‘Psychotic Symphony’: Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal Discusses New Supergroup Project, Sons of Apollo

Photo by:Hristo Shindov

Featuring ex-members of Dream Theater, Guns N’ Roses and Journey, Sons Of Apollo is an exciting new supergroup consisting of Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

The group’s highly anticipated album, Psychotic Symphony, is a welcome introduction to the band, and pulls heavily from the quintet’s eclectic musical influences, which range from vintage prog to classic and hard rock.

Particularly notable on Psychotic Symphony are Thal’s jaw-dropping runs on his 24-fret Vigier double-neck, and his fluid transitions from fretted to fretless.

Guitar World recently spoke with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal about Sons of Apollo and more in this new interview.

How did Sons of Apollo come together?

We certainly weren’t strangers to each other. I had worked with Mike on Metal Allegiance and over the years have jammed with him and Billy in various situations. I also jammed with the guys and Derek at Progressive Nation at Sea a few years ago and have been a huge fan of Jeff’s ever since I heard him on the Yngwie album. It was only a matter of time before we [began to make] music together.

How would you describe Psychotic Symphony in terms of its sound?

When I think of the album, I think of the writing and recording process and the personal involvement. To me, when I hear the album, I hear five guys paying tribute to their influences. I hear The Who, Van-Halen, Led Zeppelin and Randy Rhoads. Everything that inspired each member of the band to play music the way that they do. There’s Billy’s distinct, undeniable tone, Mike’s tremendous playing, Derek—who is the greatest guitarist you will ever hear on keyboards—and Jeff, who takes the craziest songs and makes them into something you can sing along to. He’s a great singer with a fantastic voice.

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Interview with Ron “Bumblefoot” That by Clicking Here!

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Interview: David Duchovny discusses his new album, ‘Every Third Thought,’ songwriting

David Duchovny, the award-winning actor, director and novelist has just released his new album, Every Third Thought. It’s the follow up to his 2015 debut, Hell or Highwater.

Crafted with elements of folk, classic rock and pop, Every Third Thoughtshowcases Duchovny’s eclectic influences, which range from artists like The Beatles and David Bowie to the bright, haunting and acoustic-driven songs from 1970’s bands like America.

Recorded in Brooklyn in December of 2016, Duchovny finds a deeper level of lyrical maturity and musical expression with Every Third Thought. His honest storytelling speaks of personal reflection but is meticulously crafted with universal themes.

AXS recently spoke with David Duchovny about Every Third Thought, songwriting and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How does Every Third Thought compare to your first album, Hell Or Highwater?

David Duchovny: This album is more musically varied and ambitious. The songs all started the same way, which was me throwing chords together with an acoustic guitar and then singing my words over it. Once I started collaborating more with my band–who are such advanced musicians–it allowed them to bring in their own sonic tastes. So, it wasn’t just me saying I’ve got this song but was more like I’m hearing a David Bowie, “Heroes” vibe, which was the case with the song, “Half Life.” Or from me saying “Last First Time” feels like a 70’s power rock ballad. They were able to open the song up and execute the things that I couldn’t.

AXS: Have you found that your lyrical style has matured with this new album?

DD: Having written a bunch of songs, I’m starting to get a better feel for how lyrics work. I still very clearly recall writing my first song, “The Things” on Hell or Highwater. I remember thinking that if I’m going to write a song, I’m not going to say anything specific in it because I don’t want people asking me what it means. And what could be more neutral than saying, “It’s about this “thing” [laughs].” I try to straddle the line of a song being very personal but also universal. Everybody’s life has a very similar shape. You try to write as personally as you can and write to the shape of everybody’s life.

AXS: What was the writing process like for Every Third Thought?

DD: It’s always different. Sometimes, I’ll have a melodic hook in my mind and a chord progression waiting for words. Other times, the words will come first and they’re waiting for a melody. I’ve got a bunch of lyrics off to the side on my iPad and a bunch of progressions off to another side. Sometimes, I’ll sit down and start introducing them to one another and see who wants to make out [laughs].

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Interview with David Duchovny by Clicking Here!

Interview: Guitarist Nita Strauss Discusses her new Signature Model, The Ibanez Jiva

Photo by: Samuel Lathrop

Nita Strauss, the Los Angeles-based guitarist known for her shredding skills as part of the Alice Cooper band, was recently awarded her first Signature model guitar from Ibanez.

The Ibanez JIVA gets its name from the Hindu word, which means the vital energy of life and the creative essence that lives on after the body passes away.

Strauss’ JIVA is based on Ibanez’s popular S-series model and features a quilted maple top on a mahogany body. There’s also a 24-fret, ebony fingerboard with a uniquely designed “Beaten Path” EKG-Style inlay. The guitar also comes with Strauss’ signature DiMarzio pickups, which the guitarist designed herself.

The Ibanez JIVA’s unveiling at this winter’s NAMM Convention makes Strauss the company’s first female guitarist with a Signature model. Strauss has been on the Ibanez roster since 2008 and the JIVA is a well-deserved award that recognizes one of the most inspiring and hardest working guitarists in music.

Strauss is currently gearing up for a new round of touring with Alice Cooper and is deep into production on her first guitar-driven, instrumental solo album.

AXS recently spoke with Nita Strauss about her new Signature model guitar, her upcoming tour with Alice Cooper and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: Where did the idea and inspiration for your Signature model come from?

Nita Strauss: I think once you start playing guitar and learning about their components, you start figuring out what features would make it better. So, like most guitars players, I started designing my Signature guitar when I was in grade school [laughs]. I would always write down all my ideas into a notebook that I would carry around. This year is my tenth anniversary with Ibanez, and last year was when the discussion for a Signature model first started. I already had a clear picture of what I wanted from all the endless decisions I’d done in my head. So, once the final decision was made, it was a pretty straightforward process.

AXS: Why the name, “JIVA”?

NS: The word “jiva” is a Hindu word that means the part of yourself where all your creativity, ideas and life force comes from. It’s your jiva manifesting itself. Whether it’s your art, music or creativity, it’s the part of you that lives on after your body passes away. I thought, what more appropriate thing to call my guitar. On a personal note, my Dad’s band was called Jiva a long time ago. Since my dad’s the one who taught me how to play guitar, it’s also a fitting tribute as well.

AXS: What can you tell me about the guitar?

NS: It’s a mahogany body with custom maple top and ebony fretboard that weighs exactly seven pounds. That combination of wood gives it the tone I love and sets the guitar apart from others in the S-series. The Deep Space Blonde color is also unique as well.

AXS: What about the guitar’s pickups?

NS: Choosing a pickup was a trial and error process. I wanted something with a lot of body and sustain. Something that could hit top harmonics and hold them out but also not be too noisy on stage. We have a happy medium with my DiMarzio Pandemonium pickups. They’re really bright with harmonic resonance but are also really quiet.

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Interview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here!

‘Dinner With The Alchemist’: Jenna St. John Discusses New Supernatural Drama

In the early 1900’s, a wealthy alchemist, Jacques St. Germaine, [Dan Istrate], travels to New Orleans to seek help from the legendary voodoo priestess Marie Laveau [Dionne Audain]. When a spate of murders are uncovered, Jacques and the quarreling locals butt heads as they try to discover the identity of the killer.

Featuring a cast of characters pulled directly from actual police reports, “Dinner with the Alchemist” weaves historical fact and imaginative storytelling into a mysterious supernatural drama.

Written by Jenna St. John [who also appears in the role of Abigail] and directed by Kevin Good, “Dinner With The Alchemist” is part love story, part supernatural thriller and part historical documentary of life in early twentieth century New Orleans.

With its rich musical score, brilliant cinematography and a diverse and believable ensemble cast, the filmmakers have succeeded in delivering one of the best and most imaginative independent films of 2018.

“Dinner With The Alchemist” also stars Megan Graves, Tamara Johnson and Regen Wilson.

I recently spoke with Jenna St. John about “Dinner With The Alchemist” and more in this exclusive new interview.

Where did you draw the inspiration for “Dinner With The Alchemist”?

I had gone on vacation to New Orleans with my sister, and the two of us walked around the city and visited a lot of restaurants. They have plaques on buildings describing a lot of mysterious creatures and dark things that had happened there, and we came upon one story about Jacques St. Germaine that seemed too spooky to be true. So, we spent some time in the library going through microfiche to see if there were any news clippings that could prove or disprove it. We wound up finding a police report that verified some of the events. At that moment, we said this has to be a movie already. When we found out that wasn’t the case, I realized it was something I had to write. That’s how it all began.

What’s your writing process like?

For this film, I did a lot of research, and the first several drafts of the script were just me getting to know the characters. I don’t have a particular time and day that I write, but I have a personal rule to write at least one line a day. Sometimes, it may only be just that one line, but usually it will turn into a few pages.

How would you describe the story of “Dinner With The Alchemist”?

For me, it’s a big ensemble piece where every character and arc has its own love story. That was the driving backbone and connective theme. It’s also a story about people in New Orleans from all different walks of life who are affected by these strange murders. We have the wealthy alchemist, two dock workers, police officers and prostitutes, and these events affect each of them in different ways. My character, Abigail, is one of the prostitutes that lets the others know there’s a real threat to them. Without her, there would be this false sense of security.

What was the filming process like?

It was a very tight schedule. We had a small budget, a huge cast and a bunch of locations.  Principal photography was sixteen days, but Kevin made the most of every moment. I don’t know anyone more capable of directing this piece other than him.

Photo by: Kevin Good

The musical score for “Dinner With The Alchemist” is so beautiful. What can you tell me about it?

We got really lucky when we got composer, John Piscitello. He gave an organic quality and life to the music. We had a tense soundtrack, with a lot of Phillip Glass and Clair De Lune that we used as inspiration. John worked really hard to get the perfect sound.

Did you always know that you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

I originally went to grad school to be a novelist. I had done some acting in the past and after I left school I started looking into producing, which naturally led to screenwriting. This is the place that feels most natural for me.

What’s the biggest difference between writing a novel as opposed to a screenplay?

The biggest difference between writing books and screenplays is that in books, so much of the dramatic action happens in the reader’s head. You can’t really do that when writing a screenplay. Structure is key.

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

I’m working on another teen-oriented feature right now that has supernatural elements to it. I also have a television pilot called “Sexpectations” that we’ve screened at a few film festivals. I plan on releasing it sometime next year.

What excites you the most about the release of “Dinner With The Alchemist” and this next phase of your career? What are you looking forward to most about the future?

I’m looking forward to finding more stories that interest me and figuring out better ways to tell them. I’m also looking forward to sharing this film with everyone. We had a small team of people working on this film who are all are super-talented. Showcasing everyone’s work is what I’m really excited about.

“Dinner With The Alchemist” will be released on Tuesday, February 13 on VOD, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Prime.

Robert Knight Discusses ‘Rock Gods’ and His 50-Year Career As a Music Photographer

Legendary rock photographer Robert Knight is widely renowned for his lengthy tenure of capturing a wide cross section of highly influential artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Slash. His ability to closely connect with and generate trust among the subjects he’s photographed has led to a deep, intimate documentation of significant pop cultural moments over the past half century.

Knight is celebrating his 50th Anniversary with the release of his amazing new book, Rock Gods: Fifty Years of Rock Photography, which is available now on Insight Editions. ​

Even if you aren’t a voracious reader, Knight’s incredibly beautiful photographs and personal stories from his time spent with some of rock’s most legendary artists at the beginning and peak of their careers is worth the price of admission.

We recently spoke with Knight about Rock Gods and some of the artists he’s worked with in this new interview.

What made you decide to write a book about your life and career?

The stars all aligned and the time was right. It was the 50th anniversary of the Jeff Beck tour and my time with Led Zeppelin. We preferred to do a smaller sized book that’s very affordable and aimed at younger people. I’ve even got younger artists I’ve worked with in the book towards the end.

What was it about the music of that generation that appealed to you and made you want to become a photographer?

Growing up as the son of a minister, I was forbidden from any of that music. Then one night at a very young age, I snuck out and saw The [Rolling] Stones when they had Brian Jones in the band, and it electrified me. Later, I found magazines with long-haired guys with weird clothes and guitars. I couldn’t figure out what it was all about, but I knew that it was music. I sent away to an English music company and got records by Hendrix, Cream, The Yardbirds and Pretty Things before they even came out in America. But once I saw the movie, Blowup and the lineup of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, that was it for me. I saw what Beck was doing and thought, this is someone I really want to work with.

I want to ask you about a few of the guitarists you’ve worked with and get your thoughts on them. Let’s start with Jimi Hendrix.

I first saw Hendrix back in 1968 at the Avalon Ballroom. I had heard his music before, but hearing it on your hi-fi was a lot different than when you were being pummeled by three Marshall stacks [laughs]. I remember my mouth dropped open and I was just mesmerized by what was going on. It was bigger than life. Then when I met him, he was this sweet, shy guy who was very humble. That’s what you came away with. He was this bombastic thing on stage and then the total opposite off of it.

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Interview with Robert Knight by Clicking Here!

Interview: Brooke Josephson premieres new video for ‘Crazy Called Normal’

Brooke Josephson – Photo by Wes and Alex

Today, AXS premieres the video for Brooke Josephson’s “Crazy Called Normal”. It’s the new single from the singer/songwriter’s upcoming EP, Sexy N’ Domesticated. An album that’s a snapshot of the songstress’ personal journey and features an eclectic mix of musical influences and genres.

With an array of visual metaphors, the video for “Crazy Called Normal” is a tongue-in-cheek look at how silly and mundane the world has become, and how things that were once considered patently absurd have suddenly become acceptable.

AXS recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about“Crazy Called Normal” and more in this new interview.

AXS: What inspired the song, “Crazy Called Normal”?

Brooke Josephson: The song came about after I had just experienced “one of those days.” I remember I had just picked up my daughter from school and she was telling me about some drama that happened at recess. Halfway through the conversation, she just stopped talking and said, “How was your day, Mommy?” Just hearing her little voice; it took everything in me not to start crying. I was able to hold it together and told her that everything was fine. I didn’t want to get emotional, and on the drive home I found myself chanting this mantra: “laugh don’t crack” over and over under my breath. That night, after the kids were in bed, I went into the studio and started writing out the events of the day, keeping that mantra in mind. There’s so much we have to do to be productive, and the things we consider crazy have suddenly become normal. That’s how the song came about.

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

Interview: Kathy Troccoli discusses ‘KT’s Comfort Box’ touring and career highlights

There are few artists who are as multifaceted as Kathy Troccoli. Whether it’s her fierce commitment to comforting the broken-hearted with her books and public speaking engagements, or the encouragement and inspiration she brings with her voice in a career that spans more than three decades. With a musical resume that includes eighteen #1 radio hits, along with a pair of Dove awards and three Grammy nominations, Troccoli remains one of music’s most authentic and versatile artists. Her success in Christian music has even crossed over into the mainstream, which includes her #1 hit from 1991, “Everything Changes.”

Troccoli’s newest project of encouragement is “KT’s Comfort Box,” a package-collection filled with songs, sentiments and Scripture, creating a perfect gift for those who may be hurting. She’ll also be launching another series of live dates in support of the package with her “Comfort by Candlelight” events.

AXS recently spoke with Kathy Troccoli about “KT’s Comfort Box,” her new tour and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What inspired you to create a “KT’s Comfort Box” package?

Kathy Troccoli: I’ve done so many concerts and have met so many people over the course of my career. Whether it’s a conference room in a hotel or a large stadium where I opened for Billy Graham, the one consistent thing I hear from people is how much my music (and music in general) has touched their life. I’ve heard many stories of heartache and how my music was able to help people cope. I wanted to give people something they can either buy online or at my shows that will remind them of the experience and came up with the comfort box.

There are a lot of cool little things inside of the box, but one of the major ones is called Comfort by Candlelight. It’s a CD containing a combination of new and old songs that are all songs of comfort. I’ve also included a series of comfort cards with encouraging quotes and lyrics as well as a Comfort Scriptures CD with audio versions of me reading Bible Scripture.

AXS: What can fans expect from your upcoming “Comfort By Candlelight” Tour?

KT: It’s an evening where I’ll be speaking and singing. My accompanist, Michelle Margiotta, and I will be doing a lot of tunes and songs that people will know. I’ll also share stories of my life and how I’ve been able to overcome things by incorporating God’s stories. What’s wonderful about these shows is that I get to see three or four generations of people.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kathy Troccoli by Clicking Here!