Guitarist Bruno Major Talks Songwriting, Touring With Sam Smith

Following the release of his 12-song project, A Song For Every Moon, last year, London-based guitarist Bruno Major found himself playing for sold-out audiences in North America, and arenas in the U.K. with pop megastar Sam Smith.

Originally a seasoned jazz musician, Major began his career as a session guitarist at the age of 16. His distinctive playing style, inspired songwriting and soulful vocals have earned him legions of fans worldwide. And with more music and another run of his own headlining dates in Europe and North America on the horizon, he’s an artist to watch in the months ahead.

Guitar World recently spoke with Major about his music and more in this new interview.

To someone who may not be familiar, how would you describe your style of music?

At the core of it, it’s songwriting. I’ve played guitar since I was seven and as a jazz musician, I was influenced by Chet Baker, Louie Armstrong and the Great American Songbook. There’s a lot of musicality and soul that I try to emulate as a songwriter. I’m also a huge fan of electronic music and artists like Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. There’s a lot of hip-hop and electronic music when it comes to the production.

In your opinion, what makes jazz so timeless and special?

There’s a wide spectrum of music that’s covered under the umbrella of jazz. What attracted me was that it seemed to be the key to understanding music at large. Whenever I hear jazz, I can also hear everything I love about pop and classical. In a way, it’s like learning a language, like English or French. If you want to communicate your feelings accurately, you have to be fluent in the language that you’re speaking. Grammatically, jazz is the most difficult form.

What’s your songwriting process typically like? What inspires you when you write?

It can be something that someone says; a line in a book I’m reading, or I can sit down at the piano and an idea will fall out. There’s no real set pattern to the process. All I know is that when the moment comes, and you get the feeling that a song’s coming, you have to drop everything and make sure that you’re ready to chase it.

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Interview: Vixen bassist Share Ross goes in depth on new project, Twin Flames Radio

Vixen bassist, Share Ross describes her new project with husband Bam, Twin Flames Radio, as a love affair from the heart and a crime of passion. The album, more than a decade in the making, draws from the duo’s eclectic 1970s musical sentiment; with a lush, layered production as well as a multitude of harmonic-laden and hooky songs.

Case in point is the infectious track, “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll,” a song with a relevant, anthemic chorus complete with a John Lennon-esque “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” refrain performed by members of The School of Rock. Twin Flames Radio also has its share of musical guests, which includes Tyketto guitarist, Chris Green and Vixen’s Janet Gardner,

With Twin Flames Radio, Ross – already well-known for her work in Vixen as well as 90’s super-group, Contraband, Bubble and more recently, as bassist in Joe Elliot’s Down ‘n’ Outz, and Bam (Bubble, Jo Dog & The Desperados) have created an album that combines the best elements of 70’s rock and pop with a polished, 21st century charm.

AXS recently spoke with Share Ross about Twin Flames Radio and more in this new interview.

AXS: How did the Twin Flames Radio project come about?

Share Ross: It was something that’s been happening for a really long time. Bam and I have had a band, Bubble, since the nineties. But after we moved to Florida and started playing again, we discovered that our songwriting had changed. The songs we wrote just didn’t fit the “Bubble” wrapping, so many of them sat for a really long time. It took a bold step to make this project, but we were committed to it.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like?

SR: It was all over the place. I’m one of those people who believes that you don’t actually write a song. You have a muse and the song is given to you. A lot of what you hear on the album was actually recorded during the writing process. In fact, 75% of the original vocals on the song, “Got That Thing” were made up on the spot. Other songs, like “Peace & Love & Rock and Roll” began with Bam just sitting down with the guitar.

AXS: You mentioned “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll.” What else can you tell me about it?

SR: Lyrically, it’s written from the stand point of still being here with all of our friends. We’re all older than we ever thought we’d be, and we’re still doing things in music. The musical approach was very interesting. As we were writing we kept thinking, Ok, what Would [David] Bowie do? What would T-Rex do? What would Big Star do? It was a totally conscious decision.

AXS: How did the kids from The School of Rock get involved on the track?

SR: There’s a point in the song where I had the idea of having the vocal part sound like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Bam and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to sing it like little kids, so I thought of the School Of Rock. We went down there with microphones and five adorable girls sang it. It was really cool.

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Interview with Share Ross by Clicking Here!

AXS Premiere: Guitarist Christie Lenée Unveils Her Infectious Cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle On The Hill’

Christie Lenée, the 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion has been wowing audiences with her guitar wizardry. Through the use of harmonics and tapping, Lenée’s infectious style utilizes all parts of the guitar and combines elements of folk, rock and pop into one tasty and eclectic musical stew.

Lenée’s brand new video, a cover of Ed Sheeran’s hit, “Castle On The Hill” showcases the guitarist at her finest.

AXS recently spoke with Lenée about her new video and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What made you decide to do a version of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill”?

Christie Lenée: I don’t do covers very often, but that song really hits home for me. It’s one of those songs I wish that I had written. Throughout high school, you grow up in different crowds. Some people become doctors; get into music, or find themselves becoming stars on Broadway, while others die at a young age from going down the wrong roads. There’s a feeling of freedom and hope and remembering the good times in that song. I love the symbolism and thinking about what could’ve been or what might have happened if you went down another road. It can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

AXS: How do you approach taking the original version of the song and transposing it into your style of playing?

CL: I’ll start out by first learning the song the original way. Next, I’ll listen to the bass and other instruments to hear what everything in the song is doing. Then, I’ll figure out things to emulate what I’m hearing, using open strings and tunings that fill in the bassline and chords. The biggest challenge is often figuring out what key to sing it in, especially if it’s a male voice. In this case, Ed sings in a lower octave and then in the chorus, he sings it up high.

Click here to listen to  Lenée’s version of “Castle On The Hill”.

AXS: How would you describe your style of music?

CL: I’ve always described it as what it would be like if Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges and Dave Matthews had a child [laughs]. They’ve all been a huge influence on me. My favorite thing to do is combining the tapping style into contemporary music and seeing how they can work together. I’m constantly working toward integrating those sounds together.

AXS: Is this song part of a large project you’re working on?

CL: This is the beginning of a series of songs I’m putting out that will eventually lead up to an entire album. Each song will have a video to go along with it, and when everyone is familiar with them, I’ll release an album along with a few other surprises!

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Interview with Christie Lenée by Clicking Here!

‘When Legends Rise’: Sully Erna and Tony Rombola Discuss Godsmack’s New Album

Photo: Troy Smith

20 years after the release of their debut album—and more than 20 million in album sales later—Godsmack are back with their seventh studio album, When Legends Rise. It’s the band’s first album of new material in four years, following the monster success of 2014’s 1000hp.

Produced by frontman Sully Erna and Erik Ron, the sonically intense, layered record contains the signature Godsmack sound, while pushing the band to new limits of musical creativity at the same time.

From the tribal percussion and lethal riffs at the opening of the title track to the groove-fueled power of songs like “Bulletproof,” “Every Part of Me,” and “Someday,” a theme of rebirth runs through the entire album. When Legends Rise also contains the infectious sleeper track, “Under Your Scars,” the first ballad to ever make its way onto a Godsmack album.

Guitar World recently sat down with Erna and Godsmack’s lead guitarist, Tony Rombola, to talk about When Legends Rise, gear and more in this new interview.

How does When Legends Rise compare to some of Godsmack’s previous work?

Sully Erna: This record is a complete rebirth and a conscious decision to experiment and explore new sounds and more modern melodies, and to invent the next chapter in the band’s career. From zero to 20 [years] has certainly been one journey, and we were beginning to feel like the same thing was happening over and over. So, we took the time to dig in and get to work on taking it to a new level. There’s a whole new generation of fans coming up, and we want to evolve with them. There’s been a lot of changes in our own lives as well and I think this music reflects that.

What’s your songwriting process like?

Erna: It happens in all different ways. Most of the time, it starts with music. But there have been songs that began acapella and then the music was added later. There’s even been times where I’ll play drums and write to grooves I enjoy playing. For the most part, we write what we feel is the best music at the time and hope other people will enjoy it as well. This album also gave me opportunity to explore writing with outside writers who normally wouldn’t be a part of what we do. It opened a different side and allowed me to think outside the box.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “When Legends Rise.”

Erna: The title is a metaphorical statement for rebirth. It’s really about this band coming to a place, both individually and musically, where we wanted to burn this thing down and rebuild it in a different way. For me, I’d gone through a transition over the last few years where I eliminated all the negative things from my life. The other guys in the band were also going through their own transformations, so there were a lot of things that seemed like a rebirth. “Legends” is a metaphor for the phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s a theme that runs throughout the whole record.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Sully Erna & Tony Rombola
By Clicking Here!

Interview: The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain discusses band’s North American Tour de Prance and new album, ‘Pinewood Smile’

Photo: Simon Emmett

Multi-award winning English rockers The Darkness have recently kicked off the North American leg of their Tour de Prance. The new tour is in support of their critically acclaimed fifth album, Pinewood Smile, which was released last fall.

The new album, produced by Grammy Award winning Adrian Bushby, is the band’s most infectious and guitar-driven album to date and features anthemic tracks like “All The Pretty Girls” and “Japanese Prisoner of Love” as well as the catchy, groove-fueled “Solid Gold”.

The Darkness is: Justin Hawkins (vocals / guitar), Dan Hawkins (guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums).

AXS recently spoke with bassist, Frankie Poullain about the band’s tour and album in this fun new interview.

AXS: What can fans North American expect from The Darkness’ Tour de Prance?

Frankie Poullain: Wham! Bam! Thank you glam!

AXS: How would you describe the album, Pinewood Smile in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?

FP: It’s equal parts silly and heartfelt. Like life itself, minus the regrets.

AXS: What is The Darkness’ writing process like? Does it begin with a melody? A hook? 

FP: Catching the big fish as David Lynch says. A hook is crucial. Then, we throw them back in the water when we play them live.

AXS: What inspires you personally when you write and create?

FP: I provide the chips to accompany the fish, or fries as you yanks would call them. And I sprinkle over the malt vinegar which you lot miss out on. Ketchup or mayo on fish and chips is an utter disgrace.

AXS: I’d like to ask you about a few tracks from Pinewood Smile and get your thoughts on them, starting with the “Solid Gold”.

FP: It’s a song about how ridiculous and delusional and magical it is to play in a rock n roll band. With a chorus lyric, “And We’re Never Gonna Stop Sh#ttin’ Out Solid Gold”, which encapsulates those delusions.

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Interview with Frankie Poullain by Clicking Here!

Interview: Lita Ford talks new tour, music and career highlights

Photo: Shovelhead Studios

With a career that began as a member of The Runaways in the mid-seventies and culminated with a hugely successful career both as a solo artist and guitar legend, Lita Ford has earned the title of rock royalty. Even Marshall Amplification and Guitar Player magazine nominated Ford as a certified legend and the First Lady of Rock Guitar at a recent NAMM show.

With more than a dozen albums under her belt and showing no signs of ever slowing down, Ford is currently out on the road celebrating her musical career as well as prepping for several new projects.

AXS recently spoke with her about her new tour, career, guitars and music in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from your new tour this year?

Lita Ford: It’s a really fun show; filled with power, energy and great musicians. The team I’ve put together is so good and so tight. Even in the middle of the fastest song we play we’ve got breaks; and they’re so spot on, it’s like a machine.

AXS: This year marks the 35th anniversary of your debut solo album, Out For Blood. What was your mindset like going into that first record? Were there any nerves?

LF: I get nervous about other things, but as far as playing guitar, making music and going on stage goes, I just do what I want to do and don’t even think about it. I’ve always had the attitude that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. It’s something that’s always stuck with me. As far as that first album, I was just being myself and wrote down what was happening in my life at the time. It was incredibly easy. The music and lyrics flowed out of me like someone slit your wrist and your blood was gushing out [laughs].

AXS: The Lita album from 1988 was another memorable album. What are some of your best memories of that time?

LF: I wrote an autobiography that actually explains it all [“Living Like A Runaway”]. I wrote it myself because no one else could dictate what I went through with that album – the highs and lows, the fights and all the fun we had. It was a really great time. It’s a great album and the fans certainly haven’t forgotten it.

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Interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here!

Interview: Comedian Kathleen Madigan talks ‘Boxed Wine & Bigfoot’ standup tour, career

Photo: Luzena Adams

With more than two dozen appearances on late-night television to coincide with sold out standup performances and riding along with Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of his hit Netflix show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, it’s safe to say that Kathleen Madigan is the quintessential comedian.

The bawdy, warm-hearted Madigan is currently riding the wave of success from her sixth album, “Bothering Jesus,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Comedy Charts in 2016 and is taken from the Netflix special of the same name.

Madigan is currently on the road in support of her coast to coast, 32-date, “Boxed Wine & Bigfoot” tour. AXS recently spoke with her about her new tour, her career and more in this new interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from your “Boxed Wine & Bigfoot” Tour?

Kathleen Madigan: More of what I’ve been doing for the past thirty years. It’s different material, but the same subjects. Things that make for a big bar conversation I have with myself.

AXS: How would you describe your brand of comedy?

KM: It’s very conversational, or as Lewis Black would say, “A lady with a lot of opinions and very deep facts.” [laughs].

AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for your material?

KM: It comes from everyday life but also current events and what’s in the news. For example, it’s hard for me to believe that an airplane with 239 people on it can go missing, and everyone is kind of cool with it. It’s crazy to say that we’ve lost our planes. That’s an acceptable statement to make about a boat in 1492, but not in today’s world.

Another thing is UFOs. I recently read an article online where two American Airlines pilots; another plane and the control tower all said they saw a UFO flying above them. Every bit of it is online, including the conversations from the control tower. What I don’t understand is why that’s not the lead story on the news. Stormy Daniels is a porn star on Earth. These people are saying that there are people who aren’t from Earth ON Earth! [laughs].

AXS: What would you say is the biggest challenge of doing standup comedy these days?

KM: Current events and politics. It was never really a problem until Donald [Trump] came along. I’m not a political person, and I still have my Bush and Obama jokes. But, for some reason, Trump has divided the teams so clearly that each side feels so passionate it’s almost personal. I could talk about Mitt Romney all day long, but no one would ever come to his defense to the point where they’d be willing to throw their life on the line. Whether you’re left, right or somewhere in the middle, it’s never conjured up this level of craziness.

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Interview with Kathleen Madigan by Clicking Here!