Category: Entertainment

Director Harrison Smith Talks ‘Death House,’ New Projects

When Harrison Smith agreed to co-write and direct the action/horror thriller, “Death House,” the filmmaker had one goal in mind: to make Gunnar Hansen’s intertwined vision of good and evil a consummate reality. The film’s premise, which brings many of the greatest horror icons together in one film, is a rollercoaster funhouse ride of scares and screams as well as a nod to the best of 80s horror.

In “Death House,” Agents Toria Boon (Cortney Palm) and Jae Novak (Cody Longo) are given a tour of a state of the art, government prison where medical and mental experiments are carried out on the worst of humanity by Drs. Eileen Fletcher (Dee Wallace) and Karen Redmane (Barbara Crampton). But when an unexpected power outage releases the monstrous inmates Boon and Novak, who are beginning to learn more about their own dark pasts, have to fight for survival through a labyrinth of horror. It all culminates in a final, violent showdown in the prison’s deepest level with a face to face encounter with The Five Evils.

In addition to a fun story and stellar cast, which includes Kane Hodder (“Friday The 13th”series), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Sid Haig (“House of 1,000 Corpses”), and Felissa Rose (“Sleepaway Camp”), “Death House” also features a plethora of Easter eggs guaranteed to please even the most ardent horror fan.

I recently spoke with Harrison Smith about “Death House” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about?

Gunnar had brought the idea of creating a movie with a who’s who of horror names to his agent, Michael Eisenstadt. His original script, called “Death House,” was about a group of college kids who create a documentary about going into an abandoned asylum. But when they get down into the bowels of the building, they discover that the patients have never really left. Instead, they’ve been living there as subterranean beings. Michael eventually got the script into the hands of Rick Finkelstein from Entertainment Factory, who then brought it to me. 

Gunnar Hansen

How did the script evolve into what would become the final film?

I met with Gunnar and the two of us started going over it. The whole documentary idea had been done before, but the one thing Gunnar really wanted retained was his vision that good and evil are intertwined and need each other. He told me he had this Biblical concept of these “Four Horsemen” so I suggested we change it up by adding a woman to finish out the points of a pentagram and calling them The Five Evils. Around that same time, the Super Bowl was airing the world debut trailer for “Jurassic World.” That’s when it hit me: why not make “Jurassic Park” without the dinosaurs? And instead of it being an asylum, let’s make it a prison. We’ll have a young group going on a tour when the ride breaks down and the monsters get out. That appealed to Gunnar. I took even more inspiration from the film, “Escape from New York.” Now we were able to put horror names in as real characters.

The sad thing was that during all this time, Gunnar never let on that he was dying. No one actually knew until a few weeks before he passed [Hansen died in 2015]. That was why he was emphatic about getting it done. I wanted to make sure I preserved his vision, and after reading the final draft Gunnar gave Rick his blessing.

Was there ever any thought given to having the horror icons reprise their famous character roles for “Death House”?

Never. When that idea was first pitched I made it clear I didn’t want to make anything like that. Just look at “Freddy Vs. Jason” as an example. That film went through fourteen drafts and took ten years to make, and that’s what we got? Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should.

What was the casting process like for “Death House?”

All of Gunnar’s friends had already told him they’d be on board, so it was a matter of finding a place for them. Robert Englund was also set to appear, and even went out of his way to try to make it happen, but by the time the money moved for filming he already had other commitments and just couldn’t do it.

What can you tell me about the addition of Cortney Palm to the project?

We originally had cast Bianca Bradey, from Wyrmwood, as Agent Toria Boon. She loved the script and we loved her. She’s Australian and we had everything set up with her visa, but it wasn’t going to carry over when it finally came time to shoot. I’ve always been a fan of Cortney’s work in “Sushi Girl” and it was also around the same time “Zombeavers” came out. She and I were Twitter friends so I reached out to her about it. She has charisma and a great look and delivery. She gave everything she had and is absolutely terrific in this film.

How would you describe the story of “Death House”?

I would describe it as a roller coaster ride through the fun house. It’s also a “flipping around cable in 1983 at 2 o’clock in the morning” kind of film. One where you come across it and you say to yourself, “Man, I’ve got to finish this!” That’s what I was going for. It’s very “Escape From New York” / John Carpenter-esque and a tip of the hat to that great 80s cheesy action horror. What’s interesting is that there’s also lot of stuff in the film that’s in the headlines again today, like Transhumanism, which is the idea that mental illness is contagious and can be spread through social media. It’s a smart script that ends with you asking questions, which is what every good film should do.

Are there plans to do a sequel?

“Death House 2: The Farm” is already written and in it we’ll start answering some questions. Like the shower scene where Agents Boon and Novak are asking about each other’s tattoos and the possibility of having memories erased. It all takes place on a farm that’s being used for human trafficking.

Are there any other projects you’re currently involved in?

Spilled Milk” is a screen play I wrote that’s based on the novel by K. L. Randis, which is her true account of surviving sexual abuse from her father. I was attracted to the story because of this woman’s plight and the whole #MeToo movement. I wanted to write it from the standpoint that it really is a horror movie because it’s real. The script is in the hands of a female director, which is where it should be. Most of all, I’m excited for Kelly to get her word out.

I’m also getting ready to shoot a quiet, horror film noire called “The Special,” which stars Damian Maffei [“The Strangers: Prey at Night”] and Sarah French playing the wife. It’s a story that was brought to me by Mark Streensland and James Newman. There’s dark elements, a little bit of revenge and some things you don’t see much of anymore. It also has some great practical make-up effects. I’m very excited about it. 

What would you like people to take away from watching “Death House?”

Gunnar wanted this film to be for his fans. He didn’t care about the critics or a Rotten Tomatoes score. What he wanted was for all the people who came to see him and paid money for his autograph to have something to be excited about. So, look at the crazy creatures that are in the freezer, enjoy Kane Hodder and watch for all the Easter eggs—especially the ending post credits sequence which features the best Easter egg ever. It’s Larry Zerner, who played Shelly in “Friday The 13th: Part 3.” And for people who may not know much about classic horror, hopefully watching “Death House” will make them want to go back and learn more. “Death House” is for the fans, so have fun and enjoy it.

Death House” is available now on Digital, Streaming, DVD and Blu-Ray.

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‘Death House’: Actress Cortney Palm Discusses All-Star Horror Fueled Adventure

During an exclusive tour of a nine-level, secret prison known as “Death House,” agents Toria Boon (Cortney Palm) and Jae Novak (Cody Longo) become trapped inside its walls after a power outage frees a ruthless army of the world’s most dangerously maniacal prisoners. Trapped in the labyrinth of horror, the agents must push to the facility’s lowest depths, where they’ll come face to face with a supernatural group and discover a dark secret about themselves.

The premise for the B. Harrison Smith directed feature was originally based on a concept by the late Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) intended to bring as many horror legends together in one film. That’s why, in addition to appealing performances of Palm and Longo, “Death House” features a plethora of iconic horror stars from the mid-70’s to present day, including Kane Hodder (“Friday The 13th”series), Dee Wallace (“Cujo” “The Hills Have Eyes”), Barbara Crampton (“Re-Animator”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Bill Moseley (“House of 1,000 Corpses”), Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”) and Felissa Rose (“Sleepaway Camp”).

As an actress, Cortney Palm has a knack for playing strong, female characters (just check out the beautiful artist’s work in 2012’s “Sushi Girl”) and Agent Boon is another convincing role that’s right in her wheelhouse.

“Death House” is more than just an “Expendables of Horror” film. It’s a gripping tale of good versus evil, the dangers of experimentation, the macabre, and how things are not always what they appear to be.

I recently spoke with Cortney Palm about her role in “Death House” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about for you?

In this age of social media people have different ways of reaching out and giving you information about opportunities. In this case, the original lead for the film had to unexpectedly drop out. They were going to start filming and I received a Twitter message from [director] Harrison Smith telling me they were looking for someone. I read the script and was immediately excited. It was a fun, in-depth story about good and evil. About finding what it takes to face your inner demon and coming out on top. I called my agent, flew out a few days later and we made it happen.

What was it about the script that intrigued you the most? Was it the idea of having so many horror icons attached to the project?

Originally, I didn’t know it was being pitched with a lot of horror icons attached to the screenplay. What drew me to the story the most was the strong female lead. I’m always attracted to characters who don’t take anything from anyone else and who can stand on their own two feet. 

How would you describe your character, Agent Toria Boon?

She’s a very by the books kind of person. She’s a daddy’s girl, but daddy really wanted a boy. As a result, she’s had to step up her game and trained hard for what she’s doing. As the story unfolds she realizes there’s something she hasn’t been told. Everything is snowballing all at once and she’s not really sure who to believe or trust. She has to follow he intuition and think things through as they happen. She’s figuring out how to survive while at the same time, visions of “Who Am I” keep racing through her mind. There’s also a dynamic, female power trip going on within the film. It’s about who’s on top and who’s going to be the manipulator. The women all have to fight for a place. They all have to be there for each other but it’s still about who’s bite is bigger.

How would you describe the story of “Death House?”

It’s a crazy roller coaster ride, so stay in the cart and keep your legs and hands inside at all times. The story goes into the idea of what happened back in the Fifties and Sixties when the government was performing tests on people. It also dives deep into what it means to have good and evil in the world. The yin and the yang.

What was it like working with Harrison Smith?

Harrison was once a history teacher and was such a good mediator at getting us all to the table and keeping us on the same page. For any issues we had to overcome he was the hub and teacher who kept everyone grounded. He also gave us the freedom to innovate and try new things. Some of that inspiration took the story deeper than what we originally expected.

What did you enjoy most about making “Death House?”

I loved the prison location. There was a lot of energy there that was indescribable, but not necessarily good or bad. People have actually been burned and murdered there and there were also riots. It was dark and there were some really cold, long shoots. It was a lot of work but the prison made it magical.

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

A film I shot a few years ago, “Sunflower,” is getting distributed in the middle of 2019. I also recently wrapped a father-daughter drama called “Two Cents from a Pariah” as well as a voice over for a psychological thriller called “Purple.”  Another film, “Herringbone,” just won the online Sydney Lift Off film festival and is in the festival circuit. It’s a touching tale about two women struggling to survive captivity and torture, as it represents the dairy industry. I’ll also start filming a movie called “Bleed Millions,” that’s directed by Sam Koze, in January. It’s an interesting story about a psychopathic individual who uses the blood of his victims to paint works of art.

Have you ever thought about getting on the other side of the camera someday – either as a writer or director?

I’d definitely consider it. It’s really a matter of finding the right projects. I have a few ideas for a film about unity and casting children as leads. We’ve gotten away from our innocence and the nature of just accepting and being present. That’s something I’d like to explore.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

I’m excited about expanding my horizons and meeting people who are more about the human condition and how it’s represented in film and in our daily lives. Instead of being caught up with unsubstantiated hate towards one another or victimizing ourselves or others, I want to focus on waking up to a collective consciousness. Having people realize their true selves and the beauty the world has to offer. I’m looking forward to helping to influence people in positive ways to make changes so our world can become better place. 

Death House” is available now on Digital, Streaming, DVD and Blu-Ray.

Go Jimmy Go: 2018 Year in Review

As a musician and writer, 2018 has been the best of year of my life. Not only did I complete more than 124 interviews for this blog, GuitarWorld.com and AXS.com over the course of these last twelve months, but 2018 also marked a trifecta of amazing milestones for me.

I began this whole writing journey with a single, simple Facebook resolution I made to myself on New Year’s Day in 2011. If you’ve been a regular follower of this blog over the last seven years, you’ll know that its the same one I post every January 1st to remind me of how it all began and just how far I’ve come:

Keeping that promise to myself over these last seven years has been an amazing ride, but 2018 saw three of the biggest, pinch yourself moments ever. Things I only ever dreamed about doing. So, as this year comes to close, I’d like to revisit them one more time.

2018 started out with a trip to Los Angeles in February for a once in a lifetime experience at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. Not only did I get to jam with two guys from my all-time favorite band, REO Speedwagon, but I also had the rare opportunity to perform on stage with Night Ranger at The Whisky A Go Go! Joining me that night were Craig Goldy (Dio) and three guys, Bobby, Rik and Tom, who I’d never met before but who quickly became friends and bandmates I’ll never forget.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: all the while I was in L.A preparing for Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, I was also busily putting the finishing touches on something I think every writer dreams about doing, and in May of this year that dream finally came to fruition with the release of my first novella, “Neapolitan Sky.”

The story about Nica Mitchell’s journey actually began in the Summer of 2017 and took nearly six months to complete. It was a labor of love, pain and constant rewrites and second guesses. When I finally put the pen (or in this case, the lid of the laptop) down, I had the good fortune of having more than a dozen of my friends help me by being test/proof readers and editors. Their input and experience was invaluable in getting the story ready for publication. Following the release of “Neapolitan Sky,” I also had two amazingly successful book signings in Bethlehem and New Hope, PA.

Equally as surreal as the physical book was the release of an Audible version, which was read by one of my favorite artists and actresses, Ashley Watkins. Where I had brought the words of Nica Mitchell and her friends to the page, Ashley literally brought them to life!

But perhaps the biggest, and most exciting, event of the year came just a few weeks ago with the release of my first two interviews in the pages of Guitar World magazine. As a guitarist, I’ve been absorbing this magazine like religion every month since 1985. It’s a bible for any aspiring guitarist. Having already been blessed (religion – bible – blessed, get it?) to write for the website for nearly six years, getting the opportunity to contribute content to the physical magazine was another dream come true. When you open the magazine and see your name printed on the page right next to some of your guitar heroes its not only poweful, it’s humbling. Moreover, it’s proof that hard work, networking and kindness pays off.

Next year will mark another major milestone as I’ll be turning fifty years old. But as I look to that day with both fear and wonder I’m reminded that each and every day is part of the journey. Collectively, I look back on these last seven years and can’t believe some of the things I’ve accomplished. I’ve met so many amazingly talented people along the way. Not just actors, musicians, artists and filmmakers. In many cases, these are people who’ve become dear friends to me. Friends I’m proud to have in my life and ones who inspire me to do better.

Here it is in a nutshell: Since 2011, I’ve done nearly 2,000 interviews and articles, released three children’s books with one of my dearest friends, wrote my first novel, and have rounded out 2018 with two interviews published in the pages of Guitar World magazine. Even with all of that it still feels like I’m just getting started. There’s so much more to do, and I can’t wait to get started. As a preview, I already have an interview on deck with Def Leppard, who will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. I’m also halfway through my new book, a prequel to “Neapolitan Sky” that’s set in the year 1986!

Please don’t read that last paragraph and think I’m tooting my own horn. I’m nobody special. What I’m trying to say by writing it down is that if I can do it — so can you. Dreams don’t just fall into your lap. You have to go out and make them happen. And sometimes, all that can start with just a simple resolution:

“I’ve resolved to do some writing. So here goes:”

I hope reading this blog will inspire you to do the same thing I did on January 1st, 2011, and that is to make a promise to yourself for 2019. A resolution to do something you’ve always dreamed about. Take the first sentence of my resolution and change the word “writing” to something you’re passionate about. Then go out and make it happen.

Here’s wishing you peace, love, music, art, writing….and all the best for the New Year.

‘Six Degrees of Sarzo’: Rudy Sarzo Talks New Radio Show, The Guess Who, Memorable Moments and More

It’s been another incredible year for multi-talented artist, Rudy Sarzo. Not only was The Guess Who bassist involved in the band’s first album of new material in more than two decades, The Future Is What it Used To Be, but Sarzo also contributed his musical prowess to friend (and fellow former Dio bandmate), Craig Goldy’s Dream Child project, Until Death Do We Meet Again.

You may be surprised to learn that Sarzo, whose lengthy musical career as an artist includes work with Ozzy, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake, was also once a mass communication major in college. An experience that serves him well is his newly launched radio show, “Six Degrees of Sarzo.” A three-hour, nine-segment show on Monsters of Rock Radio that airs Sundays from 4 – 7 p.m. PST (7 – 10 p.m. EST). The show is an eclectic mix of music and interviews and is part of the 80+ original station line-up on Dash Radio, available commercial and subscription free.

I recently spoke with Rudy Sarzo about “Six Degrees of Sarzo”, his work with The Guess Who, Dream Child, and the 35thanniversary of Quiet Riot’s monster Metal Health album in this exclusive new interview.

Where did the idea to do a podcast originate?

Recently, I’ve been attending a lot of memorials for musicians and friends of mine who’ve passed away. I heard so many nice things being said about them that I started thinking wouldn’t it be nice if they could be here to hear all of these things being said about them? It inspired me to create the Dash Podcast, with the “dash” being that line between the birth and death date on a headstone. The idea was for me to bring in people I admire from all walks of life and talk about their journey.

One day, I was contacted by Harlan Hendrickson, who owns the Monsters of Rock brand. He has a station on Dash Radio (ironically enough) called Monsters of Rock Radio and asked me about doing a show. I now have a program on Sundays from 4 -7 p.m. PT called “Six Degrees of Sarzo.”  It’s a nine segment, three-hour show that has a bit of essence of the original podcast where I interview musicians, talk about their journey and mix it up with music.

What are your plans for “Six Degrees of Sarzo”?

I recently interviewed my friend Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot and dUg Pinnick from King’s X and also have the NAMM show coming up in January where I’ll be doing short interviews with people there. I also want to use the show as a tool for what’s happening now and to get more exposure to the new bands like The Struts, Greta Van Fleet and Rival Sons. They’re all great musicians, songwriters and performers. There’s a bright future for the next generation.

Let’s discuss a few other projects you’ve worked on this year, starting with The Guess Who. The band released a new album in 2018, The Future Is What it Used To Be. How has the reaction been?

There was emphasis on keeping the spirit and legacy of the band and what the sound is all about with the new album, and the response has been phenomenal. We play a few of the new songs every night and have three videos for the songs “Playin on the Radio,” “Haunted,” and our new one, “In America.”

What was the writing process like?

I’ve only been in the band for a years but the process started even before I was on the radar. There are two producers / songwriters in the band—Derek Sharp and Will Evankovich. Will is also the co-writer and co-producer, along with Tommy Shaw, on the latest Styx record, The Mission. They had been working on material to submit to other artists and one day they said, wait a minute. Why should we give these songs away? Let’s make a new Guess Who record!

What can you tell me about your involvement with Craig Goldy in the Dream Child project?

What was interesting about that album was that there was a clear vision: Craig was going to produce and write. Goldy already knew Wayne Findlay and Diego Valdez and the label asked him about getting Simon Wright and myself, who played with Goldy in Dio. I did recording and engineering in my home studio and Wayne and Diego did their parts in their studios. Simon went into a studio to record and engineer the drums with Goldy. It’s record I was very proud to be a part of.

This year marked the 35th anniversary of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health album. When you look back on that whole era now, what thoughts come to mind?

I recently talked about this with Frankie Banali on my radio show. I was on the same circuit as Kevin [Dubrow] and Frankie in the Randy Rhoads version of Quiet Riot before I joined Ozzy. After Randy passed, I wasn’t mature enough to know how to deal with loss and needed to get away. I had gotten a call from Kevin to come in and play on one song, “Thunderbird.” It was a song Kevin wrote when Randy left Quiet Riot to join Ozzy, but after Randy passed, it took on a whole different meaning. I went into the studio to do that one song and by the time I left the session I’d recorded almost half of the record. When I officially left Ozzy a few weeks later, I came back and finished the songs. I played on everything except “Metal Health” and “Don’t Wanna  Let You Go,” which was recorded by Chuck Wright. I found emotional refuge playing with my friends again and re-discovered the joy of playing. That’s what that record means to me. It was a place where I felt comfortable.

Did the band have any idea of how special that album was going to be?

We actually felt it might do the complete opposite. I remember at the time, no one wanted to manage the band. We had to beg the original Randy Rhoads-era manager to come out of retirement, and even he was skeptical. I was aware of the  new wave of metal and the possibility of how the band might be accepted outside of L.A. because I’d been touring with Ozzy for a few years and we had Motörhead, Def Leppard, UFO and Starfighters open for us. I thought we might sell 50,000 albums, which was the watermark for a young band to make a new record. Then MTV happened and they started playing “Cum On Feel The Noize” every half hour. That made an incredible difference.

Of all the highlights of your career, is there one thing that stands out to you as most memorable?

Every single one has its own special memory. I can’t say that one was more memorable than another. Whether it was with Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake or Dio, each one had a very beautiful arc –a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s more about the journey than anything else.

Katie Daryl Previews New Season of AXS TV’s ‘The Top Ten Revealed’

Photo: Stewart-Volland AXS TV

AXS TV’s popular music countdown series, The Top Ten Revealedreturns for a second season with its premiere on Sunday, January 13 at 8:30pE/5:30pP with “Top Ten Roller Rink Tunes.” Hosted and executive produced by Katie Daryl, the eleven-episode winter season promises more laughs, surprises, and insightful anecdotes from a plethora of musical heavyweights.

Other episodes this season include a salute to some of music’s finest showmen in “Top Ten Crooners”; Double Studio albums and Drug Songs countdowns, as well as a tribute to the final year of the 1970s with “Epic Songs of 1979”.

Returning to join Daryl and lend their voice and rock expertise are icons Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money and Steven Adler as well as legends like Mickey Thomas (Starship) Sebastian Bach, Steve Porcaro (Toto) and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon).

In addition to the new season, Daryl is also hosting a FREE Reunion Party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on Sunday, January 6th! Although this is not a televised event the evening promises to be a fun celebration of Daryl’s acclaimed show that aired for eight seasons on AXS TV.

I recently spoke with Katie Daryl about the new season of Top Ten Revealed and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from the new season of “The Top Ten Revealed” in January?

I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised at all of the new faces they’re going to see. Not only do we have returning favorites like Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money, Steven Adler and Rikki Rockett, but we also have a lot of new faces as well, including artists like Sebastian Bach, Leif Garrett, John Five from Rob Zombie, Mickey Thomas from Starship and Steve Porcaro from Toto. It’s exciting to have this new insight and keep everyone interested not only in what the topic is about, but also in who’s going to talk about it.

Let’s discuss a few of the topics that will be covered this season. Where did the idea to compile a list of the Top Ten Crooners come from?

This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of the new season. I had overheard someone talking about Tom Jones at the office and I was like, “Tom Jones? Wait a minute. How fun would it be to do something that involves Tom Jones?” Then we started going down the list of crooners—Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frankie Sinatra. I knew right away it was going to be fun, so we put the question out on social media. The funny thing is, as much as people love Frank Sinatra, he isn’t always someone’s go to favorite. There are a lot of lesser known, obscure, or one-step away from the Rat Pack guys as well. We focused on having a lot of singers talk about this episode because a lot of these guys have admitted to being influenced by these crooners. They have great stories about why they love them and how they influenced their careers.

Another interesting topic of conversation has to be Double Studio Albums.

That one became another big office debate. Originally, it going to be all double albums, but then someone mentioned Frampton Comes Alive and other live albums and it became too hard to narrow them all down. So, we decided to do studio double albums this time and maybe in an upcoming season we’ll do the live double albums.

What was the criteria for choosing a list of Top Ten Drug Songs?

We wanted to be very respectful of our viewers and make sure people didn’t think we were making an episode that celebrated drugs. It’s interesting conversation, not a celebration. The criteria was that the song had to either be about drugs and drug use, or interpreted by others as being a drug song. For instance, “Mr. Brownstone” is clearly a drug song, and we even have Steven Adler talking about how it was written and how terrible heroin was. But then there are other songs that are more debatable, like “Purple Haze.” Even though Jimi Hendrix himself had said it’s not about drugs but about a dream he had a lot of people still interpret it as Hendrix having the dream after being on drugs. It was looser criteria than some of the other lists, but it made sense in the long run.

What’s your favorite part of the process of creating an episode? 

My favorite part is booking the guests because at the end of the day I’m a rock star fan. When these people walk in the room, they’re musicians who’ve played on some of the best songs ever written and toured with some of my favorite bands. They always have interesting backstories and amazing personalities. I will say that my least favorite part is tallying the ranking. Because sometimes you just sit there and scratch your head and go “How is this possible? How is this #1?” [Laughs].

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the musical tastes of AXS-TV viewers from doing these shows?

Our salt and pepper demographic really loves classic rock, but what’s also surprising is that they also tend to lean toward metal. The same person who says they love The Who and Rolling Stones is also voicing their opinion on a Megadeth song. It just goes to show that just because you like classic rock it doesn’t mean you’re old or not progressive with your musical tastes. It just means you have a core that you love but can still learn to appreciate other music as well.

Click here to watch the trailer for the new season of The Top Ten Revealed.

Although it won’t be televised you’re also having a reunion party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at The Whisky a Go Go in January. What can you tell me about it?

This is going to be fun. The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands had eight fantastic seasons with so many bands to pay tribute to. In talking with the fans of the show I realized how much fun we had getting together every week at The Whiskey and doing the show. It was a fun, bonding experience and we missed each other. So, we decided to get the band back together and have a party. We’ll start by having an alumni/crew private VIP and then open the doors to the public. We’ve invited all past ticket holders to get a free ticket and we have K-Tel performing as our “house band.” They play a lot of the best and one-hit wonder songs of the 70s, so it will be easy to bring tribute guest stars like our Elton John and our Stevie Nicks up on stage with them. It’s a natural fit to have this backing band performing with some of the frontmen we’ve loved over the years with The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.

The allure of tribute bands has never been stronger. To what do you credit to their success?

When I first started doing research for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands I spoke to a very influential booking agent. He pointed out that the interest in booking these types of bands started shortly after the financial markets crashed in 2008. A lot of it was due in part to venues like casinos and the 2-3,000 seat venues who could no longer afford the expensive “real talent”.  People just weren’t spending their disposable income on a ticket. So, they turned to tribute bands to fill the void. It allowed people to not only save money but also see a high-quality performance. Of course, “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” and AXS TV helped knock it out of the park just as they were gaining their footing. It gave them a national platform to perform on.

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

We’ll actually be doing nineteen episode, split-season of The Top Ten Revealed in 2019. We have eleven episodes in January and then another batch of eight in the summer. The show has been so successful that Mark Cuban has specifically requested a spin off. Right now, I’m in the middle of pre-production on a new show launching in the spring that will complement this show very nicely on the network. If you like Top Ten Revealed you’re going to love this.

The new season of The Top Ten Revealed premieres Sunday, January 13 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV.

Interview: Brooke Josephson discusses working with DJ Rocky G on infectious Re-mix of ‘Mr. Fix It’

Following the release of her acclaimed pop-rock EP, Sexy N’ Domesticated, singer-songwriter Brooke Josephson teamed up with international house producer Rocky G for an infectious remix of her single, “Mr. Fix It.” The electro-house version, complete with a progressive beat and dreamy synths, taunts female domestication by encouraging women to find someone who can cater to her needs.

The accompanying music video for “Mr. Fix It” showcases psychedelic visuals of the artist intermingled with scenes of a Rocky G live performance as well as Josephson’s adorable nine-year-old daughter, Shira.

AXS recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about the remix of “Mr. Fix It” and much more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did the idea to do a remake of “Mr. Fix It” come about?

Brooke Josephson: Over the summer I was reading stories about other women who were pursuing being independent artists (and other careers) while at the same time juggling being a full-time mom. I came across Rocky G’s video where she shared her story about being an international DJ and a mom of six. I thought that was amazing. So I reached out to thank her for her work and inspiration as well as to let her know what I had going on. She responded and the two of us started talking about collaborating. I sent her my music and we started dialoguing about the song and bouncing ideas for a video. She told me that she would be performing at an event in Amsterdam, so I flew over and that’s where we shot the video. We even incorporated some of the events into the video as well.

AXS: What was the process like for re-mixing your original song?

BJ: I sent Rocky G all the stems from the original recording. She laid down a beat, took the original vocals and then added filters and a few other effects to give it an electronic vibe. Then she added an original melody at the intro.

AXS: What was it like working with Rocky G?

BJ: It was so much fun. I quickly discovered that she’s the same version of me, only she was doing EDM music. Her normal routine includes doing shows from ten at night until five in the morning. Then she gets home and instead of going to bed, she stays up and gets the kids ready for school. Then she comes back home and naps and does her work until she has to pick them up again. The same juggle I do in L.A. is what she’s doing in Amsterdam. Even though our styles of music are different our lives are very similar and the drive for what we do is very much the same.

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

Interview: Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan discusses her beautiful holiday album, ‘Best Gift Ever’

With a specialty in Christmas music, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan’s passion for the holiday has driven her to a career that’s unique from other recording artists. Case in point, her new album, Best Gift Ever, which is sure to become a soundtrack of the season.

Led by the infectiousness of the album’s title-track and Chan’s original renditions of such classics as “O Holy Night,” “The First Noelle” (aptly re-named in honor of her daughter), and the unearthed classic, “For Unto Us,” Best Gift Ever gives listeners a refreshing mix of tradition and universal acceptance.

In addition to the new album, Chan is also lending her voice to various charities and radio shows across the country. For her, it’s an honor to not only share her music with the world, but also to give back for the greater good.

AXS recently spoke with Elizabeth Chan about Best Gift Ever and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired you to take on a career as a Christmas songwriter and producer?

Elizabeth Chan: I’ve always wanted to write Christmas music from a very young age. When I was growing up, there was a radio station in New York City that went all Christmas every year, and I remember whenever the station would turn me and my sister would leave the radio on twenty-four hours a day. It wasn’t something I knew I could make a career out of until after I already had another career. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but eventually chose a different path. Then about eight years ago, I had what I guess you’d call a quarter-life crisis. I thought, either I could keep working at the career I was at or do something that makes me happy. I think people are given one shot to do something with their life, and for me, it was music. I thought back to the one time in my life when I was truly happy, and that was when I listening to Christmas music and writing poems. I decided to give myself a shot, and here I am.

AXS: What’s your writing process like?

EC: I’m highly inspired by my family but also approach songwriting like a muscle you flex. I write Christmas music all year long. In the beginning, I’d force myself to write at least one Christmas song every day. Most of them were bad but I quickly amassed a vault of Christmas music. I now have my own sifting method where I’ll wait and see if I can recall a melody and lyrics of a song I wrote several years later. That’s how I know it has a classic, timelessness to it.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few original tracks from Best Gift Ever, starting with the title track. What’s the story behind it?

EC: My husband is the most-simple, happiest guy on the planet who never wants anything for his birthday, anniversary or Christmas. I’m always prodding him by asking, “What do you want? What do you want? What do you want” [laughs]. The bridge is always his answer: “Don’t worry about me. I have everything I want.” It’s also a universal theme with people. Every year, there’s always that sense of hey, what do you want this year? It was a good opportunity to write a song about the way everyone feels.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Elizabeth Chan by Clicking Here!