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The Darkness’ Dan Hawkins Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Pinewood Smile’

Photo courtesy: Simon Emmett

Fresh off touring with Guns N’ Roses and headlining European summer festivals, The Darkness have returned with their fifth album, Pinewood Smile (set for release on October 6).

Produced by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse) the new album boasts glorious hard rock anthems like “All The Pretty Girls,” the emotional “Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry” and the groove-ridden “Solid Gold,” which finds The Darkness addressing the turbulent nature of the music industry and how they’ve enjoyed its flamboyant highs and spectacular lows.

In addition to the distinctive guitar tones of Dan Hawkins, Pinewood Smile also features the drumming and vocal talents of newest member, Rufus Tiger Taylor, the son of Queen legend, Roger Taylor.

I recently spoke with Hawkins about Pinewood Smile, songwriting, gear and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would you describe Pinewood Smile in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?

I think it’s more urgent than some of the other albums and maybe a little bit edgier. It’s hard to sum up. It’s kind of like The Darkness on steroids.

What’s your writing process like? Does it begin with a melody? A hook? What inspires you when you write and create?

It depends and always comes in different ways. The first album was primarily written on acoustic where we’d be sitting around talking about things. Normally, I’d be in my own world making music and riffs and writing backing tracks while trying to pick up on the conversations that are going on in the room. This album was slightly different.

I wrote all of the music with Rufus in a rehearsal room at full volume. There are so many ways of getting around making noise these days with V drums and pods, and every fucker’s got their own studio these days. We wanted to get away from that and get back to it sounding good when you’re standing up playing it loudly. We wrote it in a very uncivilized way.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Pinewood Smile, beginning with “All The Pretty Girls”

The backing track was written in London and me, Rufus and Frankie had it recorded and demoed. Then Justin came in with this idea based on a line about how all the pretty girls love me for who I am, but only when I’m selling out stadiums. Basically, if you’re just a tight-jeaned, long-haired, ugly mother fucker no one really cares. But the second you’re doing well it increases your beauty in the eyes of a lot of people. It’s a funny observation.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Dan Hawkins by Clicking Here!


What’s in a name?

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

What’s in a name you say? Well, when I was growing up, there were certain words that – whenever spoken, always conjured up a feeling or an urge inside of you. Something that was more than just a rational, cognizant realization.

Let me give you a few examples from my own childhood to prove my point:


No, not Fred’s “Yabba Dabba Doo” buddy from The Flintstones. In my neck of the woods (on the south side of Easton, PA), Barney meant only one thing: The guy who made the  best cheesesteaks this side of Philly. Although Barney’s been dead for nearly two decades I can still recall the days of eating his wares in his Steak Shop while trying my luck on the latest video games like Vanguard and Defender and listening to the Foreigner “4” album on the jukebox.


No, not the imaginary place or state of things in which everything is perfect (although some of the questionable paraphernalia they sold there may have you think otherwise). Utopia was/is a store in the downtown section of town where all of the teens would congregate in the 1980’s in order to purchase the latest AC/DC or Pretenders album and get concert tickets for Stabler Arena or the Allentown Fairgrounds.


I’m not talking about the chick that swiped the football out from under Charlie Brown. Lucy’s was the neighborhood candy store that served up the finest in Swedish Fish, Tootsie Rolls and Hostess Twinkies.

See how one word can easily trigger something deep inside you? And while we’re on the subject, let me give you a pair of words that does the same thing for me:

Wes Craven

Whenever these two words are mentioned together it instantly reminds me of one of the scariest films I ever saw as pubescent teenager – “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

Sure, by the time that movie came out in 1984, I had already been covering my ears to the creepy intro music of “Halloween” and hidden my eyes from the inevitable pop up scare scenes in the closing minutes of the first two “Friday The 13th” movies. But there was something far more diabolical with Elm Street. For unlike Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees – who at least early on were actual human beings,  Freddy Kreuger represented something that was far more sinister – an unknown, malevolent creature who came to us in our darkest dreams.

Watching the scene where poor Amanda Wyss’ character, Tina, is standing in the alley way while Freddy’s arms grow and he pounces on her still gives me an uneasy feeling some thirty years later.

Back then, I wasn’t even aware of some of Craven’s earlier films like “The Last House on The Left” or “The Hills Have Eyes”. All I knew was from that point forward, anytime I saw the words “Wes Craven” before a film’s title, I knew immediately it would be scary and I would have to see it. And although some of his work was questionable in the years following NOES -“The Hills Have Eyes Part II” and “Shocker” immediately come to mind, Craven was back in top form for “Scream” in 1996. Single-handedly creating a film that (at least to me) rivaled Elm Street in terms of its originality and scare.

So hearing the news late last night that Wes Craven had passed away at the age of 76 was somewhat shocking. Knowing that there will never be another film that will give me that same feeling when I see the title. But whenever I hear those two words together – “Wes Craven”, I’ll always remember a man whose vision and memorable characters will continue to live on, both on screen and in dreams.

Dennis DeYoung and Guitarists Jimmy Leahey and August Zadra Discuss New ‘Music of Styx’ Live Package

DennisDeYoungIt’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Dennis DeYoung’s acrimonious split from Styx.

But one thing’s for sure: DeYoung’s contributions to the success of that band run much deeper than his role as the band’s keyboardist.

Together with a new band dedicated to preserving the legacy of his old one, DeYoung’s new DVD/Blu-ray package, Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx: Live In Los Angeles, quickly dispels any notion that he wasn’t a “rock guy” in Styx.

Filmed with eight high-definition cameras in front of an enthusiastic audience at the intimate El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, DeYoung performs the catalog of Styx hits that have become staples of classic rock radio, including “Lady,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Show Me The Way,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Babe,” “Best Of Times” and “Come Sail Away.”

Guitarists Jimmy Leahey and August Zadra perform regularly with DeYoung. I recently caught up with DeYoung, Leahey and Zadra to ask them about this new live package and more!

GUITAR WORLD: Dennis, how did this project come about?

DeYoung: Originally, AXS TV came to me last year and asked me if I’d be interested in doing an acoustic “Live from the Grammy Museum” performance. But I was bound and determined to do an electric show with this great band to dispel any notion that I wasn’t a “rock guy” in Styx. So they suggested we go to the El Rey Theatre, because that’s where they did shows with John Fogerty and Ringo Starr. That’s when Frontiers Records got involved and said they wanted to make the performance into a CD/DVD/Blu-ray. That’s how it all began.

Was there any sense of added pressure going in with this being a one-shot, live performance?

DeYoung: When you do a show like this, you have to accept the responsibility that you have to be good, right then and there. There’s always a certain amount of pressure when you know it’s live and going to be recorded. But having said that, I wasn’t really nervous because I had great belief in this band. They did so admirably that all I can say is, “fantastic!”

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with DeYoung, Leahey and Zadra by Clicking Here!

Very High Frequency: Joel Hoekstra Discusses VHF and New Night Ranger Album, ‘High Road’

Joel Hoekstra

It’s no secret that Joel Hoekstra is one the hardest-working musicians you’re ever likely to meet. The Night Ranger guitarist, who just celebrated the release of the band’s new album, High Road, also performs regularly as part of Broadway’s Rock of Ages and tours every fall with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Hoekstra also has unveiled a brand new project, VHF, which stands for the initials of band mates Todd “Vinny” Vinciguerra (drums), Joel Hoekstra (guitars) and bassist Tony Franklin (the Firm, Kenny Wayne Shepherd).

Co-produced by Joe Floyd and Tommy Kessler (Blondie, Rock of Ages), VHF’s debut release, Very High Frequency, which was released June 20, isn’t a shred record by any means. It’s full of trippy, groove-inspired rock that’s been built from the ground up.

I recently caught up with Hoekstra and got an update on Night Ranger, VHF and the secret to mastering his two-handed technique.

GUITAR WORLD: High Road reminds me a lot of the classic Night Ranger sound. Was the intent going into this album to pay homage to those early records?

We just wanted to be ourselves and were able to find a nice balance of sounding like the classic Night Ranger while giving ourselves the leeway to express some our influences. We’re still a rock and roll band who likes to create new music and give our fans something they’ll appreciate. It’s an honor for me to be a part of it.

What else can you tell me about the new album?

There’s really something for everyone on this record, and a lot of it starts with Jack [Blades], Brad [Gillis] and Kelly [Keagy] together. “Knock Knock Never Stop” is really a good example of that. It’s got that signature Brad Gillis riff in it. “Rollin On” is another song that started out with a bluesy-sounding riff. I think you can hear a little bit of Brad’s Hendrix influence on that one. Eric Levy and I are involved as well. Eric came in with the ballad “Only For You Only” and I came up with the riffs for “I’m Coming Home.”

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joel Hoekstra by Clicking Here!

Zakk Wylde Talks New Black Label Society Album, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’

ZakkZakk Wylde has announced the next chapter in the Black Label Society story, Catacombs of the Black Vatican.

The album, the first disc of all new material from the band since 2010’s Order of the Black, will be released April 8.

Wylde also has announced a new tour, “An Evening with Zakk Wylde.” The 13-city Canadian trek will feature Wylde and new Black Label Society guitarist Dario Lorina performing intimate versions of some of BLS’s most popular songs, plus readings from Wylde’s 2012 book, Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination. You can check out all the tour dates below.

I recently spoke with Wylde about the new BLS album and upcoming tour and got his thoughts on Black Sabbath’s Grammy nomination.

GUITAR WORLD: What can fans expect from Catacombs of the Black Vatican?

I think everyone can expect a lot of fun and excitement [laughs]! It was like what Chris Farley did in that one skit, where he was selling that hair-care product. Make sure you always use the word “fun” when you describe it [laughs]!

Someone asked me what the difference was between this new record and the other nine. I told them that it’s basically all of the songs we used on the other nine records, except they’ve got different titles now [laughs]. It’s fun and exciting for the whole family!

Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Zakk Wylde by Clicking Here!

Dr. Margaret Paul on Holiday Stress, Loneliness & SelfQuest

It’s been called, “The Psychologist in a Computer Program.” The result of over 42 years of developing the Inner Bonding process by best-selling authors/psychologists Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich, SelfQuest is a powerful software package because of its self-healing interactivity.

Dr. Paul has appeared on numerous radio and television shows (including Oprah) offering expert advice, discussing her books and demonstrating the Inner Bonding process. Her book titles include “Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved By You”, “Healing Your Aloneness” and “Inner Bonding.” She holds a Ph.D. in psychology, is a relationship expert, public speaker, consultant and artist and has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and businesses.

Many celebrities and visionaries have applauded Inner Bonding and SelfQuest, including actress Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman), Jack Canfield (co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul), Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations With God)  and singer/songwriter Alanis Morrisette, who channeled the inspiration she found from the program into her latest album, ‘Havoc and Bright Lights’.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Dr. Paul and get her thoughts on the Inner Bonding Process and SelfQuest, the “therapist in a box”. She also gives good advice for people who may be experiencing loneliness around the holidays.

Tell me about how the Inner Bonding Process began?

I went to school to become a traditional psycho-therapist and did that for 17 years, but I was not at all happy with the results of traditional psychotherapy. Although I had patients coming to see me and was always busy and writing books, I didn’t feel that they (my patients) were learning a process. I also didn’t like the fact that they had to keep coming back over and over again.

At the time, I was also on a spiritual path and started to pray for something that was different than what I was doing. That was when I met Dr. Erika Chopich who became my best friend and together, we created Inner Bonding.

What is the Inner Bonding Process?

Inner Bonding is a six-step psychological and spiritual process that helps people really get tuned in to their feelings and learn to take responsibility for them. Six steps that enables one to learn what’s loving to themselves, how to fill themselves with love, take responsibility, find the best choices and then share that love with others.

We’ve all learned through experiencing a lot of pain while growing up that the way to avoid it was to replace it with addiction. Whether it be food, drugs, gambling, sex; anything to fill up that empty space inside. Inner bonding teaches you how to learn from your feelings; all of which are informational. For example, if you cut your finger, the pain you feel is telling you to stop what you’re doing because it’s hurting you. It’s the same with emotional pain. Our emotional pain is telling us to stop the way we are acting or thinking, because we’re hurting ourselves. We have to learn from all of our feelings and how to manage them; otherwise we become victims and addicted in order to avoid them.

Was the SelfQuest program the next logical step?

I work with people and also have many trained facilitators who work with people, but the problem is, there are only so many people that we can work with at any given time. SelfQuest teaches the entire process. It takes users through the Inner Bonding process in a very deep way. It’s taken twelve years to develop and is a very technologically advanced program, but it’s also a process that anybody can learn.

Many people who’ve used it have said that it’s actually like having me in their living room.

A lot of talented people have sung the praises of your work, including Alanis Morrisette. How did your relationship with her begin?

Alanis is amazing and an absolutely wonderful human being. She was reading the books and then attended one of my workshops. Over time, I was able to spend time with and get to know her.  It’s a very gratifying friendship I have with her. She loves the SelfQuest program.

Why do you think your books and programs are such a big hit?

I think it strikes a chord with people in terms of really understanding how to fill that emptiness. There are a lot of unhappy people who are addicted.

Is there a success story you can share about the program?

Not too long ago, a woman emailed me who I had never met or worked with before. She told me that she had been using drugs heavily for 37 years and been through therapy, recovery centers and other programs, but had not been able to get off drugs until she did SelfQuest. She said by using the program; she now understands why she was on drugs and what she needed to do get off them. She’s now been clean for six months.

What else do you find most gratifying?

Our website, which offers many ways for people to get free help. Although there is a cost with Self Quest, we do have a financial assistance program. Those things are very important to me.

With the holidays coming up, is there any advice you can give to people who may be feeling loneliness?

People struggle a lot over the holidays, especially with relationships. Families can be challenging, especially if there has been some abuse in the background. What I suggest is that people really tune inside and see what it is they want. Do they want to spend the holidays with family or friends? Do they want to do volunteer work?

The holidays are not a good time to be alone, but it is a good time to be “offering” something. There are many ways that people can “offer”. They can collect canned goods for shelters or volunteer to work in a soup kitchen. If that’s not their thing, they can look up retreat centers in their town where they can share a meal with others.

Dr. Paul’s recent workshop at The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lennox, MA.

One of the things we teach with Inner Bonding is how to access a personal source of wisdom.  Whether it’s Spiritual guidance or inner wisdom, we teach people how to channel that. It’s not very hard and it’s based on a concept of intentions. Either your intention is to learn about what is in your highest good, or your intention is to protect against pain with some form of addicting or controlling behavior.

When people move into an intention to learn, it opens them. Even if they have no spiritual belief system, if they ask the question: “What would really be loving to me over Thanksgiving or Christmas?”, ideas will start to pop into their minds. They might not know where the ideas come from (and it doesn’t really matter), but if they sincerely ask about what is loving or in their highest good, they will get ideas. That’s what they need to do.

What has the reaction to the new SelfQuest program been like so far?

The reaction to the program has been fantastic. We really hope many people utilize it. We’re currently developing a version for the iPad and iPhone as well as having it translated into Spanish French and German. We really want to bring the program worldwide to countries that really need it but don’t have access to this kind help.

To learn more about Dr. Margaret Paul and Inner Bonding, or to find an upcoming workshop you can visit the website.

For more information on SelfQuest® go to

Article first published as Dr. Margaret Paul on Holiday Stress, Loneliness & SelfQuest on Technorati.

Revolver Magazine Interview: Chris Howorth of In This Moment

Late last year, In This Moment guitarist Chris Howorth and vocalist Maria Brink received news that original members Blake Bunzel and Jeff Fabb were leaving the group in order to join American Idol alum James Durbin’s touring band.

As a one-two punch, the duo also was informed that the band was being dropped by their manager. The news came as somewhat of a shock, but rather than wallow in the negative, the band instead armed themselves with a new-found sense of direction and channeled that energy into their latest release, Blood, an album that has become their most successful to date.

Check out the rest of my interview with guitarist Chris Howorth of the band, In This Moment on Revolver Magazine’s Website.

Click here

Guitar World Interview

Check out my Guitar World interview with John Parr, the man who wrote the #1 song Man in Motion from the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. John has a new album out now called “The Mission”.

Trivia: His video for the song “Naughty Naughty” featured a young actress in her very first acting role. Check it out and see if you can figure out who it is.

Click Here To Read Article:

Guitar World Interview With Michael Sweet From Stryper

Please read and share! My interview with Michael as he discusses his new solo album, autobiography and the future of Stryper! Rock On!

HUFF Blows into Texas: An Interview with Elina Madison

Elina Madison & Johnny D’Agostino in HUFF

Some guys have all the luck. In this case, it’s the people of Dallas, Texas.

Fans of the horror film genre descending upon “The Texas Frightmare Weekend” will be treated to a screening of the Paul Morrell directed film, “HUFF“: a dark, allegorical adaptation of  the story of “The Three Little Pigs”.

“HUFF” stars Charlie O’Connell (“The Bachelor”, “Crossing Jordan”) as Virgil ‘Huff’ Huffington, an abusive stepfather to three teenage girls living in poverty in California.

Huff is on the verge of making a lucrative drug deal that will finally give him the money he needs to escape his miserable life and retire to Mexico in style with his sexy mistress, Laci (Natasha Alam).

But Huff’s plans begin to unravel when his battered wife, Lorelei (Elina Madison), secretly gives the money intended for the drug deal to her daughters and tells them to run away and seek better lives. This series of events triggers a chain of rage-induced asthma attacks, complete with the ‘huffs and puffs’ as Huff attempts to locate the three runaways and recover his money.

HUFF” is a movie that has something for everyone. There’s action, thrills, suspense, horror, beautiful women and even a “bachelor” for good measure.

“HUFF” also features the talents of Marie Bollinger, Mayra Leal, Clint Howard, Jenna Stone , Elly Stefanko and Johnny D’Agostino.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Elina Madison, a multi-talented actress, producer and writer whose resume includes films like “Mulholland Drive”, “That Thing You Do”, ” The Corporate Cutthroat Massacre” and the award winning “Barracuda”.

In this interview, Elina discusses her role as Lorelei in “HUFF”. She also talks about what it was like working with such a great ensemble and what she has planned for the future as well.

goJimmygo (gJg): Elina! It’s so great to speak with you!  I’m hearing that this trip to Texas will be the first time you’ll see the completed movie is that right?

Elina Madison (EM): Yes it is and I’m very excited. I can’t wait to see everyone again and to watch it for the first time.

goJimmygo: When will HUFF officially be released?

EM: The actual premiere will be in September. I have to tell you though that I’m really happy with what I’ve seen of it so far. Just from being on the set filming I know that it’s going to be something special.

gJg: What is it that draws you to the horror/suspenseful type of movies?

EM: This might sound a little crazy and completely the opposite of what horror films are all about but they’re actually fun to work on! <laughs>

One of the first films I ever worked on was called “Curse of the Forty-Niner”. It was directed by John Carl Buechler and starred Karen Black, John Phillip Lawn and Vernon Wells. Doing that movie was an amazing experience for me and lit the fire. From then on, I was hooked.

gJg: What’s your favorite horror movie of all time?

EM: If I have to choose the one that scares me the most every single time I watch it I’d have to say “The Exorcist”.  Even when I hear the music I literally get scared. “The Amityville Horror” and “Carrie” are two other films that are really scary as well.

Elina Madison

gJg: How did the role of Lorelei come about for you in “HUFF?

EM: I went in for the initial audition and they sent me the script. And as crazy and intense as some of the things that are happening in the story, it was just such an easy read. I literally could not put it down.

I immediately knew that I wanted to do this film. I could just tell by reading the script. It was that good.

gJg: Did you have to do anything special to prepare yourself for the role of Lorelei?

EM: Lorelei is just so caught up in her own little world. She’s an alcoholic in denial about her daughters and Huff. Getting into that kind of mindset took some work. I’ve done some crazy characters before but never one this complex.

gJg: What’s the premise of HUFF?

EM: HUFF is actually a twisted version of the story of “The Three Little Pigs” with Huff being the wolf and the daughters being the three little pigs. Huff also has asthma which goes along with the lines of the story of “huffing and puffing”.

Huff is up to no good making a deal with this drug money that’s not his. My character finally has had enough and realizes that she has to get her children out of there. So she steals the money, gives it to them and tells them to leave. It’s because of that there’s some unbelievable “consequences”.

gJg: As you can tell just from watching the trailer.

EM: Exactly!

gJg: What was it like working with such a cast?

EM: It was a lot of fun. Everyone was great. I remember being at the table read and just thinking to myself,”WOW, this is really going to be good!”

gJg: Did you know Charlie (O’Connell) was from “The Bachelor”?

EM: I actually didn’t. I think it was because when I first met him at the callback he was already in character. Obviously he’s completely opposite of Huff in person but I had no idea he was on that show. <laughs>

gJg: Were there any funny situations or stories you can remember while you were filming?

EM: There were so many of them but the one that comes to mind was after I found out that Charlie was on “The Bachelor”. We had this one really intense scene where I’m laying on my back and he’s up over me. There’s blood everywhere and we were so serious in the scene but I had this crazy thought running through my mind:

“Oh my God, this is my moment with The Bachelor!” <Laughs>

gJg: What was the thing that sparked you getting into acting.

EM: I remember exactly where I was the moment that it happened. I was in my grandmother’s house watching TV with her. I don’t remember exactly what was on but I just remember being so enthralled with it that I turned to her and said: “Grandma, I want to be an actress!” From that moment on I’ve never lost sight of that.

I grew up in Wyoming and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to act there. So I eventually made my way to Los Angeles and just went for it.

gJg: A true success story!

EM: I like to think so.

gJg: What other projects do you have coming up?

EM: I’m shooting a TV show called “Blood Relatives” that will be on the Discovery channel and then I’m signed on to play Dracula’s wife in Dracula that we’re going to be shooting in June. That’s with Creep Creepersin, who I worked with on “The Corporate Cutthroat Massacre”.  That’s going to be fun.

I also have a film coming out this October called “Halloween Party”. It’s a comedy and is really hilarious.

gJg: It was really great to talk with you Elina. I’m really looking forward to “HUFF“!

EM: Thanks. It was great talking to you too!

Article first published as HUFF Blows into Texas: An Interview with Actress Elina Madison on Technorati.

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