Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eva Kathryn, Not Your Typical Artist

Most girls when they are young play with Barbie dolls are have tea parties. That sounds pretty typical of most young ladies, wouldn't you say. How many start writing their own musical compositions before turning 10 years old? Well, you usually don't unless you're 20 year old Eva Kathryn. You see, Eva was obsessed with music scores at a very early age. She would go to Saturday matinees and then come back some and sit at the piano and and try to recreate the amazing music that she had just heard mere hours before. She could, after a little persistence, play by ear what she had just experienced in the theatre. Not bad for such a young person.

Her obsession slowly began to get noticed. She actually had a connection with another musician who had seen some pretty big hits during his career with his group Kansas. You remember them from the 70s with such hits as "Dust In The Wind" and "Carry On Our Wayward Son"? Seems that both Eva and Kerry Livgren go to the same church in pun intended there. "I approached Kerry one day and told him that I wanted him to record the most amazing songs ever and I told him that they were mine. I told him that I wanted to record in his studio and he said that we would see. My mom actually told me to keep bugging him until he said yes. Kerry and I have been friends for a while and he has been like a mentor to me both musically and spiritually. He even referred me to my acting manager, Bill Evans, about 3 years ago," said Eva.

How does such a young person approach songwriting when they should be watching cartoons? "I usually write when I am pissed off. When you're numb, the emotions that come out are pretty intense. I just tinker around with a melody and the words just start to come out. I just love Celine Dion and her arrangements. My mom actually bought me a karaoke CD of hers when I was real little and I loved to put on concerts to it. Today my tastes are little more diverse. I love progressive rock with groups like Underoath and Dream Theater. I would love to work with David Foster someday. He is such an amazing person."

Eva's music will draw comparisons to many of today's women in music, but after listening closely you see that this young talent is very diverse and how so much to offer. She is reminiscent of Alicia Keyes on her song "Somebody" yet her song "It Was You" has almost an operatic or show tune feel similar to Phantom Of The Opera. Where does she see herself 5 years down the road? "I want to be doing what I am doing for the right reasons. It's not about the money. I have always wanted to be a songwriter for Disney movies. I would also love to compose scores with some of the greats. You have to stay humble and remember why you are doing this. Too many people tend to lose focus on that in their careers."

Of course, my last question was the one where you are stranded on a desert island with only one CD, what would you want to have with you? "Wow, tough one to call. It would have to be that makes me feel alive. Probably anything by a band called Emery. They have great songwriting and the music gets you pumped up and screaming."

Eva told me that her CD should hopefully be ready sometime in 2009. She currently has a 5 song demo that is available. She is an amazing talent and a truly gifted songwriter and vocalist. Check her out on MySpace or her website. With her hard work and persistency, hopefully she will not get lost in the shuffle in the turbulent music industry that is upon us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blake Lewis Marches To The Beatbox Of A Different Drummer

It's funny how millions dream of auditioning for American Idol. Season 6 runner up Blake Lewis wasn't even going to audition because he did not find the show very appealing. A friend suggested to him to audition and he did so with a beatbox version of Seal's "Crazy" and then did an offscreen version of Maroon 5 "Sunday Morning" and wowed the judges.

Blakes's originality and his beat box skills were a breath of fresh air to the shows rather formulated and calculated format.His version of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" showcased his gift for taking an classic tune and reworking it into a new, revitalized version. Bon Jovi, who was their mentor the week he did the song, said that Blake was quote "rolling the dice" on his risky performance. It was a risk that payed off as he floored the judges and the viewing audience alike.

Blake was runner up that season to winner Jordan Sparks and he began to work on his debut Cd release. He already had many songs ready for the Cd even before the season had ended. He was signed to Arista and released his debut entitled "A.D.D. Audio Day Dream" in December 2007. The bad news was that he was dropped just 6 months later in June of 2008. I asked Blake about the reasons behind the split. "I think I got a bum rap. I didn't have as much creative control over the Cd as I had wished. I love to produce and I probably did 50% to 70% of my debut, but i think it was just the wrong label to sign with."

The Cd is a mix of Blake's diversity. It seems to have an 80s vibes to it, along with funk, techno and dance. The Cd begins with a track called "Silence is Golden" and concludes with another entitled "But I Choose Noise." The surprising part is that there is not alot of beat boxing on it, his signature style that got him noticed on Idol. One of the stand out tracks is called "Know My Name" which is about a crush of his on Natalie Portman.

I asked Blake how he felt about all of the changes in the music industry and if they were a part of the early release from his contract like alot of other Idol contestants. " I think that I-tunes has ruined the industry. Whoever came up with the concept of I-tunes obviously has never been a musician who had to promote their own shows and make their own fliers and stuff like that. The price point is too low on each song. The artist does not make alot off of each Cd that is sold. They should have set it a little higher. The whole downloading aspect has taken the human element out of it. The little indie stores are becoming a things of the past and I hate that. I miss going into record stores and looking through bins of music."

"I really love creating new music and pushing the envelope. On Idol, I was thankful to be able to experiment and show that to so many people at one time, but they were controlling. I wasn't allowed to do as much creative arranging as I would have liked to. I love being out on the road and touring. It is alot of hard work. I like to stay after the shows and see all of the fans that stick around. I usually get on my bus afterwards and work on my Facebook or MySpace pages. It takes a while for me to unwind and I usually watch one or two movies before I go to sleep. I'm a big movie buff," stated Blake.

Blake has been writing a ton of material and actually has enough for two otr three Cd's. He is shooting for a March or April of 2009 release for his next cd. he recently did a cover of A Flock Of Seagulls "I Ran" which raced up the I-tunes chart to number 4. Blake seems to harbor a little bit of resentment towards the industry. He is such a creative person with so much passion towards to creations, it is easy to see why he gets frustrated with the industry trying to control him. It's like an artist creating a picture on canvas and someone coming by and saying it needs more yellow or you have too much red. Music is art and Blake is a very talented and gifted artist. I hope the industry with all of its regulation does not snuff out his creative fire or discourage him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Walls Of Jericho frontwoman is a roar above the rest

Aggression. Anger. Frustration. All of these are very strong emotions. All come to mind while seeing Walls Of Jericho front woman Candace Kucsulain perform live. The band has a very hardcore sound and her vocal style is one more commonly known as "screamo", but she is a very intense individual onstage. I had a chance to interview Candace recently and was really surprised with the woman that I found offstage.
"I got into music early on. I loved going to shows in Detroit because back in the day, the hardcore scene was pretty intense. You could go to a different show almost every night and not see the same band twice. I was looking for something , anything that was different. I never got into this to become the next Korn or Limp Bizkit, I don't wanna be on the radio .I never really got into this to be a rock star," said Candace.
Candace is a very strong and powerful front person if you ever get to see the band live. She is somewhat intimidating and looks like she could kick some major butt and take names too. How does she come down from that after a show? "Well, we are still very hands on after the show , you know, tearing our gear down and everything, plus we like to meet the fans afterwards too. It takes a while to come down from that high of being onstage. It's fun meeting fans and it also blows my mind to have someone tell me that they know how I feel or that I have helped them with my music in anyway. Music has a way or reaching people when they feel like misfits or that they don't belong. I know it helped me when I felt that way."
The band has had a wild ride along the way since its inception. The bands' first EP was released in 1999 entitled "A Day and A Thousand Years" and a buzz started to grow about the band through intense touring. The band was signed to Trustkill Records that same year and released their first full release "The Bound Feed The Gagged" and hit the road again. Oddly enough , the band took a hiatus from 2001-2003 due to personnel problems and each member went their separate ways. Candace actually took up body piercing during her time off. The band got back together in 2003 and started touring yet again. They released a new CD in September of 2003 entitled "All Hail The Dead", which received rave reviews and actually catapulted the band to to opening for much larger, more established acts as Hatebreed and Sick of it All plus headlining their own shows.
2006 was a major year for the band seeing their CD "With Devils Among Us All" being released and the band was asked to join one of the biggest tours of the summer, OZZFEST. They also played the Family Values Tour that year where they met Corey Taylor from Slipknot and hit it off well. Corey said that he wanted to produce the band and they joined forces on an EP that was a major departure for the band. It was called "Redemption" and was released in April of 2008. It was all acoustic and showed that Candace had an amazing singing voice that is rarely showcased.
The band released "The American Dream" in July of 2008 which featured their more aggressive style of playing . They took part in the summer tour package Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Slipknot and Disturbed before headlining shows to support their new CD. When asked about a favorite song on their live set, Candace said, "My favorite songs to perform live would have to be "Feeding Frenzy" because the crowd really feeds off of that song, the really connect with it. I also like performing "The Prey", that's more for us because I really like how it vibes on onstage."

What are some of your highlights of your career so far? "I would have to say all of the amazing people that we have met so far. I still am caught off guard when a fan tells me that they were touched by me because they thought they were the only one who felt that way. Knowing that what I am doing made a difference in someones life is mind blowing. I guess the other highlight would be the amazing places that I have been to that I would have probably never had been able to see. I love Prague and Singapore, those are amazing places."
My last two questions are more on a personal level being a huge music fan myself. If you could meet any dead celebrity, who would it be? "Oh, without a doubt it would be Janis Joplin. What an amazing woman! She was a pistol, so full of life. Just imagine the stories that she would have."

My last question is my if you were on a desert island with only one store bought CD, what would it be? " I can't pick just one, it's an either or choice. I would say Bob Dylan's "Greatest Hits" because it is full of ups and downs and some of the most amazing lyrics ever written. It also conjures up such great memories for me. My other choice would be one that is a little less known. It's by Ray LaMontagne and it's called "Trouble", an amazing CD."
Our interview concluded and I must say that the intimidating, aggressive woman that I have seen perform on stage is so different from the woman that I spoke with that day during the interview. She still is a very strong, determined woman, but not so aggressive. Fans of hardcore and metal do need to pick up their new CD "The American Dream" and check it out. Standout tracks include "The American Dream" and "Discovery Of Jones" and the surprising acoustic closer "The Slaughter Begins."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Otto's Daughter offers erotic musical escape

What do you get when you mix the sound of Depeche Mode with Nine Inch Nails, the strong presence of Shirley Manson of Garbage, a sense or eroticism and alot of the color pink? Well, my friends, you have a group that is starting to make a roar all across the US right now.
They are called Otto's Daughter and they have been around for about ten years now in different variations. The one consistent factor after all of this time is the visually and vocally captivating Jacqueline Van Bierk.
Jacqueline, or JVB for short, was born in Germany and experienced a life unlike what we Americans grew up with. "I grew up under communism and we were not allowed to do alot of things. I met a friend who loved New York and we took a trip there. I could not believe all of the colors that I saw. I grew up in a world of black and white. There were so few options and choices there. When I walked into a store in New York and saw how many colors of nail polish there were, I was totally blown away. Back home, I may have had one or two and that was it. I knew then that I wanted and needed something bigger in my life," said Jacqueline.

I asked JVB how , when growing up in such a controlling environment, did she decide that she wanted to go into music? " I was an only child and I was always wanting to be the center of attention. I loved to dance and perform and entertain anyone so that I could have some attention. My dad was in a band and played drums and the sax and he played alot of festivals. I always went went him and watched. Everyone would always say 'There goes Otto's daughter', which is kinda how we got our name. I just knew that I wanted to perform for people. I came to America and started looking for a band. I found several, but they wanted me to look a certain way and sound a certain way and I wanted to be me."

This brings us to an interesting point in the career of Otto's Daughter. It seems as if there has been a revolving door for musicians since the bands inception. Each of their Cd's contain different musicians and it seems as if this band is JVB's baby. "Well, band members have come and gone for different reasons. Some guys couldn't commit to touring because of another job, some had egos and wanted to do things their way, some just didn't have the passion that I have. The lineup that we have now is pretty tight and we seem to be on the same page."
The early stage show of the band has certainly come along way. Early on, it more prop oriented and about shocking the crowd. "I did want to shock early on. I had baby dolls that I brought out on stage and impaled and I used to pour blood all over me. I didn't want to be sexy at all. After a while, I felt pressured to do those things and it felt like they were taking center stage. So, I stopped doing them. I know that we lost a few fans who were mad and wanted me to keep on doing it, but you have to evolve and I felt stuck."

You definitely can hear different influences in their music and see it visually. I wanted to know who her musical inspirations were. "I have so many different types of music that I love. I love Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. I also love Korn, early Marilyn Manson, Tori Amos and Alannis Morrisette. It really depends on my mood as to what I listen to. When I am pissed, I love to listen to Pantera. They have so much aggression and energy in their music and lyrics."

The state of today's music industry seems to be in turmoil with Cd sales declining rapidly. JVB told me that she felt the industry needs to adapt and adjust to it." As musicians, it will force us to make better Cd's so that people will want to own the entire project and not just a single or two."

Anyone who gets to talk to her will see that she is a bundle of energy and always working on something. What does she do when she's not out on the road? "Well, I am always working ti seems like. I am a vocal coach when I'm off the road and I am producing other artists. I am so high strung that I am constantly having to work on several projects at once. I unwind by watching movies. I love watching movies every chance that I get. I love Oceans 11-12-13 and The Usual Suspects. I also love the old Pink Panther movies too."

I ended my interview with my traditional question of if you were trapped on a deserted island and had to have one store bought Cd, what would it be? "Wow, that's a tough question. I am not sure, I would want something that would inspire me to be a better person and artist and I wouldn't want to lose faith either. I can't think of just one Cd that would provide all of that for me." Oh well, maybe it will come to her later. That was the first time I had ever stumped someone on that question.

I had the opportunity to see the band live in October at the Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro,NC. I knew nothing about the band, but was told by the members of another band performing that night, A Light Divided, to make sure and get there early to catch them perform. I was told that I would not be disappointed. Well, I wasn't, I was blown away. The band seems a little confined to a small stage like the one that night. JVB is a very powerful presence on the stage. She is a beautiful woman and that gets your attention immediately. When she gets it, she then proceeds to unleash her arsenal of energy and eroticism on you. The music is a cross of rock/rave/techno and it is a high energy show. The other guys in the band consist of Jim Robbins on guitar, whose face you rarely see during the show thanks to his "Slash" style hair that covers his face, "G" Gilbert Hererra on drums and "Ro" Roman Campbell on bass, who is from North Carolina. They provide a strong musical accompaniment to JVB's vocal presence.

I loved the show and got to met the band afterwards and talk to them. They are looking to come back out on the road in March of 2009. You can catch their dates on their MySpace. I encourage everyone to go there and check out their music. They have alot to offer fans of different genres of music and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in them. Thanks again to Jacqueline for the interview and I can't wait to see you guys on the road in 2009.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Elliott Yamin wows the N-Club

American Idol has turned into a cultural phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of people audition each year for a chance to win , but sometimes it pays to lose. Look at season five for a very good example. Chris Daughtry came in fourth that year and look at his career! Let's not forget the man who came in third that season, Richmond, Virginia's own, Elliott Yamin. he released his debut CD on March 20, 2007 and it debuted at number 3 on Billboard's charts and sold 96,000 in its first week of release. It set a record for the highest debut of an independent release and most copies sold.

Sales on his CD slowed down and it took an appearance on his old show Idol to ignite a flame that quickly grew. Elliott appeared on the top three results show on 05-16-07 and sang his first single "Wait For You" and the reaction was amazing. Within two hours of performing the song, the single shot up 60 spots on I-tunes and the next week, it rose from #80 to #31 on Billboard's singles chart and the CD jumped from #67 to #20. All from getting just a little bit of exposure on his old stomping grounds.

Elliott began touring like a madman in support of his CD. He made an appearance in Greensboro,NC at the N-Club on November 2 ,2007. He was scheduled to appear at WKZL 107.5FM to host their all request lunch show. Thanks to Jose Paza, I was able to secure an interview with Elliott there at the station. He was suppose to be there early that morning, but because his blood sugar was low, he was running behind schedule. I waited around the station for about 2 1/2 hours for him to arrive. He actually made it later that afternoon and stayed for a quick on air interview.

For those not in the know, Elliott suffers from Type 1 diabetes and wears an insulin pump because he hates needles.He told me of two programs that he is involved with concerning diabetes. One is Life For a Child which gets insulin to children in twelve underdeveloped nations. There are t-shirts and pins sold at the shows and 100% of the money goes to the program.The other is called Inspired by Diabetes. Anyone who has been moved by a story of anyone who suffers from diabetes can write into the website or his MySpace and send the story. winners are randomly chosen and prizes included free concert tickets and backstage passes.

I asked Elliott about any interesting road stories that he could share. "I was in Vancouver and I was feeling kinda down because my blood sugar was low. So, I drank a Pepsi right before I went out. It didn't pick me up, so I chugged another one down real quick. The good thing is it picked me up, but the bad thing is I burped during the first two songs! Oh yeah, at that same show, there was a drunk girl that got on stage during "Wait For You" and started dancing with me. It took a few minutes for everyone to figure out that she wasn't in the crew."

Luckily, neither of those instances were repeated in Greensboro that night. The show opened with an amazing set by Josh Hoge and the Last Goodnight performed a solid set and sounded very Maroon 5ish. Elliott came out to a roaring ovation from the crowd. He did covers of Dr. Hook's "Sharing The Night Together" and his idol Donny Hathaway's "little Ghetto Boy", which were both amazing. He played the majority of his CD and had the most incredible encore. Elliott and his keyboardist came out to do his encore which was another Donny Hathaway song "Song For You", which was his audition song on Idol. It gave me goosebumps!! He invited everyone to stay at the merchandise stand and that he would come out and meet with everyone shortly. There were probably about 100 people there and he talked to them and posed for pictures and signed autographs. He was very personable and actually listened intently to what you had to say.

I encourage everyone to try and catch Elliott live. His live shows bring so much raw emotion that is cleaned up in the production aspect of producing a CD. I want to thank Josie and everyone at WKZL for making me feel at home and welcomed as I waited for Elliott. Please go to his website of his MySpace page and help support his diabetes programs. I do wish Elliott the best in this very fickle music industry. He is a true talent and will be around for a long time.

KISS' Tommy Thayer excites crowd

The KISS Army numbers in the millions and not even a hurricane named Hannah could stop them from descending upon the KISS Coffeehouse in myrtle Beach, SC for the 2 year anniversary party planned for Saturday, September 6, 2008. The storm rolled through the beach early that morning dumping tons of rain and with swings that nearly blew all the sand off the beach! I decided to venture out early that morning from my home in Martinsville,VA as the forecast was looking promising. The storm was moving up the coast pretty quickly and the beach looked to be "storm free" by the time the activities were planned to kick off.

I arrived in Myrtle Beach at around 10:30 and the skies were the most amazing shade of blue that I have ever seen. There were no high winds and the temperature was steadily climbing. There were a few signs of a storm, but you could never tell that a hurricane had just blown through! I goofed off for a while checked out what was going on at the Coffeehouse. They were giving away samples of their new KISS Ketchup on french fries. There a small crowd forming and a few vendors setting up. I think the storm did delay a few travelers and actually scared some off from coming.

I made my way inside at just before 5:00 as the special guest was about to arrive. Tommy Thayer, KISS' lead guitarist was their guest for this years event and I had a one on one interview scheduled with him shortly after he arrived. The doors to the store were closed and all people were ushered out except for employees and special guests. Wow, I was a special guest! Tommy made his way in through the side door and greeted everyone. I was second in line to do an interview.

Let me give the readers a brief history on how Tommy got to be in the "hottest band in the world." He was in a band in the eighties called Black and Blue. Although they had a very loyal following, they never achieved the commercial success that less deserving acts of that time were getting. They released four studio albums and KISS bassist Gene Simmons produced the last two. The band called it quits after their fourth release. Tommy began writing and producing and actually worked behind the scenes for KISS in the nineties. He was asked to don the "Spaceman" makeup and outfit when original lead guitarist Ace Frehley left again in 2002. Tommy began touring with the band and became their new lead guitarist.

The first thing that I wanted to ask Tommy was how he got into video production.He put together the amazing KISS Second Coming DVD and produced their Pay Per View special along with the VH1 Behind The Makeup special. "Paul and I were working on commercials for KISS' convention tour back in 1995. Paul had to leave and told me that I could work on them if I wanted to. I started fooling around with the equipment and found out that I had a knack for it and really enjoyed it. I then began to explore other aspects of video production and editing and found out that it was alot of fun and I started to become very good at it," said Tommy.

Tommy has brought a freshness to the band and has allowed them to reach deep into their arsenal of songs and play tunes that they have either never played or live or haven't done in ages. I asked him if he could add any KISS song to the set list, what would it be? "I actually suggested to the guys to add a song from the "Lick It Up" album called "All Hell's Breaking Loose" The other guys are a little resistant to doing it, but it would be such a great song to do live!," stated Tommy.

Many fans know the basic history of the group and of Tommy. Is there something about Tommy that they may be surprised to find out? "I was actually a "band geek" in high school. I played the saxophone. He assured me that there would be no sax solos on the next KISS tour! He did tell me that they would be touring here in the US next year. The response for the European tour this past summer was overwhelming and more shows had to keep being added and that's why more US dates were not done. My last question is one that I like to ask to catch them off guard. I am a lover of all types of music myself, so I like to try to get in the head of a musician. I asked Tommy if her was stranded on a desert island and could only have one CD, not a mix CD but a store bought CD, what would it be? "Wow, that's a really tough question. I'm really not sure, never been asked that one before. I guess I would have to say the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" CD would be my pick." I would have to say that one a personal note, that is one of my all time favorite Cd's.

At the conclusion of our interview, Tommy shook my hand and told me that he couldn't wait to read the article and asked me if I would mail him a copy of it. I was floored by his request! I made my way back outside to meet up with some friends and stand in line with them for the meet and greet with Tommy. I made my way up the line and Tommy signed my KISSstory book, CD and picture and then posed for pictures. Everyone that I spoke to commented on how friendly he was to everyone he met.

The night concluded with two KISS tribute bands performing, Kissin' Time and Mr. Speed. In between sets, Tommy came out and performed an acoustic version of their hit "Forever" with the "Sing With KISS" contest winner. After performing, Tommy said that he couldn't leave without doing another number and proceeded to perform"Rock and Roll All Nite!"

My hat's off to everyone at the Coffeehouse for pulling off a great event. thanks to Brian for setting up the interview. The storm may have scared alot of people away, but those of us who took a chance and went got treated to a class act. Other bands should take a cue from Tommy on how to treat their fans with respect. It was truly an amazing event. Can't wait for next years celebration!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Light Divided

Every band has to start somewhere. I didn't use to be much on seeing local bands perform because all I was seeing was the same old song and dance. Well, that recently changed when I went to the Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro, NC to check out A Light Divided. They were at a show in Danville,VA that I attended at Plan B and I only caught two songs and it had me a little intrigued. I actually checked them out on MySpace and I really liked what I heard. I contacted the band and made arrangements to see them the following Saturday.

The band had been together for about a year and was actually members from three bands that combined into one. The show that i was attending that night was actually the first show for new bassist Mike Underwood and guitarist Eric Humiston. I talked to the band before the show to get a little insight into what they were made of. I asked guitarist James Lewis about where the name originated from. "Well, I actually came up with the name. It was the third thing that I had written down. Actually, nobody liked it at first, but we had to have a name that day. It's actually grown on everyone since then."

I asked lead singer Jaycee Clark how she met up with the band. " I was actually driving down from Jersey where I was staying and rehearsing and playing with these guys and then driving back home 3 and 4 times a week and finally moved here."

I was also curious as to the limitations or obstacles of having a female fronted band. Drummer Adam Smith said," There are lot of bands that we know who use it as a gimmick. I mean it has its advantages, but a gimmick can only last for so long. We play what we play because it's what we'd wanna hear if we were in the crowd. It's really hard to define our sound. Sometimes when you do so, you limit yourself as to who you can play with."

"I believe that we would play with just about anyone as long as they believe in us," responded bassist Mike Underwood.

The band's influences include a slew of artists ranging from the Deftones to Killswitch Engage to Atreyu. Those artists plus similar bands including Coheed and Cambria, Kill Hannah, Secret Lives, gaslight Anthem and Trivium are among there artists of choice when it comes to personal listening tastes.

Who would the band love to share the stage with one day? Jaycee was quick to respond with the Deftones! Other responses ranged from Sevendust to Killswitch Engage to Severe Your Ties. During the entire interview, Jaycee was constantly "abused" by her band mates. "Do you see how they treat me? It's tough being the only female in the only female in the band, but I can stand my own against them. They are constantly running around the stage, so I have to be on my guard or I will get run over."

Adam then told me that the band usually takes the month of December off and would be entering the studios hopefully in February of 2009 to start recording the followup to their first CD "Before The Fall" which came out in April of 2008. I did ask them my traditional question of being stuck on a desert island with only one store bought CD, what would it be? Jaycee's choice would be Green Day "Dookie", to which I found out we went to the same show at the Cricket Arena and saw them on the American Idiot tour. Adam's choice would be the Smashing Pumpkins "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" CD. James' choice was GWAR's "13 Ways To Bleed Onstage" CD.

We then went inside as the guys started setting up their equipment. The band went on stage with a furry and quickly grabbed the crowds attention. Jaycee has great vocals that translate very well on the live stage. She is a very attractive woman who gets your attention visually, but she really does have the chops to back it up. I also have to say that James' personality on stage really gets the crowd involved. He can be a bit of a comic, but he really does lay down some mean riffs on the guitar. James is also in charge of "screams" . Adam worked up a fury on the drums as he was drenched in sweat by the end of the first song.

Adam told me that they like to keep their set short so that it leaves the audience wanting more. "There's nothing like being in the crowd and watching a band who drags out their set too long. You lose your audience's attention and they get bored. We don't wanna do that."

The band did hang around both before and after the show to pose for pictures and sign autographs. They had a merchandise booth with a tshirt and their CD and stickers available. I was lucky enough to see them again about 2 weeks later and the show was really hot. The new members definitely seem to have fit in really well. The second show that I saw was alot tighter and the band was really on their game that night.

You should go to their MySpace page and check them out. You can hear a few songs from their first CD there. If you like rock with an edge, you need to check them out. Having a female lead singer is not a gimmick for them, it's a element that works very well. I have to admit that my favorite tracks on the CD are "Just Like You " and "If You Don't Succeed", but their is not a bad track on the CD. I bought it at the first show I went to and it did not leave my CD player for days.

How would I describe their sound? Good question, I can hear different influences in their music. James does a little of the screamo stuff like on some early Hawthorne Heights.....R.I.P. Casey. I think they have a unique sound, it is kinda metal pop, but they can get a little hardcore if they wanna. They play all around North Carolina and you can catch dates on their MySpace. It is well worth the drive and money to catch these guys. I personally think that they are something special just waiting to break free. There is alot of potential there and they seem hungry. Only time and hard work will tell.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

KC and The Sunshine Band 35 years and still going!!

Who would have thought that way back in 1973, that a funky little white boy who knew how to shake his booty would still be thrilling the crowds some 35 years later? I'm talking about none other than KC of KC and The Sunshine Band. The band is currently on tour and celebrating their 35th anniversary. Wow, it takes a special talent to be able to maintain a career for that long. I was fortunate enough to talk to KC by phone before their performance in High Point,NC on October 20.
I asked KC what the secret was to be going strong after 35 years. "There's no magic answer man, I guess it's because I just love what I'm doing. I have fun each and every night up there on stage. Even after all of these years," said KC. He is definitely a rare breed in celebrating his 35th anniversary this year. On a personal note, I told KC that he shared the same anniversary with my idols KISS.
"Yeah, today's industry is definitely different. What with the internet and downloading and all. It has some good points to it, but I miss the old days when you bought albums. You had a piece of art in your hands with the lyrics on the jacket sleeve and everything. Now, everything is just so tiny. Also, the internet definitely has made music less personable. You lose that touch when you go viral," KC responded when asked about how the industry has changed.
His music, to me, seems to transcend time and it takes you back to a place when you hear it. Each song seems to provoke memories when you hear them again. I told of my 8th grade dance waiting for the dj to play "Please Don't Go" so that I could ask this girl in my class, with whom I had a mad crush on, to dance. By the way, he played the song and I did get that dance and a kiss. That's what I love about music; how it can evoke such strong emotions and memories when you hear a particular song.
My last question was the one that I always ask anyone that i interview. If you were on a desert island with only one cd, which one would you want it to be? "Wow, that's really a tough question. I really don't know. Wait, I'd probably have my Ipod, but I guess if i had to pick just one, it would be our greatest hits cd," said KC.
Our phone conversation was short and to the point, but he really is a funny guy. So, our next stop was to High Point,NC to his show. He had a 14 band that night and the energy was non-stop. He had 4 dancers and KC did alot of dancing himself. he had almost as many costume changes as Cher or Diana Ross! After the first song he asked if there were any young people in the crowd and there were. He said that in case anyone was wondering, he was your mama's N-Sync. He said that he was what Justin Timberlake was going to look like in 30 years. The crowd just ate it up.
The band was really tight and his percussion section was amazing. His back-up dancers were constantly changing clothes and tearing up the stage with KC all night. He performed all of his hits including "Please Don't Go", "Boogie Shoes" and a surprise performance of "Yes I'm ready", which was originally a duet with Teri Desario.
The band also did several older r&b hits including "Brick House" by the Commodores, "Shake Your Body" by the Jacksons and "Lowrider" by War. It was a high energy show from beginning to end. You can definitely see why he has been going strong for 35 years. He is an awesome performer and musician. I had always heard how good of a show that he put on, but seeing is believing!
The problem with the music industry today is that there are less people like KC in it. Most of today's artists are here today, gone today. There is just no staying power. It seems as if you have to be the next "flavor of the week" to get airplay. KC is a rare breed. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, musician and singer. He wears many hats in an industry where most of today's music is cranked out and manufactured. The industry needs more people in it like KC, whether they shake their booties or not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In This Moment concert

With today's ever changing music industry, it is hard for a new band to break out and get noticed. You have to stand out from the crowd and grab the peoples attention. That is just what In This Moment have done. The band was formed in 2005 by lead singer Maria Brink and lead guitarist Chris Howorth. They used MySpace as a marketing tool and posted rough demos on their page. The band started getting noticed and their friend count started to soar. Their debut release, "Beautiful Tragedy", was released in March of 2007.
The band toured extensively for anyone and everyone that they would let them join them on tour. All their hard work payed off when they got the attention of Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. They asked the band to be on the annual Ozzfest tour in 2007. They won over fans and critics alike! They went on to open for Megadeth and for Ozzy on his arena tour. They really had momentum on their side as they began work on their sophomore release "The Dream." It was released in September of 2008. I had a chance ti sit down with Maria and Chris before their show in Danville,VA at Plan B and talk to them about it.
I asked them about the concept of the new CD. Maria said, "The CD started with the name the title. I knew I wanted to call it The Dream. I have always been a big fan of Alice in Wonderland and I wanted to keep the whole aspect of anything is possible in your dreams tied into it. Our CD booklet actually has caricature's of each member and they look like characters out of Alice. I believe that when you dream, you can accomplish anything. If we take that and apply it in real life, it is amazing what you can do. we cannot just limit what we can achieve to our dreams, you can make it a reality."
The band has a very strong and loyal fan base due in part to the closeness and actual contact that they maintain with their fans. I asked Chris if they marketed the new CD with that in mind. He said, "We decided on the pre order package to give something back to our amazing fans. I think it was a great idea! We had 3000 of the pre order packages made up. We also got together with Hot Topic, which does great with our merchandise, and we signed 5000 copies for the fans. The week it was released, they ran it on sale for $7.99." For those not in the know, the pre order package was available online and consisted of a t-shirt, the new cd, a guitar pick, an 8x10 photo of he group and a bonus CD that was available only through the pre order and it was personally autographed to the buyer. All of this for only $20!
The new CD does have a different sound from their first release. It is more melodic and Maria actually chose to display her amazing singing voice more than go for the "screamo" affect like on the first CD. She told me that screaming is actually alot easier for her to do than singing! The songwriting on the CD definitely has a more positive tone, keeping with the dream concept. One track that stood out to me the first time I heard the CD was a song entitled "Into The Light" and features Maria on piano and is a chilling ballad. I asked her about the story behind the song. "Well, it's about saying goodbye. It's about friends who have actually had to hold a parents hand as they passed away. We got a letter from the parents of a fan of ours named Zack. He was born with half a heart and his mother was holding his hand while he passed away. His favorite song of ours was "He Said Serenity" and he was listening to it when he passed away. We actually included a dedication to him in the booklet for the new CD," said Maria.
The band has many influences and it can be heard on the new CD. I was curious to find out what they listened to or what inspired them musically. "I have to admit it...I am a Michael Jackson "Thriller" fan. I then moved on into the whole metal scene with KISS and Metallica and Def Leppard. Those are most of mine," said Chris. Who are Maria's influences? "Well, I have so many of them. I love Billie Holiday! I also love Madonna. My favorite group is the Deftones, I would love to go out on tour with them. I also like weird electronic music like Shiny Toy Guns."
My last question that I asked is a favorite of mine in all interviews. Not only does it usually catch the artist off guard, I'm always curious as to their thinking and musical tastes. If you were stuck on a desert island with only one CD, it cannot be a mix CD, it has to be a store bought CD, what would it be? They both had to ponder for a moment before coming up with an answer. Chris' choice was Journey's "greatest Hits" and Maria's was U2 "The Joshua Tree". I actually have both of those and they are among my favorites.
On a personal note, Maria did remember my daughter Taylor and myself from last year's Ozzfest in Charlotte,NC that we attended. Taylor has asthma and it was very hot and humid at the show. She did not bring her inhaler and she started to have trouble breathing while standing in line to meet the band in the scorching hot sun. I though we were going to have to leave, but she wanted to try to rough it out. The security at the venue saw her having problems and nobody seemed to care. When we got up to meet Maria, Taylor went to take my picture and she was shaking. Maria told her that it was ok and that she didn't have to be nervous. I then explained about her asthma and Maria went and got her a bottled water and told her to held up the line a few minutes until she felt better. Maria has a son almost the same age as my daughter and she was the only one who showed compassion that day. Taylor still, to this day, has that empty water bottle. When Maria was looking at my pictures from Ozzfest, I started to tell her about what happened and she said that she knew we looked familiar and that she remembered that.
Taylor and I then exited the tourbus and went inside the venue to listen to the other bands. In This Moment did perform for about an hour. Maria is an amazing front person for the band. She is very charismatic on stage and the intensity that comes through in her performance is amazing. The band is very tight and they played a mix of songs from both Cd's. There were some technical difficulties throughout the show, but the band did not miss a beat. Even though it was a small club and there was a small turnout, they rocked it like it was Madison Square Garden! Taylor even got to sing twice with Maria that night. Afterwards, they hung around and signed autographs and posed for pictures. They asked fans what they thought about the show and listened to their responses. That's the great interaction that they have with their fans that is so amazing.
I do need to thank George Vallee at Century Media Records for the tickets and photo passes and for lining up the interview for me. I also have to thank Jenny, their tour manager, for being so nice to both Taylor and myself. I encourage all music fans to check them out on MySpace. They are a multi-faceted group that will be around for a long time. If you need more info, feel free to email me at

Monday, October 13, 2008

I LOVE MUSIC!!!!!!!!!

Hey peeps,
This is my first blog on here so I started with something that everyone who knows me, knows about me: I LOVE MUSIC!!!!! I love all types. How can you not love music. Music can evoke all emotions. You think I'm wrong...ok then. How about breakup songs? We all got dumped and there is that one song that just gets you everytime. Every couple seems to have "our song" and that brings back lots of eomtions. How about when a song comes on the radio by that know the one...the one that is like nails on a chalkboard!!! Then, there are songs that conjure up naughty thoughts. Remember the song that you made out to in the backseat of your car after the football game in highschool? How about what was playing when you lost your virginity? Then there are summetime songs.....oh yeah!! The song that was blasting going down the boardwalk at the beach outta every car there.
Songs are like snapshots in time. They capture moments when you don't have a camera to do so. I have managed different recordstores before and I had to do the purchasing. therefore, I had to listen to everything to know what was hot. I love all types of music. Just depends on my mood as to what I listen to. I like everything from KISS to Barry manilow to the Dixie Chicks to Jay-Z to Beethoven.
Music is such a source of inspiration to me. It lifts me up when I am done. It makes me happy! It motivates me!!
I love it when I ask someone their favorite group and they say that they don't really listen to music......the gloves are then on!! How can you NOT listen to music? Even deaf people listen to music!!!
I also don't like people who pigeonhole themselves to one type of music. You have to be open to all things and all types of music. It's amazing what you are missing out on if you don't free your mind.
Well, what I am trying to say i sthat music makes the world go round. It makes it a better place. Just think how quiet it would be without music.

(the sound of crickets fill the room)