Interview: Lee DeWyze gets personal with his new album, ‘Paranoia’

There’s something special about Lee DeWyze’s new album, Paranoia. It’s the singer/songwriter and American Idol winner’s seventh studio album, and his first full-length set since 2016’s Oil and Water, but it’s also a collection of reflective introspection.

In addition to emotionally-driven songs like “Let Go,” “Got It Right,” Carry Us Through,” and the title-track, the new album also includes “The Breakdown,” DeWyze’s hauntingly beautiful song of love realized.

There’s a lot of space on Paranoia, which DeWyze will tell you was left intentionally to leave the listener with even more room for thought.

AXS recently spoke with Lee DeWyze about Paranoia (which will be released on February 16) and more in this new interview.

AXS: What inspired this new album?

Lee DeWyze: I’ve always been a singer-songwriter who plays guitar. It’s what I do, but I never want to be bored with myself. I wanted to do something that was me, but me in a different place. It was one of those situations where it wasn’t an album from the get-go. It was more of a situation where I was writing, and as I continued, it felt more like a collection of music that belonged together. The inspiration behind the record actually kick-started with the song, “Paranoia.” I already had pieces for a few of the other songs, but once I started working on “Paranoia” and then “The Breakdown” all the other songs started to come together. Production; instrumentation; vibe. Everything started to feel connected. I wanted to go into the studio when I was inspired and capture those emotions to put in the songs. At the end of the day, I wanted it to feel like an album that you could listen to from beginning to end. Individual pieces that make up a much larger thing.

AXS: Did you find the process of writing an album this way to be more therapeutic for you creatively?

LD: “Therapeutic” is the right word because there were moments where it felt so good to get into the studio and work on the songs. There’s a feeling that comes when you play live on stage where you consciously say nothing else matters. When you’re up there, you’re in the moment, and all of the outside stuff goes away. It felt that way every time I went into the studio.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few more tracks from Paranoia, starting with “Let Go.”

LD: Some of the songs on this record were written in real time, and “Let Go” was one of them. I was sitting in the studio and started playing the riff that opens the song over and over for hours. Then I just started writing. Some of it was really in the moment, emotionally.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lee DeWyze by Clicking Here!


Interview: Chappell Roan discusses her new album, ‘School Nights’ and new tour

Photography by Catie Laffoon

From the moment Chappell Roan forced herself from her mid-western roots to showcase for labels in New York it’s been nothing but a steady trajectory of success. The singer/songwriter, whose hauntingly beautiful voice conjures images of Stevie Nicks and Carole King, shines brightly on her debut EP,  School Nights. The magical, five-song album is fueled with a rawness of teenage emotion, maturely crafted writing and Roan’s undeniably melancholic and infectious vocal prowess.

Roan will soon be touring alongside Declan McKenna for a  new tour that will get underway Jan. 31 and travel throughout the U.S. until the end of March.

AXS recently spoke with Chappell Roan about her School Nights and more in this new interview.

AXS: How would you describe your new EP, School Nights?

Chappell Roan: Sonically, I’d say that it’s very dark pop with some influences of the sixties and seventies. I really wanted to showcase a very moody vibe with his album.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?

CR: When I write, I usually think about what I’m feeling. The feeling is what inspires the song. Then, I’ll think of a melody and plug the lyrics in once I figure out what the song’s about. I also have a list on my phone filled with words and phrases that I hear people say, or with sentences from books that I think might be cool for a song. Sometimes, it may take three hours to write a song, and other times three months. It all depends on the feeling.

AXS: I want to get your thoughts on the songs from the EP. What can you tell me about “Die Young”?

CR: I wrote that song when I was sixteen, and it’s a song that’s really different from the rest. It’s not so much about love and being in a relationship as it is about a battle within myself. I was going through a hard time with my parents and with making friends when I wrote it. I really didn’t know what to but my outlet was writing.

AXS: “Good Hurt.”

CR:  I was very confused when I wrote that one. I was in a relationship, but I wanted my old relationship back. The old relationship was toxic, and I couldn’t figure out why I wanted it back. I wrote about wanting to be comfortable, but knowing that doing so meant that you were going to be treated badly. I think a lot of people can relate to it. It was about me knowing I shouldn’t do something that was wrong but doing it anyway. It hurts, but it was comfortable.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Chappell Roan by Clicking Here!

Interview: Maxine and Roxy Petrucci discuss new Madam X album, ‘Monstrocity’

Thirty years seems like a long time for a band to release sophomore album, but for the all-original line of Madam X: Bret Kaiser (vocals), Maxine Petrucci (guitars), Chris “Godzilla” Doliber (bass) and Roxy Petrucci (drums), the wait was certainly worth it. The band, who’s 1984 debut, We Reserve The Right was fueled by the infectious guitar/drum wizardry of sisters Maxine and Roxy Petrucci have released the long-awaited “follow-up” three decades later. The ferociously aggressive, Monstrocity.

Monstrocity captures the classic vibe of the veteran foursome while tastefully bringing the band into the 21st century with well-crafted songs, ubiquitous grooves and a production that includes the likes of veteran mixer, Michael Wagener (MetallicaOzzy) and Mark Slaughter as well as a guest appearance by Janet Gardner (Vixen).

AXS recently spoke with Maxine and Roxy Petrucci about Monstrocity and more in this new interview.

AXS: It’s been more than thirty years since we last heard from Madam X. What sparked the reunion?

Roxy Petrucci: Madam X fans are so loyal. I’d been out touring in Europe with Vixen and noticed a lot of Madam X memorabilia coming through our meet and greet line. I thought it would be cool to maybe release one song with all the original Madam X members, just for the fans. I ran the idea past the band and everyone was on board.

Maxine Petrucci: We released a single in 2014 to get us started, “Another 80’s Rock Song.” That sparked interest from Sweden Rock. They contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in playing Sweden Rock 2014. When we played, there were close to 20,000 people there. We were in shock, but once we hit that first chord we realized the chemistry was still there. It felt very comfortable and like thirty years hadn’t even gone by. We picked up right where we left off. That was when we thought about doing an album for the fans. Madam X was back.

AXS: What were those early writing sessions like?

RP: Bret had a song with a cool riff that needed a little work. So, Maxine and I took it and started tweaking it. That song turned out to be, “Hello Cleveland,” and that’s what really inspired us to write some more. But we didn’t want to just throw something out there. We were passionate about releasing great stuff and worked really hard and took our time.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Maxine & Roxy Petrucci Here.

Under A Neapolitan Sky

I am super-excited about the release of my new novella, “Neapolitan Sky”.  Right now, it’s going through a second round of test readers and the plan is to have a final edit done prior to publishing, which as it stands now appears to be in early spring.


I’d like to use these next few articles to share with you more details about the book that will hopefully pique your interest. First, I should mention that a novella is about half the size of your traditional novel. Some of the all-time great novellas include “Animal Farm,” “Of Mice And Men,” “The Old Man And The Sea” and “A Christmas Carol”.  I’m in no way putting my book in the company of those classics, but if you’ve read any of them as part of your high school English class, or even for your own enjoyment, you’ll have an idea as to length of my story, which right now is 155 pages.

“Neapolitan Sky” is a thriller about a girl named Nica Mitchell; a college student with dreams of becoming a professional writer. Nica is forced to return home when her ailing father is hospitalized after suffering a near-death experience while receiving cancer treatment. While there, Nica learns about what happened to her father during those precious moments in between life and death. It’s a haunting secret that will change her world forever.

Interested? Please, read on!

The next thing I’d like to discuss is what actually inspired “Neapolitan Sky”. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing hundreds of artists, musicians and actors over the last five years, and the idea for writing this story actually came about as a result of an interview I’d done with the amazing actress, Fiona Dourif, in the Summer of 2017.

For those who aren’t aware, Fiona’s father is Brad Dourif, whose film credits include “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “The Lord of The Rings” among many others. He’s perhaps best known for being the voice of Chucky in the “Child’s Play” films, which has also featured Fiona in the last two installments.

Since Brad only plays the voice of the doll, Fiona hasn’t really had a chance to work face to face with her father on screen. So, one of my questions was to ask if she’d ever be interested in working with him in a role outside of “Chucky”, even if it was in a short film.

I remember her exact words to me were, “Absolutely! You write it. Let’s do it!”

Although I realized such a thing would most likely never happen, it nonetheless led me to write a story about a father and his daughter, using Fiona and Brad as inspiration for the main characters–and with that, “Neapolitan Sky” was born.

I hope you’ll stick around to learn more about the story in the days and weeks ahead. For me as a writer, it doesn’t get much better than this!

FionaBradFiona Dourif photo by Ryan West

Interview: Jeff Angell discusses new Walking Papers album, ‘WP2’

Photo: Dean Karr and used with permission

Walking Papers, the Seattle-based band that features Jefferson Angell (The Missionary Position), Benjamin Anderson (The Missionary Position), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) will release their moody and carnal sophomore album, WP2 on Friday, January 19.

The new album is a culmination of groove-infused, songwriting maturity and the result of nearly three years of touring throughout Europe and North America. Although rooted in blues, soul, and classic rock, WP2 delivers deeper musical exploration to the band’s ever-increasing fan base.

AXS recently spoke with Angell about the new Walking Papers album and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How does WP2 compare to some of your previous work?

Jeff Angell: The one thing that’s exceptional about this album is the fact that we’ve toured and played so many shows together. It really captures the live and visceral energy of a band at the top of their game but at the same time, still has some gloss and ambiance of a studio recording. It’s a self-indulgent studio experience with the best of both worlds.

AXS: What’s your typical songwriting process like?

JA: I’m a lyric guy. Music to me is more spontaneous. Music is the body and lyrics are the head, but you need both to validate each other. I usually go with my gut on music, and the inspiration (the 1%), happens almost instantly. Then it becomes a matter of hammering down the lyrics, which is the other 99%.

AXS: Do you draw inspiration for your lyrics from life experience?

JA: I’ve known a lot of characters in my life, and some of them have certainly inspired me. At the same time, I have a filter on everything that’s happening. There’s a lot of characters in these songs, and maybe some of them are a reflection of myself. It’s all about sitting on the fence and looking at each side and being at the apex of making a decision. Sometimes, it’s what you want to do and other times it’s what the world allows you to do.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “Death On The Lips”. What can you tell me about it?

JA: When this record was coming together (and that song in particular), I started to see a common thread: temptation and redemption. When you’re on the road, that lifestyle invites you to make bad decisions. I wasn’t struggling with it, but I was aware of it, and it got my head thinking about things I’ve done in my past and about being grateful for not being in that world anymore.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jeff Angell by Clicking Here!

Interview: Dead Daisies bassist, Marco Mendoza discusses his new solo album, ‘Viva La Rock’

It’s been nearly eight years since The Dead Daisies bassist, Marco Mendoza released a solo album, but with the pending release of his monstrous ‘Viva La Rock’ [produced by Soren Anderson], Mendoza’s proves that the wait was worth it.

For Mendoza, whose resume also includes stints with such legendary bands as Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake as well as work with artists like Ted Nugentand Neal Schon, ‘Viva La Rock’ is a groove-fueled celebration of life and love as well as a tip of the hat to his musical past.

Songs like the album’s title track, a catchphrase Mendoza’s used for years, are rollercoaster rides of musical emotion, while songs like the power-ballad, “Leah” speak to the love he has for his wife and soul mate. Mendoza even includes his spin on a few cover songs, notably the Thin Lizzy classic, “Chinatown”, which features guest vocals from Mike Tramp [White Lion, Freak of Nature] and guitarist Richard Fortus [Guns N’ Roses].

AXS recently spoke with Marco Mendoza about ‘Viva La Rock’ [which will be released on March 2], The Dead Daisies and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: It’s been eight years since your last solo release. How did this new album, ‘Viva La Rock’ come about?

Marco Mendoza: My whole journey and career have been busy, but these last ten years have really been over the top, and I love it. But I’m always writing and there’s always a drawer full of ideas. I had just finished up with The Dead Daisies and found a window of about fourteen days. So, I flew to Denmark and got into the studio with my good friend, Soren Anderson. The time and energy was right. It was fast and a lot of fun.

AXS: How does this album compare to some of your previous work?

MM: I think this album is a little more focused. We really dug deep with the ideas and songs. It’s classic rock and roll. Catchy songs with good hooks and melodies and relevant lyrical content.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few songs from ‘Viva La Rock’ beginning with the title track. What can you tell me about it?

MM: The creative process is to follow the vibe, and “Viva La Rock” was the first song that we wrote. It’s a catchphrase that I’ve been using for years that’s become part of my vocabulary. I remember going in and grabbing the guitar. Soren followed along and within the hour we had the song. The lyrics also came quickly. When you do something for so long it’s all instinct. You just open the flood doors and it starts happening.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Marco Mendoza Here!

‘Got Soul’: Robert Randolph Talks Grammy Nomination, Artistic Inspiration

Robert Randolph’s recent Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category for his latest offering, Got Soul, should come as no surprise.

The renowned pedal steel guitarist—who’s already collaborated with such legends as Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Santana—is merely taking the next step in his journey toward becoming of the genre’s most spiritual and accomplished artists.

Having heard almost no secular music while growing up singing and performing the “sacred steel” at church, Randolph was eventually exposed to the blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as soul and rock music in his late teens. The rest is history.

Randolph describes Got Soul as a soulful form of rock and roll. A kinetic, raucously energetic album that puts his pedal steel guitar front and center, it combines elements of blues, funk, jazz, soul and country with the gospel music of his youth.

Guitar World recently spoke to Randolph about the Grammy nomination and more in this new interview.

This is your fifth Grammy nomination. As an artist, what’s it like when you hear your name announced for a Grammy award?

Yeah, this is our fifth time. It feels good to know that you’re respected among your peers and are appreciated by die hard music fans. It also shows the hard work we put into making music and writing songs. It’s a nice payback.

Let’s talk a little about Got Soul. What themes did you want to explore when making this album?

I really wanted to give people good songs that have messages of love, happiness and inspiration and not focus on all the negativity that’s going on in the world. It’s music with big choruses, catchy grooves and rock and roll guitars that allows people to dance. It’s all of those elements put together.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Robert Randolph by Clicking Here!