they way they shot most of the film from inside of the limo. The whole thing was a great experience!
“Prom Ride” will be released on April 24th
Sara Castro is making a difference, both in life and in the entertainment world. Since her arrival to the LA scene, the beautiful actress has sought to become a beacon of hope and positivity in the roles that she plays and in the life that she leads.
Whether it’s portraying a young mother with a belief in miracles in the film, “The Shift” or donating her personal time and energy to various charitable causes, Castro’s mission is to become an inspiration to others as well as lending a hand to those that are less fortunate.
Born and raised in Chicago to Colombian parents, Castro has been performing ever since she was a little girl. And with no less than two new film projects already in the works this year, Castro’s star will only continue to rise.
I recently had the chance to speak with this amazingly talented woman about her life, career and passion as well as her upcoming projects!
Did you always know that you wanted to be an actress?
I’ve always been involved in the arts in some way when I was growing up. Whether it was singing, acting or dancing. I even remember going to the movies a lot when I was growing up and always walking out feeling like I was one of the characters. I’d also make it a point to look around during the movie and see how people were paying attention to the film and how it had moved them. That’s what made me think it would be something cool to do.
What made you decide to make the move to California?
I did plays while I was in school and took some acting classes in college but eventually got a degree in liberal arts and journalism. I did a lot of short and independent films back home as well as anything that involved singing and dancing. But the thing that actually brought me to California was journalism. One day, I decided to make the move by myself.
What was it like suddenly finding yourself alone in California?
It was scary because I had come from a very big family and had always been protected by them. But I knew that I had to take that leap of faith and journalism was a way to get me out of my comfort zone, which was being at home. I’m so happy about that because I don’t know any other way I could have done it. But once I got here, I realized that journalism wasn’t for me and what I needed to do was move to LA in order to do what was next. I’ve been here ever since.
I’d like to ask you about one of your recent projects, “The Shift”. What can you tell me about the film and your role?
It was a wonderful experience. It’s a real heart wrenching movie and a wake-up call. You walk out of it wondering what you would do if you were in that same situation. It’s a story about dying with dignity. A topic that’s been in the news a lot lately and this movie really makes you think about it. I play the role of Carmen, the mother of an eight-year-old girl who’s dying of cancer. Carmen is very religious and believes in miracles, but that presents a struggle with a certain nurse who believes that a patient shouldn’t have to go through pain.
What attracts you to a project or script?
It’s the message and how authentic and real it is. I look for roles that have lots of substance and can challenge me. I love it when people can see me in a character and empathize with it. I want to send out good messages that make people reflect in good ways. Roles like that are very empowering.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I have two films that I’ll be shooting this year. The first is called “Outcall” where I play Francesca. She’s a girl putting herself through law school but at the same time is working as a call girl for the most powerful Madame in LA. One day, the cops go up to her and tell her to cooperate with them to help bring down the Madam or else. It’s a really cool, intense and action oriented plot.
The other film is “The Long Way” which is the story about a guy who drives from a small town in Oregon to LA to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Along the way, he happens to run into my character, Angie; a real wild child who teaches him a thing or two about life.
Both films are going to be directed by Richard Friedman, who’s a veteran TV and film director. I’ve worked with him a few times in the past and he’s so amazingly talented.
Can you tell me a little about your philanthropy?
Paying it forward is so important to me. I come from a third world country (Columbia) and whenever I go visit, I see how there are less fortunate people there and it really hits home. I love helping kids and other people who need assistance. Autism is another big deal for me as well as helping the homeless.
What excites you the most about the year ahead? What are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to the opportunity of inspiring other women. I come from a single parent home where my mom has always been a pillar for me. She really motivated me throughout my life to work hard and smart and I want to be able to do the same for other women.
Is there a bit of advice you can give to someone who has dreams similar to yours?
Believe in something bigger than yourself and know that there is a powerful force somewhere in the universe that’s guiding you. It will humble and ground you and help guide you. Be persistent, always put in 120% and never let anyone say that you can’t fulfill your dream. For me, what drives me the most me is how wonderful I feel on set and being part of a project that grows into something beautiful.
Visit Sara Castro’s Official Website By Clicking Here!