The longtime Night Ranger guitarist checks in ahead of the release of his solo album:
What can fans expect from your upcoming solo album?
It’s aggressive and heavy but there are also a few ballads. There’s a track called Sex and the Money that’s about meeting who you think is the girl of your dreams – only to find out that she’s really a hooker. There’s also a song on which I’m singing called World Shut Down.“
The last time you worked with Gary Moon was on Night Ranger’s Feeding Off the Mojo . What was it like working with him on your solo project?
“Gary’s a great bass player and his voice is so pure; that’s why I brought him back in. I’ve also got [keyboardist] Derek Sherinian, plus drummers Larry Howe (from Vicious Rumors) and Matthias Montgomery playing on a bunch of tracks.“
What’s the story behind your 1962 Strat?
“I’d just finished my stint with Rubicon back in 1978 when a friend knocked on the door with pieces of a sanded Strat he didn’t want. I had a gallon of orange paint and took it to a shop where it was primed and painted. I then had the neck painted black and the original Fender decal put on. Around the same time, word was getting around about the new Floyd Rose tremolos.
“I loved how Eddie [Van Halen] worked the bar and did dive bombs. I found the third one at a shop in San Francisco and traded a Les Paul Custom for it. They installed the tremolo on my Strat and threw in a fret job. The deal was done and a new ball game began.“
In 2014, Brent Smith and Zach Myers, one-half of the chart-topping multiplatinum rock band, Shinedown, got together for an acoustic project where fans chose ten songs for them to cover and post on social media. The concept was met with overwhelming success and the duo’s subsequent intimate, capacity-filled tour, was equally well-received.
Now Smith & Myers have unveiled the first two tracks from their forthcoming album, Smith & Myers Volume 1. The first, a poignant and poetically relevant original, “Not Mad Enough,” written shortly after the tragic death of George Floyd but an appropriate song for a multitude of different circumstances. The second track is the pair’s infectious and haunting take on Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In A Free World.”
Both tracks will be featured on Smith & Myers Volume 1, which will be released on October 9.
In addition to Smith and Myers celebrating the release of this new music, Shinedown’s recent “Atlas Falls” campaign to raise funds in the fight against Covid-19 has generated more than $400,000 for Direct Relief. An organization whose sole mission is to ensure that the scientific community has everything they need in times of crisis to save as many lives as possible. Fans who purchase a t-shirt for the cause are given the previously unreleased song, “Atlas Falls,” as an added bonus. The band’s song recently reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. Breaking the record for most #1’s ever in the chart’s 39-year history.
I recently spoke with Brent Smith and Zach Myers about the new songs from Smith & Myers and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did this Smith & Myers album project come about?
Zach Myers: The album idea came about when Brent said in an interview, in front of the world, that we were going to make a double album, with no discussion with the two people in the band [laughs]. He put the idea out into the atmosphere and we knew we had to follow up on the promise.
Brent Smith: What I’ve witnessed in the last twenty years is that if you have an idea you really believe in you have to start talking about it. Otherwise people will think you’re not serious or will forget about it completely. It if means something you have to express it to make it become a reality. I didn’t want the project to fall by the wayside. It was an ambitious move.
The original track, “Not Mad Enough” is very relevant for these uncertain times. How did it come about?
BS: When “Not Mad Enough” was written it was the week that George Floyd lost his life. Like a lot of the world I watched a man lose his life on national television. It was scary, devastating, tragic and beyond sad. The song wrote itself. It’s interesting listening to it now because the principle is that it’s not just about George Floyd. It’s about everything that’s going on in the world right now. It’s about the human spirit and how us, as a society, face multiple subject matters and opinions every day. But the goal is we’re supposed to be working together and not fighting each other. Do I think the song is relevant and important? Yes, I do. But I’m also very vocal because, truthfully, I wish the song had never been written because I wish George Floyd was still alive. In a lot of ways I think me and Zach were a vessel for this song. We stand with the human spirit and all of society and want to figure out a way to have a future and come up with solutions to problems and not just have defiance and disregard for each other. It’s a very important song.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Brent Smith & Zach Myers By Clicking Here.
Right On The Money is the latest installment from Phil X & The Drills and a dynamic addition to the band’s already explosive discography. The guitar-driven track was recorded at legendary Capitol Studios with Chris Lord Alge and also features Daniel Spree on bass and Brent Fitz on drums.
The new single is separate from The Drills upcoming fifth album, Stupid Good Lookings Vol 2 – it’s a diverse compilation that will feature a different drummer, including Tommy Lee, Liberty DeVitto, Kenny Aronoff and Ray Luzier, on each song.
We recently caught up with Phil X about his new single and Gibson endorsement, as well as an update on the new Bon Jovi album.
Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams were scheduled to tour this summer, but the pandemic cancelled those plans. How have you been spending your time?
“I’ve been keeping busy doing remote sessions in my studio. People will send me their files and I’ll upload the session and lay down the guitars. Then I’ll send them back the session. It keeps my creative chops up. I also feel good about what The Drills are doing right now and being able to include my kids in the video for Right On The Money.”
Speaking of Right On The Money, how did the song come about?
“I do my best writing when I’m driving around. When I’m driving I don’t like to listen to music. I like to listen what’s in my head and one day I had this bouncy riff going on and the phrase Right On The Money.
“It means that no matter what’s going on you just have to stay positive. The song’s an opportunity to lift spirits in this crazy time.”
How did the opportunity to record that track at Capitol Studios come about?
“Chris Lord-Alge is a huge fan of The Drills and he had the opportunity to do a masterclass on recording live bands off the floor at Capitol. So, he called and asked if we’d be interested in coming in and recording three songs. It was a dream come true.
“I’ve done a lot of sessions and my favorites are the ones where everyone is recording together. Anytime I get a chance to do that with my band I just love it.”
Fee Waybill Rides Again is the legendary Tubes frontman’s first album of solo material in nearly fourteen years and a compilation seven years in the making. Together with longtime collaborator and producer Richard Marx, the duo’s vision of creating a raucous, guitar-driven album has become one that’s both deep in variety and universal appeal.
Led off with the infectious lick of “Faker,” the album combines well-crafted songs and tight musicianship with Waybill’s ubiquitous vocal, which sounds better than ever.
Other standouts on Fee Waybill Rides Again include the hard-charging “Promise Land,” the groovy and hook-laden, “Meant To Be Alone”, and the crossover country vibe on the track, “Still You On The Inside.” A song written by Marx and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger that was originally intended for Chris Daughtry. Featured guests on the new album include guitarists Michael Landau and Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon along with bassists Jason Blynn and Whynot Jansveld.
For longtime fans of classic rock and The Tubes, this seven years in the making album was certainly worth the wait.
I recently spoke with Waybill about his new album and more in this exclusive new interview.
Can you give me a little background of how this new album came about?
Fee Waybill:Richard [Marx] and I have been friends since 1983, when I met him at a Tubes session. Every summer he and I and his boys would take a vacation to his cabin in Wisconsin. About six years ago we decided to use that time to go into the studio and recorded the song “Faker.” That was when we first came up with the idea of doing another solo record. We wound up doing three other songs during that time, “Woulda Coulda Shoulda,” “Promise Land,” and “How Dare You.” Then life reared its ugly head and we didn’t do another track for almost six years.
Six years seems like a long time in between sessions.
FW:It was, but about a year and a half ago we decided to revisit the album and went back through the archives of songs we had written over the years. We found the track “Say Goodbye,” which we had originally intended to use for one of Richard’s albums. Every time I listened to it I realized what a great song it was and wanted to add it to the list.
The Go-Go’s Documentary, directed by Alison Ellwood, whose other work includes the Emmy-winning History of the Eagles, chronicles the band’s meteoric rise from the LA punk scene to the world of superstardom.
With rare photos, live footage and shocking revelations, fans will discover the grit and determination behind the band’s early years in the clubs as well as their tumultuous UK tour with The Specials and Madness before returning to the States and becoming the first, and only, all-female band to play their own instruments, write their own songs and have a number 1 album.
The new documentary, which also features candid interviews with both current and former members as well as management, also includes the new song, Club Zero, the first new Go-Go’s recording in nearly 20 years.
Guitar World recently spoke with The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock about the new documentary in this new interview.
How did this documentary come to fruition?
Charlotte Caffey: “We were approached by Alison Ellwood about the idea of doing a documentary. At first, we were a bit nervous because we didn’t want it come across as a salacious ‘behind the music’ kind of thing. Alison did such a great job. It really puts perspective on things. ”
Kathy Valentine: “The documentary gave us a chance to get something out that was a more complete narrative than what was already in the public eye. The band coming out of the L.A. punk rock scene is something that not everyone is aware of.
“Alison and her team compiled all of this fabulous filmed footage. It was challenging but it’s a testament to her skills as a director in putting together an interesting and exciting story.”
Belinda Carlisle: “A documentary is a heavy thing to commit to because your story is cemented forever. It took a while for us to put our trust into Alison but we’re so glad that we did.
“For a person who thinks The Go-Go’s are these sweet girls who wrote candy flavored pop songs, our history is going to be a surprise.”
Although many recognize him from his two-decade run as Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, the mild-mannered star of NBC’s “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” Ice-T has played a significant role in music by combining progressive elements of rap, hip-hop and metal. The legendary artist is also not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to issues that continue to plague America.
In light of current events, Ice and his band, Body Count, have released a new radio edit of their single, “No Lives Matter.” A prophetic song which first appeared on the groups ferocious 2017 album, Bloodlust. The track’s message is more relevant than ever and a step towards inspiring transformation and unity.
In another surprise move Body Count has released a new animated music video for their hard-hitting track, “Thee Critical Beatdown,” from their acclaimed album, Carnivore, released this past spring. The visual was created by Tommy The Animator, who also worked with the band in creating the video for “The Ski Mask Way.” “Breakdown” is a warning to the trolls who like to infuse rage while sitting behind a computer screens that their day of reckoning is coming.
I recently spoke with Body Count’s Vincent Price about the music and more in this exclusive new interview.
What frustrates you about what’s going on in society today?
Vincent Price:What’s frustrating to me is what’s being going on in the world for a long time, and that’s people just hating each other. It started a long time ago and, over the years, everyone was thinking it could change. A lot of people don’t really pay attention to Ice’s lyrics, but the truth is he’s been talking about this for a long time and people are just now starting to see it.
What’s the band’s writing process like?
VP:We write the music and Ice writes the lyrics. Some people look at Ice as just an actor or rapper, but he’s a true musician who knows what he wants to hear. He knows all the ins and outs of metal and hard rock.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the band’s latest album, Carnivore. What can you tell me about “Thee Critical Beatdown?”
VP: Whenever we’re working on new material I’ll come up with a working title. At first I was calling it “Gangster Slayer” because it was so heavy. We had been in the process of writing for a while when Ice came in with the lyrics. It’s basically “Talk Shit Get Shot Part 2.”
Read the rest of my
Interview with Vincent Price by Clicking Here.
During the pandemic, when people have been stuck inside their houses, Playground Sessions, in partnership with legendary artist, producer Quincy Jones, offered the world an opportunity to participate in a free class to learn Brendan Graham’s song, “You Raise Me Up” on the piano and perform it together in a Virtual Piano Recital. The goal was to share the joy and gift of music when the world needed it the most.
Using the Playground Sessions platform users learned the song, recorded their performances on video and submitted them for inclusion. What started out as a 30-day virtual lesson culminated into a worldwide, history-making campaign as more than 7,000 musicians of all skill levels took part with nearly 1,000 video submissions
I recently spoke with Chris Vance, Founder and CEO of Playground Sessions about this phenomenal event and more in this exclusive new interview.
Can you give me a little backstory on your own experience with music?
CV:I played the saxophone in elementary school but was always drawn to the sound of the piano. If I ever saw someone playing, I’d be right there watching. Like many people I had a lesson or two, but when that didn’t work out I just went on with my life.
Where did the idea for Playground Sessions originate?
CV:I had been working at P&G doing brand management and being part of the digital team. During that time, I was also learning different languages using a product called Rosetta Stone. I became fascinated with what tech could do in people’s homes. One day I was shopping and saw a Casio keyboard on sale and thought now was the perfect time to try playing again. What I discovered after visiting YouTube and taking private lessons was that all of my practice time was being spent alone with a piece of sheet music. The truth is around 90% of keyboards and guitars purchased are under the bed within thirty days because people are not having success. I fell into that category. That’s when I decided I wanted to create a product that could take the universal desire of playing an instrument and help make it a reality.
How did the partnership with Quincy Jones come about?
CV:Quincy is a huge part of what we’re doing, as is Harry Connick, Jr., who’s one of our teachers. Quincy actually approached us early on after reading an article about us. He had been in an airport and noticed a kiosk filled with Rosetta Stone. For Quincy, music is the universal language, and he wondered where the Rosetta Stone for music was. His team told him about us and he invited me out to meet with him. The rest is history. He’s been a huge influence and sounding board for us and plays a big role in building the product and curriculum.
How does Playground Sessions work?
CV:There are a few core things, the first being how to make the experience of practicing fun. We solved that by building a curriculum that puts people in control and gives them the songs they know and love to learn. Then we leveled everything. So whether you’re just starting out on notes or are more advanced with chords, we surround you with visualization and gamification to keep you engaged and practicing. We also provide backing tracks to help you find success. It’s all genres of music but we’re putting users in control.
Fresh off the heels of their most recent album, 2018’s Delivery and Departure, L.A.-based Americana-roots collective The Sound of Ghosts is back with their highly-anticipated new single, “Heavy Burden.”
The track, diverse in its tempo and rich in sonic texture, was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and the idea of carrying the weight of trauma and pain experienced throughout life.
Lyrically, charismatic vocalist Anna Orbison delivers an emotionally ubiquitous and haunting vocal to the song and takes the listener of a journey of pain and self-awareness. “Heavy Burden” also features a guest performance by trumpeter Paul Litteral, who’s resume includes working with such legends as The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and Billy Joel.
To those not already familiar with The Ghosts, the band’s music blends the best elements of Americana, folk, rock and jazz into one tasty musical stew. Having performed extensively throughout the L.A. area and Pacific Northwest, where they’ve opened for such artists as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Sisterhood and Oingo Boingo, their insatiable music has also been featured nationwide in commercials for major brands.
I recently spoke with The Sound of Ghosts’ Anna and James Orbison about “Heavy Burden” and more in this exclusive new interview.
What’s the band’s songwriting process like?
James Orbison: Every song is different. In the past it would usually start with a riff idea that would be brought to the band and then we’d form it into something that sounds like the Ghosts. Anna has really hit her stride with songwriting and leading the charge with ideas and melodies.
How did the song “Heavy Burden” come about?
Anna Orbison: We write in a lot of different ways but the melody and lyrics of “Heavy Burden” came to me all at the same time. I had been reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth,” and his idea of a “pain body” being the weight we carry around from traumas and pain we’ve experienced throughout our lives. It really stuck with me. When we carry that pain with us into relationships it ends up weighing our partners and our friends down and creating more pain for the people we care about. “Heavy Burden” is a reminder that when we hurt our loved ones it’s coming from our own pain and not from love. Love is not constant pain.
What can you tell me about Paul Litteral’s involvement in the new track?
AO: Paul and I met when I first moved to L.A. almost ten years ago. He’s been playing live shows and on our recordings for the last few years and we’re so very lucky to have him. He’s played with The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Billy Joel, Tom Waits, and so many other incredible artists.
Read the rest of my
Interview with The Sound Of Ghosts By Clicking Here.
Songwriter Holly Knight has been the vital force behind the sound of some of rock’s most powerful artists. Her resume includes monster hits by Tina Turner (“Better Be Good To Me,” “The Best”), Pat Benatar (“Love Is A Battlefield”), Patty Smyth (“The Warrior”), John Waite (“Change”), Aerosmith (“Rag Doll”), Heart (“Never”) and Rod Stewart (“Love Touch”).
Knight is one of only a handful of women to be inducted into the coveted Songwriters Hall of Fame, and her songwriting has earned numerous awards, including three Grammys and thirteen ASCAP Awards. The songs she’s written and co-written have appeared on records that total more than 300 million in sales.
Now this legendary artist is sharing her secrets in a special two-part, virtual Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class. In these exclusive sessions, you’ll have the chance to learn and interact with Knight as she shares her experiences writing for some of the biggest names in music. You’ll learn the secrets behind her craft as well as engage in songwriting exercises and learn the skills to creating a demo. Because the class is limited to twenty students, the experience will be even more intimate.
Part One will be Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. ET Part Two will be Sunday, July 12 at 4 p.m. ET
Attendees will receive a Zoom link to the online sessions two days before class.
I recently spoke with Holly Knight about her upcoming two-part Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class and more in this new interview.
What can fans expect from your Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Master Class?
Holly Knight: This is a two-part masterclass. The first session will cover my career, working with different artists like Pat Benatar and Tina Turner as well as the inspiration behind writing songs and lyrics. The second session will be an interactive songwriting workshop that will cover songwriting exercises and a basic overview of how to create a demo.
What’s the best bit of advice you can give to an aspiring songwriter?
HK: Write and keep on writing, and write because you have to. Take your time and don’t put anything out that you’ll go back later and feel embarrassed about. Have a strong constitution and expect to hear a lot of no’s before you hear a lot of yes. Always remember that it’s just their opinion. It doesn’t mean that it’s right. Believe in yourself because when it comes to art there’s no right or wrong.
Was a career in music something you always envisioned for yourself?
HK: Oh yeah. I started playing piano on a serious level when I was four and studied classical for ten years. My mother was grooming me to be a concert pianist but I was more interested in taking my skills and being in a rock band. Growing up it was always my dream to have the privilege of being in a band and making your own music and records. I didn’t want to be rich and famous. I just wanted to be in that private club of having respect among your peers and interacting and playing with them. I never knew I would do that through songwriting.
What was the catalyst that made you want to focus more on songwriting?
HK: I had always dabbled in songwriting, but it wasn’t until my first band, Spider, had signed a record deal with Mike Chapman that I started taking it more seriously. The songs I wrote for the band during that time were turned in to the label along with everyone else’s, but we made sure to not tell them who wrote which song. That way there would be no bias. What happened was they would always pick my songs as the singles, which created a lot of tension within the band. I eventually decided to leave, but I still wanted to continue working with Mike. He and I had already written our first song together for the second Spider record, but months later the song wound up on Tina Turner’s album, Private Dancer [“Better Be Good To Me”]. That kicked things off. I moved to California to do more songwriting with him and other writers. There was something magical with the way it all lined up.
How does your writing process usually begin?
HK: Titles. For me, a really good title is the roadmap. Once I have the title I’ll pick up an instrument and start playing. If it’s a guitar it might be something like “Better Be Good To Me,” or “Obsession.” If it’s piano it might be something like “The Best.” Piano allows you to concentrate more on the melodies and chords.
Of all the highlights of your career what stands out to you as most memorable.
HK: I’ve worked with so many amazing people so there are so many moments. The evening of my induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame was certainly one of them. That year was rocking because you had Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Lou Gramm and Mick Jones. Elton John and Bernie Taupin were also there and I was the only woman. That was memorable for sure. I also remember when I met Tina [Turner] while working with her for the second Mad Max movie. I flew to Europe to meet with her and afterwards she invited to go on tour with her. Getting to sit on a road case on the side of the stage watching her do my song was definitely a highlight.
For more information on Holly Knight’s Two-Part Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Songwriting Master Class Click Here.
Who would have thought how much could change in a thirty three years? To think that at the time since I received my high school diploma in June of 1987 the world has become such different place.
I’ll be honest, when this picture was taken I figured it would probably only be a year before I’d be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, talking about my band’s debut album and world tour with Def Leppard. I had high hopes and wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.
Thirty-three years ago the only thing I wanted to do was rock. I’m serious. I mean that’s ALL I wanted to do. I really didn’t want to go to college, and I sure as hell had no interest in doing anything that resembled actual work.
On the contrary, my days were usually spent sleeping til around noon, noodling on my guitar and mooching money off of my mom and grandmother for such things as gas for my car and coffee and cheese fries at Perkins. After all, a man’s gotta eat, right?
“Borrowing” money from them soon began to get old and my options for disposable funds was starting to run out. I was worried that I might be completely broke before fame came knocking at the door.
What to do?
It wasn’t until I discovered that student loans were readily available that I began to have second thoughts about going to college. I mean, who wouldn’t want some free money? Money you wouldn’t have to pay back until after you graduated college!! Hell, that could take YEARS!! I quickly signed the first promissory note I saw and still have vivid memories of running down to the bursar’s office every day at Penn State Allentown to see if there was a big check for me. And what did I do with this windfall of cash you ask? The money I was supposed to use for books and tuition? I bought a guitar and amp and wound up dropping out.
This cycle inevitably repeated itself over the next few years as I applied to community college and eventually, West Chester University. I discovered that as long as I was enrolled in school I was “off the hook” as far as paying back the money. At least in the short-term. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning in my dorm, dug into my pockets and realized I had $1.37 to my name that I had an epiphany. I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. Here I was, twenty years old with $1.37 to my name and nothing more. The friends I’d graduated with were now halfway done with college and most were well on their way to bigger and better things. It was my wake up call. Rock and Roll would have to wait.
On May 29th, 1990 (thirty years ago as of this writing), I started working full time on the 4-12:30 am shift as the head garbage man at Easton Hospital. That’s right, I literally started at the very bottom. Any gum wrapper, cigarette butt or operating room bio hazardous waste was handled by me. I hated it with a passion. They even fucked up and spelled my name wrong in the company newsletter. Despite all of my self-doubt and embarrassment of being a garbage man, something inside kept me going. I knew better days were ahead.
A year later, a position opened up in the pharmacy. It was a 2:30-11pm shift but was the perfect chance for me to get out of garbage. I worked that position for eight years.
Eventually, I made the decision to go back to school and get my degree in computers, married, bought a home and became the father of a beautiful daughter. It took me fifteen years but I eventually paid back every cent of my student loan debt.
Perhaps the best thing of all was that my own rock star dream didn’t die. I now live it vicariously through my writing. The point being, we can do anything we want to do. Be anything we want to be. We just need to make a plan and do what it takes to get there.
As I look back on this picture, three decades after it was taken, I see someone who had big dreams. And someone who, thirty-three years later, found a way to make them come true.