Category: Entertainment

Interview: Candice Night discusses new Blackmore’s Night Summer Tour

Photo credit: Michael Keel

Hailed for their skills by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) and singer/multi-instrumentalist, Candice Night, Blackmore’s Night has released ten studio albums over their twenty-year career. The band continues to captivate audiences in venues and castles alike. Their live show is a passport to a time gone by; a  world where eclectic troubadour folk and Renaissance rock meets visual melody and deep emotion. Inspired by legend, nature and love, Blackmore’s Night is more than just music by a guitar legend and his beautiful wife. These are meaningful songs that paint storytime pictures in your mind.

Blackmore’s Night is about to kick off a string of East Coast tour dates, and AXS recently caught up with Candice Night to discuss the new tour, music and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from this new Blackmore’s Night tour?

Candice Night: Expect it to be predictably unpredictable. We never play the same setlist twice. So, if people have seen a show before, the songs they hear will be different almost every night. We even ask for requests from the audience. It’s like an intimate gathering at our home and an escape from the pressures of the modern-day world through music.

AXS: It’s been more than twenty years since you and Ritchie formed Blackmore’s Night. What inspired the project? 

CN: We started writing songs in this style back in 1995 when Ritchie reformed Rainbow and the rest of the guys were in the studio doing their backing tracks. It was our escape from what the rock world had become and all the pressures that the corporations in the music industry had created. We wrote songs strictly for ourselves as an escape from what the world of music had become. It wasn’t long before record companies started asking to hear our new songs and wanted to put them out.

AXS: Most know Ritchie for being the “hard rock guy” from bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow, but Blackmore’s Night is a big departure from that. How would you describe your sound?

CN: I think what’s kept Ritchie in this band for more than twenty years is the fact that he has the creative freedom to play whatever he wants to, whenever he wants. He isn’t in a box that fits neatly into a genre. We play rock, renaissance, folk, tavern gypsy music, instrumentals, ballads. It’s a great variety of music. He likes to call us Renaissance rock. There’s truly something for everyone within the songs.

AXS: In your opinion, what makes Renaissance music so timeless and special?

CN: I don’t think it’s just the music. Renaissance faires go on all year round. There’s something magical about looking through the veil to a simpler time. To castles on the hills and bonfires lighting the countryside. To star-filled skies with no ambient lighting. To escaping modern day technology. The best thing about being in this time period is to be able to look back at eras gone by and figure out what you appreciate and relate to and incorporate those things into your life now.

AXS: Last summer, you released the compilation album, “To The Moon And Back: 20 Years And Beyond”. How did you determine which songs to include?

CN: It was hard for us to be able to narrow down songs, so we took to our greatest resource: our fans. We asked then via social media what songs meant the most to them, and they all had amazing stories about songs that helped them through hard times or songs that were with them celebrating their happiest times. We also revisited some songs that we’d already released and added new songs and instrumentals. We even included some backstage, never-before-seen antics on the DVD footage that was included.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Candice Night by Clicking Here!

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Interview: Lou Gramm discusses Foreigner reunion at Sturgis to celebrate 40th anniversary of ‘Double Vision’

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Foreigner’s multi-platinum album, Double Vision, the band behind such iconic songs as “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” “Cold As Ice” and “Juke Box Hero” has announced the first ever ticketed event that will reunite all original members of Foreigner at this year’s Sturgis Buffalo Chip Rally in Sturgis, SD on Saturday, Aug. 4.

For one night, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, Ian McDonald and Rick Wills will join Mick Jones and the current line-up of Foreigner to rock through some of the songs from Double Vision as well as other material from the band’s arsenal of hits that spans more than four decades.

Double Vision (released in 1978) is the band’s sophomore album and features such classic rock staples as “Hot Blooded” and “Blue Morning, Blue Day,” as well as the equally as infectious title track. Fans of this legendary band will not want to miss this once in a lifetime event.

AXS recently spoke with Lou Gramm about the Foreigner reunion, the Double Vision album, career highlights and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What prompted this all-original member reunion concert?

Lou Gramm: For a number of years, whenever the current band came to town, a few of us would sit in and play a song or two. But as the idea of putting the original band back together started to gain momentum, we wanted to tie it into something special, and you couldn’t ask for a better tie-in than the 40th anniversary of the Double Vision album.

Because it honors the album, the original band will play songs from that album as well as a few other ones. Then the current Foreigner will play a cross-section of hits and, toward the end of the show, everyone will take the stage and play. There’s even a short, acoustic segment.

AXS: What goes through your mind when you think about this reunion?

LG: When I think about doing those songs and realizing it’ll be the guys on stage with me, it makes me think back to those old times and how wild and fun it was to perform in front of thousands of people and know they just loved the music.

AXS: Let’s talk a little about the Double Vision album. Where does that rank in terms of your favorite Foreigner albums?

LG: For me, Double Vision ranks #2.  is my favorite album with Double Vision right behind it.

YouTube video courtesy: trinchera 86

AXS: Foreigner’s debut album was so monumental. When you think back to those sessions working on Double Vision, was there any sense of pressure from the record label about having to deliver the goods again? 

LG: They didn’t put as much pressure on us as we put on ourselves. Because we didn’t just want to deliver, we wanted to do better than we did the first time, and that first album set the bar pretty high. We recorded with Keith Olsen, and he had just come from doing Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. He was great helping us produce and making the songs sound the way they should sonically. We had good ideas. It just took a little time to craft them into the songs they became. It was fun and exciting all the way through.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album. What do you remember most about “Hot Blooded”?

LG: We used to work at Mick’s apartment and he would just keep playing one guitar riff after another. Just playing whatever came into his mind. When he started playing that riff, I remember saying, “Wait! Stop! What’s that?” Mick said it was just another riff. So, I started singing along to it. We eventually got the idea of what the chorus would be and then started working on the verse lyrics. Once they were put together it naturally led to the “Hot Blooded” verbal line. I remember we were jumping off the walls when we cracked the title of the song.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lou Gramm by Clicking Here!

Interview: Brooke Josephson discusses her upcoming Los Angeles show, songwriting

Since the release of her new album, Sexy N’ Domesticated’, singer/songwriter Brooke Josephson has been on a whirlwind roll. The five-song EP, which has already received acclaim from both press and industry, celebrates female-empowerment and showcases Josephson’s knack for combing introspective storytelling with catchy melodies and a groove-ridden backbeat. Songs like “Mr. Fix It,” “Crazy Called Normal” and “Horrified” are all autobiographical in nature, but also contain a deep level of musical maturity.

The beautiful songstress will soon take her infectious, multi-genre blend of music to the Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles, CA for a performance on Friday, July 20. In addition to songs from Sexy N’ Domesticated, fans can also expect to hear tracks from her debut EP, Live And Let Live, which was released five years ago this summer.

AXS recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about her upcoming performance at The Silver Lake Lounge, Sexy N’ Domesticated and more in this new interview.

AXS: How has the reaction been to the new EP, Sexy N’ Domesticated?

Brooke Josephson: It’s been great. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from press and from bloggers. A few of them will be coming out to the show. We had such a great turnout the night of the EP’s release. I remember when the curtains opened, there was a sea of people who were wearing Mr. Fix It hats and Sexy N’ Domesticated bandanas. It was a lot of fun.

AXS: To those who might not be familiar, how would you describe your sound?

BJ: It’s definitely a melting pot of all the genres I’ve been influenced by. My biggest influence being Beck’s Odelayalbum. For this new album, I sampled sounds and gave myself the freedom of not having to choose one specific genre.

AXS: What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at The Silverlake Lounge?

BJ: I’ll be doing a mix of songs from the new EP as well as songs from my first EP, Live And Let Live, along with a few covers. I’ve been doing a version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like A Man” and an encore performance of “Zombie” by The Cranberries. The band I have is awesome and it’s a lot of fun performing with them.

AXS: Can you tell me the origin of the track, “Horrified” from the new EP?

BJ: It was inspired when I was doing an auction at my daughter’s preschool, which was something I had never done before. Sometimes when you collaborate with other people creatively feathers can get ruffled, and there was a mother who was pretty fired up about something as simple as the color of tablecloth and napkins I had chosen. She took it upon herself to write a pretty nasty email to the parents and administrators of the school about me and how horrified she was by my decisions. I wasn’t prepared to encounter something like that at this stage of my life, so I took a step back and then took the time to write a song about it.

AXS: Do you usually draw inspiration for your songs from life events?

BJ: Carole King once said that the songs from her Tapestry album were snapshots of moments in her life that she wrote about. I embraced that philosophy for writing. The songs are inspired by things that have actually happened, but I also take some liberties to create characters and use third-person. Some of it is me and some of it is fiction or blended with people I’ve met along the way.

AXS: This year marks the fifth anniversary of your EP, Live and Let Live. How much have you learned and grown as an artist since then?

BJ: When I listen to the first EP and then Sexy N’ Domesticated  I’m usually like, “Wow! Is this the same person?” [laughs]. That’s how much I’ve grown. Not only in the writing but in the producing as well. I did all the demo production on the songs for this EP. Everything from laying down the parts and guitars to learning about plug-ins. Lyrically, I gave myself the freedom to blend genres and be more literal instead of just having a sound that was metaphoric or poetry-driven.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Brooke Josephson by Clicking Here!

Granny 4 Barrel’s Terry LeRoi discusses new video, ‘She Likes Guns’, Working with Stormy Daniels

Granny 4 Barrel & Stormy Daniels

Known as the matriarch of metal for her neo-Victorian shock rock, Granny 4 Barrel and her band of outlaw renegades represent the rebellious spirit of rock and roll and nonconformity. But when the time came to shoot a video for the band’s latest single, “She Likes Guns”, front man Terry LeRoi (Granny) decided to go one step further by enlisting the help of veteran adult entertainer and director, Stormy Daniels.

The acquisition of Daniels and her creative vision as director takes the groove-laden track, which already features tasty elements of metal, rock and an infectious hybrid of country/bluegrass, to an entirely new level. Together, LeRoi and Daniels have forged metal heaviness into a video of double-entendre sexiness and raw power.

I recently spoke with Terry LeRoi about the new Granny 4 Barrel video, “She Likes Guns”, working with Daniels, songwriting and much more in this new interview.

To those who may not be familiar, how would you describe the music of Granny 4 Barrel?

It’s a musical hybrid. I’ve always loved straight-up metal and when I was growing up my favorite bands were [Judas] Priest, [Iron] Maiden and [Black] Sabbath. But with this band, we started experimenting with bluegrass and classical violin sounds. We now have the best elements of guitar along with the additional sound of a violin. It’s fun playing around with an amalgam. We don’t lose any of the heaviness and it adds more elements to the sound.

Where do you draw inspiration for songwriting?

It can come from anything. It could be a lyrical idea, like a cool title for a song, or it could start out with just a riff. It’s never one particular way and it’s always evolving.

Can you give me the origin of the new single/video, “She Likes Guns”?

That one is an example of writing a song from a title. Originally, the title was “I Like Guns”, because I do [laughs]. But I didn’t like the way it sounded, so I started playing around with pronouns. Then I said wait a second. This is a shock-rock band, and this song sounds way cooler if “she” likes guns. It could be sexy, heavy and have double meaning. I went into the studio with producer, Jeff Tomei (Jerry Cantrell, Matchbox Twenty) who works out of Jesse James Dupree’s studio. Jeff and I, along with two other writers, Johnny Blade and Roman Glick, sat down with my chorus and started playing around with a groove. We found the tempo and I finished up the lyrics.

How did Stormy Daniels get involved in directing the video for “She Likes Guns”?

Once we had a “female perspective/women taking down bad guys” song, I started thinking about what we could do for a video. Jesse is friends with Stormy and suggested her. He told me she directs rock videos, so I called her up. She thought the song was cool and the two of us worked on the treatment for a few weeks and then did the video.

What was it like working with her on the video?

Whenever I work with professionals I always like to see how they handle a big crew and deal with people. It can be challenging when you’re trying to be creative and be the boss and get your artist’s vision across, but she handled it very well. She had everyone’s respect and was making things happen. I was very impressed. 

What are Granny 4 Barrel’s tour plans like for the rest of the summer?

There’s going to be another run of dates in September when we’ll be working the next single. We have a new record that hasn’t been released yet but another single ready to go.

What can you tell me about the next single?

The next single is a song called “Nitro Sexy”. It’s powerful, fast and people love it when we’ve been playing it live. It’s got the best elements of metal and shredding. There’s some screaming high notes and my fiddle player is the featured lead player on it. Stormy and I have already started talking about shooting the video for it in early October.

You mentioned a new Granny 4 Barrel album. What can fans expect from it?

You can expect that hybrid sound along with a diversity of song topics. But make no mistake, you’re going to get that underlying heaviness. It’s classic metal mixed with the wackiness of Granny. Right now, I’m Terry, but when Granny takes over I have to start thinking, “Ok, what would a f#cked up, old woman write about?” [laughs]. What I will say is that Granny thought it would be a great idea to remake a Judas Priest song off British Steel for the new album.

Did you always know that music would be your calling?

Music is first and foremost in my life and doing Granny is so much fun. You’ve got all these crazy characters on stage: The Maestro on fiddle; The Butcher on guitar and The Judge on drums. Then you’ve got Granny, who’s this Normal Bates mom come to life. It’s good fun and kicks you in the ass at the same time.

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

I love all parts of being an entertainer and keep that at the forefront of my mind. It’s one thing to be a musician (and I certainly enjoy it), but entertaining and performing is what it’s all about. There’s a real energy the band puts out and receives back from people. But whether its songwriting, performing, touring or creating a video, I enjoy every facet of it.

Interview: Plain White T’s Tom Higgenson and Tim Lopez discuss the band’s new album, ‘Parallel Universe’

Photo by Colin Lane

For Parallel Universe, the highly-anticipated eighth studio album from the Plain White T’s, the band decided to explore a deeper sonic landscape. Still present are the band’s radio-friendly melodies and singer Tom Higgenson’s signature vocals,  but the songs themselves have been tastefully enriched with elements of synths and guitar tones. The result is an album of the familiarity as well as a mature sound that takes the band to an entirely new level of cool.

Parallel Universe was produced by Matt Squire (Ariana GrandePanic! At The Disco) and includes infectious tracks like “Your Body” and “Bonnie I Want You”. The latter of which a risqué homage to lost youth and a love that might have been. Other standouts on the album include the ethereal, groove-ridden “Light Up The Room” and “Top of The World,” which has a funky eighties kind of vibe.

Plain White T’s is: Tom Higgenson [vocals], Tim Lopez [lead guitar, vocals], Dave Tirio [rhythm guitar], Mike Retondo [bass], and De’Mar Hamilton [drums].

AXS recently spoke with Tom Higgenson and Tim Lopez about Parallel Universe (which will be released on August 24) and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: How does the new album, “Parallel Universe” compare to some of the band’s previous work?

Tim Lopez: We came up in a time when we were considered punk rockers and it was all about just recording drums, guitars and bass. We love how far music has come since we started and knew it was a place we needed to be. But we didn’t change much about the songs or the writing, just in their production and presentation. Instead of sticking to what we’ve done previously, we tried new things and carved out a new sonic bed for the songs to lay in. We decided to explore sounds and make something that was really cool and unique.

Tom Higgenson: We come from that punk rock background, and one of the things we kept saying was retro punk from the future. We wanted it to sound like old school eighties but very futuristic as well. We took inspiration from that kind of feeling.

AXS: What was it like working with Matt Squire on this album?

TL: The songwriting process for was lengthy for this album, but we didn’t know what the sonic direction was going to be until Tom and I and [collaborator] Brandon Day wrote the last batch of songs. As soon as Matt heard that last batch, he got it and exponentially pushed the album in that direction. He was awesome to work with and an absolute wealth of knowledge. It was such an awesome vibe and everyone was so positive. The results speak for themselves.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Plain White T’s by Clicking Here!

Interview: Singer-Songwriter Emily Kinney discusses her beautiful new album, ‘Oh, Jonathan’

Photo by Chad Kamenshine

Emily Kinney’s introspective new album, Oh, Jonathan is a bit of a departure from the singer-songwriter’s previous work. It’s a collection of cinematically inspired songs about love, relationships and metaphor.

Produced by friend and collaborator, Ben Greenspan, Kinney’s album is a poetic and visceral stamp of the artist’s thought process and life. Songs like the infectious “Boy Band Hero” draw from the idea of high school daydream, while deeper tracks like “Jonathan,” “Mortal” and “Soda Glass” are as much autobiographical as they are hook-laden. The use of synth elements is also widely prevalent on Oh, Jonathan. Giving the album a mature, cohesive quality.

Widely known for her stint as Beth Greene on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (where her music and singing were often featured), Kinney has successfully balanced the role of both musician and actor. And with Oh Jonathan, she’s also succeeded in creating an atmospheric and relatable album. Whether it’s that special place in your heart for unrequited love or the feeling of never being exactly sure of what it is you want. Kinney’s music fills that space. Your imagination will fill in the gaps.

AXS recently spoke with Kinney about Oh, Jonathan and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How would you describe Oh, Jonathan in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

Emily Kinney: When I was approaching this project, I wanted to see a little more of an atmospheric and sonic landscape. I wanted it to have a little more air and space. It led me to using more synths and less guitars. I also started experimenting with different producers and eventually found Ben Greenspan. He influenced a lot of the different instrumentation on this album.

AXS: Has your approach to songwriting changed much over the years?

EK: I still write the same way. It usually starts with something I want to say and then figuring out a way to say it in a phrase or little poem. All of these songs relate and chronicle the on and off relationships I’ve had. The other thing I usually do is just play around on the guitar. “Popsicles” is a song where I came up with a simple guitar riff and wrote the poem over that riff. “Mermaid” is that way too. I found a riff and laid the words out over it.

AXS: What inspired the song, “Boy Band Hero”?

EK: I was in a relationship that had ended and came up with the idea of feeling like a lot of it was all made up in my head. I thought about another song on the album, “Jonathan,” where I’m drawing him, tracing his face and making him into someone he might not be. Now that I was so far removed from this relationship, it felt like it was all just a daydream and I had imagined in all. That line, “just a daydream” kept going on in my head. I thought back to high school and when my imagination would just run away with itself. The whole idea of being in class and imagining things is how it all began.

AXS: What can you tell me about the song, “Mortal”?

EK: “Mortal” is one of my favorites. That song reflects on a time when everything was so magical. It was inspired by an evening when there was an eclipse and the moon turned pink and red. I remember we went up on the roof on a building downtown. We had pizza and just sat and watched. All of these songs describe real moments.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Emily Kinney by Clicking Here!

Interview: The Dead Daisies’ Deen Castronovo Discusses New Project with Johnny Gioeli – ‘Set The World On Fire’

Gioeli – Castronovo

Deen Castronovo and Johnny Gioeli first joined forces on Hardline’s 1992 debut album, Double Eclipse. Since then, Gioeli has continued to lead Hardline while Castronovo (who had previously been in the super-group, Bad English), went on to perform with such artists as Ozzy and Revolution Saints as well as completing a seventeen-year stint with classic rock legend, Journey. He’s currently the drummer for another hard rock supergroup – The Dead Daisies.

Twenty-five years later, Deen and John have finally reunited for an impressive Gioeli-Castronovo debut album. The aptly titled, Set The World On Fire.

The strength of the new album stems not only from the melodic, hook-laden songwriting but also from Gioeli’s raw vocal talent and Castronovo’s double-shot combination of driving rhythm and his own high octane vocals. Whether it’s autobiographical songs like “Through” and “Who I Am” or surprises, like the duo’s cover of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”, Set The World On Fire is a nod to the past and a look to the future for two of music’s finest artists.

AXS recently spoke with Deen Catronovo about Set The World On Fire; The Dead Daisies; his career and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did this project with Johnny, Set The World On Fire, come about?

Deen Castronovo: It actually started with Serafino Perugino, the president of Frontiers Records. He called me up one day and said, “You know, Dean. If you could collaborate with any singer, who would it be?” I told him it would have to be Johnny [Gioeli], hands down. I’ve always loved Johnny’s voice and he’s one of the most talented singer/songwriters and frontmen I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Johnny and I hadn’t worked together in nineteen years, and he and I together is pure pandemonium. When we first got together it was a blast telling stories about our time together in Hardline and when we were opening for Van Halen. It was like we’d never left. Johnny’s voice hasn’t changed a bit. It sounds just as good, if not better than when we were both in Hardline.

AXS: The album has a cool, melodic rock vibe. Can you speak a little to the songwriting? 

DC: Alessandro Del Vecchio does much of the songwriting. He loves melodic rock. It’s his forte and he knows just what to write. He and I have this telepathic connection. He knows what I want and I know what he’s looking for.

AXS: Is there a song on the album that has special meaning to you?

DC: The first song I really loved was “Who I Am”. It describes a little about where I was in my life three years ago. Through it all, Johnny never left my side. As a friend, he’s had my back and stuck with me. So, that song is really special.

AXS: The song, “Through” also seems very autobiographical.

DC: That one was a Johnny and Allesandro song. It’s another one that talks about Johnny and I and the things we’ve gone through. If you watch the video, there are pictures of us when we were in Hardline.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Deen Castronovo by Clicking Here!