Taelimb – Granite EP

TAELIMB; press photo

TAELIMB; press photo

The deep, dark side of Jungle/DNB has long been known for its experimental and challenging nature. One of the most exciting producers in this vein is Taelimb, who has been dropping tracks for the last several years. With releases on labels such as Flexout Audio and Demand Records, he has firmly established a signature sound characterized by a fierce attention to detail, diverse soundscapes, and a growling timbre of low end all his own. With his latest release, the Granite EP, from The Chikara Project, he pushes even further the boundaries of his own sound.

On his first exposure to drum and bass, he was hooked. “Around the age of 18, I met a number of guys that I used to hang around with in Brixton, South London,” says Max Taelimb. “They were a good few years older than me and were all into making Jungle/Drum and Bass. I remember the first time I went over to one of their houses, they were all sitting around together making tunes on a very old version of Reason.

Taelimb - Granite EP cover

Taelimb – Granite EP cover

“This was the first time I had ever seen people making music in this way and was blown away. It had never occurred to me that people could make music on computers like this in their own home; so, after that, I started going ‘round regularly to watch and learn how to use the software and make the music. Conscience was one of these guys and I still make music with him to this day.”

Although getting exposed to various forms of electronic music, DNB grabbed his attention the strongest.

“A big part of it was the people, as mentioned before, and the other was the energy at the raves,” Taelimb explains. “Back then, it was mainly house, garage or jungle/drum and bass, and people were just going mad in the jungle rooms! I found there to be far less ego in the jungle raves too. People were there to rave and have fun, and that was that.”

However, one of the more difficult aspects to launching a music career is figuring out a name.

“Taelimb doesn’t actually mean anything,” laughs Taelimb. “I was struggling to settle on a name when I was starting out and had so many different ideas of names I should use. The problem was anything I thought of was already taken, and in many cases used by multiple people over the world. This created problems when searching for me online, etc. So, I made up a name that no one else could have; this way when searching for ‘Taelimb’ the only thing that comes up online is me.”

Not only does he have a unique stage name, but many of his song titles (such as “Breath Mint,” “The Wookie Song,” “Flo,” “A Clean Cut,” etc) seem random yet entirely intentional.

“Most of the time I just call them the first thing I see or think of,” Taelimb points out. “A lot of the time, the names of the tracks have little to do with how the tune sounds. When starting a new project, you have to call the track something to save the file; and I make so many, coming up with names for them all is a nightmare!

Taelimb; press photo

Taelimb; press photo

“My passion lies in production first. I was never massively into DJing, although I find I enjoy it a lot more nowadays than I used to! But if I had to choose one, I think I would definitely choose producing. It’s like an escape for me…I can sit on the computer for hours at a time, quite happily making music and not get bored. I get bored much faster DJing at home, it’s much more fun playing to a crowd. There is only so long I can DJ to my wall; but with production, it’s purely for me and I don’t need anyone else to make it entertaining.”

This passion is obvious and on full display on the Granite EP – from the glitchy textures found in “Titan,” the deep subterranean explorations of “Cold Outing,” the hypnotic drum work of “Granite,” to the infectious vibe of “Grot Bag.” His expertise in using space and sparse layers of sound only call even more attention to the tones and off-key vibes in the tracks.

“I have known Will and Mike (of Mystic State) for some time now through the DNB scene. When I heard they were starting their own label, I thought it would be a good fit for me so I sent them some tracks. Thankfully they liked them so they agreed to release an EP for me!

“I just wanted to keep the tracks a bit different, I try to mix it up a bit with each release I do. It would probably do me more favors if a I found a sound and stuck to it, but I get bored that way. There is rarely a theme with any of my releases; I have so much music on my computer at the moment that I will send a bunch over, and then let the label decide what they think works best together.

Taelimb; press photo

Taelimb; press photo

“In terms of being particularly proud of my music, it’s hard. Generally, by the time I have finished a track and it’s got a release date, I have heard it so many times I no longer like the tunes! To be honest, I’m always left thinking that they are not good enough and all I can hear is what’s wrong with the tunes. I think this is common with a lot of producers though and not just me! Or maybe not.”

Keeping music and the making of it fresh, innovative, and exciting is no easy task. Especially since there is no foolproof method or one solution that works for every person.

“I’m not sure…I try not to let what other people in the scene are doing influence me too much,” analyzes Taelimb. “It’s impossible not to be influenced by what you hear, especially when you think it’s really good. But I try my best to draw these influences from other genres, rather than DNB. I try to listen to a big range of music, see what people are doing in other genres and then bringing that to drum and bass.”

Still a relatively young genre, the state of DNB and its future is a hotly debated issue. As a DNB producer and having toured in the States as well as the UK, Taelimb has a unique vantage point on it.

“I’m not sure, there are some things I love about it at the moment, and some things that wind me up,” he says. “I don’t like the fact that people want everything for free nowadays, but I guess that’s just a problem with how we consume music generally and not specific to DNB.

“I love the fact that it is growing in the States, and that underground dance music in general is starting to take off more in the USA. I remember coming over to America, and all dance music was just referred to as techno. But now there seems to be a much stronger following.”

Taelimb is one producer to definitely keep tabs on! Make sure to grab the Granite EP – out now on The Chikara Project, available on the label’s own Bandcamp, as well as all the other usual streaming sources. And to stay up to date with everything Taelimb, follow his Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and usual social media culprits.
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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.”

Silver Snakes Spread Their Hypnotics Far And Wide

SILVER SNAKES play Regent Theater May 10; press photo

SILVER SNAKES play Regent Theater May 10; press photo

“I grew up in a very musical household,” states Alex Estrada of Silver Snakes. “My dad’s a musician, he’s a producer, and my mother was a dancer; so, from a very young age, it was already instilled in me for the most part. It was kind of…I don’t wanna say expected, but it was a no brainer for everyone, me included, that I would do music in some shape or form.”

An enigmatic band with an amorphous sound, Silver Snakes has carved out their original sound that pulls from a diverse range of elements. Drawing from industrial, rock, electronic, hardcore, and more, they continue to explore and test the limits of what their music is capable of.

Since its inception, the band was destined to incorporate numerous styles.

“It just came from being in different bands over the years, styles that shifted around,” explains Estrada. “I was doing a really heavy band, like a really metallic and kind of crusty punk band called Cathedral for a long time. When that was done, I wanted to do something a bit different and get back to my roots more, do a more straight forward rock project.

“So, I started Silver Snakes as a solo thing many years ago. I wrote a couple of these really melodic rock songs, and as time went by it turned into a real band. I started finding my footing and really figuring out what kind of music I wanted to do with the band. Time goes on, and I feel that now we have really found our niche and what we are doing with the music.”

The desire to experiment and try different things even extends to the live show itself.

“They are always different,” illustrates Estrada. “Previous tours have definitely been different from this one because with this one we are doing a lot more with production and other new things. We teamed up with this local visual artist, who goes by Cloaking in LA, and sent him our set. He designed an entire projection show which coincides with the songs. It really ties into the electronic aspect of all of it.

“More than anything, what we set up to do really is to be a hypnotic band, to say the least. We don’t expect people to be jumping up and down during our sets. But we really like to suck people in and draw their attention, you know what I mean? Just make it really cinematic, in that sense.”

Bringing this elaborate show to their fans is a driving force behind their passion and success.

“With this set, it’s very different than other ones we have done because we are playing new music, and with the new music comes a lot of new stylistic differences. So, it’s been really fun just feeling it come together, because we have never gone out on tour before with these kinds of samples and synthesizers. Again, the production and all of that….so the nights where it all locks together is a lot of fun.”

Currently on tour behind their upcoming album Death and the Moon, the band is excited to bring it to their fans for the first time.

Silver Snakes "Death and The Moon" cover art

Silver Snakes “Death and The Moon” cover art

“Right now, I am really enjoying playing all the new stuff cuz it’s the first tour we are playing them on,” says Estrada. “And for the most part, they are still some of the first times we are playing them together as a band, because so much of the record was recorded in the studio. It wasn’t us hunkered down in a space practicing; literally getting up on stage and playing these in any capacity has been really cool.

“There is a song on the record called ‘Gone is Gone’, it’s the last track on the album and has been a lot of fun to play live. It has a really big ending, with a lot of moving parts to it…has a really slow build and a really big outro. We have been closing with it every night; even in terms of the production and the visuals we are doing for that one, that song seems to be very hypnotic for people.”

An added bonus for Silver Snakes and their fans is their tour mates, the notorious Combichrist.

“It’s been awesome,” describes Estrada. “They are really, really great guys and one of the coolest bands we have ever gone out with. It’s been a cool new experience. With this new record, there has been a stylistic shift and they are a little further down that direction. But it’s been really cool edging towards their crowd, and kind of bring what we do. Which is more on the traditional rock side of things and bringing that to a crowd who is expecting more of an electronic show. Overall, its been a really cool experience.

“I dropped their name like a year ago, saying it would be really cool to do a tour with Combichrist. The next thing you know, it kind of came to fruition. It’s a long tour, and also our first tour in a year and a half. It’s the tour for our new record so we are just really grateful for the opportunity.”

Don’t miss Silver Snakes as they bring Death and the Moon back home to LA, playing it live on May 10 at the Regent!

An Interview With A Helsinki Vampire

THE 69 EYES play Regent Theater May 1 and Brick By Brick May 2; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES play Regent Theater May 1 and Brick By Brick May 2; photo Ville Juurikkala

“I hope that all of our fans through the years – passersby, friends, vampires, zombies, werewolves, anybody out there – will come to see us,” Jyrki 69 encouraged. “It’s been such a long time, a decade, that we come to play for you guys – I hope that you have a chance to enjoy the true rock-n-roll of the Helsinki Vampires 2019.”

Although a decade has passed since The 69 Eyes have set foot on these shores, the band released the albums X and Universal Monsters and continued to tour the rest of the world. But with new management through Oracle and a new album coming out both coinciding with their 30-year anniversary, the timing seems right.

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

“The music business changed so radically, and we didn’t see any importance for coming to the States until now,” Jyrki 69 explained. “Obviously as I’ve been playing in the States by myself with my solo project or any other possible way over the years, I love to play in the States. But to bring the whole band from Finland has been a little bit difficult.

“Now times are changing again. It’s perfect. I’m excited.”

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: I understand there’s a new album in the works, have you announced the title, yet?
JYRKI 69: Unfortunately, it’s not announced, and the new single will come out immediately after our American tour is over which is the end of May. So, I apologize but I will still keep the secret of the name and the name of the single because you know there’s so much information in the world, if you give something out people will forget you tomorrow.

So, you have to sort of play the same game that everybody else is playing even though we are of course totally playing this game on our own terms when it comes to delivering information.

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

THE 69 EYES; photo Ville Juurikkala

CGL: Will you be playing any of the new stuff, yet, or will this tour concentrate more on your history?
J69: We have a couple of records that we haven’t played any songs live in North America so we will play that stuff. On the other hand, as an artist I think there hopefully will be a bunch of people who never saw us live who are maybe even inspired by our band. I think at some point we became a musician’s band. You know, if you play rock-n-roll you probably know something about The 69 Eyes. I hope there are new people who haven’t seen us that heard about us and who like us or are just curious about what they have missed.

So, for those people and old fans I think we stick with ‘best of’ stuff but you also have to remember that there are songs that have never been played in North America before. I’m actually excited to play any old song for you guys.

CGL: Ok, now we need to get serious. We need to talk hair and makeup.
J69: Actually, that’s a very serious topic these days. Because if you are a self-respecting Gothic or Glam or rock-n-roll band in general you have to think of those questions, as well.

CGL: So, how has it changed for you over the years?
J69: I used to probably wear more makeup at some point a decade ago. I like the fact that you can see from my face that I’ve been around, that I’ve seen a few miles. So, I like that fact. Of course, as a young glam rock guy, when you jump on the stage, you should look like something that doesn’t exist anywhere else but on the stage.

In the kind of rock-n-roll that we are playing, we’re so old school the guys on stage should look like they’re from a totally different planet.

Jyrki 69; photo James Christopher

Jyrki 69; photo James Christopher

CGL: So how big is your makeup bag? Is it a group bag or does everyone have their own?
J69: Everybody has of course their own private things. I doubt anyone has a group bag? It’s like intimate stuff…how can you…you can’t use somebody else’s eyeliner…I mean that transfers germs, you know? But I guess that’s been done at some point, but I mean you should have your own makeup.

You know, that would be pretty cool if you were putting an ad looking for new musicians, like a glammy band, you should put like ‘bring your own makeup’. That would be pretty cool.

CGL: Vocally, how do you keep in shape, how do you maintain your voice?
J69: I don’t really do anything. I always like to say I trained my voice to be low, it might be true, my speaking voice isn’t as low as my singing voice. I think you can hear the miles, the years, in my voice. I think it’s getting better, actually, through the years.

CGL: So, you’re just going with it – however it changes you’re just working with it.
J69: Yea, I try to represent myself actually, like the makeup question, like I am.

CGL: You speak English extremely well; did you always sing in English?
J69: Yes, actually I’ve tried a couple of times recently to do something in Finnish, that’s my native language as I come from Finland, but that’s actually even harder.

It’s natural for me because when I started to listen to rock-n-roll when I was eight years old, my favorite artist was Elvis, and he was still alive. Rock-n-roll language has always been English for me so, that’s where I learned English and from American tv series. It’s the language of rock-n-roll.

CGL: Is there anything you’d like to add?
J69: I’m very happy where the band is now. Even though it’s like we’re ancient. We’re a 30-year-old rock-n-roll band but I think we have something that the world still needs and the only band that can deliver that stuff in 2019 is The 69 Eyes.

ALBUM REVIEW: Band Of Skulls “Love Is All You Love”

Band Of Skulls "Love Is All You Love" cover

Band Of Skulls “Love Is All You Love” cover

Band Of Skulls’ (BoS) crackling good LP Love Is All You Love is the sound of a band reinventing itself, the sound of a band who is unafraid to take chances and push their music forward in new directions. BoS, while not forgetting their past, have their sights set firmly on the future. The possibilities seem endless and exciting. In short, after four really very good albums, BoS may have just made the album of their career.

Spurred by the amicable departure of drummer Matt Haywood remaining members Russell Marsden (guitar/vox) and Emma Richardson (bass/vox) approached the songwriting differently. In their own words they wrote them “As a songwriting duo, which is completely different than as songwriting band”.

Whatever the impetus, whether it was writing as a duo, being forced out of their usual work patterns or the addition of producer Richard X (Pet Shop Boys, New Order) the songs are now tighter and more muscular. Song hooks which have always been present (but in the past may have been buried) are now razor sharp, at the forefront and undeniable.

Just seconds into opening track “Carnivorous” you realize this is not entirely the BoS you are familiar with. A throbbing bass line, Arabesque guitar hook and unashamedly electronic sheen…this is your invitation from the Band of Skulls to join them for a new musical enterprise. When the songs’ chorus drops with its ridiculously catchy panning delay on the word “Carnivorous ….ivorous… ivorous” I’m guessing you may well be all in on the new direction BoS is headed.

“Cool Your Battles” the advance track from the album is of all things a protest song cleverly disguised as a hit single. And the times being what they are a little protest never hurt anything. The band calls this an “Anti- war cry for our turbulent times” and the message is loud and clear. But it’s wrapped up in a shimmering bow of a chorus that does what all really good subversive songs do by getting you to chant along while it plants its message between your ears.

“Sound Of You” is a downright sexy torch song for the 21st century. Putting Richardson’s soulful pleading vocal front and center over a pumping bass line and Marsden’s R&B guitar licks on acid. This is an album highlight to be sure.

As is “We’re Alive” a thundering Glam rocking piece of cotton candy that might well have put a smile on Marc Bolan’s face, its chorus virtually commanding you (“Come On… Come On”) to sing along. This is pop music as it should be, as it could be if more artists were willing to test their limits. Music that is catchy enough to sing along to yet complex enough to make you want to listen to it again and again.

And don’t you just love it when a band you admire surprises you? That is exactly what BoS have done with their newest album. Challenge accepted.

Available Apr. 12 via So Recordings.

Ruby Boots Raw Fire Hits SoCal

RUBY BOOTS plays The Wayfarer Apr. 26; photo Stefani Vinsel

RUBY BOOTS plays The Wayfarer Apr. 26; photo Stefani Vinsel

“I started playing guitar when I was working out at sea on a pearl farm,” explains Bex Chilcott, better known as Ruby Boots. A singer songwriter whose world travels and passion towards music have helped her carve out a unique voice in today’s musical landscape. Born in Australia and a nomad of the world since fourteen, her journey from then to her current success has been a long and winding one.

“So, when I first picked up the guitar, it was a means for staying sane and just passing the time cuz I’d be living out at sea for two or three weeks at a time,” she elaborates. “But when I wanted to start doing it professionally after traveling around Europe and the UK for a couple of years…. I had been traveling around playing open mics cuz that was the sort of scene I had fallen into, with some friends who had been doing that, to start playing on a stage.

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

“When I got home to Australia, I started feeling maybe I could do this at home. From there, I was just getting local shows. And essentially the snowball kept getting bigger: Right now, I can do this, now I can record an EP….and from the very beginning to where I am now, it’s all been really incremental which has been nice. The journey has just been really steady.”

Having begun traveling at an early age, she has spent time living and playing all over the world. And how that has affected her music is a complex subject.

“I don’t know if traveling the world has affected my music,” Chilcott ruminates. “It has affected my perspective on life, and maybe that’s why it has affected my music, in terms of how I see things and then write lyrics. Traveling the world from Australia to American to India…. There are all kinds of cultures and just disparities in how people are living. And I feel having that kind of culture shock and that kind of empathy is just really good for any kind of songwriting, and to apply it to any kind of songwriting; that you’re not writing from a single view. Traveling the world hasn’t really affected the sound. But digging into different parts of the world definitely has an effect on things over time sonically.”

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

RUBY BOOTS; photo Aly Fae

Currently on tour behind her album Don’t Talk About It, she details the ups and downs of tour life: “It’s very tumultuous. You’re playing Phoenix on a Tuesday night and like “Oh my God, why isn’t anybody at my show?” And then you come to Denver and play to a full house, and everyone’s on fire and it’s a Thursday night. You got the rock-n-roll horns up and you’re on your knees and the microphone is collapsed and you’re screaming into the microphone because it’s the last song. And you’re like, ‘This is what I live for! I can take on the world in this moment’, you know?”

Like most musicians, the live show is a favorite aspect to playing music for the artist. “My favorite aspect of the show is when all the stars align with it,” describes Chilcott. “When audiences are present, and they don’t have to be loud and vocal, just present; you can feel…it’s not tangible, you can feel this energy in the room. When you have this immediate rapport with people who are ready to be with you…it’s so much more attainable to get that feeling of ‘here, have every little piece of me tonight. I’m going to leave every piece of me that I put into the songs’. Because you want to feel something different, aside from standing there and watching a band play. You get to reach that next level, and that’s my favorite part of live shows.”

Catch the fascinating songwriting and surreal sounds of Ruby Boots when she plays The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on April 26!!

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.”

BASS LIFT Descends On Los Angeles

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

BASS LIFT is finally here!! Orchestrated by the people behind CAMP TRIP, this is a highly anticipated event featuring a lineup solely consisting of local artists. Intense light shows, excellent music, and live art all come together to create a night full of festivities.

“BASS LIFT started as a fundraiser for my burning man camp, that I’m still a part of,” explains Devan Marydyks of CAMP TRIP. “It was designed to raise money for an art car. But this idea never came to fruition. The project fell through, and since the BASS LIFT brand was specific to LA, and the camp had done separate fundraisers with separate names…I decided to use the name and essentially adapt it to CAMP TRIP’s needs.

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

“We were looking to do a warehouse party fundraiser for CAMP TRIP. We took the name and we didn’t…. well, it is a good word for it, we recycled it. More tangibly now, it is a fundraiser for the CAMP TRIP event. Its essence is a warehouse party, so it very much caters to the underground scene. There’s a lot of after-hours parties in LA, so it is very LA in a way.”

For those who don’t know, this begs the question: What is CAMP TRIP anyways?

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

“CAMP TRIP started as a literal camp trip, a camping trip,” states Marydyks. “A lot of people think the name is a double entendre…but it’s not. It’s literally named because it was a camp trip among friends. It IS a funny entendre, but it definitely wasn’t intentional.

“So, we went out as a bunch of friends essentially, just had a couple of studio monitors with a handful of people. We just had a good time in the desert, everyone was contributing a little bit in their own way, and it was really memorable. I remember as we were leaving, we all were talking about how we needed to do this again. And it has all just snowballed from there.”

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

Now, it is a full-fledged 3-day event in the desert with fascinating productions and a reputation for curating lineups of highly eclectic artists.

One of the purest distillations of the spontaneity and excitement which surrounds CAMP TRIP is best illustrated in the story of an ice cream truck: “The second time we went out, they ended up bringing this wooden cutout of an ice cream truck that got used as a DJ booth,” reveals Marydyks. “And it ended up being the inspiration for a real ice cream truck I ended up buying. I remember saying I would buy one and no one believed me. But I found this old 1982 used Chevy on Craigslist, which I got for very little money.

Photo: SERVEEZY

Photo: SERVEEZY

“I showed it to everyone, and they just lost their minds. Just couldn’t believe I did it. We used it for a couple different shows. And I’m in the process of turning it into a real food truck now, which is why it hasn’t been at the CAMP TRIP events. It’ll be its own art car when its ready…called Mother’s Milk Truck. It will be a licensed soft serve truck you can DJ out of….so it’s gonna be ‘Frozen Treats and Nutritious Beats’. It’s set to premier at this upcoming BASS LIFT!”

Photo: Alex Varsa

Photo: Alex Varsa

There is no doubt that events such as this take a lot of planning and work, but in the end, it is completely worthwhile for Mardyks: “I think my favorite aspect to putting them on is the collaboration. What you get to witness when everyone comes together, has an idea, and actually pulls it off. When we all pull through and come together, when you get to watch all these different moving parts act as one…it’s a great feeling. I think that is one of the most rewarding parts about throwing shows in general.”

Photo: SERVEEZY

Photo: SERVEEZY

It promises to be a massive night, with an incredible lineup of LA’s finest bass music talent: heavy DnB vibes from Kronology, APX1, AIRGLO, Keekz, and Soothslayer; masterful grooves of house/breaks by Shleebs, Hardknocker, Johnny Darko, and a special b2b set from Jufro and Jn9ne; a secret headliner; plus, all the crazy visual art and stage productions the group has become infamous for.

Don’t miss the adventure that is BASS LIFT, taking place March 30th in DTLA.

The Irresistible Draw Of Queensryche

QUEENSRYCHE play Observatory/North Park Mar. 27 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 28; photo Reuben Martinez

QUEENSRYCHE play Observatory/North Park Mar. 27 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 28; photo Reuben Martinez

“It’s a great opportunity man,” declares guitarist Michael Wilton of Queensryche. “This is my hobby, it’s awesome having a job that is a hobby.”

Having released a slew of albums throughout their nearly forty years of existence, the band recently released The Verdict, further cementing their legacy as one of the most powerful heavy metal acts of all time.

This is no small feat, as this kind of longevity for a band is a rare commodity. “The uniqueness of the music, just believing in what we want to be, and having the steady communication with our fans. Not fitting into any trend or genre, kind of having a little bit of everything and that’s how we have always been. Just seems to work out that way,” says Wilton on how the band has achieved this.

Michael Wilton of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Michael Wilton of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

“My advice for bands starting out is really take advantage of multimedia, really connect with your fans, and just keep building the communication with the fans. Just tour your asses off and build a following,” suggests Wilton for any struggling bands out there.

His passion for music has always been strong, even choosing it over a potential baseball career in high school.

“It wasn’t hard to choose,” recounts the guitarist. “When you’re in your teens, you know, you don’t know what’s going on in your mind. Wasn’t like I flipped a coin or anything. I went to a Black Sabbath show and saw Van Halen; saw Edward Van Helen open with the song “On Fire” and knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Todd La Torre of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Todd La Torre of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Delving further into his story, he describes how he got his nickname “The Whip”: “When I was in my single digits as a young lad and hanging out with my friends, they said I whipped on the guitar and thus started calling me “Whip” at parties. Everybody caught on and it’s been a nickname for me ever since I was a kid. I kept it out of amusement, you know, it’s a pretty cool nickname.”

Ruminating on the bands’ recent album title, Wilton explains, “It’s the bands’ fifteenth album. The Verdict is kind of a strong statement; and if one looks at the picture on the album, he is a red hooded figure holding the scales of justice. And one realizes it’s a bit out of balance and you see the turbulent scene behind it. It’s kind of our view of the bits and parts of the world that we have seen. So not knowing what the future is gonna tell.

Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche; photo Reuben Martinez

Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche; photo Reuben Martinez

“I like playing all the new stuff, and it’s great to see the fans reactions to both the new and old stuff,” he conveys. “I think anything off The Verdict is my favorite right now cuz it’s so fresh.”

The bread and butter of almost any rock band is the live show, with its visceral energy and communal interactions. “The connection you get from the fans, seeing the joy in their faces. That is a high you can’t do with medicine, you know. It’s a real connection, and that’s what’s great about being in a band; connecting with the fans, getting that live access, and the fans reciprocate. That’s what keeps the whole thing rolling,” describes Wilton. “Whether it’s a hundred people or a thousand people, you give the same intense show.

Eddie Jackson of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Eddie Jackson of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

“I think it’s gotten to a point where bands like ours tour so much, and that aspect of playing live starts to infiltrate the creative process,” Wilton points out regarding the live energy to the studio environment.

“The intensity found its way onto the music on The Verdict. And when you’re on the road all the time, ideas come up and you just put them into your computer, document them, and just keep them organized. When it comes time to record, you pull them out and we all start working on them as a band. It’s something I’ve been doing over 35 years, and it works the same way on each album.”

Parker Lundgren of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Parker Lundgren of Queensryche; photo James Christopher

Speaking about coming to LA, he states: “It’s always fun to play in the LA area. Because obviously you have seen everything over and over and over again. Nothing is ever new in LA, but it’s just a good strong base. The fans are very respective of our heritage and legacy, and the support is just amazing. We get the hardcore fans, the new fans, the young fans, we get all ages.

“LA has been the springboard for so many fans; even though we are from Seattle, it’s always great to play LA. And I love playing the Wiltern, cuz it’s so close to my last name.”

Don’t miss the animal magnetism and feverish energy of Queensryche’s world tour when they hit the Fonda Theatre on March 28!