Insanity Of DMT Amaze On Bauhaus Tour

Jonty Ball S / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Jonty Ball S / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

“Vodka! A couple of Red Bulls! Maybe some beer!” each member of Desert Mountain Tribe (DMT) shouted and then laughed about what they like to do prior to playing a show. “You gotta be just drunk enough, but not too drunk.”

Desert Mountain Tribe are in good spirits playing their unique atmosphere of psychedelic, melodic songs and captivating many new fans as they tour across the U.S. on the Peter Murphy 40 Years Of Bauhaus Celebration featuring David J. However, getting to the first night of the tour in Anaheim, CA, from their home base in England was a bit of a challenge.

“Thing is with that one, we literally got off the plane about two hours before and we were told that the security at the airport was going to take at least two hours,” Jonty Ball S (guitar/vocals) recalled. “We managed to get off the plane to the van where our trusty tour manager and driver, LG, was waiting for us. And we managed to make it across L.A. in an hour fifteen – from LAX to Anaheim – which is pretty insane – in the pouring rain!

“There was just like two and a half weeks to planning this thing which is insane for a whole America tour. But it’s all working out so far, we’re all good.”

Frank van der Ploeg / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Frank van der Ploeg / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

The trio has gone through a couple of recent changes with drummer Frank van der Ploeg joining to play live with the group since mid-2017.

“What are you playing with, like a fractured knee or something?” Ball S asked Ploeg.

“Torn Meniscus,” Ploeg replied.

“I haven’t got a clue what that is,” Ball S admitted.

“Something in my knee is messed up,” Ploeg said, stating the obvious.

“He’s still drumming, he’s still doing it,” Ball S laughed.

Bassist Matt Holt is the most recent addition, joining at the end of 2018 and fitting in nicely, making the basslines his own.

“He did the first gig and he had nine days to get everything rehearsed, which is amazing,” Ball S explained. “But, I’m the original guy, I started the band about eight years ago.”

Other than Ploeg playing on the track “World” from 2018’s Om Parvat Mystery, neither he or Holt have been a part of any previous Desert Mountain Tribe releases – 2016’s debut album Either That Or The Moon or the EPs and single.

Matt Holt / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

Matt Holt / Desert Mountain Tribe; photo James Christopher

“But they will both be on the new album whether they like it or not!” Ball S threatened.

A question asking where the band name came from is greeted with dead silence followed by a slow, almost hesitant reply.

“There’s the truthful answer and then there’s the interview answer,” Ball S replied. “Well the truthful answer is it comes from DMT – have you heard of DMT?

“But the uh, (laughs), interview answer is ‘I like deserts, he likes mountains, and he likes tribes.’”

While the other two band members knowingly chuckle in the background, Ball S continues to explain.

“The thing is we can work out DMT but it’s not a good thing to keep saying yes it comes from the name of the drug, you know? It’s not a good selling point, I don’t think. You don’t want to limit yourself, do you?”

The current tour has been going great, having played about 50 dates with Peter Murphy before even hitting the states, which then adds another 15 – 20 shows overall.

“That’s a long, long tour, right?” Ball S questions.

“Yea,” Ploeg and Holt agree in unison.

Which begs the question, how do they keep entertained going from show to show, city to city?

“Frank,” Ball S revealed. “Frank keeps us entertained.”

“Uhhhh….,” Ploeg absentmindedly replies.

“That says it all, right?” Ball S laughed.

Celebrating The Smithereens Legacy

THE SMITHEREENS w/Marshall Crenshaw play The Coach House Feb. 10; press photo

THE SMITHEREENS w/Marshall Crenshaw play The Coach House Feb. 10; press photo

“I was really happy when they asked me,” Marshall Crenshaw said when Dennis Dikens (drums) asked him to sing with The Smithereens after vocalist, Pat DiNizio’s passing.

“It’s really exciting to play their music. I’ve known those guys forever, like before forever. I have a long-standing history with those guys. I knew Pat and everything.”

In January of 2018, about a month after DiNizio’s passing there was a tribute show for him in New Jersey, with a lot of old friends that was a highly emotional situation for everybody. Crenshaw played three songs which eventually led to an invitation to tour as guest vocalist for The Smithereens.

“The fan reception has been really strong,” Crenshaw added. “People want to hear this music. I feel like I’m just kind of there helping Jim (Babjak /lead guitar), Dennis and Mike (Mesaros/bass). It’s their legacy, too. They really are hungry to be out there, keeping the music alive and playing just for their own spiritual well-being.”

In 2004 Crenshaw toured with the surviving members of MC5, playing guitar with them, and taking a little vacation from his own music.

“It’s just really refreshing to do something like that once in a while, at least for me,” Crenshaw mentioned.

“That’s another body of work, the MC5, that catalog of theirs, that body of work. I have such high regard for it, so it was really fun. Interesting, too. Just like from a human-interest standpoint to hang around with those guys was pretty interesting. (laughs)”

Crenshaw learned at least 30 Smithereens’ songs for the tour including some of his favorites such as “Spellbound,” “Especially For You,” and “Top Of The Pops,” as well as some of the cover songs that are part of the band’s history.

“My favorite song by The Smithereen’s is “Strangers When We Meet”, Crenshaw shared. “I played on the record back in the day. I played keyboards on that track on the Especially For You album.

“And then they did a version of the same song with a guy named Alan Betrock who is gone now, no longer walking the earth, I’m sad to say, but Alan produced my first record which was an independent single on a New York label, Shake Records. That was Alan’s label. Alan opened the door for me to make records.

“The Smithereens hooked up with Alan and did some stuff and I was in on some of that. Then when they re-recorded the song for their album, I went back in and played it again.

“But it’s a beautiful song. And it’s a real quintessential Pat Dinizio song in that he got the title from an old movie which was kind of a thing he would do.”

Learning 30-35 songs was exciting but also challenging yet Crenshaw is willing to learn more if the band wants him to, claiming he’s basically at their service.

“The fact that I’m somebody who’s memory isn’t as good as it used to be, just to trying to cram all this information into what’s left of my memory and to get it to stay there was the challenge,” Crenshaw chuckled.

“Just learning all the words, because I didn’t want to use cheat sheets, I wanted to know every song by heart. It used to be easy for me to do that, if I learned a song, I’d remember it forever. Now, I sometimes just blank on my own songs when I sing them (laughs).”

But the group continues to tour, getting sharper, pleasing audiences that just want to listen to their beloved Smithereens songs and maybe even sing-along to a couple.

“It’s a great rock show,” Crenshaw enthused. “I love playing with them. We’ve had a lot of great gigs already. We’re sharp. We’re on our game. It’s a gas, you know?

“I like playing the Smithereen’s stuff. A lot of the songs are kind of dark, haunted sounding, and beautiful, too. The way the guys play… they just play in a way that’s really exciting. It’s just a great rock-n-roll band.

“It’s a really good two guitars and bass kind of thing with me out there, you know?”

The Smithereens with guest vocalist Marshall Crenshaw will play The Coach House Feb. 10.

California Hearse To Drop Off Pop Punk In SoCal

California Hearse logo

California Hearse logo

California Hearse, an offshoot of the now shuttered punk rock group Gentlemen Prefer Blood, shall be making their first live appearance in SoCal at the La Escalera Fest 7 in San Diego Apr. 12.

Though they are a new band, California Hearse has already put together quite an impressive 6-song EP of the same name which saw its release last month. Jason Gentile, the bassist, vocalist and song writer of the band, hopes that the sound he and his fellow co-founder Mike Morales created sounds just as good live.

“Hopefully we’ll sound good because we have a very good quality recording,” Gentile said. “We’re trying to sound as close to that as possible. Mike’s really nailing the harmony and getting the parts down. So hopefully it’ll be a very clean sounding punk rock experience.”

Speaking of experience, that’s not a strange bedfellow to Gentile.

“I have been playing punk music my whole life,” Gentile says. “I grew up playing it in the 90’s and 2000’s in different incarnations of bands and it’s always been something of an outlet for me: writing songs and playing with bands.”

For Gentile especially, California Hearse is a project that is a reflection of his musical career up until this point.

“It’s kind of a culmination of all my experiences playing in Chicago, playing in Southern California, San Diego, Los Angeles, you know?”

It’s also a means by which he and Morales can continue to collaborate with each other. Their newest venture is owed in large part to a few unproduced songs they never had a chance to perform during their time in their last musical partnership that resulted in the creation of their EP California Hearse.

“Three of the songs were leftover songs from the band Gentlemen Prefer Blood,” Gentile recalls. “We wanted to keep playing together so we worked on those songs together.”

Gentile notes that Morales, though a drummer for Gentlemen Prefer Blood, put tremendous commitment into providing the EP’s guitar work during the initial rehearsal and recording process for the EP that helped cement the formation of California Hearse.

“My drummer Mike sat down with me and practiced all the songs on guitar acoustically,” Gentile explained. “He really learned the songs inside and out. I had a few other songs and so he learned those with me and then we went to the studio of Paul Minor in Orange County and Mike and I recorded it.”

Gentile gives much of the credit to how well the final musical result of their efforts turned out due to the guitar playing of Morales.

“Mike really stepped up to the plate and played 80 to 90 percent of the guitars on the album actually. It was really awesome.”
Besides Morales, SoCal plays a large part for California Hearse and their music which can best be described as pop punk: a mixture of upbeat positive sounding rock that with lyrics that Gentile admits “are a little darker.” Gentile says this almost paradoxical combination is not unintentional.

“Southern California can be wonderful but also very frustrating in terms of traffic and people’s personalities and such can be frustrating,” Gentile admits. “But you have access to the beaches and beautiful weather. There’s a nice aspect to it also. So, there’s a bittersweet component to most of the songs we’re writing. It’s kind of happy music but with kind of bummer lyrics. I guess it’s kind of a reflection of our environment that way.”

The lyrics are also rooted in Gentile’s personal relationships. He admits that much of the music he composes is inspired by their lives and their perspectives.

“I tend to write songs for the people I love or the people in my life who are suffering or going through things,” Gentile said. “So, I try to write their angles and different views. So, it’s kind of like a process for myself and for them de facto I guess.”

Whether in California Hearse or any other group for that matter, whenever the songs he writes are finished, Gentile says he uses a simple and cooperation-based process no matter the group he plays with.

“Recording-wise, I just demo everything into Garage Band and then I give the demos to the band and then they add their tweaks and twists and changes and then we have the song.”

Between now and April though, California Hearse has much to do. As of this writing, Gentile and Morales are focused on seeking out more musicians to create a more studier line-up as well as better solidifying the group’s guitar section in addition to promoting their EP.

“Playing live, I get a little bit nervous, but I enjoy that. It’s exceptional.”

ARISE ROOTS: One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2019

ARISE ROOTS play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

Reggae has been around for quite some time now, and over the years it has only gotten more popular. It has been through many changes, from the early days of inception through its exploration in genre-mixing as of late. It is always refreshing to see a band who can pull from its long history while adapting the music to recent changes in the musical landscape; Arise Roots deftly achieves this with their unique take on reggae.

“Root is what our own personal likes and loves were,” according to lead singer Karim Israel. “All our hearts were definitely in Roots, and that’s kinda what brought us together when we first met. We all came together and started jamming on some Dennis Brown and different Roots artists. That comes from my own personal love for that subgenre of Reggae.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Further explaining the band’s desires, he goes on, “One thing we focused on though, in the music, was not just focusing on Roots; like we incorporate other styles and genres of Reggae, and not even just a subgenre itself. We are seeking to not just put ourselves in the box of Roots, but just creativity and music. And so, whatever comes out, we’re not necessarily trying to fit it or keep it into that Roots box. It’s still Reggae definitely, but we’re not just pigeonholing ourselves into just Roots.

“The live show, to me, by far is the most amazing factor/part/whatever you wanna call it in being a musician. That energy. It’s the energy that the crowd brings to the table every night. No two shows are exactly the same; it really depends on each and every individual person that is there, and what they bring to it. When people come, and they are expecting to share in the experience, and they are coming and bringing their energy, bringing their anticipation….it just adds. It’s like cooking a big pot of gumbo, and each show and person brings its own thing to the table. Some nights are great, some nights are just absolutely amazing.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

His passion for music is undeniable, and obvious when one goes to an Arise Roots concert. Elaborating further, “Being able to feed off that energy, and I like to not just feed but also create that energy. So that people can feed off of our energy…and it just keeps going back and forth like an electrical current. It just keeps going back and forth, back and forth, and that’s the best way I can describe it – as a current. It just keeps rotating and rotating, going and going. It’s almost unexplainable being up there and feeling it; and once the people start singing the words and stuff….it’s just amazing!”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Israel is obviously a lyricist with his uncanny ability to put his passion into words the way he does. He describes the songwriting process, “When we write these songs, no one is guaranteeing that somebody is gonna like the song that you write. When we finally write it, and finish second guessing ourselves, and put the words on the paper; and once those words actually come out and you see the people digging it- it’s a relief, it’s a natural high that you feel, and it’s amazing. That’s what we like to bring to the table, a piece of our souls.”
Israel was raised on Reggae via his parents, especially his dad. And recently had one of his favorite moments in the band: “We were playing in San Francisco, and I was able to have my dad come onstage and sing. Which for me was a dream come true cuz my dad was the one who introduced me to Reggae music from birth.

“He actually emigrated from Jamaica to the States, back in the seventies, to do Reggae music. My mom and dad actually met at a Reggae show, so if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. So, the whole time we have been playing, he has being hearing the stuff and seeing it online but had never been able to make it out to a show. In San Francisco, he not only was able to see us but also come onstage and perform. That was a huge moment for me.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Arise Roots is amped and excited for what the future holds, evidenced by their long hours spent on their upcoming new album. Israel explains, “It’s our best album to date. We are extremely excited to get it out. We’ve done some kinds of experimentation with some sounds, and even the writing on some of the tracks has been a little out of the box for us.

“One thing that is different about this album than the others before is that before we would play it live and see what the crowd participation was like. If it works with the crowd, we’ll add that to the list of songs that will most likely be on the album. This time around, we have kept a lot of stuff secret and just kept it amongst ourselves. Not let anybody hear it, not even family members. Just pulsing on creating the vibe, the feel of the album, the mood of the album, the sound of the album. And then release it all together at once.”

But while waiting for the album to drop, Arise Roots shows are the best place to catch the smooth vibes and soul-filled music this band brings to Reggae. Catch them at the One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10.

Fortunate Youth: One Love Cali Reggae Fest 2019

FORTUNATE YOUTH play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

FORTUNATE YOUTH play One Love Cali Fest Feb. 8-10; photo Andy Ortega

Good Vibes!!! This phrase is at the center of reggae music and is a pivotal force in the popular L.A. reggae act Fortunate Youth.

“Basically, myself and another member were really looking to create a name that was positive,” explains Greg Gelb of the band. “And fortunate youth being a kind of state of mind, you know a positive state of mind, and music keeps you young; so, if you have a youthful mindset, you’re kind of lucky to be young forever through music.

“Four of us went to high school together – Jered Draskovich, Corey Draskovich, myself Greg Gelb, and Travis Walpole- and our singer Dan Kelly is a transplant in the L.A. area from Mississippi so we kinda linked up with him. There were like two bands that we decided to put together. And later added our drummer from Las Vegas, Jordan Rosenthal.

“Our manager decided to have a birthday party and we decided to take these two bands and combine forces. And along the way we have added other members which has turned it into a six piece.”

Reggae is a fluid art form; while constantly maintaining a close tie to its roots, over the years it has shown an incredible ability to fuse with many other styles of music along the way.

“We kind of joke about that,” muses Gelb. “We all have our own interests, some similar and some different. And when it came out, we all decided to band together and what came out was our sound. Definitely reggae influenced…. but I tell a lot of people we blend a lot of different styles into reggae, and that is what we enjoy about it.

“It’s kind of like an open book where you can blend a lot of cool styles and the reggae vibe is open to a lot of that. It has allowed for a good collaboration of sounds. I think what we most enjoy about being in the reggae genre is the community; it’s very welcoming and everybody is really positive.”

Speak to any reggae fan, and they will tell you seeing it live is a necessity for far too many reasons to list.
“Definitely the energy,” states Gelb. “It all starts with everybody in the crowd, a kind of reflective and positive energy that goes back and forth.

“One of the most fun songs we play live, in terms of a high energy song, is “Burn One.” I think that’s a crowd favorite for sure so that’s always fun. Another fun song I enjoy is “Things,” that’s a fun song to play. I don’t know if you know, but four of us switch instruments throughout the show. So, I play guitar and then get a few songs on the bass. The four of us each get to jump on the bass in the set so we kinda joke that we all like to fight over the bass.

“It’s fun, you know,” Gelb continues. “We all have fun playing the bass. It’s a little bit…. you get to move around, it’s a little more simplified, and is a key element to the feel. So, yea, we have fun playing the musical instruments.”

Being from Hermosa Beach, Fortunate Youth is looking forward to returning to the One Love Cali Reggae Fest in Long Beach Feb. 8 – 10.

Mxmtoon Uploads Live Somber Music To SoCal

mxmtoon plays Moroccan Lounge Jan. 25; press photo

mxmtoon plays Moroccon Lounge Jan. 25; press photo

Young internet music sensation mxmtoon is to play her music live at the Moroccon Lounge in Los Angeles Jan. 25. The show marks the first time that the inspiring up and coming artist will play a headlining concert which sold out nine weeks in advance.

This isn’t the first time that mxmtoon, the musical handle of the 18-year-old Maia, has played at the venue. She played there last August in a smaller capacity, describing it as “a surreal experience” but one which she is looking forward to doing again on a much bigger scale.

“I’m just super excited to go back to that same venue and to see some returning faces and to meet some new people and just connect with them on a more familiar level I think other than just being on the internet all the time,” Maia said.

Hailing from Oakland, Maia’s one of many musicians who have taken advantage of the internet. Her somber, ukulele-backed sonnets, a sweet voice along with her creative uniqueness have helped earned her over 400K cumulative streams on services like Spotify.

mxmtoon; press photo

mxmtoon; press photo

One might wonder what kind of genre her music belongs to, but even Maia doesn’t honestly know.
“I feel like genre is something that I still struggle with a little bit,” Maia admitted. “I would say, without trying to put it into a genre, I feel like my music is pretty much like diary entries in a song writing format.”

In fact, Maia’s song writing process is coincidentally dependent on her using a diary as a foundation for her song creation.

“The song writing process I feel is pretty simple,” Maia mused. “I keep a journal of different things that go on in my head and then, you know, I’ll figure out a melody which sometimes pops into my head as well, open up RhymeZone and then put together some lyrics and see what works.”

Maia’s most recent EP, plum blossom, is a terrific example of both her creativity and amazing capacity to tell stories.

“plum blossom is just kind of a culmination of my experiences in the last year and the transition period of kind of graduating from high school and then trying to figure out, you know, what does life look like beyond that educational experience,” Maia said.

“The songs are just kind of derived from different people and things that I’ve experienced so far, and I’d like to think that the project is kind of emblematic of my growth and resilience in what’s happened to me over the past time period.”

Maia owes the creation of the songs from plum blossom and her love of music in general to her mother.

mxmtoon; photo Kenneth Munoz

mxmtoon; photo Kenneth Munoz

“I started playing violin when I was six,” Maia recalls. “My mom made me sign up for lessons and then I eventually phased out of that and cycled through a lot of other instruments. I did a lot of orchestral stuff with trumpet and cello and eventually had to pick up the guitar and ukulele in my music class in middle school.”

She thanks these classes for helping her choose the ukulele as her musical instrument of choice.

“I liked it so much that my parents got me one for Christmas and I started playing it on my own time and learning through YouTube tutorials and just self-taught myself basically.”

From the age of 13 onwards, Maia’s ukulele and creativity have aided her in the writing and composition of her own music. She finally started publishing her music online last year using the handle of mxmtoon, a name she owes largely to her father.

“mxmtoon was what I used on Instagram when I was posting my drawings because MXM are my initials and my dad thought it would be a creative idea to add toon to the end as it stood for cartoon,” Maia revealed. “It was a unique name that nobody had taken on any other site so I ended up using it for everything like Soundcloud. It’s stuck with me until now.”

Though Maia’s already acquired quite the following and acclaim at a young age, the opportunity to branch out into the live music scene, she admits is humbling and inspires her toward seeking self-improvement.

“I’m still learning how to sing” Maia admits with a laugh. “I just started doing vocal lessons.”

The upcoming headlining appearance at the Moroccon Lounge isn’t a one shot. Maia says she plans to go beyond making music exclusively in her bedroom as she did during the early part of her career and wants to share it live.

“We have a tour coming up in March and so we’re going to play at some new cities and some returning cities, which is super exciting, and hopefully we can roll out some new music and I can meet some more people face-to-face.”

Tribute To Tributes: Queen Nation

QUEEN NATION

QUEEN NATION (Queen Tribute); press photo

Although it’s no longer possible to go see the classic line-up of the British rock band Queen due to the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991, tribute bands across the globe have stepped up to help others experience the influential musical group in its prime. One of these bands is Queen Nation.

Founded in 2004 in California by Dave Hewitt, the vice president of entertainment at The Canyon in Agoura Hills, Queen Nation has striven for 13 years done their utmost to capture the look, sound and style of Queen.

However, given the emphasis placed on giving great performances, Queen Nation’s tireless efforts to perfectly capture Queen’s unique music are not easy. Mike McManus, who plays the role of Queen’s legendary guitar player Brian May, admits that is quite task.

“I think because with the instrumentation, obviously Freddie Mercury’s vocal range, the harmonies and the song writing, it’s really difficult to pull off. I think, as a musician, it’s probably some of the most challenging music to perform.”
It’s even more herculean as McManus and his group do their utmost to emulate everything about Queen specifically during their iconic run during the 80’s.

“We wanted to make people who had seen Queen back in 1980 to kind of give them the feeling they were seeing that all over again. We try to do the same outfits they wore around the same time and the same mannerisms. We want people to kind of revisit the classic Queen concerts.”

QUEEN NATION

QUEEN NATION (Queen Tribute); Big Time Photo

The group is so devoted to replicating Queen’s trademarks it even goes so far as to actively promote audience participation.

“We try to get them involved as much as possible. We encourage singing along. We tell them right at the beginning of the show that ‘we’re not going to do all the work. We want to hear you guys singing loud and clear,’ and it usually works.”
McManus says the effort is worth it. To him it is an honor to commemorate a group whose music and efforts were invaluable in helping him and his bandmates becoming musically active.

“I always said that if I was ever going to be in a tribute band that the only one that I would ever would be to Queen because they’re my favorite band. They’re the reason that I started playing guitar and making music in the first place.”

The group’s efforts for 13 years have not only become “second nature” but made the group of the most prolific Queen tribute bands in the United States. The group has this year enjoyed a very busy schedule for instance.”

“Our first year together we did five shows and now this year we’re ending the year off with I think like 97 or 98 shows,” reports McManus.

That is in fact the norm for the group. McManus says that he expects the group to attain more just as much, if not more, appearances next year.

“We’ve already got 45 shows lined up for 2018. It’ll probably be closer to a hundred shows again next year.”

It’s also helped the group play to great fanfare at local music venues and county fairs but high profile venues too such as Angels Stadium and Las Vegas Hilton. Yet no matter the locale, one thing McManus and his group love more than sharing their love of Queen at such venues is being able to meet fellow Queen fans.

”I could sit here all day and go over how lucky we’ve been as a touring band to meet some of the greatest people you’d ever want to meet.”

For example: McManus specifically recalls playing at the 5th Annual Rock Against MS Benefit Concert & Award Show in Los Angeles last year. Not only did the group headline along with legendary groups such as Foreigner and Whitesnake but equally iconic musicians who grew up with Queen.

“Nancy Wilson from Heart was there, Scotty Hill from Skid Row, Steven Adler from Guns ‘n’ Roses, Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. It was a big star-studded charity benefit and they all loved Queen, just like we did.”

It’s that kind of love for the music of Queen that looks to keep the members of Queen Nation busy for some time McManus says.

“The beauty of this music is that it goes from generation to generation. We have families come to see us every year and we watch their kids grow. We’ve made some really good relationships over the years with our fans and we hope to continue that.”

Just as Queen Nation shows no sign of stopping in helping preserve the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, neither will their music which McManus states firmly will keep going on indefinitely.

“They’ll be playing Queen when you and I are both long gone,” McManus said.

Alien Weaponry Nail It Live In The USA

ALIEN WEAPONRY play HOB/San Diego Dec. 18, Fonda Theatre Dec. 20 and 21; press photo

ALIEN WEAPONRY play HOB/San Diego Dec. 18, Fonda Theatre Dec. 20 and 21; press photo

New Zealand’s teenage ALIEN WEAPONRY debuts in the states opening for MINISTRY. Don’t let their age or the fact that they sing in their native Maori language fool you into thinking they’re a gimmick. Their music is at times unique yet fits right into several genres. Sometimes tribal chanting, sometimes industrial rhythms and sounds, sometimes breakneck thrashing metal.

Concert Guide Live caught up with Alien Weaponry to find out more about what they’re into musically, underage touring, growing up Ministry fans, singing in Te Reo Māori, and… playing hackey sack?

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: This is your first U.S. tour – welcome – and what took so long? What are you looking forward to?
ALIEN WEAPONRY: Thanks! We’ve been aspiring to get over here for the past year, because we have a lot of fans in the States, so it’s brilliant to have finally made it. We’re really looking forward to touring with Ministry, who we listened to a lot of growing up. We are also looking forward to playing our first headline show in the USA; and meeting the 6 amazing First Nation bands who will be doing that show with us.

CGL: How would you describe your music for people who aren’t familiar with it, and why should they get there early to catch your set?
AW: We’re a mix of old-school thrash and groove metal; and we also sing in Te Reo Māori (New Zealand’s native language). If I have to give a reason for people to come early to see us, it’s probably not a very good sign, haha. Just do it – you won’t regret it.

CGL: You’re touring with Ministry in the states – how familiar are you with their music, their recent album? They’ve got a lot of angst!
AW: Lewis (de Jong/guitar and vocals) and Henry (de Jong/drums) grew up listening to Ministry so they’re a big inspiration to the band. As far as their new album goes, we all think that it kicks ass! Psalm 69 is still our favorite though!

CGL: Alien Weaponry – are you into Sci-Fi films or am I way off the mark in the story behind the name?
AW: Yeah, we love our sci-fi films and did get the band name from District 9, which Lewis and Henry watched for the first time when they were 8 and 10 years old. It was cool then, and it’s still one of our favorite movies.

CGL: What’s the longest tour you’ve done and how do you keep yourselves entertained?
AW: Our longest tour so far was a three-month tour through Europe earlier in 2018. It wasn’t too hard to stay entertained because we’re all a bunch of clowns! We often sing along to NZ music as it blasts through the van or play hackey sack to pass the time.

CGL: You’re all underage, do you have chaperone’s? Are you all drop outs?
AW: Hahaha, yeah, we are all underage (in the US at least) so we do have to bring one of our parents with us to be able to play in a lot of venues. As for being dropouts, that’s just Lewis. Henry actually finished school last year; and Ethan (Trembath/bass) is still planning on finishing his education (it might take a while though – we keep dragging him off on tour).

CGL: Who are you currently listening too? Do you listen to any music that differs greatly from your own sound?
AW: We all listen to a vast selection of music genres that is very different from our own. We take inspiration from musicians like Bob Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Sticky Fingers to name a few. Of course, we all listen to metal as well! We’re all really into Twelve Foot Ninja from Australia; and Jinjer who are another amazing Napalm band.

CGL: What’s one of your favorite songs to play live and why?
AW: “Kai Tangata” is definitely our favorite song to play live. It’s really fun to play on the instruments for all of us, and we all have vocal parts during the chorus. It’s a pretty challenging song, so it’s really satisfying to nail when playing live. Also, not to forget, it’s our ‘wall of death’ song!

CGL: What do you like to do right before you go onstage?
AW: We always hype each other up right before we go on stage which is usually us running around or doing pressups or something weird. Sometimes we’ll sing popular Māori waiata (songs), like “Tutira Mai nga Iwi,” which practically everyone from New Zealand knows.

CGL: Any good road stories? Any funny or interesting situations happen while on the road?
AW: When we were driving from Metaldays in Slovenia up to Wacken, we had a tire blow out on our caravan on the autobahn in Austria. That was bad enough, but when it happened, it had just got dark and a huge thunderstorm had just started, so there was rain and hail and thunder, and forked lightening everywhere, which was lighting up the forest all around us. We had to get out of the van for safety, so we were all standing huddled on the side of the road. It felt like we were in a horror movie, and we were going to get struck by lightning or something was going to come out of the woods. That was pretty surreal.

CGL: What’s behind the decision to use the Maori language in your songs?
AW: Henry and Lewis both have Maori ancestry and grew up speaking the language – they went to a kura kaupapa Māori (total immersion Māori school) when they were younger. In New Zealand, there is a school competition called Smokefree Rockquest, which we entered five times and eventually won; and there was also another competition which ran alongside it call Smokefree Pacifica Beats, where at least 25% of the lyrics had to be in Te Reo Māori, so we thought we’d give that a go, too and ended up winning that as well in the same year. Henry and Lewis were at a mainstream school by then and they had lost quite a lot of their language, so incorporating it into our songs was a great way of getting back into it. And, Te Reo Māori just works so well with metal, so we kept doing it.

Catch them at House Of Blues/San Diego Dec. 18 and the Fonda Theatre Dec. 20 and 21.

NGHTMRE Before XMAS Ushers In Heavy Sounds Of The Future

NGHTMRE plays The Shrine Dec. 15; photo Koury Angelo

NGHTMRE plays The Shrine Dec. 15; photo Koury Angelo

Bass music is always in a constant state of flux, constantly evolving and absorbing influences from almost everything. NGHTMRE is no exception; the wide range of styles he has employed along with boundary pushing sound design have earned him the spotlight in electronic music.

“I grew up playing music,” explains Tyler Marenyi of NGHTMRE. “Yea, I mean I went to college in North Carolina and when I graduated, I moved to Los Angeles to write music; that’s what I was passionate about. And after about a year working on music in L.A., I felt finally ready.”

Currently headlining the NGHTMRE Before XMAS tour, Marenyi is excited as ever to be playing shows across the country.

“It’s that moment we have been working on to put all this music together and you get that one hour to share your music,” Marenyi noted. “And the fact that I get to go up there…you know, as much energy as I give out, it’ll get returned. And the harder I go, the more energy I have.

“When I first started, it was when house and electro were crushing it. I made some of that, and also grew up listening to a lot of punk and rock kind of stuff too. I’ve always kinda made a little bit of everything, and definitely still do that now.”

NGHTMRE’s most recent release with The Chainsmokers “Save Yourself” showcases that love of taking risks and twisting genres together.

“I’ve kinda known those guys for a really long time,” Marenyi said. “Not super well, but we’ve shared music for years and years before we got to do this. It was nice to be able to finally work on something.

“Me and Drew (Taggart) had always talked about doing a festival banger, which they traditionally don’t do. And I’ve done crazy dubstep tracks so yea we tried to make the track a little bit of both. And we both really enjoyed it. It’s been great cuz people on that level of fame and busyness in general would be harder to get ahold of or deal with, but everyone’s been really cool.”

Along with this collab, there is also one in the works between NGHTMRE and Big Gigantic as well.

“That’s another one that I feel I grew up watching and I really fell in love with their sound at a show a long time ago,” Marenyi recalled. “I’ve grown to their music and it’s the same kind of thing; we’ve been looking forward to working together for a while.

“There was one specific idea that I wrote… and felt there was some amazing horns and vibes and live instrument swag to like every track they do… you know, they kill it. Really excited for it, I feel it is a good mixture of our sounds. It’s really jammy but really hard too.”

And if that wasn’t enough, there is still the collab with NGHTMRE and ASAP Ferg slated to be released next year.

“The song’s all done, and we just filmed the music video for it last week in New York,” Marenyi revealed. “It’s all set to release early next year. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get ahold of him, but he is really into the music video and really likes the song. I’ve been playing the song at shows, and it’s always one of the best tracks…. so excited for it.

“For me, as a producer, I came more from a background of engineering and producing rather than DJ-ing first. So, I feel every time I work on a song with someone new, I learn something new about mixing, or a tip or a trick or technique that helps me a lot. Even if you’re working with someone who isn’t as experienced as you, there’s always something I end up learning. You know, something I would never have figured out on my own.

“It gives me the excuse to do weirder things too…like I wouldn’t be able to put out a jammy saxophone song myself but with Big Gigantic, it makes sense.”

Hear all the mind-melting sounds and genre-bending grooves NGHTMRE has to offer when the NGHTMRE Before XMAS tour hits the Shrine Dec. 15!

iDKHOW Brings Their Musically Unique “Hipster Nonsense” To SoCal

iDKHOW play The Glass House Nov. 27; photo Lauren Perry

iDKHOW play The Glass House Nov. 27; photo Lauren Perry

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, or iDKHOW for short, will soon be coming to entertain Southern California with its quirky, unique and, more importantly, fun music at The Glass House in Pomona Nov. 27.

Dallon Weekes, the vocalist and bass player of the band, guarantees every show is different, a self-contained treat.

“We aim to give people a different experience every time and try not to repeat ourselves,” Weekes promised. “Even if we do the same set, we try to leave a little room for improv and things to happen.”

Founded in 2016 in Salt Lake City, iDKHOW is comprised of a mere two people: Weekes, formerly of Panic! at the Disco, and Ryan Seaman, the former drummer and vocalist for Falling in Reverse.

Weekes says that the group started shortly before his departure from Panic! at the Disco in 2017.

“I saw my time there was coming to an end,” Weekes recalled. “So, I started collecting a lot of old ideas and started dusting them off and recording them with no real intent other than just to do it and as I did, I brought in my pal Ryan to play drums on some stuff and we got to hanging out.”

The two friends began iDKHOW in secret in 2016. Both Weekes and Seaman continually denied its existence until 2017.

iDKHOW; photo Melissa Quintas

iDKHOW; photo Melissa Quintas

“It would have been really easy to come out of the gate and just really exploit the bands that we were playing for at the time, you know, do a press release and say, ‘hey everyone, come check out this new thing’,” Weekes said. “But when you’re coming from a successful band and start something new then credibility can be kind of a challenge.”

Weekes and Seaman instead opted to go back to square one.

“We decided to start the way any new band would start by playing shows and leaving that stuff out of the equation,” Weekes explained. “We didn’t want to exploit fans or exploit the people we were working for at the time. So, we wanted to do it in secret, see if it would get people’s attention on its own.”

The music that iDKHOW typically produces is best described as a mixture of electronic, pop rock and new wave. However, it’s quite hard to truly define and were you to ask Weekes what he’d call such music, even he finds that a challenge.

“It’s always a little tough,” Weekes admits. “So, I’ve found that the most effective way to describe it is just ‘hipster nonsense’.”

This “hipster nonsense” is merely a reflection of his unique taste in music.

“It’s just the sum of the sort of stuff that I listen to,” Weekes states. “I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop and stuff. That’s all great but I tend to gravitate to more obscure and old stuff, not as a point of pride or anything. I wish that the stuff that I listened to was the most popular stuff in the world and everybody loved it like Sparks and T-Rex and Oingo Boingo and The Cure and things like that.”

One unique aspect of iDKHOW that differentiates them from other bands is their music composition. Weekes, who is in charge of making music for iDKHOW, doesn’t actually write out music whenever he thinks up an idea.

“I don’t read or write music in written form,” Weekes revealed. “That’s something I’ve still never learned to do but I do want to do someday.”

In the meantime, Weekes has adapted to taking full advantage of modern technology in making music.

“If an idea just strikes me I’ll record it into my phone and then when I have a free moment when the kids are at school or something I’ll go sit down at my laptop and get started making it into a song,” Weekes said.

It’s finally being able to play his finished work at live concerts along with Seaman that makes the effort totally worthwhile.

“That’s the pay-off I guess for all the hard work and difficulties that can come with trying to record an idea,” Weekes mentioned. “But the pay-off is always getting that finished product out and getting to play live in front of people. It’s the best.”

iDKHOW’s current schedule of appearances lasts until Dec. 7. But, not to worry, Weekes promises there will be more “hipster nonsense” to be enjoyed far beyond that.

“After this tour we’re doing with Waterparks we’ll be doing more shows in support of the EP that we just released,” Weekes said. “In the meantime, I’ll be working on writing more stuff for full-lengths that we can hopefully get out sometime in the new year.”