Under A Neapolitan Sky – Chapter Two

“Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis.

Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.”

The synopsis is just a small taste of my brand new novella, Neapolitan Sky, which I’m excited to announce will be released on Tuesday, May 8th!

Over the course of my writing career, I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists, musicians and authors; co-authored three children’s books and have written more than 2,000 articles for this blog, Guitar World, AXS and Yahoo! I can honestly say that this was the most challenging and creatively satisfying thing I’ve ever done.

It was exciting to see this story go from a blank document to template to final draft. In between, there were more than a dozen test readers who provided feedback and input; multiple late night re-writes and edits to enhance the flow of the story and the final review from the publisher.

Now, I’m super-excited to share with you the book trailer for Neapolitan Sky:

This short trailer gives more clues into the story. Each photo and video has something deeper to say. The trailer also includes a little cameo by yours truly.

Neapolitan Sky will be available online at all of the major outlets. You can even call your favorite bookstore and have them order it for you.

I hope you’ll be along for the ride on May 8th!

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Interview: The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain discusses band’s North American Tour de Prance and new album, ‘Pinewood Smile’

Photo: Simon Emmett

Multi-award winning English rockers The Darkness have recently kicked off the North American leg of their Tour de Prance. The new tour is in support of their critically acclaimed fifth album, Pinewood Smile, which was released last fall.

The new album, produced by Grammy Award winning Adrian Bushby, is the band’s most infectious and guitar-driven album to date and features anthemic tracks like “All The Pretty Girls” and “Japanese Prisoner of Love” as well as the catchy, groove-fueled “Solid Gold”.

The Darkness is: Justin Hawkins (vocals / guitar), Dan Hawkins (guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums).

AXS recently spoke with bassist, Frankie Poullain about the band’s tour and album in this fun new interview.

AXS: What can fans North American expect from The Darkness’ Tour de Prance?

Frankie Poullain: Wham! Bam! Thank you glam!

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

FP: It’s equal parts silly and heartfelt. Like life itself, minus the regrets.

AXS: What is The Darkness’ writing process like? Does it begin with a melody? A hook? 

FP: Catching the big fish as David Lynch says. A hook is crucial. Then, we throw them back in the water when we play them live.

AXS: What inspires you personally when you write and create?

FP: I provide the chips to accompany the fish, or fries as you yanks would call them. And I sprinkle over the malt vinegar which you lot miss out on. Ketchup or mayo on fish and chips is an utter disgrace.

AXS: I’d like to ask you about a few tracks from Pinewood Smile and get your thoughts on them, starting with the “Solid Gold”.

FP: It’s a song about how ridiculous and delusional and magical it is to play in a rock n roll band. With a chorus lyric, “And We’re Never Gonna Stop Sh#ttin’ Out Solid Gold”, which encapsulates those delusions.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Frankie Poullain by Clicking Here!

Interview: Lita Ford talks new tour, music and career highlights

Photo: Shovelhead Studios

With a career that began as a member of The Runaways in the mid-seventies and culminated with a hugely successful career both as a solo artist and guitar legend, Lita Ford has earned the title of rock royalty. Even Marshall Amplification and Guitar Player magazine nominated Ford as a certified legend and the First Lady of Rock Guitar at a recent NAMM show.

With more than a dozen albums under her belt and showing no signs of ever slowing down, Ford is currently out on the road celebrating her musical career as well as prepping for several new projects.

AXS recently spoke with her about her new tour, career, guitars and music in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from your new tour this year?

Lita Ford: It’s a really fun show; filled with power, energy and great musicians. The team I’ve put together is so good and so tight. Even in the middle of the fastest song we play we’ve got breaks; and they’re so spot on, it’s like a machine.

AXS: This year marks the 35th anniversary of your debut solo album, Out For Blood. What was your mindset like going into that first record? Were there any nerves?

LF: I get nervous about other things, but as far as playing guitar, making music and going on stage goes, I just do what I want to do and don’t even think about it. I’ve always had the attitude that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. It’s something that’s always stuck with me. As far as that first album, I was just being myself and wrote down what was happening in my life at the time. It was incredibly easy. The music and lyrics flowed out of me like someone slit your wrist and your blood was gushing out [laughs].

AXS: The Lita album from 1988 was another memorable album. What are some of your best memories of that time?

LF: I wrote an autobiography that actually explains it all [“Living Like A Runaway”]. I wrote it myself because no one else could dictate what I went through with that album – the highs and lows, the fights and all the fun we had. It was a really great time. It’s a great album and the fans certainly haven’t forgotten it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here!

Interview: Comedian Kathleen Madigan talks ‘Boxed Wine & Bigfoot’ standup tour, career

Photo: Luzena Adams

With more than two dozen appearances on late-night television to coincide with sold out standup performances and riding along with Jerry Seinfeld on an episode of his hit Netflix show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, it’s safe to say that Kathleen Madigan is the quintessential comedian.

The bawdy, warm-hearted Madigan is currently riding the wave of success from her sixth album, “Bothering Jesus,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Comedy Charts in 2016 and is taken from the Netflix special of the same name.

Madigan is currently on the road in support of her coast to coast, 32-date, “Boxed Wine & Bigfoot” tour. AXS recently spoke with her about her new tour, her career and more in this new interview.

AXS: What can fans expect from your “Boxed Wine & Bigfoot” Tour?

Kathleen Madigan: More of what I’ve been doing for the past thirty years. It’s different material, but the same subjects. Things that make for a big bar conversation I have with myself.

AXS: How would you describe your brand of comedy?

KM: It’s very conversational, or as Lewis Black would say, “A lady with a lot of opinions and very deep facts.” [laughs].

AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for your material?

KM: It comes from everyday life but also current events and what’s in the news. For example, it’s hard for me to believe that an airplane with 239 people on it can go missing, and everyone is kind of cool with it. It’s crazy to say that we’ve lost our planes. That’s an acceptable statement to make about a boat in 1492, but not in today’s world.

Another thing is UFOs. I recently read an article online where two American Airlines pilots; another plane and the control tower all said they saw a UFO flying above them. Every bit of it is online, including the conversations from the control tower. What I don’t understand is why that’s not the lead story on the news. Stormy Daniels is a porn star on Earth. These people are saying that there are people who aren’t from Earth ON Earth! [laughs].

AXS: What would you say is the biggest challenge of doing standup comedy these days?

KM: Current events and politics. It was never really a problem until Donald [Trump] came along. I’m not a political person, and I still have my Bush and Obama jokes. But, for some reason, Trump has divided the teams so clearly that each side feels so passionate it’s almost personal. I could talk about Mitt Romney all day long, but no one would ever come to his defense to the point where they’d be willing to throw their life on the line. Whether you’re left, right or somewhere in the middle, it’s never conjured up this level of craziness.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kathleen Madigan by Clicking Here!

Interview: Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty discusses new singles, ‘Love is Like A Song’ & ‘Memorable’

Photo: Ross Olson

Firehouse guitarist, Bill Leverty, recently surprised fans by releasing not one, but two brand new singles. The metaphoric, “Love Is Like A Song” and the Seventies, funk-infused, “Memorable.”

Leverty already has a proven track record of releasing eclectic, hook-laden singles, including “The Bloom is Off The Rose,” “The Heart Heals The Soul” and “Strong,” as well as his more recent, melodic rock inspired track, “You’re A Natural.” These two new songs continue to expand his catalog of groove-ridden, sing along material with tasty guitar work.

Both “Love Is Like A Song” and “Memorable” feature Leverty on lead vocals as well as guitar, bass and keyboards. Fellow Firehouse member, Michael Foster, also contributes drums to the cause. Both songs are now available from Leverty’s website.

Leverty and Firehouse are kicking off another year of extensive touring. AXS recently spoke with him about his new singles, Firehouse and more in this new interview.

AXS: There’s been a resurgence in popularity in band’s like Firehouse over the last few years. To what do you credit the band’s longevity?

Bill Leverty: Give credit to the fans. Because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to play. I remember back in the early to mid-nineties, when grunge hit, it was a tough time for bands like ours to get airplay and gigs. Fortunately, we had a hit with the song, “I Live My Life For You,”which sustained us here and overseas. We’re grateful that we have a bunch of loyal fans that have stuck with us. Now we’re feeling a resurgence and a cross generational section of fans. We’ve got kids buying tickets as well as their parents and grandparents It’s really cool to see such a wide age variety come out when we perform.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?

BL: I wish I could say that I have a formula. The truth is, I’ll take it any way that I can get it [laughs]. Anytime that I get inspiration; whether it’s from a vocal melody, guitar riff or lyrical idea, I try to record it in some way. I also do a lot of practice, so I’m always keeping an open mind to see what ideas come out of my head and heart and not just my fingers. I sing a lot and am always developing a lyric or melody that’s in my head. More often than not, it’s the chorus or hook that comes first, and it was no exception for these two songs. Both came from a chorus idea, and I developed them from there.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bill Leverty by Clicking Here!

Interview: Stryper’s Michael Sweet discusses the band’s new album, ‘God Damn Evil’

When Stryper announced the title of its tenth studio album, God Damn Evil, there was some obvious push back. Many longtime fans were unsure if they could even say the name out loud. But the band’s formula for success in using the double entendre to get their message across is one that’s worked well for them over the past thirty-four years (most notably, on their monster 1986 release, To Hell With The Devil ), and this new album is no different.

With God Damn Evil (which will be released on Friday, April 20), Stryper continues to build on its mantra of shining light in a dark place. It’s an album that features the familiar Christian rockers’ signature sound, hook-laden anthems and thought-provoking messages, but it’s also one that takes a few chances as well.

From the opening track, “Take It To The Cross”; a soaring song that borders on thrash metal, to the modern heaviness and edge of songs like “Sorry” and “Lost,” Stryper continues to push the envelope of their musical creativity. The title track alone is an instant Stryper classic. With a bluesy guitar intro and fist-pumping chorus that’s certain to be a highlight of the band’s set on tour this year.

With a new album and full year of touring, Stryper is also welcoming new bassist, Perry Richardson (Firehouse / Craig Morgan) to the lineup.

Stryper is: Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitar), Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Fox (guitars/vocals), Perry Richardson (bass/vocals).

AXS recently spoke with Michael Sweet about the new Stryper album and more in this new interview.

AXS: How does God Damn Evil compare with some of the band’s recent albums like Fallen and No More Hell To Pay?

Michael Sweet: Sonically, it’s a little more meatier. We didn’t get into the “loud wars” because the louder you make it, the less punch and dynamics there are. We also tried a few different techniques with cymbals and mic placement as well as with guitar heads and cabinets. With this album, we went for something a little bit different while still retaining our classic sound.

AXS: You’re known for waiting until the last minute to begin work on writing songs for an album. Was that the same process you used for God Damn Evil?

MS: It was the same process. I don’t like writing for six months and then having thirty songs to pick through. I used to write like that back in [the] Eighties. Now, I enjoy working under pressure and starting from scratch. It’s hard to explain but it’s a formula I don’t want to mess with.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!

Mutual Admiration Society: Sterling Ball Discusses Collaborative Album with Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Steve Lukather, Steve Morse and More

Although Music Man CEO Sterling Ball has spent most of his adult life building a brand, the guitar has always played a important role in his own personal development.

There’s also a deep, mutual love and respect that exists between Ball and the artists his company serves. That’s probably why, after word got out that Ball was working on an album of his own, guitarists like Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai and John Petrucci were eager to join in.

The resulting compilation, The Mutual Admiration Society, is an eclectic mixture of songs and tasty guitar work done in a way only the best of friends can do. In addition to showcasing Ball’s own impressive guitar virtuosity, the album also allowed the guest guitarists to step outside the box of what they’re known for, and explore other areas of their musicality.

Whether it’s Morse’s fretwork on the Dobie Gray classic, “The In Crowd,” Steve Lukather’s Delta Blues version of “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” John Petrucci’s Disney medley or Steve Vai’s rendition of the Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs’ hit, “Sugar Shack” (one of Vai’s favorite songs as a youth), Mutual Admiration Society is a record of appreciation and admiration for both the instrument as well as each other.

Guitar World recently spoke with Ball about The Mutual Admiration Society and more in this new interview.

How did the The Mutual Admiration Society come about?

Over the years, I’ve toured Australia with Steve Morse and Albert [Lee]. We’ve also played in England and Germany and done club gigs as a combo in places like L.A. and Atlanta with Luke [Steve Lukather]. It was fun and low key, but I always kept the idea of doing an album on the back burner because I didn’t want to present myself in any way as a peer.

A few years ago, I did an album called Better Late Than Never. Everyone was very supportive of it and gave me confidence. So, I asked John Ferraro (drummer) about doing another album—just him and me. We got some of the basics together and I played them for Steve Morse. Steve really liked it and gave me advice for some things to try. I later sent him back the updates and the song, “The In Crowd.” He said, “You know? I really love that groove. It’s something I’ve never been able to play on since we were in our band.” I said, “Steve, what are you asking?” and he said, “Can I put the guitars on that track?” [laughs]. There went the idea of doing a record with the drummer. You don’t say no when Steve Morse asks to put guitars on your track!

I talk to Luke just about every morning and one day he called me and said, “Hey, Morse told me about the record you’re working on. I want to play on it too.” Then came [John] Petrucci, who said, “Hey, I don’t want to be the one left out.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Sterling Ball by Clicking Here.