Spin Doctors guitarist Eric Schenkman’s third solo album, Who Shot John, showcases the many sides of the artist’s vast repertoire.
Whether it’s the colloquialism of the album’s title track, the unbridled anarchy and groove of songs like “Agent Orange” and “Locked in the House All Day,” or the hard, Chicago blues feel on tracks like “I’m All Right,” Who Shot John is radio-friendly enough to draw listeners in, while his guitar wizardry reveals a dynamic, effervescent complexity.
Guitar World recently spoke with Schenkman about Who Shot John, the Spin Doctors and more.
How would you describe Who Shot John in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of your previous work?
Sound-wise, it leans heavily on my working with a trio, which is something that I do a lot, and how I’ve been understanding music through the blues these last several years. It’s a good representation of where I’m at now and [looks] at a lot of different angles and perspectives that I’ve come to terms with.
What’s your writing process like?
It happens very differently for different songs. Sometimes a song can be melody-driven, like “Fortune Teller” and “Far Away.” A song can also be very immediate and other times could take years to write. “Agent Orange Blues” is an example of a tight, visceral response to a situation, whereas a song like “Who Shot John” came from a lyric I started about 20 years ago and just recently finished. I had that one in my head for years trying to figure out what the lyric meant.
The new track, which features the powerful rhythm section of Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Winery Dogs) and Ray Luzier (Korn, KXM) continues the dynamically gifted artist’s trend of delivering infectious melodies, hard-hitting rhythms and soaring vocals.
AXS: How did your new single, “Broken,” come about?
Madame Mayhem: It’s always cool when you can collaborate with people who hold you accountable and can bring something of their own to the table as well. I’ve written a bunch of songs with Keith Wallen and “Broken” is one that came out of those sessions. I always like it when listeners can relate to a song in their own way. For me, “Broken” is a song about the feeling you get when you’re in a relationship with someone and both of you know it’s over, but both of you are afraid to admit it.
AXS: What was the writing process like?
MM: I always say this but it’s true: there’s really no one set way to write. I could go in with a bunch of lyrics and Keith may have a bunch of riffs. Sometimes we may use them and other times we may just scratch it all together and talk about what we’re feeling right now. We’ll both come prepared but sometimes it can all go out the window and we’ll start with something new. It’s very organic.
AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics?
MM: The lyrics usually come from the struggles and frustrations I’ve been through. It’s therapeutic to get the song out, and when I hear people say that they feel the same way it makes me feel that I’m not alone. It’s writing from truth.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Madame Mayhem by Clicking here!
As a musician and writer, 2018 has been the best of year of my life. Not only did I complete more than 124 interviews for this blog, GuitarWorld.com and AXS.com over the course of these last twelve months, but 2018 also marked a trifecta of amazing milestones for me.
I began this whole writing journey with a single, simple Facebook resolution I made to myself on New Year’s Day in 2011. If you’ve been a regular follower of this blog over the last seven years, you’ll know that its the same one I post every January 1st to remind me of how it all began and just how far I’ve come:
Keeping that promise to myself over these last seven years has been an amazing ride, but 2018 saw three of the biggest, pinch yourself moments ever. Things I only ever dreamed about doing. So, as this year comes to close, I’d like to revisit them one more time.
2018 started out with a trip to Los Angeles in February for a once in a lifetime experience at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. Not only did I get to jam with two guys from my all-time favorite band, REO Speedwagon, but I also had the rare opportunity to perform on stage with Night Ranger at The Whisky A Go Go! Joining me that night were Craig Goldy (Dio) and three guys, Bobby, Rik and Tom, who I’d never met before but who quickly became friends and bandmates I’ll never forget.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: all the while I was in L.A preparing for Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, I was also busily putting the finishing touches on something I think every writer dreams about doing, and in May of this year that dream finally came to fruition with the release of my first novella, “Neapolitan Sky.”
The story about Nica Mitchell’s journey actually began in the Summer of 2017 and took nearly six months to complete. It was a labor of love, pain and constant rewrites and second guesses. When I finally put the pen (or in this case, the lid of the laptop) down, I had the good fortune of having more than a dozen of my friends help me by being test/proof readers and editors. Their input and experience was invaluable in getting the story ready for publication. Following the release of “Neapolitan Sky,” I also had two amazingly successful book signings in Bethlehem and New Hope, PA.
Equally as surreal as the physical book was the release of an Audible version, which was read by one of my favorite artists and actresses, Ashley Watkins. Where I had brought the words of Nica Mitchell and her friends to the page, Ashley literally brought them to life!
But perhaps the biggest, and most exciting, event of the year came just a few weeks ago with the release of my first two interviews in the pages of Guitar World magazine. As a guitarist, I’ve been absorbing this magazine like religion every month since 1985. It’s a bible for any aspiring guitarist. Having already been blessed (religion – bible – blessed, get it?) to write for the website for nearly six years, getting the opportunity to contribute content to the physical magazine was another dream come true. When you open the magazine and see your name printed on the page right next to some of your guitar heroes its not only poweful, it’s humbling. Moreover, it’s proof that hard work, networking and kindness pays off.
Next year will mark another major milestone as I’ll be turning fifty years old. But as I look to that day with both fear and wonder I’m reminded that each and every day is part of the journey. Collectively, I look back on these last seven years and can’t believe some of the things I’ve accomplished. I’ve met so many amazingly talented people along the way. Not just actors, musicians, artists and filmmakers. In many cases, these are people who’ve become dear friends to me. Friends I’m proud to have in my life and ones who inspire me to do better.
Here it is in a nutshell: Since 2011, I’ve done nearly 2,000 interviews and articles, released three children’s books with one of my dearest friends, wrote my first novel, and have rounded out 2018 with two interviews published in the pages of Guitar World magazine. Even with all of that it still feels like I’m just getting started. There’s so much more to do, and I can’t wait to get started. As a preview, I already have an interview on deck with Def Leppard, who will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. I’m also halfway through my new book, a prequel to “Neapolitan Sky” that’s set in the year 1986!
Please don’t read that last paragraph and think I’m tooting my own horn. I’m nobody special. What I’m trying to say by writing it down is that if I can do it — so can you. Dreams don’t just fall into your lap. You have to go out and make them happen. And sometimes, all that can start with just a simple resolution:
“I’ve resolved to do some writing. So here goes:”
I hope reading this blog will inspire you to do the same thing I did on January 1st, 2011, and that is to make a promise to yourself for 2019. A resolution to do something you’ve always dreamed about. Take the first sentence of my resolution and change the word “writing” to something you’re passionate about. Then go out and make it happen.
Here’s wishing you peace, love, music, art, writing….and all the best for the New Year.
It’s been another incredible year for multi-talented artist, Rudy Sarzo. Not only was The Guess Who bassist involved in the band’s first album of new material in more than two decades, The Future Is What it Used To Be, but Sarzo also contributed his musical prowess to friend (and fellow former Dio bandmate), Craig Goldy’s Dream Child project, Until Death Do We Meet Again.
You may be surprised to learn that Sarzo, whose lengthy musical career as an artist includes work with Ozzy, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake, was also once a mass communication major in college. An experience that serves him well is his newly launched radio show, “Six Degrees of Sarzo.” A three-hour, nine-segment show on Monsters of Rock Radio that airs Sundays from 4 – 7 p.m. PST (7 – 10 p.m. EST). The show is an eclectic mix of music and interviews and is part of the 80+ original station line-up on Dash Radio, available commercial and subscription free.
I recently spoke with Rudy Sarzo about “Six Degrees of Sarzo”, his work with The Guess Who, Dream Child, and the 35thanniversary of Quiet Riot’s monster Metal Health album in this exclusive new interview.
Where did the idea to do a podcast originate?
Recently, I’ve been attending a lot of memorials for musicians and friends of mine who’ve passed away. I heard so many nice things being said about them that I started thinking wouldn’t it be nice if they could be here to hear all of these things being said about them? It inspired me to create the Dash Podcast, with the “dash” being that line between the birth and death date on a headstone. The idea was for me to bring in people I admire from all walks of life and talk about their journey.
One day, I was contacted by Harlan Hendrickson, who owns the Monsters of Rock brand. He has a station on Dash Radio (ironically enough) called Monsters of Rock Radio and asked me about doing a show. I now have a program on Sundays from 4 -7 p.m. PT called “Six Degrees of Sarzo.” It’s a nine segment, three-hour show that has a bit of essence of the original podcast where I interview musicians, talk about their journey and mix it up with music.
What are your plans for “Six Degrees of Sarzo”?
I recently interviewed my friend Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot and dUg Pinnick from King’s X and also have the NAMM show coming up in January where I’ll be doing short interviews with people there. I also want to use the show as a tool for what’s happening now and to get more exposure to the new bands like The Struts, Greta Van Fleet and Rival Sons. They’re all great musicians, songwriters and performers. There’s a bright future for the next generation.
Let’s discuss a few other projects you’ve worked on this year, starting with The Guess Who. The band released a new album in 2018, The Future Is What it Used To Be. How has the reaction been?
There was emphasis on keeping the spirit and legacy of the band and what the sound is all about with the new album, and the response has been phenomenal. We play a few of the new songs every night and have three videos for the songs “Playin on the Radio,” “Haunted,” and our new one, “In America.”
What was the writing process like?
I’ve only been in the band for a years but the process started even before I was on the radar. There are two producers / songwriters in the band—Derek Sharp and Will Evankovich. Will is also the co-writer and co-producer, along with Tommy Shaw, on the latest Styx record, The Mission. They had been working on material to submit to other artists and one day they said, wait a minute. Why should we give these songs away? Let’s make a new Guess Who record!
What can you tell me about your involvement with Craig Goldy in the Dream Child project?
What was interesting about that album was that there was a clear vision: Craig was going to produce and write. Goldy already knew Wayne Findlay and Diego Valdez and the label asked him about getting Simon Wright and myself, who played with Goldy in Dio. I did recording and engineering in my home studio and Wayne and Diego did their parts in their studios. Simon went into a studio to record and engineer the drums with Goldy. It’s record I was very proud to be a part of.
This year marked the 35th anniversary of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health album. When you look back on that whole era now, what thoughts come to mind?
I recently talked about this with Frankie Banali on my radio show. I was on the same circuit as Kevin [Dubrow] and Frankie in the Randy Rhoads version of Quiet Riot before I joined Ozzy. After Randy passed, I wasn’t mature enough to know how to deal with loss and needed to get away. I had gotten a call from Kevin to come in and play on one song, “Thunderbird.” It was a song Kevin wrote when Randy left Quiet Riot to join Ozzy, but after Randy passed, it took on a whole different meaning. I went into the studio to do that one song and by the time I left the session I’d recorded almost half of the record. When I officially left Ozzy a few weeks later, I came back and finished the songs. I played on everything except “Metal Health” and “Don’t Wanna Let You Go,” which was recorded by Chuck Wright. I found emotional refuge playing with my friends again and re-discovered the joy of playing. That’s what that record means to me. It was a place where I felt comfortable.
Did the band have any idea of how special that album was going to be?
We actually felt it might do the complete opposite. I remember at the time, no one wanted to manage the band. We had to beg the original Randy Rhoads-era manager to come out of retirement, and even he was skeptical. I was aware of the new wave of metal and the possibility of how the band might be accepted outside of L.A. because I’d been touring with Ozzy for a few years and we had Motörhead, Def Leppard, UFO and Starfighters open for us. I thought we might sell 50,000 albums, which was the watermark for a young band to make a new record. Then MTV happened and they started playing “Cum On Feel The Noize” every half hour. That made an incredible difference.
Of all the highlights of your career, is there one thing that stands out to you as most memorable?
Every single one has its own special memory. I can’t say that one was more memorable than another. Whether it was with Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake or Dio, each one had a very beautiful arc –a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s more about the journey than anything else.
AXS TV’s popular music countdown series, The Top Ten Revealed, returns for a second season with its premiere on Sunday, January 13 at 8:30pE/5:30pP with “Top Ten Roller Rink Tunes.” Hosted and executive produced by Katie Daryl, the eleven-episode winter season promises more laughs, surprises, and insightful anecdotes from a plethora of musical heavyweights.
Other episodes this season include a salute to some of music’s finest showmen in “Top Ten Crooners”; Double Studio albums and Drug Songs countdowns, as well as a tribute to the final year of the 1970s with “Epic Songs of 1979”.
Returning to join Daryl and lend their voice and rock expertise are icons Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money and Steven Adler as well as legends like Mickey Thomas (Starship) Sebastian Bach, Steve Porcaro (Toto) and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon).
In addition to the new season, Daryl is also hosting a FREE Reunion Party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on Sunday, January 6th! Although this is not a televised event the evening promises to be a fun celebration of Daryl’s acclaimed show that aired for eight seasons on AXS TV.
I recently spoke with Katie Daryl about the new season of Top Ten Revealed and more in this exclusive new interview.
What can fans expect from the new season of “The Top Ten Revealed” in January?
I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised at all of the new faces they’re going to see. Not only do we have returning favorites like Lita Ford, Dee Snider, Eddie Money, Steven Adler and Rikki Rockett, but we also have a lot of new faces as well, including artists like Sebastian Bach, Leif Garrett, John Five from Rob Zombie, Mickey Thomas from Starship and Steve Porcaro from Toto. It’s exciting to have this new insight and keep everyone interested not only in what the topic is about, but also in who’s going to talk about it.
Let’s discuss a few of the topics that will be covered this season. Where did the idea to compile a list of the Top Ten Crooners come from?
This is definitely one of my favorite episodes of the new season. I had overheard someone talking about Tom Jones at the office and I was like, “Tom Jones? Wait a minute. How fun would it be to do something that involves Tom Jones?” Then we started going down the list of crooners—Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frankie Sinatra. I knew right away it was going to be fun, so we put the question out on social media. The funny thing is, as much as people love Frank Sinatra, he isn’t always someone’s go to favorite. There are a lot of lesser known, obscure, or one-step away from the Rat Pack guys as well. We focused on having a lot of singers talk about this episode because a lot of these guys have admitted to being influenced by these crooners. They have great stories about why they love them and how they influenced their careers.
Another interesting topic of conversation has to be Double Studio Albums.
That one became another big office debate. Originally, it going to be all double albums, but then someone mentioned Frampton Comes Alive and other live albums and it became too hard to narrow them all down. So, we decided to do studio double albums this time and maybe in an upcoming season we’ll do the live double albums.
What was the criteria for choosing a list of Top Ten Drug Songs?
We wanted to be very respectful of our viewers and make sure people didn’t think we were making an episode that celebrated drugs. It’s interesting conversation, not a celebration. The criteria was that the song had to either be about drugs and drug use, or interpreted by others as being a drug song. For instance, “Mr. Brownstone” is clearly a drug song, and we even have Steven Adler talking about how it was written and how terrible heroin was. But then there are other songs that are more debatable, like “Purple Haze.” Even though Jimi Hendrix himself had said it’s not about drugs but about a dream he had a lot of people still interpret it as Hendrix having the dream after being on drugs. It was looser criteria than some of the other lists, but it made sense in the long run.
What’s your favorite part of the process of creating an episode?
My favorite part is booking the guests because at the end of the day I’m a rock star fan. When these people walk in the room, they’re musicians who’ve played on some of the best songs ever written and toured with some of my favorite bands. They always have interesting backstories and amazing personalities. I will say that my least favorite part is tallying the ranking. Because sometimes you just sit there and scratch your head and go “How is this possible? How is this #1?” [Laughs].
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the musical tastes of AXS-TV viewers from doing these shows?
Our salt and pepper demographic really loves classic rock, but what’s also surprising is that they also tend to lean toward metal. The same person who says they love The Who and Rolling Stones is also voicing their opinion on a Megadeth song. It just goes to show that just because you like classic rock it doesn’t mean you’re old or not progressive with your musical tastes. It just means you have a core that you love but can still learn to appreciate other music as well.
Click here to watch the trailer for the new season of The Top Ten Revealed.
Although it won’t be televised you’re also having a reunion party for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands at The Whisky a Go Go in January. What can you tell me about it?
This is going to be fun. The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands had eight fantastic seasons with so many bands to pay tribute to. In talking with the fans of the show I realized how much fun we had getting together every week at The Whiskey and doing the show. It was a fun, bonding experience and we missed each other. So, we decided to get the band back together and have a party. We’ll start by having an alumni/crew private VIP and then open the doors to the public. We’ve invited all past ticket holders to get a free ticket and we have K-Tel performing as our “house band.” They play a lot of the best and one-hit wonder songs of the 70s, so it will be easy to bring tribute guest stars like our Elton John and our Stevie Nicks up on stage with them. It’s a natural fit to have this backing band performing with some of the frontmen we’ve loved over the years with The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.
The allure of tribute bands has never been stronger. To what do you credit to their success?
When I first started doing research for The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands I spoke to a very influential booking agent. He pointed out that the interest in booking these types of bands started shortly after the financial markets crashed in 2008. A lot of it was due in part to venues like casinos and the 2-3,000 seat venues who could no longer afford the expensive “real talent”. People just weren’t spending their disposable income on a ticket. So, they turned to tribute bands to fill the void. It allowed people to not only save money but also see a high-quality performance. Of course, “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” and AXS TV helped knock it out of the park just as they were gaining their footing. It gave them a national platform to perform on.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
We’ll actually be doing nineteen episode, split-season of The Top Ten Revealed in 2019. We have eleven episodes in January and then another batch of eight in the summer. The show has been so successful that Mark Cuban has specifically requested a spin off. Right now, I’m in the middle of pre-production on a new show launching in the spring that will complement this show very nicely on the network. If you like Top Ten Revealed you’re going to love this.
The new season of The Top Ten Revealed premieres Sunday, January 13 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV.
Following the release of her acclaimed pop-rock EP, Sexy N’ Domesticated, singer-songwriter Brooke Josephson teamed up with international house producer Rocky G for an infectious remix of her single, “Mr. Fix It.” The electro-house version, complete with a progressive beat and dreamy synths, taunts female domestication by encouraging women to find someone who can cater to her needs.
The accompanying music video for “Mr. Fix It” showcases psychedelic visuals of the artist intermingled with scenes of a Rocky G live performance as well as Josephson’s adorable nine-year-old daughter, Shira.
AXS recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about the remix of “Mr. Fix It” and much more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How did the idea to do a remake of “Mr. Fix It” come about?
Brooke Josephson: Over the summer I was reading stories about other women who were pursuing being independent artists (and other careers) while at the same time juggling being a full-time mom. I came across Rocky G’s video where she shared her story about being an international DJ and a mom of six. I thought that was amazing. So I reached out to thank her for her work and inspiration as well as to let her know what I had going on. She responded and the two of us started talking about collaborating. I sent her my music and we started dialoguing about the song and bouncing ideas for a video. She told me that she would be performing at an event in Amsterdam, so I flew over and that’s where we shot the video. We even incorporated some of the events into the video as well.
AXS: What was the process like for re-mixing your original song?
BJ: I sent Rocky G all the stems from the original recording. She laid down a beat, took the original vocals and then added filters and a few other effects to give it an electronic vibe. Then she added an original melody at the intro.
AXS: What was it like working with Rocky G?
BJ: It was so much fun. I quickly discovered that she’s the same version of me, only she was doing EDM music. Her normal routine includes doing shows from ten at night until five in the morning. Then she gets home and instead of going to bed, she stays up and gets the kids ready for school. Then she comes back home and naps and does her work until she has to pick them up again. The same juggle I do in L.A. is what she’s doing in Amsterdam. Even though our styles of music are different our lives are very similar and the drive for what we do is very much the same.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Brooke Josephson by Clicking Here!
With a specialty in Christmas music, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Chan’s passion for the holiday has driven her to a career that’s unique from other recording artists. Case in point, her new album, Best Gift Ever, which is sure to become a soundtrack of the season.
Led by the infectiousness of the album’s title-track and Chan’s original renditions of such classics as “O Holy Night,” “The First Noelle” (aptly re-named in honor of her daughter), and the unearthed classic, “For Unto Us,” Best Gift Ever gives listeners a refreshing mix of tradition and universal acceptance.
In addition to the new album, Chan is also lending her voice to various charities and radio shows across the country. For her, it’s an honor to not only share her music with the world, but also to give back for the greater good.
AXS recently spoke with Elizabeth Chan about Best Gift Ever and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: What inspired you to take on a career as a Christmas songwriter and producer?
Elizabeth Chan: I’ve always wanted to write Christmas music from a very young age. When I was growing up, there was a radio station in New York City that went all Christmas every year, and I remember whenever the station would turn me and my sister would leave the radio on twenty-four hours a day. It wasn’t something I knew I could make a career out of until after I already had another career. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but eventually chose a different path. Then about eight years ago, I had what I guess you’d call a quarter-life crisis. I thought, either I could keep working at the career I was at or do something that makes me happy. I think people are given one shot to do something with their life, and for me, it was music. I thought back to the one time in my life when I was truly happy, and that was when I listening to Christmas music and writing poems. I decided to give myself a shot, and here I am.
AXS: What’s your writing process like?
EC: I’m highly inspired by my family but also approach songwriting like a muscle you flex. I write Christmas music all year long. In the beginning, I’d force myself to write at least one Christmas song every day. Most of them were bad but I quickly amassed a vault of Christmas music. I now have my own sifting method where I’ll wait and see if I can recall a melody and lyrics of a song I wrote several years later. That’s how I know it has a classic, timelessness to it.
AXS: Let’s discuss a few original tracks from Best Gift Ever, starting with the title track. What’s the story behind it?
EC: My husband is the most-simple, happiest guy on the planet who never wants anything for his birthday, anniversary or Christmas. I’m always prodding him by asking, “What do you want? What do you want? What do you want” [laughs]. The bridge is always his answer: “Don’t worry about me. I have everything I want.” It’s also a universal theme with people. Every year, there’s always that sense of hey, what do you want this year? It was a good opportunity to write a song about the way everyone feels.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Elizabeth Chan by Clicking Here!