Thursday, September 30, 2010

Terri Nunn of Berlin: Proving She Can Still Take Your Breath Away

The 80s was such a great decade for music. There were no rules and fresh, new bands were popping up everywhere. New Wave was introduced in the early 80s and riding that wave of creativity was the band Berlin. Fronted by the charismatic bombshell Terri Nunn, the band’s breakout EP in 1982, “Pleasure Victim”, brought them to the forefront of the synth driven MTV era. The band is probably known best for the love song “Take My Breath Away” from the movie Top Gun in 1986.

The band disbanded in 1987 and went their separate ways. Terri stayed busy throughout the years and in 1996 reformed Berlin with all new members. The creative juices immediately started flowing and the band hit the road touring and began recording. She reunited with original band mates in 2004 for the VH1 show “Bands Reunited”.

Terri recently slowed down from her very busy schedule long enough to answer a few questions that I had for her. It was an eye-opening interview:

Johnny: “Hi Terri thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions to let everyone know just what you have been up to. A lot of people do not realize that you were actually interested in acting early on in your career. The biggest piece of trivia to come out of that is the fact that you auditioned for the part of Princess Leia in Star Wars. So, what made you decide to focus primarily on music?”

Terri: “I wanted to be a musician/songwriter more than anything from the time I was 3 years old, but it scared the crap out of me. Some opportunities presented themselves pretty early in my life (15 years old) for doing television. At 18, I decided to try going after the music dream and got really lucky meeting John (Crawford, of Berlin) within a year. It was a lot of work, but our results together got attention pretty fast, so I made the choice of working on music full-time.”

Johnny: “Looking back, there weren’t many women rocking out or fronting bands. You were kind of a pioneer. I mean, you were pushing the envelope way before Madonna ever came onto the scene. “Sex, I’m A…” was a shocker back then, but pretty tame by today’s standards. Do you ever step back and think, ‘Yea, I was one of the first!”?

Terri: “There were a few women who really inspired me to rock out, Grace Slick being one of them. Along with the guest spot on her song, we (I, Martha Davis- the Motels and Gaye Ann Bruno) got to interview her on our weekly talk show “Between the Sheets. One of the questions I got to ask her what it was like for her to be truly one of the first female rockers on the planet. She said her role model was Mick Jagger and male role models are true for me too. Bowie, McCartney, Jim Morrison, these were the people I wanted to immulate onstage.”

Johnny: “A lot of people don’t realize what all has gone on since you reformed the band back in 1998. Your latest release was 2009’s “All The Way In”. Are you currently working on new Berlin music?”

Terri: “Yes, an all new studio album will be released in 2011! We’ve had quite a few releases since 1998: “Sacred and Profane” came out in 2000, the DVD “Intimate” in 2001, the studio album “Voyeur” released in 2003, “4Play” in 2005 and the DVD/CD package “All The Way In” in 2009.”

Johnny: “A lot of people mainly know you from “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. It was the number one song of 1986. Has there ever been a point since then when you thought ‘Oh my god, if I have to perform that song one more time?’ I had read that Pat Benatar once had that problem with ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”

Terri: “I imagine every artist goes through that exasperation when you have to play songs whether you want to or not, but I have been to concerts where the artist did NOT play the hits I loved and it bummed me out. It felt like they didn’t care about their audience, so why am I paying to be there? Bottom line is, I’m lucky to have so many songs people love and it is my duty and HONOR to play them for people. I love my songs.”

Johnny: “Speaking of which, what motivates you these days to continue creating music and to perform?”

Terri: “Music always has. Collaborating with people, writing new music, seeing the audiences have such a great time that it transports me into freakin’ bliss. These things are really motivating!”

Johnny: “As far as collaborating goes, what would be your dream duet?”

Terri: “Wow, so many. Singing with Grace Slick on the song she just released, ‘Edge of Madness’, was a huge orgasm for me. She wrote it to benefit the needy people in Louisiana right now. Hooking up with people is so fantastic in this business. Chris Cornell comes to mind now; I’d love to sing with him.”

Johnny: “Earlier you mentioned your weekly talk show ‘Between the Sheets’, with your co-hosts Martha Davis of The Motels and your manager Gaye Ann Bruno. Can you tell us more about it?”

Terri: “I’ve wanted to do a talk show for a long time. I co-hosted a show on 97.1 Free FM here in Los Angeles last year, but it wasn’t the right fit. Then Sam Phillips, who also had a show there called The Single Life, started and invited me to host a talk show on her site as well. Gaye Ann and Martha had guested on the Single Life and she thought they were great too, so the three of us started ‘Between the Sheets’ last March. We interview guests and talk about music and pop culture and sex and current events and even sing on occasion! IT’S A BLAST! We’ve interviewed some amazing people already: Grace Slick, Howard Bloom (author of The Lucifer Principle, Genius of the Beast) and Devorah Iyall (Romeo Void). We also enjoy bringing people in with interesting stories: a man who’s physically turning himself into a woman, a man imprisoned for 24 years and just exonerated for a crime he did not commit, a woman who was married to another woman for 5 years without realizing it…fascinating stuff. You can check out all the podcast on”

Johnny: “A couple of quick questions for your fans. What’s in your I-pod?”

Terri: “Oh god, a lot of stuff. The latest people that I’m listening to are The Birthday Massacre (a really good band!), Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp, Nine Inch Nails and the new Devo.”

Johnny: “Do you have guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans?”

Terri: “I don’t know if it’s surprising, but I love vanilla frozen yogurt with caramel sauce. It’s guilty because most of the time I don’t eat dairy at all, but oh god, it’s hard to turn down.”

Johnny: “So, when all is said and done, what do you want to be known for? When someone says, ‘Hey, do you remember Terri Nunn?’…what do you want to come to people’s minds?”

Terri: “My music and, hopefully, that I empowered people and contributed to their enjoyment of life. Also, with this new talk show, I hope I expose my audience to more talented people and mind-expanding ideas in this world.”

Johnny: “Terri, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me and thanks to your manager Gaye Ann for setting this up. It has been an honor.”

Terri: “Thank you Johnny! Good questions! Best of love to you.”

To keep up with all of Terri’s ventures, keep up with her at or or on Facebook.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

UPROAR Festval Blazes Through Charlotte, NC

Summertime and major concerts go hand in hand. It seems like all of your favorite bands sit the road when the hot days of summer arrive. Even with the economy in a state of disarray, there were quite a few new tours this year. One of the most anticipated was the inaugural year of the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival.
This is Rockstar’s second festival this summer, coming on the heels of the highly successful Mayhem Festival. UPROAR is a smaller version of that tour with only one side stage and not as many bands on the bill. Now, these bands may not be as heavy as some featured on Mayhem, but there was still plenty of rock for your money.

UPROAR made its North Carolina stop in Charlotte on September 1 and the weather that day was just as hot as the pyro featured during Avenged Sevenfold’s set. After a local band, whose name was as forgettable as their set, attempted to get the crowd charged up, Hail the Villain took the stage. This Canadian band unleashed a surprisingly impressive 25 minute set on the crowd that definitely got them fired up. Met up with these guys after their set and I have to say that they are a very nice bunch of crazy guys and the band even has their own comic book. You really need to check out this band’s amazing interactive website.

New Medicine was up next and performed a pretty good set as more of the crowd started to fill up the stage area. Australia’s Airbourne really got the crowd fired up with a high energy stage show that focused heavily on their outrageous lead guitarist/singer Joel O’Keefe. This guy is a poster child for rock and roll rydlin when he is on-stage. He was climbing on top of speakers and shredding out solos and at one point even ventured out into the crowd on the shoulders of a crew member
while shredding the entire time!

HELLYEAH closed out the Jagermeister stage and ripped the other bands on that stage a new one with a set worthy of their name. This “super group” of sorts, consisting of Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, former Mudvayne member Greg Tribbett on guitar, Tom Maxwell of Nothingface on guitar, Bobzilla of Damageplan on bass and the legendary Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Damageplan on drums, is dead set on bringing fun back to rock and roll and they are doing so with a vengeance.

The Rockstar main stage was up next with, even though they have been performing for ten years plus, the “still referred to as” overnight sensation Halestorm. Now, lead singer Lzzy Hale is the lone female performer on the tour, but she most certainly proves that she’s got the balls to front the stage just as impressive as any guy on the tour. Sporting a newer, shorter do, Lzzy and the boys commanded the main stage and got even the most skeptical metal fans in the crowd throwing horns by the end of their set. Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor’s side project Stone Sour were up next and Corey displayed a side of him that most fans do not get to see or hear. The dynamics that he brings to this band is so different than that of Slipknot in that he is a totally different artist by lyrically and vocally. The band ran the gauntlet of musical styles with several heavy numbers performed, mixed with a softer side on songs like “Through Glass”.

Avenged Sevenfold have definetly been the focus of a lot of media attention going into the tour. Mid-way through recording their highly anticipated new album, they lost their drummer and brother in music Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. Then the album, “Nightmare” debuted at number one and brought the band screaming back to the forefront with a sound that defies labels. I, along with a great deal of fans there, thought that these guys should be headlining this tour. All one had to do was look into the crowd and see that they were in agreement. I mean, there was like five Avenged t-shirts to everyone Disturbed shirt in the audience.

The Avenged show started with a road crew member hanging himself front and center as they screamed into “Nightmare” and began their pyro heavy assault on the senses. The band, with Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy sitting in on drums, unleashed on the audience an arsenal of songs that spanned their entire catalog, yet after a 55 minute set left all of us wanting more. M. Shadow's vocals were dead on target and lead guitarist Synester Gates proved he is a force to reckon with. Another summer tour where the next to last band on the bill stole the show from the headliner. Disturbed closed out the show with a less than inspiring set. They sounded good and they had a great intro to the show, but maybe it was the fact that they had to follow-up such an impressive set from Avenged Sevenfold. It was just a little boring on the senses after the set that was just witnessed.

Overall, the crowd was not as huge as anticipated, but they were appreciative of the fine music being performed for them all day long. Most bands did autograph sessions similar to Mayhem with some bands actually doing two different sessions with one at their tent earlier in the day for free and another at the FYE tent with purchase of their CD. I hope that this tour is around next year, for they really showcased some smaller groups that may have been overlooked on the summer tour circuit given the state of the economy. I guess we will just have to wait to see how much “roaring” will be done next year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fight The Lion Roars Forward

In an industry filled with copycat bands, it’s really hard to stand out and get noticed. DC’s Fight The Lion are attempting to do just that. Having just released their full length CD, “When The Mighty Fall”, they are winning over audiences with their great live show and a fresh batch of catchy songs off of their CD.

The guys have seen a lot happen in a short time. They have opened for such acts as Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Poison, Candlebox and Lifehouse while touring up and down the East coast. A sponsorship with Jagermeister, two EPS, a name change and a few personnel changes later, the guys are really to solidify their place in music industry.

The band, consisting of Jake Mimikos on guitar and lead vocals, Ron Cruz on lead guitar and vocals, Shawn Battle on drums and vocals and Jason Proctor on bass, seems to be defining their sound on this CD. Tracks seem to bounce back and forth between uptempo rockers such as “Runaway Lover” and “The Drive” to slower, more emotionally charged songs such as “A New Hope” and “The Changing”. On the slower tracks, Jake has almost a Michael Stipeish (REM) quality to his vocal delivery. You can really feel the emotional attachment to the lyrics of the slower songs by Jake.

The title track, “When The Mighty Fall” is a standout on the CD and sets the tone of the overall positive message that the band is conveying to the listener, focusing on the positive and overcoming negativity. This does seem to be the overall theme to the CD.

Ron has really stepped up his game on this CD, yet at times it seems as if he is holding back. The band’s live show really gives him a chance to flex his muscles. Shawn really puts in a solid performance laying down some thunderous rhythms on the disc. Jason, newest addition to the band, shows that he is a worthy addition as his bass provides a pounding back beat that compliments Shawn’s drumming to create a worthy rhythm section.

“When The Mighty Fall” is a great progression for this young band. Their songwriting on this CD has matured a great deal since their two EPs. For fans of modern and progressive rock, I would highly recommend checking out Fight The Lion. In a world of wannabees, these guys show a lot of promise and drive that will soon make them the ones to be.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

KISS Prove Why They Are The Hottest Show On Earth

It was a hot summer night on August 28th in Charlotte, NC, but it was about to get even hotter. KISS brought their “Hottest Show on Earth” tour to town that night. They showed all of those in attendance why, after 37 years, they are still the iconic giants in the art of over the top rock and roll showmanship. The current touring lineup consists of co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons plus Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on lead guitar.

The amphitheatre was packed that night and the lawn was so full that it was hard to see the grass! KISS came up with a great marketing campaign for the summer tour. KISS and smart marketing go hand in hand. As dates for tour were being announced, a special offer for the lawn seats was announced. A paid adult lawn ticket could bring up to four kids, under the age of 14, to the show for free. There were a lot of parents who took advantage of this offer. There were even KISS shirts for the smaller kids on sale at the merchandise booths. Smart move on Mr. Simmons and the boys!

Touring with KISS is The Envy, who are signed to Simmons Records, and The Academy Is. Both bands performed short, yet very good sets, but you could tell that the crowd was there to see KISS. The house lights went down and the video screens came on showing KISS towering above the buildings ala Godzilla as they marched along towards the concert hall. The next images were of the band coming from their dressing rooms to the stage. The now infamous introduction was made and a huge explosion rocked the amphitheater. The boys hit the stage firing on all cylinders performing “Modern Day Delilah” from their latest CD “Sonic Boom”.

The set list for the 2 hour and 10 minute performance spanned the majority of their catalog, but was short on material from the group’s non-makeup years. “Deuce”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Lick It Up” as well as the surprising non-makeup choice of “Crazy, Crazy Nights” were performed along with numerous others. A KISS show is known for its theatrics and they pulled out all the stops for the fans that night. Gene spit blood and flew to a platform near the top of the stage for “I Love It Loud”, Paul flew out into the audience for “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, Tommy shot rockets at the stage lights during his solo, Eric’s drum kit rose up to the lighting rig and Gene breathed fire at the end of “Firehouse”. Of course, there was a ton of pyro and flames all during the show also.

Paul billed the band’s encore as the longest in the history of rock and roll. Most bands play one or two songs for their encore, but then again, KISS is not like most bands. Their encore was six songs which included an amazing acoustic version of “Beth” with Eric coming out from behind the drum kit to center stage to sing.
KISS brought out members of the armed services to present a check to the Wounded Warriors Foundation. One dollar from every ticket sold on their summer tour will be donated to this worthy cause. Paul gave a heartfelt speech about our troops and living in the greatest country in the world and then led the audience in the pledge of allegiance. That’s something that you usually don’t get at a rock show.

The band closed the night with their signature song known worldwide, “Rock And Roll All Night”. The confetti sprayed out into the audience so thick that it was hard to see the band onstage at times. A barrage of smoke bombs, flames and explosions made the stage look like a 4th of July celebration. As Paul smashed his guitar in half and the show ended.

The band looked and sounded incredible. Gene Simmon’s trademark tongue was wagging all night as his monster boots lurked the stage all night long. Paul Stanley was more energetic that night than I have ever seen him before in concert and he jumped around in his platform boots like he was 25 again! Tommy and Eric have brought a sense of urgency to the band again. You can tell that they are having a blast on-stage and not just going through the motions. Paul said at the show that a KISS concert was somewhere between church and the circus. Ringling Brothers doesn’t have a thing on these boys!