James Williamson And The Pink Hearts Live Debut

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND THE PINK HEARTS play El Rey Theatre Jun. 29; photo Heather Harris

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND THE PINK HEARTS play El Rey Theatre Jun. 29; photo Heather Harris

“About this time last year, I started feeling like I wanted to write some more music,” guitarist, James Williamson (The Stooges, Iggy Pop) recalled. “But I really don’t write lyrics. I’m just no good at it. At this point in life I’ve finally admitted it, so I don’t even try anymore.”

JAMES WILLIAMSON; photo Heather Harris

JAMES WILLIAMSON; photo Heather Harris

He reached out to a couple of people, including frontman, Frank Meyer (Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs), who played with Williamson on his previous L.A. show for his solo album, Re-Licked.

“I knew he could sing and I knew he had a good stage presence,” Williamson divulged. “But I didn’t know if he could write lyrics.

“I contacted Frank because it would be great if someone could write lyrics and sing them, too. He just jumped all over that. He could turnaround lyrics like in a day. So as quick as I could feed him new riffs, he could write lyrics to them.”

All of this songwriting resulted in the album Behind the Shade, a new project called James Williamson and The Pink Hearts which not only features Williamson on guitar and Meyer on vocals but also vocalist/violinist, Petra Haden.

The group will perform for the first time Jun. 29 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles followed by a show in San Francisco, marking the live debut of the new material. If all goes well, more dates will follow.

“We’ll focus on the album but that’s only 11 songs and so that’s not enough for a set,” Williamson explained. “So, we’ll kind of dip into my old catalogue and pull out another 9 or 10 songs and fill out the set.

“It will be a mixed bag, but I think you’ll like it because this is really a different band in a lot of ways. When you hear Frank and Petra sing some of my old catalogue it’s like a brand-new song.”

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND THE PINK HEARTS play El Rey Theatre Jun. 29; photo Sarah Remetch

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND THE PINK HEARTS play El Rey Theatre Jun. 29; photo Sarah Remetch

Joining the trio on stage will be the regulars from the album, drummer Michael Urbano (Smash Mouth), bassist Jason Carmer (Cat Power), and keyboardist Gregg Foreman. Andrea Watts, who wasn’t on the album but who played with Williamson on his last Los Angeles show, will be doing backing vocals.

Williamson has long been noted for both his aggressive guitar playing and sound on 1973’s Raw Power, a classic, explosive, rock album put out by Iggy and The Stooges. His amp-guitar combination came from a suggestion by the engineer at CBS Studio when they recorded in London.

“My go to guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Custom,” Williamson stated. “I’ve pretty much played that for my entire career. Yes, I’ve had many other guitars. And yes, I had many other guitars before I started playing those but that was the guitar that sort of established my sound on Raw Power and that along with the Vox AC30 is kind of my sound.

“Since then though, I’ve started using a kind of imitation of that guitar put out by a company called Eastman. I put my pickups in them cuz I have some custom-wound pickups that are terrific. You’ll see, if you come to the show, I’ll play a Gibson Les Paul, and also an Eastman, and believe it or not, for a couple of things, I’ll even play a Telecaster, so it’s all over the place.”

He still prefers to keep his guitar effects “old school”, using a treble boost pedal for a little extra sustain when playing solos. That’s pretty much it.

“But I do have something that’s a little bit unique to me,” Williamson said. “In my Eastman guitar I have a Piezo electric bridge that I had them put on the guitar, it comes from Fishman. What I had them do is to split it out, make it a stereo signal. So, I have the magnetic pickups and the Piezo pickups, and it goes out stereo, but I can split it outside of the guitar and send one of those sides to an acoustic emulator, so I get a very convincing acoustic sound and at the same time, I can also get the magnetic sound so that I can play some acoustic numbers on the album. It’s pretty cool.”

Williamson put his guitar aside for the tech world for many years, claiming both things required total commitment. Picking it back up was difficult, but he managed.

“Probably the more amazing thing was that I managed to do the tech thing which was really a big sort of existential gap,” Williamson laughed.

“Let’s just say it was difficult from time to time but I managed it cuz it was so exciting. I mean tech at that time was really friggin’ amazing with all the things that have happened. It was a very interesting sort of front row seat.”

Fortunately, he has picked his guitar up again and with renewed songwriting, a little bit Americana, a little bit “Stooges”, the new music fits nicely with the new millennium.

Nothing Fishy About Jack Russell’s Great White

JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE will play The Coach House Jun. 15; press photo

JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE will play The Coach House Jun. 15; press photo

“It’s a fine line between insanity and genius and I walk the edge of that line every day,” Jack Russell declared while explaining that he never gets bored, even on the road.

“Well you know I’m the kind of guy that can have fun in a shoebox, I entertain myself, I never get bored. I think when people say they’re bored they’re just boring. For me, and I don’t mean this to sound conceited or whatever, but I’m my own favorite company, you know? I make myself laugh. I’m a total goofball.”

Jack Russell’s Great White’s current tour will stop at The Coach House Jun. 15, but there’s not much he needs to bring along.

“Just my underwear,” Russell laughed. “The only thing I take on the road and is really important is my warm up tape and Throat Coat tea. Everything else kind of finds it way. Of course, I have my own microphone and things like that but other than that I’m pretty self-sufficient.”

The longest tour Russell ever went on was for 16 brutal months, without any breaks, not even going home once.

“Just tour, tour, tour, tour, play our shows,” Russell recalled. “Yea, it was pretty grueling. I get home and my kid is 3 inches taller. My wife found somebody else. It was like ‘Oh hello. Goodbye.’ Being on the road is very hard on relationships. I mean it really is. I’m on my third wife right now. So, we’ll see how that goes.”

Last year saw the release of He Saw It Comin’ which featured 11 songs written by Russell and guitarist Robby Lochner. The pair work well together, bouncing ideas off one another. Russell writes lyrics, but not music, although sometimes he comes up with a melody such as for the song “She Moves Me”. He then sort of hummed it to Lochner so he could figure out the chords.

“It’s about a guy that falls in love with a prostitute,” Russell began. “She ends up staying with him all night with their first tryst. So, he thinks she’s all with him, so he moves in with her. Then he finds he’s the one being left alone and she’s out there doing her thing. He can’t help it cuz he’s in love with her.

“And it’s all based on life experience. That happened to me at one point. I fell in love with this porn star and she’s ‘I’m off to work’. I finally woke up to the fact, I mean I always knew what she was doing but then one day I was like ‘this is crazy’. She’s going off to work, having sex with guys for a job, then she comes home and I’m like, ‘wanna make love?’ and she’s ‘I’m too tired. I’ve been doing that all day long’. This is really disgusting, so I had to bail. That was back when I was getting loaded all the time. Now that I’m sober I don’t do crazy stuff like that anymore.”

That’s not entirely true – he’s found other crazy things to do, such as fish for sharks, which since he lives on a boat, is something he can do when ever the urge hits him.

“Sharks have always been my thing,” Russell shared. “I just love them. They’re beautiful creatures. The ones I fish for are Mako sharks, they’re really acrobatic, they’ll come out of the water, they’ll do cartwheels in the air. They’re just incredible fish. They really are.

“When I was a kid, my father used to take me out fishing down in San Diego, and I started working on the boats when I was really, really young. At one point I managed to get a 100-ton license, which as far as I know, I’m still the youngest kid to ever get a 100-ton license with the Coast Guard, a Master’s license.”

Considering all of the mainstream success and tours over the years, Russell says the coolest place he’s ever played is the L.A. Forum, which happens to be where he saw his first concert. It’s also where he was presented with his first Platinum record.

“I remember sitting in the 22nd row, loge seat, when I was 15 years old watching Blue Oyster Cult,” Russell recalled. “I told my friends, I’m gonna be on that stage one day and you’re gonna be asking for tickets. And they’re like, yea, right.

“And then April 6, 1988, I was sitting across the parking lot and I opened up my window and there was the Forum…I was playing there the next night…it was sold out…I just sat there and stared at it for like an hour.

“Then when I went to soundcheck the next day, I walked in and they were setting up all the gear, so I went out and I sat in that basic area where I was when I was a kid. I watched them setting up and I looked and said, ‘you know, Jack, you’ve really come a long way’. I’m looking at the stage and I went, ‘Yep, about 5000 feet’.”

In addition to the current tour, Cleopatra Records will be releasing his two solo albums which have never came out in the States, beginning with Shelter Me in June.

“In fact, it’s so hard to find, the record company had to go on eBay and pay 90 bucks to buy the CD, so they could make copies,” Russell laughed. “That’s pretty funny.”

And then there’s a book that Russell has been working on with a ghost writer that is due to come out in the Fall called, “Dancing On the Edge”.

“The reason I really wanted to do it was to let people know that no matter how far down the scale they are in life, if you really want to and believe in it, you can be anything you want,” mused Russell.

“I think people need to know that instead of feeling sorry for yourself and think you’re stuck in one spot, if you really want to be getting out of it, you can do whatever you want.

“We’re the architects of our own lives, and if you think positive things, positive things will come back to you and vice versa. So, I don’t ever think bad about people. I hate no one no matter how bad they messed me over I just pray for them. I don’t carry around that emotional baggage, cuz, you know, it’s really bad to do that. Plus, it’s painful.”

Curtis Harding Brings Soul Power And More

CURTIS HARDING plays the El Rey May 31; photo Matthew Correia

CURTIS HARDING plays the El Rey May 31; photo Matthew Correia

Curtis Harding brings his songs about sassy women and love both good and bad to the El Rey May 31. The man oozes soul, traditional soul, ala Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and other pioneers of the genre. Just check out last year’s Face Your Fear – every song is a winner.

Harding moves the soul genre forward into the new millennium, his voice capturing every emotion imaginable. But, his lyrics are important, too, easily relatable and sometimes funny.

As Curtis explains, “The record [Face Your Fear], to me, is all over the place because I go through moods, man. I change.”

Hailing from Saginaw, Michigan, his church-going mother exposed him to gospel music and his big sister showed him rap music. Both have inspired and motivated Harding through his musical journey which eventually lead him to make Atlanta his home. There he sang backup to CeeLo Green and eventually connected with Black Lips’ Cole Alexander who was spinning classic gospel at the time. The two formed the band Night Sun.

Harding’s style is a combination of different genres which all culminated in his debut solo album Soul Power. While his latest album takes his unique style to another level, this time collaborating with Sam Cohen and producer Danger Mouse.
Don’t miss this fearless performer at the El Rey May 31.

High Energy Rock Collective Soul Shine

COLLECTIVE SOUL play The Coach House May 6; photo Joseph Guay

COLLECTIVE SOUL play The Coach House May 6; photo Joseph Guay

Collective Soul hit the ground running after their first song “Shine” took off back in 1993, and they haven’t looked back since.

“When it happened, it did happen fast for us,” bassist Wil Turpin recalled. “But being that excited that young and feeling like you had so much more to do and so many more songs to create – in the moment you don’t analyze what it feels like, you’re just doing it.”

Signing with Atlantic Records and going double-platinum with their debut album, touring across North America, going triple-platinum with their second album, charting on Billboard with the singles “December,” “Where the River Flows,” “The World I Know,” “Gel,” and “Smashing Young Man,” Collective Soul continues to rock the masses nearly 25 years later.

“Honestly, we were just like ‘All right. Ok let’s go. Let’s work. Let’s get some stuff done. This is just the beginning.’ And sure, enough it was just the beginning.”

With a sold-out show coming up at The Coach House May 6, the band is looking forward to a special night. It’s not part of a tour, they just happened to be coming near the area and were looking for a place to play.

“Our agent and our manager said this room would be a cool room to go play and to just have fun for a night kind of thing,” Turpin said. “We heard it was a cool, hip spot.

“I’m sure we’ll play at least 90 minutes. We’ll probably play longer in a place like that. You’ll hear the hits. Not all the hits but you’ll hear most of the big hits and we’ll probably throw in some songs no one’s ever heard, then we’ll throw some stuff off our latest release.”

One of the things Turpin enjoys about playing live is the energy transfer between the band and the crowd. The give and take.

“What I like most about playing live is the fact that there’s really just five people creating these frequencies and it can change the way people feel and you can feel their energy rise and it comes back to you,” Turpin explained. “As a musician, it’s extremely tangible and that’s what I like about playing live.”

Fans have often commented that Collective Soul has a rawer, rockier sound when playing live than what comes across on record.

“Yea, and I would say we are kind of like a studio band,” Turpin agreed. “We all kind of grew up in the studio. My father owns a recording studio that we all cut our teeth in. So, I think Collective Soul does have a tendency to make things sound really polished, I’d say, in the studio.

“But live we embrace sounding more rockin’, more raw. It’s something we’re definitely aware of and for us it’s something we dig, too. It’s not that we should necessarily change what we do in the studio it’s just that “live” is different than “the studio”.

“I couldn’t tour all the time without creating new stuff and when I create new stuff I feel like I have to go out and perform. They’re both something we need.”

A new album, a double album, is in the works that will be released in 2019. While recording new music last year, the group realized they were approaching their 25-year anniversary so decided to wait to release the new material.

“We had more tunes, so we just thought ‘let’s don’t release a record this year, let’s just take our time, record 10 more songs, and release a double album and promote it for our 25 years,” Turpin reasoned.

This coming summer, Collective Soul will embark on the Rock & Roll Express Tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum.

“Yea, it’s gonna be a good rock show, I’m looking forward to it,” Turpin said. “We played a couple shows with Soul Asylum before – I’m a big fan – and then we played a number of shows with 3 Doors Down. We’re all good buddies so it should be a real fun tour.”

But first, there’s the unique show coming to The Coach House.

“We’re excited about seeing this room. We love the area so we’re just excited to get back there. Plan on plenty of new tunes and a lot of high energy rock-n-roll!”

Amerikkant but Ministry Took Command In Anaheim

MINISTRY

MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

MINISTRY was in top form at House of Blues Thursday night, kicking off the Amerikkant tour. They played well, sounded good, the stage was well-lit, the live mix was LOUD but spot-on allowing enough separation between instruments – a feat in itself – with up to eight musicians at any one time.

MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

MINISTRY stage; photo James Christopher

An eye-catching stage was adorned on each side with monstrous blowup chickens (turkeys?) sporting weird Trump-style hair and anti-Nazi symbols. Stacks of neon television sets were strewn about the stage and a sea of creepy cool mic stands woven with skulls and silver bones were front and center. A video screen furiously projected in the background throughout the set as the anger within the newer songs grew and grew.

Al Jourgenson MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Al Jourgenson MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Whether you’ve been, following Ministry through their various incarnations, or new to the world of Uncle Al Jourgensen, I cannot urge you enough to check out the latest album Amerikkant before seeing them on this tour. It’s in your best interest to familiarize yourself with these new songs – they’re the theme and motivation for the tour.

Sin Quirin MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Sin Quirin MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Ministry ushered in the evening with three tracks off Amerikkant beginning with the live debut of the lengthy, industrial-metal song, “Twilight Zone” that brings you into the fold, setting a unifying tone before moving into the live debut of, “Victims Of A Clown”. It’s another sure-to-be classic Ministry song, with guest vocalist Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) taking over lead vocals while Jourgensen sang occasional backup but mostly played stunning guitar on his teardrop, masterfully using a distorted wah-wah effect and slide.

Cesar Soto MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Cesar Soto MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

A little past the midway point of the set, some of the “older” songs from the late 80s, early 90s, began to appear “Just One Fix,” “N.W.O.,” “Thieves,” and “So What”. The band was truly locked in at this point and became even looser playing the longtime fan favorites, culminating in a 13-song setlist, plus a single song encore – 1999s “Bad Blood”.

All night, the frenzy of the crowd escalated as the energy of Ministry continued to fire on all cylinders. It never felt like they were just phoning it in. Everyone seemed keen to be on stage, playing great music both old and new.

Al Jourgenson MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Al Jourgenson MINISTRY; photo James Christopher

Ministry definitely took command in Anaheim, but they also provided a platform to let your inner angst run rampant for a couple of hours.

Don’t forget to do yourself a favor – check out Amerikkant.

Goth Duo MGT Bring Positivity Into The Light

MGT - Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

MGT – Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

MGT adds a little night to the daylight. In a good way. Musically unique, yet familiar in a half-remembered sense, with vocals that add an unexpected comfort.

“I try to be comforting,” singer Ashton Nyte (The Awakening) agreed. “There’s a lot at odds in the world, I think a little bit of comfort goes a long way.”

Having just completed a string of dates in support of their sophomore album, Concert Guide Live caught up with Nyte, who alternated between talking somewhat seriously and sometimes with a bit of tongue-in-cheek.

MGT - Mark Gemini Thwaite; photo James Christopher

MGT – Mark Gemini Thwaite; photo James Christopher

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You joined MGT as lead vocalist for the latest album, Gemini Nyte, a clever combination of names – yours and guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite (The Mission/Peter Murphy). But, the first album had a variety of singers so are you just involved with this album, or could there be further collaborations together?
ASHTON NYTE: Basically, the first album was Mark’s first solo album which is called Volumes. And on Volumes he wrote the music and then he got a range of guest vocalists to write the lyrics and to sing. I was one of those and eventually we just hit it off and kept writing songs.

The original plan was to release the new body of work as “Gemini Nyte”, as a new project, essentially. But what happened is the record label got involved and they encouraged us, to release it as the second “MGT” album rather than a new project. So as things are now, Mark and I wrote this album together. I’m the guy who writes all the words and sings them and Mark generally writes the music and plays it. That’s how this has come to pass.

I’ve never worked in a collaborative sense like that before. It’s been quite liberating and interesting to have somebody else write the music and myself provide the lyrics and the vocals. Then we mix it together and produce it together and you got the album.

MGT - Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

MGT – Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

CGL: What do you like about playing live?
AN: it’s the other half of the whole. I think creating the music is wonderful, you know, it’s like seeing it from a seed to a tree. But performing is the other side of it, it completes the picture and it satisfies something in me. I don’t know if that’s healthy or unhealthy, but I find it very satisfying to see people’s response, to act and to engage. I’m not the kind of performer to just, you know, stand there and be removed from it all. I think it’s important to engage with the audience and we have a good time and hopefully they do, too.

CGL: What do you remember about the first time you ever played live, Were you nervous?
AN: No, I was very excited. I think I’ve always had that “the more the merry” type feeling. I played the first show and I was looking forward to the next one and playing to more people and playing louder.

CGL: Whatever possessed you to go into music in the first place?
AN: Probably some sort of mental disorder. I don’t know. It’s just always been my passion. I can’t really see myself doing anything else. It’s something I need to do. I could do other things, but I would never want to stop doing it, let’s put it that way. I enjoy various artforms but, music is an integral part of my life.

CGL: Do you find yourself listening to music all the time?
AN: No, I probably spend more time creating than listening. I probably spend a fair amount of time listening. It’s healthy to be aware of what’s going on, whether it’s recent or something from the past that continues to inspire and invigorate. But, I like to think that I write more than I listen. Focus more on creating than catching up.

MGT - Richard Vernon; photo James Christopher

MGT – Richard Vernon; photo James Christopher

CGL: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your lyrics?
AN: I think there was a kind of dystopian themed undercurrent that runs through this album. I think that’s probably self-explanatory. The place we find ourselves in the world these days leaves a lot to be desired. So, a lot of the songs reflect that but I’m singing from the perspective of hope and positivity, trying to recognize some of the problems but remaining optimistic and making suggestions to move forward rather than complaining and whining things.

CGL: Do you write all the time, or do you just write when you need to come up with a song?
AN: I write all the time. I have referred to myself as a compulsive songwriter, it’s an addiction. I have a band, The Awakening, and we’ve released I believe eight albums and I’ve released another eight… which is 16 albums which is more than most people and I probably have as many albums with the material that’s not released so I think it’s safe to say my songwriting addiction is real, and that the therapy hasn’t worked, yet, but I’m giving it time, I’m working through it.

MGT - Nick Mason; photo James Christopher

MGT – Nick Mason; photo James Christopher

CGL: What about the other musicians, will MGT have a set lineup moving forward?
AN: I mean, it would be lovely if we could keep the same (musicians), from a unit perspective, to keep the same live line up as it is now. The band that’s touring right now isn’t the band that played on the album, for example. If the stars continue to align and everybody is available to do that it would be wonderful for us to keep doing it this way.

CGL: Do you have a home studio, or do you record in different places?
AN: I have a studio in my house. So, does Mark. Which is how we assembled this album. He did his thing and I did my thing and we file-shared pretty much. Wonderful the way we can do it these days.

CGL: What was it like when you first started?
AN: When I first started recording? Back when I was 12? When I was 12 it was difficult understanding things. I think we all improve with age. That’s the point, I think.

Celebrate Michael Schenker Music Past And Current

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST plays Grove of Anaheim Mar. 25; press photo

Michael Schenker will be rockin’ the Grove of Anaheim Mar. 25 performing a 2 ½ hour set of his most popular music with original singers, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley (MSG) as well as Doogie White (Temple of Rock). The tour is billed as Michael Schenker Fest and will also feature music from the recently released Resurrection.

“We are going to be here performing with all of these album lineups and with Chris Glen and Ted McKenna who were the rhythm section for Assault Attack when Graham Bonnet was singing,” Schenker explained. “Then we have Steve Mann (guitar) who is connected with the McAuley Schenker era part of the past. He actually wrote “Anytime” with Robin McAuley.

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST - Robin McAuley; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST – Robin McAuley; press photo

“It’s going to be a well-balanced show with classics and new stuff and instrumentals. And also, it has been 40 years since I recorded Strangers In the Night with UFO so who knows, maybe, Phil Mogg shows up sometimes and sings a couple of UFO songs.”

Getting everyone together and available at the same time could be potentially challenging but, fortunately, as Schenker mused, “It seems to be synchronized with the universe. It’s something that needs to happen and it’s happening.”

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Graham Bonnet; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Graham Bonnet; press photo

He went on to explain his approach, “I wanted to combine all my energies that I have put into different lineups. Some bands have stayed together for 40 years and put all their energies into one lineup, I went all over the place. There were certain circumstances of not being able to put people on retainer so when it was time for me to make a record, sometimes I had to move to new singers, new musicians, etc. etc.

“I’m in celebration mode. The new album is called Resurrection which means we are all back and we are celebrating all together the past and the current. It’s great for the fans to see everything on one stage.

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST - Doogie White; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST – Doogie White; press photo

“In 1978 when I was 23 years old, by doing Strangers In the Night, I had experienced fame and success to its fullest and I was able to make a decision after I helped the Scorpions with the Lovedrive album to open the doors for America. Did I want to stay up there, or did I want to start the second chapter of my life and start experimenting with music and focus on life, get things out of my system? And that’s what I did and those were the most rewarding years in my life and they made me ready for the third stage of my life, which is now, showing up, eventually with all original singers, is fantastic.”

Resurrection is poised to be another Michael Schenker classic album with songs such as “Night Moods,” “Warrior,” and “The Girl With the Stars In Her Eyes” to name a few.

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST - Gary Barden; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST – Gary Barden; press photo

“The song “The Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes” is a fantastic riff it’s very suitable for Doogie to sing and it’s one of my favorites, too,” Schenker said. “And “Night Moods” – Michael Voss did an excellent job in writing the lyrics – and the melody for Glen. Graham’s voice on that song, especially the ad libs at the end of that song, it’s remarkable, it’s fantastic.”

Initially, the making of the record was thought to be a two-year project, with label Nuclear Blast advising them to “take their time”. However, Schenker had other ideas with the upcoming tour on the schedule, preferring the album finished and released before they hit the road.

“We decided to start in May and finish in November” Schenker recalled. “Michael Voss (producer) and I immediately started working so I don’t even think we had phoned Graham or anybody that they didn’t have all the time in the world. But Doogie was so fast he started to select five songs, but it was three songs each singer!”

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Michael Schenker; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Michael Schenker; press photo

Preferring to create music without outside influences, Schenker doesn’t listen to or copy other music or guitar, going for pure self-expression.

“I am the architect of the music, I have a vision, I know exactly what I want, and I want it as pure as possible,” Schenker explained. “So, I kind of put all the music down in guides – keyboard guides, the bass – so the people know what I’m trying to achieve and where the journey goes.

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Ted McKenna; press photo

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST -Ted McKenna; press photo

“The main thing that comes from the other musicians is their personality. Their personal touch, the way Ted grooves, the way Ted does his drum fill, the solidness and the sound of Chris Glen and the bass and everybody puts their touches in and they make the final thing.

“Then of course the singers, as many as possible, do their own lyrics and their own melodies and of course Michael Voss was the perfect guy for the job as the co-producer because he’s an 80s fan and he understands each member in the band so it’s very, very enjoyable and easy to work with and make it successful.”

Don’t miss this exciting and unique performance of classic Michael Schenker songs, instrumentals, and songs from the new album Resurrection, with the original singers.

The Coathangers Burger A-Go-Go Party 2018

THE COATHANGERS

THE COATHANGERS play Belly Up Feb. 27, 1720 Mar. 2 and Alex’s Bar Mar. 3; photo Chad Kamenshine

Garage-punk trio The Coathangers, headline Burger A-Go-Go making stops at Belly Up Feb. 27, 1720 Mar. 2 and Alex’s Bar Mar. 3. The lineup also includes Death Valley Girls, The Flytraps and Feels.

Whether screaming or singing, The Coathangers continuously come up with catchy songs and lyrics, beginning with their 2007 self-titled debut through their fifth studio album, 2016’s Nosebleed Weekend, not to mention 2017’s EP Parasite. While their live performance pulls out all the stops, at times becoming rowdy and crazy.

Concert Guide Live asked drummer Stephanie Luke about Burger A-Go-Go tours, cracking the Billboard charts, songwriting, among other things.

THE COATHANGERS

THE COATHANGERS Parasite EP cover

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: The Coathangers have been a part of Burger A-Go-Go several times, what is it about this tour that keeps the band coming back? How does it differ from other tours?
THE COATHANGERS: We love Burger Records, and everyone involved in the label and these tours so it’s nice to be a part of the party! It’s different from most tours we do because there’s a gang of bands all on tour together rather than just being on tour with one band. These tours are always a good time!

CGL: What can one expect from this year’s Burger A-Go-Go if they’ve never been before?
TC: Just expect to see a few bands you might not have seen or heard about before along with the bands you’re comin’ to see… Always a really friendly fun audience too, like one big happy.

CGL: Tell us something about one of your most memorable concerts.
TC: We’ve been so lucky to have had so many memorable tours and shows it’s hard to pick just one! Will say that we just got to play a festival in Mexico City and it was amazing! It was outdoors on this beautiful field the weather was perfect and our good buds Death Valley Girls played with us on that one too!

CGL: Considering The Coathangers have been a band for over 10 years, how did it strike you when Nosebleed Weekend landed on the Top New Artist Albums and the Alternative New Artist Album charts?
TC: We were STOKED! We are still “new” to a lot of people out there and even though we’ve been around a while we still were excited to get on those charts.

CGL: Your live performances are very dynamic, energetic and at times a bit manic from an audience perspective, what’s it like from your perspective?
TC: The same! We are up there tryin’ to entertain and connect with the audience but also doin’ the same with each other on stage. The more energy and craziness usually the more fun for us and you.

CGL: What do you like to do prior to going on stage – any routines or rituals?
TC: We do a few stretches, maybe a shot ‘er two, and always a group hug.

CGL: When you first started out, did anyone have a musical background, or did you just gravitate to it?
TC: Julia (Kugel/guitar) had played classical piano and guitar and done choir and I used to play violin and saxophone so we kinda had but more-so we had been around friends in bands throughout high school and college, so I think we were always around it kinda learning how things go via both experiences.

CGL: It’s going on two years since Nosebleed Weekend, are you working on a new body of work?
TC: Oh, hell yes, lots of good stuff to come!!!

CGL: How do you come up with your songs – it seems some bands have a primary songwriter while others get in a room and jam until a seed begins to form – what works for you?
TC: We do both, sometimes one of us brings parts of a song or lyrics, then we work forward on that, other times we just jam around till something pops up.

Be Here Now With STFKR In SoCal

STRFKR

STRFKR play Observatory North Park Feb.2, Teragram Ballroom Feb. 3 and 4; photo James Christopher

Always entertaining, fun, and lyrically thoughtful, STRFKR return to SoCal playing two nights at Teragram Ballroom Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, following a night in San Diego at the Observatory North Park Feb. 2.

Their set will encompass a balanced mix of all their albums, including the most recent Being No One, Going Nowhere. An album inspired by the book of wisdom, “Being Nobody Going Nowhere” which among other ideas and perspectives inspires one to learn that being alive is good enough.

STRFKR

STRFKR; photo James Christopher

“I like the idea that whatever you are right now is enough,” Josh Hodges (vocals/guitar/keys) admitted. “The idea of striving to be something other than you are is causing suffering and causing confusion.

“The value system that we have is more and more that people need to be something like a celebrity or known for something and it can cause people to be crazy and do crazy things.”

STRFKR; photo James Christopher

STRFKR; photo James Christopher

Moving from Portland to Southern California four years ago, much of the album was written and recorded at the band’s practice house in Joshua Tree where the comfort and mystery of the desert provided immense inspiration and reflection.

“It’s a really good environment for me to write and record,” Hodges said. “It’s pretty isolated and you can make noise all night, the house is out in the middle of nowhere. Nature is so big and the desert life out there is so interesting.

“It makes me feel smaller being in nature like that. It’s kind of comforting with all the craziness going on in the country right now.

STRFKR; photo James Christopher

STRFKR; photo James Christopher

“And even if our narcissistic, idiotic leaders get us in some nuclear war and we all die then, whatever it is, our planet is just a tiny little nothing in this infinite “whatever”. It’s meaningful, too.

“Being out there, for me, it’s easier to stay in touch with that bigger perspective. Everyone’s gonna die anyways. I’m like part of all the molecules and matter that makes up my body and who I think I am…it’s like being a part of this old collection of universes or whatever… it’s kind of comforting.”

STRFKR recently released the final volume of the three volume set of rarities and demos that Hodges rescued from a dying computer, Vault, Vol.3. The raw, unpolished material was never intended for an audience but is a remarkable overview to his inspiration from the inside out.

So, check it out and get your dancing shoes on and head over to one of the three SoCal shows. You won’t be disappointed!

Banditos Visionland Visit SoCal

BANDITOS

BANDITOS play Moroccan Lounge Jan. 31 and SPACE Feb. 1; photo Nicole Mago

Birmingham, AL-via-Nashville band Banditos recently released a new album Visionland and, in support, they’ll be playing Moroccan Lounge Jan. 31 and SPACE Feb. 1

After spending much of the last two years on the road, relentlessly showcasing their critically acclaimed 2015 self-titled debut album, the six bandmates of Banditos regrouped in late 2016 at Plum Creek Sound Studios and democratically poured out sonic influences and emotionally charged personal experiences for their new album Visionland.

Produced by Israel Nash and Ted Young, the Birmingham/Nashville-based group’s second full-length has one foot firmly planted in reality as the other tip-toes in and out of mental complexities, self-perception and altered-state illusions. The results are revealing, exhilarating and profound.

Banditos "Visionland" cover art

Banditos “Visionland” cover art

The album-titled track reveals these defining, cohesive thematic intricacies. Visionland is named after the defunct $60 million theme park that was built in the late ’90s near some of the band members’ childhood homes in Bessemer, Alabama. The park was shut down after only five years and the schizophrenic glimmer of hope it offered local residents connects to a greater overlying optimism for life present at the album’s core, an eerily relevant theme in contemporary complex times. Jeff Salter’s sweeping guitar strums swell at the song’s intro, lifting through the murky haze into the warm and sunny clarity of a duet between singer Mary Beth Richardson and singer/guitarist Corey Parsons.

The members of Banditos first met playing in various punk and rock ‘n’ roll projects around Birmingham at D.I.Y., all ages venues. In 2010, Parsons and Pierce began busking around town and were soon asked to perform at their favorite local bar. Without a full band, they invited friends Randy Wade (drums), Salter (guitar), and Richardson to join them. Danny Vines (bass) joined the band later.