Category Archives: Music

Chris Robinson and Neal Casal Talk New Chris Robinson Brotherhood Album

To create their new album, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood relocated to a remote recording studio in the hills of northern California. The result? One of the band’s finest musical moments to date.

The disc also represents several “firsts” for the former Black Crowes frontman and his bandmates; it’s first album the band produced without any outside help, and it marks the first release featuring new bassist Jeff Hill and new drummer Tony Leone.

ChrisRobinsonBrotherhood - Photo by jay-blakesberg

The tunes, including the infectiously psychedelic “Narcissus Soaking Wet,” seem to channel everything from Bob Dylan to Parliament Funkadlelic, while tracks like “Ain’t It Hard But Fair” and “Forever As the Moon” showcase a deep level of maturity in the band’s songwriting and kaleidoscopic sound.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is Chris Robinson (vocals/guitar), Neal Casal (guitars), Adam MacDougall (keyboards), Jeff Hill (bass) and Tony Leone (drums). I recently spoke with Robinson and Casal about the new album, songwriting, their gear and more.

How much of an influence did recording in northern California have on the sessions for Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel?

Neal Casal: It was very inspiring. We made the record in a house with a big window overlooking the hillside and the Pacific. It was a very comfortable and quiet environment where there were no distractions or social situations to pull us away. There was something about the energy on that hillside that was very creative. And once we got inside, Chris’ notebook opened up, the words started flowing and the songs just wrote themselves.

Chris Robinson: We might not all be Californian, but this band was born in California. The California concert culture and counter culture is embedded deep within us. Living communally in this amazing house and studio changed our perspective. We were a lot closer to the source of what influenced us and it was unique on so many levels.

How would you describe Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel?

Robinson: In a weird way, it’s kind of like it’s our first record. Our actual first record was a band that had worked all year long and then went into the studio and recorded our live show. For the second album we had more time on the road and pushed ourselves a little more in the songwriting. Now that we’ve spent four solid years on the road and have been writing and working, it was all about getting to this session and letting these songs flower. We’re really happy about the bounty our art has given us after tending it for so long.

Casal: I think it’s the natural maturation of the band after being together for five years making records and doing hundreds of shows. The songwriting partnerships have developed further and broadened our palletes. The music, our commitment to the band and our mission is deeper than ever. It’s also a more direct sounding record with a closer connection to our live show.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Chris Robinson & Neal Casal
By Clicking Here!

Jane Wiedlin Talks Final Go-Go’s Tour, Gear and Career Highlights

Photo by: Carl Timpone.

Photo by: Carl Timpone

Rising out of the Hollywood punk scene, the Go-Go’s helped lay the foundation for early Eighties pop/rock. But what’s even more impressive than their hook-laden songs and tight musicianship was that these ladies did it all on their own without having to compromise their creativity by bringing in outside writers or session players.

Fueled by the hits “Our Lips Are Sealed and “We Got the Beat,” the Go-Go’s’ debut album, Beauty and the Beat, rose to Number 1 on the Billboard album charts. Subsequent albums Vacation and Talk Show yielded similar hits and helped cement their reign as the most successful all-female rock band of all time.

After an impressive 38-year run, the Go-Go’s—which includes Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitars), Charlotte Caffey (guitars) and Gina Schock (drums)—will embark on a farewell tour that will celebrate the band’s legacy as well as say goodbye to their legions of fans.

I recently spoke with Wiedlin about the Go-Go’s’ final tour, her gear and some of her most memorable moments.

When you consider the fact that this is the final Go-Go’s tour, what comes to mind?

I’ve had a lot of different emotions going on as I go through my day. I’ll admit I was sad when we first started talking about retiring as a touring band, because there’s nothing like getting out on stage and having people cheering for you. But we’ve also been doing it for a long time, and it gets harder as you get older. So now that we’ve decided it’s time to let the touring go, my plan is to appreciate every second and everyone in the audience and just have the best time I’ve ever had in my life.

What can fans expect from this farewell tour?

We are pulling out all the stops. In addition to the hits, we’ll be playing songs that we haven’t played live for decades as well as some new cover songs. You’ll see that there will be a lot of emotion with these shows. It’s going to be bittersweet, but the plan is to have the time of our lives.

What was the biggest challenge during those early years of the Go Go’s?

The first few years weren’t challenging at all because we were in a community that had accepted and embraced us. But once we started trying to get a record deal, it became extremely challenging. We were one of the most popular bands in California but no record company would touch us. Eventually, we gave up on the idea of signing with a big label and ended up with I.R.S. Records. Miles Copeland took a chance on us and it paid off for everyone. It turned out that people were willing to accept an all-female band.

How did the song “Our Lips Are Sealed” come about?

I was having a thing with Terry Hall, the singer from the Specials and Fun Boy Three. He sent me the lyrics in the mail and I wrote the music and melody. Since I wasn’t a trained musician, I didn’t realize that the chord progression I chose was considered “impossible”—and anyone who knows a lot about music would tell you you can’t put those chords together [laughs]. But there’s something to be said for being naïve. It makes you do things differently.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Jane Wiedlin by Clicking Here!

Doobie Brothers Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston Talk Gear and Classic Tracks

Photo by: Kelly Swift

Photo by: Kelly Swift

Over the course of their 40-plus-year history, the Doobie Brothers have been delivering their distinct brand of roots-based, harmony-laden, guitar-driven rock to eager fans old and new.

As a whole, the band has amassed more than 48 million in album sales to go along with a pair of Number 1 songs and four Grammys. Classic rock guitar aficionados have long known—and no doubt played—many of the riffs from the band’s arsenal of hits, including “China Grove,” “Black Water,” “Long Train Runnin’” and “Listen to the Music.”

The Doobies took a five-year hiatus in the early Eighties, only to return with a reunion album, Cycles, in 1989. They’ve been touring and making music ever since.

The Doobie Brothers’ touring lineup—which is on the road with Journey this summer—includes Pat Simmons (guitar/vocals), Tom Johnston (guitar/vocals), John McFee (guitars/fiddle/vocals), Bill Payne (keyboards), Marc Russo (saxophone), Ed Toth (drums), John Cowan (bass/vocals) and Tony Pia (drums). I recently caught up with Simmons and Johnston to talk about the music, guitars and more.

This is actually the first time the Doobie Brothers have toured with Journey. How has it been going?

Simmons: Really good. When you get out on the road, you never know what it’s going to be like, but they’re all such great guys. It’s been just like family.

Johnston: There have been full houses and the crowds have been very receptive. It’s been a great tour all around.

Bill Payne of Little Feat contributed keyboards on nearly every Doobie Brothers album and is now touring with the band. How did your relationship with him begin?

Simmons: Our producer at Warner Brothers, Ted Templeman, had done a Little Feat album and was working on ours [Toulouse Street]. I remember we were in cutting songs and Ted wanted to try some keyboards on a few tracks. He said he had this great keyboard player and when he brought in Bill, we all just flipped. He was so amazing. Bill came out occasionally to play in the early days and I tried several times over the years to get him to join the band, but he was always busy with Little Feat. Finally last year, he was substituting for our old keyboard player who had left for another gig. As usual, I said, “God I wish you could stick around”—and this time he said, “Well, as a matter of fact…” [laughs]. That was it!

What makes the music of the Doobies so timeless and special?

Johnston: It really depends on what your age range is. At some point in your life, the tunes may have meant something to you. In other cases, they’re songs you can sing along with and make you feel good. We’ve been lucky to have written tunes that have lasted and are still getting played today.

Simmons: For sure, it’s the songs. More than anything else in our culture, music is one of those things that brings back recall from your past. You don’t get to relive every minute but when you hear a song, you think about where you were or what you were doing when you first heard it. It’s a continual process and really keeps artists alive in people’s memories. It’s an all around association that’s not just about the music or the artist. It’s about people lives and how they all intermingle.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Pat Simmons & Tom Johnston Here!

Joe Perry Talks Hollywood Vampires Tour, Gear and Aerosmith’s Future

Photo: Ross Halfin

Photo: Ross Halfin

When Alice Cooper decided to pay tribute to his Seventies drinking buddies—a group of late-night partiers dubbed the “Hollywood Vampires”—he used the nickname for a new band featuring an impressive batch of artists and released an album of classic covers and a handful of original tunes.

Following the band’s TV debut on this year’s Grammy awards, not to mention a string of European shows, the Hollywood Vampires–whose core members include Cooper, Johnny Depp and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry—are about to begin one of summer’s most anticipated tours.

I recently spoke with Perry about the band’s North American tour, new music, the future of Aerosmith and more.

What can fans expect from the Hollywood Vampires Tour?

The album is a pretty good indication. But once you make the record, the goal is to out-do it when you play it live—and that’s what we’re doing. Although there are a lot of guests on the album who won’t be with us on stage, the core band is the one I’d pick if I was going to go out and tour by myself. Everyone is a great player and we’re all friends as well as fans of the music we’re playing. We’ll probably change the set a little bit as the tour goes on, but only because there are so many great songs we want to play. The guys we’re paying tribute to were all pioneers at what they were doing. They all passed way too soon, but we’re showing that their music lives on. Those guys are alive when we play these songs, and that’s why this is going to be a really special tour.

How did the Hollywood Vampires come together?

Alice was thinking of doing a covers record and the idea came up a to do something that was more of a tribute to the guys he used to drink with at The Rainbow as well as a celebration of their music. We’ve all known each other for years and can certainly say we’ve all paid our dues entertaining people one way or another. So this is a tip of the hat to the great talent and songs these guys have left behind, but it’s also about the vibe of being friends and never thinking it was ever going to happen—and here we ar

How did you become involved in the band?

The original stuff on the record was pretty much done by the time I showed up. I came in while they were laying down tracks and was literally working right down from the studio they were in. I remember they kept calling me up and asking me to come over and sit in and play. One time they said, “Hey, tomorrow we’re going to be cutting a track with Paul McCartney. Do you want to come over?”—and I was like, “Um, yeah! OK!” [laughs].

Do you see the Hollywood Vampires as more of a long-term project?

I’m hoping we’ll be able to write some more stuff and continue the vibe. It’s a dream come true for all of us to play together. But right now, we’re focusing on getting out there and seeing how it goes down. It’s a great lineup and the reason we’re doing it is to put some energy into the crowd and pay tribute to some of these great guys who are no longer around.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joe Perry by Clicking Here

Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson Talk New Album, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen… The Bangles’

TheBanglesHand-selected from their personal archives, the Bangles’ new album, Ladies and Gentlemen . . . The Bangles!, is a 16-track collection of re-mastered Eighties-era rarities, demos and live recordings from the band that would burst out of the Paisley Underground music scene and into pop/rock super-stardom.

Unavailable for nearly 35 years, this “new” album, which is set for a June 24 release, includes their debut single, “Getting Out of Hand” (when they were called the Bangs), as well as all of the tracks from their self-titled EP, which was produced by Craig Leon (Ramones/Blondie).

With elements of Motown and punk-inspired beats as well as their trademark, jangly guitar sound and deep harmonies, Ladies and Gentlemen… The Bangles is as real and raw as it gets. Reminding us all just how connected Susanna Hoffs (vocals/guitar), Vicki Peterson (guitar/vocals) and Debbi Peterson (drums/vocals) still are to the music that inspired them.

I recently spoke with Hoffs and Peterson about the project, their careers, gear and more.

What made you decide to revisit your first EP?

Hoffs: It was the right time and we really wanted to make the music available to people. We had originally released the music digitally a few years ago but never got around to putting it into any other format. So when Omnivore Recordings approached us about revisiting it, we knew it was a cool idea.

Peterson: Part of the charm of this record is the distance of looking back and the perspective of what it sounds like. A lot of these songs were covers that we actually played in our live set at the time, and some of them like “Outside Chance” and “Steppin’ Out” pre-date The Bangs. I wanted to get the EP back out into the world again because I’m really proud of it. This album is very reflective of the things we love musically and why we became a band in the first place.

Hoffs: Whenever we do those songs in our set they take us full circle, but they’re just as fresh to us now as they were then. It’s the most core Bangles material that exists.

Let’s discuss a few of those tracks. What can you tell me about “Bitchen Summer/Speedway”?

Hoffs: That song actually pre-dates the Bangs. David Roback (Rain Parade/Mazzy Star) and I were really into surf stuff and started my very first band. David took that sound and “Mazzy Starred” it into a song we called “Speedway.” It was one that I brought in during the early period of the Bangs and we crafted it more.

“I’m in Line”

Hoffs: That was one of the first songs that we all wrote together as a band. It had Mamas and the Papas harmony but with a Motown feel underneath in the rhythm section.

How much influence did being part of the Paisley Underground have on you?

Peterson: It was a huge influence. Part of it was because it was a community of friends who were all inspired by the same kind of music. There was a musical aspect where I’d just get blown away by the anarchy and freedom that I heard on stage. It definitely influenced the way I approach guitar.

Hoffs: All of the work that we did to form the band and create our sound stemmed from our influences, and that’s what we shared with many of the bands we found ourselves working with. The fact that we found other like-minded musicians and that it caught on as a scene was an acknowledgement that things were going our way. It really developed a big following and there was this great feeling of community and camaraderie.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Susanna Hoffs & Vicki Peterson By Clicking Here!

The Dead Daisies’ Doug Aldrich and David Lowy Talk New Album, Touring with KISS

DeadDaisiesAussie/American rockers the Dead Daisies’ new studio album, Make Some Noise, is a celebration of the ferocious arena sound of the Seventies. The album, which was produced by Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Def Leppard), is set for an August 5 release and boasts an array of intense riffs, huge hooks and tasty melodies.

The current Dead Daisies lineup features an impressive arsenal of notable musicians, including David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink), John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Ratt), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy) and Brian Tichy (Ozzy, Foreigner).

From the self-confident, rousing statement of the album’s title track to the infectiousness of songs like “Long Way to Go,” “Song and a Prayer” and “How Does It Feel,” Make Some Noise is the perfect soundtrack for summer driving—and pretty much everything else. The disc also features the Daisies’ spin on two classic cover songs—Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and the Who’s “Join Together.”

And speaking of summer, the Dead Daisies recently announced they’ll be the opening act for Kiss for a month’s worth of dates on this year’s Freedom to Rock Tour.

I recently spoke to guitarists Lowy and Aldrich about Make Some Noise, the band’s upcoming summer tour, gear and more.

The-Dead-Daisies-2016---Groupshot-HiRes

How did The Dead Daisies come together?

David Lowy: I started the band in Australia with Jon Stevens—a great singer/songwriter and performer who took over the lead singer role in INXS after Michael Hutchence died. Jon and I originally decided to get together to write and wound up hammering out 25 song ideas that we later recorded in LA. The nature of the Dead Daisies is that it’s not the only thing the band members do. So when Jon left the band a year ago, John Corabi joined us. John’s been with a few bands, including Mötley Crüe. The lineup’s changed over time due to the nature of the band, but it’s a band for guys who love rock and roll to get together, record, tour and have a good time.

How would describe the sound of Make Some Noise?

Aldrich: For me, it’s straight-ahead, classic, Seventies-influenced riff rock. David and I each took one track (David on the right hand side and me on the left). We did a few overdubs for solos, but a lot of what you hear is taken from the original tracking. We really wanted to capture the initial vibe.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Doug Aldrich & David Lowy Here

Seth Avett Talks Signature Martin Guitar and New Avett Brothers Album, ‘True Sadness’

TheAvettBrothersIt’s going to another big year for the Grammy-nominated, alternative folk collective the Avett Brothers. Not only did they perform for the first time at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, but they’re also about to unveil their new album, True Sadness, which will coincide with another summer of touring.

True Sadness, which is set for a June 24 release, was produced by longtime collaborator Rick Rubin. The album represents the next chapter in North Carolina brothers Scott and Seth Avett’s ever-evolving career. In a letter to fans, Seth described True Sadness as “a patchwork quilt of styles” where “a myriad of contrasting fabrics makes perfect sense.”

I recently spoke to Seth about the new album and his signature Martin D-35 guitar.

How does True Sadness relate to some of the Avett Brothers’ previous albums?

I feel this record is probably the most dynamic one we’ve ever made. If you look at our previous records, you’ll find whispers an hints of our influences behind some of the music, but you only hear them in passing or small portions or perhaps. On this record, it’s more pronounced. When you apply that with our love for rhythm and gentle pieces of folk and rock, this record goes a lot of different places.

What was the writing process like?

We always try to be open-ended and without formula as much as possible. Generally, I lean toward musicality and am often led by a melody, where Scott is led more by a story or narrative. Eventually, we always find ourselves back wholly autobiographical viewpoint in a song. We draw just as much from our daily lives as we do from sitting around trying to write. When it comes to writing we stay open to all the sources, because there are an infinite number of them.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from True Sadness. What can you tell me about “Ain’t No Man”?

I jumped in after Scott had already planted the seed years before. I remember we were already in the studio working on demos when Scott came bursting through the door describing the idea. He came in bounding with so much inspiration that he could hardly contain himself. He started to reach for the guitar, but instead I told him not to and just sing the bass line to me and I’d transcribe it. We had never written a song like the before, so it was cool. So Scott sang me the bass line and it sprang out for there. It was a weird gestation of lightning in in a bottle.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Seth Avett by Clicking Here!

REO Speedwagon’s Dave Amato Talks Signature Les Paul, Touring with Def Leppard

DaveAmato2

Reo Speedwagon guitarist Dave Amato with his Signature Les Paul

REO Speedwagon are set for another amazing year. The group, which consists of Kevin Cronin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (guitars), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums), has set out on what will be an extensive 55-city North American summer tour with fellow rock legends Def Leppard and Tesla.

For Amato, there’s something else to be excited about: his long-awaited signature Gibson Les Paul guitar, which will be available soon.

I recently caught up with Amato at an REO performance to get the goods on his new Les Paul as well REO’s tour and his time subbing for guitarist Doug Aldrich in the Las Vegas show Raiding the Rock Vault.

How did your relationship with Gibson begin?

I’ve always wanted a Les Paul with a Floyd Rose. I had one that Sammy Sanchez built for me in Los Angeles. I loved the guitar for years, but the contour on the Floyd was way up there. Eventually, Gibson started working on one for an Axcess guitar, and I when I saw it at a NAMM show, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. They gave me a few guitars and I started promoting and playing them while I was out on tour. It led to me having my own model. They were originally going to do a Collector’s Series but decided they want to put out a new line. So we came up with a new model for me, based on the Axcess model.

What do you like most about your new signature model?

There’s really only so much you can do to a Les Paul, but I wanted to make it a souped-up hot rod. It’s not a Junior but it’s based on one. I like the fact that it’s really light. I also wanted to incorporate one of my favorite necks into the design. I had a ’58 Reissue I loved that I sent to them. They specked the entire neck and did an incredible job. It’s got a white ebony fretboard and an HD-TV finish. It really rocks.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Dave Amato by Clicking Here!

Rich Robinson Talks Touring with Bad Company and New Album, ‘Flux’

RichRobinson-Credit to Alysse GafkjenRich Robinson’s new album, Flux—which will be available June 24—showcases an eclectic range of tempos, tones and tunings, all delivered with the same swagger Robinson first made famous with his brother, Chris Robinson, in the Black Crowes.

The album, which features the monster skills of Matt Slocum (keys), Marco Benevento (keys), Danny Mitchell (keys), Zak Gabbard (bass) and Joe Magistro (drums), not to mention vocalists John Hogg and Danielia Cotton, is—simply put—a powerful collection of music. From standout tracks “Music That Will Lift Me” and “Eclipse the Night” to the groove-laden “The Upstairs Land,” Flux ebbs and flows through different moods, in the end delivering a solid listener experience.

In addition to his new album, Robinson his the road as Bad Company’s guitarist for their current U.S. tour, which he’ll follow up with a tour of his own in support of Flux.

I recently spoke with Robinson about Flux, Bad Company, gear and more.

How would you describe Flux in terms of its sound—and maybe how it relates to your previous albums?

I think everyone builds their own relationship to music. That’s what’s so cool about it. For me, this is a natural progression and another step in the journey of where I’ve been and what I’ve done since I was 19 and Shake Your Money Maker came out.

Flux was recorded at Applehead Studios in New York. You’ve mentioned that you love recording there. What makes the place so special?

The studio and people up there are just great. I really like being up in Woodstock, and I spent a lot of time going there when I was living in New York. There’s just something about being there that I really can’t describe. Whenever I’m there, I always tap into something special.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Rich Robinson by Clicking Here.

Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Oz Fox Talk 30th Anniversary of ‘To Hell with the Devil’

StryperBandIt’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Christian rock giants Stryper released To Hell with the Devil. The monster album, which features the dual-guitar attack of Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, spawned several classic tunes, including “Calling on You,” “Free,” “Honestly” and, of course, the title track.

These days, you’ll still find Stryper doing what they do best—delivering their uniquely infectious music and message to a fan base that’s hungry for both. Stryper’s latest release, Fallen, continues that trend and is considered by many to be their heaviest album to date.

Stryper is Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitars), Oz Fox (guitars/vocals), Timothy Gaines (bass/vocals) and Robert Sweet (drums).

I recently caught up with Sweet and Fox before Stryper’s sold-out show at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood to discuss the 30th anniversary of To Hell with the Devil, new music, gear and more.

Stryper are about to play another sold-out show at the Whisky A Go Go. You guys have played there quite a bit over the years and even recorded a live album here. What do you like most about the venue?

MICHAEL SWEET: The Whisky is a legendary place. I remember the first time I played there; it was with Kevin Dubrow and Dubrow (they weren’t called Quiet Riot at the time). We’ve all been playing there on and off over the years with Stryper and with our solo projects. There’s a lot of history there and something special about it. It’s really small and there’s no place to put your gear. It’s a bit of a zoo—but it’s still the Whisky!

Stryper04.621

You’ve called Stryper’s new album, Fallen, as the band’s heaviest album to date. How have the new songs blended in with the classic Stryper hits?

SWEET: Perfectly. Our albums are all a little different, but when we play those new songs live, they all blend well together. It’s the same energy and there’s no trickery with the live production. We open with “Yahweh” and have also added “Fallen” and “King of Kings” to the set.

OZ FOX: “Yahweh” is such an epic song.

SWEET: It’s a larger-than-life song that’s got everything. It’s got a little bit of an [Iron] Maiden, [Judas] Priest and Metallica vibe and is also Stryper-ized. It’s a really cool tune.

Let’s talk a little about the 30th anniversary of To Hell with the Devil. What goes through your mind when you look back on that album with so much perspective?

FOX: I still can’t believe 30 years have passed. It’s a memory that just keeps going. I was actually just looking at the picture of us from Japan in the suits on our way over here today and was blown away.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Michael Sweet and Oz Fox by Clicking Here.

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