Category: Interview

Interview: Singer-songwriter Joey Sykes discusses his new project, Honey River

Inspired by his love of California rock and frequent songwriting trips to Nashville, singer-songwriter, and Babysguitarist, Joey Sykes has formed a new project, Honey River. A trio that blends the influence of country-rock artists like the Eagles, Tom Petty and Jackson Browne with well-crafted lyrics and insatiable melodies.

Joined by Jay Mags (vocals/bass/guitar) and Chris Vincent (guitars/vocals/dobro/mandolin), Sykes and Honey River have recently released their first single and video, “Peace, Love”. An infectiously harmonic track that calls for a simpler time in an ever-changing and volatile world.

AXS recently spoke with Joey Sykes about Honey River and their forthcoming album, I Miss America, songwriting and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did your new project, Honey River, come about?

Joey Sykes: I’ve been going to Nashville for the last twelve years and have written with some of the most amazing writers. During this time, I’ve been piling up a lot of really great songs and was disappointed that they weren’t getting their due. I’ve always been a fan of the Southern California and country-rock genres and it inspired me to go for it. I pulled in a few great drummers on the album, including Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty). I wanted to make the record I wanted to make and I’m really proud of it.

AXS: How would you describe the music of Honey River?

JS: First and foremost, it’s always about the song. The eleven songs on this record are very strong, both lyrically and melodically. As far as a sound, Americana and country rock are good ways to describe it. There are country elements in the lyric writing and harmonies, but it also has the Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and Eagles kind of rock.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like?

JS: Whenever I get in a room with someone, I’ll usually be the one to throw out the musical idea and melody. But the thing that’s great about working with Nashville lyric writers is that they’re able to dig in and craft a really clean story. I just love that. That’s what I learned on for the bulk of this album.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “Peace, Love”.

JS: That was a song I wrote myself. The world seems to be at a crossroad right now. I’m not a news junkie but it always seems to be in your face. “Peace, Love” is really just a simple summary. Is it too much to ask to just live our lives, have a laugh here and there and have peace? To just be happy with whatever you are whatever level you’re at? It’s a simple thought but that’s what the song is about. It’s a very timely message.

AXS: How about the track, “I Miss America”?

JS: We’re shooting a video for that one right now. Anyone who sees the title might think its political but it’s not. It’s basically just me writing about what I miss about growing up and what America meant to me as a kid. Simpler things once again. It’s about the things you have growing up that, as you get a little older, don’t seem to be as readily available as they were when you were younger.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Joey Sykes by Clicking Here!


Dispatch Guitarist Chad Stokes Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Location 13’

Photo: Allen Ralph

Following the success of their first album in five years, America, Location 12, Dispatch—along with producer John Dragonetti and engineer Mike Sawitzke—went back to the studio to wrap up some recording they didn’t finish the first time around.

The result is Location 13, a collection of material the band has been steadily releasing, one song at a time, every few weeks throughout the summer and will culminate as an album after the last song is released.

The new album finds the band continuing to push boundaries and break new ground. With honest, emotional storytelling and an eclectic sound that infuses the best elements of rock, Americana and folk, Dispatch are entering a new era with the passion and vigor of a band in its infancy and the experience of one that’s been together for more than twenty years.

Guitar World recently sat down with Chad Stokes, the band’s guitarist, to talk about Location 13, gear and more in this new interview.

How does the music on Location 13 compare to some of the band’s previous work?

This album came on the heels of America, Location 12. I see them both as siblings to each other, but this one is a bit darker and a little heavier. The songs we’ve written over these last two years feel more cohesive compared to our recording and writing processes of years gone by.

What was the writing process like?

For me, it usually starts with just messing around with a melody line on a guitar. If it sticks with you as the days go by, then you start fleshing it out. As you start working on it more you begin to see if the song is showing up. Sometimes, you feel like you may be walking through mud, but if you keep walking you get that little extra thing that tells you the song is worth finishing and sharing with the guys.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Location 13, beginning with “Letter To Lady J.”

That song started right around the time when Eric Garner was killed by police in New York. It was preceded by Trayvon Martin and followed by Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. I’m not anti-police at all and have great friends in the field, but there is a racial problem we have in this country with authority, profiling, fear and accountability. The chorus is vague enough to be about justice, but for me the genesis of the song came from police brutality and the overuse of violence and lack of accountability.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Chad Stokes by Clicking Here!

Interview: John Ford Coley discusses ‘Rock The Yacht’ tour, memorable moments

On Friday, Aug. 17, John Ford Coley, along with fellow artists Ambrosia, Stephen Bishop, Peter Beckett (Player) and Robbie Dupree will bring their Rock The Yacht Tour to the Event Center at SugarHouse Casino.

The classically trained Coley, whose partnership with late England Dan began with the duo performing psychedelic, soul and fusion jazz before settling on their signature sound that became synonymous with Seventies radio. Songs like “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” “Nights Are Forever Without You” and “Love Is The Answer” are still relevant today and continue to evoke warm memories of times gone by.

Coley continues to write, record and perform to audiences worldwide. His recent album, Eclectic, is a two-CD set and features artists like Vince Gill, Collin Raye and Jamie O’Neal. Like his work with England Dan, Coley’s new music transports you to a special time with good feelings.

AXS recently spoke with John Ford Coley about the upcoming Rock The Yacht Tour stop in Philadelphia and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from your upcoming performance?

John Ford Coley: People really enjoy going down memory lane, and that’s what’s so fun about these shows. Sometimes we’ll try something a little different, but we all enjoy playing the songs people are familiar with.

AXS: What do you think makes the music of that era so timeless and special?

JFC: It’s the melodies. There are so many memorable melodies people want to go back to. They’re something you can sing along with. And if you can sing along, it evokes a certain feeling.

AXS: I want to ask you about a few of your biggest hits with England Dan. What can you tell me about “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight?”

JFC: That song was written by Parker McGee and I still remember when they brought it to us. Dan and I wanted to be known as singer/songwriters, so we weren’t too happy about having to sing someone else’s song. We also thought it was more of a female song with a feminine angle, but they asked us to try it. We were skeptical at first, but then it started going up the charts. That’s when we said, “Parker? Buddy? What else have you got?” [laughs].

You can read the rest of my
Interview with John Ford Coley by Clicking Here!

Interview: Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia discuss their new duo project, Everette

After individually cutting their teeth in the clubs and honing their musical chemistry, singer-songwriters Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia decided to join forces and become Everette; an explosive new duo who’s organic, back-porch style approach to songwriting is as infectious as their own personalities.

One listen to Everette’s debut EP, Slow Roll,  reveals the duo’s deep, blues-inspired escapism of grit and groove. Fueled with tastefully woven tales of struggle and heartbreak as well as stories about having fun and letting go. The debut single and video, “Slow Roll,” showcases Everette’s knack for combining friendly dance beats with an unforgettable chorus. Other stand out tracks on the new EP, like the anthemic “Mugshots,” reveal an intoxicating vibe and groove that’s sure to become a soundtrack of summer.

AXS recently spoke with Rupard and Olympia about Everette, Slow Roll and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did this partnership come about?

Brent Rupard: Anthony and I met back in our hometown of Bullitt County, Kentucky. We were both playing music in other bands at the time but quickly hit it off as friends and music collaborators when we started writing songs together.

AXS: Why the name, “Everette”?

BR: It actually has more to do with the film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” We’d been struggling to come up with a band name. Nothing seemed to fit. Then one day, we took a break from a session and stumbled on that movie. The whole vibe of how they went on to become the Soggy Bottom Boys was our soul and journey. It’s been a crazy ride to be where we are now.

AXS: How would you describe your style of music?

Anthony Olympia: Brent often says that we’re back-porch rock and roll. It’s bonfire night; where everyone has a guitar, spoons, a tambourine, or a glass of bourbon and is sitting around jamming. It’s a communal spirit, but we also have the rock and roll element where things might get a little crazy at times.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like? 

BR: It can come from a lot of different things. Sometimes it starts out with just a lyric idea, but most of the time we’ll start jamming to get the vibe and see what the day has to offer.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Everette by Clicking Here!

Interview: John Schneider discusses his 52-song project, ‘The Odyssey’

Although best known for his iconic role of Bo Duke from “The Dukes Of Hazzard” and on shows like “Smallville” and his current series “The Have And Have Nots,” veteran actor John Schneider is also a celebrated country music artist with more than ten albums to his credit along with four #1 singles.

This year, the singer-songwriter has launched perhaps his most ambitious project yet. A 52-track, song a week, compilation called The Odyssey. Together with famed drummer/producer Paul Leim, Schneider has recorded fifty-two all-new, fully orchestrated songs with the help of acclaimed songwriters like Paul Overstreet, Chuck Cannon, Mac Davis and Bill Anderson, along with some of Nashville’s finest musicians. A recent track, “Can I Buy You A Beer,” offers an alternative and perhaps more appropriate way of thanking our military veterans and first responders for their heroism and service to our country.

AXS recently spoke with Schneider about The Odyssey, songwriting, and the upcoming 40th anniversary of “The Dukes of Hazzard” in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired your new project, The Odyssey?

John SchneiderIt’s all about the story, but a song a week? No one has ever released a full-blown, fully orchestrated, mastered single every week. People are wondering how we did it, but that’s part of The Odyssey and storytelling. We cut all of these songs live. All of us in the same room together, counting it down and just going for it.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?

JS: For me, it usually starts with a bit of humor; like “My wife ran away with my best friend. I’m sure gonna miss him!” [laughs]. Other times, it could be more serious family issues like bills and too much month at the end of the money. There’s another song, “If These Walls Could Sing,” that’s told from the perspective of one of the last buildings in Nashville that were once a staple of the music business. Everyone from Elvis to The Rolling Stones and Willie Nelson has played there. Every time they tear down a great old building to put up a box monstrosity it’s aggravating, and that’s great kindling for a good song. But it’s not something where we just sit down and say, “Let’s write a song.”. It’s more about sitting down and asking, “What’s going on in your life right now?”

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from The Odyssey, starting with “Can I Buy You A Beer.”

JS: I am always one to thank firefighters, military, police and first responders for what they do. They’re the ones running toward while the rest of us are running away. It’s common that we thank people in uniform for their service, but we’ve been saying it for so long that it’s almost become second nature. I love the notion of coming up with a new way of saying thank you.

AXS: How about the track, “The Phantom of The Grand Ole Opry”?

JS: That’s a song about dreaming big. You can’t get anywhere without dreaming and going for it every minute of every day. When I hear something that speaks of dreaming and dreaming big, I’m attracted to that because I’m a dreamer. That’s a story and that means something to me.

Read the rest of my
Interview with John Schneider by Clicking Here!

Interview: Guitarist Malina Moye discusses her upcoming acting role in new film, ‘The Samuel Project’

It’s been an incredible year for guitarist, Malina Moye. Not only did the beautiful, multi-talented artist release her genre-defying collection, Bad As I Wanna Be, but the new album also marked Moye’s first #1 album on the Billboard Blues album chart and featured songs that infused the best elements of funk, rock, blues and soul.

Now, Moye sets her sights on another side of creativity – acting— where she’ll make her big screen debut in the Marc Fusco directed film, “The Samuel Project.”  The story centers on a teenager named Eli (Ryan Ochoa) who, for a school art project, gets to know his Jewish grandfather, Samuel (played by the legendary Hal Linden), who was rescued from Nazi capture as a young boy. Moye plays the role of Violet Leroux, a bohemian art director who befriends Eli and shows him what’s possible with his gift.

Moye also penned a song specifically for the film. The emotionally charged anthem, “Enough,” which features her sultry vocals and guitar wizardry. The track is also featured on Bad As I Wanna Be.  The Samuel Project hits theaters on Friday, Sept. 28.

AXS recently spoke with Malina Moye about the film, her new single and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: Many people know you for your infectious brand of guitar playing. Was acting something you always wanted to explore as well?

Malina Moye: It’s something that I started to discover early on in high school. I remember a friend of mine had asked me about filling in as an actor for a project she had been working on. I did the scene and really enjoyed it and got a lot of great feedback. At one point, I remember having to make a decision on whether to pursue acting or music. I obviously chose music because it was my passion and calling. But when this opportunity came up, it was another way for me to express my creativity.

Click here for an introduction to Malina Moye.

AXS: What attracted you to “The Samuel Project” – was it the story? Your character? Getting the chance to work with some of these other amazing actors?

MM: It was all of the above. Everyone wants to show what you can do, and this was a way to show people another side of me. It’s a character I thought I could really bring something to and have people see me in a different light. Ryan Ochoa plays the teen my character befriends and I help him realize what’s possible with his gift. Hal Linden is such a legendary actor, so to also have a few scenes with him was unbelievable.

AXS: What else can you tell me about your character?

MM: Violet’s a classy, bohemian art director with a great personality and is one of Samuel’s favorite customers. Whenever she comes in she brings the greatest energy, light and all things positive.

Click here to watch the trailer for “The Samuel Project.”

AXS: What are some of the differences between performing music and acting? Is there one that gives you more creative satisfaction?

MM: When you’re on stage playing it’s a whole different feeling. That stage is the set and there’s no do-over. You feed off the energy from the audience, and when you get off stage at the end, you’re amped up. It’s the fifth gear of entertaining. With acting; and especially if you’re doing a deep, heavy scene, it can take a lot out of you. But that just shows you what an incredible instrument your body is. You have to be present and in the moment for both, and that’s what I love about it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Malina Moye by Clicking Here.

‘Neapolitan Sky’: Actress Ashley Watkins Discusses Voice-Over Project

Photo: Josh Daugherty

There are few artists with the ability to successfully transition between the world of dance, feature film and commercial work. Even fewer can successfully maneuver these mediums with desire, versatility and charm.

Ashley Watkins, a professional actress and dancer, and a fixture of the entertainment industry for nearly ten years, meets all of this criteria.

An accomplished artist and performer, her resume encapsulates the full spectrum of drama, comedy, horror and dance/music videos. Her versatility, prowess and beauty are matched only by her innate ability to draw deep emotion.

Watkins takes on multiple roles in her latest project; providing the voice-over narration for James Wood’s suspense-thriller, “Neapolitan Sky”.

In “Neapolitan Sky”, dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.

Watkins’ entertaining and infectious voice can be heard on the Audible version of “Neapolitan Sky”, which is available now!

I recently spoke with Ashley Watkins about her work on “Neapolitan Sky” and more in this exclusive new interview.

Was voice-over work something you’ve always done as an actress?

I’ve done some voice work in the past but never voice-over narration. So, this was totally new for me. It was fun to delve into the characters and find out who they are and then bring them to life. At one point, I didn’t even have to look at my notes to see how to do each voice. It came very naturally.

What are some of the differences between typical acting and doing voice-over for a book?

In a film, there’s typically one actor with one character. This was one actor playing multiple characters. So, I had to focus not only on the main character, but the side characters as well and then bring them all to life. They all come up very quickly in the book, and I remember at one point five of the characters were together on one page! Having to distinguish between the voices when the men were having a conversation was also a bit of a challenge.

Was there anything you had to do to prepare to take on this project?

Just like a movie script, I had to read through the story and then break down the acting in each of the chapters. I used a different color highlighter on the page to mark each character who was speaking. That way, I could prepare by seeing in advance who I was going to be speaking for while I was recording. I also had to make sure I was able to pronounce words correctly, so I did some research beforehand. After I had recorded each chapter, it then went into the editing process where I would clean up any excess sounds. I didn’t want any breaths or smacks and wanted only true silence between every space and at the end of each chapter.

What did you enjoy most about the story?

I liked the twist. It was something I never saw coming. I’m reading this book with a character I can completely relate to: a girl with a military dad who grew up in the military and had a close group of friends. I related to so many things and then, out of nowhere, the twist just blew me away. You think everything is comfortable and then something happens that makes you re-think about life. You’re asking yourself, is this real? I felt for every character in the book. 

You began your career as a figure skater. What made you make the transition to acting?

When I moved to Northern California when I was twelve, I had to quit ice skating because there wasn’t anywhere to skate that was within driving distance. The closest thing I could do that was similar was cheerleading and dance. As I started doing that, I also fell in love with drama and theater, which eventually opened the door to film. At the time, I was really into leading lady characters like Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julia Ormund. I went to college and got a theater degree and as soon as I graduated college, I went straight to L.A..

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

I have a movie called “Professor Dario Bava” where I play the villain, Camilla. We’re going through an Indigogo phase right now. Our director, Phil Mucci, also wants to turn it into a comic book series to build the fan base. We’ll probably start filming in the spring. 

What gives you the most satifaction about doing “Neapolitan Sky“?

I liked that I was able to add all of my touches on it. A writer brings the story to life and I got to bring the characters to life, vocally. Normally, there’d be an audio expert coming in to edit when everything is finished. But since I also did the editing, I learned a lot about the process. It was fulfilling to know I could put all that work into something and people will be able to hear it. It was fun to start the project and see it through to completion.