‘Blvds of Splendor’: Cherie Currie and Matt Sorum Discuss Infectious New Album

Photo by Robert Sebree

Legendary Runaways vocalist Cherie Currie describes her new album, Blvds of Splendor, as the record she wish she’d made when she was signed to Capitol Records in the early 1980’s, and for good reason. The album, nearly ten years in the making and produced by veteran drummer/author/ entrepreneur Matt Sorum (The Cult, Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N’ Roses), is a pure cornucopia of musical goodness spotlighting Currie’s monstrous vocal prowess.

From the album’s high-energy opening track, “Mr. X,” a track originally slated for Velvet Revolver and featuring Slash and Duff McKagan, to the more haunting sounds of “Blvds of Splendor,” a song with a subtle vibe written as a duet and performed with Billy Corgan [Smashing Pumpkins]. Other tracks from the album, like the groove-ridden “Black Magic,” the bluesey “Roxy Roller,” and the apropos “Force To Be Reckoned With,” also demand repeated listenings.

One of the biggest highlights of Blvds of Splendor has got to be the modern remake of The Runaways hit, “Queens of Noise,” where Currie is joined on vocals by Brody Dalle, The Veronicas and Juliette Lewis. Drummer Matt Sorum also pays homage to the band’s late member, Sandy West, by contributing a masterful performance in West’s signature style.

Runaways fans have waited a long time to hear this rock icon do what she does best and will certainly find a lot to like with Blvds Of Splendor. But more importantly, the new album proves that forty-five years after she became the lead singer of the all-female teenage rock band, Currie is still at the top of her game.

I recently spoke with Cherie Currie and Matt Sorum about the new album and much more in this exclusive new interview.

This album has been many years in the making. Can you tell me a little bit about the journey of Blvds of Splendor?

Cherie Currie: About ten years ago Matt reached out about having me do some backgrounds on a project he was working on. I was busy at the time with the movie [“The Runaways”] but later reached out to him about putting together a band when I was opening for Joan [Jett] at the Pacific Amphitheatre. Matt told me he would do it and it was so well received that we wound up getting offered a contract by Joan’s record company. Over the years we thought about recording and releasing the album but something always came up. Now is the perfect time. This is the record I’ve always wanted to make.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Cherie Currie & Matt Sorum Here.

Interview: Katie Daryl Previews Third Season of AXS TV’s ‘The Top Ten Revealed’

Katie Daryl — Photo by Renee Silverman

AXS TV’s popular music countdown series, “The Top Ten Revealed,” returns for an amazing 12-episode third season, which premieres on Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

The new season, executive produced and hosted by Katie Daryl, begins with the best “Rockin’ ROCK Songs” and is highlighted by tracks from Def Leppard, Scorpions, Twisted Sister and more. Returning musical experts for season three include Sebastian Bach, Lita Ford, Dee Snider and Kevin Cronin, as well as newcomers Mark McGrath, Carnie Wilson and Puddle of Mudd frontman, Wes Scantlin.

Even better is that The Top Ten Revealed is expanding its musical pallete with a treasure trove of goodness filled with new genres along with more honest opinion, fun facts and behind the scenes stories that have made the series a fan favorite.

The Top Ten Revealed Season 3 Schedule:

April 19: Rockin’ ROCK Titles
April 26: Epic Songs of ‘74
May 3: Rockin’ Siblings
May 10: 80s Break Up Songs
May 17: Epic Songs of ‘69
May 31: Songs Stuck at #2
June 7: Soul Songs of the 60s
June 14: Yacht Rock
June 21: MORE Hits That Were Covers
June 28: 70s Folk Songs
July 12: Epic Songs of ‘84
July 19: Going Crazy Songs

I recently spoke with Katie Daryl about the new season of “The Top Ten Revealed” and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from the new season of “The Top Ten Revealed?”

Katie Daryl: This season is great because we’re introducing new experts like Mark McGrath, Carnie Wilson and Wes Scantlin from Puddle of Mudd and mixing them in with our classic rock favorites — Dee Snider, Sebastian Bach, Lita Ford and Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon. The new topics are also neat. We still have our traditional 70’s and classic rock, but we’re also dabbling into new topics that are genre specific. We’ve even got a Yacht Rock list. It’s very exciting.

What categorizes a song as “Yacht Rock?”

KD: It’s funny because a lot of our experts came into the room asking that same question. One of them said it best. It’s a bouncy song that feels like the rhythm of the ocean. Also, if the song is literally talking about sailing and yachts (ala Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”) then it probably made the cut.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Katie Daryl by Clicking Here.

‘Simple Truth’: Megadeth Bassist Dave Ellefson Talks New Solo Single To Raise Funds to Fight Covid-19

Grammy-winning artist David Ellefson has unveiled “Simple Truth,” a new single from the Megadeth bassist’s eponymous solo-band, Ellefson,and a preview of the group’s forthcoming album being released on his Combat Records label.

The track, available now via Ellefson’s Bandcamp and will be released across all digital platforms on April 17, was co-written by Ellefson and vocalist Thom Hazaert, along with Italian guitarist Andy Martongelli and drummer Paolo Caridi. Even better is that all profits from the single will be donated to the Croce Rossa Italiana [Italian Red Cross], who are currently on the front lines of the war against Covid-19.

I recently spoke with David Ellefson about “Simple Truth” and more in this exclusive new interview:

When did you first start hearing about Covid-19?

David Ellefson: We all started hearing about it late last year. I think that, just like Ebola and a lot of other diseases, we’re often more inclined to think it’s “over there” and isn’t something that would affect us. This past January, while we were doing a tour across Europe, we started hearing about it coming there. That’s when we started to pay serious attention to it. Then by early February, as we were going through France and Italy, we started hearing more about an outbreak. We were about two weeks ahead of the virus when we hit Europe. We got back home and so far none of us [band, crew or staff] have been affected in any way. The best precaution now is to just stay inside and try to limit your exposure.

How did the new single, “Simple Truth” come about and what inspired you to use it to raise funds for Covid-19 relief?

DE: We wrote the song on a day of rehearsal for my Ellefson solo tour we were doing last November. My singer, Thom [Hazaert] who is also my business partner, was the one who suggested we try to write a song. So I just went in, plugged in my bass and started going for a riff, which became the opening riff. Then we all jumped in and started jamming. Thom put melodies together and Andy [Martongelli] contributed a breakdown riff. In an hour we had a song written and ready to go.

Read the rest of my
Interview with David Ellefson by Clicking Here.

A Different Perspective: Why You Should Take Covid-19 Seriously

Whether I’m out walking my dogs from a safe social distance or driving to pick up much-needed groceries, I can’t help but see members of my community assembling in large numbers at places like parks and shopping centers, despite government and medical professionals advising us to the contrary. It’s become apparent that a vast majority of people are still not taking the Corona Virus (Covid-19) seriously.

Perhaps there’s a reason for this disconnect, because I’ve also read dozens of news articles and listened to a bunch of so-called experts bloviate their opinions. Casting blame for this “virus” pandemic we’re experiencing on everything from a person in China eating a bat, to a biological weapon experiment gone awry, to the new 5G frequency that’s being used for our smart phones. Some are even suggesting that it’s not a virus at all and that the whole thing is nothing more than a crude hoax. In every case, the misinformation given is being shared through various social media outlets where many recipients, who are already unsure and in fear, eagerly accept it as fact without bothering to research it on their own.

The reason I’m writing this is not to fuel debate or cause heated tension. Quite frankly, I’m in no mood to argue. I’d just like to share with you a story that I hadn’t really thought much about until my mother passed away on March 7. I’ll preface what follows by telling you that my mother died of a stroke at the age of 73, and not from Covid-19.

My mom’s mother, Helena (Lyons) Appleman, was born in Easton on April 19, 1914. She was one of eight children from a relatively poor family who grew up to become a wife, mother, seamstress and homemaker, before spending the last nine years of my grandfather’s life being his primary caregiver after he, ironically, also suffered a severe stroke.

Shortly after my brother was born in 1967, when my newly married mother and father had nowhere else to go, my grandparents invited them to move in with them into their small, three-bedroom turn of the century colonial. I came along two years later and was followed by my sister two years after that.

My connection with my grandmother during my formitive years growing up remains my most treasured memory. For, in addition to taking care of my disabled grandfather 24/7, she was also the one who cared for me and my siblings whenever we were sick because our parents were away at work. I remember those days fondly because she’d always have me lie on the soft lumpy couch underneath a mountain of warm blankets; feeding me hot chicken noodle soup and sitting with me to watch shows like “The Price is Right” and “The Joy of Painting,” while getting a much-needed respite from my grandfather, who was taking an afternoon nap.

Every day, unless she was feeling under the weather, she would make supper for my family and would always have extra for any of our friends and relatives who happened to straggle in while we were eating. If I think back now, I can still smell the Sunday roast beef and the Thanksgiving feasts she used to prepare.

My grandmother loved everyone and would go out of her way to do anything to help someone in need. In short, she was the foundation of our family and I remember sitting in wonder as she told me all kinds of stories about what life was like during The Great Depression and World War II. Things I’d give anything to be able to hear from her again because I miss her dearly.

The stories part is where I’m going with all of this, because there’s one story she never told any of us. One that she kept to herself her entire life, and didn’t reveal until she was on her death bed in December of 1996.

One evening, not too long before she passed, my cousin’s husband was at the nursing home visiting her. At the time, he was taking an English course on interviewing and was asking my grandmother pointed questions about her life. Things she always discussed openly. I’m not sure if it was because she was fully aware of her own mortaility, or because she just wanted to get something out that she’d kept bottled up, but she used the opportunty to reveal a little more with one of the questions that was asked.

The question was this: “What was the worst moment of your entire life?”

Without hesitation, she answered. “The day of Clara’s funeral.”

“Clara?” he asked, curiously. “Who’s Clara?”

My grandmother explained that Clara was one of her sisters who had contracted the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918 and died shortly thereafter. Clara was ten-years-old at the time and my grandmother was four. We all knew that my grandmother had lost a sister at a young age but were never offered anything beyond that. She never told and we dared not to ask.

My grandmother then went on to tell him that because the funeral parlors were full due to the large number of deaths, they needed to have Clara’s funeral service inside their home. For some reason; one that even I can’t begin to understand, they were unable to get Clara’s casket out of the house after the service, and several men had to work together to lower it through an open window in order to take it to the cemetery for burial. So, in addition to already being grief stricken over the death of her beloved sister, my grandmother had to witness this entire emotional scene of despair and confusion play out in real time.

Let me say this again in a way that’s more easily understood. My grandmother, who was four-years-old when her sister died, lived almost eighty years after the pandemic of 1918. She lived through a Great Depression, a World War, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Vietnam and many other horrific things in our world, in addition to having to be a caregiver to my grandfather and taking care of my family. Yet the absolute worst day of her entire life was when her sister died of the Spanish Flu. The Pandemic of 1918.

So when I see people, a century later, not taking what’s going on seriously, it’s very concerning. My grandmother’s generation never had access to all the information we do today about what’s going on. Even something as simple as washing your hands thorougly and keeping a safe social distance. In 1918 there was no radio, television, smart phones or social media. Heck, you were lucky if you had access to a newspaper. All you had to rely upon was hearsay. Which is why I can only imagine how scary it must have been for her back then, not knowing what was going on.

The truth is you can believe all the hyperbole and conspiracy theories you want because you have that right. But you’ll never be able to convince me that what we’re going through right now is not something to take seriously.

Here’s a little epilogue to take with you. Something that happened on the night of December 31st, 1996. The night my grandmother died.

My grandmother had shared a room for the last month of her life and, on the day after her death, my mom was talking to my grandmother’s elderly roommate.

“Can I ask you a question?” the woman asked my mother, sounding a bit confused.

“Of course,” my mom answered.

“Do you know anyone named Clara?”

My mom looked at her with concern. “Yeah, as a matter of fact I do. Clara was my mom’s sister. She died when my mom was four.”

“Oh, maybe that explains it,” the woman replied with relief. “Because last night, I kept hearing your mother calling out that name in the dark. She said it over and over, and then she was silent.”

‘Shake The World’: Robin McAuley Discusses Monster New Project, Black Swan

Photo by: Enzo Mazzeo

Tracked at bassist/producer Jeff Pilson’s home studio in Los Angeles, “Shake The World” is the debut album by Black Swan. A sonic slice of melodic hard rock/metal that showcases some of the most iconic names in the business.

In addition to Pilson (Foreigner, The End Machine, ex-Dokken), the band also features vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group), guitarist Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake) and drummer Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr. Big).

From the anthemic growl of the epic title track and “Immortal Souls” to more more meaningful and personal songs like “Johnny Came Marching,” Shake The World is an impressive debut of world class musicians, and a band that yearns to be heard live.

I recently spoke with vocalist Robin McAuley about the new Black Swan album and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about?

Robin McAuley: Jeff was the one who originally had the idea. He called me up and asked if I’d be interested and then introduced me to Reb. Originally, Jeff didn’t want to play bass and only wanted to produce but Reb and I talked him into it. We all knew that we wanted to steer away from doing another “classic rock” type of record. I had known Matt from having done some events with him and called him up. He came in and just tore it up. The whole album sounds organic and fresh.

What was the songwriting process like for Shake The World?

RM: Sometimes it would start with just a riff. Reb would come up with a riff and then Pilson would start playing low. They’d put a format together and the sent it to me. They often suggested styles they were looking for but everything I came up with was something they never expected.

A good example is when they sent me this great riff thatI instantly fell in love with. When I listened to it I could feel this guitar overtone that almost sounded like a wolf howling. I wound up writing the song, “Immortal Souls,” about vampires and how they are ultra-fast. When I came back to Pilson and told him that I loved the way he had the howling wolf over the intro and he says, “What howling wolf?” [laughs]. But that’s really what the process was like. They’d send me some stuff and I’d come back with a lyric and melody. Before you knew it we had amassed a bunch of songs that all tied in together.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Robin McAuley by Clicking Here.

Interview: Singer-Songwriter Drea Jeann Discusses Her Latest Singles and The Power of Music

Vulnerable, honest and transparent are three of the adjectives that best describe newcomer artist, Drea Jeann. The beautiful songstress, who writes through the lens of personal experience, has an emotionally deep level of maturity and etherealness in her sound that’s well beyond her years. It’s a sound defined from her years of musical theater as well as a hybrid cross between the styles of jazz, pop and r&b.

Whether it’s the haunting groove in the track, “Come Back To Me,” or the somberness of long-dinstance relationships in the song, “Faithfully,” Jeann not only gives listeners a glimpse into her life but empahtically shares her passion the best way that she can — through her music.

I recently spoke with Jeann about her music and more in this exclusive new interview.

To someone who might not be familiar, how would you describe your sound?

Drea Jeann: It’s a little hard to define. I started seriously writing last year with a producer and am still exploring the avenues that define my sound. I only like to write about things that I’ve experienced, so my songs are very authentic and personal. Vocally, I’ve had a lot of jazz training as well as r&b and pop.

What inspires you when you write and create?

DJ: The way that it usually works is that my producer will send me instrumental tracks. After I listen to them, I’ll figure out what I’m feeling and thinking about and willl come up with a melody or hook. Then I’ll start building lyrics around it and how it relates to my feelings or the experiences I’ve gone through. Other times I’ll already know what I want to write about. The it’s just a matter finding the right instrumental to portray it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Drea Jeann by Clicking Here.

Interview: Katrina Stone Discusses Overcoming Intellectual Property Theft, New Music

During her more than ten year tenure as a professional independent music artist, Katrina Stone’s tireless work ethic and inspirationally-driven songs have earned her legions of loyal fans and international acclaim. Her performances on stages like The Warped Tour and CityWalk Hollywood have wowed audiences and her songs have recieved placement and endorsements in both television and film. But it wasn’t until one of those loyal fans tipped her off about her music being illegally posted online that the beautiful songstress took matters into her own hands.

Stone quickly discovered that twenty-six of her early tracks were actively being promoted on streaming services by fraudulent accounts using slight name changes and different covers to fool audiences. After the streaming companies offered no help, Stone learned the tracks were being offered through DistroKid and, upon inquiry, the company did the right thing by quickly shutting down the fraudulent accounts.

Now, Stone is using the experience to warn other indie artists about the importance of keeping tabs on their music. She’s also hard at work on a brand-new album that’s scheduled for release in May.

I recently spoke with Katrina Stone about the incident, her music and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this whole situation come about?

Katrina Stone: I was aware that there had been some fake accounts on Spotify where people would upload tracks but didn’t think much of it beyond that. Then one day, a fan reached out to me on Instagram to let me know that she found some of my earlier tracks in her Discover Weekly that were listed under a different name and with different covers. I started digging a little and realized that they not only compromised my material but there were more than thirty-six other indie artists who weren’t coming up as the artist that was listed. When you put your heart and soul into creating music it’s scary that people see it as a commodity and just steal it.

How does something like this happen?

KS: My music was pulled off Noise Trade, but it’s also possible to steal it by ripping mp3’s from YouTube or directly from CDs. These fake accounts then give the tracks a slightly different title and cover and upload it. The track’s usually live in about twenty-four hours.

How receptive were some of the streaming services when you told them about it?

KS: They weren’t very receptive at all. They wanted me to fill out a copyright complaint form for each purpose and song. That would have meant filing hundreds of copyright complaints. To make things worse, the person we believe was doing this lived out of the country. So there was really no way to track them down. As an indie artist, I’d prefer to create music than to be putting out so many fires. So, what I did was find the tracks on YouTube, where it listed the labels they were under. When I saw it was Distro Kit I reached out to them directly and they were so helpful. Within forty-eight hours they let me know that it was going to be pulled down.

Having gone through this experience, what advice would you give to other artists?

KS: Since the streaming companies really won’t help you, I encourage people to periodically go on sites and search for their songs. Listen to them and make sure they’re really yours. Another thing is to only share direct links to your Spotify and have them everywhere.

What can you tell me about your upcoming album?

KS: It’s inspirational pop and something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. It’ll be the first time I’ll be writing, producing, engineering and playing everything. It’s real, vulnerable and honest and a chance for me to show exactly what I’ve got. I’m very excited about it.

What’s your songwriting process like?

KS: If I’m writing by myself, it’s lyrics first. I love the marriage between lyric and melody but when I’m writing ideas down I like to have something to sing first and then work on finding the right hook. It’s all about great craftsmanship, a lack of clichés and creating something that’s new and fresh.

Who are some of your musical influences?

KS: I don’t sing country but I’m a huge Garth Brooks fan. I love him as a performer and how he isn’t afraid to take someone else’s song and put his own take on it. I also love how classic Adele’s music is. It’s something you can listen to years later and still hear different things.

Was a career in music something you always envisioned?

KS: Yes. From the time I was around twelve years old the idea started to form in my head. It’s a tough industry but I’ve been fortunate to have been able to make a living at it. At this point, it’s all I know.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

KS: I’m excited about this new album and tour and to start homing in on what is that I want. Everything is coming full circle, and I’m in a really good place.