Vocalist Margo Rey’s Christmas classic, “This Holiday Night” has become a staple of December. A vision of the holidays as seen through the eyes of a child, the beautiful song conjures up warm images of family tradition and memories of years gone by.
Rey describes her style of music as ‘Organica’; a unique blend of musical texture and groove, but it’s the infectiousness of her voice that really makes you stand up and take notice. Her album, “Habit” remained on the charts for an astonishing 21 weeks and contained the singles “Let the Rain” and “Saturn Returns”, both co-written with the legendary John Oates.
Her latest single, a cover of the Squeeze song “Tempted” adds her distinctive vibe to the classic 80′s hit.
In addition to her amazing vocal prowess and songwriting skills, Rey’s personal mission really makes her a true inspiration. A cancer warrior, Rey volunteers her time and talent to Brides Against Breast Cancer, an organization that contributes to programs for cancer patients and their families while raising funds in a rather cool and unique way.
A recent bride herself, Rey is married to comedian Ron White. While presenting an interesting dynamic, their relationship is a communion of two artists in awe of each others craft, while not being in competition with each other.
I spoke with Rey about her passion, her music and her cause.
You consider your style of music ‘Organica’. How would you describe it?
It’s an unorthodox hybrid of adult pop music that’s deeply rooted in jazz and R&B grooves with a lot of ambient vocals and texture. I like my vocals to be lush and for them to be an instrument as well.
Tell me the origin of your song “This Holiday Night”.
I really wanted to write a song that sounded like a Christmas classic. A song about the way a child experiences all the goings on in a house around the holidays. I had this idea that it was going to be a waltz and I wanted every line to end with “this holiday night”. I started out writing the melody, chords and most of the lyrics and then called up my friend Barrett Yeretsian, who had been working on songs for my “Habit” album. The two of us started kicking around images of what the holidays were like when we were growing up. We put the pieces together and that’s how it happened.
Let’s discuss a few tracks that you wrote with John Oates from the “Habit” album.
Let The Rain
John and I actually wrote “Let The Rain” the day that we first met. He had written some chords based on some of my music and when I heard it, I remember saying, “I think I have something for that.” It was a melody and lyrics that I had written around the time Ron and I were getting engaged. I had a lot of verses, but wasn’t quite sure what to make the chorus about. That’s when I told John about how I used to love playing in the rain with my Mom in the summer’s in Texas and he told me to write the song about that. So we came up with the melody for the chorus together and from there it took on a life of its own.
I had just been diagnosed with cancer four days before our writing session and the doctors were trying to get me to stay to get an MRI. I said, “No way, man! I’m going to write a song with John Oates” [laughs]. I remember telling that story to John and his eyes got really big and he was worried. I said “No! No! I’m going to be fine. This is a cancer free zone!” I showed him a chorus that I had been working on and he thought it was fantastic, but he told me that it has to be my story. So I went back to my condo that night, wrote the rest of the lyrics and we put it all together the next day.
Tell me a little about your most recent single, “Tempted”.
I’ve always loved the band Squeeze and that song always made me happy whenever I sang it. So when my radio team approached me about releasing a cover song, I told them that I wanted to do “Tempted”, but with an R&B groove.
Did you always want to be a singer?
When I was young, I used to always sing in the grocery cart whenever I was at the store with my mom. I would always sing a lot of crooner songs by Nat King Cole, Engelbert Humperdinck or Hank Williams. Then one day when I was 4, I was at my brother’s school play when this girl who was supposed to sing “Oh Jolly Playmate” started crying because she had suddenly developed stage fright. I remember going up to the school principal and telling him that I could sing, and that I knew all the words. So he let me go out and sing in front of 300 people.
A lot of things crystallized for me in that moment. It was the first time that I had ever sang with a mic and saw my shadow in the spotlight behind me. I knew right then that it was something that I wanted to do and so a few years later, I started classical training.
Let’s discuss your involvement with Brides Against Breast Cancer.
I volunteer a lot my time towards this cause and this past May, they selected me as a National Ambassador. The money they raise goes to providing free programs and services to people living with cancer. Programs people need where the doctor kind of leaves off; like wellness, nutrition and counseling. They even provide these services for family members too.
The really cool thing is how they raise money: by having brides and gown designers donate their wedding gowns. Some of the gowns that are donated by designers are unused, while others may have only been used one time. Then they’ll take the gowns that are donated on a “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” that travels to roughly 120 cities a year, selling them at a discounted price. I travel to some of the events to tell my story and to inform people about how important it is to provide these services. What better way is there to give that dress that made you so happy a life of its own than to make someone else happy and also provide programs and services to people who need them? It’s a win-win.
What’s next for you?
I’m putting together an arsenal of songs to release in the coming year. A ballad called “Colors Never Fade” that’s about standing up to what it is that scares you and never fading or getting washed out in a sea of gray. “Beautiful Train Wreck” is a song that has a cool, funky groove. It’s about how we’re all beautiful even when we’re in the midst of being a train wreck. We’re all trying to find our way. Then there’s “Happy”, which is another song that I wrote with John [Oates]. It’s about the simplicity of just being happy and how it’s never too late to be kind.
For more information on Brides Against Breast Cancer Click here
Check out Margo Rey’s Official Website By Clicking Here
For Joel Hoekstra and Tommy Kessler, it might be like being inside of a time warp.
Not only do the guitarists for Broadway’s Rock of Ages musical get to perform in the fictional Eighties band Arsenal night after night, but separately, they play music from that same era, even when not performing on the Broadway stage.
Kessler’s other “day job” includes working alongside Debbie Harry in Blondie, while Hoekstra continues to record and tour with Night Ranger and is about to start his fourth winter tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
I spoke to Hoekstra and Kessler about Rock of Ages and some of their other projects.
GUITAR WORLD: What are some of the differences between performing as part of Night Ranger and Blondie, as compared to Rock of Ages?
JOEL HOEKSTRA: With Night Ranger, it’s all about playing the classic songs/solos and entertaining the audience with an energetic performance. With Rock of Ages, people are there for a humorous, entertainment experience, not a serious rock show. My approach to that is campier because it’s more in the spirit of the show. People are just there to have a good time. In Night Ranger, I use EVH iii amps. With RoA, I play through a Fractal Axe-FX Ultra.
TOMMY KESSLER: The main difference performing-wise is that when Blondie plays a show, it’s six of us doing a rock show and it’s song after song. We’re all featured at any given moment. With Rock of Ages, there’s a story going on in front of the band. We are on stage the entire time because Arsenal is the house band of the Bourbon Room, but the story goes in and out of the Bourbon Room so there is a lot of time we are in the dark and not playing music.
Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with
Joel Hoekstra and Tommy Kessler by Clicking Here
After reaching mainstream success on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Voice”, singer Terry McDermott is showing no signs of slowing down. Since the show’s conclusion, McDermott’s been busily writing and recording new music while simultaneously building a loyal following.
His fan base, known collectively as “McHobbits”, have rallied behind the singer’s every endeavor; even propelling his first hook-laden single, “Pictures” to the #1 spot on the iTunes Rock Singles chart in less than 24 hours.
McDermott’s follow-up single, “Lose This Feeling” is a personal introspective that forges new ground while also paving the way for his forth-coming EP (due early in the new year). Penned along with friend and musical collaborator Todd Burman, “Lose This Feeling” continues the trend of showcasing McDermott’s infectious songwriting ability as well as his commanding vocals.
On Sunday, December 8th McDermott will have the honor of performing the National Anthem at the New Orleans Saints NFL game before heading off for more shows in Vietnam, the U.K and Jamaica. McDermott’s band, The Bonfires includes guitarist David Rosser (Afghan Wigs); bassist Alex Smith (World Leader Pretend); drummer Eric Bolivar (Anders Osborne) and keyboardist Rich Hyland, who played in a rival Scottish band back in Aberdeen when McDermott was a member of the band Driveblind.
I spoke with McDermott about his upcoming EP as well as what he thinks makes classic rock (the genre he highlighted while competing on “The Voice”) so special.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
It’s a five-song EP with a culmination of material that was written with the band along with some songs I wrote with the guitar player from my previous band. There’s also a song on there that I wrote with a Grammy winner friend of mine that I’m really excited about.
What was the inspiration behind your new single, “Lose This Feeling”?
The basic inspiration for the song was always there. It was just a matter of capturing it at the right time. I had spent a lot of time working with Todd [Burman] at his Hollywood studio. He told me about an idea that he had and wanted me to come in and work on it with him. It was shortly before that encounter that my daughter had been born.
I had lost my mother eleven years ago and when my daughter was born she was a spitting image of her, which was something I wasn’t really prepared for. It really made me think about the bitter-sweet nature of our existence on this ball of rock. It’s that perpetual feeling. One of being so blessed and lucky to have this wonderful child in your life and then thinking about the strange, sometimes cruel nature of it. It’s part of life. That became the inspiration for the song.
Was there a reason why many of the songs you performed on “The Voice” were from the classic rock genre?
That style of music is what really inspired me growing up and made it very easy for me to enjoy my time on the show.
What do you think makes that style of music so appealing?
If you go back to the music industry in the 1970′s when bands like The Eagles were selling records, people were buying and cherishing albums. They were physically picking albums up off the shelves, taking them home and wearing them out. Bands back then were held up on a pedestal with tremendous loyalty from their fans and as those fans aged, the bands never lost that sparkle.
You also can’t take anything away from the songwriting either. It was much more singer/songwriter oriented back then as opposed to today. Just listen to any Glen Frey or Don Henley track. They’re timeless pieces. They’re songs that you can break down to just one man and a guitar and the quality will still shine through. Anything that has longevity like that should feel like classic rock, because it’s got a chance to stay on the shelf.
How important are the fans to you and your music?
You really can’t talk about one and not the other. There’s something very organic and truthful about playing shows and having your fans fly in from all over the country just to see you. It’s very rewarding. It’s also a great example of the modern-day synergy that exists between the fans and the artist. Where the record label has become superfluous to many to some degree. If you’ve got the fan base who believes in you, you can bring material to them and cut out the middleman.
It’s a great time and a lot of fun to be an independent artist. You have more flexibility to control your own destiny.
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.
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!
Although it’s been more than 20 years since Starship’s last album of all-new material [1989's Love Among the Cannibals], the band’s latest release, Loveless Fascination, was certainly worth the wait.
Not only has vocalist Mickey Thomas been able to maintain his unique sound and range over the decades, but he’s added more of a thickness and growl to his vocals, allowing him to scream better than ever.
Produced by Jeff Pilson [Foreigner, T&N, Dokken], Loveless Fascination stays true to the band’s signature classic-rock sound, providing a much harder edge while taking Starship into the 21st century. I recently spoke with Thomas about working with Pilson on Loveless Fascination and a lot more.
GUITAR WORLD: It’s been nearly 25 years since your last studio album, Love Among the Cannibals, was released. Why the long wait?
I’ve started several projects during that time period, but for various reasons they never came to fruition. In order to make a really great record, you need to have a great team, and that means great songs, production, management and label. All of those elements never seemed to come together at the same time for us, but when this album came along everything just fell into place. I teamed up with Jeff Pilson, who’s not only a great producer, but also a great musician and songwriter. We instantly had this great chemistry and I realized this was the kind of Starship album we needed to make.
You can read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Mickey Thomas
by Clicking Here!
Little River Band is showing no signs of slowing down. The band continues to perform up to ninety shows a year, bringing along its arsenal of radio hits that include “Take It Easy On Me”, “Cool Change” and “Reminiscing”. To date, Little River Band has scored 13 Top 30 Hits and has sold more than 30 million records.
“Cuts Like A Diamond” is the first disc of new original Little River Band material since 2003′s Test Of Time. For this project, the band went for a more west coast 80’s sound, while still embracing the harmony guitars, big vocals and contemporary feel they’re known for. The result is a well-produced album that’s easily on par with the rest of its classic catalog.
I spoke with bassist Wayne Nelson and guitarist Richard Herring about the new album and more.
What type of sound were you trying to go for with “Cuts Like A Diamond”?
Nelson: The record label (Frontiers) approached us with a sound they had in mind. They wanted an 80′s AOR Little River Band album. There’s a wide range of material that the band has already done, and Rich gets a lot of credit for creating the landscape of this record. He’s a great producer and was in charge of the guitar parts and overdubs.
Herring: We strove to satisfy the label’s request for an 80’s production, but preserved the signature sound of LRB like big vocals and guitar harmonies. That’s what people think about when they think of Little River Band; the big vocals and high harmonies. That’s the key, and the guitars play a supporting role in that.
What was the writing process like?
Nelson: All of the songs came to me first, and the ones that moved the meter I sent to the record company’s ears. The road map was already in place so I knew where to aim for, but there were certainly some things about the 80′s that I wanted to leave behind, like reverbs that never end and the bad keyboard sounds [laughs].
Let’s talk about a few tracks from the album: Lost and The Lonely
Nelson: You can stack that song up against “Lonesome Loser” or some of the others, but that’s a Little River Band chorus. The interesting story was the original arrangement of the song had the uplifting chorus, but the verses were kind of dark and followed a different path. I remember asking the writers to change the verses to match the inspiration of the chorus and they came back the very next day with what you hear on the album. The video for the song is also powerful, especially considering the times we live in now. Those guys are defending people who are lost and lonely and can’t standup for themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Who Speaks For Me
Nelson: The record label was concerned about the song’s subject nature at first, but I insisted we do it. It’s been a passion mine for years to try and do something to shed light on domestic abuse. When I started writing, I immediately thought of the kid alone in the dark and scared to death. The story just unfolded from there. A lot of people have asked if the message in the song was from personal experience. I tell them that it didn’t happen to me, but it’s happened to plenty of others and it was something I felt needed to be said.
Wayne, let’s discuss ‘Time Exposure’, which was the album right after you joined Little River Band.
Nelson: So much of the success and impact of that record came from George Martin (producer). When I joined the band, they were about ready to come apart at the seams. Four different people each wanted to take the band in four very distinctly different directions. No one was really getting along, and the band was literally being held together by its success. We all knew we had to do a record and suddenly, here comes the producer for the Beatles. George literally smoothed out the waters and got us through those six weeks to get the record out. We wound up getting three top tens out of it: Night Owls, Man On Your Mind and Take It Easy On Me.
Rich, what’s your current set up like?
Herring: I’m using two class-a amps in stereo. They’re called New Vintage and were built in Minnesota by a guy named Nick Patullo. We were on a fly date using rented gear and they had some of Nick’s amps there. I remember playing through it and couldn’t believe how great it sounded. I bought one and started using it in stereo with my Matchless C-30. Later, I called Nick to see if he had a head version of the same thing. He told me that he didn’t have one, but he could build it! The one that he built me one sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. He didn’t have a name for it, so he decided to call it the RH-36. So I now have my own amp [laughs].
Now that the album is finished, what satisfies you the most?
Herring: It’s put new life into the show. It’s also an honor for me personally to play the old hits and deliver them night after night. I like to tell people that I get to play “Cool Change” every night, and I never get tired of it.
For More on Little River Band
Official Website: http://littleriverband.com/