Crazy Energy Of Dream Wife

DREAM WIFE play The Echo Oct. 10 and Constellation Room Oct. 13; photo Hollie Fernando

DREAM WIFE play The Echo Oct. 10, Casbah Oct. 12 and Constellation Room Oct. 13; photo Hollie Fernando

Listening to Dream Wife’s self-titled debut album, it sounds like they’re having a ton of fun, which guitarist Alice Go enthusiastically confirmed. Looking at their tour schedule, it seems there’s no rest for the wicked!

“It’s true, it’s true,” Go declared. “It was like straight after we released our album in January this year we went straight out to play Laneway Festival in Australia. And kind of since then pretty much this year has been nonstop. So, yea, it’s going to be great to come out and do a headline tour to the U.S.”

And playing live is what it’s all about, the live show being the truest part of their whole project, one that started a few years back when they all met at art school in England.

“It’s where the energy, where the soul comes from, it’s basically jamming in the practice room, it’s the way we interact with our friends and family, it’s a crazy chemistry in Dream Wife, it’s always such a great energy on stage, and we hope that translates to the crowd and I think actually as a band we try to break the ice… it’s the way we play…and have a good time ourselves,” Go explained.

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

It’s interesting how Dream Wife has both playful and serious songs that make you stop and think one moment, then let loose and be silly the next.

“It’s always a really special part of the set when we play our song “Somebody”,” Go mused. “I think it’s when everyone actually is respecting everyone else around them and it brings the focal of attention to that.

“Then coming from that song later in the set to “F.U.U” where it’s everyone screaming “bitch” together as a crowd … I think it’s the major extremes in the set that hopefully everyone can enjoy themselves and everyone can take something from it.”

Vocalist Rakel Mjöll, writes the lyrics, weaving together stories from conversations between the band members or their friends, keeping it true to heart, with the possible exception of “F.U.U” which may or may not have evolved from jamming the theme song from the Fresh Prince.

“There’s a couple of original stories at this point,” Go laughed. “I think we were just jamming around with the theme tune for the Fresh Prince and it just escalated… I think that playful nature comes across in the way we like to write. At this point I’m not even sure what the origin story is!”

Bella Podpadec plays bass and while they used to work with a drum machine, they currently play with a live drummer, Alex Paveley.

“He’s amazing,” Go said. “I think having live percussion brings a lot of energy. That backbeat is really important to this band and the sound.”

Dream Wife; album art

Dream Wife; album art

But, back when the three women started this project, they wanted to figure out amongst themselves what their terms were, what they wanted from the band and how they wanted to navigate the music industry.

“You want to figure out what your project is on your own terms before someone else comes along and tells you how it is, so we were very wary of that sort of stuff,” Go explained.

“At the moment I think we have an amazing indie label – Lucky Number – based in London, they’re very supportive, and we really trust them to enable us to take this project in a way that we see fit…we can do some things we were never able to do before… but it still feels like a project that is in our control in terms of vision, content, message, where we want to go musically… I feel very lucky about the position we’re in.”

While Go feels a lot has changed in the male dominated music industry, she also feels women need to band together, in a sense, too.

“I think yes, a lot has changed in that it’s a conversation in a more open way with diversity and equality in the music business,” Go said. “I have a sense that ultimately it’s still a conversation that needs to be pushed and we can’t lax on that otherwise things stay stagnant and don’t change. It’s about continuing the conversation.”

For decades women in music have often been viewed as a novelty or a manufactured thing. One or the other. There weren’t many women in rock that were role models.

“Yea, yea, totally, totally, totally,” Go enthused. “It’s either a unicorn in the traditional sense or it’s a kind of no control situation… a manufactured situation or a fake situation.

“It’s like the Spice Girls were so exciting as a kid and girl power … I think there’s something empowering about that feeling now and reclaiming that as well as reclaiming the place in music where we’re more serious as musicians…yea, yea, it’s kind of complicated, isn’t it?

Be a part of the wild energy and catch Dream Wife Oct. 13 at Constellation Room.

Music Tastes Good: A Tale From The Photo Pit

SANTIGOLD; photo Andy Ortega

SANTIGOLD; photo Andy Ortega

It’s about time someone finally brings the greatest things in life together in one place and with this being the 3rd Music Tastes Good Festival, it was done perfectly! This 2-day festival on September 29th and 30th allowed me to stuff my face with delicious food on the way to get photo coverage of the next artist, burn off some calories while dancing and doing photographer jiu-jitsu in the photo pit, then repeat, over and over again! It was glorious!

The event was held in the downtown Long Beach Marina Green area with familiar landmarks in the background such as the Long Beach Convention Center, Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

SHAME; photo Andy Ortega

SHAME; photo Andy Ortega

The first artist I covered was Shame, a UK-based rock band. It was a great way to start my day off right since they brought an amazing energy that kept the audience on their feet, while keeping the photographers in the photo pit on our toes as well. Shame is the type of band that moves all over the place on the stage (well, except for the drummer and keys obviously). It makes it easy to get a “money shot” where the singer’s hair is caught swinging mid-air, or the guitarist is captured leaping off a speaker. This was mid-afternoon in the outdoors on a sunny California day, which means I could get sharp, action pics with my shutter speed as high as 1/500 or 1/1000!

OLIVER TREE; photo Andy Ortega

OLIVER TREE; photo Andy Ortega

The next artist I was covering, Oliver Tree, was performing at the other stage called the Gold Stage. It was at the opposite end of the festival, which meant I would need to traverse through the smoke of food trucks and the central Taste Tent where many people were being trapped with the luring scents coming from within. It took all of my willpower, but I just couldn’t resist.

CHERRY GLAZERR; photo Andy Ortega

CHERRY GLAZERR; photo Andy Ortega

In the Taste Tent, you could get a $5 voucher to try a dish from many of the chefs in attendance. One of the chefs, Nancy Leon of Tijuana, Mexico, was serving Seaweed Baja taco that consisted of snow crab, mackerel w/ avocado, Meyer lemon, crispy panko, and shiso micro greens served with wasabi dressing.

LIZZO; photo Andy Ortega

LIZZO; photo Andy Ortega

Another chef, Sincere Justice of Oakland, California was serving his “BO KHO TACO” with Vietnamese styled braised brisket (bo kho), roasted garlic lebne, lemongrass morita salsa, herbs, and cucumber. Sounds tasty, eh?

As I stumbled out of the Taste Tent, belly full and a slightly uncomfortable grin on my face, I made my way to the Gold Stage just in time for Oliver Tree.

JANELLE MONAE; photo Andy Ortega

JANELLE MONAE; photo Andy Ortega

I covered a few other artists including Cherry Glazerr, Blake Mills and Lizzo. Next up was Santigold! But there was a problem. By this time, the attendance at the festival had swelled. It seemed like everyone that was going to arrive this day had just entered – including a swarm of photographers that had lined up along the side of the stage to get access to Santigold’s performance. The energy for concert goers was at its peak, but for us concert photographers, it was at the point where I was a bit worried. Would the photo pit delve into a barbaric, rude, mosh pit of starving artists competing for the best spot???

BLAKE MILLS; photo Andy Ortega

BLAKE MILLS; photo Andy Ortega

As the music started, the security guard began letting us in. He counted each person and as I approached, I heard him say “… 19, 20, Stop right here, Sir”. Yup, I was number 21 and immediately a shiver ran down my spine. I stuttered, nervous and a little upset, and asked him, “When do the rest of us get in?”. “Two songs, then your group gets to go in for two songs”. I was so relieved! While the photo pit was still quite crowded, I was pleased to see that we were able to squeeze through and get the shots that we were happy with.

NEW ORDER; photo Andy Ortega

NEW ORDER; photo Andy Ortega

Later that night, I enjoyed covering New Order as they played their hit from 1983 “Blue Monday”. Ah good times!

On day 2 of the Music Tastes Good Festival, I covered Sun Kil Moon, Lizzo and Janelle Monae. Ate more food and checked out the shops and art that was displayed throughout. All in all, the Music Tastes Good Festival was a great experience for the foodie, the hard-core festival goer or the music-obsessed family to enjoy a wonderful time.

Lee Rocker Set To Storm Orange County Once Again!

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

“It goes way back, but I’m from a musical family of classical musicians from New York,” states the legendary Lee Rocker.

“My dad was a solo clarinet for the Philharmonic, my mom was a music teacher at the college there; so, there was music constantly around the house. And I started really playing instruments like the cello around seven years old. It’s kind of a family business, you know?

“Started The Stray Cats in my dad’s garage. And you know, by the time I was seventeen had a record deal in England. So, it started super young.”

Rocker has been a seminal force in music ever since his twenties and shows no signs of slowing down either.

“I gotta say, playing music really is…just a passion,” Rocker explains.

“It’s like breathing, it’s something I gotta do. You know, it’s sort of hard to describe but its part of me and I love doing it. I’ve been on the road and recording for almost forty years, 39 years, and in a way, it just gets better and better. I’m passionate, always pushing myself, always trying to learn more, do things a little differently, and figure new things out. So, it’s a constant growth in a way.”

Lee Rocker

Lee Rocker

Well known for his work with The Stray Cats, he has his own band that plays regularly too.

“It’s a four-piece band I’ve had now for a couple years,” describes Rocker.

“My guitar player is Buzz Campbell, and Buzz I’ve known for god…at least twenty years and we’ve worked together for probably close to that. I’ve got a great drummer, Larry Mitchell, and a wonderful like multi-instrumentalist guy, Joey Eights… like the number. And he plays pianos and guitars and harmonica. The band is a well-oiled machine I gotta say. We have a new record coming out soon, a live record we did at a venue called Daryl’s Place, which is Daryl Hall’s place in New York.”

Their upcoming show at The Coach House is especially momentous for the Orange County native.

“I’m stoked and looking forward to The Coach House,” Rocker excitedly expounds.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. It gives me a chance to not only do the concert but tell some stories, to talk about some things behind the music.”

He further elaborates on the upcoming live show, “I’ve cherry picked songs from throughout my career. Certainly, doing my hits like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” and “Sexy And Seventeen” from my Stray Cats years.

“And then things from throughout my career that I’ve written and songs that I’ve done with people – ranging from George Harrison, or Keith Richards, or Carl Perkins – who was a really good friend of mine and wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”. And I definitely have some new stuff, I’ve been in the studio, and I’m gonna bust out a couple brand new songs that I haven’t even had a chance to record yet.

“The audience is what it’s all about. The energy in the room and I gotta say, for me, it doesn’t matter if that room is 500 people or 5,000 people. It’s just that human thing of being in a room, and that transfer of energy between an audience and a musician is just so cool.”

His affection for music is readily apparent, and as a result he has touched numerous people’s lives.

“When you meet people and hear how your music has changed people’s lives, it’s pretty amazing,” Rocker said.

“I spoke to someone a little while back…a man from Japan who said he had seen the Stray Cats in the eighties. He loved the band so much that he learned English and moved to America. It’s really moving stuff…you know, monumental.”

As for the future, it looks as bright as ever.

“We are putting out a new live record I mentioned called the Low Road,” Rocker revealed.

“It’s just a great live concert that is also a DVD, a CD, and also on vinyl. That should be out in December.

“Next year, I will definitely be putting out a new studio record of songs that I’ve written. So, folks should check the website and social media cuz we are gonna be talking about it and things are coming up quick.”

Make sure to catch Lee Rocker and his band as they rock the night away and divulge fascinating stories from his lengthy time as a musician. It all goes down Oct. 6 at The Coach House!

Shonen Knife To Stab SoCal With Joyful Pop Punk

SHONEN KNIFE play The Bootleg Oct. 5; photo Tomoko Ota

SHONEN KNIFE play The Bootleg Oct. 5; photo Tomoko Ota

The influential Japanese band Shonen Knife shall soon be coming to entertain SoCal with their upbeat pop punk style. The bardic three-woman band is scheduled to play at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles Oct. 5 and The Casbah in San Diego Oct. 6 which will end their current ALIVE! In The USA 2018 tour which celebrates the release of the group’s latest live CD/DVD ALIVE! In Osaka.

Naoko Yamano, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, looks forward to these appearances.

“We have a plan to play some songs from our 1990’s and 1980’s which we have never played in the U.S.,” Naoko said. “Also, we are preparing various fun songs from recent albums. We have new costumes, too.”

Shonen Knife is also noteworthy for influencing bands such as Sonic Youth, Red Kross and Nirvana. The latter’s lead singer, Kurt Cobain, was well-noted for being an outspoken fan of theirs and credited for providing inspiration.

Shonen Knife’s place of origin can be traced back to 1981 in Osaka, Japan. The group’s formation was spearheaded by Yamano who has remained with the group and has helped produce 20 studio albums and help musically at numerous live performances.

However, Yamano remains the only consistent member of the band. Shonen has undergone quite a number of lineup changes over the years.

Shonen Knife; press photo

Shonen Knife; press photo

“I asked our original bassist Michie to be a member,” Yamano remembers. “She was my college friend. And I asked my sister Atsuko to be our drummer. When Michie left the band, Atsuko switched to bass from the drums. Then we had three drummers including a support member. Risa is our present drummer. She joined the band from 2015.”

If you’re curious as to what exactly a Shonen Knife is and why it’s the band’s name, Yamano credits that to a moment of inspiration during a school class she once attended.

“At an English examination, a girl in front of me had an old pencil knife in her pencil case,” Yamano recalled. “The brand name on it was Shonen Knife in Japanese. Shonen means boy in Japanese so it means Boy Knife. The image of it was cute and dangerous. I thought that described our music, so I used that name.”

That name has stuck and so has their music which is best described as a mixture of both traditional pop and punk rock music featuring upbeat tempos and lyrics. Such songs have been an invaluable part of Shonen Knife’s appeal and why they continue to maintain a loyal following.

Yamano, who is largely in charge of composing, says the songs are largely based on simple observations and happenings in her life.

“I write down topics which I find during my daily life,” Yamano explained. “Then expand them to be lyrics and put melody lines on them. Writing lyrics is very difficult for me.”

Their music has not only been played in Japan but also here in the States and around the world. This has given Yamano and her bandmates exposure for concertgoers around the globe.

“I don’t see many differences between the U.S. and Japan when we play,” Yamano states. “But our U.S. fans are always very cheerful and friendly, and they are music lovers. I like that.”

For Yamano, playing live remains just as terrific as when the group started playing 37 years ago.

“Playing live is exciting. When the audience loves our music, I am very happy.”

Following the end of the tour Oct 6 in San Diego, Yamano says she and her fellow musical compatriots have much more to do.

“After the U.S. tour, we will have some shows in Japan,” Yamano said. “Then I will start to make new songs and record a new album. Then we’ll tour all over the world.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Electric Six “Bride Of The Devil”

Electric Six "Bride Of The Devil" album cover

Electric Six “Bride Of The Devil” album cover

Detroit’s very own Electric Six roar back with Bride Of The Devil their newest release on Metropolis Records, and the hardest working band in showbiz or at least in The Motor City have decided it’s time to rock your world and rock it very, very hard.

So, here’s the thing about the Electric Six, they are funny, and I mean really funny guys, who just happen to be able to lay down a groove like the bad ass Detroit street rockers that they are, all without taking themselves too seriously (god bless ‘em) and Bride Of The Devil is their own twisted take on the “RAWK” anthem. Filled with hooks, wailing guitars and over the top vocals, Electric Six have gifted us with a blast of fresh music that will rock your socks off – cowbell included at no extra charge.

Electric Six are nothing if not direct, and Bride Of The Devil opens with… “The Opener” a chugging slice of muscular rock that sets a horns up, rock attack attitude for the whole album.

“You’re Toast” is a stadium sized bone crusher wrapped up in a 3 minute 21 second bow and containing not one but two face melting guitar solos. Don’t tell these guys that rock is dead because they ain’t buying it and after hearing this smoker neither am I.

Electric Six; press photo

Electric Six; press photo

“Hades Ladies” arrives just in the nick of time to be the anthem to the best holiday of the year (of course I mean Halloween) and if you’re not singing along with the grin inducing chorus on this little piece of ear candy you’re either dead or just a tone-deaf fool.

Of course, what every ROCK epic needs are a couple of slow numbers to get the girls on the dance floor. Electric Six know the rules and Bride Of The Devil has its share, the stand out being “Worm Of The Wood”. Maybe it’s a paean to an absinthe fueled night, its snatches of debauchery remembered only as a trippy hallucination… or maybe it’s not, how should I know? All I can say is it’s a great track and the awesome chorus that borrows a bit from Romeo Void, kicks ass, and when they do this one live I’m grabbing my girl and slow dancing real close.

So now that Electric Six have given us Bride Of The Devil, a most perfect soundtrack to THE perfect holiday I ask you, isn’t it the least we can do to thank them by buying their record? A concert ticket? And maybe even a friggin’ t-shirt? And should some shady character approach you at the show with a contract, only valid when signed in blood… well sign the damn thing because they don’t call rock-n-roll the devil’s music for nothing!

This Patch Of Sky Brings Post-Rock To SoCal

THIS PATCH OF SKY play Hi Hat Sep. 20; photo Shane Cotee

THIS PATCH OF SKY play Hi Hat Sep. 20; photo Shane Cotee

Those who are looking for the chance to enjoy music that is instrumental but cinematic in quality are in luck as This Patch Of Sky shall soon be coming to Neck Of The Woods in San Francisco Sep. 19 and The Hi Hat in Los Angeles Sep. 20.

“We’re really looking forward to Neck Of The Woods – we’ve never played there before,” Kit Day, the group’s lead guitarist, mentioned. “And then, down in L.A., The Hi Hat looks like an incredible venue so we’re excited for that one as well.”

Of the two appearances, Day proclaims he is especially looking forward to playing at Neck Of The Woods.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with the bands Wander and Our Fathers. Wander is also a post-rock band and Our Fathers has vocals with a bit of post-rock tendencies.”

This Patch Of Sky, like Wander, is a post-rock band. First formed in Eugene, Oregon in 2010. Day says the group initially started off as just a means for him and friends to meet and indulge in their love of playing their own music.

“I started the band after a band that I was in kind of faded away and it was really just to have some fun, jam with some friends,” Day recalled.

“Growing up, I’ve been in a ton of bands. It always seemed to be the vocalists that kind of made or broke the band. And this time around we just decided, ‘hey, let’s just start playing with no vocalist’.
That way we’re not stuck with verse, chorus, verse, chorus and can do what we want to do, let the song, the music take you where you want it to go without having vocals in it.”

Day describes the music as “the soundtrack to the end of world.” Instead of words, their songs depend entirely on atmosphere, mood and sound.

“The music that we create, we try to invoke emotions through it,” Day explained. “We don’t have a vocalist and so instead we let the instruments basically do the talking for you. Anyone that listens to our music, they’re really just interpreting it how they want to interpret it which is what we love. It’s really a universal language. A lot of what we do is more soundtrack type stuff for movies so when you just think of the end of the world, you have a roller coaster of emotions that are going up and down and that’s what we try to create.”

Their unique music has helped them acquire a following in the music community along with critical praise. Such support has, as of this writing, been of immense aid in the creation of three albums with the latest, These Small Spaces, being released last September. It’s even helped Day and his bandmates produce the soundtrack for the Russell Brand documentary Brand: A Second Coming.

But despite all that, Day says the group still enjoys the thrill of playing live.

“Oh man, it’s so much fun,” Day said. “Playing live is definitely my favorite thing to do. A lot of people don’t really know what to expect when they go and see an instrumental band because they’re usually focused on the singer. Being able to present what we have to an audience and being able to create those emotions live, that’s definitely one of our favorite parts.”

Though This Patch Of Sky has performed at a sizeable number of live concerts, the most memorable to date was some time ago in Phoenix, Arizona.
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“We played at The Rebel Lounge with a band called Holy Fawn,” recounts Day. “We didn’t really know what to expect when playing with them and the first time seeing them live they just absolutely blew us away. This was a year ago. Since then we’ve become really good friends and we ended up doing a small tour together this year. It was incredible just to see that band night after night perform. They’re probably one of our favorite bands to play with.”

Beyond their upcoming appearances in SoCal and other places around the United States, Day says that the group plans to take their music in a new direction: around the world.

“Europe is a big one we’re looking forward to next year,” Day mused. “We haven’t quite announced it yet, but we are looking to get overseas. We’re also playing in Mexico City this February that we’re excited to announce here shortly as well. So really, it’s just taking a national act and becoming international. That’s really what we’re focused on right now.”

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 HOB/SD Sep. 12, The Wiltern Sep. 14 and HOB/Anaheim Sep. 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 is currently on the SiriusXM Hair Nation 2018 Tour that will stop at HOB/SD Sep. 12, The Wiltern Sep. 14 and HOB/Anaheim Sep. 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.”

Gary Numan Brings The Future To The Observatory

GARY NUMAN plays the Observatory Sep. 4; press photo

GARY NUMAN plays the Observatory Sep. 4; press photo

Always moving forward, Gary Numan continues to be a pioneer. While first becoming a household name with his futuristic single “Cars” in the early eighties, he has never stood still. Always looking ahead at what’s next, he has constantly molded and transformed his sound: from the synthesizer played through guitar effects in his early work, to experiments with jazz as well as funk, to the industrial style of his more recent output.

As a result of all this, he released his 18th album Savage (Songs from a Broken World) last year and is currently touring around the world behind it. Garnering rave reviews, it further establishes Numan’s desire to keep pushing forward and push the envelope of what music can be. In anticipation of his Sep. 4 show at The Observatory, we caught up with Numan to find out what makes him tick, the concept behind Savage, and what tomorrow holds.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You’re currently on tour. For those who do or don’t know your history, what can we expect from a Gary Numan concert these days?
GARY NUMAN: I have a real problem with nostalgia, I don’t like it at all, so I tend to focus on the new rather than the old. For people coming along hoping to predominantly listen to the early electronic stuff from a lifetime ago, I think they will be disappointed. Most fans are aware of this though. I’ve never wallowed in nostalgia. I do a few songs from the early days but it’s a quarter of the set at best. I’m promoting a new album, Savage; in fact, this is my second North American tour promoting Savage, so that’s where the main thrust of the show comes from.

Gary Numan album cover "Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

Gary Numan album cover “Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

CGL: Tell me a little bit about your last album Savage (Songs from a Broken World). Why did you choose that name for it?
GN: Savage looks at a world in the future that’s been devastated by global warming. However, the global warming element of it is simply the backdrop for the main topic the album looks at, which is the brutality of humankind when survival of the fittest becomes the norm. It is not a happy album, but it does have tiny slivers of hope if you look hard.

CGL: Is there a particular song that sticks out for you from that album?
GN: I like to think it has many stand out songs but the one that really works the best for me is a song called “My Name Is Ruin.” Partly because my daughter Persia sings on it, and appears in the video for it to be honest. She’s also toured with me a number of times, and has sung it live all over the world so it’s become a definite favorite to play live.

CGL: What are some of your favorite songs to play from Savage?
GN: The album was written from the outset to work well when played live. The majority of the songs therefore have huge chorus melodies and are deliberately dynamic sonically. This makes them exciting to play live, but my favorites are “My Name Is Ruin” and “Ghost Nation.”

CGL: Who is in the current tour lineup? Have you guys toured and played together before?
GN: Richard Beasley on drums, Tim Muddiman on bass, Steve Harris on guitar and David Brooks on keyboards. Tim is the new boy, and yet, he’s been with me for nearly 20 years. We are all very close friends and have been touring together for a very long time, so it makes it a very enjoyable experience. Arguments amongst us are almost unheard of, extremely rare. I could never tour with people that I didn’t get on with. Spending months at a time in a bus with the same people could be difficult if the personality mix isn’t right. We have that, with the crew as well actually. I miss everyone when we’re not touring.

GARY NUMAN; photo James Christopher

GARY NUMAN; photo James Christopher

CGL: What is your favorite aspect to playing a live show?
GN: The crowd reaction makes or breaks it. If the crowd is with you, and vocal about it, that lifts you to a state that’s hard to find anywhere else. It is literally ‘uplifting,’ and we all feed on that. A quiet crowd makes it feel more like a job. Luckily, we don’t get too many of that kind. Also though, I love traveling; so beyond the show itself, I really love the process of touring, of constantly moving to new places. Each day becomes a new adventure.

CGL: Which other songs from your history do you especially like to play?
GN: From my history? None really. I’ve played all the older songs a thousand times, so they’ve lost their spark and charm somewhat. Because of that, I do try to pull out some rare things once in a while to keep me interested in back catalogue, or rework them to keep them feeling a bit fresher. That works for a while.

CGL: You have been playing music for 20+ years now. What is your take on the current state of music and its future?
GN: I’ve actually been doing this for over 40 years and I very much do my own thing. I welcome new technologies, be it musical or social, and incorporate those that help and move around those that don’t. But, it’s all about how it can help me. I got sick to death of listening to people whining about the state of the music business, albums sales falling, this is wrong, that’s wrong, always complaining, always worrying. I don’t agree with any of that. These changes are not the death knell of the music business. I’ve loved the way the business has evolved over the last 15, 20 years or so. I’ve embraced every change that I thought would help me and my career. It’s brought artists closer to fans (for those that want that); yes, record sales have fallen but new opportunities have come along. New types of label deals have meant that, for some of us, decreased album sales have not necessarily meant a decrease in income. You just have to really understand what works and what doesn’t. I self-manage for example, that was a huge change, but it’s really worked for me. I don’t sign conventional artist deals with labels, haven’t for a long time. There is so much you can do to combat the down side of change if you keep your eyes open, and there are new opportunities that didn’t exist before.

CGL: What do you like about playing music today compared to the past?
GN: Nothing’s changed as far as I can tell. Playing music today is exciting and rewarding, just as it was before. The only thing I would suggest that is arguably better these days is reliability of equipment. It is true that I have more confidence now compared to when I started, which is understandable, and that brings with it a less stressed attitude at show time. I like that, so that’s an improvement I suppose.

CGL: Is there a new album and/or material in the works?
GN: There is a special edition of Savage with three new songs coming out in November, but I plan to start the next studio album, the follow up to Savage, in February 2019. Looking forward to that very much.

CGL: What inspires you to continue making new music?
GN: I have three children so wanting to make sure I can give them the best chance in life keeps me eager to work harder than ever. Beyond that, I’ve never lost my love for moving forward. I still get very excited by the challenge of finding new sounds, new ways of putting music together, new things to write about. I’m creative by nature, it’s a need as much as a desire, so I’m always surprised when people get in to the latter stages of their career and start writing bland old shit, or repeating themselves musically. Wanting to progress, to create new things, is what gets me up in the morning. It’s never been a problem finding the desire to do that.

CGL: Is there anything else you would like to add?
GN: Just that I am hugely grateful for the support. People taking the time to come to a gig is not something I take for granted, and I am very grateful.

Break On Through With Wild Child

WILD CHILD play The Coach House Sep. 1; photo Wayne Herrschaft

WILD CHILD play The Coach House Sep. 1; photo Wayne Herrschaft

“Probably the number one comment we have received for many years is, ‘I never got to see The Doors live but I feel this is as close as I will ever get. Thank you for doing this. I was born at the wrong time and missed it’,” Dave Brock (founder/vocalist) shared.

SoCal is fortunate once again to experience the sensation that is Wild Child, as they return to The Coach House with the ultimate tribute to The Doors Sep. 1, playing songs such as “Hello, I Love You”, “Touch Me,” and “Light My Fire” to name a few.

“The Coach House has a long history of hosting some of the best bands that ever played,” Brock said. “If the walls could talk… The level of entertainment there is always at the top. The setting is very intimate yet holds a fairly big crowd for a club. There’s not a bad seat in the house. People have a great time there.”

Concert Guide Live caught up with Brock to find out how it all began, about the attention to detail in both the sound and equipment, and much more.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Did you ever see Jim Morrison play live?
WILD CHILD: Although I was alive when The Doors were playing, I was far too young to actually see them in person. My brother was eight years older than I and saw them as a teenager. He loved The Doors.

I remember one time driving home with my mother and brother as a small kid. The long version of “Light My Fire” was on the radio and I remember my brother yelling out loud that this song was going to last all the way home. I was aware of The Doors as a child, but they really didn’t get on my radar until midway through college, when I was going through a phase of discovery as most young people do. Questioning… everything. Exploring, testing the boundaries. Examining everything I was ever taught or told. This is great music for those at that period in their life.

Dave Brock, Wild Child

Dave Brock, Wild Child

CGL: How important is it to you and the rest of the band to play the songs as close to the originals as possible?
WC: Probably the most important thing that Wild Child does, is playing the music as close as possible to the original. Whether it be the studio recorded version or perhaps a great live version. Or a combination of the two.
Our instrumentation is exactly what The Doors had. We were able to find a very rare Gibson portable organ, as Ray (Manzarek) used to play live on stage. Very ominous sounding keyboard that is impossible to simulate with a synthesizer. We also had Ludwig Custom make a drum kit exactly like John Densmore’s. Same Gibson SG guitar Robby (Krieger) used to play.

But it does not stop there. It’s mandatory in this band to play the songs exactly like the original members. No one interjects with their favorite licks they have learned over the years or plays in a different style. We realize what people are paying for and what they deserve.

CGL: What is one of your favorite songs to play live?
WC: What I like most about The Doors songs is that for the most part they are very different from each other. It’s almost like walking through an art gallery, each song is like a different painting. With lots of visual imagery and poetry. The band is comprised of such different types of musicians. A boogie-woogie keyboard player, a flamenco guitar player and a jazz drummer in the same band. Crazy good!

CGL: What is the longest tour you ever went on? How did you keep yourself engaged while constantly riding a bus?
WC: The longest tour I was ever on was in Europe. Mostly Western Europe. However, it was only for about a month and a half. I have never done extremely long tours. Probably why I have had such a long career. I have also very rarely done bus tours. I prefer sleeping in hotels. Our equipment / crew needs are so small that we really don’t even need a bus. I went on a few bus tours with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors, when I was their singer. That is how they preferred to tour. Those were great times, but I hated leaving a five-star hotel room to bump down the road in a bus overnight. The closer I can get to a normal life on the road, the better I feel about it.

CGL: Tell me about the moment that led to you deciding to do a tribute to the Doors?
WC: While attending Long Beach State University I became a big Doors fan. I heard a radio ad about the Jim Morrison rock opera at Gazzari’s night club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. So, I went to it the next evening. It turned out to be a live audition and not really quite a rock opera, yet. I showed up and they let me in for free. All they needed was my name for the clipboard. Later I found myself being called on stage to sing a song. The only one I knew was “LA Woman”. Never before doing something in front of a crowd, held a microphone etc., I was singing “LA Woman”. When it was over, Jim Morrison’s sister, Anna came out of the crowd and had photos taken with me. Soon after they offered the lead role to me. That’s what got me into this mess. But I really have enjoyed it. After that journey ended, I took some time off and then formed my own band, Wild Child.

Dave Brock, Wild Child

Dave Brock, Wild Child

CGL: How many songs do you know? Are there any you’d still like to learn?
WC: I’ve probably done every song The Doors have done at one time or another. However, for our show I have to realize that most people coming to see us only know what they’ve heard on the radio and may not even own any of the albums. So, I have to be careful with how many obscure songs we add to a set of music. Maybe two or three at the most. Luckily the hits are not poppy or corny.

CGL: Vocally, what do you do to keep your voice and range in shape?
WC: My secret to vocal longevity is attributed to these two things. First of all, I sing in my own vocal range. Where a lot of people doing other people’s material actually have to sing outside their normal range to accomplish that. That is very hard on your voice.

Alice Cooper: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Walking into Pechanga Resort and Casino, waiting to see if my credentials were there, I was excited to see and photograph a rock legend – Alice Cooper.

Once inside, they told me and the other photographers that we were allowed to shoot the first four songs. Normally it’s three! But as the lights went out, not having a photo pit at this venue the tricky thing is to try to fit in and not to get in the way of others watching the show.

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

Alice Cooper; photo Reuben Martinez

As soon as Alice came out the crowd was instantly on their feet. Alice knows how to entertain, and with an elite band as well. One thing to look for at his shows is his guitarist Nita Strauss, I like to call her the Queen of the 6-Strings. A phenomenal guitar player as well as Tommy Henrikson and Ryan Roxy, and Glen Sobel on drums and Chuck (Beasto Blanco) Garric on bass. Every musician in Alice’s band is top notch.

Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper); photo Reuben Martinez

Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper); photo Reuben Martinez

As the songs play on so do his stage antics. From a fencing sword with money featuring Alice’s face being thrown to the crowd, to a monstrous “Alice” as a Frankenstein monster, to a guillotine where his stage hands throw him in and cut his head off executioner style.

Alice finished the night wearing a white tux jacket while playing hits like “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out”, accompanied by a bubble machine. Personally, this was such a treat to shoot, just seeing someone that is 70 years young still touring and putting on a great show.

If you can, check out Alice Cooper and his amazing band on the Paranormal Tour.

Set list:
Brutal Planet
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
Be My Lover
Lost in America
Serious
Fallen in Love
Woman of Mass Distraction
Poison
Halo of Flies
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Paranoiac Personality
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer
I Love the Dead
I’m Eighteen
School’s Out