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Author Archives: James Wood

‘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

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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.

‘Voyeur’: Writer/Director Delaney Bishop Discusses Coachella-Themed Thriller

Delaney Bishop

Terrorized at multiple stops on a road trip to Joshua Tree, three friends realize something unexpected is pulling the strings.

Voyeur” is the feature-length thriller written and directed by Delaney Bishop. The film includes a diverse cast that includes Riker Lynch (“Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars” and founding member of R5), Ayla Kell (“Make It or Break It”), Lisseth Chavez (Netflix’s “One Day at A Time”) and Robert Romanus (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”). In addition to an inspired script and the unique use of cameras Bishop promises “Voyeur” will also have a cinematic twist that’s never been done before.

Bishop and his partner, Felix Brenner have begun a Kickstarter campaign for fans to help push “Voyeur” to completion. Perks for supporting the film include everything from social media shout outs, posters and screenings to an executive producer credit. Bishop and Brenner’s past collaborations include the award-winning films, “The Death of Salvador Dali” and “Metermaid”.

I recently spoke with Delaney Bishop about “Voyeur”, his career and more in this exclusive new interview.

Where did the idea for “Voyeur” begin? How did the project originate?

It was actually inspired by two trips I took to Joshua Tree. On the first trip, I noticed there were some kids up on the rocks that seemed to have less than benevolent intentions. They were terrorizing people, and the people really had no recourse because they were so far away from civilization and cell phone reception. It got me thinking, this terrain could be very dangerous if someone had bad intensions and was able to track someone down.

The second trip was more of a magical one where we went to the Integratron. It’s located on what’s supposed to be a cosmic gathering point in the desert and is said to have a lot of mystical properties. When I came out of there the idea really came into place and the story unfolded in my head. I was able to get home and write the entire outline in a few hours and wrote the first draft in about three weeks. I teamed up with my partner, Felix Brenner, who’s worked with me on a number of short films. We said let’s do it and that was it. We were up and running.

How would you describe the story of “Voyeur”?

It’s the story of three young friends who take a trip to Joshua Tree desert to hike, spend the night in Palm Springs and attend the festival. But something is following them in the shadows and their trip quickly turns to terror as they’re mysteriously harassed by the same people everywhere they go. The twist reveals that everything was happening for a reason and something very close to home is pulling the strings. 

What was the casting and filming process like?

We had a relationship with a manager who represented Riker Lynch and Ayla Kell. When they were cast that’s when the whole project became real and something I could visualize much more easily. They were absolutely perfect. We also have Lisseth Chavez, who I had auditioned before for another project and Jennifer Blanc, who’s done a lot of horror. We were looking for a father for the three brothers in the film and Robert Romanus was perfect. The whole cast and crew was incredible. It was a very positive set and a lot of fun.

Were there any challenges you experienced during filming?

Part of the twist in the film involves the cameras. There’s a secret that’s revealed at the end that had to consciously be avoided during every scene. There was a certain way we had to shoot in order to hide certain things. The framing was very crucial and quite challenging.

What made you decide to begin a Kickstarter campaign?

With some of the effects that we’re doing and the intricate sound design, we really wanted it to be a notch above what we had originally budgeted for. So we decided to reach out to friends and fans and bring it into the community. So far, it’s been going great.

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

My father was a director and by the time I was sixteen it was pretty much all that I knew how to do. I was taking a lot of pictures and writing quite a bit and went straight to film school while still in high school. It’s always been my passion and something I’ve always been working toward. There was never an alternative.

What excites you the most about “Voyeur”?

We worked so hard on this film and there are things that have never been done before as far as the reveal and the twist. It’s a bold turn that we take but I think people are ready for it. It’s like piecing together a puzzle and I can’t wait for people to see and appreciate how intricate the puzzle is and recognize how much planning went into the story and the way of shooting. Because the technology and the cameras in the film play such a big role this had to be a film and not a novel or an essay. The way of shooting goes hand in hand with the story and I can’t wait for people to have a conversation about it.

For more information on “Voyeur”, Click Here

‘Love Set Run’: Andre and Sierra Mercier Discuss Inspiring New Project

Sierra was a competitive figure skater. Andre, an animation expert and filmmaker. Both had their own dreams of making a mark in the world. But it wasn’t until a chance encounter in the heart of Los Angeles led them to begin a journey together. One of love, inspiration, hope and a desire to do something for the greater good.

Although known for volunteering their time to various causes, their passion project, Love Set Run is more like a way of living. It stands for taking action to spread a message of love, unity, and the interconnectedness of everything.

This summer, Andre and Sierra Mercier will continue that mission. Traveling around the globe volunteering and giving back everywhere that they go. Along the way, they’ll be documenting their travels for a web series they hope will inspire others.

The couple’s five-month journey will take them to eight countries on five different continents. From volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica, visiting a monkey sanctuary and partaking in a spiritual ritual in Peru and even working with locals in Bandipur, Nepal. Each destination chosen to make a positive impact in some way.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of Sierra and Andre’s story isn’t so much the beautiful places in the world they’ll be visiting, but the selfless love and compassion they have for each other and the world. Their drive to do something for the greater good proves that offering something as simple as your time can be the greatest reward in giving back.

I recently spoke with Sierra and Andre about Love Set Run and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the two of you meet?

Sierra:  We both moved to L.A. for the entertainment industry. I was a competitive figure skater and trained in California and Salt Lake City but had an injury that ended my skating career. I began doing other things that interested me and found a new passion with acting. So I moved back home to save money to move to L.A. I had met a family while I was visiting L.A. and planned to live in their guest home temporarily until I found a place to live but there was a miscommunication and on the day I drove in, I found out that I could only stay a few weeks. So I frantically started looking for a place and saw an ad for a room that piqued my interest. I called the number and left a message— it was Andre. I went to see the place and we both hit it off. We became friends and few weeks later I moved in as a roommate. We spent some time getting to know each other but it was pretty clear that there was something other than “friends” flying through the air.

What else can you tell me about your love story?

Andre: About a week after Sierra moved in I asked her to be my girlfriend and a month after that we decided that we were going to get married. Shortly after I proposed, Sierra’s mom suggested that we apply to a few online contests where they were giving away honeymoon packages. Sierra found out that TheKnot.com was having a contest for a dream wedding in New York. The idea was to create a video on why your love story was unique and romantic. I was skeptical at first but Sierra encouraged me to use my video making skills to make a video. A few weeks later we found out that we had been selected as one of the finalists. Fan voting determined the winner and we wound up getting the most votes. The wedding was at Bryant Park in the winter and we flew in a bunch of friends and family. Everything about the wedding was voted on by the public—from the dress to the cake to the decor and rings.

Our vows were aimed towards creating a positive impact to the world and giving back more than we receive. We knew that we weren’t able to give a lot monetarily, but we could give a lot with our time and spread our message. So on our honeymoon we did tsunami cleanup relief in Japan, visited an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and worked with an orphanage in Bali. That was the first of our charity travel ideas. That’s when we said let’s see more of the world and do more volunteer work, because it feels good to give back.

Was there a defining moment on that trip? 

Sierra: Sometimes, volunteer opportunities are unexpected. I remember we were traveling in Japan after a major typhoon. We were walking along a path where waters had flooded and local people were there trying to block the flood and transporting sandbags. We just stepped in and helped them. Then a little while later it started to rain and we noticed a local business shoveling mud and rocks out of their business and moving sandbags to keep it from flooding. We just went in, picked up some shovels and started hauling out debris. We were hot and sweaty and wet but it felt so good to help people. The most amazing part of that whole experience was that while were doing it, other tourists that were walking by saw what we were doing and offered to help as well. As two people, we can only make so much of an impact, but it’s the ripple effect it can cause that makes it so special. If what we do can inspire four people to make a positive difference, then maybe those four people will inspire four more people. It made me realize that’s what Love Set Run is all about. 

How do you plan to document your journey for Love Set Run?

Andre: Throughout our travels we’ll be posting vignettes and snippets to Instagram and Facebook. We’ve also got a blog going on our website that we’ll be posting to regularly. Once we get back, we’ll start editing the full web series, most likely one episode per country. We’re also considering doing a full feature out of it.

What satisfies you the most about giving back?

Sierra: It’s engrained in my soul that my duty here in this lifetime is to help others. To light a lantern and be a light to the world. It’s just feels so natural for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

Andre: It’s gratifying to give back and help others. It’s a selfless act that rewards you. It also feels good to inspire other people. We’ve heard from people who tell us that our love story has inspired them to not settle for anything less. So if we can inspire friends and family through our work, then maybe the next time they go on a trip they’ll be inspired to volunteer. What’s satisfying is that you can create a ripple effect of positive energy and impact. The world needs more of that. 

Is there a message you’d like people to take away from the journey you’re about to undertake?

Sierra: A message I really want people to feel is realizing that the more love you give, the more you’ll receive.

Wendy Dio Discusses This Year’s Ride for Ronnie Charity Event

Wendy Dio and the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund will present the third-annual Ride for Ronnie this Sunday, May 7.

The event kicks off at Harley Davidson of Glendale, California, and ends in Encino with a live concert, auction and dining at Los Encinos State Historic Park.

This year’s event is hosted by Dio’s longtime friend, Eddie Trunk, and the lineup includes performances by Lynch Mob, Dio Disciples, Eddie Money, Rough Cutt and an all-star band featuring Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses). There’ll be a silent auction at one of the exhibit booths throughout the afternoon while live auctions—featuring one-of-a-kind rock collectibles—will take place between performances.

Last year’s event raised more than $50,000 for the cancer charity, and 100 percent of funds goes to cancer research and education.

I recently spoke with Wendy Dio about this year’s Ride for Ronnie and more.

When did the idea for Ride for Ronnie begin?

It really began when we were trying to raise money for cancer and keep Ronnie’s legacy alive. When we did the fifth memorial for Ronnie, we realized there were a lot of people coming in from Sweden, Italy and from all over the US. We decided to try to find something for them to do over the weekend and at the same time help raise more money. So we came up with the idea of putting together a bowling event the day before and having a Ride for Ronnie the day after. Harley Davidson from Glendale came on board as our sponsor, and it was so successful and we had so much fun that we said this is great idea.

At the first one, we had about 150 riders and 500 people. Last year, we had 350 riders and 1,500 people in attendance and raised more than $50,000. We’re hoping this year to have more people and do even better. We have a great lineup, and it will be fun day for everyone keeping Ronnie’s music and memory alive while raising money for cancer research and education.

How does the Ride for Ronnie work?

“Kickstands Up” will start at the Harley Davidson in Glendale and then we’ll ride with a police escort ride to Encino where we’ll have bands playing. But people don’t have to ride to be a part of the event. They can just buy a ticket to come into the show—it’s $25 pre-sale and $35 on the day of the event.

What can you tell me about this year’s entertainment? 

Eddie Trunk, who’s been a great supporter of heavy metal music and a great friend of Ronnie’s, is hosting again. We’ve got Lynch Mob, Dio Disciples, Eddie Money, a re-formed Rough Cutt, the Loveless, Sonia Harley and No Small Children. We also have a surprise—Steven Adler recently came on board and is putting together an all-star band to do some Guns N’ Roses songs. There also will be vendors, food trucks, beer and wine, live and silent auctions and raffles, with items that include a signed Great White guitar as well as a bundle of Black Sabbath and Dio stuff.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Wendy Dio by Clicking Here!

The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic Talk New Album, ‘In Spades’

The Afghan Whigs‘ spellbinding new album, In Spades, which will be released May 5, is the long-awaited followup to their internationally acclaimed Do to the Beast (2014).

The album, which was written and produced by Greg Dulli, features the tastefully eclectic singles “Demon in Profile” and “Oriole”—both of which you can hear below—plus the guitar-centric “Arabian Heights.”

In addition to an already-planned European tour, the Whigs will perform a sold-out show at New York City’s Apollo Theater on May 23.

Unfortunately, the new album and tour happen to coincide with Dave Rosser’s recent cancer diagnosis. Although Rosser is unable to tour for extended periods, the guitarist promises to perform at the Apollo show—and maybe even a few other dates.

The Afghan Whigs are Greg Dulli (vocals/guitar), Dave Rosser (guitar), Jon Skibic (guitar), John Curley (bass), Patrick Keeler (drums) and multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson.

I recently spoke with Dulli, Rosser and Skibic about In Spades, touring, gear and more.

How would you describe In Spades, and how does it relate to the band’s previous work?

DULLI: Honestly, it’s the next evolution. This is the first record we’ve done live in the studio together in 20 years.

ROSSER: It’s pretty guitar-centric and there’s lot of riffing, but it’s still very cinematic. With Rick Nelson in there, we’ve got the multi-instrumentalist who plays violin, cello, piano and guitar.

What was the songwriting process like? 

DULLI: I write songs based on the feeling of the riff. The riff and its subsequent arrangement then tells me what it wants to be. I’ve written that way since I was 13. But I’ll never tell anyone what my songs are about, because I feel songs are personal to the listener—and the interpretation is up to them.

SKIBIC: It was a pretty organic process. Out first session was about two weeks long, and at times it seemed we were writing a song a day.

ROSSER: A lot of times during sound checks we’ll jam out to ideas and record them. The time in between albums and touring is spent collecting ammo and then after that, it becomes a matter of finding targets to fire that ammo at.

Read the rest of my
Interview with The Afghan Whigs by Clicking Here!

From Metal to Modern Art: Jason Newsted Talks Upcoming Exhibit, Metallica and More

After suffering a shoulder injury in 2006 and being unable to play, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted decided to put down his instrument and pick up a brush. It was during this time that he began to express himself through painting. Since then, he’s become an accomplished modern artist.

Newsted’s trademark style includes mixing soil—from wherever he happens to be painting—into his acrylics, creating a highly dramatic effect.

Although he’s kept a fairly low profile following Metallica’s 2009 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his successful Newsted project, nearly a dozen of Newsted’s uniquely inspired works will be on exhibit as part of this year’s Art New York.

Art Miami, the leading producer of international contemporary and modern art fairs, will present the third edition of Art New York and the second edition of CONTEXT New York at Pier 94 May 3 through May 7. The two highly anticipated fairs will showcase more than 120 international contemporary and modern galleries from 50 countries.

I recently spoke with Newsted about his upcoming exhibit, Metallica and more.

How did you become involved in this year’s Art New York?

I had the chance to meet with the owner of Art Miami. He loves metal, and after we hung out he saw some of the pictures I had and invited me. So I’ve been traveling around to different parts of the country these last few weeks getting canvases together from the past seven to eight years. It’s my first time in an international exhibit, and I’m very excited about it.

Was art something you were always interested in as a child?

I grew up in a rural area and took some classes when I was younger. That was where I was first introduced to acrylics and mixing colors together. Then about three years later, I got hit by music and everything else went on the back burner for 30 solid years.

When did you get back into painting?

Once I got in Metallica and started working on other projects, I was always keeping myself super-busy doing a lot of things and moving around a lot of gear. I wound up injuring my shoulders and needing surgery. During my recovery, I was disabled from playing my instrument in any way I had been used to, and I had to learn to use both of my hands out of necessity. For me, music was a full-time thing, and when I wasn’t able to release that way, I started using my hands to get out all of the creative energy I had usually put into the music.

I was in Montana at our ranch with only one arm going and felt the need to go out in the barn and paint. I found these old drum heads and whatever paint was lying around—Rust-Oleum and John Deere green and yellow. I turned the drum head over and oozed the paint in. Then I soaked a snow brush in the color and splattered the paint onto whatever I was painting on.

I got to the point to where I wouldn’t even have to touch the canvas to make circles, faces and figures. That was the introduction. Then as my arms got better, I started touching the canvas more. That’s how the transference of the energy went from the fucking metal monster to putting it on canvas. The consensus from people who have the works is that the paintings look like the music sounds.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Jason Newsted by Clicking Here!

Nita Strauss and Nicole Papastavrou Discuss Their New Band, We Start Wars

“The Animal Inside” is the groove-driven, debut song from We Start Wars, a new, all-female band led by Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss.

The band—which also features 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 being a “chick band” that breaks down stereotypes while combining virtuoso playing with multi-layered songwriting and high-energy performance.

Strauss has always been fascinated by the idea of the female warrior, and admits We Start Wars is the band she’s been wanting to build ever since she first picked up the guitar.

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

I recently spoke with Strauss and Papastavrou about We Start Wars, their debut single, gear and more.

How did We Start Wars come together?

STRAUSS: I’ve been trying to put this band together since I started playing guitar. I’ve always felt that female musicians were under-represented in the music scene. It’s not that they weren’t out there, it’s just that there wasn’t a lot of all-female bands getting notoriety, especially ones with good technique and musicianship. I started out looking for great musicians and great performers that cold elevate the status of the female musician. I met Nicole at a NAMM show a few years ago and after we started talking we realized we had very similar views. It was an instant connection and it’s cool that we’ve finally gotten a chance to work together.

How would you describe the band’s sound? 

PAPASTAVROU: I’d say it’s super melodic metal but also has a little bit of something for everyone. We wanted to broaden our audience not do anything too aggressive, but there’s still a little bit of heaviness in there.

STRAUSS: There’s a lot of crossover appeal. Nicole and I probably have the heaviest influences in the band, but when it comes down to it we make music a lot of people can enjoy.

Why the name, We Start Wars?

STRAUSS: I’ve had that phrase stuck in my head for at least 10 years. I remember being in school when one of the teachers said to us, “The greatest wars in history were fought over a beautiful woman.” I just remember thinking how badass that was. The concept of how the love and honor of a woman was worth putting everything on the line for. I also love the aesthetic and idea of the female warrior and someone who can fight her own battles and not have to depend on anyone for anything. That’s a lot of what this band is all about.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Nita Strauss and Nicole Papastavrou Here!

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