Nothing Fishy About Jack Russell’s Great White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curtis Harding Brings Soul Power And More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Posies Celebrate 30 Year Anniversary

THE POSIES

THE POSIES play The Coach House May 24, Bootleg Theater May 25 and Soda Bar May 26; photo Alan Lawrence

The Posies, famous innovators of pop music, shall soon be stopping in SoCal. The power pop quartet will perform at The Coach House May 24, Bootleg Theater May 25 and Soda Bar May 26.

Ken Stringfellow, one half of the group’s founders, with the other being Jon Auer, says the appearances are part of the group’s upcoming anniversary tour.

“Our band started playing in 1988 and here we are still playing 30 years later.”

Those 30 years have seen the group tour around the world, play all kinds of venues and produce eight studio albums. Three of the latter that saw release in the 90’s will be remastered and rereleased in celebration of the group’s anniversary: Dear 23, Frosting on the Beater and Amazing Disgrace.

But what makes The Posies stand out is their music. The group is well known for both playing and innovating what is best described as power pop: a rock subgenre taking cues from the British and American rock of the 1960s emphasizing strong melodies, clear vocals and musical arrangements that help emphasize guitar playing.

Stringfellow though says this is an apt description but adds that there is a very great importance placed on the vocals: something he feels not many bands like them do too much of anymore.

“It’s indie rock that avoids clichés with great vocal harmony,” Stringfellow said. “That’s how I would sum it up.”

The group is also known for having various line-up changes throughout the years. For their tour and upcoming SoCal appearances, both Stringfellow and Auer will be accompanied by two other musicians who played with them for much of the 90’s: Dave Fox (bass) and Mike Musburger (drums).

Stringfellow proclaims that being able to play music again with Fox and Musburger feels like both a second chance as well as a great opportunity to help showcase their musical skills to concertgoers.

“They’re great musicians,” Stringfellow explained. “Things were a little turbulent back in the day. We get along fine now and everything’s cool and it’s great to take these guys out on the road.”

But while other members of the group may find it easy to take time off from the road, Stringfellow remains actively busy. When not performing, you can find him helping other bands to perform as he is also a record producer for Damien Jurado, The Long Winters, and Carice van Houten to name but a few of the many artists he’s produced.

Yet Stringfellow never ceases to produce music he himself and The Posies can use. For him, composing songs is about melody. That melody is both the key and foundation for the music he makes and what The Posies play.

“The interesting thing is with all the technological changes and all the music skills I’ve acquired in the last 30 years, I still look for a very strong melody,” Stringfellow admitted. “I don’t do spacey music usually, I start around a melody and make that the key to a song.”

When the melody is caught, and the songs written, Stringfellow always finds it a joy to share his musical creations on both record and in live concerts. Ask him where he’s enjoyed playing music at the most along with other Posie members, or “the four musketeers” as he refers to the group, Stringfellow will merely shrug and admit he tries not to pick favorites.

“Having played in a thousand, bajillion places and having so many good shows, really it would be foolish for me to narrow it down,” Stringfellow said. “I’m ready for a new adventure every time.”

That is why Stringfellow is especially looking to the group’s upcoming 30th anniversary tour that begins May 18 in Victoria Canada.

“We’re playing some places on this tour that I’ve never played, including the place we’re playing in L.A., the Bootleg Theater,” Stringfellow mentioned. “I don’t really know much about it. That’s just a new thing.”

The current tour for The Posies is slated to continue until it ends at the Inkonst in Malmö, Sweden on Nov. 8. Even though The Posies have a long tour to look forward to, Stringfellow says plans are already underway for a brand-new album.

“Even with all that in front of us, I think we are still thinking of the next record,” Stringfellow mused. “Obviously that’s going to happen no sooner than next year because this year is fully taken up by the anniversary tour.”

That tour takes priority for now but Stringfellow remains firmly optimistic about the future beyond it.

“There’s a future that we are still looking towards and we are still excited about it and we’ll see how it goes,” Stringfellow said. “We’re just about to launch this tour so we’ll see if we all survive, touch wood and go from there.”

Ghost: A Tale From The Photo Pit

GHOST

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

Swedish band Ghost kicked off their “Rats on the Road” tour in Riverside, California on May 5. A SOLD OUT show. Obviously, they have a huge following and for a photographer, a dream to shoot.

But the great thing was that only Ghost performed this night, no supporting band. A full show with just them. There were only six photographers allowed to shoot this show, which made the photo pit less crowded.

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

If you follow the band, singer Papa Emeritus takes on a new persona as Cardinal Copia (with no black Pope outfit). There has been a big mystery going on with this band with the changes and direction. But as Ghost played on with some wardrobe changes, and a set list of songs that everyone was familiar with, the band did squeeze some of the new songs in between.

As the curtains opened the band of Nameless Ghouls, wearing their signature silver devil like masks, jumped into “Rats” the first single from the upcoming album Prequelle out Jun 1.

Another new song, “Miasma” featured

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

the band as an instrumental. In the middle of the song, Papa Nil (head of Ghost’s Clergy) emerged with two nuns, stood from his chair, pulled out his saxophone, and belted a solo. After playing a few more songs, the band took an intermission and then singer Cardinal Copia came back out in a typical red Cardinal robe.

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

GHOST; photo Reuben Martinez

Two full sets played over two hours was epic. During songs like “Mummy Dust” there were cannons shooting gold confetti creating a shiny flurry in the air. They also played the crowd favorite “If You Have Ghosts”, an early 80’s cover by Roky Erickson, ending the night with another new song, “Dance Macabre”.

All in all, it was a very exciting, visual show. Be sure to grab tickets for The Forum show at the end of the year because they will sell out again!

Song set list:
Ashes
Rats
Absolution
Ritual
Con Clavi Con Dio
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Devil Church
Cirice
Stand by Him
Miasma
Jigolo Har Megiddo
Pro Memoria
Deus in Absentia
Set II
Spirit
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Faith
Year Zero
Spöksonat
He Is
Prime Mover
Mummy Dust
If You Have Ghosts
Dance Macabre

High Energy Rock Collective Soul Shine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Star Riders Rock The Grove With Saxon

BLACK STAR RIDERS

BLACK STAR RIDERS play Grove of Anaheim Apr. 20 and Microsoft Theater Apr. 22; photo Richard Stow

Black Star Riders are charging in to SoCal with heapings of hard rock, taking a night off from the Judas Priest Firepower tour to perform Apr. 20 at the Grove of Anaheim, with Saxon. Both bands rejoin the tour at Microsoft Theater Apr. 22.

Robbie Crane (bass), proclaims that he and his co-musicians are very excited to play at the venue, claiming that it shall be very special for any hard rock loving concertgoers who attend.

“We’re excited to play that gig,” Crane said. “That’s a show that we’re doing with Saxon, which is very cool, and we will be playing a longer set list as opposed to the 40 min set list that we play with Judas Priest.”

Crane says he is excited for the event as it marks something of a jovial homecoming to the Orange County area.

“That’s my hometown. I was born in Orange County so I have a ton of family there. It’ll be very cool.”

Formed in 2012, Black Star Riders are a spin-off of the iconic hard rock group Thin Lizzy, initially founded by guitarist, Scott Gorman and drummer, Brian Downey. The five-man group has managed to achieve its own unique style and sound to differentiate it from the original band it evolved from.

Crane officially joined the lineup in 2014 replacing the group’s very first bass player Marco Mendoza. Though he has played with six other bands, namely the Vince Neil Band and Ratt, playing with Black Star Riders has been very rewarding for the music veteran.
“I think everything has just been a great experience for me,” Crane said. “Culturally and musically it’s different from anything I’ve ever done before.”

Crane admits that one of the things that isn’t different for him is playing the Thin Lizzy songs, something he grew up doing while a young, aspiring musician.

“I played so many Lizzy songs in a cover band as a kid,” Crane revealed. “Scott would laugh at me ‘cause I knew all these Lizzy songs when I came in to play for them. He actually said to me ‘wow, you really make these songs swing.’ I tried to explain to him that I played these songs a hundred times before, just never with the real guys.”

Crane has quickly found himself in good company, both with the band and with music lovers. Already in his fourth year with the group, Crane’s graced many live concerts hosting the loud, boisterous jams of Black Star Riders to concert attendees. He has even aided in the creation of their second and third records – The Killer Instinct and Heavy Fire.

Though comfortable recording music in a studio, Crane admits that playing live is to him the group’s true reward for each new album they successfully produce.

“We’re musicians at the end of the day and that’s what we like to do,” Crane explained. “That’s what we loved to do as kids, that’s what we aspired to do and we’re doing it on a professional level. Not a lot of people can say that they’ve done as we all have, individually and collectively, under the Black Star Riders brand.”

No matter where the group plays, whether the United States or Europe, Crane says it is always a great experience to play live and introduce people to their solid, high-volume brand of hard rock that has made the group its niche in the music industry.

“It’s just great to share that gift of music,” Crane says. “You touch people and they get excited about it and we’re excited. We’re up there, happy as heck, just to be playing. What better life do we have?”

Black Star Riders are slated to continue playing alongside Saxon and Judas Priest until next month. Once that collaboration is over, Crane says he and his bandmates plan to take it easy and focus on playing at local music festivals.

However, Crane says this is a soft prologue to two much more daunting musical treks that they have planned for the near future.

“Our hope is in the fall that we do another smaller tour of the U.K. and then we’re going to start on our fourth record in January or February.”

Initial writing for the album has already started, Crane reveals. That process shall continue indefinitely even though the group continues playing live with no foreseeable end in sight.

“The whole time we’ll be writing, as we always are,” Crane remarks.” Every day it’s like, ‘I’ve got this idea!’ It’s a good thing. We’re always perpetuating and moving forward, which is great.”

The Heavy Thunder Of Uriah Heep Strikes SoCal

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

As one of the founders of the ‘eavy metal sound, Uriah Heep has paved a road filled with experimentation, progressive ideas, and rich sounds that has garnered them love and praise since their inception in 1969.

For those who are not aware, their name comes from a character in the novel “David Copperfield”. And the origin of their formation went a little like this: “How did the band start? It got started by us playing our instruments,” laughs co-founder/lead guitarist, Mick Box.
“How does any band start? You start in a band, and you form, and change members until you find a combination that you like. And we found that in 1970 and improved on that by about 1972. And that was the one that would be termed the band that had the most success at the time. So, we came out with Heep, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Zeppelin all at the same time.”

That was over forty years ago and is a testament to their staying power to still be going strong today. According to Box, “We still have the same passion and energy for what we do, mate. Music is our life. And we are lucky enough to have had songs that stood the test of time, that people still like hearing in the live arena, which allows us to tour in 61 countries. It’s marvelous, something that is your job to travel around the world like that, it could be no better. We never forget how lucky we are.”

Having such a long and intense history, it could be hard to narrow a single standout moment. Yet for Box, there is one highlight: “I think of the standout moments it would be that we were the first western rock band to play in Russia, in December 1987. We were invited over there by glasnost; and we went over there and played to 180,000 people. Just a marvelous experience considering what you were taught in school about Russians. We had no idea how big we were over there through our music, which they could only get access through the black market.”

Every band typically has songs that they like to play.

“We leave that to the fans, Box said. “I mean, generally fans let you know exactly what their favorites are. They usually range from “Gypsy” to “July Morning” to “Easy Living” to “Lady in Black” and the list goes on. We let the fans do the choosing, cuz you know, we are playing for the fans, not ourselves.”

There is also a long history of fans giving the band some pretty strange things over the years. Box relates one such occurrence.

“We did a five-week tour of Russia, and the first show was in Yekaterinburg. Someone said there was a guy outside who wants to give you a present and of course I said to give me a few minutes and I will go out and meet him. He actually made – you know the beautiful churches that are all over Russia – well he makes the bells. He’s the actual bell maker. And he gave me a bell with my name on it. Which was very, very heavy and huge. And I had to carry it around for five weeks. It was a hard thing to lug about.

“I think mostly we have been pioneers of the entire industry, by being the first, through our success that everyone else could follow. And now, of course, Russia is on every band’s tour and the European market. Being the first to do something like that, and being pioneers is quite something.”

This love of progressivism and constantly moving forwards is a defining feature of Uriah Heep as a band.

“In January, we recorded a new album called Living the Dream with a great producer by the name of Jay Ruston, that’s getting released in September on Frontier Records,” revealed Box. “And of course, we start a world tour again starting then. Then we’ll do great European things and it’ll go on forever again,” states Box.

Touring is well-known as a grueling ordeal, so how does a band like Uriah Heep get through it over and over again?

“What you do is you look out for your health,” Box explained. “It’s as simple as that. Nobody wants to see someone out on stage drunk or drugged up or anything, you know.

“So, we look after our health. You’re only as good as your last show as far as we are concerned. We give it 110% every time we are on that stage. And to do that, you have to look after yourself. Health first is the answer. We can do an eight-hour day before we hit the stage, and to do that you have to be on top of the game.”

Witness the sound and the glory of Uriah Heep when they hit The Coach House on Apr 19!

Orange County’s Newest Music Venue Unveils Upcoming Concert Calendar

X; photo Frank Gargani

X; photo Frank Gargani

Reverend Horton Heat, X, The Buttertones, GZA, Wanda Jackson, Pinback, Brenton Wood, The Adicts, WAR, DJ Quik, Allah-Las and more are set to perform at Marty’s Bar and Grill in Tustin located at 14401 Newport Ave.

Under new ownership, the venue will re-launch as Marty’s On Newport with the official grand opening scheduled for May 29th. Co-owner and industry veteran Mike Rouse says, “We’re excited to bring an intimate, entertainment venue to Orange County”. The renovated room is 21+ and open daily for food & drinks.

Tickets for all shows go on sale Friday, April 20 at martysonnewport.com.

CURRENT SHOW CALENDAR (More TBA):
marty's calendar5/26 – INSPECTOR
5/29 – WAR (Grand Opening Show!)
5/30, 5/31 – FORTUNATE YOUTH
6/1, 6/2 – REVEREND HORTON HEAT
6/3 – THE VARUKERS
6/4 – GZA
6/5 – THE ADOLESCENTS
6/6 – CAT SIGNS
6/7 – THE COMO LA FLOR BAND: A TRIBUTE TO SELENA
6/8, 6/9, 6/10 – SWEET AND TENDER HOOLIGANS
6/14 – ALLAH-LAS
6/15, 6/16 – PINBACK
6/19 – TOMORROW’S TULIPS
6/20 THE BASH DOGS
6/21 THE BUTTERTONES
6/22, 6/23 – BRENTON WOOD
6/24 – LA BANDA SKALAVERA
6/25, 6/26 – KATCHAFIRE
6/28 – PASSAFIRE
6/29, 6/30 – BERLIN
7/1 – THA LIKS
7/5, 7/6 – CELSO PINA
7/7, 7/8 – WANDA JACKSON
7/9, 7/10 – AN EVENING WITH CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD
7/11 – JOAN OF ARC
7/12 – LEVITATION ROOM
7/13 – JMSN
7/14 – PHIL SHANE
7/15 – EVIDENCE
7/17, 7/18, 7/19 – THE ADICTS
7/20 – THE EXPANDERS
7/21 – THROUGH THE ROOTS
7/22 – JOSH HENRICHS
7/26, 7/27 – DJ QUIK
7/28 – FUNK FREAKS
8/2 – BUYEPONGO
8/3, 8/4 – JONATHAN RICHMAN
8/9 – MOONSVILLE COLLECTIVE
8/10, 8/11 – NEKROMANTIX
8/17 – LA SONORA DINAMITA
8/18 – JAMES INTVELD
8/21, 8/22 – X
8/23 – TIMBER TIMBRE
8/24 – FLOR DE TOLOACHE
8/28, 8/29 – T.S.O.L.
8/31 – THE HULA GIRLS
9/14 – MAC SABBATH
9/15 – LOS KUNG FU MONKEYS
10/18 – D.R.I.
11/10 – AGENT ORANGE

Alice Bag Steps Up Her Game

ALICE BAG plays The Echo Apr. 7; photo Greg Velasquez

ALICE BAG plays The Echo Apr. 7; photo Greg Velasquez

Alice Bag heads over to The Echo Apr. 7 in support of her latest solo album Blueprint. Based in Los Angeles, Bag is a punk rock singer, musician, author, educator and feminist archivist.

She was lead singer and co-founder of The Bags-who were among the first wave of punk bands to emerge from that city during in the mid-1970’s-and also performed in Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. In 2016, she released her self-titled debut solo album on Don Giovanni Records.

Recorded at Echo Park’s Station House Studios, Blueprint collects 11 songs that Bag wrote and arranged over the last year. They are performed by members of her current backing band, as well as long-time collaborators like drummers Rikki Watson (The Two Tens) Joe Berardi (Deadbeats), Eva Gardner (Pink, Mars Volta, Cher), Kristian Hoffman (The Mumps) and Danny McGough (Social Distortion).

The album also features an all-star roster of guest vocalists, including Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, The Julie Ruin), Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Sex Stains), Francisca Valenzuela, Teri Gender Bender, and Martin Sorrondeguy (Los Crudos, Limp Wrist).

You can hear them on the record, but also feel their presence in Bag’s vocals. For example, listening to Wolfe and Hanna’s vocal takes for the song “77” inspired the singer to take another, more savage crack at her own performance.

“For me it’s really good to surround myself with singers that I admire,” Bag explains. “It forces me to step up my game and not just sing the song like I’m singing in my living room.”

The title Blueprint is a nod to the process of construction – of a home, a life, the world – and the problems that pop up mid-build.

“I was having work done on my house and I was thinking about all the things that come up when you’re looking at a blueprint,” says Bag. “Maybe they say, ‘We can’t do that because your plumbing is rotting.’

“Things come up as you’re building a structure and force you in different directions, but you still have to make sure that it turns out the way you envisioned – you have to allow for setbacks and obstacles.”

The songs often find their inspiration in real-life moments that caused Bag to take stock and assess her own blueprint- to take a stand or fix a problem- personal, political, or both.

“We’re all constantly building structures of many different kinds,” explains Bag. “So, it’s up to us to keep things on track and moving in the direction we want to see them go. Otherwise, we end up with an idiot in charge.”

Goth Duo MGT Bring Positivity Into The Light

MGT - Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

MGT – Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

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

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

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

MGT - Mark Gemini Thwaite; photo James Christopher

MGT – Mark Gemini Thwaite; photo James Christopher

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

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

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

MGT - Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

MGT – Ashton Nyte; photo James Christopher

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

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

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

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

MGT - Richard Vernon; photo James Christopher

MGT – Richard Vernon; photo James Christopher

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

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

MGT - Nick Mason; photo James Christopher

MGT – Nick Mason; photo James Christopher

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

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

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