Archive for the ‘reality check’ Category

PANTyRAiD’s Secret Confession

November 22, 2009

Interview By: Quinn Allan

Already prominent figures in the West Coast dance scene, DJs MartyParty and Ooah joined forces in 2005 to unleash their unstoppable beats on the world. Together they form PANTyRAid, a powerful combo with a polished new sound. They’re out to prove there’s more to their electronic mayhem then your standard club track. We at CWG thought we’d find out just how they plan on doing that:

Quinn Allan: The list of genres and sub-genres concerning electronic music is nearly endless. Do you find it all hard to label your music, or do you forgo labels altogether?

PANTyRAiD: Impossible to label our music (smiles). Our music gets placed in the oddest categories on website stores sometimes! We like to describe it as hip hop bass music or e-hop.

QA: Creating music, mostly through computers, must make the long distance collaborating much easier. How long does it take to complete a track when sending it back and forth?

PR: It varies – one us will start a project and then FTP it to the other, they make a part, FTP it back etc. If we sit together it takes a day to have a finished song. It’s very fast. The ideas and inspiration is endless in this production environment. Even with a lot of back and forth it’s a matter of days for a track to become a finished song.

QA: Although familiar with each other’s work, you first met at a festival in Costa Rica. How does the Costa Rican electronic/dance scene compare to here in the states?

PR: Our time in Costa was at the beach – however we spent time in the capital and the scene is very 4/4 cheezy house with a lot of electronic reggaeton thrown in.

QA: Without a strong reliance on spoken word in your music, do you find yourselves at an advantage when spreading your music in countries where English is not the dominate language?

PR:
Our production of original songs is challenging as we don’t have voices. We need to speak with our instruments. It is difficult to capture a listener for 5 minutes without a lot of expression in the lead and we typically do this with a bass lead melody. It absolutely makes our sound more portable across markets and we want the music to be heard globally as everyone can interpret the emotion of the music without relying on the language or meaning.

QA: In 2008 you guys made the move from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, NY. Most musicians see L.A. as a music Mecca, do you find that your music is more at home on the east coast?

PR: I, (MartyParty) live in Brooklyn still where I have my studio, Josh (Ooah) moved back to L.A. to work on the Glitch Mob album. The west coast is definitely more happening with bass oriented music. The east coast is slow to catch up and I spent most weekends flying to the west or midwest (HUGE FANS IN THE MIDWEST!)

QA: Sex plays a big part in the marketing of your music. That said, what are your personal feelings on using sex as a marketing tool?

PR: Bring it. We make sexy music because we are passionate emotional men (smiles), like booty shaking music. We wanted that to come through in the marketing, art and artistic direction of the whole brand. Our music is very much loved by the ladies and therefore we wanted to also make sure it was tastefully done and not trashy. It’s often hard to not cross that line.

QA: As with any music scene, artists are always looking for that “new sound”. How easily do you find it to explore territories other artists haven’t?

PR: Electronic production means a lot of room for experimentation – merely open up a new synth and start tweaking with the oscillators and filters to find a new sound. Its one of our loves – sound design – and we try and use different drums, sounds and keys in all our songs – its one of the goals of the project. We are tired of hearing albums made with the same instruments, we love each song to have a totally new feeling through variations in all the instruments and constant dynamics in the mixdown.

QA: It is usually beneficial for artists to be aware of other artist’s work. What albums are you guys listening to now?

PR: We tend to listen to tracks from our peer producers in the community – we are all close and share our works as we cook them so we are always in touch with the next sound before its released mostly. We also love a female voice, Fever Ray, Bat for Lashes, Lykke Li etc. are always on our minds. The latest underground hip hop and dubstep gets us turned on fast!

QA: Becoming familiar with recording hardware and different kinds of software usually leads artists into other areas of music production, outside creating. Do you guys produce other artists?

PR:
We remix for a lot of well known artists and this is something we want to do more of – we can quickly take a tune and change its sound completely, and are master audio manipulators meaning we need only a small piece of audio to create a tapestry of parts. We hope PANTyRAiD becomes a major remixing force – its also a lot of fun and we get to work with our favorite artists. We are looking forward to producing the next hip hop with a good MC – thats our dream – bring it on!

QA: With a label based in the U.K., festivals in Central America, and recognition on both coasts of the U.S., you guys get around a lot. What would you say your favorite place to play live has been so far?

PR:
Colorado and California are our best crowds, we have not toured Europe yet – 2010 is the plan.

PANTyRAiD’s debut album, The Sauce, was released in September of this year, and has been making sweet electronic waves throughout the electronic/dance scene. You can hear their beats at www.myspace.com/pantyraidmusic.

Midnight Masses – Autry Preaches To The Choir

November 19, 2009

Interview By: Quinn Allan

Using death as inspiration is nothing new in the music industry. Countless artists have written eulogy-like-ballads to friends, heroes, and family members alike. Still, it takes a delicate touch and a strong heart to write a song about death without coming off as somewhat cheesy or worse, bumming out your audience. Lucky for us, Brooklyn-based Midnight Masses front man, Autry Rene Fulbright has just the right touch. Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body, the premiere EP from Midnight Masses, is a four song journey through the painful struggle of the loss of a loved one. The EP’s heart-felt lyrics are somber and genuine, while the arrangements are vast, even void-like, leaving room for hope.

One of Midnight Masses founding members is Jason Reece, who is no stranger to thematic albums. Reece is also one of the original members of the pioneering rock group …And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead. Reece brought along some of his Trail of Dead mates to help out with this new musical endeavor, and we can’t help but notice as the list of noteworthy guest musicians and producers, that helped to make this exploration possible, starts to grow. Gerard Smith, from TV on the Radio, helped record the group and Jaleel Bunton, from the same band, even lends his voice on one of the tracks. It’s hard not to notice the potential other musicians clearly see in Midnight Masses.

As personal and revealing as Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body is, we here at CWG wanted an even more in-depth look at the story behind Midnight Masses and to find out just what they have in store for us.

Quinn Allan: Your newly released EP, Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body, opens with the haunting yet uplifting track “Walk on Water.” Lyrics like: “The damage is done, his time had come, there’s nothing wrong…” show a sense of maturity in the face of death. As the opening track in an EP clearly about loss, do you feel this song sets the stage for what’s to come? Or rather, marks the end of the grieving process and shows us, as an artist, what comes after?

Autry Rene Fulbright: Both, actually. The lyrics “the damage is done” coupled with “carry on” convey a door closing and one opening. It’s very sad but also uplifting and inspiring to move forward. The song was a gift to my mother who has since remarried. The fact that Jaleel (Bunton) sings the lead is kind of affirmation for me, like someone else encouraging me with my own words.

QA: The creative decision to use female vocals on your song “I was a Desperate Man,” clearly written from a man’s prospective, seems to suggest that this journey through the suffering of loss is for everyone, that this could very well be the feelings of a man or woman. Was the decision to bring in a female singer an immediate one, or did this come about over the recording process?

Autry: Like using Jaleel on “Walk On Water,” I think I was drawn to Katie Eastburn’s specific vocal style while also wanting to hear those words sung from another perspective. A voice that had more of an emotional detachment from the subject and words, but could still convey the desired emotion. I feel that songs sung by other vocalist aside from me in such a personal project does kind of make it “everyone’s pain and struggle” so to speak, but then it also makes it everyone’s triumph.

QA: With an abundance of established talent lending itself to this collaborative project, do you feel Midnight Masses will serve as a formidable touring force, or rather a safe haven for these artists to come and share experiences and feelings they may not get to express in their other creative projects?

Autry: Both. All of our songs constantly evolve and the version that makes it on the record – with or without guests – is just one variation. On record we aim to create particular textures and moods, and when we perform live we often bring a different energy to the songs. The songs grow and change organically and the arrangements are rarely played the same way twice. This keeps the live show fresh and exciting for us and our audience.

QA: With the roster of collaborating artists in mind, this EP has the distinct fingerprints of the talented rock band, …And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead. I’m a Trail of Dead fan from way back, and am no stranger to their incredibly unique and evolving sound. Is this a sub-branch of that evolution, or do you feel this project stands on its own?

Autry: It’s true that the recording of Midnight Masses was intertwined closely with the sessions of the …Trail of Dead LP, but there’s not much stylistic crossover. I am hugely influenced by Trail’s sense of dynamic,texture and the lyrics of Conrad Keely,though. It’s definitely not an extension or evolution of AYWKUBTTOD. I think from a production end Conrad goes between approaching the next batch of recordings with a Massive Attack feel, coupled with the very different technique of an old seventies psych band so for him and Jason it might be a personal evolution or even a de-evolution. Hopefully we’ll find a common ground between everyone’s ideas.

QA: The praise Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body has already received is remarkable, with comparisons to musicians like The Doors and Billie Holiday. While listening to the EP, I heard traces of bands like The Who and Procol Harum. Do you feel that these likenesses were intentional or stumbled upon?

Autry: Being ravenous collectors of music, be it vinyl or digital, the band has a wide point of reference when is comes to what inspires us. Any likeness to any bands is simply a natural extention of that. I really like The Doors and Billie Holiday, so if anything it’s a huge compliment.

QA: Your MySpace lists influences like Nick Cave and The Zombies. Cave is what some would call an acquired taste, not unlike Tom Waits, and The Zombies, unfortunately, were lost in the shadow of bigger British rock bands like The Beatles and The Stones. Do you feel this is the kind of underground, art house, notoriety you’re aiming for?

Autry: Our influences are pretty broad- from bands like Beatles or Stones, to the ones on our list of influences to newer bands like Comets On Fire or Black Mountain or Battles and even Leonard Cohen or Antony And The Johnsons. It’s not a conscious effort to be put in some musical caste – I’d say that the fact that we tour with bands like Trail Of Dead and Secret Machines and then we’ll do a Thursday tour and then play with Art Brut is testament to the fact that we like all sorts of bands.

I don’t want to quarantine us or anyone as far as our music is concerned. I think more people should listen to Nick Cave and The Zombies. Also, you never sound like your direct influences – Os Mutantes were trying to be exactly like the Beatles. Jason and I were thinking Midnight Masses was going to be a metal band, but we recorded our first song “Deserter’s Song” and we were thinking it sounded kind of Nick Cave-y.

QA: Like a tattoo or an ant frozen in amber, albums often serve as a physical embodiment of an artist’s feelings at the time. Is this album a tribute to the memory of one man’s life or a physical record of the feelings following the loss of a father?

Autry: I’d definitely say the latter – this record came about in the wake of me reflecting on my father’s passing and the life I had up until that. It’s very cathartic/therapeutic to get all of these emotions out, although it can be difficult to confront repeatedly. Still, I find the end result very rewarding, especially when someone tells me how they can relate to the songs.

QA: With a solid four song EP under your belt, the next logical step is a full length album. What can we expect from a Midnight Masses’ full length? Are there any surprises in store for us?

Autry: We have another EP we’re recording now entitled Walking Wounded With The Dying Choir that could see the light of day in a few months. We also have the LP that we’ve started sorting out, much of which will be recorded in a few weeks from now. There is an offshoot of Midnight Masses that will record during the winter – a heavier, louder band called Holy Land, Holy See which feature several members of Masses and marks the return of original MM drummer/current Here We Go Magic member Peter Hale. I have some pretty ambitious ideas for our live show as well- we’re basically learning a brand new set so it’s going to change how we perform. I think we’re in for a few surprises ourselves…hopefully good ones.

Midnight Masses will be playing at Brooklyn Bowl on November 13th in Brooklyn NY. You can download their EP Rapture Ready, I Gazed At The Body starting December 8th and it will be available, on vinyl, in stores December 15th.

Brandon Carlisle/Teenage Bottlerocket

November 18, 2009


Written By: Pablo Cortez Photos By: Dustin Roe

View all of Dustin’s Teenage Bottlerocket photos here.

November 7th Troubadour, Hollywood, CA – Drummer Brandon Carlisle was kind enough to spend a few minutes outside the Troubadour and answer some questions before their set. The set, which kicked off with a little track titled “Skate of Die,” came with all out pop punk goodness. These kids owned the stage like they’ve been playing for twenty-plus years and literally stopped playing their instruments only once to get the wall-to-wall crowd moving. Do yourself a punk favor and pick up their newly released, They Came from the Shadows.

PC: So how do you guys like Hollywood?

BC: It’s awesome. We cruise down the street keeping our eyes peeled, scanning, looking for celebrities. At least a couple b-listers like 12 pack or Bonaducci, but nothing. The Cobra Skulls said they ran into E from ‘Entourage,’ I was pretty envious.

PC: You just released a new album, They Came From The Shadows .

BC: Yeah, September 15th.

PC: Is it any different from your previous album? Anything change for you guys, sound-wise?

BC: I don’t think so. We kept to the same philosophies. We wrote songs the way we’ve always have. I don’t think this record is a huge tangent from the previous stuff. It’s our favorite record and I know that everyone always says that the new record is their favorite but that’s the case in this situation as well. We’re happy with it and it’s another Teenage Bottlerocket record.

PC: Any favorite tracks?


BC:
I dig “Skate or Die.” When he says, “Doing slappy’s at the Circle K,” I was tickled when I heard that. What kid wasn’t on a skateboard, in front of a convenience store goofing off in the parking lot when they were coming up. So when I heard that I was like “Oh yeah, this is good stuff.”

PC: Speaking of that, you guys all skate?

BC: Well Ray and I do. Kody did a little bit growing up but didn’t stick with it as Ray and I did. We’ll cruise the park. We’re not ‘rad’ as it were, but we go for it.

PC: Any cool spots you skate?

BC: Usually around the streets by my house.

PC: What difference do you see between your fans back home and out on the road?

BC: When we’re on the road, there’s a lot more people who know the tunes. When we play back home, it’s a good crowd but they don’t necessarily own the record. They don’t really follow the band. We’re just a local band. There are a few friends that know the tunes but as far as getting into the record, really getting into the band, no one back home is, I don’t think.

PC: How long is your tour? When are you wrapping it up?

BC: 6 weeks. I think we’re out for another 2 weeks.

PC: Any favorite venues or shows you’ve played?

BC: St. Louis was a killer show. It was funny because we played the day after Halloween which was a Sunday this year. We were making excuses for why the show was gonna suck before we even got there. Me and my girlfriend grabbed something to eat at a restaurant next to the venue and got back five minutes before we were on and the place was packed, front to back it was crazy. Phoenix was also good. Orlando was killer, Chicago is always great. Toronto and Boston, those are the ones that stood out.

PC: Can you tell us about your previous band?

BC: Ray and I were in a band called Homeless Wonders. We were more or less a high school band doing the punk rock thing. Booking our friends’ bands from out of town, scratching each other’s backs. Trying to do some networking and doing some small tours, playing small cities. We were on the suburban home label and they were just getting started too. That band broke up in 2000 and we got Teenage Bottlerocket going in 2001.

PC: How did you guys hook up with Fat Wreck Chords?

BC: Mike was a fan of the Lillingtons which is Kody’s previous band. We got booked on a couple gigs with NOFX and he came and checked it out, he was digging it. He gave us a phone call a few weeks later and said he was interested. And it was all downhill from there.

PC: How do you like working with Fat Wreck Chords?

BC: It’s a dream come true, man. Fat Wreck Chords has always been our favorite label and to be a part of it is a big honor for us. Those guys are right on with their opinions with the music just like we are. With their input, we can take it or leave It, but we were into it and it’s great to work with those guys.

PC: Anything you’d like to get out to the fans?

BC: If you get a chance, come check us out on the road.

The Antlers – Peter Silberman Interview

November 11, 2009

Interview By: Jim Markunas
(Editor-In-Chief)

I just recently got into The Antlers after my angriest staffer told me that he actually liked them (and he doesn’t like much… not even me). I figured they had to be pretty good. I asked our friends @ Tell All Your Friends for a copy of Hospice and the rest was history.

The Antlers spent a few years making this album, a concept record about the birth and death of a relationship. Under normal circumstances, I (and the rest of my staff) would call that concept ‘cliche,’ but The Antlers not only tread new musical territory on Hospice, but the fact that they’ve morbidly compared a relationship to a place people go to die appeals to my dark sense of humor. Kudos, Antlers! Kudos!!! We caught up with Peter Silberman for a quick interview.

Jim: First, I’m a big fan of your record “Hospice.” I like the sound you guys are going for. For our readers who are unfamiliar with The Antlers, can you tells us a little about your band- the music you make and why they should buy it?

Peter: The band was really focused on this record. We made the record over the course of a few years and was it released a few months ago. The album tells a story, basically detailing a relationship between two people. It’s atmospheric and narrative. It’s post-rock and electronic.

Jim: That makes sense. I liked (I have a dark sense of humor), the fact the record is about a relationship and you called it “Hospice,” a place where you go to die.

Peter: Thanks.

Jim: Can you tell us why this record took so long to come out?

Peter: A lot of stuff with this record took a long time. The writing took a long time and went through a lot of editing, so that the story would make sense. We wanted it to flow from start to finish. You have to be careful that there are no plot holes. Recording Hospice involved a lot of parts on top of another. We would take time away after recording a song to make sure we were happy with it and that the song worked with the others. It can be frustrating. It was either totally working or totally failing. The lyrics had to make sense to make sure that the story work. After recording, we were happy to have a break.

We finished the album in August/September 2008 and that was when we started touring. We became a solid three piece. We took the album to a couple of places and in the beginning of 2009, we just wanted to get the album out, so we self-released it in March. It gained momentum. We signed with French Kiss in May and they re-released in August. So the album has been alive for about a year. We are surprised it has lasted this long and we are touring and moving forward in a positive direction.

Jim: We totally wanted to catch you live to see how the music translated, but we fell off the guest list.

Peter: Really? When was that?

Jim: It was the last time you were in LA- about a week-and-a-half ago.

Peter: Oh, there was a fiasco, where we had a guest list, and we gave it to the promoter, and it never made it to the door. A lot people could not get in, and we didn’t find out until after the show. We’re not pointing the finger at anyone. Sorry about that and we will be back!

Jim: We definitely want to see you guys live the next time you’re in town.

Peter: Sure, we will make sure you are on the list. It was nothing personal.

Jim: No problem, it happens in music! (laughs)

Peter: It’s a cluster-fuck!

Jim: That leads to my next question. What’s it like working with Syd Butler and FrenchKiss Records? What kind of experience has that been? (No offense to Syd or FrenchKiss, this just happened to be my next question!!!)

Peter: It’s been really great! They are great running a label. It is a fair relationship and they’re fair people. We got really lucky with them. I can’t think of a better relationship a band could have with a label.

Jim: That’s good. You don’t often hear that from musicians. It’s refreshing.

Peter: Yeah, it’s been great, and I could have never expected to have this experience. They are great people!

Jim: What are some of your influences? What is in your CD player now? What has helped influence the sound of The Antlers?

Peter: Well, we were into indie rock while we were recording Hospice and we were listening to Sigor Ros, and stuff like that, but now we’re on a big electronic kick. We’re a little tired of indie rock. We went into another direction. We’re in a van now and Mouse On Mars is on the stereo and they’re good.

Jim: Are there any bands you toured with that you like?

Peter: We got lucky and we are having a great time working with other bands. They are a pleasure to watch. Holly Miranda for example, is so talented and wonderful and her record is about to come out and it will be a big deal.

Jim: Is Holly a label mate?

Peter: No, she’s on XL. Check her out.

Jim: I have some silly questions that my writers wanted me to ask. If you were to attend a baseball game and buy a hot dog, which condiment would you prefer- mustard or ketchup and why?

Peter: Definitely ketchup. I hate mustard! I have always hated mustard. It’s weird.

Jim: In Chicago (where I’m from) you would never catch anyone putting ketchup on a hot dog. That’s blasphemy!

Peter: It’s a NY thing too. My mom was always on me for having hot dogs with ketchup.

Jim: What was the last good movie you guys have seen?

Peter: I just saw “Synecdoche, New York.” I thought it was incredible.

Jim: What was that movie about?

Peter: It has Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener. It was directed by Charlie Kaufman. It’s hard to describe, and I’m still trying to get my head around it. Basically, Phillip is a play director and he constructs a world within a world. He discovers he has a rare medical condition and he starts to lose touch with reality. As the movie progresses you can’t tell what’s real and what’s in his head. It is amazing.

Jim: Is it more or less confusing than a David Lynch film?

Peter: It makes more sense than a David Lynch film. It’s not as absurd. When I used to watch “Twin Peaks” there would be random things that didn’t make sense. I ask myself, “Why is that there? There’s no reason for that.” Sometimes, David Lynch’s films are weird for the sake of weird. In “Synecdoche,” there’s a reason why things are happening; you just have to figure it out.

Jim: I’ll have to check it out.

Peter: Yeah, check it out.

Jim: There is anything you would like to say to our readers or your fans?

Peter: I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

Jim: Thank you for the interview.

Peter: I hope we can see you the next time we are in LA.

Jim: Of course! Like I said, “We’re on a mission.”

Peter: Thank you and take care.

David Salidor Gives Us The Scoop

November 10, 2009

Interview By: Victoria Hill
(Urban/Pop Editor)

The fun that was had interviewing Eric Martin and Mark Bego was so immense, we couldn’t resist hitting up their publicist for a quick profile! Veteran publicist David Salidor is the press man for the stars, and has handled highly successful publicity campaigns for some of the biggest celebrities in the world. His resumé boasts campaigns for Madonna, Mark Bego, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Al Green, and ZZ Top, just to name a few. David’s company, dis Company, was and is right on the cusp of today’s best pop music, and has been able to change with the times – Think Susan Blond with less outsourcing, and you’ve got David Salidor, a publicist with the charisma and business sense that New York is famous for. We caught up with David for a quick Q&A.

Victoria Hill: CWG has written about some of the artists you represent (Mark Bego and Eric Martin). How did you become a publicist?

David Salidor: I grew up in a music business household. My father worked for the legendary Decca Records, running their PR department; my mother owned a record store. Decca in the 50’s was one of the biggest labels around. Being a typical kid, I didn’t want to learn any of it and resisted the best I could, but when push came to shove, I kind of knew that end of the business intimately. I started off by doing concert reviews for Billboard, then some local papers in Long Island, NY, where I grew up. At one, Good Times, Kurt Loder was my editor, and David Fricke, my assistant editor. I also worked at the local progressive radio station, WLIR, and at a club called My Father’s Place … which was the premiere spot on the East Coast. I think once I realized what I wanted to do, I went out full tilt.

VH: You have worked with Madonna, Run-DMC, Phil Collins, Deborah Gibson, and,The Moody Blues. What stories can you share about working with such diverse artists?

DS: Each artist, each campaign was an amazing journey. The Moody Blues were always a favorite band, so to have my first job at their label, London Records was totally awesome. Truth be told, they couldn’t have been nicer, so my role was really continuing what they had already built up. Now that I think about it, I never, ever had an awkward moment with them. Total professionals. In fact, when I saw Justin Hayward years later, at Q104.3 of all places, he couldn’t have been any nicer. Great group, great guys!

Madonna was quite an adventure as well. I was actually first working with her producer/bf at the time, John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez. She always listened … always! So, I knew she was really taking to heart all the madness around her. I knew she was destined for success … no question in my mind of her abilities and talent. She was truly original, from start to finish. I’ll tell you a funny story: she’s apparently moved back to New York full time … and, bought herself a new apartment to boot. The new apartment is directly across the street from where I used to live! Maybe that’s a sign?

Run DMC were out-and-out brilliant. A little rough around the edges, but they were clearly on the precipice of something so brand new. It was such a rich, rewarding time. I was proud to be on board. A lot of that credit, for their success has got to go to Cory Robbins at Profile Records, who signed them. Cory’s always been one of the best out there … and, still is. Phil Collins and Genesis were great …. one of my favorite bands at the time. It was right after Peter Gabriel left, so it was something of a re-birth of the band. Tremendous talent there.

Debbie/Deborah Gibson was the one magical campaign for me I think. I was there right from the start … in fact, a good six months before the first single ever came out in 1986. And, let me tell you, the talent was there … from top to bottom. From the 12-track recording studio at the house in Long Island, to a vivacious personality. She’s a doll… we still consult her to this day. I saw her last month at Sardi’s in New York. Tremendous, singular talent. Definitely the real deal! We also work with Micky Dolenz from The Monkees and what a delight! Such a professional and such a talent. He’s been recording a tribute album to Carole King, and I predict that will be a major release in 2010.

Plus, Micky has a tremendous sense of humor … which always helps!

VH: You used to freelance for Billboard, Penthouse and Rock & Soul, just to name a few. How did you get involved in writing and is that something you want to continue?

DS: I know for a fact that my background in writing, editing, and the like, has prepared me very well for being a publicist. I know what the writers want, what they don’t like and, how best to serve it up. I generally know what they’re looking for, and if I can deliver that, most likely it will get used. A good writer, doesn’t like his time wasted … but who does? So, if I can produce for them what they need … they will run with it. In these times of papers going under and staffs getting slashed, it is incumbent on me to work as efficiently as possible. The fact that I’m still here 26 years later, is proof. A client and I may not agree, but I can promise that client that I will deliver the most efficient pitch possible.

VH: You were the founding member of the New Music Seminar. What is the New Music Seminar?

DS: It’s interesting that you’re asking me what it was. Years back, it was the #1 music industry business function in the country. The CMJ event kind of mirrors what we started. Tom Silverman, Danny Heaps, Mark Josephson, Joel Webber, and I began it because at the time we had trouble getting into THE industry event of the time, conducted by Billboard Magazine. We couldn’t secure the proper accreditation that we felt we deserved … and, started the NMS. And, then we became the beast.

I stepped away after the first 4 or 5, and it continued to 1995. I found that as it/we grew … it was becoming harder and harder to be fully objective … which is why we started it in the first place. Silverman started it up again this year and I attended the NY-event. It was terrific to see it happen all over again, but this one was held at NYU in New York, where as we’d take over a major NY-hotel last time. The downtime really hurt, but, I’d be proud to be involved in it again. It really was started with the best of intentions and we really created a lot of good will the first time around. We held the first one at SIR Studios in NYC in June of 2008.

VH: What’s your advice for people wanting to get into the entertainment business?

DS: The entertainment business is alive and well … and, continuing to evolve. My advice is to do everything you can … read, listen, attend shows, and meet as many people as possible. The more input you can give yourself; it’s only going to help.

VH: You have done so much in your career, is there anything else you would like to do?

DS: It’s funny, I really think the one thing I’d like to do again is find the right artist; the right band … and, make it happen for them … all over again! Do I still have the thirst, the desire, to do it one more time? I sure do! I continue to be amazed by the quality of artists and the music out there. I’m still seeing as many shows as possible and even some of the so-called legacy artists. I started in this because of the music, and, I remain because of the music.

VH: Your company (dis Company) is about 25 years old, how did you start your own company?

DS: I was actually between jobs, and figured if I was going to invest so much energy in this, I’d do it for myself. When you work for someone else …. When something great happens, they get the credit. If something bad happens, you get the blame. Its one of those live-by-the-sword; die-by-the-sword propositions. I want to control my own destiny. Some people can, some can’t. It’s the only way I can work.

VH: You work with a lot of artists that span across all music genres. What is your favorite music genre?

DS: My tastes do go all over the board. I can put on Chick Corea in the morning and vintage Hall And Oates in the afternoon and Dave Mason at night. I like it all … always have.

VH: There’s an old saying that any press is good press. Do you agree?

DS: I used to back that adage 100%, although withal the Internet options available like never before, I think ‘good’ press has got to be ‘good’ press. My father used to say “as long as they spell your name right.” I still agree with that, but with all the crazy situations out there, I think you do have to keep an eye on it. I’m open to anything … but, anything positive and with a little class attached to it.

VH: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

DS: When a campaign works, that’s lovely. But, in all honesty, they’ve all been my favorites. One of the perks of having your own shop is that you pick and choose.

I wouldn’t have chosen any of them if I didn’t serious believe we could hit a home run. I’m not in the business of failing, and can honestly say I’ve done my best job possible on each of them. You do what you think, what your experience tells you is the tried and tested way.

The Eric Martin Interview

November 8, 2009

Interview By: Jim Markunas
(Editor-In-Chief)

America loves a good come-back. You may know Eric from his 80s metal band, Mr. Big; their hit song “To Be With You” is as standard in elevators as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But… Don’t call Eric Martin a “come-back kid!” He’s been pulling a Robbie Williams for the last decade, touring incessantly and becoming a huge sensation in the international market while flying under the radar in the U.S. Yes… Eric Martin may have only a handful of hits in the United States (it’s been 10 years since Mr. Big or Eric have done a U.S. tour), but in Japan, Eric is a king among men. We caught up with Eric via phone to discuss his new album Timeless, a collection of cover-songs originally sung by female singers, now tastefully and unpretentiously performed by Eric and a band of famous Japanese studio musicians.

Jim: You’re a male rocker doing an acoustic album of all female songs. Tell us about that.

Eric: The band I was in (Mr. Big) just reunited. We did a tour in Japan, Europe, and South East Asia. I got back to the US a week ago. I was approached by the Japanese to do this project and in between touring, I recorded Timeless. In Japan, I am known as Mr. Vocalist. When Mr. Big broke up in 2002, I fell down the ladder, but I was on the ladder. My career was more overseas, I was doing solo work and was touring. I didn’t do much in the US; I would play some solo shows and charity shows, but for the most part, I was kinda like an ex-patriot. My mom used to say, they only play that one song (“To Be With You”), but in England for example, I am played and written about all the time.

Timeless was a challenge, but I thought, “I do different things- I am a crooner, a rocker.” That’s the way I roll. My mom has passed, which bums me out, but she would have enjoyed it. I’m still doing the Mr. Big thing, but right now, I’m in my crooner shoes.

Some of these songs, I grew up with, like “Superstar” by The Carpenters. Karen Carpenter had a lot of soul, not sure about Richard though. I had the album as a kid and really dug it. “You Got A Friend” by Carol King, was another. “No One” by Alicia Keys is also pretty catchy. As a man, it’s cool to take on a female song and give it a ‘man’s point of view.’ I’m not trying to take away from the original songs, just putting my own spin on them.

Jim: It’s an original concept. I was listening to the album with a girlfriend and she remarked how all the songs were done by females.

Eric: It is, but others have done similar concepts. Rod Stewart and Michael Buble, for example, have done Motown, which I have thought about doing. Luther Vandross did a cover of “Superstar” years ago, but I’m not comparing my version to his. There’s a shock value, where someone will stay, “Is that the same guy who sang metal? Now he’s in an Armani suit?” There’s still some edge, and I’m digging it. They’re all good songs! I altered some of the arrangements so they would fit my style, but they still have the same spirit – just a different attitude.

Jim: What I liked was the fact that the album was not over-produced unlike some the original songs. It had a more honest, stripped-down feel.

Eric: The band on the album was Japanese; they are all rockers, the same as me. I didn’t want to copy anyone or do a ‘Karaoke album.’ When Timeless first came to me, it did sound like Karaoke, so I changed the arrangements to sound more like me. The album worked in Japan… America may be another story. I’m taking my chances!

Jim: Will there be a U.S. tour?

Eric: I don’t have any plans, but maybe there will be TV appearances and press. I didn’t see myself doing this, but it’s good. It’s interesting being a crooner. My dad would listen to this kind of music. My dad played drums in The Four Aces, with Doris Day and he had a great career. He played with everybody and that’s what he did, and now I’m the one on tour. I just got home after 5 months on the road and my kids give me the same look that I gave my Dad and it’s weird!

When Mr. Big broke up in 2002, and I would tour as a solo artist, I would play with bands in Europe who didn’t speak English. My wife and I had kids and I’ve been just going ever since. I have been in Japan off and on for two years. I would be doing 90 TV appearances a day! That’s worse than touring. It’s different. On tour, you get to the venue, change clothes and hit the stage. Now, I’m wearing suits, wearing makeup…it’s crazy.

Jim: When you go to Japan and other countries, is it like a vacation?

Eric: Not really, it’s work. I might get a day or two to do tourist things, but being on the road is work. You see the cornfields of Kansas and Rome. But… Doing the press and tour for Timeless is rewarding and a new chapter. I’m 45-and-change (48 years old) and I’m having a great time.

Jim: We like re-birth in America.

Eric: It sells. I’m in a good period in my life. Mr. Big is back together and I’m struggling, but I’m lucky… I’ve had big hits worldwide and they’ve stood the test of time. I still hear “To Be With You” everywhere. I love being where I’m at… there are no more monkeys on my back. America loves retro and a comeback.

Jim: Like Britney Spears, America loved watching her grow, fall apart and come back.

Eric: True. I’ve noticed that in Japan, people don’t care about that. I didn’t think I was making a comeback, but I guess I am. I was not aware of that.

Jim: I guess I’m the first to tell you.

Eric: Thanks…

Jim: What else are you up to?

Eric: I’m leaving Sunday to go to Japan. I just did a Christmas album. Christmas in Japan, is different than in America. There are Christmas trees and decorations, but the pomp and Jesus parts are taken out. Christmas is more for lovers, not for families. I sang four or five Japanese songs- ones for lovers.

Jim: Christmas is more like Valentine’s Day in Japan?

Eric: Yes, but with a Christmas wreath! Every place is different. I also sang “White Christmas” for the album. There are also about two Christmas songs on the Timeless album. “White Christmas” is a classic. I also did “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” with Japanese artist Miho. She is considered like Christina Aguilera or Beyonce. My kids, have had the chance to come to Japan to see Mr. Big play, but they fell asleep two songs in.

Jim: How old are your kids?

Eric: The twins are five.

Jim: They’re still at the cute stage, but they’ll be teenagers soon, and think their parents are lame!

Eric: Yeah, people tell me that. I was out with my kids, and I was holding their hands. They saw their friends and didn’t want to be seen holding hands with their Dad. I thought, “This is odd, this should happen later in life!” My friend, Jack Blades from Night Ranger, would say that when his kids where teenagers they didn’t want to listen to the songs or go up on stage. “Do we have to listen to ‘Sister Christian’ again?” Don’t get me wrong, they love their dad, but when you’re a teenager, you’re into different things. My kids love music, they want to be in the business…one wants to sing and one wants to be a manager.

Jim: How do you feel about the future of the music industry and that records aren’t selling?

Eric: You care what I think? I don’t know! Albums aren’t selling, but I’m lucky that I’m touring, selling albums and I can pay the bills. The industry has changed so many times. We’ve gone from vinyl to CD’s to I don’t know what. Technology keeps moving forward. You still can be paid in the music business…doing TV, movies, etc. I go to record stores and there’s so many bands, that all the albums are are on the floor and not on the shelves.

I can play clubs and arenas. Can I still sell albums? I don’t know. It’s frustrating, but I’m lucky to have what I have.

Jim: Why did you go with a major label instead of going with an indie?

Eric: That was a fluke. I haven’t had a major label since Atlantic. They (Sony) are offering me work. Wouldn’t you?

Jim: Yes!

Eric: I have worked with indie labels. In the industry, people want another “To Be With You” and say that the new songs don’t sound like “Be With You,” but you can’t make every song sound like that. Sony International brought me in on their domestic label, domestic being Japan. I’m their only American act, so it’s interesting. I’ve done so much and it’s selling.

I was in rock magazines and now I’m in fashion magazines. It is awesome, but it’s a transition. I love being in the studio and being creative. The grooming and window-dressing is odd, but I think I can wear my own clothes as a rocker, but as a crooner… it’s different. I’m not used it, but I do love it. Take a second listen to Timeless. I hope you’ll still like it!

The Wayne Wilkins Interview

November 4, 2009

Written By: Darwin Green
(Senior Editor)

Photo By: Tyler Clinton

Though born and raised in England, the work of Wayne Wilkins hits close to home for the average American pop listener. The songs he has co-written and produced have played millions of times on the radio, both here and abroad, and on personal stereos worldwide. He is an international talent, and his producing credits include the likes of Beyonce, Natasha Bedingfield, and Kylie Minogue, just to name a few.

Something like this might go to someone’s head very quickly, but talking with Wilkins, one hears a genuine, down-to-earth guy who likes to have a good conversation and tell stories, not the typical insulated fame-entrenched celebrity one typically imagines behind the success stories of multiple musical hits (for example, one hears of Phil Spector). One gets the sensation by talking with him that he knows himself too well to become self-centered, and furthermore chooses to acknowledge the fact of his talent over any ego-gratifying pretense.

In other words, he’s an easy guy to talk to, and has a lot to talk about. His story demonstrates that a love for one’s passion provides the map for anyone looking to travel further along their dreams.

DG: It says in your biography that you chose music over sports. What was the appeal in music that made you decide?

WW: I think what it was, when I was younger, is that I knew that I had a much more natural ability for music. I knew I could work professionally in music. Even if I loved sports I knew I wasn’t good enough to do that for my career. I think in the end I knew I had a talent for doing songwriting and composing music, so…I think that was the deciding factor.

DG: It seems that you have a talent for the piano. If you hadn’t pursued a career in recording would you have gone on to pursue life as a concert pianist?

WW: I think I might have gone on to a career maybe playing as a pianist in a jazz band or playing in some kind of arrangement where I’m interacting with other members of a band, but I think as a classical pianist, I got to a level where I was really good at playing classical music but I was never going to be as good as others who had been in the Royal College of Music or trained formally from an early age. I thought, “I’m going to be 18 and there’s going to be a 12-year-old down the corridor playing Rachmaninov.”

I think I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to be at the level that other people were as a classical pianist, but at the same time I had a real talent for writing music. I would sit down at the piano and just play, and just start coming up with stuff. So at that point I knew I was going to go into a career in music producing and songwriting rather than just playing.

DG: How has your involvement on both the production and performance side of music influenced the way you’ve handled artists in recording sessions? Can you relate to them better than if you had only taught yourself producing?

WW: First of all, I’ll talk about my background. My background in music was first and foremost classical, and I went on to learn jazz. I think what happened as I got older and I started to listen more and more to what was on the radio, what happened is that I started incorporating a lot of that into what I was doing.

And I started working with lots of different people. By the time I was in my early twenties I’d be working with more people who sang formally in a classical style and then I’d be working with people who had more pop and rock style. To me, it was being in that environment where I could fuse all those different styles.

I find myself being able to relate to a lot of singers and a lot of different musicians because of having that experience and not just doing one thing.

The other thing that I was very lucky to do was to work in a studio called Olympic Studios in London, where I kind of started off my professional career learning about how instruments and strings and drums are recorded, so I was in an environment where I was learning a lot of different styles of music with lots of different types of instruments and singers and musicians and all that so I think I can relate to a lot of different musicians because of all that.

DG: Let’s talk about pop stars. Tell me about the first time being in front of a camera while producing, and why was there an appeal for you?

WW: I’ve got to be honest about this. It’s a really daunting thing, because the most important thing on an artists’ time is trying to capture the most magical performance you can from them, and that’s hard to do in that situation because having cameras there intensifies everything.

If you’re trying to get a vocal out of a singer, which we were at the time, you tend to find that the people singing when the cameras were on behaved in one way and acted a certain way.

Sometimes it really helped, but then some of them were a little bit more worried about how they looked in front of a camera. So what we had to do in that situation, obviously, the camera crew had a job to do and I had a job to do, is let them record what they needed footage-wise and I recorded as soon as the cameras were off. We managed to find a compromise there. That was my first experience with it, and it was actually quite fun. But at the same point, everybody had their job to do, so we had to find the balance there.

DG: Do you foresee any major changes occurring within the music industry as a whole, and how are you preparing for it now, stylistically, technologically, or otherwise?

WW: What I see mainly is how business is shaping music. Obviously music stars are going to involve themselves in musical styles that are getting more popular. For example, at one time pop music will be popular and then rock music will start taking over, especially in England where you have so many different styles going on. The change is much more rapid there than over in America. I think that’s always going to go on, irrespective of the business of music.

In terms of the business of music now, obviously people are downloading a lot less albums and having singles, and becoming a producer of singles is becoming much more important. It’s not necessarily the greatest thing because it becomes more about having a radio hit than developing an artist from the ground up.

Reading lots of magazines and reading about how people access music now, people and kids are downloading music for free. Talking to a lot of kids, you get the impression that they feel they should be allowed to have a lot of music for free, and they love it; they just want to go on their computers and download it. Part of the challenge of that will be how to monetize that and make use of the fact that they’re downloading it.

Sometimes it’s not downloaded legally, but you can’t really pretend. I don’t think you can hold that stuff back. I think music is one of those things you’ve just got to let go free and people will have to be able to download it, but at the same point, it’s learning different strategies to make a business out of it. For me, I’m just reading about what people are doing and what record companies are doing and models they’re actually using.

I’d like to be able to work with an artist, rather than have labels approach me for singles, in order for them to have a complete body of work. Literally, you’ll have a complete album available for download and people will go on and just pick their favorites. It’s a bit of a shame that albums don’t have the same treatment that they did back in the day.

DG: Thank you for your time. It was certainly an honor to speak with you.

Links to some of Wayne Wilkins’ songs:

Natasha Bedingfield – Single

Natasha Bedingfield – These Words

Cheryl Cole – Fight for This Love

Beyonce – Sweet Dreams

Hot Chelle Rae – Nash Gives Up The Goods

November 3, 2009

Interview By: Pablo Cortez

PC: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience recording your debut album, “Lovesick Electric?” What was it like? What did you learn? Was it as expected?

Nash: Well, we are very fortunate to have been able to work with what I would call our dream team of talent for this record. Between Hollywood and Malibu, where we got to work with Eric Valentine and Butch Walker, to finishing the record with Matt Radosevich in Nashville… It has turned out to be everything we wanted and more. With Valentine we really had to step our game up as far as getting as close to perfect as possible. Every moment had it’s decided role, and it makes an incredible picture.

Being in the studio standing next to Butch Walker was kind of surreal to us, since watching and learning from him since R.K. and I started writing together. He’s a vocal arrangement genius, which hits home with us(we share a mutual obsession with Queen). As a last minute surprise Mark Endert agreed to mix most of the album. He’s the only person we desired to work with, that hadn’t been in the equation. He brought this whole together. All in all, “Lovesick Electric” is everything, and way more than we dreamed of.

PC: How did you settle on the album title, “Lovesick Electric?” What significance does it hold?

Nash: It’s a lyric in the bridge of “I Like to Dance,” but before that, we had written a song called “Lovesick Electric.” It was a phrase we made up at random, and kind of gave our own meaning to. To us, it defines being addicted to music, or being a slave to the groove. I remember one day R.K. called me and said “I know the title of our first album.” I knew it before he said it. It’s been one of the few unwavering decisions since it’s inception.

PC: The track “I Like to Dance” has gotten some exposure on shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” & “Dancing With The Stars.” Are you guys fans of the shows? What is your reaction to hearing your song played on national primetime television?

Nash: Those are both very addicting shows! No matter how many times we hear our music played during a TV show, it always makes us a bit giddy. Especially if we don’t know it’s going to happen.

PC: How and why did you guys decide to sign with Jive Records? What has that relationship been like?

Nash: Jive was really one of the only labels to get our goal/vision/dream. Every other label we had gone to, indie or major, had been sort of clueless as to what they planned to do. Not only with us, with the way that the industry is constantly changing. Jive seemed to really have it together, from their track record, to their support for us. They’re in this for more than a brief flash. We plan on making the long haul.

PC: I know you’ve just started the ‘music business’ side of things but is there any advice you may have for current up and coming bands looking to get signed?

Nash: It’s all about material. We’ve seen some of the best musicians be turned down because they don’t have something “special.” We’ve also seen people get signed who could barely play their instruments, all because of having great songs. Write, write, write(and yes, get really good at your instrument). If you have great songs, people will come to you. After that’s set in motion, you need a live show that makes people want more.

PC: What’s the best part about touring?

Nash: Well, on this current Third Eye Blind tour, I have to say that everyone getting together for a bus party after a show is a pretty good way to end each night. But NOTHING makes an impact on us like meeting and hanging out with new(and longtime) fans. Anytime someone comes up to us and says we’re their new favorite band, or that a song spoke to them, it makes our night.

PC: Any favorite gigs, venues that you’ve played?

Nash: The Stanley Theatre was one of the most incredible buildings we’ve played. The fans were great, and everything was painted with gold leaf trim. Pretty cool to see. Also, on the other end of the spectrum is the House of Blues in Cleveland OH. Rock and Roll to the max. Dirty sweaty and loud, and we loved it.

PC: What’s one style or piece of music you just hate? And I mean loath, like you want to see it banished from all formats and all airwaves?

Nash: There may be a song or two by this artist that is acceptable. Ugh, I HATE this question so much, but since you asked… Flo Rida. Unless it’s featuring T-Pain(one of our favorites) or someone great…. the radio is getting turned off.

PC: Can’t wait to see how you’re music video comes out, what was that like? I hear you shot at Crazy Gideon’s in Los Angeles, did you get to meet him?

Nash: We did! He even did a cameo in our video(a scene with Stephanie Pratt). It was the coolest experience. We arrived at 3pm, and left at 6am. We were tired for a few days after, but it came out better than we imagined. It’s wild, and crazy, and fun, and a bit rebellious;). Hope everyone gets to see it SOON.

PC: I know you’ve got a lot of touring coming up, what’s the game plan for you guys, post tour?

Nash: We’ll go home, relax, write more songs, and figure out where to play next. Sadly I’m sure there will be a couple of overdue bills too… may have to ignore those. haha

Andrew Hoover Tells All

October 29, 2009

Interview By: Quinn Allan

QA: Before you were a musician you had a different career in mind, that of a chef. Did your dabbling in the culinary arts provide you with any unique experiences that have come in handy in your life as a professional musician?

AH: There is a lot of hustle and bustle in the professional kitchen. You might have 5 saute pans on the range, a few pans finishing in the oven, the cabernet demi glace is warming on the side for the filet and more tickets are printing out–Mean while you’re trying to plate table 8’s Rosemary rack of lamb with it’s fig chutney and white bean- truffle puree.

This scenario reminds me of the hustle and bustle on the road as well. Getting up early for an interview only to drive 7 hours to the next venue, winding in and out of traffic because you’re cutting it close to doors opening at the venue, soundchecking, performing, packing up, sleeping and doing it all over again the next morning.

QA: Your blog, featured at www.andrewhoover.com, is ripe with your affections for a certain
fermented fruit. What sparked your interest in wine? Is it by mere coincidence that your choice of drink is equal in sophistication to the style of music you play?

AH: My professional kitchen days allowed me to sample fine culinary dishes and at one point I remember being 14 years old chatting with the other chefs before service started and the restaurant’s Sommelier gave me a sample of a $250 Barbolo as an educational experience to sophisticate and expand my palate. I love art and the art of wine is just another delicious dimension of the vast world of art.

QA: When a young man tells his parents he¹s quitting college in search of music fame, the response is very rarely “You have my blessings.” You either have some pretty neat parents or your persuasive powers are uncanny! Was it really that easy?

AH: At first they had a little difficulty swallowing the “drop-out” talk. They then allowed me to take one year off of school as a trial period to see the kind of progress I was making. It happened that in that one year off of school I was picked up by Rock Ridge Music and started recording Chances, Stances & Romances. It was this progress that opened their eyes that I might be able to make a living for myself with this job. Of course they would still like to see their son graduate from a university and that certainly is not a closed door.

QA: You credit learning your technique from YouTube videos and concert DVDs, were these your instructors or were you professionally trained as well?

AH: Youtube videos, concert DVDs, as well as some of my very talented friends who have given me tips and advice along the way.

QA: Making the transition from struggling artist to touring musician can yield some unexpected turns. Are you adjusting well to your new life, or is it a bumpy road?

AH: I am very much a home body. I am a big family man so being away from home a lot can be tough. I have had days where a 10 hour drive turns into a 13-hour-drive due to traffic and I get to the venue 35 minutes before I have to hit stage. All the while I went to bed at 4 AM the night before and had to get up at 6:30 to make that trek. Somedays are bumpier than others, but I
take no prisoners.

QA: All musicians have a MySpace, few expect it to directly lead them to the success they crave. Were you surprised when you first found out you were being checked out by a label?

AH: yes! I got in the habit of sending “Friend requests” to the myspace fans of my musical heroes. It just so happened that one of the fans I friend requested worked at a record label. It was completely unexpected and frankly very lucky.

QA: Ray LaMontagne comes up a lot on your lists of heroes and influences. Do you think you’ll open for him one day? Or will he be opening for you soon?

AH: Ray LaMontagne is one of a kind. His live performances are so raw, so emotional, passionate and dynamic. It’s incredible how he can go from a sultry whisper to filling the room with his gruff, seething, lion-like roar. I very much hope one day I can open for that man.

QA: Now at the start of your career, what is the high mark you want to reach by the end of it?

AH: I would love to be able to headline and fill up rooms like the Beacon Theatre (NYC), Amos Southend (Charlotte), Paradise Rock Club (Boston), tour in my own tour bus and have the opportunity to collaborate with some of my musical heroes.

QA: Tell me about the album. How was recording in the studio? Did your songs evolve over the recording process?

AH: I have never recorded or played with a band before. The songs I have written were written very much for just my guitar and my voice. With the help of my band mates Johnny Pisano (bass) and Rich Smalley (drums) as well as my producer Jason Spiewak we were able to transform and formulate these acoustic tunes into a fun, full band, dance vibe CD.

QA: Despite technology making it easier for listeners to absorb new music from home, artists seem to agree that touring is still the best way to connect with fans. How has hitting the road helped you connect with your audience?

AH: There is an energy and passion in my live performance that simply cannot be captured on tape. It is a huge element to my music that needs to be absorbed in order to experience my music as a whole. Playing live allows the audience to see, feel, smell and taste this passion.