Big Wreck To Showcase Canadian-American Rock In SoCal

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

Canadian-American group Big Wreck again returns to Southern California to share their music for those obliging to come listen to some authentic rock. The four-man group plays at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles Oct. 20 and Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco Oct. 21 as part of their current tour celebrating the release of their latest album …but for the sun.

Ian Thornley, who has been the lead vocalist and guitarist for Big Wreck since it became active in 1994, says concertgoers can expect a mix of both new and old.

“We’re focusing pretty heavily on the newer material on the new album, but we’ve been tempering the set with some old favorites as well. I think at this point we’re five or six shows in so we’ve found a pretty good mix.”

Though known for being more recognized in Canada’s music scene, Big Wreck actually began life in the United States, specifically in Boston at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Thornley says the group began as most bands usually do.

“We were students at Berklee College of Music here in Boston actually. It was just sort of like-minded music tastes that basically struck up a friendship and then it turned into a band. It’s a long story but that’s the gist of it.”

However, though the group’s beginnings began in the United States, their notoriety as a musical group is more grounded in Canada where the group enjoys noticeably more appearances and more airplay for their songs than in the States.

The music that has earned Big Wreck such recognition in the great white north is something that Thornley, when asked, has a hard time explaining.

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

BIG WRECK; Press Photo

“I’ve never really tried to. It’s rock and roll, I guess. There’s some rocky elements, there’s some bluesy elements, there’s some heavier elements and there’s even pop elements. But I would hope that it comes across as authentic. That’s the best I could hope for. “

Ask him some of the musical influences though and he is happier to oblige in answering.

“Hundreds,” Thornley says. “A lot of stuff from the 70’s. There’s Pink Floyd, there’s Led Zeppelin, there’s Genesis, there’s The Who and even Dire Straits and The Police. We have a lot of influences that run from Supertramp, Bruce Springsteen… too many to mention.”

Although the band has many fans and are popular in Canada, which ultimately led to a contract with Warner Canada, Thornley says he feels Big Wreck has yet to achieve global mainstream musical recognition. But he admits he’s fine with that.

“I’m still waiting for that one. I don’t have a plan B. Just stick to your guns, keep at it I guess, you know and then hopefully you can carve out a living. It’s a humble one but I mean if you’re in it for the right reasons I don’t think it really matters how big or successful you are. I mean, everybody wants a little more than they have.”

Thornley is always appreciative of the support Big Wreck gets and especially whenever the group comes to play in the United States and adds that, surprisingly, there is very little difference between playing in Canada.

“Like a lot of the U.S. shows for us, the crowds tend to be a lot smaller than they are in Canada. But the fans are rabid I guess because we don’t get here that often. We don’t play the U.S. not nearly as often as we do in Canada and so I tend to find that the fans are great. The shows are, like I said, smaller but there’s a great appreciation from the fans for us making the trek.”

Beyond the group’s upcoming appearances in Southern California and the rest of their tour, Thornley says Big Wreck intend to take it easy.

“I mean we’ve got a pretty good rhythm of writing and recording and touring. So, it’s probably going to be more of that once this tour is done. I assume they’ll be a few more shows here and there. But for the most part, I’ve a newborn son I’d like to spend some time with. I have a daughter I’d like to spend some time with. It’s going to probably be a lot of home life and a lot of song writing.”

Messer Brings High Quality Rock To SoCal

MESSER plays The Cave Sep 13, The Canyon/Agoura Sep 14, The Coach House Sep 15; photo Glitch Mob

MESSER plays The Cave Sep 13, The Canyon/Agoura Sep 14, The Coach House Sep 15; photo Glitch Mob

Texas-based Messer returns to SoCal as part of Scott Stapp of Creed’s “The Space Between the Shadows” tour which also includes hard rock group Sunflower Dead. The tour wraps up at The Coach House Sep. 15 before heading East.

Dereak Messer, the group’s lead vocalist, promises people who attend are in for an excellent time.

“They are going to see a performance like no other. We bring high energy to our shows. We’re known for our quality of sound and just a lot of energy. We love to meet our fans so we’ll be hanging out all night long at every one of those shows trying to meet every person who would like to meet us.”

Messer adds he genuinely enjoys being able to play shows in California whenever he and his bandmates are offered the chance to do so.

“We have a great time every time we’re there. We usually record in the Silver Lake area right outside of Hollywood so we’re out that way quite a bit and we have a lot of fans out in California.”

Messer reports that the tour in general has proven to be incredible so far especially as they have been able to accompany Scott Stapp.

“This guy is a true professional,” Messer says. “His new album has been amazing. He’s playing it every night and the crowds are just eating it up. Being that he’s such an iconic face and a voice out there for rock music, it’s just been great to learn from him every night and just become good friends with the guy.”

Sunflower Dead has also proven to be stalwart musical companions too.

“They are a good high energy band too,” Messer admits. “They’re a little bit more of a metal band than we are. Great guys though, so they’re super cool.”

Being able to accompany other notable musicians is quite an accomplishment for Messer which formed in 2009. The group has become established as playing rock music albeit with what Messer describes as “an alternative sound to it”.

He adds too that the group makes an effort to emphasize a specific musical setup at each show to ensure those who attend their shows don’t just hear their music but feel it too.

“We tune our guitars and everything to a certain frequency that actually manipulates the way you feel when you come to our show. It’s kind of crazy. It’s one of those things you have to experience.”

The group’s music is also designed to be empowering with positive messages intertwined. Songs like “Make This Life” that are featured on their first and so far, only studio album Messer, features light though heavy backing instrumentals and motivational lyrics.

“Our music has a positive message,” Messer states. “It’s got beats. These are songs that will hopefully stand the test of time and people will be listening to 30 or 40 years from now.”

Being able to play these songs and see live concertgoers respond favorably to them is something Messer says is always a great reward for him.

“It’s amazing every night to see the people’s reaction. People come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they were moved by the songs. That means everything to us.”

Likewise, the group’s music has helped bring them in contact with other notable music groups in addition to Scott Stapp and Sunflower Dead. Messer specifically cites Pop Evil as one of the most memorable groups he and his fellow bandmates have been brought into contact with.

“We’ve toured with Pop Evil a bunch. We’re good friends with those guys. The other night, Leigh, the singer, showed up at our show with Scott Stapp. He showed up afterwards and we hung out. And then the next night he brought me on stage, and we did one of his songs, ‘Trenches’ together.”

No matter who they are playing with and wherever they are, Messer says they always seek to make their performances stick in people’s minds.

“We’ve played so many shows. Every one of them we try to make memorable. You know what I mean? We try to make sure that it’s one of those nights that everyone’s going to remember.”

Beyond Messer’s current tour, the group intends to continue playing and even producing some new music as well.

“After this tour we’re going to finish up and take a small break,” reveals Messer. “But then we’re going to dive right back in to recording some new music. We’re going to throw some ideas together and hopefully have some new music out.”

Sunflower Dead Brings Heavy Aggressive Rock To SoCal

SUNFLOWER DEAD play The Canyon/Montclair Sep. 7, The Canyon/Santa Clarita Sep. 8, The Cave Sep. 13, The Canyon/Agoura Hills Sep. 14 and The Coach House Sep. 15; photo Janelle Rominski

SUNFLOWER DEAD play The Canyon/Montclair Sep. 7, The Canyon/Santa Clarita Sep. 8, The Cave Sep. 13, The Canyon/Agoura Hills Sep. 14 and The Coach House Sep. 15; photo Janelle Rominski

Sunflower Dead, a native SoCal band, returns to their home state as support on Scott Stapp of Creed’s “The Space Between the Shadows” tour. The tour is scheduled to play a series of local shows including The Coach House Sep. 15. Fellow rockers, Messer, are also support on the tour.

Front man Michael Del Pizzo says Messer has proved to be great musical compatriots.

“We just met those guys about a week ago and they’re putting on a phenomenal show and the crowd every night is responding amazingly to them,” Del Pizzo said. “I’m just getting used to their sound and I’m loving it so far.”

Del Pizzo says that, as a fan of the iconic band Creed, hearing Stapp sing live has been a treat for him.

“I’ve been a Creed fan since they started so it’s a pleasure for me to see him do those songs every night including his new songs” Del Pizzo revealed. “I love it.”

Del Pizzo and his fellow Sunflower Dead bandmates have been playing since 2012. The group officially broke into music with their independently recorded and self-published album aptly named Sunflower Dead. The group was able to break into mainstream music thanks to the radio showcasing of songs from their second album It’s Time to Get Weird.

The music Sunflower Dead plays is an undeniably major factor for the group’s success which is described by Del Pizzo as being “heavy aggressive.”

“We sit right between heavy rock and metal and lyrically it’s very emotionally weighted,” Del Pizzo explained. “Something you can connect to.”

This is showcased by songs like “Turn Away”, one of the band’s most popular singles released just this year. That song in particular deals with the subject of suicide. While the sound backing up the song’s lyric are heavy, the lyrics in it are aimed at encouraging people not to give into the urge to end their lives but do their best to muster on.

Powerful songs like that are something that are made naturally according to Del Pizzo. He says that song composition in the group is open ended and dependent largely on mutual consensus in regard to their creation.

“There’s no one specific way we do it,” Del Pizzo admitted. “Everyone in the band is kind of open to inspiration. So, when it strikes, we go with it. There’s no egos, there’s never been egos involved in the writing process in this band. We just kind of go with whoever has the best idea.”

Del Pizzo says that both the songwriting and recording processes are the easiest tasks for the band. Being able to play those songs live is always a challenge but a rewarding one.

“Playing music live is taxing because you’re trying to figure out everything you did in the studio and how to represent it live correctly,” Del Pizzo said. “We’re not a band that uses backing tracks or anything like that. We just go out and play just the four us. We play a representation of the album live but once we get it down it’s incredible.”

Sunflower Dead "Turn Away" Artwork

Sunflower Dead “Turn Away” Artwork

Sunflower Dead has to date played numerous concerts, gone on multiple tours and produced a total of three albums with their latest album C O M A seeing a release just last year and whose songs continue to top active rock charts.

Del Pizzo admits it’s hard to pick some of the most truly memorable they’ve experienced. But there are two that stand out the most to him: playing live at the O2 Apollo in Manchester with Korn and touring with Hellyeah before the death of Vinnie Paul.

Del Pizzo remembers playing with Paul and that the legendary musician undeniably adored being able to play along with Sunflower Dead.

“The last time we toured with Hellyeah, on the last day of the tour Vinnie came up to me and wanted to get a picture with me,” Del Pizzo recalled. “The whole time he’s taking a picture with me – we’re doing like a bunch of shots – he’s singing one of our songs to me. So, for me to have one of my idols take a picture with me and, not only that, sing one of my songs to me, that’s pretty amazing.”

Events like these and the popular reception the group’s heavy but inspirational style gives Del Pizzo and his bandmates the fuel they need to keep playing and creating music both in their upcoming appearances in SoCal and beyond.

Del Pizzo says that Sunflower Dead is already looking ahead to a busy future.

“We are currently looking to our next tour and working on our next single and writing a fourth record and just moving forward and building Sunflower Dead up.”

Pepper Bring Spicy Hawaiian Reggae-Rock To SoCal

PEPPER play FivePoints Amphitheatre Aug 2; photo Keith Zacharski

PEPPER play Five Points Amphitheatre Aug 2; photo Keith Zacharski

Pepper, a music group known for their uniquely Hawaiian style of rock-reggae, soon returns to Southern California. The three-man band is scheduled to play live at the Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine on Aug. 2 as part of their current tour celebrating the release of their latest album Local Motion.

Yesod Williams, the drummer for the group, says returning to Southern California to play is always terrific for him and his bandmates.

“We moved to San Diego in 1999 from Kona where we were all born and raised and started the band,” he explains. “So, it’s like a second home. It’s a big melting pot of fans and friends and family ‘cause we have so many friends and family that live around Southern California as well.”

Formed in 1996 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Williams joined the band after Bret Bollinger, vocalist and bassist, and Kaleo Wassman, the other vocalist and lead guitarist, approached him at a party after learning of his skilled drum playing. The group has remained together since and has consistently maintained their current line-up.

For the group’s appearance at the Five Point Amphitheatre, Williams says that, as with most of their shows, he expects nothing but people enjoying themselves and their music. As such Williams says he doesn’t expect any problems at the venue.

“It’s just going to be a super rad family vibe. That’s the rad part knowing our fans are ohana.”

To those unfamiliar with the term, “ohana” is a Hawaiian word typically used to describe blood relatives or a strong connectedness between people.

“As far as the people go there’s no real difference in the vibe of the shows whether it be in Hawaii or the mainland. It’s only the surroundings that are different because the ohana is so strong.”

The music Pepper plays is a big part that plays into this aloha spirit. The group’s music Williams says is a combination of two musical stylings: reggae and rock.

“In a nutshell it’s reggae-rock with a Hawaiian flavor. We self-proclaim it Kona dub rock,” Williams says, “We’re just playing good old high energy rock music with a reggae flair to it.”

It’s a flair-filled combo that has helped the group thrive in the music industry since officially becoming musically active in 1997. The group has in addition to playing multiple live events produced eight full-length studio albums filled with upbeat and stylish melodies.

Songs the group produces start off as very simple concepts before becoming songs according to Williams.

“Usually it’ll start with Bret or Kaleo having an idea, whether it be a guitar melody or vocal melody, but usually starting with a guitar. Then we’ll take it into our studio, and we’ll play it together and that’s in a nutshell how it’ll become a Pepper song.”

Their latest album, Local Motion, will have its songs played live at places during the Five Point Amphitheater during their tour. However, Williams says, that Local Motion he feels is one of the most unique and special ones they’ve produced to date in which they thought up the idea for a song but gave it over to their musically talented friends.

“For this album we did it a little differently. We did the initial part where we came up with the idea on an acoustic guitar and a little vocal idea and then we gave it to our friends. They gave us Local Motion.”

Concertgoers who go to the group’s appearance at the Five Point Amphitheater and beyond are not just listening to various music pieces written by Pepper’s three bandmates but that of their friends as well which results in a different and more unique Pepper concert.

For Williams, no matter the music being played, whether by his bandmates or by other friends, being able to share is a guaranteed thrill.

“That’s the best in my opinion. That’s when the songs come to their full life. Because you never know what’s going to happen until you actually play it in front of people because then it’s just like different things happen in the heat of the moment and the energy and the adrenaline that’s going when you play in front of a crowd that’s reacting to it.”

Beyond their appearance at Irvine, the group’s current tour will last until Aug. 25 ending at the Santa Barbara Bowl. What can music lovers expect from the musical representative of the aloha spirit after that?

“More music definitely,” states Williams. “We’re going to be doing some different versions of the songs that we have on Local Motion already so keep looking out for that and then we’re going to be planning another tour coming up here to support the record.

Thunderpussy Brings Rock To SoCal

THUNDERPUSSY play El Rey Theater Jul 17 and Belly Up Jul 19; photo Meredith Truax

THUNDERPUSSY play El Rey Theater Jul 17 and Belly Up Jul 19; photo Meredith Truax

Thunderpussy, the all-female rock group known for their unique vibe comes to Southern California this month as part of their summer tour. The foursome shall play Jul. 17 at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and Jul. 19 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach.

Bassist Leah Julius says she looks forward to playing with her bandmates at the El Rey Theatre.

“It will be our first time playing L.A with our new drummer. It’s also one of the bigger rooms we’ve played in L.A so we’re really looking forward to that. The last couple of times we’ve been through we’ve played at the Viper Room. So, it’ll be nice to play a new stage.”

Julius has played on many stages beyond California with the group. Seattle, where the group began in 2013, still holds a special place in her heart.

“We all met through the Seattle music scene,” Julius began. “It’s a pretty small, tight-knight community up here and we were all playing in different bands and different instruments as well. And then Molly (Sides) and Whitney (Petty), the guitar player and singer of Thunderpussy, started the project and sought me out and then sought out a drummer. Kind of the rest is history.”

The name Thunderpussy started there, too.

“It embodies exactly who we are: strong, powerful, feminine. You hear the name and immediately it gets people curious, gets people talking and that’s always something you want in a name. People will remember it easily. So, when the name came about and what we were doing matched it pretty perfectly we just ran with it.”

The music Thunderpussy plays, Julius admits, is itself a kind of love letter the group has to the music they grew up with.

“We get a lot of our influences from like 70’s rock and roll. We love Zeppelin and, you know, all the classics. But we like a lot of modern music. We like a lot of pop music. So, it’s kind of a mix between Zeppelin and Beyoncé and all of the stuff we like.”

The group is none the less unique in itself playing songs ranging from rock out fare though sometimes even more mellow fare. These songs are the brainchildren of Sides, the group’s vocalist, and guitarist Petty.

“Generally, Molly or Whitney will bring in an idea to the table or sometimes even a finished song or parts of a song,” says Julius. We work together as a group to create the beast that then becomes the song.”

The group’s debut studio album that’s aptly named Thunderpussy came out just last year along with their first EP album Greatest Tits. Both proved easier said than done to make according to Julius not to mention their music in general.

“It’s a continuous struggle and aside from the stuff we have to jump through, just to get our music made and heard. Once it’s out there we deal with so much vile backlash on social media through hateful, sexist, misogynistic comments that you really have to have a thick skin to want to keep on going.”
Worse still, it’s an industry still largely dominated by males: something Julius credits for their ongoing hardships in producing music.

“It’s a boy’s club through and through especially when once you get really higher up into the major label realm where we’re at. You know, there’s a way that things have traditionally been done and there’s a way that rock bands who are all males have traditionally been marketed and sold.”

The group still perseveres and for Julius it’s worth it just to be able to share their rock and roll ballads with others, especially on a live stage.

“When you finally get up there and the lights are on and you have your instrument and playing with your fans it’s kind of like the best release at the end of the day and that’s why we do it cause that moment when you get on stage and you get to play with each other. There’s nothing better.”

It’s an effort too that still comes with surprising rewards.

“We recently got to join forces with Mike McCready from Pearl Jam and Chad & Josh from Red Hot Chili Peppers and performed some rock & roll covers and performed some Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen live with those guys for a charity show in Seattle and that was a really incredible experience to be standing on stage playing with some of my heroes.

Julius highly encourages concertgoers to come to the group’s shows as she promises they are in for a good time.

“Check out thunderpussyusa.com to see where we’re coming this summer and we’re hopefully buckling in and making another record and getting it out to everybody as soon as we can. We want nothing more than to release some new songs live for everybody.”

John Paul White Brings Countrypolitan To Orange County

JOHN PAUL WHITE (and his band) play The Coach House Jun. 11 and Troubadour Jun. 14; album cover

JOHN PAUL WHITE (and his band) play The Coach House Jun. 11 and Troubadour Jun. 14; album cover

John Paul White comes to Orange County as part of his current tour celebrating the release of his latest music album The Hurting Kind. SoCal Concertgoers can listen to the acclaimed Grammy Award winning musical talent of White at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Jun. 11 and the Troubadour in Los Angeles Jun. 14.

John Paul White says he looks forward to these appearances.

“The synergy is pretty spot-on right now and I’m really proud of that and anxious for people out that way to see it in person.”

White himself eagerly cannot wait to return to California in general, too.

“I love my home state of Alabama but there are so many things about California I dearly love. I love the weather, the people, the weather, the food, the progressive nature of the state.”

He quickly adds with a chuckle he especially looks forward to the food.

“I actually eat plant-based nowadays which is really hard down in Alabama. They’ve found a way to put ham in just about everything.”

But it’s being able to share his music with others that he honestly looks forwards to in California.

John Paul White; press photo

John Paul White; press photo

“The best part of all is the people because the shows that I play in California have a definite thankfulness for us having traveled so far. I get it from people after shows, ‘thank you for driving all this way to play a show for us.’ That warms your heart and makes you want to do it even more because that’s the only reason to get out of the house is that kind of connection.”

White admits though he didn’t get into music for the sake of music.

“The way I got into it was just trying to meet girls, to be honest. Once I started figuring out the reaction from the other sex when I would sing, I thought, ‘this is what I want to do for a living.’ Later on in life I started digging down below the surface as I started writing songs and figuring out what made me click.”

White would be able to achieve a contract writing music for a musical label in Nashville for approximately 10 straight years before being granted the opportunity to play music himself. White says he doesn’t at all view this long wait as being tedious but educational.

“I learned everything I know about the craft of writing songs. It was an invaluable education for me as an artist to learn all the ins and outs of the bones of a hit song. I still use those things to this day.”

Since becoming a music artist in 2008, White’s performances and dynamic countrypolitan music have earned him praise from critics and music lovers. His songs have even been featured in shows and movies such as The Hunger Games and The Firm.

His most famous period of musical work was between 2009 and 2014 when he teamed up with fellow musician Joy Williams to form the Civil Wars: a musical duo that won four Grammy awards. Since the duo disbanded in 2014, White’s worked solo. This has better allowed him to make music on his terms.

White says he strives to be empathetic to the tastes of his audiences though.

“I have learned the hard way not to create a dish I think other people will like because I cannot possibly guess what anybody else is going to like. So, my entire M.O. is to please myself and pray that there is a bunch of people out there that like the same things that I do. As long as that’s the case, I’ll still have a job.”

For White, playing his songs live is always a great reward.

“I’m intensely proud of these songs and so when I get in and I start singing, I’m consciously doing this, I try to remember that feeling I had when I wrote them. That feeling I had when I played it back for myself, for my wife or for a friend. I never want to just go through the motions and let muscle memory move onto the next song. When that’s the case I’ll go home. I’ll go play with my babies because I miss them all the time.”

White hopes it never comes to that as he plans to continue singing and making music beyond his current tour.

“I’ve got a ton of songs that I feel in the back of my brain trying to beat their way out and so I think it will be kind of rinse and repeat. I’ll tour this record for a while, but I’ve got songs wanting to be born and so I would expect I’ll make another record and keep doing that the rest of my life.”

Cowboy Junkies Wrangle California With Music

COWBOY JUNKIES play The Coach House May 17, Observatory/North Park May 18, Fonda Theatre May 19; photo Heather Pollock

COWBOY JUNKIES play The Coach House May 17, Observatory/North Park May 18, Fonda Theatre May 19; photo Heather Pollock

The Cowboy Junkies, a group famous for its innovative takes on folk and country music, shall be touring throughout California May 8 to May 19. The group’s Southern California appearances specifically begin May 16 at Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, followed by May 17 at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, May 18 at The Observatory North Park, ending up at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on May 19.

Michael Timmins, the lead songwriter and guitarist for the group, says concertgoers can expect a good, lengthy two-hour show at each of these venues.

“It’s basically a whole night of our music and we do two sets, Timmins explained. “The first set we do is pretty much all of our new album All That Reckoning, about 40 minutes of it, and then the second set we do is about an hour and a half long and we do all the old catalog stuff.”

Though currently residing in Canada, where the group first formed, Timmins says he and his bandmates always looks forward to leaving Canada for a while to play in California.

“It’s always fun going to California, especially Northern California and we’ve always had a great audience in Southern California as well from the very early days of the band. So, it’s always been a strong market for us. It’s always fun to get there, especially this time of year when the weather is kind of iffy here in Canada, when it’s trying to turn into spring.”

Timmins says he especially looks forward to the group’s appearance at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano given the group’s history.

“It was just a venue that we had a lot of success at very early in our careers,” Timmins recalls. “When we used to come down to California we’d always play it and we’d occasionally play it multiple nights. They were all very nice to us. Gary (Folgner) there was very kind to us and made us feel welcome.”

That’s just one of many venues Timmins and his group have played. The group has been actively playing together since 1985. Their music, though usually typically classified as alternative country and folk rock, is something Timmins says is hard to define due to its influences.

“There’s a lot of different influences in it,” Timmins says. “There’s a lot of blues, there’s a lot of folk, a lot of psychedelic rock in there.”

Difficulty in defining their music also extends to their group name of Cowboy Junkies. This, Timmins says, is not unintentional.

“We had a show coming up when we were starting out and the club owner needed a name for the newspaper. We sort of sat around, threw names back and forth and those two words sort of stuck together and we kind of liked it and thought it was odd. It didn’t define anything; it was just kind of an odd sounding name and kind of puzzling and that’s what we thought we needed. We needed a name that stood out so that’s why we went with it.”

That unique name and equally unique musical style has proven to be invaluable to the group’s identity and success both on the stage and in the studio for over 30 years. During that time, Cowboy Junkies have played many concerts and music festivals and also recorded 17 studio albums.

Timmins says he remains grateful for the group’s success and ability to be on very friendly terms, not to mention that the four-person lineup has not changed since forming in 1985 enabling him to make the music he loves.

“It’s a great feeling,” Timmins admits. “It’s really liberating, especially doing it all these years. It’s quite an amazing feeling to be able to express oneself through one’s instrument and with a band and playing your own songs and having people react to them. It’s pretty special. At the end of your work day, people stand up and applaud for you, it’s great. It’s pretty special.”

After the current tour ends in Los Angeles, Timmins says the group will not waste time in getting back on the road.

“In July we go off to Europe. That’s the next stage. We have three weeks in Europe, so we’ll go do those shows and then we’ll come home and hopefully get some time off in August. In November we have some more touring in Ontario and then the eastern states.”

For the Timmins and the other Cowboy Junkies, traveling and singing their music wherever they can is a full-time job that shows no signs of stopping.

“We’re working musicians so that’s what we do. We tour.”

Michael Schenker Fest Returns To Rock In SoCal

MICHAEL SCHENKER plays Whisky A Go Go Apr. 15-17; photo James Christopher

MICHAEL SCHENKER plays Whisky A Go Go Apr. 15-17; photo James Christopher

Legendary rock guitarist Michael Schenker returns to Southern California as part of the second leg of his successful North America Resurrection tour. Concertgoers can enjoy classic and new songs the musician has played through his lengthy, still ongoing musical career at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles from Apr. 15 to Apr. 17 and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on Apr. 19.

Schenker promises that all of these appearances will be lengthy, enjoyable and feature a massive variety of music that ranges from his early work with the Scorpions and U.F.O. to newer ventures.

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

“It’s a long show but it feels like no time at all,” Schenker said. “By the time I play with the first singer and I’m getting into it, I’m introducing the second one. It can go for two hours and forty-five minutes, but it goes by so fast because of the variety of vocalists on stage.”

Schenker says all the vocalists featured in the show are all former musicians he has worked with throughout the years.

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

“It’s three Michael Schenker Group singers: Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley. Then there’s Doogie White, who used to be with Rainbow, who did a couple of albums with me and who is the current singer of Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock.”

In addition to being grateful to play alongside such talent, Schenker is also grateful for how well-received the first part of his Resurrection tour has gone as it has allowed him to play at locales and venues, he was unable to do so initially. Schenker says he is specifically looking forward to playing in Southern California.

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

“Cities like Los Angeles we thought of doing something special like at the Whisky A Go-Go because that’s where I started when I was 17 to 18 years old. The same goes for San Francisco which is one of my favorite places in America.”

Schenker cites San Francisco specifically as he recalls one concert he played at when he was 18 or so. Though he admits he is unable to recall everything about it, one thing he will never forget is the memorable response he and his bandmates got from concertgoers in response to their music.

“We had like 60,000 people,” Schenker recalls. “Almost each person had a light on. It was scary. I’d never experienced anything like that.”

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

Although he is now 64, Schenker still remains musically sharp and keen. The German-born musician, has remained constantly active in music having played at hundreds of concerts, produced over 40 albums since going solo and influenced a myriad of musicians.

Schenker owes these successes to his own self-interest in remaining consistent with his desire to produce genuine music on his terms since he was at a very young age.

“I stayed true to myself and I didn’t sell out,” Schenker proclaims. “I’ve carried on for half a century basically. I’ve never copied anybody since I was 17 and my first album was done when I was fifteen.”

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

Michael Schenker Fest; press photo

With his already impressive list of accomplishments throughout his career you would assume Schenker feels regretful about any missed opportunities. On the contrary: he says his musical contributions throughout the years have left him immensely satisfied with zero regrets and no further blockades to accomplish his goals.

“I built my house on the rock,” Schenker states. “I’ve got everything out of my system, I can do anything I want now. There’s nothing that would make me go, ‘oh shit. I wish I had this. I wish I had done that.’ It’s all done.”

What’s more, reaching his middle years not only makes him more passionate about music but his past experiences in both his personal and musical lives until now have given him a much better appreciation of who he is and the music he’s created over the years to better share it with others in the present.

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

Michael Schenker Fest; photo James Christopher

“I’m very grateful for the middle years and now I have a better idea of what happened in the past and I’m very happy about that knowledge,” Schenker admitted. “So now I can simply enjoy being so fortunate in having most of my original co-singers onstage singing the original compositions. It’s incredible!”

Schenker says that he will be focusing on live music until the end of the current Resurrection tour. He hopes that the group’s upcoming appearances in SoCal and beyond shall bring different generations of music lovers who enjoy his music together.

“It’s entertaining and it just stays fresh,” Schenker explained. “How can it not be? That variety of singers plus it brings people back to their places when they used to see us in the old days and for newcomers it’ll be like a time machine and see what it may have been like it those days. It’s a lot of fun.”

Dead Girls Academy To Enroll SoCal Music Lovers

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY; photo Rebecca Kylie

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY play the Whisky Apr. 6, The Parish Apr. 7 and Brick By Brick Apr. 14; photo Rebecca Kylie

Dead Girls Academy are coming to Southern California as part of their first major musical tour to celebrate the release of their first major record Alchemy. The five-man powerhouse is set to play at the Whisky A Go-Go Apr. 6, The Parish Apr. 7, and finally Brick By Brick Apr. 14, on tour with guitar veterans John 5 and Jared Nichols James.

Michael Orlando, the lead singer for the group, says he looks forward to these appearances in Southern California as the region is where he now lives.

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY; press photo

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY; press photo

“It’s always nice to play a home show and have your friends and family there to see what you’re doing. I mean, I do enjoy it and it definitely is better than playing thousands of miles away. Sometimes it’s just good to be home and rock out.”

Orlando adds that being a big fan of John 5, the upcoming appearances in SoCal are a great bonus.

“John 5 is the guitar player for Rob Zombie. He’s one of the best guitar players out there. So, it’s been pretty much an honor to tour with him and to be selected to head out with him. It’s been great.”

First formed in 2016, Dead Girls Academy is the brainchild of Orlando who sought to create a new group after the folding of his previous band.

“After my other band Vampires Everywhere decided to call it quits, I decided to try something new, something a little more melodic and Dead Girls Academy was formed around that idea,” Orlando recalls.

“I was starting something that would represent me now. I wanted to have a new persona and new feeling and direction for the music. I didn’t want to start beating a dead horse.”

Listening to the hard rock music the group performs definitely showcases this new direction. Personally describing what they play as a mixture of Motley Crüe and Nine Inch Nails.

“We start up with an idea whether it starts with a vocal melody or it starts off with a guitar melody, usually we just kind of work off that and create as we go.”

Orlando credits the creation of the group’s songs, especially those on Alchemy, for the strong cooperation that each member employs in their creation.

“We got a lot of people in the band that are very talented, especially writing for the new record, it’s very easy to write,” Orlando says.

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY album cover

DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY album cover

Although Orlando says not everything is quite as smooth or as easy. For example, as part of their promotion for Alchemy, the group have been hard at work at creating a set of music videos.

Orlando isn’t ashamed to admit he does not enjoy this aspect of music.

“I’m not a fan of making music videos. You’ve got to stay perfect the entire time. It’s hard, man. It’s one of those things that’s very repetitive. You don’t really get the opportunity to exorcise your demons like you would playing live. “

Actually, being able to play music at live shows is a release for Orlando that recording music doesn’t quite offer. Orlando says that being able to play live with his bandmates is what he always looks forward to.

“I love playing live. I love connecting with people. I mean that’s what it’s all about. Everything else is just the creative part where you have to do a lot of hard thinking. I think the live show is where you can let loose and be yourself.”

Should you ask him what his favorite moment playing live is, he cites one specific appearance Dead Girls Academy made back in 2017. To him it not only represented playing at a terrific venue but a sentimental location.

“It was in New York City at Hammerstein Ballroom,” Orlando recalls. “It was sold out at 35,000 people. It was pretty memorable. I was born in New York City, so it was kind of cool having that experience.”

Orlando hopes to add even more experiences as Dead Girls Academy looks out towards the road as that is where fans can expect to see them for some time.

“At this point, we’re just going to keep grinding and touring and trying to get out to as many fans as humanly possible,” says Orlando. “We have about 38 more dates on this tour and then we are rounding out to go play festivals like at Epicenter and Welcome to Rockville, so we’ll be pretty busy on the road until probably summertime.”

LIILY Brings Hyper High Energy Music To SoCal

LIILY play The Roxy Theatre Mar. 9; press photo

LIILY play The Roxy Theatre Mar. 9; press photo

LIILY, an alternative indie rock group hailing from Orange County, shall be making a stop in Southern California as part of their first major musical tour. The four-man group can be seen live at The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood on Mar. 9.

Maxx Morando, the group’s drummer, notes that this appearance will come one day after the release of the group’s first EP album I Can Fool Anybody in This Town. Concertgoers he says will get, in addition to a great show, the opportunity to listen to some of its songs live.”

“They should look forward to hearing some new songs and they should look forward to watching us go crazy,” Morando promised. “We’ll be playing the day after the EP comes out so they can hear those songs played live.”

Morando says he and his bandmates always look forward to playing in Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s fun playing there because people that come to our shows kind of go crazy in the crowd and we feed off that energy and it makes us have a good time,” Morando said. “I think in Southern California in general that’s the vibe: it’s a good time and its very fun.”

Southern California is also the official birthplace of the group and where Morando first met Sam De La Torre, the group’s guitar player.

“When Sam and I were younger, we were at a music school and we became friends and we wanted to start a band, so we started a band.”

It was during this time that the two also cemented their group’s name.

“We needed a name and one of our good friends, Lily Rosenthal, just said, ‘hey, why don’t you name it Lily?’ and we were like ‘okay,’ and then we put two I’s in it,” recalls Morando. “There was just two people in the band at the time, but we just kept the name.”

Not long afterwards, the group saw the inclusion of Charlie Anastasis, the bass player, as well as Dylan Nash, the vocalist.

“I was in music theory with Charlie and we went to an all-boys catholic school,” Morando says. “We needed a bass player, so we asked Charlie to join the band. Then Dylan also went to the music school that Sam and I went to when we were younger, so we hit him up and that’s how the band formed.”

I Can Fool Anybody In This Town EP cover

I Can Fool Anybody In This Town EP cover

LIILY has been officially playing since around 2015. The songs they play are described by Morando as being “hyper high energy” with songs he describes as being about “everything and nothing” which he uses to describe some of the weird things that happen in our lives and how we overcome them.
Ideas for these songs start off very simple according to Morando.

“Usually it starts with someone in the band having an idea,” Morando noted. “We have a backlog of a bunch of ideas and then we expand on an idea. We like to see it to its natural conclusion. That’s pretty much what we do song writing-wise. Everybody has their input on what the song should turn out to be, but it usually starts with one person having an idea and the rest of us then go, ‘let’s see where this one goes?’”

This process was used in the making of I Can Fool Anybody in This Town. The album and its six songs represent what Morando says is effectively LIILY’s way of fully committing themselves to a full-time musical career.

“We’ve been doing a lot of things outside of this band and it’s taken us a while to make this band all our focus and now that it is this album is pretty much us wanting us to get out there and do something and say something and make real art. This is kind of like dipping our toes in the water I think.”

The group though, definitely has experience playing live. Morando cites The Echo as being one of LILLY’s most favored venues to play. But no matter where LILLY goes Morando states, he and his bandmates always look forward to the experience of playing live.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Morando said. “It’s a nice energy release, you know, different from recording and writing. It’s a very nice release of whatever you’re feeling and it’s just a lot of fun. I think we all really enjoy playing live.”
Morando says that this experience shall become more of a norm as the group starts embarking on its first ambitious musical tour and first major record release.

“We’re going to release this EP soon and we’re going to start touring soon as much as possible and then work on the next project. That’s pretty much it: just keep writing songs and see what happens.”