Category: A Conversation With

Interview: Shinedown’s Brent Smith & Zach Myers Preview Relevant Tracks From Forthcoming Smith & Myers Duo

Photo: Paris Visone

Read the rest of my
Interview with Brent Smith & Zach Myers By Clicking Here.

Phil X: “Livin’ on a Prayer is one of best rock songs ever. I still get goosebumps after playing it hundreds of times!”

Right On The Money is the latest installment from Phil X & The Drills and a dynamic addition to the band’s already explosive discography. The guitar-driven track was recorded at legendary Capitol Studios with Chris Lord Alge and also features Daniel Spree on bass and Brent Fitz on drums.

The new single is separate from The Drills upcoming fifth album, Stupid Good Lookings Vol 2 – it’s a diverse compilation that will feature a different drummer, including Tommy Lee, Liberty DeVitto, Kenny Aronoff and Ray Luzier, on each song.

We recently caught up with Phil X about his new single and Gibson endorsement, as well as an update on the new Bon Jovi album.

Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams were scheduled to tour this summer, but the pandemic cancelled those plans. How have you been spending your time?

“I’ve been keeping busy doing remote sessions in my studio. People will send me their files and I’ll upload the session and lay down the guitars. Then I’ll send them back the session. It keeps my creative chops up. I also feel good about what The Drills are doing right now and being able to include my kids in the video for Right On The Money.”

Speaking of Right On The Money, how did the song come about?

“I do my best writing when I’m driving around. When I’m driving I don’t like to listen to music. I like to listen what’s in my head and one day I had this bouncy riff going on and the phrase Right On The Money.

“It means that no matter what’s going on you just have to stay positive. The song’s an opportunity to lift spirits in this crazy time.”

How did the opportunity to record that track at Capitol Studios come about?

“Chris Lord-Alge is a huge fan of The Drills and he had the opportunity to do a masterclass on recording live bands off the floor at Capitol. So, he called and asked if we’d be interested in coming in and recording three songs. It was a dream come true.

“I’ve done a lot of sessions and my favorites are the ones where everyone is recording together. Anytime I get a chance to do that with my band I just love it.”

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

Interview: Fee Waybill Returns With Guitar-Driven Solo Album, Shares Secrets Behind Tubes Classics

Fee Waybill Rides Again is the legendary Tubes frontman’s first album of solo material in nearly fourteen years and a compilation seven years in the making. Together with longtime collaborator and producer Richard Marx, the duo’s vision of creating a raucous, guitar-driven album has become one that’s both deep in variety and universal appeal.

Led off with the infectious lick of “Faker,” the album combines well-crafted songs and tight musicianship with Waybill’s ubiquitous vocal, which sounds better than ever.

Other standouts on Fee Waybill Rides Again include the hard-charging “Promise Land,” the groovy and hook-laden, “Meant To Be Alone”, and the crossover country vibe on the track, “Still You On The Inside.” A song written by Marx and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger that was originally intended for Chris Daughtry. Featured guests on the new album include guitarists Michael Landau and Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon along with bassists Jason Blynn and Whynot Jansveld.

For longtime fans of classic rock and The Tubes, this seven years in the making album was certainly worth the wait.

Fee Waybill Rides Again is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.

I recently spoke with Waybill about his new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

Can you give me a little background of how this new album came about?

Fee Waybill: Richard [Marx] and I have been friends since 1983, when I met him at a Tubes session. Every summer he and I and his boys would take a vacation to his cabin in Wisconsin. About six years ago we decided to use that time to go into the studio and recorded the song “Faker.” That was when we first came up with the idea of doing another solo record. We wound up doing three other songs during that time, “Woulda Coulda Shoulda,” “Promise Land,” and “How Dare You.” Then life reared its ugly head and we didn’t do another track for almost six years.

Six years seems like a long time in between sessions.

FW: It was, but about a year and a half ago we decided to revisit the album and went back through the archives of songs we had written over the years. We found the track “Say Goodbye,” which we had originally intended to use for one of Richard’s albums. Every time I listened to it I realized what a great song it was and wanted to add it to the list.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Fee Waybill by Clicking Here.

The Go-Go’s: “If you think we’re sweet girls who wrote candy-flavored pop songs, our history is going to be a surprise”

Photo: Paul Natkin

The Go-Go’s Documentary, directed by Alison Ellwood, whose other work includes the Emmy-winning History of the Eagles, chronicles the band’s meteoric rise from the LA punk scene to the world of superstardom.

With rare photos, live footage and shocking revelations, fans will discover the grit and determination behind the band’s early years in the clubs as well as their tumultuous UK tour with The Specials and Madness before returning to the States and becoming the first, and only, all-female band to play their own instruments, write their own songs and have a number 1 album.

The new documentary, which also features candid interviews with both current and former members as well as management, also includes the new song, Club Zero, the first new Go-Go’s recording in nearly 20 years.

Guitar World recently spoke with The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock about the new documentary in this new interview.

How did this documentary come to fruition?

Charlotte Caffey: “We were approached by Alison Ellwood about the idea of doing a documentary. At first, we were a bit nervous because we didn’t want it come across as a salacious ‘behind the music’ kind of thing. Alison did such a great job. It really puts perspective on things. ”

Kathy Valentine: “The documentary gave us a chance to get something out that was a more complete narrative than what was already in the public eye. The band coming out of the L.A. punk rock scene is something that not everyone is aware of.

“Alison and her team compiled all of this fabulous filmed footage. It was challenging but it’s a testament to her skills as a director in putting together an interesting and exciting story.”

Belinda Carlisle: “A documentary is a heavy thing to commit to because your story is cemented forever. It took a while for us to put our trust into Alison but we’re so glad that we did.

“For a person who thinks The Go-Go’s are these sweet girls who wrote candy flavored pop songs, our history is going to be a surprise.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with The Go-Go’s By Clicking Here!

‘Thee Critical Beatdown’: Body Count’s Vincent Price Discusses New Video, Re-issue of ‘No Lives Matter’

Photo: Dirk Behlau

Although many recognize him from his two-decade run as Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, the mild-mannered star of NBC’s “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” Ice-T has played a significant role in music by combining progressive elements of rap, hip-hop and metal. The legendary artist is also not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to issues that continue to plague America.

In light of current events, Ice and his band, Body Count, have released a new radio edit of their single, “No Lives Matter.” A prophetic song which first appeared on the groups ferocious 2017 album, Bloodlust. The track’s message is more relevant than ever and a step towards inspiring transformation and unity.

In another surprise move Body Count has released a new animated music video for their hard-hitting track, “Thee Critical Beatdown,” from their acclaimed album, Carnivore, released this past spring. The visual was created by Tommy The Animator, who also worked with the band in creating the video for “The Ski Mask Way.” “Breakdown” is a warning to the trolls who like to infuse rage while sitting behind a computer screens that their day of reckoning is coming.

I recently spoke with Body Count’s Vincent Price about the music and more in this exclusive new interview.

What frustrates you about what’s going on in society today?

Vincent Price: What’s frustrating to me is what’s being going on in the world for a long time, and that’s people just hating each other. It started a long time ago and, over the years, everyone was thinking it could change. A lot of people don’t really pay attention to Ice’s lyrics, but the truth is he’s been talking about this for a long time and people are just now starting to see it.

What’s the band’s writing process like?

VP: We write the music and Ice writes the lyrics. Some people look at Ice as just an actor or rapper, but he’s a true musician who knows what he wants to hear. He knows all the ins and outs of metal and hard rock.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the band’s latest album, Carnivore. What can you tell me about “Thee Critical Beatdown?”

VP: Whenever we’re working on new material I’ll come up with a working title. At first I was calling it “Gangster Slayer” because it was so heavy. We had been in the process of writing for a while when Ice came in with the lyrics. It’s basically “Talk Shit Get Shot Part 2.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Vincent Price by Clicking Here.

Interview: Playground Sessions CEO Chris Vance Discusses Success of Powerful ‘You Raise Me Up’ Virtual Recital

Playground Sessions’ Chris Vance and Quincy Jones

During the pandemic, when people have been stuck inside their houses, Playground Sessions, in partnership with legendary artist, producer Quincy Jones, offered the world an opportunity to participate in a free class to learn Brendan Graham’s song, “You Raise Me Up” on the piano and perform it together in a Virtual Piano Recital. The goal was to share the joy and gift of music when the world needed it the most.

Using the Playground Sessions platform users learned the song, recorded their performances on video and submitted them for inclusion. What started out as a 30-day virtual lesson culminated into a worldwide, history-making campaign as more than 7,000 musicians of all skill levels took part with nearly 1,000 video submissions

I recently spoke with Chris Vance, Founder and CEO of Playground Sessions about this phenomenal event and more in this exclusive new interview.

Can you give me a little backstory on your own experience with music?

CV: I played the saxophone in elementary school but was always drawn to the sound of the piano. If I ever saw someone playing, I’d be right there watching. Like many people I had a lesson or two, but when that didn’t work out I just went on with my life.

Where did the idea for Playground Sessions originate?

CV: I had been working at P&G doing brand management and being part of the digital team. During that time, I was also learning different languages using a product called Rosetta Stone. I became fascinated with what tech could do in people’s homes. One day I was shopping and saw a Casio keyboard on sale and thought now was the perfect time to try playing again. What I discovered after visiting YouTube and taking private lessons was that all of my practice time was being spent alone with a piece of sheet music. The truth is around 90% of keyboards and guitars purchased are under the bed within thirty days because people are not having success. I fell into that category. That’s when I decided I wanted to create a product that could take the universal desire of playing an instrument and help make it a reality.

How did the partnership with Quincy Jones come about?

CV: Quincy is a huge part of what we’re doing, as is Harry Connick, Jr., who’s one of our teachers. Quincy actually approached us early on after reading an article about us. He had been in an airport and noticed a kiosk filled with Rosetta Stone. For Quincy, music is the universal language, and he wondered where the Rosetta Stone for music was. His team told him about us and he invited me out to meet with him. The rest is history. He’s been a huge influence and sounding board for us and plays a big role in building the product and curriculum.

How does Playground Sessions work?

CV: There are a few core things, the first being how to make the experience of practicing fun. We solved that by building a curriculum that puts people in control and gives them the songs they know and love to learn. Then we leveled everything. So whether you’re just starting out on notes or are more advanced with chords, we surround you with visualization and gamification to keep you engaged and practicing. We also provide backing tracks to help you find success. It’s all genres of music but we’re putting users in control.

Read the rest of my
With Chris Vance by Clicking Here.

‘Heavy Burden’: The Sound of Ghosts Discuss Ethereal New Single

Fresh off the heels of their most recent album, 2018’s Delivery and Departure, L.A.-based Americana-roots collective The Sound of Ghosts is back with their highly-anticipated new single, “Heavy Burden.

The track, diverse in its tempo and rich in sonic texture, was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and the idea of carrying the weight of trauma and pain experienced throughout life.

Lyrically, charismatic vocalist Anna Orbison delivers an emotionally ubiquitous and haunting vocal to the song and takes the listener of a journey of pain and self-awareness. “Heavy Burden” also features a guest performance by trumpeter Paul Litteral, who’s resume includes working with such legends as The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and Billy Joel.

To those not already familiar with The Ghosts, the band’s music blends the best elements of Americana, folk, rock and jazz into one tasty musical stew. Having performed extensively throughout the L.A. area and Pacific Northwest, where they’ve opened for such artists as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Sisterhood and Oingo Boingo, their insatiable music has also been featured nationwide in commercials for major brands.

I recently spoke with The Sound of Ghosts’ Anna and James Orbison about “Heavy Burden” and more in this exclusive new interview.

What’s the band’s songwriting process like?

James Orbison: Every song is different. In the past it would usually start with a riff idea that would be brought to the band and then we’d form it into something that sounds like the Ghosts. Anna has really hit her stride with songwriting and leading the charge with ideas and melodies.

How did the song “Heavy Burden” come about?

Anna Orbison: We write in a lot of different ways but the melody and lyrics of “Heavy Burden” came to me all at the same time. I had been reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth,” and his idea of a “pain body” being the weight we carry around from traumas and pain we’ve experienced throughout our lives. It really stuck with me. When we carry that pain with us into relationships it ends up weighing our partners and our friends down and creating more pain for the people we care about. “Heavy Burden” is a reminder that when we hurt our loved ones it’s coming from our own pain and not from love. Love is not constant pain.

What can you tell me about Paul Litteral’s involvement in the new track?

AO: Paul and I met when I first moved to L.A. almost ten years ago. He’s been playing live shows and on our recordings for the last few years and we’re so very lucky to have him. He’s played with The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Billy Joel, Tom Waits, and so many other incredible artists.

Read the rest of my
Interview with The Sound Of Ghosts By Clicking Here.

Interview: Legendary Songwriter Holly Knight Discusses Her Upcoming Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class, Career

Holly Knight

Songwriter Holly Knight has been the vital force behind the sound of some of rock’s most powerful artists. Her resume includes monster hits by Tina Turner (“Better Be Good To Me,” “The Best”), Pat Benatar (“Love Is A Battlefield”), Patty Smyth (“The Warrior”), John Waite (“Change”), Aerosmith (“Rag Doll”), Heart (“Never”) and Rod Stewart (“Love Touch”).

Knight is one of only a handful of women to be inducted into the coveted Songwriters Hall of Fame, and her songwriting has earned numerous awards, including three Grammys and thirteen ASCAP Awards. The songs she’s written and co-written have appeared on records that total more than 300 million in sales.

Now this legendary artist is sharing her secrets in a special two-part, virtual Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class. In these exclusive sessions, you’ll have the chance to learn and interact with Knight as she shares her experiences writing for some of the biggest names in music. You’ll learn the secrets behind her craft as well as engage in songwriting exercises and learn the skills to creating a demo. Because the class is limited to twenty students, the experience will be even more intimate.

Holly Knight’s Live, Interactive Two-Part Songwriting Masterclass:

Part One will be Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. ET
Part Two will be Sunday, July 12 at 4 p.m. ET

Attendees will receive a Zoom link to the online sessions two days before class.

I recently spoke with Holly Knight about her upcoming two-part Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class and more in this new interview.

What can fans expect from your Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class?

Holly Knight: This is a two-part masterclass. The first session will cover my career, working with different artists like Pat Benatar and Tina Turner as well as the inspiration behind writing songs and lyrics. The second session will be an interactive songwriting workshop that will cover songwriting exercises and a basic overview of how to create a demo.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give to an aspiring songwriter?

HK: Write and keep on writing, and write because you have to. Take your time and don’t put anything out that you’ll go back later and feel embarrassed about. Have a strong constitution and expect to hear a lot of no’s before you hear a lot of yes. Always remember that it’s just their opinion. It doesn’t mean that it’s right. Believe in yourself because when it comes to art there’s no right or wrong.

Was a career in music something you always envisioned for yourself?

HK: Oh yeah. I started playing piano on a serious level when I was four and studied classical for ten years. My mother was grooming me to be a concert pianist but I was more interested in taking my skills and being in a rock band. Growing up it was always my dream to have the privilege of being in a band and making your own music and records. I didn’t want to be rich and famous. I just wanted to be in that private club of having respect among your peers and interacting and playing with them. I never knew I would do that through songwriting.  

What was the catalyst that made you want to focus more on songwriting?

HK: I had always dabbled in songwriting, but it wasn’t until my first band, Spider, had signed a record deal with Mike Chapman that I started taking it more seriously. The songs I wrote for the band during that time were turned in to the label along with everyone else’s, but we made sure to not tell them who wrote which song. That way there would be no bias. What happened was they would always pick my songs as the singles, which created a lot of tension within the band. I eventually decided to leave, but I still wanted to continue working with Mike. He and I had already written our first song together for the second Spider record, but months later the song wound up on Tina Turner’s album, Private Dancer [“Better Be Good To Me”]. That kicked things off. I moved to California to do more songwriting with him and other writers. There was something magical with the way it all lined up.

How does your writing process usually begin?

HK: Titles. For me, a really good title is the roadmap. Once I have the title I’ll pick up an instrument and start playing. If it’s a guitar it might be something like “Better Be Good To Me,” or “Obsession.” If it’s piano it might be something like “The Best.” Piano allows you to concentrate more on the melodies and chords.

Of all the highlights of your career what stands out to you as most memorable.

HKI’ve worked with so many amazing people so there are so many moments. The evening of my induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame was certainly one of them. That year was rocking because you had Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Lou Gramm and Mick Jones. Elton John and Bernie Taupin were also there and I was the only woman. That was memorable for sure. I also remember when I met Tina [Turner] while working with her for the second Mad Max movie. I flew to Europe to meet with her and afterwards she invited to go on tour with her. Getting to sit on a road case on the side of the stage watching her do my song was definitely a highlight.

For more information on Holly Knight’s Two-Part Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Songwriting Master Class Click Here.

‘Tea Time’: Writer/Director Tara Price Discusses Her Bloody New Short Film

Tara Price

During her afternoon tea party, a little girl — played by newcomer, Kennedy Barrie, loses her temper and things get…well, out of control.

The premise for award-winning writer/director Tara Price’sbloody new short comedy, “Tea Time,” can perhaps best be described as “Calvin and Hobbes meets Scarface.” A twisted mixture of childhood imagination and real-life consequence.

Ubiquitous in her storytelling, Price has an innate ability to weave a web of thrills and suspense while bringing out the best in her cast. No better example of this exists than the performance she yields from three-year-old Barrie, who is both insatiably cute and diabolically mean. Barrie’s real-life brother, Tripp, also appears in the film, giving even more visual impact to a short that already combines the best elements of comedy, horror and thrills.

Like her previous short film, “Earworm,” which featured Ernest Lee Thomas [“What’s Happening”], Price enlists the help of another beloved, multi-generational artist by involving wrestling legend Rob Van Dam to participate in a surprise twist.

“Tea Time” is already receiving buzz on the festival circuit, including being selected in the coveted 2020 Women In Comedy Festival presented by HBO. Proving that even though it’s only her sophomore directed film, Price’s star power continues to rise.

I recently spoke with Tara Price about “Tea Time” and more in this exclusive new interview.

What was the inspiration behind “Tea Time?”

Tara Price: I had been working on an outline for a feature about a child whose toys come to life in her dreams and wound up borrowing the idea to make something that was much more simple and fun. The overall idea of toys being alive in a child’s imagination isn’t new. I just ran with it in a weird direction. My one-sheet when I was seeking funding for “Tea Time” described it as “Calvin and Hobbes meets Scarface,” which amused me to pieces and I’ve since been told sums it up perfectly.

What’s your writing process like?

TP: When it comes to short films I have to know how it’s going to start and end before I even start fleshing out the idea. The ending doesn’t have to be tied up in a neat little bow but it has to have some kind of conclusion. I never write with a time frame in mind. I just want to write the idea and keep it interesting. Generally, you can estimate how many minutes the finished film will be based on the number of pages you write.

How did you discover Kennedy Barrie?

TP: Kennedy’s mom was actually a co-worker of mine. She’d recently moved to L.A. and had invited my husband and I to a housewarming party. When we arrived Kennedy answered the door all by herself, as if she were hosting the party. She gave us a tour of the home and by the end of the night she and her brother Tripp, who also appears in the film, were holding court. I was immediately taken with the dynamic between the two of them because that’s what I had written. I remember as we were leaving my husband turned to me and said, “I know what you’re thinking.” I laughed and said, “Is it that obvious?” The next day I brought the idea up to my co-worker and asked if she’d be ok with having her kids in the film. Luckily for me, it all worked out.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Tara Price by Clicking Here!

Saxophonist Boney James Discusses His ‘Solid’ New Album

Solid is the title of four-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Boney James’ seventeenth album. It’s the follow-up to his hugely successful 2017 release, Honestly, which became his eleventh #1 album on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart.

The inspiration for the eleven-track compilation flowed at an unusually quick pace for James and is chock full of the signature sound and movement. Most notably, on the infectiously smooth opening track, “Full Effect,” and “Luna,” which features an ethereal, almost Latin-fused groove.

Other highlights from Solid include the album’s title-track and “Tonic,” both of which inspired and built from licks performed by guitarist Kendall Gilder during sound checks on James’ Honestly tour. “Be Here,” an Adult-Urban single initiated by James’ longtime collaborator, Jairus ‘J-Mo’ Mozee, is another transportive track that features an inspired serenade from special guest, Kenny Lattimore.

With Solid, James delivers an album worthy of his depth, creativity and maturity. Moreover, its a welcome respite from the stress of today’s chaotic world.

Solid will be released on Friday, June 12.

I recently spoke with James about the new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did Solid come about?

Boney James: It’s been over two years since my Honestly CD and I started getting the urge to make new music. Whenever that feeling hits I’ll start collecting ideas. I discovered that as soon as I started writing, the songs just sort of popped out. Sometimes a song might have taken a little bit longer to develop but, for the most part, once I put my thinking cap on there they were.

How does the new album relate to some of your previous work?

BJ: That’s a tough thing to say. I just make the music and let other people decide what to think. Every record has its own character but I was feeling a strong sense of positive energy from this music. Some of these songs put a big smile on my face. I remember as I was making the record it was very transporting and took me out of the day to day worries of stress of life. That’s always what I try to do but I really felt it this time, particularly on a few of these songs. With everything going on in the world right now it’s even more appropriate to have something that might put a smile on your face when you listen to it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Boney James by Clicking Here.