Flashback 2015: Los Lonely Boys Play It New Every Night

los-lonely-boys

LOS LONELY BOYS play The Coach House Aug 26 and Belly Up Aug 27

Flashback: LOS LONELY BOYS 2015 interview…

Grammy Award-winning rockers Los Lonely Boys will play The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano Aug. 26, 2015 and Belly Up Aug. 27, 2015. The close-knit trio of brothers, Henry Garza (lead vocals / guitar), Jojo Garza (bass) and Ringo Garza (drums), released their breakthrough single “Heaven” in 2004, which went onto become a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts.

“We play anywhere from dive bars and pubs to the greatest stages of today,” Jojo said. “If it’s a small place that won’t let us rock, then we play acoustic. If it’s a small place that wants us to rock then we plug in. We’ve always been versatile and will remain to be so. We won’t solidify ourselves to being only one thing musically.”

In their review of the band’s latest album Revelation, All Music Guide described the trio’s work as being “lively as ever and in some sly subtle ways better than ever too.” Several notable artists such as Radney Foster, Ozomatli’s Raúl Pacheco and Black Eyed Peas collaborators George Pajon Jr. and Keith Harris, contributed during the songwriting process for Revelation.

On the road, Los Lonely Boys remain one of the more prolific touring rock bands, famously performing nearly 200 shows in front of over 350,000 fans during their 2009-10 tour. Despite the repetitive nature of an exhausting tour schedule, the band finds it quite easy to remain motivated for every live show.

“The idea that each night makes every performance and song new again is how we keep the spark,” Jojo said. “When playing songs like ‘Heaven’ we find that the new ears listening and the new eyes watching are what really make the songs feel new.”

While the band prides itself in its original songs, the trio has also recorded several popular covers of classic rock hits like Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through The Night.”

“They’ve all been fun. Some were challenges because we didn’t grow up listening to them, but for the most part man we can play anything. I mean anything,” Jojo said. “We love writing and creating, but nothing beats paying homage to the greats before us–especially if the tunes rock.”

The brothers experienced a particularly frightening moment several years ago when frontman Henry was hospitalized after taking a fall off stage. The band was ultimately forced to cancel 43 shows due to the seriousness of the injuries Henry sustained.

According to Jojo, two things have remained the same through both critical success and personal tragedy — faith and family.

“The truth is for us no one has your back like your brother or family,” Jojo said. “Respect and appreciation for one another is what keeps us above the rest. Don’t get me wrong, we disagree with each other sometimes, but most of the time we are all on the same page. God first, family second, business and everything else fall in line after that.”

Flashback 2016: Die-Hard Wanda Jackson Still Having Fun

WANDA JACKSON

WANDA JACKSON plays The Casbah Jan. 28 and The Coach House Jan. 31

Flashback 2016: Interview with WANDA JACKSON

Whether you call her The Queen of Rock, The Queen of Rockabilly, or by her plain old name, Wanda Jackson is a living legend. The music icon will be playing in all her fringe-trimmed, feline-growlin’glory at The Casbah in San Diego Jan. 28 and The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano Jan. 31.

The Fujiyama Mama herself talked to Concert Guide Live about her decades-spanning career, a new project, and of course, Elvis.

Growing up with a musician for a father, a life in music was practically written in the stars for Jackson. He purchased Jackson her first guitar and would take her to performances by country acts like Spade Cooley, Tex Williams and Bob Wills. Jackson was hooked.

“When I was about six years old I would see the girl singers in these bands. I would stand right at the front of the stage, and stare up all night long. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do, and I didn’t make any backup plans [laughs], so it was like, ‘Ok, kid, you’ve gotta do this, or you’re in the soup line’.”

Trying to make her dream a reality as a teenage girl in the testosterone-fueled music industry of the 1950’s wasn’t easy. Jackson was famously turned down by Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson, with the now laughable words, “Girls don’t sell records.”

“You have to remember, the mindset of that generation. It was quite daring of me to just not want to get married and start having babies. I knew I didn’t want that. That’s part of why my daddy went with me, to help me. He collected the money, because I would forget to get paid. I would come home, and I had forgotten because I had so much fun! Isn’t that something?!”

After graduating high school, Jackson set out on her first real tour with another youngster who was just making his way: Elvis Presley. Presley and Jackson would briefly date, but it was his influence on her career that was crucial, and lasting.

“I had a crush on him before long. We got along fine and enjoyed being together, and my daddy liked him, so he would let me go out after a show, have a coke or a burger. Somewhere along the way he started talking to me about doing this new kind of music. There wasn’t a real name for it at that time.

“I would say, ‘Elvis, I love your songs and the way you do them, but I can’t do it. I’m a girl.’ See, that was the mindset. That type of music was for guys. He just kept kind of daring me. Then he double-dog-dared me. Then you’ve gotta do it, you know?! [laughs]”

Finding material was tough so Jackson took matters into her own hands.

“None of it was for girls, no one was writing it for girls, so my daddy, he said ‘Why don’t you just start writing your own? They sound kind of simple.’ And I said, ‘Well, I think you’re right! Maybe I could write one’.”

Jackson’s own material, combined with covers of “Hot Dog, That Made Him Mad,” “Fujiyama Mama,” and her biggest hit, 1960’s “Let’s Have A Party,” struck gold with listeners who were already in love with Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and the newly crowned King. Dressed up in fringed dresses, high heels, and red lipstick, Jackson soon became the undisputed Queen of Rockabilly.

Once rockabilly faded from popularity, Jackson continued to tour and record country music. But, following her high-profile collaborations with Jack White for 2011’s The Party Ain’t Over and Justin Townes Earle for 2012’s Unfinished Business, Jackson is back in the spotlight where she loves to be. Lucky for us, another collaboration is in the works.

“Joan Jett is going to produce for me on Blackhearts records. I’m seriously looking for songs and I’ve already got about six or seven original songs to do, and I’m hoping she’ll do a duet with me if we can find a cute song. So, that’s got me excited.”

Looking back at then vs. now, it seems life on the road has only gotten sweeter for Jackson.

“I’m glad now that I stuck with it as long as I did. I still don’t want to quit. I guess I’m a die-hard or something. Most of us are. We just hate to give up the life that we love. I’m not wealthy by any means, but I can fly everywhere I go. I stay in nice hotels. Poor daddy and I used to stay in old run-down motels. We just didn’t make enough money for a nice room! I get home with the money now [laughs].”

When told that she’s certainly earned the right to more money, Jackson just laughs.

“Well I kind of feel like maybe I have!”

Jinjer Brings The Melody And The Fury To SoCal (2018 Looking Back)

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

Looking back: JINJER 2018 interview…

“Well, it (Jinjer) doesn’t mean anything at all,” according to bassist Eugene Kostyuk. “It has no connection with ginger, like hair color or….

“It is another fact that now there is no founding member in the band. And honestly, none of us know how the band was made. I am absolutely sure that it was named Jinjer because people liked the word; maybe they had no idea what it means or care. Just Jinjer, and that’s it.”

Such is the enigma of this Ukrainian band and they are an enigma in all the right ways. The current lineup – in addition to Kostyuk, is comprised of guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov, Vladislav Ulasevish on drums, and vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk – has developed an evolving sound based in progressive death metal, yet absorbing broad influences ranging from jazz to Nu metal. Jinjer has been making waves around the world due to their unique mixture of these sounds.

“Each of us has absolutely, well not quite absolutely, but quite different musical tastes,” Kostyuk explains. “Me personally, I’ve always, well for a really long time, been into progressive metal. Death metal, such as bands like Daath, and the European progressive scene, like Opeth and Gojira. And these bands influenced me a lot along with some Nu Metal bands, especially Mudvayne who is one of my most favorite bands ever.

“Roman, his musical roots come from thrash metal bands like Metallica and Slayer. And later he got into Nu Metal bands like Slipknot. And Vlad, he is a big fan of the death core scene.

“Tatiana, on the other hand, is on the opposite side. Recently she has been getting out of metal, and one of the only metal bands she still listens to is Gojira. But she has been more about jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues. She is a big fan of Amy Winehouse, loves Pink a lot, and No Doubt. Music like that. I could talk about this endlessly. There are so many bands we listen to, got inspired by, and probably borrowed elements from.”

In this way, the musicians in Jinjer share a commonality of interests yet celebrate their differences, deftly illustrated in their music and live shows. But what does this sound like exactly?

“Describing music with words is difficult,” Kostyuk admitted. “Imagine Opus meets Lamb of God. And this mixture describes us more or less okay… is an okay description of a Jinjer live show. On one hand it’s hardcore and heavy; yet on the other, we have a lot of light and easy moments, some kind of jazzy and funky elements – which let people relax and rest between these hardcore blast beats.”

Kostyuk further elaborates, “A good show is a combination of factors. It starts from how I feel physically and mentally, going into the venue and how big it is, how good the sound is, how active the crowd is, and the combination of all of these is what makes a good show. This is how I see it.”

Every band will tell you that different songs sound better live, while others suit the studio environment better.

“I can’t pick any I prefer but there are a couple that I think sound better live than on the record, ‘I Speak Astronomy’ and ‘Pisces’,” Kostyuk conveys.

“And now on this tour with Devildriver, we are playing unreleased songs from the new EP. And I have to say, I really enjoy playing them live. It’s just absolutely incredible. We haven’t had new material in a long time and finally we came up with some stuff, and it is just mind blowing.”

Now on their second tour in America with Devildriver and Raven Black, Jinjer is excited to be on tour, as well as having an opportunity to test out the forthcoming songs on their soon to be released EP.

“We just released the first single, it’s called ‘Ape’,” Kostyuk revealed. “It’s been out online for one week. The EP, if I’m not mistaken, will be out in November. It’s gonna be five tracks of new songs.

“I would love to see all of our American fans on this tour, especially since we are playing the new songs and really look forward to their reactions, cuz no one has listened to them before.”

Catch Jinjer in all their mysterious glory, and get some brand-new aural treats, when they play the Whisky in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick in San Diego Nov. 18.

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band Rock SoCal (2017 Remembered)

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND

IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND play Teragram Ballroom Sep 12 and The Coach House Sep 13; press photo

IAN HUNTER / MOTT THE HOOPLE / THE RANT BAND 2017 interview remembered…

Ian Hunter, the once glam rocker of Mott the Hoople who evolved into a phenomenal solo artist penning radio hits such as “Cleveland Rocks” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, continues to tour and write interesting albums such as last years’ Fingers Crossed.

He will be performing with The Rant Band at Teragram Ballroom Sep. 12 and The Coach House Sep. 13, a venue he has played a few times including when he and Mick Ronson played after a week-long stint recording 1979’s live album Welcome To the Club at The Roxy.
The group has put together an amalgamation of songs covering 48 years of music to perform.

“You’ve got to please the casuals that means you’ve got to do a bit of the old stuff,” Hunter explained. “Then you’ve got to please the other half that means you’ve got to do a bit of the stuff no one’s heard, then you’ve got to do some solo stuff. And it all sort of melds in somehow.”

Naturally there should be a couple of songs from Fingers Crossed such as the recently released single, “Ghost” that has a delightfully soulful chorus complimenting Hunter’s rough around the edges vocals. As well as “Dandy” which is a nod to David Bowie who passed while Hunter was having difficulty writing a completely different song called “Lady” that he turned into “Dandy”.

“I only knew him for about a year that was around the Hunky Dory, Ziggy period,” Hunter recalled. “I kind of wrote the song from a fan’s point of view from that period.

“Because when he came in, everything was kind of drab, it was kind of like watching a black and white movie. Then, all of a sudden, David came in and everything went technicolor.”

One of the lyrics, “the last bus home” shows up throughout the song and refers to the end of a good night out.

“We used to go and see gigs and they were magic then you would come out and you really didn’t like your own existence,” Hunter chuckled. “It’s the same as when you came out of a movie and it’s ‘oh Jesus, here I am again’. That’s the whole idea of it.”

Not one to write and tour at the same time, Hunter prefers to focus on one or the other. He’s been touring since last year on the recent record and will most likely begin writing the next one in January.

“I just write when I want to make a new record,” Hunter noted. “I’m not one of those people, I can’t really work on the next one when I’m on the road. If I started on it now, it would be a bit dated by the time I did it.”

Being a rhythm guitarist and not a lead guitarist, Hunter prefers Martins, but also uses Gibsons and RainSongs.

“I have two other guitar players in the band so I stay acoustic,” Hunter said. “RainSongs is kind of a unique guitar because it’s not wood so it has a little edge to it. It’s kind of like halfway between an acoustic and an electric. I use it for open tuning.”

He keeps some of his guitars in Europe and some in the States so he doesn’t have to deal with transporting them as often.

“When we depart here, we go to Germany, then England and you don’t want to be carting stuff all over the place so we generally leave stuff in different countries,” Hunter explained. “You can pick them up when you’re there and it saves a lot of aggravation on the plane.
“It’s something you learn over the years. I never would have thought of it years ago.”

Something else he has learned over the years is that you have quite an advantage if you are passionate about what you choose to do in life.

“And if music’s your passion, more luck to you, but get a lawyer,” Hunter laughed. “If you haven’t got one in the family, get one.

“Usually with musicians, one side of the brain’s not working. They need somebody to compensate for the side of the brain that’s not working.

“I mean, I could never understand at school why you had to be good at arts and sciences. Usually you find arts people aren’t very good at math and vice versa.”

One other thing he laughingly mentioned he’s picked up over the years is that he likes to have a drink prior to going on stage.

“It’s a ritual that starts about 30 minutes before we go on. It gets you in the mood.”

Nick Carter: Tale From The Photo Pit (Flashback 2016)

NICK CARTER

NICK CARTER at HOB/Anaheim photo: Lauren Ratkowski

Flashback: NICK CARTER 2016 concert coverage,,,

What do you do when your editor asks if you can shoot a member of Backstreet Boys, aka Nick Carter, at one of your favorite venues? You agree and grab your camera of course!

It was a typical Friday night in Downtown Disney when I arrived – crowded and buzzing with people. I was expecting to catch the end of the first act when I arrived at House of Blues, but instead I got held up at the box office. There was a tiny bump in communication and I was left without a photo pass. But it wasn’t anything a quick call to the on-site tour manager couldn’t fix.

By the time I got inside, the venue was packed. I went straight into the photo pit as there was no one on stage. I thought I had managed to arrive before anyone played, as there were no other photographers in sight. But I was wrong. The crew was setting up for Nick Carter!

It was twenty minutes before set time, so I made sure my camera was ready while I waited. I expected other photographers to show, but as it got closer to set time, it seemed as if I would have the entire photo pit to myself.

Nick Carter greeted fans with a familiar sound when he hit the stage – the unmistakable beat of Backstreet Boys’ hit “Larger Than Life”. Fans greeted him in return with singing and screaming. There was a ton of energy in the room, so I knew it was going to be a good shoot.

With the photo pit to myself, I had a ton of freedom. All I needed was some great lighting and a lively performance and I was set for a good shoot – and that’s exactly what I got! I was able to shoot at wide angles without worrying about having ends of other photographer’s lenses in my frame, which is a luxury! The lighting was constant, yet not overpowering. This allowed me to follow Nick Carter as he moved to and from his mic stand. It also let me zoom in and get some great on-stage portraits.
After my three songs were up, I headed up stairs to shoot some group shots from above the main room. Getting an overhead view of a show isn’t something I get too often, so I took the opportunity.

Carter and his band sounded great and it was nice to see such a dedicated fan base turn out in support of his solo career. Photographing this show was surprisingly simple, but I’ll be sure not to take those shows for granted as I head into shooting in 2016!

Come Hear Legendary Guitarist Dick Dale! (2018-Looking Back)

DICK DALE plays The Coach House Jul. 14; press photo

DICK DALE plays The Coach House Jul. 14; press photo

DICK DALE 2018 interview, looking back…

Legendary guitarist, Dick Dale, continues to play to live audiences everywhere and will return to San Juan Capistrano’s icon, The Coach House, July 14. SoCal has been fortunate to hear Dale perform at The Coach House numerous times partially because he and the owner go way back.

“Gary (Folgner) and I have been very dear friends from the beginning of time,” Dale mused. “Many, many, many years ago he called me up and said ‘I would like you to come and play at my place’.”

This was back when Dale had a 15 piece rock band with keyboards, horns, backup singers, double drums, etc. and there was no way he could pay the whole band to play at his place.

“So my drummer and my bass player said ‘We’ll come and do it, Dick, you just bring your guitar and we’ll back ya’,” Dale recalled. “I got afraid because usually I have the whole band to fall back on. But they convinced me.”

Once he had stripped down the band it naturally led to creating his now signature style of guitar playing but don’t limit it by calling it “surf”. He plays a variety of music from Rockabilly to Boogie Woogie to Jazz to Big Band and everything else.

In fact, Dale pointed out that the word “surf” can actually become a negative and prefers not to use in advertising because it limits his attendance.

Many years ago, he performed a sold out show at Fullerton College, but when he returned several months later, something was amiss and the place was only half-filled.

“When I went outside the building there were all these surf posters so I took the booker and walked him up to a black man and I said ‘Excuse me, sir. Would you go and see the king of the surf guitar?’

“And he said ‘No, man. That’s not my bag, man.’

“Then I said it in a different way. I said, ‘Would you see a guitar legend, even if you never heard of him?’

“His reply was, ‘Oh man, I dig guitar, man. I’ll be there in a minute’.”

Several years into his career, in the late 50s, Dale wanted to give his band a name like many of the bands of that era, which is when The Deltones came about.

“We would perform at Riverside National Guard Armory in San Bernardino,” Dale recalled. “We thought the radio would be the big deal. We would take ads out on the radio that would say ‘Go see Dick Dale and The Deltones’.”

Now, 30 plus years later, people still remember the name The Deltones. Dale says people often tell him he looks familiar, or ask him if he plays guitar, but it’s the name The Deltones that they seem to remember more than his own name.

“You know why they remembered The Deltones?” Dale asked. “Because it was the last thing that was said to them on the air – Dick Dale and The Deltones!”

Dale’s lengthy career has witnessed and pioneered much in the music industry and he has a lot of stories to boot. He rarely does interviews anymore because he feels there’s too much sensationalism and wonders why people can’t just write good things. This is something he and his wife, Lana, feel strongly about.

“All we want to be is left alone. Let us take care of God’s creatures, the animals. And we will entertain and try to help people who have the same ailments that we have by showing them, ‘Look at me, I’m still on this stage and I’m not taking drugs to do it’.”

Having said that, when he’s off stage Dale does like to converse with people and share the things he and Lana have been through, showing he’s the same as they are.

“We are just showing the people that we are like them and we give them little tips when they ask us, ‘How do you perform on that stage? It looks like there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re what, 80 years old? ’,” Dale said. “But there are times I’ve had to sit in a chair. There are times they had to carry me on the stage, the pain was so great.

“I’ve been in the martial arts ever since I was 18. It’s been a way of life. I learned things to help fight pain and how to deal with it.”

Over the course of the interview, Dale shared some of the things he’s learned by experience over time which are akin to words of wisdom.

“I have a statement I’ve always said – when anything hits you in the face whether it’s illnesses or pain – I always say, ‘Deal with it.’ Then I say, ‘Get used to it.’

“The other one is, ‘Your body follows your mind. Don’t be so weak in your mind that you will allow something in your body that will kill you.’ Your body is your temple. Treat it like your temple. That’s what we do.”

Mark your calendar and don’t miss witnessing some legendary music and you may even get to hear a few funny or enlightening stories in between the songs.

Flashback 2015: The Devon Allman Band Rips Up Coach House

DEVON ALLMAN BAND

DEVON ALLMAN BAND played The Coach House Sep. 9

With all live concerts on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to re-run this Devon Allman concert review from 2015:

There was a moment on Wednesday night at The Coach House, when bluesman Devon Allman (yes, of those Allmans) left the stage, wandered through the crowd, ordered a drink, came back on stage, took a swig, launched into a towering solo. The crowd may have come out of curiosity, wanting to see if Gregg Allman’s son has any chops, or because they were fans of his dad’s old band, but in that moment, it was clear the people in the crowd were going to leave as fans of Devon Allman.

Allman took to the stage all in black, and used the same guitar the entire show. His band also has an understated presence. They’re unassuming looking guys, but boy do they know how to play. Students and purveyors of the blues, they ripped the lid off of one song after the next, ranging from Allman’s days in Honeytribe and Royal Southern Brotherhood, to his solo albums and covers.

The opener, “Half the Truth” off of Allman’s latest album, Ragged and Dirty, set the tone for the night. A real southern foot-stomper with a menacing guitar riff, it got the crowd’s attention. It wasn’t until the fourth song, an instrumental jam that Devon really began to show his stuff. He put on a clinic, making the guitar shudder and cry. He brought it down to a whisper, then rammed it back up again, looking out at the audience as if to say, “What about this?” The kid came to play.

Showing respect for blues hero Eric Clapton, the band played an impressive cover of “Forever Man,” and even payed tribute to Allman’s heritage with wonderful covers of “Melissa,” and “One Way Out,” a blues standard made famous by the Allman Brothers Band in the 70’s. Interestingly, it was the band’s cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” that was the real showstopper. The iconic song had everyone swaying, and the band played it with just as much soul as the original. Bobby Schneck Jr., the band’s other guitar player played one of those solos that could make you cry, then Allman brought it home with a solo that went so quiet, he had the crowd hanging on every twitch of this finger.

The band played until midnight, taking a short break which thinned out the crowd to nearly half, making the small setting even more intimate, and appropriately bluesy. The band closed with “Midnight Lake Michigan,” a “spooky blues” instrumental track that Allman introduced by addressing the crowd, saying, “Thank you for supporting real music, made by real people, not drum machines and robots.” The crowd hooted in approval, as Allman made his way through the crowd mid-song, shaking hands and playing another transcendent solo. If you want to see a great guitar player, go see Devon Allman.

The Triumphant Return Of Grey Daze

Grey Daze; photo Anjella

Grey Daze; photo Anjella

Grey Daze is a band that hails back to the early nineties and was the first moment Chester Bennington brought his unique vocal style to the world. While eventually going on to Linkin Park, it was obvious Bennington always had a special place in his heart for Grey Daze, and especially his business partner/close friend Sean Dowdell. They were preparing to re-launch the band when Bennington tragically passed away. Since then, Dowdell has been toiling away to bring us Amends. It is comprised of vocals Bennington recorded with the band right before his death and is a tour de force of not only his talent, but the signature sound of Grey Daze as well.

“The band was formed around 1992,” explains Dowdell of their origins. “Chester and I were teenagers, he was 15 and I was 17. He came in for an audition through a mutual friend. He was a hundred pounds with these wire rim glasses; basically, he sang “Alive” from Pearl Jam and we knew right away he had a great voice. He went to his dad and asked permission to join the band and he gave permission and off to the races we were.

“We charted out a list of band names we liked at the time, and initially chose the name “Love Lies Bleeding”. But then someone informed us there was already a band called that; so, we went back the list and the next name Chester and I both liked was Grey Daze, Jonathan as well, and that’s what ended up sticking.”

Armed with ambition, a solid lineup, and a memorable name, the band steamrolled ahead with making their existence known. “We started writing originals and played our first show about four months after forming the group,” says Dowdell. “We put out two records in the 90’s, signed three records deals, but the band ended up breaking up in 1998. Chester and I had a bad falling out but reconciled about 2002 when we found out our bandmate Bobby Benish was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the prognosis was not good. Chester and I became business partners in something called Club Tattoo, which was our luxury tattoo studio. We opened seven locations for it in Las Vegas and Arizona.”

The reunification of Grey Daze was something both Bennington and Dowdell actively sought and fought for once they began working together again. “In 2003, we briefly tried to put the band back together and tried again in 2007 but in both instances the timing just didn’t work out,” reveals Dowdell. “In 2017, we were discussing doing another anniversary party for Club Tattoo, which Chester and I used to perform at these. He brought up the idea of putting Grey Daze back together for the event and that is how the reunion reconciled and happened.”

With Bennington fully on board and ready to commit, it was only a matter of time before Grey Daze debuted once again. “We got the other members on board and started working on three tracks in the studio once we decided we were going to work on this full-time,” describes Dowdell. “Chester was going to devote the majority of his time to once he was done with Linkin Park obligations. We set a date for mid to late 2017 for our reunion show and then we started working on music. I was in the studio working on three different tracks while Chester would be out on the road with Linkin Park; we would communicate back and forth via phone calls and emails to work out the music. We were scheduled to start rehearsals three days after Chester passed away so obviously the Grey Daze project got put on hold.”

The passing of Chester Bennington was a huge blow to Dowdell and the rest of the band. Yet there was a spirit of determination that this music, especially the singer’s vocals, that had to see the light of day. “It took me about six months to revisit the idea of completing the record and putting it out,” he recalls. “Then, I got the other members on board, Chester’s wife Talinda on board, got his mom and dad on board, and everyone gave me their blessing and we started from scratch. We stripped down all the music to just his vocals, listened over and over again, and worked from the arrangements as well as his vocal patterns. Then, we rewrote every song around his vocals and that is how we ended up with the record.”

“The amount of support we got from Chester’s friends and other musicians, some who didn’t even know him……just the outreach and support we got from other musicians was really surprising, I didn’t expect that and was a very welcome one,” Dowdell shares. “The amount of time we spent to make it right, and make it good, that didn’t surprise me but what was so special about it was that every single person involved did it for the right reasons. We did it in honor of our friend and it took two and a half years to complete it because we felt like it had to be perfect. We kept going back to the drawing board, and even have songs where we recorded three different versions and they still didn’t make the album because we felt like it wasn’t good enough. The amount of energy people put into it was the biggest surprise, it wasn’t done by myself but with everyone contributing in some shape or form.”

Of course, with this situation, there were some huge hurdles to tackle with one of the members of the band now gone. Yet a phenomenal record was still made. According to Dowdell, “I think the thing I am most proud of on the album is that we finished it, that’s first, but I am fairly confident that Chester would be very happy with how the record turned out. That was the biggest hurdle for me that we had going into this. Was this going to live up to the standards that he would have been proud of? And I think we got there.

With new music comes the question of touring behind it. “There were plans to tour when Chester was alive, we already had that in the works,” he points out. “We were getting offers all over the world to tour and he was very excited about that, as was I. As far as this project is currently concerned, there are presently no plans on touring. The only way we would entertain the idea would be to do it in a tribute fashion, where we would bring in guest singers that would sing Chester’s songs and make it about him. We don’t have any plans on touring because that would require replacing Chester and that’s just not something we want to do.”

On top of all of that, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and only threw more complication into the mix. “Originally, we were slated for an April 10th release and had to switch that date for June 26th,” laments Dowdell. “It definitely screwed up the supply chain, the distribution, all of that stuff got messed up. The people from the record company have been working from home, and still are, to get it released. We had release parties, press shows in Europe and South America, and all of those things we had planned got affected really badly. At the same time, we took a couple years to get this thing done and did it the right way, so a couple months of a delay isn’t that big of a deal.”

Dowdell isn’t about to let the virus slow him down either. “I’ve been working more than I have in a long time, to be quite honest,” he states. “I have fifteen companies, six retail tattoo/piercing studios as well. So, I dove back in with my wife doing a bunch of remodels for all of our stores while closed. I’ve also been writing a book, promoting this record, and literally have been working so much harder than I have in a very long time. So, for me, I’m actually working more now.”

As for Grey Daze, the future is still quite bright despite the complex circumstances surrounding them. “We have enough material to do one more album, if not more,” hints Dowdell. “It all depends on how this music is received…it does seem to be getting received really well. So, it looks like we will be working on the next one pretty shortly. But to hedge our bets we do want to make sure it is received well. I think that is a huge surprise for us; that we are getting another chance do another record, and that is very special.”

MaelstroM Returns To Music After Three Decades

MaelstroM; press photo

MaelstroM; press photo

Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic having kneecapped the live music industry, it’s proven to be a boon to the likes of musicians who have seized upon the opportunity to craft new songs from shelter. The most notable of these is Maelstrom.

Beginning in 1988, the metal band played consistently at live venues in the Long Island area of New York and even recorded some demo tracks. The group played live for the last time in 1994 before disbanding.

MaelstroM "Of Gods And Men" album cover

MaelstroM “Of Gods And Men” album cover

Maelstrom has officially come back thanks to vocalist Gary Vosganian and guitarist Joey Lodes being spurred on to complete a task they never accomplished during their intial run: completing an album.

“I turned to my partner Joey and said ‘you know what, this may be the best time in the entire world to release this,’” recounts Vosganian.

Vosganian, though now focused on a career as a graphic artist who specializes in advertising, says the digital release of the album “Of Gods and Men” on May 22 not only owes its creation to the ongoing quarantine effect of COVID-19 but due also to Maelstrom choosing the studio over the stage.

”We have the advantage of not having to tour,” relates Vosganian. “We’re not a touring band really. We really have just been wanting to get this album out for the better part of our lives. It’s been going on 32 years now and, for the one time in the universe or in the world, that being a non-touring band had an advantage happened to be now.”

“Of Gods and Men” is effectively a musical mash-up of new and old. Combining brand new songs along with many of their older ones such as Predestined and Arises, the album is effectively a definitive collection of the songs Maelstrom has created and played throughout their career. It’s an experience that’s sure to please the most veteran of avid metal heads.

Vosganian adds too that the songs on the album are put together in a way to tell an overarching multi-part tale from start to its finish.

“It’s a kind of fantasy story relating in large ways to the differences between dogmatic rules-based religion versus the inherent soul within us and how that is part of a greater god let’s say and that we are each part of god himself.”

Despite now opting to record such music over playing it live, Vosganian still fondly recalls Maelstrom’s early days playing their music live in New York.

“We absolutely loved it. We had a great local fan base. For two years in a row we were the top drawing band at the local club that sort of all the metal bands in Nassau County, Long Island cut their chops called February’s which eventually renamed itself the Hammerheads.”

The club may be familiar to many rock history buffs as it is a noteworthy starting ground for famous musicians like Twisted Sister and Dream Theater. Though such bands found success beyond the club, Vosganian is blunt about the potential reason Maelstrom was prevented from “breaking open” as they did.

“One thing that we regret though, which may have made a difference back then, was that we never jumped into a van and grinded it out. We never did our own tour. We never booked our own shows across the east coast that kind of thing. You know, try to make our way up to Canada. We never did any of that.”

Though Vosganian says that he would love for Maelstrom to somehow play live again, “Of Gods and Men” is a major accomplishment for the once inactive music group. It’s an accomplishment that he wishes to currently focus on sharing.

“The intent is just to get this out to the world in recorded form and to do some stuff beyond digital, to do some hard copy discs, possibly an LP – you know: actual vinyl – and I kind of have a dream of doing this in a book form because each song had its own piece of art and my lyrics are very important to me. I would like to do this as a book with an accompanying disc.”

Beyond that, Vosganian doesn’t rule out the potential of Maelstrom returning to play live saying that such a possibility will happen on a smaller and more accommodating scale befitting for the 49-year old vocalist and guitarist Joey Lodes who, sadly, suffers from a hearing condition.

“For us to play, it’s definitely something that I would want to do more as a specialty kind of thing rather than trying to bang out a tour.”

But, though small in scale, Vosganian promises a show just as entertaining as their album “Of Gods and Men.”

“I’m kind of having a dream of doing 70-thousand tons of metal. I would absolutely love to play that gig.”

Mike Peters Presents The Alarm

MIKE PETERS presents THE ALARM Jul 9 Belly Up, Jul 11 The Concert Lounge, Jul 12 The Coach House; photo James Christopher

MIKE PETERS presents THE ALARM Jul 9 Belly Up, Jul 11 The Concert Lounge, Jul 12 The Coach House; photo James Christopher

Mike Peters, or The Alarm, or Mike Peters presents The Alarm, how ever you want to put it, the music has been saying it all since the 80s. Three SoCal dates are on the books for July so we thought we’d re-run an interview with Mike from 2017.

The Alarm have been crazy busy in America this summer with a ton of live shows including dates on Vans Warped Tour as well as their own headlining gigs not to mention a new documentary.

“It’s great, we love being on tour and playing our music,” founding member, Mike Peters said. “We’re lucky to be alive and playing music in 2017.”

With a multitude of dates in SoCal, it’s The Coach House that Peters has a great affinity with in Orange County.

Mike Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

Mike Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

“It’s a special place in some ways ‘cause it’s where the last Alarm gig with the original lineup took place,” Peters recalled. “The audiences have come with all the changes that have gone on and rallied round and supported me as a solo artist and have been there for me. It’s a bit of a home away from home.”

This time The Alarm is performing as a full band with Peters’ sons helping the crew with the show and setting up equipment.

“They’re on the summer holidays and they’re both musicians,” Peters mentioned. “They’re having an amazing time. They’re loving it.”

Vans Warped Tour has a certain reputation of bands and genres that at first glance seemed at odds with a group such as The Alarm. However, the audiences have been very receptive, and they’ve increased their social media followers.

“It’s been a challenge, of course, but we’re still a modern band and can mix it up,” Peters explained. “It’s breathed a lot of life blood into the group.

Jules Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

Jules Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

“Seeing how young bands play and react in modern times has been good for us. It’s never good to re-tread old ground. It’s always great to take up challenges. And I’m sure the Vans Warped Tour will really inform the future of the group and keep us relevant. It keeps us in the modern context which is what we always strive for.”

For a band that first toured America in 1983, creating a 25-minute set out of their huge wealth of music required great discipline.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to get together and think about how we put our music across and I think we came up with a great set,” Peters said. “We get 11 or 12 songs in, a really good representation of where we came from. It comes over great as far as I’m concerned.”

Peters often refers to a 1976 Sex Pistols concert and hearing “Anarchy in The U.K.” as inspiration for wanting to learn how to make music himself.

“I got a guitar from a guy that my sister was going out with and he showed me how to play a couple of chords and I never looked back,” Peters recalled. “I just played along to records in my bedroom and tried to go see bands when I could.

Mike Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

Mike Peters/The Alarm; photo James Christopher

“I grew up on glam rock – David Bowie, Marc Bolan and TREX, Slade, Sweet, those kind of bands in Britain. And when it became Punk rock it was The Clash, The Pistols, Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Buzzcocks. The purest song would be a three-minute punk rock single, that was what I loved the best.”

Today, the songwriting is inspired by his life and what he’s been through. Both Peters and his wife are Cancer survivors and he has been living with leukemia for 21 years.

“Music has kept me strong, kept me one step ahead of the disease and allowed me to become a father and a musician. I have a charity called Love, Hope, Strength, we give a lot back through that to society and like I said, I’m very lucky to be alive and play music in 2017.”

When it comes to the actual songwriting, it’s usually the music that comes before the lyrics. But it’s all jumpstarted by a phrase.

“Somebody says something to you or you read something or hear something and that triggers something in your imagination that makes you want to say something and that becomes the title and then the lyrics flow from there.

“I think after you have a phrase then the music instantly follows. You can hear it all in your imagination straight away just because you’ve given birth to it.”

Following the exposure Peters has enjoyed being around a lot of modern bands and seeing a little bit of what’s going on with the next generation, Concert Guide Live was curious what sort of advice he had for bands starting out today.

“Stay off the internet. Go underground. Do it with posters and aim at your own audience. Don’t try to be global before you become local.

“If you’re gonna make it, you’re gonna make it. Don’t be on the internet a lot. You’re better off staying off the grid. Be punk rock, go underground, you go dark, people will find you.”