Paul Stanley’s Passion Project Has Soul (Flashback 2016)

PAUL STANLEY'S SOUL STATION

PAUL STANLEY’S SOUL STATION plays The Coach House Feb. 26

Flashback: PAUL STANLEY / KISS 2016 interview…

Following a private show last summer, Paul Stanley’s R&B cover band Soul Station figured it was only a matter of time before they expanded their audience.

“We all looked at each other and wondered when we were going to do it publicly. It’s not just because we want people to hear it, but because we love doing it,” Stanley said. “To be able to faithfully reproduce and recreate those songs is not a science project–it’s a passion project. There’s nothing sterile about it.”

Just a few months later, the 13-piece band found itself doing just that, performing classics like “My Girl,” “O-o-h Child,” and “Let’s Stay Together” onstage at The Roxy in Hollywood. Despite receiving positive reviews, Soul Station haven’t had another show since–until now.

If the first show was any indication of what’s to come, then it seems likely that there won’t be issues with any overzealous fans from Stanley’s other band. For the longtime KISS frontman, it’s a matter of being honest, and somewhat blunt, about what to expect at a Soul Station concert.

“I made sure well in advance that people understood I wouldn’t be playing guitar and that if you were expecting to hear ‘Love Gun’ then you went to the wrong venue,” Stanley said. “Everybody knew what they were going to come and see. It was up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to.”

In other words, don’t expect a modern makeover of soul music’s most memorable hits. There’s no guitar solo added to “Get Ready” by The Temptations or an electronic beat added to The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” And for Stanley, it’s the only way to do it.

“We don’t believe in rearranging these songs or adding too much that veers away from what it is. I’m always terribly disappointed when I hear songs that aren’t done as I know them,” Stanley said. “We try to keep the songs a cohesive set and not be all over the map. Since I’m very secure in my place in the band, I’m happy to turn the spotlight over to our other singers as well which only makes the show that much better.”

Gracing the stage alongside Stanley are a number of different top flight musicians, each of whom bring an extensive musical pedigree to the band. One of the group’s keyboard players, Alex Alessandroni, served as Whitney Houston’s musical director while Sean Hurley, the band’s bassist, has toured with artists such as John Mayer and Ringo Starr.

Surprisingly, forming the band proved to be a rather simple task. It only took a few phone calls.

“Everybody I called said, ‘yes’,” Stanley joked. “It was a very short process. I just called the best people I could think of and everybody said, ‘I’m in.'”

Although the formation of the band took place a little more than a year ago, in many ways, Soul Station can trace its roots even further back–to a young working class Jewish kid from Queens.

Despite suffering from a deformity in his right ear, which left him struggling to hear on that side, Stanley relished in the music of artists across all genres.

“I was not somebody who wanted to be fed one kind of music anymore than I wanted to be given one kind of food. There’s two kinds of music to me–good and bad,” Stanley said. “I love rock music and choose to sing it, but on the other hand, I’ve also starred in Phantom of the Opera and here I am doing Soul Station. There’s just so much great music to be made and I’m too passionate to wear just one hat.”

Soul Station will play three consecutive shows in the SoCal region beginning at The Coach House Feb. 26.

Crazy Energy Of Dream Wife (2018 Looking Back)

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

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

DREAM WIFE / ALICE GO 2018 interview, looking back…

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

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

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

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

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream Wife; album art

Dream Wife; album art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flashback 2015: Devon Allman Brings Bluesey Licks To SoCal With Two Shows

DEVON ALLMAN BAND

DEVON ALLMAN BAND plays The Mint Sep 8 and The Coach House Sep 9

Flashback DEVON ALLMAN interview from 2015:

Devon Allman will bring his blues-rock fusion to SoCal, playing The Mint in LA on Sep. 8, and The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Sep. 9.

He’s got the family name, he’s got the guitar chops, but Devon Allman is doing his own thing. A talented blues musician, songwriter and producer, the fact that he happens to be Gregg Allman’s son is almost an afterthought. Almost.

He’s played with his groups Honeytribe and Royal Southern Brotherhood for over a decade, and has been headlining solo tours since 2012. But if you think he grew up in the back of an Allman Brothers Band bus, think again. Allman didn’t even meet his famous father until he was 16.

“I knew who he was, and I had heard the music and everything, but I was just a normal kid growing up in the 80’s listening to Iron Maiden and playing soccer, so I didn’t grow up in the eye of the hurricane with the famous dad,” he said. “I didn’t grow up backstage or on tour buses and all that, so my path to music was really organic and I’m really grateful that I had a normal kid obsession with rock-n-roll.”

However, when the limelight of the family business came knocking, his father’s legacy did give him a nudge.

“I ended up going on tour with the Allman Brothers instead of going and finishing high school, and that definitely inspired me. I figured out right then and there that, ‘Ok, I definitely want to do this.’ That was the final push I needed.”

That push has led to him finding his own way. For Ragged and Dirty, Allman left the southern sound of his family name behind, and headed north to Chicago, the home of the electric blues. The album is packed with original songs and covers that show off his blues chops as well as his versatility. Working with legendary Buddy Guy producer Tom Hambridge gave Allman that “Chicago, electric, nighttime, kind of mojo” he was looking for.

As far as writing the songs for the album, it seems inspiration can strike at any time for Allman.

“I’ve never been the cat that can write every day,” Allman said. “What I typically do is I’ll keep my iPhone by me and if I’m playing guitar and I have a little riff come up, or if I have a vocal melody idea, I just put it on a voice memo. Right now in my phone there’s probably about 300 entries. Now these are like, the most idiotic, bullshit, drum beats hummed in the parking lot of the grocery store in my home town, to a soundcheck in Little Rock with the whole band. I just catalogue ‘em. And then when I get to that deadline and I go, ‘Shit, I’ve got three months’, I go through this process, and I give myself a week or so off, and I fashion those things into songs. I pick the best 12, and hope for the best.”

Fans can expect plenty of songs from Ragged and Dirty at Allman’s live shows, which span his career.

“There’s some songs from the Honytribe era. There’s some stuff from Royal Southern Brotherhood, and I’ve got two solo records out so there’s definitely plenty of stuff from there, there’s a couple cool cover songs. I always throw in a song of my Dad’s. It’s a really high-energy show, there’s crowd participation, there’s some sit-down, mellow acoustic stuff. There’s a lot going on.”

When discussing Ragged and Dirty and the tour, the conversation strayed to Buddy Guy, with blues-loving admiration filling Allman’s voice as he talked about Guy’s latest album, Born to Play Guitar.

“I bought it the day it came out. I think it’s badass,” Allman said. “I think anything Buddy Guy does is badass because it’s so damn pure. I saw Buddy Guy play, in his club. Out comes the polka-dot Stratocaster, and he went onstage and he sliced everyone’s ass in half in thirty seconds. I have never seen anyone command 1000 percent of your attention. He brought it down to a whisper. You could hear a pin drop. And then, he just kicked it in and just knocked people in the teeth. Now that B.B. King is gone I think we can all rightfully say that he is the living godfather of the blues. That dude’s amazing. I’ve met all kinds of people, but two people have made me say, ‘I’m literally eight feet away from you, and I cannot approach you,’ and that is Buddy Guy and Neil Young. And I could have easily gone up and said, ‘Hey, I’m Gregg’s son, I’m a big fan, I love your work, pleasure to meet you,’ and yeah, I just couldn’t.”

As far as being in awe of his father, it seems more than anything, Allman is impressed with his Dad’s durability.

“The thing that a lot of people tend to forget is guys like the Stones, they have hundreds of millions of dollars. They don’t need another five million from another tour. Those cats that are out there over 70 that are still doing it, they’re still addicted to that buzz, man, and they want to got out there, and they want to turn people on, and make people feel good. That’s inspiring to me because that’s what it’s all about, you know? It’s a selfless act. You go out there and you’re rockin’ out for them.”

When asked if he sees himself out on the road at 70, Allman is adamant.

“Oh man, until they have to put me in a box, yeah. I’ve always said, and I stand by this, it’s a crazy world out there. You can read the news and see the evil going on and the greed and the corruption and the war mongering, and not to get too heavy, but music, and paintings, and films, and poetry and all of the arts, we act as a counterbalance to that darkness. That’s why art is so important to me because it balances out this crazy world.”

Indeed, Allman shows no signs of slowing down, having just produced an album for Australia’s No. 1 selling blues artist, Owen Campbell which he can’t help but gush about.

“We just cut his record in Memphis and it’s awesome. He’s a real good one. It will come out early spring, and I’m stoked for him.”

Allman will continue touring North America into the next year and has plans to record another solo album in November.

It would seem that the legacy continues.

Punk Lives On As Buzzcocks40 Comes To SoCal (Flashback 2016)

BUZZCOCKS

BUZZCOCKS play The Mayan May 26 and Observatory Santa Ana May 28; photo Ian Rook

Flashback: BUZZCOCKS 2016 interview…

Buzzcocks, Mancunian heroes of the 1976 British punk explosion, commemorate their 40th year with a world tour, Buzzcocks40, that stops in SoCal at The Mayan May 26 and The Observatory Santa Ana May 28.

Not content to shrivel away as a nostalgia act by cashing in on early hits like “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?),” “Why Can’t I Touch It?,” “What Do I Get?,” and “Fast Cars,” the band has been active since their reunion in 1989, hitting the road and making new music.

Of the original members, the creative core, Pete Shelley (lead vocals and guitar) and Steve Diggle (lead guitar and vocals) have been the yin-yang energy driving the band since its inception.

Concert Guide Live caught up with Diggle to talk about the band’s legacy, not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and what it actually means to be punk.

Diggle speaks in a warm, northern brogue, the kind of accent Americans imagine all Brits have, like a character in Peaky Blinders or a rakish villain from a Sherlock Holmes story. He’s charming, quick to laugh, and well-read, ever-ready with a Dickens quote or George Orwell reference. He was there when it all began, one of the few punk figureheads left, a fact that surprises him as much as anyone.

“I mean, we kind of thought we’d last four days. We just thought, if we get a few shows, and make a little bit of an impact, that’s as far as we’d go. But here we are, 40 years later, it seems to have flown by, to me. In a way it still feels like we’re starting [laughs].”

Diggle’s relationship with Shelley is also 40 years old, an impressive feat he doesn’t take for granted.

“We’ve been together longer than the partners we’ve had,” Diggle laughs.

“To be honest, if I was at school, and he was in the class, I wouldn’t have hung around with him. He was a geek, ‘I’m not hanging around with him!’

“But there’s an amazing chemistry there that you couldn’t bargain for. It has been a long journey, we’ve had lots of wonderful times, lots of heavy arguments. We’ve run out of things to argue about. It’s just a powerful, mystical thing. It’s hard to explain, but it works.”

For Buzzcocks40 shows, fans can expect a career-spanning set, with new favorites, the band’s standards, plus early, hidden gems like “Time’s Up.” Forming the set-list from such a beloved catalogue was a harrowing task, one in which Diggle approached with his typically self-deprecating attitude.

“Before we started the tour, we brought a lot of songs forward, then we had to cut it down. Sometimes it can go on too long [laughs]. It’s like, ‘Ok, we get the idea, you got to stop with this’.’’

The generational span of Buzzcocks fans serves as a testament to the timelessness of their songs. Unbelievably, the special place the Buzzcocks hold in rock history has been largely ignored. They still aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Diggle contemplates with detached bemusement.

“You’d think when they look at rock’s rich tapestry as they’re supposed to do, that we’d be in it,” Diggle said.

“There are people who have done lesser things that are in there. Maybe we’re still outsiders to the game. I went around there when I was in Cleveland a few years back, and I noticed there wasn’t even a Buzzcocks poster in there [laughs].

“In some ways, we’ve never really been awarded for anything. Send them something that says ‘Why aren’t the Buzzcocks in there?’ they’ll probably go ‘Who? [laughs].’ Maybe it’s cool that everybody else is in. Even Christ had to carry his own cross. He’s not in the Hall of Fame either, so we’re in good company.”

Pressed further, some mild bitterness breaks through.

“There’s a few bands that are in that I go, ‘Hold on, they’ve told us they were inspired by the Buzzcocks, and they’re in there?’

“It’s really nice, and a great honor, but we’ve never been like, the teacher’s pet or anything like that. I do think, ‘Why not, what’s wrong with us that we can’t go in there? What the fuck, man?’

“But you’re better off being alive without an award, than being poor old David Bowie or Prince. They’re in there, but it’s no good to them now. As Charles Dickens said, ‘It’s no good being the richest man in the cemetery’.”

Regardless of the Hall of Fame’s recognition of such, Diggle is a key piece in the punk puzzle. So what about the state of punk, today? Who better to ask than one of its originators?

“Back in the day, it was The Clash, Pistols, and The Jam, along with the Ramones in New York,” Diggle recalled.

“We wrote the play, and all those after are acting out the script. It was about the attitude, and about excitement, inspiration, questioning stuff. When you listened to those early records, you had to rethink your whole consciousness about what music was doing to you. Those kinds of records are an assault on your senses. They make you feel alive. You think, ‘Wow, I can go out and do things myself.’ Even street sweepers were sweeping the street differently.”

More than a strict blueprint, Diggle considers what bands like the Buzzcocks and The Clash did was an invitation for people to do their own thing.

“Over the years, you start getting the stereotypical thing, ‘Oh a punk should be this and that’,” Diggle said.

“Well that’s the opposite of what it was about. It was about there not being any rules, and that’s what gets lost in a way. Punk is more misinterpreted than the Bible [laughs].”

Forty years on, Diggle is happy inspiration is still coming, happy that people still come to hear the Buzzcocks play, and happy with his place in rock history, hall of fame induction be damned.

“Maybe there are some little things I would change here and there, but I couldn’t do that without it changing everything else. I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I wouldn’t want to change much.”

Rival Sons Play Rock-N-Roll Like It’s Meant To Be (Flashback 2016)

RIVAL SONS

RIVAL SONS play The Forum Feb. 11 and The Observatory Feb. 12 photo: Ross Halfin

Flashback RIVAL SONS 2016 interview…

Long Beach rock-n-roll band, Rival Sons, on tour with Black Sabbath, will make a stop in Santa Ana to headline their own show on Feb. 12.

“I hope to see everybody there, it’s going to be a big show,” drummer Michael Miley said. “And, listen to local rock radio, call KLOS tell them you want the Long Beach band, Rival Sons played on their station.”

The opportunity to travel the world and play music may be many musicians’ ultimate goal, but having your local rock radio station embrace you is icing on the cake.

“Our roots are strong so it’s going to be a packed show, a beautiful show, and it’s going to be sponsored by KLOS, a station I grew up listening to,” Miley confirmed. “It’s pretty much a dream.”

Rival Sons success in Europe is light years ahead of their success in the U.S. Although they have toured with many well-known, classic bands such as Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Alice Cooper people in the U.S. have been slower to catch on.

“The music business here does not embrace rock-n-roll or support it or give money to it. And rock radio is an uphill battle for what we do,” Miley explained. “Most Americans need to be spoon fed what to like, unless you’re a person who likes to seek out new music.

“We’re basically an R & B band just like The Who or Zeppelin. All the British Invasion bands were white boys who tried to play black music and turned it up real loud. That’s originally what rock-n-roll was, right?

“People think Foo Fighters are rock-n-roll. I love the Foo Fighters but that’s not rock-n-roll. Rock-n-roll is music that has blues in it. When the blues left rock-n-roll it became rock.

“We’re definitely lone wolves in a densely packed forest of nothing.”

RIVAL SONS

Michael Miley photo: James Christopher

Currently on tour with Black Sabbath in the US and Canada, Rival Sons will have the opportunity to reach many new fans.

“We have this crazy opportunity to be personally invited by Ozzy to be on this tour,” Miley said. “It’s pretty nostalgic and I can’t really put it into words.

“When (Tony) Iommi walks out and plays “Iron Man” I get shivers thinking back to when I was a kid and my older brother used to scare me playing Black Sabbath. It was the scariest thing. Ozzy was like a monster. My earliest memories of Sabbath, not that they’re bad, Sabbath were doing their job, was scaring the shit out of me! So, it’s pretty nostalgic.”

It’s been a few years since the last album Great Western Valkyrie but their fifth album is due sometime around May, also on Earache and distributed through Warner Bros. Like their previous album, it was recorded in Nashville with producer, Dave Cobb.

“Yep, we have a new record coming out in 2016, baby! Not sure I can say the name of it, yet,” Miley teased. “We’re really excited. It took us 3 weeks like all of our other records.

“We like to go in and over three weeks force ourselves to write songs in the studio. Nothing is pre-rehearsed or anything. I’ve never heard the songs. It’s a good way to get a human element into your recording. Forced, non-rehearsed music.”

Whether you catch them opening for Black Sabbath at The Forum, or headlining The Observatory, the Rival Sons always play hard, treating every concert as if it was their last show on earth.

“When I talk about rock I mean rock-n-roll.”

The Cult Live In The Moment Stop At Grove (Flashback 2016)

THE CULT

THE CULT play Grove of Anaheim Jun. 3; photo Tim Cadiente

Flashback: IAN ASTBURY / THE CULT 2016 interview…

The Cult return to Southern California following several months on the road, the release of a fresh new album, Hidden City, and more live dates on the horizon, indicating 2016 to be another busy year.

“We’ve been increasing our productivity in terms of performing and touring,” singer Ian Astbury said.

“We haven’t really stepped away from it too long.”

Not a band to rest on their laurels, The Cult continue to evolve and move forward, including the recent addition of Damon Fox playing both rhythm guitar and keyboards.

“We’ve got a great live band, right now. It’s sonically much different. I mean, anybody who’s seen us hasn’t seen this band with a keyboard player. The band right now is very connected and the set list we’re working with, as a narrative, works very well.”

Performing live is more or less second nature to Astbury, citing that pretty much everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong at shows, so they just roll with the punches.

“Something alchemical happens when you walk on that stage. You can’t really explain it or articulate it, you just have to experience it.”

Hidden City marks The Cult’s tenth studio album and lyrically, it contains Astbury’s observations and interpretations of life.

“Travel’s really important to me,” Astbury noted.

“It kind of gets me out of my environment. You know, instead of just taking impressions of media or printed material. That’s definitely a part of it, as well, but I find that travel has the most profound influence, for me.

“Hidden City really refers to our internal lives, our intimate lives. I mean, you could say, spiritual lives, intuition. Information that comes in through the heart is usually good information. It might be negative information coming in but it’s still authentic in the way you interpret it. Once it gets caught in your cognitive process then it becomes distorted or whatever…

“I think our intimate experiences are what really forms our characters. Every individual has a different life path and they’re all valid. But I was really referring to the heart, intuition as being the core theme of the title. And I could expand upon that but we’d be here forever.”

Each song is multi-layered with possibilities of meaning and thoughts to provoke or inspire further contemplation.

“There’s no right way or wrong way to perceive this record,” Astbury said.

“I mean, I have my perspective on it. But there’s also contradiction. You could have a completely different conversation with me tomorrow. Depends where I’m at.”

Forming in 1983, The Cult hit the ground running in terms of putting songs together so they could start playing live, with Astbury and guitarist, Billy Duffy collaborating since its inception, forming the cornerstone to the band’s longevity.

“We were in a live music scene,” Astbury recalled.

“Basically, you just got your songs together as quickly as possible so you could get out and play. We were very impulsive.

“But over the years you develop a desire to want to craft songs and give them a little more time to gestate.

“There’s so many points of reference that’s woven into the record, sonically woven in, in terms of textures. For example, on this record one of the instruments we started out early on with was piano. A lot of people see The Cult as being purely a guitar driven band.”

It’s been loosely suggested that Hidden City is the third album in a trilogy, beginning with 2007’s Born Into This, followed by 2012’s Choice Of Weapon.

“The birth of The Cult in the 21st century really begins, to me at least, with Born Into This which was a really impulsive record,” Astbury said.

“We made it like we did when we first started. We made that record in like 30 days, from beginning to mixing.

“We demoed and wrote for 21 days then we jumped in and did 15 days in the studio, Britannia Row Studio, in London, which is Pink Floyd’s studio and with a producer called Youth who’s produced everybody from The Byrds to Primal Scream.

“Choice of Weapon was started in the high desert with Chris Goss, in the Joshua Tree area. And that was a lot more immersive, working with Chris. That’s why we went to the desert, to begin that record, a more ethereal way of working, a more intuitive way of working.

“And then Bob Rock came in and kind of guided it home, and we finished the record.

“In conversations with Bob at the end of Choice Of Weapon he said ‘I’d love to be involved at the very beginning at the genesis of the next record’.

“You know, all the time we were against the clock in terms of touring obligations or release date obligations. I mean, when you’re working with a label it’s sort of like, ‘ok, here’s the release date’ and you know you’ve got to be done by a certain period and that can sort of force your hand. But with this record (Hidden City) we wanted to take our time. “

The album evolved over two years with the band alternating between working on it for two or three weeks, then touring for six weeks, going back and forth.

“It gave a chance for the body of work to develop and evolve. There’s a lot in Hidden City. There’s a lot of layers, so many layers that we haven’t even gotten to with this record. It just keeps unfolding.”

Needless to say, over the course of their career, there have been numerous changes in the music industry and the world in general. All of it lingers in some way, possibly creeping in to a lyric on Hidden City or possibly an as yet unwritten song. When asking Astbury what changes he’s noticed many things jumped immediately to mind.

“Watching our human impact on environment over the decades.

“Experiencing the focus away from the best and the brightest to the celebration of celebrity culture. We celebrate ignorance, for the most part.

“Moving into realms of science that we’ve never been into before – the quantum level.

“There’s a spiritual revolution going on. There’s an existential crisis of like, you know, the meaning of life.

“So we’re rearranging our whole psyche in terms of what it means to be human, what are our fears and dreams, our aspirations, where are we heading? I think that’s why we’re in this sort of crisis right now where people are turning to distraction and escapism.

“It’s all in this record and if you’re prepared to look, if you’re prepared to stick with it, and listen to it, live with it, more shall be revealed.”

Astbury also perceived that there’s some amazing art being created simultaneously as a counterpoint.

“Even the new Star Wars movie grabbed me,” Astbury laughed.

“The themes are archetypal, these are global themes – the rise of the young heroine who goes to discover her father. The search for the father, the search for the mother, these are archetypal themes that I think we can all relate to as humans and I think they did an amazing job with that film.

“So, not to mourn the past, there is a great revival, though, in people questing for all kinds of lifestyle choices and we live in a much more mixed, cultural community now. We’re way more integrated and that’s great. And if we keep moving forward that’s a beautiful thing. That’s something I definitely embrace.”

The Cult will be performing songs from throughout their extensive catalogue including some new sure-to-become-favorites at the Grove of Anaheim on June 3.

“We always try to create a set that people coming through the door want to hear, songs that are familiar to them,” Astbury said.

“I like to leave everything on the stage, I like to come off the stage feeling depleted. It takes time to reconstitute that every day but that’s what we’re there to do.”

REMEMBERED: Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival: DAY ONE (2017)

Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival

Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

Remember going to outdoor festivals, perhaps camping overnight, discovering the magic of music outdoors surrounded by nature? This review of Starry Nites Music and Arts Festival took place over a weekend in 2017.

Tucked away in the mountains of Santa Barbara, far from the hum of a freeway or a room made of drywall, the Starry Nites Music And Arts Festival sought to remove us from the toil and tussle of city life, and free us from the endless barrage of responsibilities and thoughts and stress that seem inescapably bound to leading a “normal” lifestyle. Out here, in the unity and peace of nature, all you had to worry about was breathing, and the band schedule. For all intents and purposes, the festival took place in its own plane of existence, a sort of Eden for music. And so it seems only fitting then that the music was just as transportive, featuring a lineup of artists who seemed hand chosen for mental escapism.

DOWN DIRTY SHAKE

DOWN DIRTY SHAKE at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

The first of these bands that I made it in time to see was DOWN DIRTY SHAKE, a psychedelic soul-rock jam band from San Francisco. Staying true to these genre descriptors, their performance was a feast for the mind. With two drummers, maracas, tambourines, and an extremely involved bassist, the enveloping pulse of their rhythm section set the backdrop for some truly explorative melodies and solos. Although they played to an audience of maybe a hundred people, it could not have mattered any less if they had played the Staples Center, or a basement. Eyes closed, bodies moving to the beat, they played as though for no other reason than to unleash the flow of music from within.

ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY

ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

On the heels of this performance was the decidedly different, though no less immersive, ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY. Gone were the two drummers, or even just one drummer, with the band’s lo-fi, home-grown style being better served by a drum track. There is a quiet beauty to their brand of melancholic indie pop. Their setlist was a calming musical river, comprised of short songs with fluid melodies, carrying you gently down an ethereal stream of thoughts and impressions. I also distinctly remember the lower, bass frequencies being turned all the way up, so that my whole body would vibrate with each note. For this I have to commend the sound engineers, for it only further served to cradle my mind as I floated along.

KOLARS

KOLARS at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

Up next was the disco-rock duo by name of KOLARS. Now, being a two-person band can be tough to pull off. Without the presence of a third person moving around and making noise, the band usually has to compensate by being consummate, inventive musicians. I say all of this because that is precisely what they were. In lieu of a standard drumset, Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown thought it would be better to kick the bass drum on its face so that she could tap dance on it. Accompanied by a single floor tom, a snare, and a little crash cymbal, Brown bashed passionately, which was all she needed to make the rhythm of each song feel complete.

Alongside Kolar’s powerful, gritty voice and rugged, pulsing, rock-n-roll guitar playing, as well as backing tracks bursting with funktastic bass lines, the band commanded us to escape ourselves in dance. And with sequined, shiny clothing, and an even more glittery guitar, the band seemed truly committed to the expression of their music. By the end of their set, they were panting and sweating and smiling, and so was I.

THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK

THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

While KOLARS may have been inspired by music of the past, THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK took it one step further by actually being music of the past. This seasoned group of rock veterans took the stage in honor of their 50th anniversary, making the band older than most of the performers on the lineup. But if you thought this meant the energy of their stage presence would be bogged down by age, think again. These old dudes still have it in them, taking us on a mind-expanding journey into the roots of psychedelic music. This was done with help of two drummers, electric sitars, two lead guitarists, bongos, a flute, a xylophone, and a masterful understanding of music. From a drum solo battle, to playing a guitar with drumsticks, to having two guitars embark on expertly nimble and mind blowing solos at the same damn time, these men were as involving and immersive as the drugs that influenced their music. Standing in a crowd of only a couple hundred people, I felt truly blessed to have been lucky enough to belong to such an exclusive, fortunate audience.

THE KILLS

THE KILLS at Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

After THE KILLS absolutely slayed their headlining set, an acoustic after show was set to take place “down by the river,” at the edge of the festival grounds. Intrigued by the idea, and awake enough to go, I decided to head down for some lullaby rock.

Once I had passed all of the RV campers, security guards, and general festival noises, a winding path of light bulbs came into view. Hanging delicately on a wire beside a dirt road, they sprinkled the dark, forest landscape all the way down to a quiet, leaf covered, backyard patio. I took a seat amongst fellow music lovers and waited for the soothing sounds of an acoustic guitar. Following a day of fuzzed out, psychedelic craziness, I found myself most ready for a slower, gentler change of pace.

Starry Nites Festival

Starry Nites Festival; photo Joey Pedroza

After only a short wait, Brent Deboer (The Dandy Warhols) and Bob Harrow of IMMIGRANT UNION took the stage. What followed was not just slow and gentle, but also beautiful, melodious, tender, and authentic; music sung straight from the heart. The vocal harmonies of these two men were pitch perfect and the guitar playing was effortlessly serene. Unfortunately, so soothing was the music that the notes soon began to fall upon my mind like warm, musical blankets. So that after only three songs or so, I had been sufficiently lullabied. As I stumbled back to my camp, the sounds of the acoustic show bouncing ever more faintly against my back, I smiled gratefully at the thought of doing it all again tomorrow.

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.