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Remembering High School- 30 Years Later

“How can it be thirty years?” I said as I was cleaning out the basement.

Looking into the gray, Stocker Brothers dairy milk crate, its frame still sturdy even after decades of sitting in dark silence, is actually what made me pose the question.

I had just spent the better part of the morning organizing the crawl space of my two-story colonial, a home I’ve been making mortgage payments on for as long as I can remember. During my tenure at this location, the basement had become a breeding ground for large, cardboard boxes of clothes, holiday items and various knick knacks, as well as six large boxes of comic books I’d collected as a kid along with my feeble attempts at Bob Ross paintings. The latter two categories being things I can’t seem to let go of — even after all of this time.

Time.

The thing inside the milk crate behind the wall of canvases is where I found it. There, along with the curious smell of old books and dust was a folded, paper program; kind of like something you’d get handed to you from an usher at a Sunday church service or a Broadway show as you entered the theater. It had obtained a dull, off-white color over the years but its red lettered appearance was still clearly visible:

Easton Area High School’s 131st Commencement: June 11, 1987 6:00 o’clock.

It can’t be, can it? Thirty years already? I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday that I was roaming the halls of high school? Dreaming about being the next Bon Jovi? Longing for Friday night visits to the mall so that I could get the new Def Leppard album, read the latest Gross Jokes book in Waldenbooks, drink gallons of Orange Julius and then try to impress the girls by beating the high score on Pac Man and Galaga?

I slowly ran my fingers through the pages of the slightly weathered program and saw all of the people who stood by me that day. “Did they know where they would wind up?” I thought. “Would they remember and realize it’s been thirty years?”

Me, June 11, 1987

I remember that commencement. I remember wearing my class ring on my right ring finger and sitting in my cap and gown on an uncomfortable metal chair waiting for my name to be called, peeved once again at the alphabetical order of things and the fact that my last name started with a “W”. I still remember congratulating and hugging every classmate I met, whether I knew them on a “friend” basis or not. I can still feel the leafy stem of the flower against my bare hand after I accepted my diploma, and the sense of urgency I had for the final notes of the Alma Mater to ring so that I could toss my tasseled, red cap high into the air. It was the end game. The “so long”. The final, “see-ya-later” salute to thirteen years of education.

Who am I kidding? When I look back now it didn’t really seem like goodbye. Instead, walking out of Kirby Field House that night was just like any other night. It would soon be the start of summer, camping at the lake, amusement park visits and graduation/backyard parties. Heck, I even had one at my house where me and my buddy (and fellow graduate), Nathan Brown, played our guitars and drums as entertainment. Before long, September would roll around again and we’d all be right back together again in class, right? Just like it had always been for thirteen years in a row.

No.

Several friends went off to college to follow their dream. Others enlisted in the military, started families or immediately entered the work force. As for me, my own dream of becoming a rock star officially began June 11, 1987.

But that’s a story for another time.

As I continued to page through the program, I tried to see how many classmates I could remember and was thankful to discover I could still put faces to the names of most. Then I thought of Nathan, who’s own name I didn’t see listed in the graduating class and yet had attended graduation and received his diploma along with the rest of us. Had it have been another time, I probably would have called him up to ask him why he wasn’t mentioned in the list of graduates, but he died in 2014.

A lot can happen in thirty years.

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Bon Jovi Guitarist Phil X Discusses New ‘Hired Gun’ Music Biz Documentary

Vision Films has partnered with Fathom Events to bring a riveting new rock documentary, Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows Into the Spotlight, to select U.S. movie theaters this summer, with an exclusive one-night theatrical event set for June 29.

The feature-length doc, which has been screened to critic and audience acclaim at SXSW Festival, Glastonbury Festival and Calgary International Film Festival, introduces fans to several unsung heroes of the music industry. These artists have played with legends such as Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Alice Cooper and many more.

Guitarist Phil X (Bon Jovi, the Drills) is just one of the artists featured in the documentary. I recently spoke with him about Hired Gun, his role in Bon Jovi, the Drills, his gear and more.

How did you get involved with Hired Gun?

[Producer] Jason Hook and I go back to our teens outside of Toronto, Canada. He moved to LA a few years before I did, and we later started putting a band together and making music. We went on to different things and ended up in the “side guy” realm of life. When he was presented the opportunity to make a documentary, he had the idea of getting all the people together he knew who were hired guns. So it was a no-brainer for him to call me up and say, “Hey man, you just toured with Bon Jovi. You want to be in there?” [laughs].

Was having a career in music something you always aspired to do?

For me, there was no choice. I feel that if you’re truly passionate about making music, you can’t do anything else. You’re always making music because it’s in your heart. Everyone has a dream of being in a successful band, but for some reason, my bands always happened on a small scale. The hired-gun thing started in the studio and by meeting people and then playing guitar on their records. Two years later, around 1999, I was asked to come in and play on Tommy Lee’s solo record, Methods of Mayhem. It started snowballing after that.

How did you wind up getting the gig with Bon Jovi?

It happened very quickly. I was doing my session thing at Henson Studios, and John Shanks had a studio there. John co-wrote and produced a lot of the recent Bon Jovi records, and I’d run into him a lot either having lunch or walking down the hallway. What changed the game was one day he came up to me and told me he couldn’t stop watching my YouTube videos.

We hit it off, and a few weeks later he called me up and told me about a gig he had. He told me about a band that was having some issues with their guitar player and that I might be the guy to get called in to do some shows when he can’t. I said, “Ok, who are we talking about?” and he said, “Bon Jovi. Do you want to do it?”

So they gave me the material to learn the two-and-a-half-hour hour show and told me I’d be in the reserve tank. That meant I might get a call or I might not. Then it happened: April 14, 2011. They told me to go to New York and rehearse with the band. I was on hold again, and then “on hold” became “Let’s go! We’re playing New Orleans in a few days and there will probably be 50,000 people there.” That was it!

Read the rest of my
Interview with Phil X by Clicking Here!

Lou Gramm and Michael Staertow Talk Foreigner, Touring and Memorable Moments

Photo courtesy: Michael Staertow

It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since Foreigner’s eponymous debut album.

The record—fueled by the hits “Long, Long Way From Home,” “Cold As Ice” and “Feels Like the First Time”—launched the band into worldwide stardom. It would be the first in a string of consecutive multi-platinum monster releases that included Double Vision, Head Games and 4.

Much of the credit for the band’s success can be attributed to Lou Gramm, whose songwriting skills and emphatic vocal performances played a monumental role in the band’s hook-laden formula. In fact, he and Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by none other than Billy Joel.

Although he’s been out of the band for more than a decade, Gramm continues to write, record and tour the arsenal of Foreigner hits with his Lou Gramm band. And as Foreigner prepares to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a new tour this summer, there’s word that Gramm will once again be joining Jones at a yet-to-be-determined Foreigner show.

I recently spoke with Gramm and his guitarist, Michael Staertow, about Foreigner, Lou’s solo career, music, gear and more.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Foreigner album. When you look back at that album now with so much perspective what thoughts come to mind?

GRAMM: Working with Mick [Jones] was a very creative situation, and I remember how much fun it was to write those songs and record them. Even when we weren’t at our most imaginative; instead of just putting everything away, we plugged along, putting down different ideas. Before long, we were right back swinging again. It was a very positive time.

Can you tell me the origin of the song, “Long, Long Way From Home”?

GRAMM: That was the very first song Mick and I wrote together. He would always play me cassette tapes with guitar riffs and told me that if one of them tweaked my ear to let him know and we’d work on it. I heard that great guitar riff that started the song and we began working on the verse and B section. The chorus was a little tough to crack but we did. Lyrically, it’s the story of me coming to New York City.

There’s been talk of you joining Foreigner for their 40th anniversary tour this summer for at least one show. Can you confirm this?

GRAMM: Yes. It’s being planned. Right now, we’re trying to pick the best night and venue. I’m not at liberty to say where it could be, but I can say it’s going to be a ton of fun.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lou Gramm & Michael Staertow Here!

Styx on a ‘Mission’: Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young Talk New Album and United We Rock Tour

Photo By Jason Powell

The Mission is classic rock giant Styx’s 16th studio album and their first disc of new material in more than 14 years.

The concept album—which will be released June 16—is an adventurous, 43-minute thrill ride chronicling the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in 2033.

From the hopeful drive and classic Styx sound on tracks like “Gone Gone Gone” and “Hundred Million Miles” to the stargazing machinations of “Locomotive” and the elegiac optimism of the closing track, “Mission to Mars,” The Mission succeeds in delivering the good from a band that continues to fire on all cylinders more than 45 years after signing their first recording contract.

Styx features Tommy Shaw (guitars/vocals), Lawrence Gowan (keyboards/vocals), James “JY” Young (guitar/vocals), Todd Sucherman (drums), Ricky Phillips (bass) and Chuck Panozzo (bass).

I recently spoke with Shaw and Young about The Mission, music and the band’s upcoming United We Rock Tour with REO Speedwagon and Don Felder.

It’s been more than 14 years since Styx’s last studio album, Cyclorama. How did The Mission begin?

SHAW: Things have changed so much in just the past decade. It used to be you’d spend a lot of time in the studio and then go out and tour for three months. Now, it’s in a way that’s favorable to having band like us recording again. Even though radio has disappeared, so many different ways to get to your fans have opened up. It made sense for us to get back into the recording business again.

YOUNG: We also knew we were coming up on the 40th anniversary of The Grand Illusion, which for me was our most productive, progressive time frame and our most successful as well. There’s elements of that album as well as Pieces of Eight on this record.

What was the songwriting process like?

SHAW: For me, the best songs are the ones that come to you. It’s like you just walked into a room and they were already playing on a radio. This album started out as a little acorn that fell to the ground and took root. That acorn [“Mission to Mars”] was an idea that came to me in a dressing room playing around on a warm-up amp. It had a setting with a little echo and I started playing this guitar riff. I liked it and recorded it on my phone and then later built a demo around it. One thing Styx is good about is talking about things you’re going through in life. No matter what the subject is, there’s always a human element to it. That’s when I realized this was something Styx could do.

What can you tell me about “Gone Gone Gone”?

SHAW: That was another dressing-room idea. James Young is one of these guys where you always have to pay attention when he first puts his guitar on, because a lot of times he’ll spew these amazing ideas out when he’s warming up. It’s like they come out of thin air. He had been playing this riff for a few days, and I finally asked him to show me how to play it. So, we started playing it together and then Lawrence walked into the room and he said, “Alright, somebody make this into a song!” We knew all along that this had to be the [album’s] opening song. It’s the perfect way to open the album and start the show.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Tommy Shaw and JY Young Here

Actress Fiona Dourif Talks ‘Cult of Chucky’, ‘Dirk Gently’ and Career Moments

Photo by: Ryan West

Whether she’s portraying the frail but formidable paraplegic, Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”, the crazed assassin, Bart Curlish, in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” or the young nurse, Diane Jones, in the ABC mini-series, “When We Rise”, Fiona Dourif has proven that her versatility and talent as an actress is as genuine as the person she is in real life.

The beautiful Dourif will soon reprise her role as Nica in the upcoming horror/slasher film, “Cult of Chucky”; the seventh entry in the “Child’s Play” franchise scheduled to be released in October. The film, written and directed by series creator, Don Mancini, also reunites Fiona with her real-life father, Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) and features Alex Vincent (from the original “Child’s Play”) and Jennifer Tilly (“Bride of Chucky”, “Seed of Chucky”).

I recently spoke with Dourif and got a sneak peek at “Cult of Chucky”, the second season of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview. 

It’s been four years since we’re seen you as Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”. Was this new film, “Cult of Chucky” something that had always been planned?

I think Don [Mancini] is always thinking about ways to re-invent the franchise, even though he may not have a set timeline for it. It’s his life’s work. So, there was definitely talk about it on the set of the last film. I even remember Don coming up with idea of the mental asylum while we were shooting the last movie. With this new movie, he combines the old with the new, but it’s not a reboot. It’s a reinvention. It’s seeing Chucky in a way we’ve never seen before. There are definitely some surprises and I’m excited to see what people think.

What was it about the script that originally attracted you to the role of Nica?

I feel very close to the franchise in a way that’s there no parallel. When I was initially given the script, I auditioned for the role of Nica’s sister, Barb. But after watching my tape, Don said there was a quality in my performance that was right for Nica. It wasn’t obvious to me at first but they had me come in to audition and through the process made me understand that my own instincts as a person were very similar to Nica’s. But everything about the project attracted me. The idea that I could lead a franchise I felt this close to and to do something with my dad was an utter dream come true. It was my first studio film and a coming of age for me.

What makes horror such a great genre?

I think it’s fun to feel afraid. It takes up all of your attention in a way that’s exhilarating. It’s a baseline human experience and when you dive into it, it’s like riding a roller coaster.

What are some of the biggest challenges of playing Nica?

 Horror itself is challenging because you have to bring a lot of energy to it. Nica goes through some very dark places, so there was a lot of trying to find freedom in the idea that everyone you love is dying in front of you. Working with the dolls can also get challenging because Chucky gets a lot of takes. You’re also working with a puppet that has six people in green suits around you. There’s someone controlling his eyebrows, someone controlling his lips, someone controlling the way his mouth moves, two people controlling his arm movement. You’re acting in this high intensity moment and in order to make the moment correct all six people have to be in sync together. So, if it’s a two-shot and Chucky’s getting twenty-six takes, you have to keep that energy and terror alive for all twenty-six. I remember getting home from those first days shooting with Chucky and just being a puddle on the floor [laughs]!

Without giving too much away, how would you describe “Cult of Chucky”?

“Cult of Chucky” is like a Chucky movie on drugs. I think that’s the way Don describes it. It’s a psychedelic, hospital movie with a lot of surprises. We’re going to see Chucky in a way we haven’t seen him before. It’s going to be fun. 

What’s it like working with Don Mancini?

Don is a really generous director. He’ll let me bring to it what I think is right and then he’ll come in with opinions and an intelligence that I find very rewarding. We became good friends on the last movie and this year there was a fun synergy between us. I feel very close to this franchise and where the story goes. It’s fun to be able to make something with Don that people really dig.

When did you realize that acting would be your calling?

I remember the exact moment. I had been working on documentaries for a production company for The History Channel when I got the opportunity to take an acting class. I was doing an improv of a pizza delivery scene and when I got up there and performance kicked in it was the most exhilarating thing in the world. That’s when I thought if I could do this with my life, what could possibly be better?

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

 I’m in Vancouver shooting “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, which is in its second season with BBC America and Netflix with Elijah Wood and Max Landis at the helm. I play a “Beetlejuice-like” monster who is the assassin of the universe. I’m this dirty, creature and the least sexualized feminine character that has ever been written. It’s maybe my favorite character I’ve ever played.

What can fans expect from the new season?

Mayhem! Max is a very smart, emotional writer. Sometimes the show feels like a graphic novel in the best possible way.

What’s the best bit of advice your dad’s given you as an actor?

There are kernels of things he’s said to me over the years that have become clearer in my journey. I remember a piece of advice I think about now-a-days with “Dirk Gently”. He said this cryptic thing: “You just have to step over the line.” The more I think about what he meant by that is more crystalized for me now.

 Would you like to work with your father on another project at some point?

We talk about that all the time and would love to do something together. There hasn’t been a project yet that’s worked but I would really love that. It would be a gift.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

I’m most excited about finding more freedom in the chances I get to perform. Like anything, the more you do something the better you are at it and the freer you become. It’s a fun ride and I’m so incredibly lucky.

Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach Talks New Solo Album, ‘Waiting On a Song’

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done, but it still makes sense.”

That’s how nine-time Grammy winner Dan Auerbach describes his new album, Waiting On a Song, which will be released June 2 on his own Easy Eye Sound label.

Waiting On a Song is the followup to the Black Keys frontman’s 2009 solo debut, Keep It Hid. It’s also a love letter to Nashville; Auerbach recruited some of the town’s most respected players to write and record for the new project, including John Prine, Duane Eddy and Bobby Wood. Even Mark Knopfler contributes his own snaky, snarling guitar to “Shine On Me,” which you can hear below.

Other standout tracks include the cinematic “King of a One Horse Town” and the upbeat but melancholy title track. The song’s music video—which was directed by Bryan Schlam—reinforces that perspective by following a group of teens during the “best summer of their lives” before they head off to college.

I recently spoke with Auerbach about Waiting On a Song, songwriting, his gear and more.

When you experience Waiting On a Song as a whole, there are so many different styles and influences from the Sixties and Seventies that come across. Was that the intent?

A lot of what you’re hearing is the guys from those records that you remember listening to, like Bobby Wood, who plays Wurlitzer on this record, also played on hits by Elvis and Dusty Springfield. When you listen to this record you’re not being reminded of a certain style. You’re actually listening to the guy who created the style.

What’s your songwriting process like?

It all depends. Sometimes, you have a melody first or a lyric, and other times it can just be a title and you can write a whole song based on it. What I do know is that every single song on this record was done in an old-school, “songwriter” way of getting into a room with someone and writing a song on acoustic guitar or just on a piano. I’m so used to having the studio be a part of the writing process, but not on this record. Everything was done ahead of time, which is really interesting because it was the first time I’ve ever done that.

When I was growing up, we’d sit around in a circle and play guitar and sing bluegrass and blues songs. Now, I’m sitting in a circle with the guys who wrote many of those bluegrass and blues songs and we’re writing together. Even though it was the first time I did it, something about it felt very natural.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with the title track.

I’ve got a little room over at my house that we started writing in last summer. I spent the whole summer in that room just writing, and I wrote that one with John Prine and Pat McLaughlin. The concept for the video was director Bryan Schlam’s idea. He executed it so well. Even if you didn’t grow up during that time period, everything those guys and girls are doing makes you feel nostalgic. There’s something warm about the video, but the feeling of it really matches the song in an uplifting, melancholy way.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Dan Auerbach by Clicking Here

‘Defying Gravity’: Paul Gilbert Discusses Mr. Big’s New Album and His Improving Improvisational Skills

Photo by: William Hames

The call went out: It was time for a new Mr. Big album.

And with that, original members Eric Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums)—along with Matt Starr (drums)—convened in a Los Angeles recording studio. In a matter of six days, the band’s ninth original studio album, Defying Gravity. was born.

Produced by Kevin Elson, who’s worked with Mr. Big on their classic albums from the Eighties and Nineties, Defying Gravityfeatures inspired songwriting, virtuostic musicianship and most importantly, tasty fretwork. In fact, most of Gilbert’s solos were tracked live with the band, showcasing the development of his improvisational skills in both melodic and face-melting ferocity.

I recently spoke with Gilbert about Defying Gravity (which will be released July 7), gear and the upcoming G4 Experience.

Where did the idea for Defying Gravitybegin?

We really wanted to do a new album and tour, and it was just a matter of coordinating our schedules. Back in the early days, Mr. Big was the only thing any of us did. Now that we all have different solo projects and bands that we play in, it’s a bit trickier to coordinate. We wound up having six golden days where everyone was free.

On the last album [The Stories We Could Tell], we did a lot overdubs and later realized the best way for us to work is live in the studio. There was a good energy and it was quick enough where we didn’t overthink things. It put us in a good state of mind and we had such an enjoyable time.

Did your approach to guitar change much for this album?

I’ve been working on my improvisational skills, and I think that’s something that’s starting to show on this record. When you record an album in six days, you don’t have time to work out a lot of stuff. So a lot of the solos were improvised. But it’s not necessarily about flashy licks. It’s also about harmonically locking in and playing the right note at the right time. I think I was able to do that more than ever before.

What was it like working with Kevin Elson again?

It was fantastic. We had so many good memories of working with him on those four classic albums. Kevin has a great ear and is very mellow, but he’s also very supportive. Because we worked so quickly, a lot of times we didn’t even have time for demos. So when you brought a song to the band you had to do a buskers version for the first time in front of everyone. It can be scary because you’re thinking, “What are they going to think?” But at the end, everyone said let’s work on it. So it went from that raw, one-man band version to a complete track within a few hours.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Paul Gilbert By Clicking Here

Bassist Jerry Dixon Talks New Warrant Album, ‘Louder Harder Faster’

Photo by: Stephen Jensen

Since releasing their classic debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, in 1989, hard rock giants Warrant have gone on to sell more than 8 million albums.

And while songs like “Down Boys,” “Heaven,” “I Saw Red” and “Cherry Pie” have cemented their place in Eighties metal history, it’s their tight musicianship, inspired songwriting and perseverance that sets them apart.

Six years after the release of their last album, Rockaholic (the first to feature new frontman, Robert Mason), Warrant return with yet another slab of muscular hard rock, Louder Harder Faster, which was released May 12.

Produced by Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, ex-Dokken), the new album is full of the familiar rockers and signature ballads the band is known for. Warrant is Erik Turner (guitar), Jerry Dixon (bass), Joey Allen (guitar), Steven Sweet (drums) and Robert Mason (vocals).

I recently spoke with Dixon about Louder Harder Faster, gear and Warrant’s decision to record a rocking cover of Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”

If you had to describe Louder Harder Faster in one word, what would it be?
Raw. There’s not a lot of repair work on this album or fixing things with ProTools. We all just got in the room and captured the magic without worrying about it being completely perfect. Sometimes when you’re in the studio worrying about wave forms and where they are on a bridge you can actually do damage to a record. We just decided to just say, “Does it feel good? Yeah? Ok, let’s move on.”

Has Warrant’s songwriting process changed much over the years?
I like to think songs just go though you. Sometimes songs can come from just walking down the street, like the song “Big Sandy.” I remember I was going to Robert’s house to write another song when I went by this big empty wash that was called the Big Sandy Wash. It just cracked me up and I said, “There’s a song, right there.” So, you take things like that, get on to something and then try to finish it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jerry Dixon by Clicking Here!

Gretchen Menn Is Primed for Zepparella’s Malibu Guitar Festival Performance

Zepparella, the all-female rock band that dares to channel the almighty Led Zeppelin through their own improvised magic, will perform at the Third Annual Malibu Guitar Festival, which runs May 18 through 21.

The festival pays homage to the Rolling Stones, a band fronted by two of rock and roll’s biggest icons—Mick Jagger and Keith Richards—both of whom have defined the look, attitude and sound of rock for more than five decades.

Other acts scheduled to perform include Steve Vai, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band and Hunter Hayes. Robby Krieger of the Doors will receive a special honor in celebration of the iconic American band’s 50th anniversary.

Zepparella, which features Gretchen Menn (guitar), Clementine (drums), Angeline Saris (bass) and Noelle Doughty (vocals), blend a diverse array of influences ranging from speed metal to classical to jazz, R&B and rock—all of which is channelded into a top-notch Led Zep tribute experience. The group also is featured in the upcoming documentary, She Rocks.

Menn is still riding the wave from her acclaimed solo conceptual project, Abandon All Hope, an album based on Dante Alighieri’s epic 14th-century poem, Inferno.

I recently spoke with Menn about the Malibu Guitar Festival, Zepparella, her music and more.

How has reaction been to your solo release, Abandon All Hope?
It’s been great. I assumed that by its nature it might be specific in its audience. But I recently had a supporter in Germany who bought it for his 78-year-old mom who wasn’t into rock at all, and he told me she absolutely loved it. On the flip side, I have a 6-year-old nephew who’s at an age where’s he’s not shy to tell you exactly what he thinks, and he loved it as well. I’m so glad it’s reaching and affecting so many people.

What can you tell me about Zepparella’s upcoming show at Malibu Guitar Festival?
It’s going to be a little different from a normal Zepparella show. Once in a while, we’ll have someone sit in with us for songs like “When the Levee Breaks” and “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” This show will be different because we’re going to be playing with a bunch of different people. Initially, we thought we were going to be the house band and play other people’s stuff. But Steve Vai said, “Let’s play some Zeppelin!” Can he be any more awesome? [laughs].

What’s it like for you to be able to share the stage with Vai?
I’m trying not to be completely freaked out about it [laughs]. Steve’s a guitar god, and it’s an incredible honor. When you’re 15, it’s something you never dream of. It all comes from a positive space.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Gretchen Mann by Clicking Here!

‘We Start Wars’: Vocalist Seana Discusses Band’s Infectious Debut Single and Performance At The Whisky A Go Go

We Start Wars, the new band which features guitar goddess Nita Strauss along with Nicole Papastavrou (eight-string guitar), Alicia Vigil (bass), Seana—a.k.a. Shauna Lisse (vocals), Katt Scarlett (keyboards) and Lindsay Martin (drums), prides itself on breaking down the “chick band” stereotype by combining virtuoso playing with multi-layered songwriting and high-energy performance.

The band’s infectious, groove-driven debut single, “The Animal Inside” showcases all of the aforementioned technical and melodic abilities of this adrenaline-fueled sextet as well as delivering something that has never been done before.

We Start Wars will make their live debut on May 25 at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood.

I recently spoke with Seana about We Start Wars, her songwriting, career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did We Start Wars come about?

It actually started with Nita [Strauss]. She’s been dreaming of putting this band together ever since she started playing guitar. She spent a lot of time finding girls by focusing on technique and abilities. I was the last piece of the puzzle. This band has a lot of energy and power and I love the fact that every song is different.

What can you tell me about the band’s debut single, “The Animal Inside”?

The music for the song had already been written, so I just took it and added the lyrics. I based the song off adrenaline. So, the animal in “The Animal Inside” is adrenaline. Adrenaline affects us all and gives us the strength and power to do whatever needs to be done. Whether it’s a wrestler before stepping into the ring or an artist taking the stage or an audience waiting for a show to start, it was inspired by that feeling. That adrenaline rush. It’s also a great way to introduce ourselves.

As an artist, what’s your writing process like?

My songwriting process is eclectic and no process is ever the same, which is actually what makes being in a band so awesome. I’ve written songs alone and have taken tracks home and added lyrics and melodies. I’ve also collaborated with other members and have hooks and melodies that come to me in dreams. No song is the same and that’s what keeps it interesting. As far as inspiration, I’m inspired by life, death and this whole crazy ride we’re on together. I like my songs to leave a person feeling like they always have a place to come back to. Whether it’s a place where you can get pumped up, laugh or cry I like talking about things in life and am not afraid to talk about the sad because life isn’t always perfect. I like to keep it real.

 What can fans expect from We Start Wars’ debut at The Whisky?

This is our first show, so expect lots of adrenaline and high energy. We have a lot to prove and we’re going to prove it on stage at that show. I’m stoked!

Was a career in music something you always aspired to have?

For the most part. I always saw singing as a hobby until Amy Lee and Evanescence showed up on the scene. That was a game changer. She made me think of my singing as something I could make a career out of. I decided then and there that I would work really hard and never give up.

Who are some of your other musical influences?

Prior to Amy Lee, I was influenced by Pink Floyd, who were life changing for me. My first best friend was my grandpa who passed away when I was four. He had this room where we used to play together and after he was gone, I remember sitting in the room by myself listening to the radio and Pink Floyd’s “Time” was playing. It was the first time I understood that music was more than just words and instruments. It was therapy. Other influences would be Jewel, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Heart and Rage Against The Machine. My grandmother was a piano teacher and was also a big influence on me.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I have a pop project I’m working on which is just my name, Seana, and have a few songs recorded that I’m piecing together. It’s definitely different than my rock stuff, but I love all kinds of music. I did vocal jazz in school and went to college for vocal performance where there was a lot of opera.

What are you most looking forward to about this next phase of your career with We Start Wars?

I’m excited to share this experience with other amazingly talented ladies. I’ve never been in an all-girl band before and am looking forward to sharing the stage with other strong-willed, talented women.

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