Category Archives: Music

Night Ranger’s Jack Blades and Brad Gillis Talk New Album, ‘Don’t Let Up’

Photo by: Ash Newell

It’s been 35 years since Night Ranger released their guitar-driven debut, Dawn Patrol. The album ushered in the band’s hook-laden, twin-guitar sound—a sound heard on songs like “Don’t Tell Me You Love” and “(You Can Still) Rock in America.”

The band also helped define the Eighties with songs like “When You Close Your Eyes,” “Sentimental Street” and, of course, “Sister Christian.”

Today (March 24), the band released a new album, Don’t Let Up, and it’s an obvious next step for a crew that’s been rocking for more than three decades. Songs like “Somehow Someway” and “Nothing Left of Yesterday” conjure that blistering, dual-guitar attack—now featuring trade-offs by Brad Gillis and new guitarist Keri Kelli—while “Comfort Me” and “Truth” offer hope in uncertain times.

In the end, Don’t Let Up reflects exactly what Night Ranger continues to be: a kick-ass American rock band. Night Ranger is Jack Blades (lead vocals/bass), Kelly Keagy (lead vocals/drums), Brad Gillis (guitar), Eric Levy (keyboards) and Keri Kelli (guitar).

I recently spoke with Blades and Gillis about Don’t Let Up, gear and a lot more.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Dawn Patrol. What goes through your mind when you look back to that era?

BLADES: A sea of emotions. It’s interesting to think that it’s been 35 years because sometimes it feels like 35 days. When you start out, you figure you’re going to be in a rock band for a while and then hope for the best. Who would have thought we’d be here now, 35 years later, talking about a new Night Ranger album? We’re one of the survivors.

GILLIS: What goes through my mind was how exciting the Eighties were and the Cinderella story of how I got the gig with Ozzy Osbourne and toured the world. Then taking everything I learned from that experience and carrying it into Night Ranger. I think about how Ozzy’s Speak of the Devil and our Dawn Patrol were released on the same week in October 1982 and then jumping right into a major Night Ranger tour. It was a great era, and to still be doing it 35 years later is pretty amazing.

What’s it like having guitarist Keri Kelli in the band?

BLADES: Kerri’s great and is a perfect addition. He brings in a unique groove and Stones-ish feel to the band. He’s the guy who pulls everything all together and fits in perfectly with Brad. They get along great, and he and Eric Levy are very in tune to the history of Night Ranger and the music we’ve created. They bring ideas and an attitude that’s really worked out well.

What was the writing process like for Don’t Let Up?

GILLIS: Basically, we started out by going to Kelly’s home in Nashville with the nucleus of the band [which consists of myself, Jack and Kelly] and wrote about six songs in a few days. Then we came back to my place and wrote a few more, and then flew to Jack’s to do a few more. Then we brought in Keri and Eric to put the icing on the cake and round out the record. We stuck with our format of big choruses and the dual-guitar assault with different styles of soloing.

BLADES: The process was laid out like we’ve always done: Let’s get in there and jam. That’s exactly what we did.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jack Blades and Brad Gillis Here!

Advertisements

Andy Summers Discusses His New Album, ‘Triboluminescence’

Photo credit: Mo Summers

Andy Summers rose to fame in the late Seventies and early Eighties as the guitarist of the legendary, multi-million-selling rock band the Police.

Summers’ innovative guitar sound was a key element of the band’s strength and popularity, creating a new paradigm for guitarists that is still widely imitated today.

Summers’ new solo album, Triboluminescence (released today, March 24), is the natural followup to his last album, 2015’s highly acclaimed Metal Dog, which spotlighted the guitarist’s thrilling voyages into new sonic territory. New tracks, including “If Anything,” “Elephant Bird” and “Haunted Dolls,” are clearly the result of a lifetime’s worth of musical digestion and progress—not to mention a search for a distinct new voice.

I recently spoke with Summers about Triboluminescence and more in this new interview.

Triboluminescence feels like a natural followup to your last album, Metal Dog. What was the inspiration behind these projects? 

Metal Dog followed Circa Zero, which ultimately didn’t go where I wanted. When that band ended, I started work on music for a dance project that also didn’t come to full realization.

Afterwards, I found myself with all of these pieces of music, which I remodeled into what became Metal Dog. It really got me going in the studio again, and when Metal Dog came out, it went down really well. It got me up and running, and Triboluminescence is the followup to what I had established, which was something different than I had done before.

What was the writing process like?

For this kind of music, there weren’t any fully fleshed-out compositions. One of the guiding principles was to look for very fresh sonic qualities and sounds that came together in various ways. That was the starting point. I then took those ideas into my studio, which is like a giant paint box, and fiddled around with all sorts of guitars and effects. The usual process was to record 16 or 32 or 48 bars of it and then see if it gets me into the next move where I can develop it further. That’s where composition comes into play. You can establish a signature, but then you have to make a whole piece out of it.

What else can you tell me about the recording process?

This was a very free project for me in the sense that I was alone in the studio with only my engineer. I’ve found that at this point in life it’s something that I really enjoy and is very akin to being a painter. It’s just me and all of the colors, and I let my imagination go. I’m always looking to create something that’s intriguing sonically, along with some technical flash.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Andy Summers by Clicking Here

Nancy Wilson Talks New Side Project—Roadcase Royale—and Rocking Against MS

Roadcase Royale—a new band fronted by Heart co-founder Nancy Wilson and former Prince collaborator Liv Warfield—has a background that’s rich in rock and R&B.

The band also includes Ryan Waters, Warfield’s lead guitarist and musical director, and Heart veterans Dan Rothchild (bass), Ben Smith (drums) and Chris Joyner (keyboards).

Their debut single is the infectiously funky “Get Loud,” which you can check out below. It’s a women’s anthem with a laid-back, power-driven groove that provides a solid acoustic/electric foundation for Warfield’s sultry vocals.

Roadcase Royale will make their live debut performance at this year’s Rock Against MS Benefit Concert, which will take place Saturday, March 25, at the historic Los Angeles Theatre. Wilson will perform as part of an all-star band during the event—and Roadcase Royale’s headlining performance will follow.

I recently caught up with Wilson to get her thoughts on Roadcase Royale and the Rock Against MS event.

How did Roadcase Royale come about?

We saw Liv on Jimmy Fallon playing with a group, and she was doing this amazing song called “Why Do You Lie” that her guitar player wrote. We were blown away. Heart had a few shows coming up at the Hollywood Bowl, and we wondered if she’d be interested in opening for us. We got her to come and play and Liv and I just became fast friends. She’s the sweetest person and a wonderful human being and has a voice that’s so powerful.

We really hit it off and said we should do something together. So we got together with some of my guys and Ryan Waters and started writing. Everything worked so well right off the bat.

How would you describe the sound of Roadcase Royale? 

I call it muscular rock and roll with a flavor of R&B. There’s also plenty of dimension in it for more romantic balladry. We’re flexible musically and can do stuff that’s way R&B or way heavy rock. We’ve got a five-song EP that’s almost ready to come out where you’ll hear all of those things.

How does the writing process for Roadcase Royale differ from writing with Ann Wilson for Heart?

It’s actually kind of similar. Ann always has really cool lyric ideas. We’ve both got a notebook that’s full of lyrics and song titles, and so does Liv. In the case of Roadcase Royale, everyone in the band has a lot to offer as a writer and producer. Dan Rothchild has a song with lyrics and cool musical parts that were going to do. Our drummer, Ben Smith, is working with Liv and Ryan, and then Chris Joyner was the one who came up with “Get Loud.” We all contribute and listen and know how to communicate our ideas to each other.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Nancy Wilson by Clicking Here!

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and Wayne Sermon Talk New Single and Video, “Believer”

Imagine Dragons – Believer

Imagine Dragons recently released the music video for their latest single, “Believer.” The video, which was directed by Matt Eastin—who worked with the band on “Roots,” “On Top of the World” and “Shots (Broiler Remix)”—features actor Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, The Expendables), depicting a man facing his inner-self—the toughest critic of all. It also pays homage to some of the classic movies the band grew up with.

Imagine Dragons features Dan Reynolds (vocals), Wayne Sermon (guitar), Daniel Platzman (drums) and Ben McKee (bass). I recently chatted with Reynolds and Sermon about the new single and video, their gear and more.

What’s the songwriting process like for the band? Does it begin with a melody, a hook, a lyric?

REYNOLDS: Every song is different, and everyone contributes in their own way. A song may start from a beat, a guitar riff or a chord progression. Maybe even a word.

What inspired the new single, “Believer”?

REYNOLDS: The song is about overcoming emotional and physical pain to arrive at a place of peace and self-confidence.

Where did the idea for the video come from, and what made you decide to include Dolph Lundgren?

REYNOLDS: The video shows a man battling shadows of himself. We came up with the idea for this metaphorical representation of the song with Matt [Eastin], our director. Dolph was the perfect guy for the role. Not just because he’s a great actor and martial artist. He also does look a lot like an older, much, much stronger me [laughs].

What was the filming process like?

REYNOLDS: It was one of the most fun film shoots we’ve ever done. The set was beautiful and there really weren’t any unexpected problems, which is weird on a music video set. I got rocked pretty good on some of those hits, though.

You mentioned Matt Eastin, who you’ve worked with several times in the past. What was it like working with him again?

REYNOLDS: There’s nothing better than working with a director that you know and trust. Filming is a much less stressful process when you know that it’s going to look great on camera. Matt has a great eye but also understands the way we think and is super detail oriented.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Imagine Dragons by Clicking Here!

Steve Hackett Discusses His New Album, ‘The Night Siren’

Photo by Tina Korhonen

The Night Siren, the new album by rock legend and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, is a modern guitar album with a heavy message. In Hackett’s own words, it’s a wake-up call to the world.

Everything about the album is a reaction to the right-wing ideas dominating the political landscape, including Hackett’s decision to use musicians from around the world.

“It’s a whole United Nations of 20 people who are on [the album],” Hackett says. “The message is basically peace. If musicans can work together peacefully, I don’t see why the rest of the world can’t do it.”

I recently spoke with Hackett about The Night Siren, his gear, John Wetton and more.

The first thing I’d like to do is get your thoughts on the recent passing of your friend, John Wetton.

John was a man who was as sweet as his music. He was a wonderful guy and I’m sure in spirit he’s still around. Just about every night on this tour I’ve dedicated something to him. He was the warmest, most incredible guy and is sorely missed by so many people.

Let’s talk about The Night Siren. What inspired it?

I made friends with many interesting people from all over the world that I wanted to work with. Some of the album was recorded in Hungary, some in Sardinia and some of it in the U.K. There was also some data I had collected over time I felt would assimilate well into what we were doing. But The Night Siren was not a rushed album. Everything was given its due time—as well as the Surround mix—in order to give Roger King [keyboards/programming] the maximum amount of time.

Why the title, The Night Siren?

Anyone who’s a thinking soul is worried about the state of the world at the moment. Multicultural diversity and diplomacy is terribly important and the only real hope we have. With the rise of right-wing politics and the idea of going back to nationalism and kicking people out, the more we begin exploring the possibility of a conflagration the size of the second world war, or worse.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Hackett by Clicking Here!

Interview: AXS TV’s Evan Haiman discusses New Season of ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance’

sammyhagar

Now in its second season, AXS TV’s original series “Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance” features the Red Rocker traveling across the U.S. to interview and jam with some of the most recognizable and legendary artists in music.

The show’s one-hour season premiere [which airs Sunday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT] kicks off in Hagar and Metallica front man James Hetfield’s hometown where they turn on the camera to the star-studded 3rd annual Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit they founded. The concert event held at the world-famous Fillmore includes Hagar interviewing Hetfield as well as musical jams with Hagar, Hetfield, John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge and many more.

Future episodes include Hagar visiting Norman, Oklahoma to interview and jam with the multi-talented and award-winning Toby Keith at his 160-acre ranch, and meeting up with rock legend John Mellencamp at his art studio in Bloomington, Indiana where Hagar delves into Mellencamp’s passion for painting and talks about the struggles he had staying true to himself while coming up in the music business.

AXS recently spoke to Evan Haiman – Vice President of Programming and Production for AXS TV about the new season of “Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance” and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did the series ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance’ come about?

Evan Haiman: We’ve done a lot of projects with Sammy in the past, whether it was a concert or his birthday bash. So we already had a relationship with him. Sammy pitched the concept to Mark [Cuban] where the idea was going to be his life. He goes out on the road and meets with friends, who are obviously musicians, and they connect. Then we put it all together to make a show. Mark thought it was a great idea and it fits into our niche. Sammy’s a great personality and a good representation of what our programming model is.

You can read the rest of my
axsInterview with Evan Haiman by Clicking Here!

Steve Morse Provides Updates on Deep Purple and Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp

Photo Courtesy: Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp

Photo Courtesy: Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp

Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp—which is now in its 21st year—gives musicians the chance to hang with and learn from some of the most respected talents in rock.

Sure, attendees can interact, jam with and be mentored by legendary players, but the camp also allows them to write, rehearse and record in a professional environment, all of which culminates in a once-in-a-lifetime live performance.

One of this year’s camps—which runs March 2–5 in Hollywood—features Steve Morse, Glenn Hughes and Ian Paice, all of whom are or have been members of Deep Purple.

I recently spoke to Morse about this week’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp and got an update on Deep Purple. Check out the interview below.

What do you enjoy most about doing these camps?

One thing I do have is a lot of experience, so I guess it would have to be to legitimately be able to answer any questions and to pass along tips. Back when I was trying to learn stuff, it was usually done by listening to records through a bad speaker in the basement of my house and trying to guess.

There were so many question marks about everything, and my brother and I would always wonder what it would be like to be a professional musician. Then when Led Zeppelin came to town right before their first album came out, we’d try to imagine how all of this worked: How many business people are involved? Who does what? Is it possible to make a living doing this? They were all legitimate questions. For people feeling that same way now, I can bring my knowledge to them. It’s a really cool idea.

Simply put, what’s the camp like? What kind of experience is it?

It’s a real team effort with several different projects. There are a bunch of professional players who come in, and we organize and concentrate on a tune and play together. When I did the last one, there was also a Q&A session and performance interaction with everyone. At the end, all of us did a big jam concert.

What can you tell me about the new Deep Purple album, Infinite?

Well, I can tell you is that it’s the same producer [Bob Ezrin] and studio that we did the Now What?! album, which did very well for us. We had an abundance of material and Bob gave us a lot of latitude. He was a great influence and had a vision of what he wanted the band to sound like.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Steve Morse by Clicking Here!

Interview: Heart’s Ann Wilson discusses new solo tour, music and career milestones

annwilson

Following the release of Heart’s critically acclaimed album, Beautiful Broken and last year’s headlining tour with fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and Cheap Trick, Ann Wilson decided it was time to spread her wings for a while.

Kicking off March 8 in Wilson’s hometown of Seattle, the legendary vocalist and her solo band, Ann Wilson Of Heart, will embark on a new 20-date tour with stops that include Los Angeles, Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans among others.

The Ann Wilson of Heart tour promises an eclectic mix of music from Wilson’s storybook career. Included will be timeless songs from her years with her sister Nancy in Heart, as well selections from her work as a solo artist and what’s best described as iconic, soul stirring covers that have been the driving force in the singer’s life.

AXS recently spoke with Ann Wilson about her new tour and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: How big of a role did music play in your house growing up?

Ann Wilson: It played a huge role. My parents were really musical people. They didn’t play professionally, but they both loved music and it was always on in the house. All different kinds. They just liked anything that was good. It wasn’t much of a stretch to start being a musician in that family.

AXS: What inspired your new Ann Wilson of Heart tour?

AW: As a singer and a creative person I really wanted to stretch out. We’ve been touring constantly for most of this century and I just felt the need to get out of the “Heart” box and do something different. So I’m about to embark on a yearlong tour with my band. It’s a show that will be in theaters because I’ve designed it so that it’s beautiful and needs those types of venues for the video wall and production. We’re going to do some Heart songs, some of my new songs and some covers that have inspired me both as a singer and person over the course of my life.

Read the rest of my
axsInterview with Ann Wilson by Clicking Here!

Michael Schenker Talks Nostalgic New Live Album, ‘Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo’

msg640Thirty-five years have passed since the Michael Schenker Group released their legendary 1982 live album, One Night at Budokan.

However, last summer, Schenker—one of rock’s most respected guitarists—returned to Japan with three of the vocalists who helped him achieve worldwide success in the Eighties to record a new live disc.

The show, which was shot and recorded in front of 5,000 fans at Tokyo’s International Forum, will be released March 24 as Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and digitally. The album reunites Schenker with MSG vocalists Gary Barden and Graham Bonnet, plus Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group. Also performing were MSG alumni Chris Glen (bass), Steve Mann (guitar) and Ted McKenna (drums).

The album celebrates the music and guitar wizardry of Schenker—and gives longtime fans a chance to re-live some incredible rock and roll moments.

I recently spoke to Schenker about Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo and more in this new interview.

How did the Michael Schenker Fest come together, and when did the idea for this live album begin?

It started about two years ago. A promoter had the idea of having Graham Bonnet and his band support Temple of Rock and sing a couple of songs with us. When we did that, I was like, wait a minute. There are so many songs from different eras and I’m playing all of this past material with different singers. I thought that if I could put Robin and Gary and Graham together I could do all of the Eighties material and perform those songs with the original singers—and it would be fantastic!

So I started thinking about a group of musicians: Steve Mann, who is a fantastic guy and player and was connected to McAuley and myself from the McAuley Schenker days, and Chris Glen and Ted McKenna, who had both worked with Graham and were also the original rhythm section [after Cozy Powell] for the Michael Schenker Group with Gary. It couldn’t be better than that.

A promoter in Japan eventually found out about it and set us up on tour. One of the shows was Tokyo, a beautiful place that sold out immediately. I decided to record it and make sure it would be captured forever. In a way, it’s like a déjà vu of Budokan.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Michael Schenker by Clicking Here!

James Durbin and Quiet Riot’s Alex Grossi Talk ‘Maps to the Hollywood Scars’

mapstohws622

Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi and American Idol finalist James Durbin recently announced a new collaboration, Maps to the Hollywood Scars.

Volume One, the duo’s debut five-song EP, which was released today (February 17), sheds light on the darker side of Hollywood and the music industry—at least from the perspective of two of rock’s hardest-working artists.

Songs like “Roads” and “The Lost Boys” showcase the stinging one-two punch of Grossi’s ace guitar playing and Durbin’s powerful voice, while “Never Ending Ride” is a window to a post-apocalyptic world of ruin.

I recently spoke with Grossi and Durbin about Maps to the Hollywood Scars, Volume One—which is available now via Amazon and iTunes—and more in this exclusive interview.

How did this collaboration come about? How did you guys meet? 

GROSSI: I met James in 2011 via a mutual acquaintance. I remember being taken back, not only by his obvious vocal prowess but by his knowledge and love for real rock n’ roll. Then, last year I went to a Vegas show he was doing, and we ended up jamming together at the after-party.

DURBIN: After the Vegas show I was involved in ended, I unexpectedly received an email from Alex sending me some instrumentals. I took a listen and was immediately inspired. We started sending ideas back and forth and before long decided, hell, why not make an album or two?

How would you describe the EP in terms of its sound—and maybe how it relates to some of your past projects?

DURBIN: We both have our own influences, and there’s an age gap between us, but I think that works to our advantage as far as the writing and crafting goes. It’s all loosely based around rock n’ roll, so it’s not hard for us.

GROSSI: It’s honestly like nothing I have done to date. We’ve both been involved in many different projects, but this happened so quickly and organically, it really stands on its own.

You’ve mentioned that this project was meant to showcase the darker side of Hollywood and the music biz. Can you elaborate on that? 

GROSSI: It’s not really about selling the industry—or Hollywood—down the river. It’s more of a reflection of where the record industry was, is and where it’s going. What once gave artists and record labels a medium to actually sell music has now become a place where the general consensus is that music is free. Where some people will gladly spend $4 on a cup of coffee without batting an eyelash but feel totally fine about illegally downloading a song or record that cost thousands of dollars and countless hours to create, produce and market.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Grossi and Durbin by Clicking Here!

%d bloggers like this: