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Andy Timmons Talks New Album, ‘Theme from a Perfect World’

Photo by:  Simone Cecchetti

Photo by: Simone Cecchetti

Andy Timmons Band’s eighth album, Theme from a Perfect World, is an inspired, guitar-driven affair made up of 10 hook-filled instrumentals that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of guitarists.

Produced by Timmons and his longtime bassist, Mike Daane, Perfect World is the ideal balance of melodic virtuosity and inspired songwriting.

In addition to his solo work—which includes his critically acclaimed 2011 instrumental take on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandTimmons’ resume includes work with Danger Danger, Kip Winger and Simon Phillips.

I recently caught up with the busy guitarist to ask him about Theme from a Perfect World, his gear and memorable moments from his career.

How would you describe Theme from a Perfect World in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

I think it’s a bit of a departure from my last two records [Revolution and Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper]. I remember when we recorded Revolution and I was listening to the basic tracks. I wasn’t feeling inspired, but then I remembered something Steve Vai told me; he said he loved those earlier sessions I did when I was recording songs that just had guitar, bass and drums—ones where you could hear the fingers on the frets and there wasn’t a lot of stuff going on.

That stuck in my mind, and I asked myself, what if I switched gears and did the whole record like that? Just stripping it down to a one-guitar performance and assimilating all of the important elements into one. It became fun and a challenge. That same idea spilled over to the Beatles songs.

This new album is in the direction of the last two records in that we’re still keeping things as natural and organic as possible, but we also gave ourselves the “keys to the kingdom.” It’s given it a vintage kind of feel. I’m very proud of the songwriting and the playing on this record.

Is there a different way you approach writing an instrumental album as opposed to one with vocals?

I don’t find it that much different. Things that have resonated with me a certain way are stored in muscle memory and my melodic ear will always steer me. As a writer and improviser, you’re always trying to create an “in the moment,” but with just music, you’re not confined to any limitation and can go much deeper. And the deeper your connection is to the instrument, the better your ability is to do that.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Andy Timmons by Clicking Here!

Duane Allman’s Daughter Discusses Limited-Edition ‘Skydog’ Vinyl Box Set

Duane Allmän - Photo by John Gellmn

Duane Allman – Photo by John Gellman

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Rounder Records‘ 2013 box set honoring the musical legacy of the late Allman Brothers Band guitarist, was a critical and commercial success.

On October 28, Rounder will offer a limited-edition vinyl version of the retrospective. Each of the 1,000 individually numbered copies will include all the music from the CD editions—129 tracks—on 14, 180-gram vinyl LPs.

The set also includes a 56-page booklet full of rare photos and essays by journalist Scott Schinder and Duane’s daughter, Galadrielle Allman, who compiled the collection with producer Bill Levenson.

This retrospective includes classic Allman Brothers Band songs plus a collector’s cache of rare singles and long-out-of-print album tracks. The songs range from Duane’s early recordings with Gregg Allman in the Escorts, Allman Joys and Hour Glass, to his studio work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs and Delaney & Bonnie. There’s even a live jam session with the Grateful Dead.

Below, check out our exclusive Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (vinyl edition) unboxing video—plus a new interview wth Galadrielle. We discuss Skydog, her father’s legacy, her career and more.

What would you like people to take away from this new vinyl package?

The real desire with this package—and also with my book—is to humanize Duane, to take him out of the pantheon of the gods and return him to the mortal world. One where you can actually fall in love with the guitar, work really hard and achieve. The albums hang together really well and there’s a story there about his growth and style strengthening and developing. If you listen chronologically, you can hear him growing and changing. By the end, you hear the full-blown master of improvisational rock guitar.

You mentioned your book, Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. What made you decide to write it?

I‘ve always been focused on writing and really had a sense of being born into his amazing story. I actually started it in my twenties but backed off because of the scale and scope of it. But when I turned 40, I said that if it’s going to happen, it has to be now. I took the better part of three years doing the research and the next two years doing the writing. It was an incredibly fulfilling and satisfying experience.

Was there a particular moment in your life when you realized the enormity of your father’s contributions to guitar and music?

There really isn’t one particular time that I remember of becoming aware. When I was a child in the early Seventies, they are at the peak of their power playing stadiums. Some of my earliest memories are of being at concerts, but the thing that’s incredible is that the legacy and admiration for my father has only grown during my lifetime. He was a revered guitar player, but a lot a people didn’t know that he played on Layla and all of the other work he did outside of the Allman Brothers Band. Just the depth of his session playing and the incredible way it goes through every genre of American music. It’s an incredible accomplishment for somehow who lived for less than twenty-five years.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Galadrielle Allman Here!

Bryan Adams Discusses Gear and His New DVD, ‘Wembley Live 1996’

Photo by: Andre W. Catlin

Photo by: Andre W. Catlin

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Bryan Adams performed to a crowd of 70,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. Adams was in top form that summer night in 1996, and it didn’t hurt that his multi-platinum album, 18 til I Die, had just reached Number 1 in the U.K.

To celebrate the anniversary, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Bryan Adams: Wembley Live 1996 on DVD October 14.

This incredible live performance is packed with Adams’ guitar-driven hits, including “Summer of ’69,” “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and “Run to You,” as well as a storming rendition of “It’s Only Love” featuring Melissa Etheridge.

I recently spoke with Adams about the new DVD, his time working with producer Mutt Lange, his gear and more.

Other than it being the 20th anniversary, what made you decide to release this performance on DVD?

Fans were asking for it. I kept saying there was no film, but then I discovered a box of tapes in my basement and remembered I had filmed it. I’d just forgotten.

What made this particular show so special?

After touring for so many years around the world, this was the high point for all of the songs and albums I’d released in the Eighties and Nineties.

What’s it like to perform at such a high level at Wembley?

It’s so hard to describe now after so long, but it was certainly daunting and quite unbelievable. In the end, your senses take over on gigs and you just get on with it. But walking out there was incredible, and leaving the stage even more so.

What was the vibe like in the band at that point of your career?

The band was in top spirits. We’d been playing a lot of other music on our “b-stage,” so we were not drawn to doing the same songs every night. There’s a Japanese bootleg somewhere out there that has 40 or 50 different cover songs that had been recorded by fans and compiled onto a CD. The quality is poor, but the collection is outstanding.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Bryan Adams by Clicking Here!

‘The Art of Elegance’: Kristin Chenoweth Discusses Timeless New Album

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

With a magical career that transcends Broadway, television, film and music, Kristin Chenoweth has firmly established herself as one of the preeminent artists of our generation.

After conquering the musical realms of country, Christian and Christmas music, the charismatic Tony and Emmy-award winning singer/actress showcases her interpretive prowess with her latest release, The Art of Elegance. A beautiful, 13-song package featuring Chenoweth’s unique take on classics from The Great American Songbook.

Songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me” (George Gershwin) and the sublime “A House Is Not A Home” (Burt Bacharach / Hal Davis) take on new life while tracks like the haunting “I’m A Fool To Want You” (Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf/Joel Herron) and the apropos “I Get Along Without You Very Well” (Hoagy Carmichael) deliver timeless sentiment.

AXS recently spoke with Chenoweth about her beautiful new album and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What inspired The Art of Elegance project?

Kristin Chenoweth: I cut my teeth at a young age hearing the music from this era. This is my sixth album and throughout my entire career, this is the music that speaks to me the loudest. Obviously, I’ve looked up to many icons, certainly Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt and Diana Krall have all been instrumental and are examples of women who have done it before me. They’re all very different and put their own stamp on their versions. That’s what I tried to do here. I also wanted to pay homage to the composers of the time.

You can read my complete AXS interview with Kristin Chenoweth Here!

Neal Schon Talks Journey, Santana, Gear and “Surreal” Career Highlights

Photo by: Steve Jennings

Photo by: Steve Jennings

It’s been another top-notch year for guitarist Neal Schon.

Besides the fact that Journey—which includes Schon, Ross Valory (bass), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Steve Smith (drums) and Arnel Pineda (vocals)—celebrated another season of non-stop touring, Schon also reunited with Carlos Santana to record Santana IV. The album marked the first time Santana’s classic lineup has worked together in more than 40 years.

We recently spoke to Schon about touring with Journey, reuniting with Santana, the 35th anniversary of Journey’s Escape, gear and some incredible career highlights.

What’s it like to still be performing at this high level with Journey after so many years?

It’s been an amazing ride, and I think it’s all due to a lot of hard work. When we decided to rebuild almost two decades ago, it was a long ride up the hill. Those first eight years were a lot of work, and in many ways it was like paying our dues all over again. We’re grateful to everyone who put in so much time rebuilding, and we still have much more to experiment with musically.

What does the band have planned for next year? 

We’ve been playing the greatest hits for a while and know we have to play those songs in order to make fans happy. But our die-hard fans want to hear different material, and we have tons of it. So that’s what’s about to come next year. We’ll be playing our first shows in the Orient where we’ve been asked to play Escape and Frontiers in their entirety. I think it will be fun for everyone to get reconnected with those records. Some of those songs, like “Frontiers,” we’ve never played live. We actually went through it at a sound check recently and it sounded amazing. I’m excited about doing it.

What was it like getting back together with Carlos and the gang for Santana IV?

For me, it was a lifelong dream. Everyone had their own hangups at the time we disbanded, and a lot of us didn’t leave on the right note. I remember when we first got together to test out the idea, we had about eight days of rehearsal and jamming and it was just amazing. Gregg [Rolie], Carlos and I brought in songs, and we went at it in a very organic way and laid it all down. I feel so proud of this record and it’s very gratifying to have helped pull all of these guys back together.

This year also marked the 35th anniversary of Journey’s Escape, an album that saw the departure of Gregg Rolie and the arrival of Jonathan Cain. What was the chemistry like in the band at that point?

Honestly, it was great. Even before we did Escape, we were already at a height, when we put out the Captured. By that point, Gregg had enough of being on tour and wanted to start a family. At the time, the Babys were opening for us. They were a solid unit and I loved [John] Waite’s vocals. I was checking out Jonathan [Cain] and felt that he was such a great player, and I also liked the fact that he strapped on a rhythm guitar and played once in a while. So when Gregg was going to leave I asked him what he thought about Jonathan taking his place. Gregg thought it was a great choice and everyone else in the band agreed. We continued to evolve and even went into some new areas I had never been in before.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Neal Schon by Clicking Here.

Eric Johnson Talks ‘EJ,’ His First All-Acoustic Album

Photo by: Max Crace

Photo by: Max Crace

Thirty years after the release of his breakthrough album, Tones, guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic solo effort, aptly titled EJ.

Long known for his painstaking approach to making records, Johnson took a more immediate approach for EJ, which will be available October 7. Most of the material was cut live in the studio, with some songs even being sung and played at the same time in the studio. The result is an album packed with honest realism and organic emotion.

Original tracks like “Wonder” showcase Johnson and his 1980 Martin D-45, which was a gift from his late father. Another highlight is “Wrapped in a Cloud,” a six-minute sonic journey that features acoustic bass, cello, drums and percussion. There’s also Johnson’s tasteful arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish,” plus a burning version of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s 1951 classic, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,” which we premiered here last week.

I recently spoke with Johnson about EJ and more. You can check out our conversation below. For more about Johnson, the new album and his upcomning tour, visit

What made you decide to do an acoustic album at this stage of your career?

It’s another side of me that I’ve always dabbled in but never really presented in my records or career. Usually, you’re out doing your thing and get known for something that becomes your main deal and you just go with it. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting at home in my studio just doing what I enjoy. At some point, I decided to put things out and see what happens.

What was the criteria for choosing material for EJ?

It was a process of elimination. I just got a bunch of songs together and started recording them. Whatever songs I thought had merit or the ones I caught a vibe on, those were the ones I culled down for this record.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from EJ and get your take on them, starting with “Wrapped in a Cloud.”

That actually started out as a demo of just me with one mic on a baby grand piano. If you listen to the intro, it’s literally a dynamic, mono mic hanging off the side of a baby grand piano going into a cassette player. I then overdubbed an acoustic guitar and vocal. It was a funky demo and I really liked the vibe of it. But rather than try to erase and redo it, I decided to use the existing version and transferred it over and started adding more professionally done tracks to it.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Eric Johnson by Clicking Here!

Michael Sweet Talks New Solo Album and Stryper’s ‘To Hell with the Devil’ Tour

michaelsweet-oswMichael Sweet’s new solo album, One Sided War, is packed with hook-laden songs that transcend the tasty fretwork and soaring vocals we’ve come to expect from the Stryper frontman.

On the new disc, Sweet is joined by a plethora of seasoned musicians, including guitarists Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) and Ethan Brosh, bassist John O’Boyle and drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence). Newcomer guitarist/vocalist Moriah Formica accompanies Sweet on a tasty duet, “Can’t Take This Life.”

In addition to the new solo album, Sweet—along with the rest of Stryper—is gearing up for a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of that band’s monster album, To Hell with the Devil.

I recently spoke with Sweet about One Sided War, Stryper’s upcoming tour, gear and more. You can check out our chat below.

You consistently release great new music. How important is it for you to keep creating?

It’s everything to me. Many artists seem to lose their drive and passion for doing it as they get older. They’ll say things like it’s not really worth it to make new albums. But the thing about me is that it feels as though I’ve gained more drive and more passion. I just love what I do.

How does One Sided War compare to some of your previous albums?

It’s obviously got some similarities to the sound of some of the other things I’ve done in the past because I can’t escape the sound of my voice or the style of my guitar playing. But I always try to bring in new ingredients and substance to give it a different flair. I always say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I mean it. But that’s not meant to be a slam on the other projects. I just go into each project trying new things—using new equipment and trying different mic and amp techniques to improve upon the last project. I never sit down and think about what I want to sing or play. I just do what comes from the heart.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!

Chris Robinson and Neal Casal Talk New Chris Robinson Brotherhood Album

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

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

ChrisRobinsonBrotherhood - Photo by jay-blakesberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: Carl Timpone.

Photo by: Carl Timpone

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can fans expect from this farewell tour?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: Kelly Swift

Photo by: Kelly Swift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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