gus g

When Ozzy Osbourne parted ways with long time guitarist Zakk Wylde in early 2009, many people thought he was losing it. When he replaced him with a relative unknown, people thought he'd pulled a page from his Diary of a Madman. The key word here is "relative" unknown; you see, Gus G. had already forged a name for himself within the inner circles of rock via his band Firewind. In fact, what most of those doubters didn't realize is that Gus was already well on his way to being considered one of the great guitarists of our time, not only by his fellow axemen, but also garnering the distinction of being named one of the Top 3 Guitarists in the World by Japanese magazine Burrn! Approximately a year and a half later Gus G. is out "burning" up the stage every night with The Prince of Darkness, and did I mention he's a comic book hero too? Here's how it all went down when I had Q&A with the man destined to become a living legend...

AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the release of the new Firewind album, "Days of Defiance", which by the way is a fantastic album...

GUS G.: Thank you very much!

AWAY-TEAM: ...and also on being named the new guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne...

GUS G.: Thank you very much. Thanks.

AWAY-TEAM: ...we'll talk some more about that, but first I want to talk a little about Firewind. I've described your sound with Firewind as sort of a "melodic speed metal", that harkens back to the days of the great 80's metal bands. If you had to describe Firewind's sound to someone who has never heard you before, how would you describe it?

GUS G.: I would say it's melodic heavy metal, yeah. Ya know people like to put tags on music, like I know for example we've been tagged as a power metal band, and that's not the case. We almost feel like it's a bad thing to be called a power metal band these days, because it's not fashionable. But I'm thinking we are not even power metal, just because we sound "European" or we have fast double bass on some of our songs, that doesn't mean anything. I think it's just, our roots come from traditional rock or heavy metal, like you said from the 80's and the 70's. We're just like a traditional heavy metal band, but with modern elements.

AWAY-TEAM: There were a few influences that were highly discernable on the album. For example, there seemed to be a lot of Iron Maiden in songs like "Chariot" and "SKG", and a great deal of Scorpions sound in the track "Broken". Who were your strongest musical influences growing up?

GUS G.: Well, you've actually named two of them. I mean, um, we're all big Maiden fans, and you can tell that on a song like "Chariot". I love the ballads that the Scorpions made, and I guess it's natural for me to write a bit in that vain as well. So some of the stuff I do will remind you a bit of early Scorpions. Uh, you know, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, all of the great bands of the 70's and 80's really. Thin Lizzy. These are the bands that we really look up to.

AWAY-TEAM: So what was the first song or album that you heard that made you pick up a guitar and start playing?

GUS G.: Actually it was Peter Frampton, the album Frampton Comes Alive. My dad had the album at home, and he was playing it, and when I heard him do the talk box thing in the song "Do You Feel Like I Do" I was like "Wow, the guitar sounds like a robot". So then I wanted to play the guitar. I must've been about 9 years old or so, and that's when I asked my dad to get me a guitar. He got me a guitar and about a year later I started taking lessons.

AWAY-TEAM: Earlier this year you guys (Firewind) were featured in an issue of the Eternal Descent comic book series. Comic book artists often take artistic liberties when drawing a real life person into a fictional world. What, if anything, would you change about your character in the comic book if you were the artist?

GUS G.: Oh I don't know, my imagination is not that wild to be honest. (laughs) So I can't see myself in a comic book, so I left that up to the artist who's a really talented young guy Llexi Leon. He made it super cool man, we all had super powers. I think mine, because I have a flame tattoo on my right hand, he turned that into a super power so whenever I would get pissed off or anything my hand would go on fire, and my guitar as well. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

GUS G.: And I would just burn the fuck out of people or something. So that was pretty cool. Plus he made me a little bit more muscular which was cool. (laughs)

gus g2

AWAY-TEAM:(laughs) So let's talk a little bit about the Ozzy gig. How did you actually land the job?

GUS G.: It was a year and a half ago, when his management sent me an email asking me if I'd be interested in the gig, and if I'd go out and audition. And that's how it happened.

AWAY-TEAM: So you actually had to audition for him? What songs did you have to play?

GUS G.: Um, ya know, a bunch of his classic songs like "Bark at the Moon", "Crazy Train", "I Don't Know", "Suicide Solution", "I Don't Wanna Change the World", "Paranoid", stuff like that, ya know. We went in there and did about six or seven songs.

AWAY-TEAM: So now, you've gotten the job, and you come in during the middle of the recording of the Scream album; for someone like yourself who's used to having a large amount of control over what goes into an album, what was the creative process like? Did they give you as much freedom as you're used to? Or did they just say 'Here you go, play it like this.'?

GUS G.: No, they didn't tell me how to play really. They told me "Do what you gotta do as a guitar player. We need alot of your guitar in there." Because when I walked in all the songs were already written of course, but the guitar work had been done by Kevin Churko the producer, who is not really a guitar player so it sounded a little bit weird. Ya know what I mean? Like very processed and stuff. So they were like "Make it as real sounding, and as heavy as possible. Just do what you do. We want Gus on there." So like I said, while alot of these songs were not my songs, I thought it was very challenging to be involved in a different project for once. And try to make my mark as a guitar player on songs that I didn't write. And secondly, it was cooler than ever because I got to play on an Ozzy Osbourne album.

AWAY-TEAM: With that being said, you're following in the footsteps of some legendary guitarists in guys like Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, and Zakk Wylde. Those guys all had their own unique sound, when your playing their songs do you try to put your own stamp on them? Or is it more like, those guys were so good it'd be sacrilege to change their sound?

GUS G.: Well, as a fan I don't like to change stuff they did. Because we're not just talking about anybody's song, this is the bible of heavy metal man. This is what shaped the sound of hard rock and heavy metal for all the rest of us to follow. So it's not like I'm gonna go in and do my own version of "Crazy Train" or my own version of "Paranoid", ya know. That's not gonna happen. But you know, Ozzy and Black Sabbath songs, these songs came from jams mainly, and there's always a little room for the guitar player to do his own little fills and tricks here and there. I definitely do my own thing, but without really interfering with the song composition if you know what I mean.

AWAY-TEAM: Zakk Wylde has been highly complimentary of you, in the media especially. Have you had a chance to meet or talk with him yet?

GUS G.: No. I never got to meet him, and I would really like to. I really want to thank him for saying all of these great things about me, because it means alot to me. I mean Zakk Wylde is an icon, and someone I always looked up to growing up. He was one of my guitar heroes, and just to hear a guy like that saying all those great things about me is amazing. It's awesome, and I really appreciate all of his support. He's really cool with me about that. He's really given me the platform I need to go out there and do my thing. He's been very nice, and I've always had the best thoughts about Zakk, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: That's really cool to hear. Now, your first show with Ozzy was last year at Blizzcon; what was the moment you stepped back and realized "Holy shit! I'm really Ozzy's guitarist!"?

GUS G.: (laughs) Yeah, that was definitely the gig where I was thinking about all of that. Even the rehearsal, everyday I was like "What the fuck? Where am I?" And that didn't really end after Blizzcon, it still goes through my mind every other day. I'm like "Wow! Look how things turned out!" This is not something you can expect to really happen in life. It's beyond any biggest honor a guitar player can have in heavy metal and hard rock. I mean, I was happy I was playing with my band, and when this came along I was like "Wow! Really???" When they called me for the audition I went in there and was like "I've got nothing to lose. At least I can jam with 'em and it's a story I can tell my children one day." But who would've ever thought that I would be in his band, and working with Ozzy for over a year now.

AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned being a fan, as a fan what was your all-time favorite Ozzy or Sabbath song?

GUS G.: You know, that is a problem actually, because he has so many great songs, I just love 'em all man. I love doing the Ozzy stuff on stage, I love doing the Sabbath stuff. He has so many great songs on all of his albums. I mean, I love the Diary of a Madman stuff, I love the stuff from The Ultimate Sin that we're doing. There's more songs that I love that we're not even doing, ya know. We're playing two and a half hour sets every night, and to fit it all in we need at least four to four and a half hours to fit all of this material in there. He has so many classic songs that you just can't possibly fit in everything.

AWAY-TEAM: So what was the most challenging song to learn?

GUS G.: Uh, I don't know. You know all of his guitar players had some very interesting stuff in there. I really cannot seperate one guy from another because everybody was unique in their own way. Like Jake E. Lee, he was special, he was doing all these weird chords and playing around with harmonics and stuff. Randy, he had all this classical influence and mixed it with heavy rock stuff, and it's also very interesting to play that stuff. And of course Zakk, his technique was at another level. And then you've got Tony Iommi, who's super, super heavy and bluesy and just plays freeform. So you really need to be a well rounded guitar player to play all these different styles. But for me it's really a natural thing, because those are the kind of guitar players I grew up listening to. I come from that school of guitar, ya know?

AWAY-TEAM: With the extensive touring schedule you have planned with Ozzy, Firewind has sort of taken a back seat for now. Do you foresee yourself pulling the same type of double duty with Firewind on future Ozzfest's as Zakk did with Black Label Society?

GUS G.: You know, in a festival, I could see it happening in a festival. We just confirmed a festival for the summer in France, called Hellfest and we're headlining with Ozzy and Firewind is also gonna be on the bill. So that's gonna be the first double duty gig for me. I wouldn't really go out and do it if it was like an arena tour, or a headline tour with Ozzy because I wouldn't really want to compromise the tour by being tired or anything, playing back to back. But in some sort of situation where I play with Firewind, and then I get a few hours to rest and go play with Ozzy, I would love to do that. What we're doing with Firewind right now is, we're doing our gigs in between the Ozzy tours. Because we have a few months off here and there from the touring; and actually the reason we're not doing that many gigs with Firewind is we're covering alot of ground by doing alot of special gigs. Covering alot of major territory, we were just on the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. We did New York, Montreal, Washington, D.C., Virginia...and we're gonna go to Japan in Januray, we're gonna go to England. So we're covering alot of ground even though we're not doing 150 dates or something.

AWAY-TEAM: That actually kinda answers my next question. How do you plan to balance and be able to put your heart and soul into both projects?

GUS G.: I guess I just answered that, didn't I? (laughs) Obviously Firewind has a new album as well, and I would want to promote that too. You know with Firewind we've been touring extensively for the last four years or so, and we've played like every fucking club on earth. So we thought this was an opportunity for us to do special gigs, in bigger cities, in bigger venues and be able to promote those gigs better. So actually the fact that I'm so busy with Ozzy has actually worked in our favor, because we were able to better handle our promotion, and better handle the gigs that we are doing. It makes it more special both for us, and for our fans.

AWAY-TEAM: Slash is going to be joining you in January for the second leg of the tour. Can we expect to see you guys on stage together at all? Maybe doing the song Ozzy recorded with him for his album? Or just a good old fashioned guitar battle?

GUS G.: Well, I don't know Slash personally. I'm looking forward to meeting him. I hear from everybody that he's the sweetest guy, and I'm a big fan of his as well. I grew up with Guns n Roses, and I love his new solo album. I will definitely be on the side of the stage watching him as a fan, I don't know if I'm gonna get to jam with him, but I'm definitely gonna be there to watch the show.

AWAY-TEAM: I read in Rolling Stone that this tour could include full performances of the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums, in honor of their 30th anniversary. Is there any truth to that?

GUS G.: No. It's rumor. We haven't rehearsed a full album to be honest. I don't know if something's gonna change before the tour starts, and we're gonna go into rehearsals and play alot. But nothing like that, that I've heard of right now.

AWAY-TEAM: Well Gus, thank you so much for your time. It's been a great honor to speak with you.

GUS G.: Thanks man.

AWAY-TEAM: Good luck with the new album, and the tour, and I look forward to seeing you when you make your way to Florida in February.

GUS G.: Yeah man, I'm looking forward to it, we're doing three shows there. I actually have some family down there, my uncle lives in Miami, so I'm looking forward to coming back to Florida, I haven't been there in years.

AWAY-TEAM: Excellent, I'm looking forward to it as well.

GUS G.: See you there.

For more Firewind, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.firewind.gr/

For more Ozzy Osbourne, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.ozzy.com/us/home

Special thanks to Gus G. for so graciously giving me his time, and to Josh Eldridge at Century Media for making it all happen.

 

 

Morgan ROSE

Of the many bands I've followed over the last two decades, only a handful have had a strong staying power in my musical library...one such band is Atlanta based powerhouse Sevendust. When I first saw Sevendust, back on a cold winter night twelve years ago at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT, I knew they were going somewhere. Never did I dream that I would be seeing them grace the stage at Woodstock '99, let alone have the chance to interview the backbone of the band, iconic drumming idol Morgan Rose. While Woodstock was 1999's biggest concert event... flash forward to 2010, the year in which I finally got to chat with rock's biggest drummer on a stop of rock's biggest tour... the Carnival of Madness. Eight albums, one rockstar wife, and one Playmate of the Month wife later, there were many questions to be answered. How does one get the answers to twelve years worth of questions into twelve minutes worth of conversation? Sit back, crack open a cold one, and find out.

AWAY-TEAM: Well Morgan, congratulations on the tour, and the album Cold Day Memory, which I think is destined to become a classic in the Sevendust catalog.

MORGAN ROSE: I appreciate it man.

AWAY-TEAM: I'm really impressed with it. Now, with Cold Day Memory you kinda seem to have gotten back to the core Sevendust sound. Do you attribute that to the chemistry of having a guy like Clint Lowery back in the fold?

MORGAN ROSE: Oh yeah, 100 percent. Ya know, we did three records without him, and we missed him. You know that's like bringing in that fifth element, ya know. I mean, the sound of our band was always the heavy riffs, the melodic choruses, and the three different voices. Really, to be honest, the last time we really had a decent amount of power on a record was Animosity, because we were dictated to during Seasons alot, so it still sounded like us, but we were told what to do. So we had to kinda groove our direction that way, and we like that record, but Animosity was really the last time that all five of us had the power to be able to do exactly what we wanted, so this was the first time since then, and I think that it showed for sure.

MORGAN ROSE: For sure. Ya know, being a fan first and foremost, you can really see that you guys are clicking on all cylinders again.

MORGAN ROSE: Yeah, definitely. We're excited. We're really happy to get him back, and get our little family back together, and get in the studio. Because, you know, we did a lot of touring before we were able to get in there with him, so...it was nice to get back in the studio.

AWAY-TEAM: Now, that album was actually released on your own label 7 Bros. How did 7 Bros. come about? Was it kinda the product of "We've been fucked over by TVT, we've been fucked over by Winedark, we KNOW we're not gonna fuck ourselves over"? I mean, how did that come around?

MORGAN ROSE: Uh... Yeah, it was kind of a partnership thing we did through Warner Music, ya know for the first time we were gonna get the real distribution through WEA. We were gonna have the machine through Warner to borrow people to work for us, and help us out. So, even though it's our own label, and considered an indie, we've got the resources all around us, and you add our management In De Goot into the fold, all of a sudden... you've got a massive machine at radio with In De Goot; you know Bill McGathy has the been the godfather of radio for a very long time. The combination put us in a position where we felt we had enough behind us to be able to pull this off on our own.

AWAY-TEAM: You're widely considered to be one of the best drummers of all-time...

MORGAN ROSE: (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: truthfully, you see it everywhere, it is what it is, right?

MORGAN ROSE: That's crazy. I'm totally flattered that people think that.

AWAY-TEAM: The most amazing thing to me, is that it's hard enough to play at the level that you do, but to sing at the same time? That just blows my mind. I mean guys like you, and Phil Collins always amazed me because he had such a great voice, but could play the shit out of the drums at the same time. I've always wondered, how do you manage to keep your voice holding one note, and your hands and feet holding another?

MORGAN ROSE: I don't know. I mean it all really started years ago... I'd be writing parts for other people to do and practice, I'd come up with these parts for other people to sing, and they'd be like "Well why don't you just sing it?" And I'm like "I don't wanna be hindered with a microphone back here", of course the stupid headset came into play, and that was like, that'll be so you don't have to move a mic around. As embarassing as that thing might be, I was glad when Tommy Lee wore it, because it opened the door so I would feel a little less embarassed. Ya know, it is what it is. It was one of those things where I developed some ideas, doing something in a certain voice, and everyone just told me they wanted me to do it. In one way, I wish I never would've brought it up, in another way it helped define our sound a bit having that extra voice.

AWAY-TEAM: You say, in one way you wish you never did it. Is it because it's just kind of a burden as your trying to play?

MORGAN ROSE: Uh... it's not hard to do, I think it's probably more that I'm just completely combustive back there. Ya know I'd like to just lose my mind, and I do the best that I can, but ya know that things in my way and...I mean I've gotta do all kinds of prep work to make sure that thing doesn't fly off. So I use a mic that's not really a state of the art microphone, just because it's the only one that'll stay on my head the way that I play. So I've got a mic that's not really the highest quality, just because I wanna make sure I can play the way that I want to play. But at the same time, that voice lends itself to distortion, so if the mic breaks up a little bit it kinda adds to the sound live.

AWAY-TEAM:Does having Clint back in the fold lift some of that vocal burden from you?

MORGAN ROSE: Uh, yeah, ya know the harmony stuff was always left up to him. When he was gone Vinny and John took over that area. So it's not so much of a change as far as how much I'm doing, but on this record, ya know Clint has quite a heavy voice of his own, so he took a little bit of the grunt, or some of that work from me, so I don't have to worry about doing as much. So yeah, it's helped out in lightening the workload on me a little bit.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been out touring and playing for a long time. I remember the first time I saw you guys, back in '98, at a little club called the Webster Theater in Hartford, you were there with Godsmack, Kid Rock, and I think One Minute Silence, and Second Coming. You've come a long way from that thus far, in fact I even saw you guys play at Woodstock '99. So what's been the absolute highlight of your career so far?

MORGAN ROSE: I mean, ya know when we went over and played for the troops, that was a big highlight for us. We played for some big crowds, and we played for some small ones, but overall to think that we're just "five little rednecks from Georgia" that twelve years later, actually twelve years signed, but fifteen years later these kids that grew up playing a little bar in Atlanta called The Rec Room in front of fifty to a hundred people are now being invited to go and play for the men and women who protect our country, and to be personally invited to do that was just an honor. Not a lot of people get to do things like that, so we felt very blessed, and it made us feel amazing inside. We've had so many opportunities to do, ya know, Woodstock and some of the tours that we've done, they've been great, they've been highlights, but to do something like that. It just sets itself apart.

AWAY-TEAM: It's good to see people giving back to those guys.

MORGAN ROSE: Oh Yeah!

AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned Tommy Lee earlier, Tommy has a tremendous amount of respect for you. You actually got to fill in for him a few times, how was that experience? I mean it's fucking Motley Crue, was it intimidating? Was it exciting? How'd that all pan out?

MORGAN ROSE: It was terrifying, because I got the call to do that just a few hours before I actually hit the stage. I mean, I got the call and in two hours I was at the airport getting on a plane that I barely made, to Cincinnati, to get to the venue, and in another two hours I was on stage. And I didn't know how to play any of the songs, I mean it was nerve-wracking to say the least. But he's one of my best friends, and I love him dearly, and for him to call me and have me fill in for him in a pinch was definitely an honor. And to be able to, I can put that in my memory bank, and in my book of accomplishments. I mean Nikki Sixx actually put out a press release, that said "As of now Motley Crue's a five man band", and I was like "WOW" that was cool.

AWAY-TEAM: You've had some dark times in the past few years. You admittedly were not in it mentally, but you've pulled through and seem to have a renewed vigor. You've just put out one of your best albums to date, where's Morgan Rose at now? And what's the plan after Sevendust?

MORGAN ROSE: I'm in a great place right now. I've got a great girlfriend that...I think that, short of doing this for a living and some of the damage that it does to you out here, ya know it is sort of a fantasy world, I mean everything that we do out here is so far from reality sometimes, that you get home and you gotta learn how to be a human being again. And we spend so much time on the road, that sometimes your decision making on the people that you're with can be a little clouded. I've got two great kids, out of the people that I've made the decision to be with prior to my current girlfriend... and there was a lot of quick decisions that were made without really knowing each other well enough. And then with those situations, I've lived and learned and we're taking it at the right pace I think. I've got a great girl, and I've got great kids, and I get along with both the exes just fine, so... I'm in a much better place now than I've been in, god ya know, maybe ever.

morgan rose

AWAY-TEAM: That's about all that you can ask for, to get along with the exes. (laughs)

MORGAN ROSE: Yeah. And as far as after Sevendust, I don't know. It occupies so much of your time, ya know Clint works endlessly on trying to create music for this band, or for somebody else or, that's his outlet to be able to stay consistently working on music. You know he's gonna have a baby soon, and that'll probably slow him down, and he knows it. It's something that I think about, but I'm still thinking that we got this thing on the track right now for a while to come, ya know, our bodies are not breaking down as quick as I thought they would. Ya know, fifteen years of playing together, and thirteen years on the road, you'd figure that the bodies would break down quicker than they have, and "knock on wood" we're doing pretty good.

AWAY-TEAM: So, no plans on being a pro craps player? Because I hear you guys are getting a bit of practice.

MORGAN ROSE: (laughs) Oh we're doing... we play cee-lo back there.

AWAY-TEAM: Lewis (Cosby of the band 10 years) was telling me that. (laughs)

MORGAN ROSE: Oh yeah man. That's our little getaway. I mean, after doing this for so long, it's like you'll find anything to spice up the situation, and that's fun and you might walk away with a few bucks as well.

>AWAY-TEAM:You have a clothing company called Alien Freak Wear. How did that get started? And I understand a portion of the proceeds go to charity?

MORGAN ROSE: Yeah. And that thing totally got started, actually the brains behind the whole thing was my first wife (former Coal Chamber bassist Rayna Foss). I was doing a signing one day, and I signed that little alien face, and I started signing that on all my autographs because people wanted me to do it, and it sort of became my logo. She said you should put it on a t-shirt and sell it, and I was like "I don't know who would buy it". She told me "You'd be surprised, you've got a pretty loyal group of people that follow your band and it wouldn't be that tough, and we could do something for the kids, and for charity..." I though it couldn't hurt, and we'll do it just to see what happens, and it did really well. And then I went through a divorce, and we shut it down. Then I got re-married (to former Playmate Teri Harrison), she said "You should do that again", and I did it again, and I got a divorce, and I shut it down...and then ya know, it started up again, and it's doing real well now.

AWAY-TEAM: Is there any particular charity that goes to? Or is it just kinda spread out?

MORGAN ROSE: Uh, well we've changed it a few times. Give a little bit out here, a little bit out there. The Children's Shelter of Atlanta, is one of the ones that we like dealing with alot.

AWAY-TEAM: In a movie about your life, who plays you?

MORGAN ROSE: Probably uh, Screech. (laughs) No...

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

MORGAN ROSE: God, I don't know. Probably Screech! (laughs) That's probably closer to how things have been going, I think I made out better, hopefully, than Screech, but early on I think I was probably Screech.

AWAY-TEAM: Being the second band out on this tour, and coming out so early, as opposed to what you're used to in being a headliner, how does that change your daily routine? And is it a welcome change?

MORGAN ROSE: Yeah, I mean it's cool, it's a short set. We're in and out, so we usually don't stay up until four or five anymore, because when you finish a show at midnight it takes a while to wind down. Here, we're off by seven, and ready to go to bed by midnight. So a little more rest, and we love all the guys out on the tour, so we have a good time with 'em, so it's really easy actually.

AWAY-TEAM: So with a short set like that, how do you choose a set list? And aside from the new stuff, is there an old Sevendust staple that must be played every night?

MORGAN ROSE: Uh, yeah, "Face to Face" gets played every night no matter what. That's the one song that never leaves. But like "Black" is in and out, "Denial" is in and out, "Praise" is in there every night too.

AWAY-TEAM: I think my all time favorite is "Wired"

MORGAN ROSE: Yeah, we haven't played that one in a while!

AWAY-TEAM: I know! So aside from the travel, and missing your family and girlfriend, what's the hardest part of being on the road?

MORGAN ROSE: Eating. Eating the right stuff!

AWAY-TEAM: I hear that. (laughs) Ten words or less, describe the Carnival of Madness.

MORGAN ROSE: A lot of dice, a lot of drinking, a lot of sleep!

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Well hey Morgan, thanks for your time, it's been an honor.

MORGAN ROSE: Thank you, I really appreciate it.

AWAY-TEAM: Hopefully we'll talk again soon in the near future.

MORGAN ROSE: Sounds good, man. Talk to you soon.

You can catch Sevendust on this fall's Hard Drive Live Tour with special guests 10 Years and Since October

 

For more info, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.sevendust.com/ For more info on Morgan Rose and Alien Freak Wear visit http://www.alienfreakwear.com/

Special thanks go to Morgan Rose for so graciously giving me his time, and Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music and Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making it all happen.

 

 

 

shinedown 2012 09 11 9389

Atlantic recording artists Shinedown formed in Jacksonville, FL in 2001. Since then, they have released three albums full of countless hits, such as "Fly from the Inside", "45", "Save Me", and more recently "Devour", "The Crow and the Butterfly", and who could forget their brilliant cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man". All the while they have been touring their asses off, and playing in front of packed houses, and surprisingly enough none of them have included me. I don't know how it came to be that I never had the chance to get out and see these guys, but I can't believe what great shows I've missed. That being said, it should come as no surprise that when the opportunity arose to interview guitarist Zach Myers at a stop on this summer's Carnival of Madness tour, I jumped at the chance. Here's how it all went down as Zach and I talked about everything from the tour, to Ozzy, to oil spills.

AWAY-TEAM: First off, I'd like to congratulate you on the tour, and the success of the fifth single off "The Sound of Madness" , "The Crow and the Butterfly". I saw that it just hit number one on the Active Rock charts, and it's poised to do the same on the Mainstream Rock chart.

ZACH MYERS: Thanks. That's five number ones on this record, we're so very blessed, and we're really excited. And now we just found out they're gonna release one more single, so we're gonna go for six.

AWAY-TEAM: Can you tell me what that's gonna be?

ZACH MYERS: I think it's gonna be "Breaking Inside", but I'm not sure. I can't confirm that, but I think that's what it is.

AWAY-TEAM: So six singles AND you're gonna knock Ozzy off the top spot. That's pretty cool.

ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We did already, actually, on Active Rock. Sorry Ozzy.

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Back to the tour, you guys have assembled a killer lineup, how did this all happen?

ZACH MYERS: The idea came up...Brent (frontman Brent Smith) wanted to do a festival tour, our manager also wanted to do a festival tour, our manager manages all of these bands. So it was pretty easy to put together, ya know what I mean, it was all in house. It was cool man. It was something that we asked all these bands, we picked the bands. It was a fun idea, when we put it all together, and ya know the best thing about the summer is festivals. And these are all bands that would be on a festival anyway, so we went to every single one of them and said "Why don't we put on a festival. Our own festival, and travel around" The backstage vibe is way cooler like that. Festivals are just like class reunions, you get together and see all your friends again, so why not have that for a couple months. So it was a very easy idea to put together. It was a no-brainer.

AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you thought summer festivals were fun. Is this something that you plan to do annually?

ZACH MYERS: It is gonna be an annual thing. But it's gonna be almost like when Limp Bizkit did the uh...

AWAY-TEAM: Family Values?

ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We're not gonna be on it every year. I know that we probably won't be on it next year, but the following year we'll probably do it.

AWAY-TEAM: So kinda "One on, one off"?

ZACH MYERS: Yeah. But it will be an annual thing. The Carnival will be an annual event, but who headlines will be different from year to year.

AWAY-TEAM: With Ozzfest kinda winding it's way down, it seems like the perfect replacement.

ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and you never know, maybe we could move it to like two or three stages. We would all love that.

AWAY-TEAM: That'd be great. In ten words or less, what can a fan expect to see at the Carnival of Madness?

ZACH MYERS: Madness. It's a carnival. (laughs) Um. Loud. (pauses) Five of the greatest live shows you've ever seen.

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AWAY-TEAM: You guys had a Live DVD that was scrapped back in 2007. Any chance we'll get a Live DVD/Album from this tour?

ZACH MYERS: I can tell you that we're gonna record a couple shows. DVD's are so hard pressed now with labels, because they don't really make any money off of them. They put money into them but they really, no matter how many you sell of them, it's not like the old days where when you sell a concert DVD, you can't really sell a million copies of one. Ya know what I mean? I couldn't tell you the last person who did that in the last ten years, so. We actually talked about doing it ourselves, and funding it ourselves. This is way too cool of a show to not put out a DVD of some sort. If there's not a DVD, after this we're doing an acoustic tour and we're definitely gonna film alot of that, so...

AWAY-TEAM:Now, five singles off "The Sound of Madness", you said you're ready to release a sixth, it's been about three years when can we expect to see a new Shinedown studio album?

ZACH MYERS: Umm. At the earliest, I would say at the end of 2011. At the very earliest. We're gonna take October off, and go write in L.A. We've been writing alot anyway, we wrote the Alice in Wonderland song ("Her Name is Alice"), we've written "Diamond Eyes" for The Expendables. But yeah, we're gonna go write in October, then we're gonna go do this acoustic tour, and then I think we're gonna wind it down in about mid-December. Kinda take a break, take about a month or two off, and then start it all back over again.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys recently joined the ever growing list of bands that are boycotting BP Petroleum...

ZACH MYERS: I don't know where this is coming from.

AWAY-TEAM: Not true?

ZACH MYERS: No. We've been asked that like five times. I don't know where... I disagree with it, I think it's completely fucked. We all live in the south, so ya know that's our home...Do I get gas at BP when I'm home? No.

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AWAY-TEAM: So I guess the question still does apply. If you had the podium at a BP board meeting, what would you say to them?

ZACH MYERS: What can you say? Who's fault is it? It's really not their fault. In all honesty, it's not their fault when something like that happens. It's a natural disaster, they didn't pop the cap off the thing. But it is their fault for not fixing it sooner, or not having a plan in place. They really, if they would've kept their mouths shut, then it would've been fine. But this guy kept going on and saying things like "There's more shrimp in Louisiana". This guy's an idiot, ya know what I mean? He's put his foot in his mouth so many times. When you're the head of a company and you have to have security to escort you back to Europe so people don't kill you, it's because you've opened your mouth too much. But no, as a band we can't get involved in that. It's not our place, we're not a political band. The most political we've ever been is "Devour" and that's just us talking about what WE saw when WE were in Iraq. But other than that, we're not a political band, it's not our business. Eric (bassist Eric Bass) and I are very political as people, but we don't bring that into the band. You don't talk about politics, and you don't talk about religion, that's just something that you don't do.

AWAY-TEAM: This is your work. You don't talk politics at work.

ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk about politics should be shot! I'm sorry, it's people that pay to hear you bitch? So what? No one cares! U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, and yeah Bono will slip things in here and there, but he doesn't take half an hour. And that's the thing about it, it's finding that line, ya know. Some bands don't do that.

AWAY-TEAM: Well thanks, man. I'm looking forward to the show tonight, and thanks for your time. Have a good show.

ZACH MYERS: Thank you very much. We'll do our best. This is only our third show of the tour, so we'll see how it goes.

AWAY-TEAM: Just warming up.

ZACH MYERS: Just warming up, and my whole body hurts already. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey Zach thanks alot. It's been a pleasure.

ZACH MYERS: Thanks. I appreciate it.

\For more Shinedown, including Tour Dates and to purchase their music visit http://www.shinedown.com/

Special thanks to Zach Myers for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.

jonny lang

The first time I witnessed the phenomona that is Jonny Lang was 13 years ago at an outdoor amphitheatre in Hartford, CT. Jonny was a mere 16 years old, and already on his way to becoming the world's next great guitar virtuoso. The year was 1997... now 5 albums, several tours, and a Grammy later, Jonny helps fill in the blanks of his life since then. Kid Jonny and I spoke about the Grammy's, God, and a certain Idol he also worships.

AWAY-TEAM: First of all, congratulations on your new album "Live at the Ryman" which came out on April 20th. Great album, I've been listening to it quite a bit.

JONNY LANG: Aw man, thank you.

AWAY-TEAM: I really enjoy it. I've been a fan of yours for a while. But, I know you've been wanting to do a live album for a good while...why the Ryman Auditorium? What made you choose that as the venue for your first ever live album?

JONNY LANG: Well there's a few reasons. Probably the main one just being, we had a good show that night, um. And we had been recording most of our shows leading up to that, and that happened to be the one that, ya know turned out to be the best out of the ones that we had recorded, so. But also just the fact that it's the Ryman, it's a historic venue, and it was such a great place to play, ya know, so I'm glad it turned out to be that particular show just because of that, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: So uh, one of the things people really enjoy about your work, aside from your voice, is watching you play guitar, and just kinda watching a craftsman at work. Is there any chance we may get an accompanying DVD of this performance sometime down the road?

JONNY LANG: You know, there was no video shot at that show, but we are looking to do a live DVD thing in the near future here so... I'm not sure exactly when that would come out, but yeah that's in the works.

AWAY-TEAM: Cool. I'll keep my eye out for that... Your current tour, it's called "Live By Request", has somewhat of a unique format. Tell me about that.

JONNY LANG: Well basically it's just a um, we kinda had this idea that people could write in to the website, tell us which show they're going to, and then request the songs they would like to hear for the night. Then we tally up the number of votes for whatever songs were requested and pick the top three or four or whatever, and then do those. Sometimes it ends up being some of the same songs we've been playing over the past few years, but sometimes people pick older songs, earlier back in the catalog and we'll throw those in the set. So it's just kind of a fun thing to switch it up a little, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: Right. So you said that you kinda tally up the votes on that, so do you get to see all of the songs? Have you seen any really cool songs that anyone's requested that may not particularly be your song, but you said "Wow, I've never really played that live before, it'd be pretty cool."?

JONNY LANG: Yeah, I think people are just trying to be a little funny (laughs). They'll put in a Lynyrd Skynyrd song like "Free Bird"...

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

JONNY LANG: But uh, you know nothing really that out of the ordinary or strange. No Steely Dan requests or anything like that, so. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: How about, I know you used to play a little Jimi Hendrix when you first started out. Any of that coming back at all?

JONNY LANG: Ya know, not really. Um, yeah we used to do "Spanish Castle Magic". No, we haven't done that in a while, but that's a good idea, we might do that one.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I actually remember you playing that. The first time I ever saw you play, was back in 1997, it was at what was then the Meadows Music Theatre in Hartford, CT. You were about 16 at the time, and opening up for Aerosmith, and I remember saying to myself "Man, this kid's only 16, and not only is he opening up for one of the greatest rock bands in the world, he's actually giving 'em a run for their money". I was just blown away by your performance. What was it like back then, when you found out your first big tour was gonna be with those guys? Were you intimidated? Excited?

JONNY LANG: Man, just excited. And ya know they didn't really give us a reason to be intimidated, they were all just so nice to us. Yeah, they were just really great guys, and it was just fun. It was a blast.

jonny lang2

AWAY-TEAM:Speaking of young talent, your younger sister Jessica (Jesse Langseth) was actually a semi-finalist on Season 8 of American Idol. Has she been coming to you for advice or help? Or is she more of a "If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it on my own" type of person?

JONNY LANG: You know, she's really smart. And uh, she's very street smart too, and socially very capable. So...she doesn't need much help from big brother, but yeah we talk about stuff like that. But yeah she's got her head screwed on pretty good, so.

AWAY-TEAM: Any chance we might see you working together in the future?

JONNY LANG: Oh yeah. There's always a chance of that. Ya know, she's um, she's kinda I think taking a little bit of a break from the music thing at the moment. But, it's her passion. It's what she loves to do, so I'm sure she'll be doing it for the rest of her life, on and off at least.

AWAY-TEAM: Hey, that's great. She's got the drive.....Now, back to tour mates, and collaborations. You've toured and collaborated with people from all genres of music. Ya know, from The Rolling Stones, to Buddy Guy, BB King, Sting, you've even played Crossroads with Eric Clapton. And actually most recently, you played on Cyndi Lauper's new album. Is that correct?

JONNY LANG: Yeah. Yeah man, she made an incredible album. I haven't heard the final, I guess, version of it, but. Yeah she recorded it in Memphis, and it's basically, ya know older soul and blues tunes, and she recorded it old school, one take-no overdubs kind of thing. Man, she understands that music incredibly well, and is singing amazingly on it. So I'm really excited for that record. We're actually doing some upcoming television shows for that record. (June 22nd and 24th, on The Howard Stern Show, and Regis and Kelly, respectively)

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I thought it was a really cool little twist for her music. That was pretty cool.

JONNY LANG: Yeah dude, she's a deep, she's a real deep person. A true artist, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: Well if you could choose one person, from any genre, that you haven't worked with, to do a collaboration with, who would it be?

JONNY LANG: Man... It's a tie between James Taylor and Stevie Wonder I'd say. Those two, that would be just a dream come true.

AWAY-TEAM: Wow, that would make for a great project.

JONNY LANG: Yeah, they're my favorites.

AWAY-TEAM: Now back in 2000, you tragically lost your bassist Doug Nelson, right around that same time you kinda found your faith. You were drinking heavily, and doing a little bit of drugs, and then thankfully found God. Was Doug's death ultimately what set you on that path? Or when did you sort of hit "rock bottom" and decide it was time to turn things around?

JONNY LANG: Man, I really didn't have a like "rock bottom" experience per se, I was loving the partying and stuff like that. So it was more that God just kinda stopped me in my tracks so to speak. But, yeah you know what, Doug's death happened a while after I kinda, I guess started my relationship with God. It definitely affected my life, ya know he was a close friend, and a great guy, and when you lose somebody close to you it gives you a good healthy check on how important life is, and ya know, makes you realize what things are important, and what things you're kinda just wasting your time with. But yeah, he was a great friend, and just a great guy.

AWAY-TEAM: The album "Turn Around", which came out in 2006, earned you a Grammy for Best Gospel Album. That was actually your last studio album, so when can we expect some new JONNY LANG?

JONNY LANG: I've kinda started working on the next studio record, and it's still in the trying to figure out where it's going stage, I guess. Stylistically, I'm trying to figure it out. I've never written so many songs before, so there's tons of songs to pick from, and uh. It's weird, every album cycle is different, it's a different experience, and this one is just kinda moving slow for some reason. Sometimes it happens right away, and sometimes it doesn't, ya know. I guess the main goal is to come up with something that is, you don't wanna compromise the quality of it just to get it out there, so I try to make a good record no matter how long it takes. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: That's important. Now, you said that you were searching stylistically for what this new album's gonna be like. Should we be looking for something closer to the Gospel on "Turn Around" or closer to your roots on "Lie to Me"?

JONNY LANG: Um, man, I really don't know, actually. I think it's gonna end up being more of a fusion of like soul music and um, I guess just it'll be more about the songwriting. Ya know it might be more about the songs on this one, than the last one...if that makes sense.

AWAY-TEAM: So more stress on the lyrics, as opposed to the actual musical composition?

JONNY LANG: I think both. But I think, it may be a little bit more intricate, as far as the musical arrangement and the lyrics go, ya know. A little bit more of a crafted album, if that makes sense. So, at least for me, (laughs) take a little bit more time with it.

AWAY-TEAM: Well I'm certainly looking forward to it. I know you've done a little bit of acting in the past, as well. You were in "Blues Brothers 2000", and an episode of "The Drew Carey Show", that was all back in 1998. Can we expect to see...

JONNY LANG: (laughs) I don't know if it was acting. It was more like just standing there trying to not look like an idiot. (laughing) But, yeah man. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughing) So you might've just answered my question. So, no more acting in your future? Is that right?

JONNY LANG: Probably not. Man it terrifies the life out of me. I am not a natural born actor, for sure. It scares me. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: I mean you play in front of 20-30,000, and it's like second nature, but I guess acting is just a whole different realm, huh?

JONNY LANG: I guess so man. I guess when you're on a stage and you're kinda far away from people, you feel like you're kinda isolated in a weird way. It's not as nerve-wracking for some reason in my mind.

AWAY-TEAM: Well, one more question...you now live in California, and your manager Greg Classen, like myself, is from Massachusetts. Who's gonna win Game 7 tonight Celtics or Lakers?

JONNY LANG: (laughing) Oh boy...well, being a guy who's from Minnesota, as far as sports go anyway, I don't really have a team, although I do live in L.A. Ya know, I don't know man, it's such a good series, I would love to see Boston win. Just because, that particular L.A. team has had such a good record, so it'd be nice to see Boston win for a change.

AWAY-TEAM: I knew I liked you for a reason. (laughs)

JONNY LANG: (laughs) Yeah dude, I think I really like Boston a bit, because they're more of like "street ballers". They're like more rough, ya know, rough around the edges. So I kinda like that, I like their style. But who knows man, it's gonna be a good one. (Sadly, I was hoping for Jonny to get his wish. And we all know what happened. Dammit.)

AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey man, thank you so much for your time. It's been a great honor to speak with you...

JONNY LANG: Aw, thanks man.

AWAY-TEAM: Unfortunately, this last time you came around, just recently you were here in Ft. Lauderdale, and I was unable to make it out to the show. but I'll certainly be there next time you pass through Florida.

JONNY LANG: Yeah dude, if you come out man, come back and say hey.

AWAY-TEAM: I sure will...

JONNY LANG: Call Greg, or the label, or something, and come back and get hooked up man.

AWAY-TEAM: Hey, if you wanna beat up on someone on the links (Jonny had just finished up on the golf course when we spoke) too ya know I'm free there.

JONNY LANG: Oh dude, let's do it. I need a golf partner man, nobody here plays golf, so I usually end up playing by myself. So that'd be cool man.

AWAY-TEAM: I don't know if what I do is called golf, but I'll sure try. (laughs)

JONNY LANG: (laughs) Cool man, that sounds good.

AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey man, thanks again, and like I said, next time you're around I'll definitely make it a point to get together with you. Hopefully we'll be talking about another Grammy here.

JONNY LANG: (laughs) I hope so man. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Alright brother, well good luck tonight with the show, and with the rest of your tour, and hopefully we'll be talking soon.

JONNY LANG: Thank you man. Thank you. Take care.

AWAY-TEAM: Take it easy.

JONNY LANG: Bye.

For more information on Jonny Lang, such as tour dates, to request a song for one of those dates, as well as to pick up his latest album visit http://www.jonnylang.com/

Special thanks go to Jonny Lang for so graciously giving me his time, Jonny's manager Greg Classen for helping to coordinate things, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making this all possible.

 

 

 

scott bartlett

It's been two short years since America became "Addicted" to Saving Abel, now the boys from Corinth, Mississippi are back, and they've brought a friend. Meet "Miss America" the group's follow-up to their self-titled Gold Record debut. The album lives up to it's feminine moniker, in that, much like the women in my life, sometimes what I think they're going to say and mean and what they actually say and mean, are two very different things. While "Miss America" gives us plenty of mental candy for our minds to chew on, I needed to go deeper and get inside of one of the minds behind "Miss America"... Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett. Here's how it all sounded when Scott and I spoke about everything from government, to ghosts, and believe it or not... galloping guitarists...

AWAY-TEAM: So the new album "Miss America" comes out on Tuesday (June 8th), congrats on that...

SCOTT BARTLETT: It's very exciting man, I don't think we know what we're getting into, but either way we're ready for it.

AWAY-TEAM: Ya know I've had the chance to hear it, I'm really digging it. In fact I was just listening to it today.

SCOTT BARTLETT: It's eclectic, right?

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah man I love it.

SCOTT BARTLETT: I think it still sounds like us, but it sounds like a more grown-up version of us. I mean we just couldn't be happier.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I think you've got a hit on your hands here...So you guys have been touring alot, as you're kind of known for, but you guys just played "Rocklahoma" this weekend, how was the reception there? I know "Rocklahoma" is traditionally more of an 80's glam and metal festival, how did you find the reception there for a band such as yours?

SCOTT BARTLETT: It's funny, we were kinda warned about that before we got there, so you can either cry about it and look for excuses, or you can just go out and rock extra hard. And I like to think that's what we did because the crowd was actually very receptive. Ya know, everybody loves the classics, and everybody loves the 80's, that's an awesome era of music but, ya know, music does keep on evolving. So for any festival it's good to... you know because they still had that element... I mean they still had Cinderella and ZZ Top, so basically they just expanded it because they're trying to widen the demographic, so I'm completely supportive of that, and I think we rocked it. I think the crowd dug it.

AWAY-TEAM: I understand you guys have been playing a few of the new songs as well. What's been the most well received of the new songs? Also, does that kind of showcasing play into what becomes the next single? Or how does that selection process go?

SCOTT BARTLETT: Well, there's alot of different ways of looking at it. You have a lot of people to please. Ya know, how do you predict what song the fans are gonna like the most? Then you have radio, who is basically what made this band do what it did by spinning "Addicted" , and so ya know we kinda feel like we'd been bold with that one, and so we're constantly trying to do it again. I don't think there's any particular process that works, it's just thank God for us we have an album with 11 songs, and conceivably 11 singles. I mean, obviously we're not gonna do that, but there's something for everyone. When we play live, we just put our heart and soul into every one of the songs, and people always seem to dig it. But we have radio support right now for the single "Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)", so because of the familiarity with that song, that seems to get the best reaction.

AWAY-TEAM: When I'm really digging an album, I tend to get a song stuck in my head. After playing them night-after-night, does that ever happen to you with any of your own songs?

SCOTT BARTLETT: Ummm yeah, but then it just becomes uh, I mean you gotta think with some of these songs like "Addicted" we've been playing it for four years so... we've played it so many times, it's like ,you know, it'll get stuck in your head, but you kinda wanna forget about it...

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

SCOTT BARTLETT: You really don't want to get sick of your own music, like when you play it night-after-night-after-night, I mean the only blessing is that your playing it to different crowds, so they're still just as excited. So that element of excitement stays up, but no, I try my best not to let our own music get stuck in my head 'cuz I think I'd go crazy. (laughs) That's not to say it's not catchy, ya know Saving Abel definitely has a catchy kind of sound to it, and I think we owe alot of that to our producer.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, Skidd Mills is a great producer. I was talking to Andy Brewer (Taddy Porter) about working with him a couple weeks ago. I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about that conversation later on too. But, let's talk about some of the songs on the album. The first track "Tap Out", it seems to be fairly obvious it was kinda written as an anthem for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Were you guys specifically asked to write a song like this? Or was it more of a "Hey, this would be kinda cool.." and hopefully somebody in the MMA arena will pick it up?

SCOTT BARTLETT: I think it was just initially, we had the riffs, and then we were just thinking about it. I mean we all watch MMA, we're definitely into it, we were just thinking about, ya know we don't have any of those songs that are just angry. We started just throwing out words and just kinda thinking of a way to parlay that into a song, and umm, no, nobody asked us to do it. We're not really one of those bands that would be asked to do that sort of thing, because we've got so much radio support. They usually look sort of "off the beaten path" , ya know, more hip, for lack of a better term. Saving Abel is kinda confusing like that, because we've commercialized ourself, which ya know is a great thing, but then when it comes to people that are looking for more obscure, heavy songs... we're not that band. Which again, is a blessing and a detriment, but we gotta roll with what works best for us. We know how to write a kick ass rock song, I know that.

AWAY-TEAM: You talk about already having the riff for that song, I thought I detected a little bit of Iron Maiden in the opening of that. Is that correct? Are you guys Maiden fans?

SCOTT BARTLETT: Yeah, I used to cover "Run to the Hills". I was in kinda like an All-Star session guy band in Memphis, we did some Maiden and some Kiss, it was more of a joke then anything, we called ourselves "The Circus Bears". And whenever we did "Run to the Hills" we had five guitarists on stage, and when the riff started like "dun-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di" we would all gallop...

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) That's pretty cool.

SCOTT BARTLETT: But yeah, we definitely love some metal over here at Saving Abel.

AWAY-TEAM: You gotta rip that back out sometime. (laughs) I'd love to see you guys all galloping out on stage, even minus a couple guitars, it'd still be pretty cool.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Yeah, I've been trying to go as a Centaur for Halloween for the last few years... it's just kind of expensive, and the costume's kind of tough to figure out.

saving abel

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Now the uh, title track "Miss America", that kinda completely threw me for a loop, it's not at all what you expect it to be about. Nonetheless, it did make me feel proud to be an American. Tell our readers a little about the inspiration behind that.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Well the song itself is more-less a play on words, it's not about "the pageant", it's about our soldiers that are overseas missing America. "I miss America, my Miss America", the song itself actually chronicles three different perspectives of what it's like being a soldier overseas... it's like ya know, you can be a son who's fighting and writing back to his father, you can be a husband writing back to your wife, or you can be a father writing back to your son. And it tries to look at it from all three of those vantage points, and either way, now that we've gone overseas and been there, we know what it's like for each and every person... they all miss America. But they're fighting the good fight for what we believe in as Americans, and ya know making it so that we have the freedom to play rock-n-roll music, so this album is for them.

AWAY-TEAM: Ya know, that's something that I really found to be kick-ass, because alot of bands, um not so much any more, but in recent years have kind of been ya know, bashing the government and this and that but forgetting, you know, that we have troops over there risking their lives for us and it's good to see someone like yourselves putting something out as kind of a "Thank You". Ya know just to let 'em know that they're not forgotten, and give 'em a little support... so that's great to see.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Dude who cares if you're a Republican or Democrat, I don't even like to go there. Ya know it's not really that relevant at the end of the day when you're talking about it, because we've got Americans over there trying to stay alive for the sake of Democracy. So... it doesn't matter who you vote for... just Support the Troops.

AWAY-TEAM: At the end of the day we're all Americans.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Yup.

AWAY-TEAM: The first single, "Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)", is that kinda based on the same girl as "Addicted" and some of your other songs? I mean, what's the story behind this chick...

SCOTT BARTLETT: It's kind of a cool little twist too, um, we had just gotten back from The Grammy's, we weren't nominated or anything but, we were invited to go to the parties and everything and ya know we're kind of a humble southern rock roots band from Mississippi, and ya know I live in Memphis... Hollywood and L.A. isn't exactly our scene, it's fun, but ya know alot of the people, ya know "climbing up the list", ya know "social climbers" trying to be in the right place at the right time for probably all the wrong reasons. And we took that concept, which isn't just prevalant in L.A., but because it's like the hub of music, and star, and glitz and glamour...so we took that concept and we applied it to, ya know Jared (lead singer Jared Weeks) is a big fan of Marilyn Monroe, who was not a "Stupid Girl" by the way, and one of her most famous quotes was "A wise girl always kisses, before she's kissed; leaves before she's left; and forgets before she's forgotten". It's basically about a girl that goes out there to make it in the industry, and it's just basically warning her not to fall victim to the pitfalls of that industry.

AWAY-TEAM: Right. Okay, so back to the whole "Addicted" thing, I mean ya know that was the song that kind of broke you... maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like a lot of the songs may be about this same girl. It seems there was kind of a major love/hate relationship going on there...

SCOTT BARTLETT: Well, see the beauty of it is, ya know we all write alot about girls obviously, and I mean that's one of the more prevalant concepts that you see in songwriting, and there's always a love interest somewhere. We've all been through those relationships, and we all write lyrics, so it's definitely not all about the same girl.

AWAY-TEAM: That's the beauty of music, you can take what you want from it.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Exactly, and then ya know whoever listens to it can take from it, can take from it whatever they take from it. It doesn't matter what the artist's intention was, as long as whoever's listening gets something cool out of it.

AWAY-TEAM: So, as I told you before, I was speaking with Andy Brewer (lead singer of Taddy Porter) recently... he told me a little story about you guys...

SCOTT BARTLETT: Uh-oh.

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) He couldn't remember where it was, so I'm gonna give you a chance to fill me in on that, but he said that uh, you guys were supposed to stay in a hotel that was rumored to be haunted, and uh, he didn't name any names but he said that you guys were a little too scared to stay there? You wanna give me your side of that story?

SCOTT BARTLETT: I don't really remember that. We've stayed in our share of quote-unquote haunted hotels, but if you're scared you can just get drunk and pass out in there, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs)

SCOTT BARTLETT: Hopefully you wake up. (laughs) I honestly don't remember that. I don't know what he's talking about, should I?

AWAY-TEAM: I don't know. (laughs) I don't know, like I said he didn't go into details, he just said "I couldn't remember where it was... but man those guys are superstitious, and they were afraid to stay in this hotel..."

SCOTT BARTLETT: Well there had been a couple of hotels, like you know there's that one where Jeffrey Dahmer did his thing... but we've stayed there like four times, I mean...

AWAY-TEAM: Like you said, just get drunk and pass out.

SCOTT BARTLETT: (laughs) Yeah, I mean that's all we do anyway. Why bother changing for a bunch of ghosts?

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah, just give 'em a beer... Well hey Scott, thanks for your time buddy. I don't know if you got a chance to check out my review of your album, but the album is killer. I know it'll do well.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Dude, I appreciate it. You know we're all a little nervous, but excited, so ya know, especially from somebody that actually reviewed the album and knows what they're talking about. That means alot. Thank you.

AWAY-TEAM: I mean, I'd only tell you the truth, and I'm really digging it and I think you've got something on your hands here.

SCOTT BARTLETT: (sighs in relief) Thank you...thank you so much...

AWAY-TEAM: No need to be nervous anymore...(laughs)

SCOTT BARTLETT: I'll just go do what I do best man.

AWAY-TEAM: Get drunk and pass out? (laughs)

SCOTT BARTLETT: (laughs) Yeah, after the show. I like to think I rock first, then I get drunk and pass out after. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Well hey bro, hopefully we'll catch up again if you guys make it here to Florida. I don't know if that's on the agenda yet, I haven't seen it but...

SCOTT BARTLETT: We'll definitely be down there this summer. Stay up on the website for the latest info. http://www.savingabel.com/

AWAY-TEAM: I surely will. Thanks again, it's been a pleasure.

SCOTT BARTLETT: Likewise. Later bro.

"Miss America" hits stores this Tuesday June 8th. Saving Abel is currently on tour with We Are the Fallen, American Bang, and Taddy Porter. For more tour info, as well as merchandise and music, visit http://www.savingabel.com/main.aspx

Thank you to Scott Bartlett for so graciously giving me his time, and a special thanks to Julie Lichtenstein and Steve Karas at SKH Music for making this all possible.

 

 

taddy porter 01

Upon first glance, Taddy Porter looks like just another young rock band ready to take on the world. While that may be true, there's much more to this quartet from Oklahoma; I had gotten all of thirty seconds deep into Taddy Porter's debut offering when I realized this. In fact, I found it quite fitting that the band whose moniker is that of the "World's Original Beer", is about to serve the world it's own original musical brew. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Taddy's front man, the aptly-named Andy Brewer, about their odyssey from college parties, to haunted hotels, to the creation of a new musical genre.

AWAY-TEAM: First off, Congratulations on your self-titled debut album which comes out on June 29th.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah. Thanks.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys formed in Stillwater, Oklahoma...

ANDY BREWER: Correct.

AWAY-TEAM: How did you all get together?

ANDY BREWER: Uh, well actually, I was attending Oklahoma State University at the time, and uh, I happened to walk into a party one night and I heard live drumming going on at this party. And I didn't immediately walk into the room with the drums at first, but after a few drinks I gathered enough gumption to walk into the room. And uh, I had been like playing, ya know, and writing my own songs at the time, and so I just walked into this room and my drummer now pointed at me and he goes "Do you play?", and I was like "Yes I do" and I picked up one of the guitars that had been laying around the room and started playing one of the songs that I had written. We like meshed together real well at first, went together real well, ever since then we've been a band ever since.

AWAY-TEAM: Awesome. So your guys' name, I'm sure you get this a lot, but uh, the world's first beer? Is that correct?

ANDY BREWER: That's correct, yeah.

AWAY-TEAM: How'd you come up with that name?

ANDY BREWER: Well uh, we were looking for names, like trying to come up with cool names. None of them which went over very well, we came up with some horrible names like "Honey Drip" and umm "Red Giants" and "Scissortail" (laughing). Just many, many of these really bad names, but uh, me and Doug (drummer Doug Jones) were at a bar just kind of going over names, and I went up to the bar and looked at the import fridge and I was going through them by price, because I was broke, I'm pretty much still broke (laughs), but uh I saw one that was $8.50 a bottle and I was just blown away that one beer could cost $8.50. So I went from price, over to the name and it was Taddy Porter, and it sounded like somebody's name to me, and how it came about was the brand name was Tadcaster and the nickname given to it was Taddy Porter. And uh, thinking about it, it was like you know how like Lynyrd Skynyrd sounds like someone's name, and just thinking about these bands where it's two names that sound like a first name and a last name. And it sounded kind of like a sophisticated beer, so I was like, what we played was like kind of like a southern jam, ya know, and I don't know I just kinda felt like it had matched what we were playing. So that's how it happened.

AWAY-TEAM: Right. After hearing the album, it's funny you mention Lynyrd Skynyrd because I kind of get a little bit of that sound with you, but uh, I've heard it and I absolutely love it. It has a pretty unique sound for a young rock band in this day and age, which in my opinion kicks ass, but... is your sound more of a product of your musical influences, or not wanting to be just another cookie-cutter rock band?

ANDY BREWER: See, it's a mixture of those. Because, ya know growing up we uh, I had been listening to my father's rock n' roll music and I loved it. I knew at an early age that I could mimic older rock singers like Paul Rodgers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and stuff like that. So when it came to making our own music, that just sort of came naturally. And ya know, I mean I love all the rock bands they're all great, but I just didn't want to be another one of those bands where they're like "OK, well Taddy Porter, they sound like this band..." that's like what's on the radio right now. I didn't want to be one of those bands, because then you know you get like lumped into a category and that's as far as you go. So whenever it came to us making our sound, we felt it should be an eclectic mix of modern rock and classic rock. Some bands have started doing that like Wolfmother and The Black Keys seem to be like playing an older style of music, but they're playing it right now with their own modern spin on it, and that's kind of like what we want to do.

AWAY-TEAM: I'm glad you said that because you've enlightened me a little bit, because I've kinda had a hard time describing your music; other than just blues mixed in with good ole' southern rock n' roll. For our readers out there who aren't familiar with your music, how would you describe your music?

ANDY BREWER: Umm, I can't say hard rock, and I can't say classic rock, we kinda came up with a little idea, we call it "Swagger Rock". It's kind of like a cool, like I didn't want to call it "Jam Rock" or like "Guitar Rock" or something like that. So I would just say it's kinda like a southern jam rock, yeah I don't even know how to explain it really, but "Swagger Rock" is usually the term I use when people ask.

AWAY-TEAM: Well there you go, you just coined it here..."Swagger Rock" (laughs)

ANDY BREWER: (laughs)

taddy porter 01

AWAY-TEAM: How was it working with Skidd Mills, who also produced your former tour-mates Saving Abel, how'd that work out?

ANDY BREWER: He's great man. He uh, we have the same manager as Saving Abel, and that's how we got hooked up with Skidd. When ever we went in there we weren't really familiar with working with a producer and things of that nature, it's kind of funny because the first like co-write experience we went in and we wrote "Shake Me", that was the first song, we were in there for eight hours and we wrote and tracked all of "Shake Me", and it was weird to me that it could happen so fast, to write that type of song so fast. But uh, Skidd is great, he's got a great ear, he knows what he's doing, he's been doing it for years, and uh, he's just a great guy.

AWAY-TEAM: Now, that single, "Shake Me" has sort of become a staple around Citifield in New York. Tell me about that.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah, it's uh, my father is a pitching coach in the Mets organization, and like every summer when I was growing up, I would go out where my dad was and work at the stadium, just to spend a little time with my dad. It was 2006, I think, and I went down there and I got to meet Mike Pelfrey and he was making his way up through the minor league system, and I got to know him, he got to know me, and so with the big league guys pretty much everyone's got intro music...

AWAY-TEAM: Right.

ANDY BREWER: ...and as he was going to pick his, he was hanging around my dad, and Mike Pelfrey was trying to figure things out, and John Maine, who's another starting pitcher for the Mets said "Well how 'bout you use Brew's son's music", Brew's what they call my dad 'cuz his last name's Brewer. So he listened to it and was like "Yeah, man. I want that song", so he picked "Shake Me". It's crazy to think that whenever he goes out to pitch or hit, "Shake Me" gets played all throughout Citifield. I haven't had the chance to make it out yet to hear that, but I mean, it sounds so huge in those giant baseball stadiums. I gotta make it to a game sometime when he's pitching to hear that, it'll probably give me goosebumps, being the singer and what-not.

AWAY-TEAM: Hell of an audience to have that played for. (laughs)

ANDY BREWER: That's for sure!

AWAY-TEAM: You guys have got a few big shows coming up, I see you're playing "Rock on the Range", with alot of other great bands. Who do you most look forward to sharing the bill with there?

ANDY BREWER: Uh, man I can't uh, Limp Bizkit probably. I just wanna see that guy play, it's been such a while since they've been touring and I just want to see the production. I heard they would breakdance on stage, and I think that would just be a sight to see. But uh, Chevelle, I'd like to see Chevelle, I think they're playing it, and the Deftones, I've seen them a couple times and they've always been amazing live. But all the bands are great.

AWAY-TEAM: You also were on the "Class of '09" tour with Saving Abel, Red, and Pop Evil. Any good stories from the road there?

ANDY BREWER: Man, we had a lot of good times, we had a chance to be on the road with them during Thanksgiving, and we were at, I wanna say it was, shit I don't remember, but the hotel was supposed to be haunted and so it was funny because some of the guys in Saving Abel are superstitious, so they were like "I can't stay here" (laughs) because they freaked out about it and I was like "C'mon guys, nothing's gonna happen to you" But, we got to know Saving Abel and Red pretty well, and us being the opening band, they were very welcoming to us. We partied, we learned, we learned how to be professional, and how to work because ya know they had like tour managers and everything and they have a set schedule and if you're not on that schedule you're gonna get bitched at. So we learned that when your on a schedule, you have to be prompt, you can't just go wander off and do whatever, you have to be ready for what's going on. So we learned how to be professional, and it was very easy for us to have a great time because they're all just great guys.

AWAY-TEAM: A couple of the songs on your album, weren't originally on there. How did the addition of those come about?

ANDY BREWER: When ever we started to put together everything, we went to Nashville and we were doing some co-writes, and we were also writing more and more of our own songs. And as the time came about we started writing more with Skidd and some of these writers, and alot of the songs we did with the co-writers we didn't even use, but some of them we did add to the album.

AWAY-TEAM: Well I'll tell you what Andy, you guys put together a hell of an album, and I wish you the best of luck, thank you for your time; I know it's only a matter of time before you guys are household names.

ANDY BREWER: I hope so! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Keep at it man, best of luck to you, and I look forward to seeing you come to Florida sometime in the near future.

ANDY BREWER: Hell yeah, man, I'm looking forward to it too. The south is always the best.

AWAY-TEAM: Right on, man. Well hey, next time your in town, I hope to meet you and talk some more.

ANDY BREWER: Yeah man, I got your phone number I'll give you a call.

AWAY-TEAM: Sounds good. Thanks bro. Take it easy.

ANDY BREWER: Take it easy. Bye.

Be sure to pick up Taddy Porter's self-titled debut album, when it hits shelves June 29th (you may have to look in the new "Swagger Rock" section). This album is very highly recommended. For more info on tour dates and where to pick up the album head over to http://www.myspace.com/taddyportermusic

Special thanks to Andy Brewer for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.

 

 

smile empty soul 01

Smile Empty Soul burst onto the scene way back in 2003 with their self titled debut offering, and with the help of the smash-hit single ”Bottom of a Bottle”, their rookie effort achieved Gold Record status. Ever since then, the trio from Santa Clarita, CA has been filling my head with song-after-unforgettable song. From ”Nowhere Kids” to the recent hit ”Don't Ever Leave Me”, their melodic modern rock sound has created a virtual concert in my head over the years. Now, with SMILE EMPTY SOUL'S latest effort “Consciousness” they're back ready to unleash an encore unto my cerebral concert hall. So it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to sit down with SEAN DANIELSEN and JAKE KILMER to talk about change, challenge, and the fifth amendment.

AWAY-TEAM: So, it's been seven years since the debut...

SEAN DANIELSEN: Yes it has.

AWAY-TEAM: ...now comes “Consciousness”, which I understand is a little bit different lyrically? Not so easily interpreted?

SEAN DANIELSEN: Yeah, it's a little less literal. It sounds weird, but I guess it's true, a little more cryptic at times. But ya know, you still get what I'm talking about, or at least get something that you are convinced that I'm talking about out of it. Ya know what I mean? You might not always be right but, (smiles) you can sure guess! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Now this is your third album, but technically your fourth album, with ”Anxiety” being out there. Tell me a little about that whole deal.

SEAN DANIELSEN: “Anxiety” we made in 2005, and it was just at a time when there was a lot of change going on with the label we were on. They were going public, TIME/WARNER they owned LAVA/ATLANTIC which is what we were on, and uh, JASON FLOM who signed us there, he got canned so we were kind of like the leftovers that he had signed. And uh, our relationship with the label fell apart, we didn't really see eye-to-eye on everything. The album never ended up coming out... until, now last month we actually released it, with a couple extra songs, digitally re-mastered, new artwork, and a bonus DVD. It's called “More Anxiety”, so, you should check it out!

AWAY-TEAM: Oh yeah, I definitely will. Now “Vultures”, the album that replaced it, a couple of the songs off that album were pretty angry...

SEAN DANIELSEN: (laughs) Yeah.

AWAY-TEAM: ...such as “The Hit”

JAKE KILMER: The good old “The Hit”

AWAY-TEAM: That was basically a big “F You!” to LAVA/ATLANTIC, no?

SEAN DANIELSEN: It was, it was definitely a big “F You!” to LAVA/ATLANTIC...(There is a knock on the door, it opens and someone asks Sean “Is that bald dude with you?”) Yeah, we're doing an interview here. (“Sorry to interrupt”)

AWAY-TEAM: No problem. Back to “Anxiety”...the song “Holes”, you were asked to change the lyrics in it and you said, uh, “No way!”. That's pretty admirable, I mean that's the fifth amendment all the way!

SEAN DANIELSEN: Hell yeah, man! They uh, yeah they wanted to change some of the one-liner lyrics and ya know I don't think that was the singular thing that pushed it over the edge. I think that even if we'd have changed that lyric, I think that it still would've ended up falling apart because the relationship itself was falling apart, ya know. But, ya know I guess that's just a part of the story I guess. That's just what happened so.

AWAY-TEAM: You guys have all been together for a long time...

JAKE KILMER: (raises hand) I joined in 2006 on “Vultures”. These guys have been together since 1998? (looks at Sean)

AWAY-TEAM: You came in originally as a fourth member, correct?

JAKE KILMER: Yeah, the third drummer.

SEAN DANIELSEN: We actually brought Jake in at the very beginning of 2006, and uh, at the same time we brought in another guitar player but he didn't really last very long. So Jake's been in the band for over four years now, we've done two records with Jake, and uh, mass tours. And it's a perfect fit!(laughs)

smile empy soul

AWAY-TEAM: So with three of you on a bus together, how easy is it to get away with practical jokes?

JAKE KILMER: Oh, we joke all day long. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Who's the best?

JAKE KILMER: (looks at ceiling in thought) Ummmm...

SEAN DANIELSEN: We don't really play jokes on each other, as much as we just, we just talk shit all day long. (laughs)

JAKE KILMER: We're constantly just joking about things.

AWAY-TEAM: Right, right.

SEAN DANIELSEN: It's not as much just clowning on each other, as it is we're just clowning on everything around us at all times. You gotta keep things light.

JAKE KILMER: Yeah, especially when you're just traveling all the time., ya know. Keep it fun.

AWAY-TEAM: So you said a lot of your earlier stuff was more literal in it's interpretation, so obviously we talked about “The Hit”, what about “Bottom of a Bottle”? Where'd that come from?

SEAN DANIELSEN: That was just, ya know, I mean a lot of that was actually kind of literal too. Just being young, and partying, and a kid kind of...

AWAY-TEAM: Been there.

SEAN DANIELSEN: You know just livin' to party, ya know. A lot of us have been there, I think that's what, uh, part of the American process, ya know. That's why people relate to it, ya know, 'cuz they, everyone's lived to party for a while. At least for a little bit.

JAKE KILMER: When you're going to school every day, you gotta get wasted. (laughs)

SEAN DANIELSEN: You get through school, by looking forward to getting shit-faced.

JAKE KILMER: Save your lunch money! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM: Well guys, thanks for your time. Good luck with the tour, and the album, I'm sure it will be the best yet. It's been a pleasure to meet you.

SEAN DANIELSEN: Thank you we appreciate it.

SMILE EMPTY SOUL is currently on tour with SOIL and BLACK SUNSHINE. For more info on tour dates, as well as where you can pick up the latest album, click HERE.

AWAY-TEAM'S Jason Rybak (Second from left) with SMILE EMPTY SOUL Special thanks to Sean Danielsen and Jake Kilmer for talking with us, and to James at Kerosene Media for making it all happen.

 

 

blacksunshine band1

It appears that Merriam-Webster is going to have to revise another word in their dictionary. perseverance-(noun)see BLACK SUNSHINE's Matt Reardon. After three long years, several record deals, and a staph infection that nearly cost him his leg the extreme skier turned rock 'n' roll frontman bursts onto the scene with his latest band BLACK SUNSHINE. Recently Away-Team's Jason Rybak had the chance to sit down with Matt to discuss BLACK SUNSHINE’s inevitable path to becoming this planet's next big, bright stars. However, you may need to grab a cold beverage and pull up a chair...this is no short journey!

AWAY-TEAM: Congrats on the upcoming release of your new album, and your current tour. You guys rocked tonight.

MATT REARDON: Thanks, dude! Tonight was cool, it was a good show. It was nice to be on the big stage.

AWAY-TEAM: Like I said before, to see the response...and the fans standing outside of your merch tent for hours, that was awesome.

MATT REARDON: I mean the response, the only thing that's being spun on the radio around here is “Once in My Life”. Everybody in the front knew the words, I was just amazed. That's the coolest compliment you can get as an artist, to watch people sing your songs.

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I mean that is what you do this for...that's what you’re looking for as an artist.

MATT REARDON: Oh yeah, and even the songs that they didn't know, they were just all… everyone was all into it. It was cool.

AWAY-TEAM: And that was the same thing with me, I had really only heard “Once in My Life”...and that's a great song, but your other shit just rocks. I was blown away.

MATT REARDON: We wanna have an album that takes you on a journey. But, you know, I'm a huge fan of this latest SHINEDOWN album. It comes out and fucking kicks you in the teeth. It makes you just like… after the first two songs you're like, “Holy shit man!”. It gives you a breather and it picks back up again, and that kind of quality musically where you can take people on a journey in their lives...

AWAY-TEAM: Was that the driving force for enlisting Bob Marlette as a producer?

MATT REARDON: I think Bob saw a lot of potential in my vocal chords, like he did with SHINEDOWN; I've had that comparison with them quite a bit, and that's a big compliment.

AWAY-TEAM: You've got huge vocal control, never having seen you live before, I was quite impressed.

MATT REARDON: Thanks man. We just did like fourteen shows in a row. We were doing radio at like seven in the morning. I can't believe they're (re: vocal chords) still working out good, I'm still learning all the time but uh...working with Bob was a situation where I just kind of knocked on his door pretty much, and found a way to sneak in the back door, and you know… just talked him into giving me a chance. I kept sending in demos, and finally I sent him “Once in My Life”, “Burn to Shine”, and “Tears” and he was like “Okay, what label are you on? Let's do the album”. 'Cause I kept getting record deals, and then the deals would fall apart, and record labels would fall apart and...

AWAY-TEAM: You know I had read that, that you'd had about three years of...

MATT REARDON: Mmm,hmm.

AWAY-TEAM: ...meetings and trying to land record deals?

MATT REARDON: I had several record deals in that process. But, I also had several record deals that just wouldn't do anything, because it just didn't have the people behind it, and the right energy, and the right kind of mindset that, you know the music business doesn't work so good without that. And we wanted someone like Kevin Zinger, and a good radio guy like John Kuliak, and just people that were forward thinking and wanted to step outside the box and shake things up a bit.

AWAY-TEAM: So, uh, how'd you all meet?

MATT REARDON: “Toast” (drummer Matt “Toast” Young) and I… I moved from Vermont to Lake Tahoe, I was on a mogul tour and I ended up in this tiny town of Truckee, CA and I was on a open mic one night and “Toast”, who was on drums was like, “Dude, you've got a great voice”. I was playing acoustic and singing like some TESLA song or something like that, and he was like “I have a band”, and he was just starting. I knew he was the drummer, and he invited me to play guitar with him. And I was in a band at the time, called FUNGUS, with Shaun Palmer who's kind of like a Shawn White, I guess I could say. Shaun Palmer's got his own video game, and I was his guitarist. It's one of these things where I was a pro skier, he was a pro snowboarder, our bassist was a pro skier and we just had this whole family style thing going around the local scene. “Toast” and I bonded really, really good, and we played off and on; and he went out and became a drum tech for like the best drummers in the world...and I always had a lot of respect for him. He didn't give up on his dreams. He always wanted to be a drummer on the pro level, and he had every bit of talent to do so. Here he was working with Josh Freese, and Matt Sorum, and Brian Tichy.

And then umm, the bass player... I had a record deal in Arizona where they moved me back from Germany, and it was this Christian rock deal where they threw a bunch of money at us, and I moved back there and I met Chris Serafini from being out in the clubs and I was a big fan of this producer who had a band called LET GO and he was the bass player for that, and I was like 'That guy can flat out play'. He's a good hang, he's a good mountain biker; “Toast” is a great snowboarder and skier. That was just umm… over the period of years meeting people like that.
And then I was shit-faced drunk down here in Florida in Miami, I'd just finished doing seven days of recording with KK Downing from JUDAS PRIEST and Yngwie Malmsteen. They just randomly found my voice, or my demo on uh, a Union management desk, you know Union Entertainment they handle NICKELBACK? And uh, it was real random, when we finished the record, I was just kind of baffled. I had just gotten a job to headline Laguna Seca Raceway for Red Bull, and my guitar player that I had been using just got the job for Miley Cyrus. And they were like “Dude, you should go down to the Keys. There's this kid that plays violin, he plays drums, he plays guitar, he plays bass. So I drove down there, and went into Dirty Harry's, I think it's called. And he was in the house band, he was playing like violin...and he had been on tour with the Van Zandt's as a multi-instrumentalist. And just solid, just good people, good southern style; and I flew him out two days later. We did a gig like ten days later in front of 7,000 people. That's ultimately the story behind each and every person.

And then once we got the record deal there was no like...I mean, I listened to some of the people in Hollywood...they were like “Dude you need a dude with tattoos”, so I was working with a couple different people so the look was right and then I was like ‘fuck this man!’ I want family style and good people, and now we all own the business, and we're all like business partners together, and umm...yeah it's EASY!

Black.Sunshine

AWAY-TEAM: That's gotta be a great feeling. Essentially you are running a business, and to be able to do it with your “family”? That's great!

MATT REARDON: We wouldn't be doing this if I'd had listened to all the fuck-heads in Hollywood sayin' “Oh he's gotta look like this, he's gotta do this” I mean umm...

AWAY-TEAM: (sarcastically) Yeah, there's gotta be the look.

MATT REARDON: Yeah, but there's also a feel that you can't buy.

AWAY-TEAM: And a voice that goes along with it, and you've got that voice.

MATT REARDON: You know it's funny, we were almost signed by Universal/Republic, the like top rock radio guy was like “I have the band that we're gonna sign”. He ended up signing like eight bands that did nothing and they spent millions of dollars on them. And it's kind of nice because that certain gentleman is in our camp now working our stuff at radio independently for us. And the one guy, there was two, but the one guy at the end of it all was like “Well they're over thirty, it's too radio friendly, and I don't hear a hit”, and that same guy just heard it and he didn't know, he only knew my last name...that same guy heard it under BLACK SUNSHINE and was like “This is a hit!” And he heard the same song, same shit-different day, two and a half years ago...

AWAY-TEAM: Under REARDON? (the name of Matt's former band)

MATT REARDON: Yeah. And he said it was too radio friendly and he didn't hear a hit, and I wrote that down. I was like 'That's the dumbest shit I ever heard in my life.' It's good though we're working with good people, we have a good team. This is Uncle Vern (points to Tour Manager Vern Stratton), he and I have stuck together through and through. He takes a lot of shit!

AWAY-TEAM: So the debut album...

MATT REARDON: Mmm-Hmm

AWAY-TEAM: It's been out there that it was the product of a horrific accident you suffered while you were skiing...

MATT REARDON: A couple of songs on it, yeah.

AWAY-TEAM: Tell me about that, how was the recovery, and all the surgeries and all of that? How'd that go?

MATT REARDON: I didn't really have a horrific accident, to be honest with you. If you've seen a poster of what I do, or you know what I do, if you've seen the videos...

AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, yeah.

MATT REARDON: So, I went into a hospital to get a routine procedure, I was down in New Zealand, and when I went into the hospital in France I contracted a staph infection from the hospital. Which then became, you know, I went from like hero-to-zero where it was a little bit like umm, I woke up the next day and they're like “We might have to amputate your leg, if this spreads any further. You have a serious problem with a staph infection”. A staph infection, you get in a hospital. They sew you up and then you get it from being in the surgery room, and I had like the worst strain that you can get. And there's one anti-biotic called Vancomycin, that saved my life, and they opened me up like seven times and they cauterized everything, so I lost all the nerves in my leg, and umm, they burned everything to the point where I was like I had this gimp leg with no muscles. I couldn't ski again, I couldn't walk again, the right way and I ended up finding the right doctor. Took a second mortgage out with my parents to help pay for it, and I ended up getting like eleven surgeries, and an artificial meniscus, and grew my own cartilage in a Petri-dish for a year and they put it back in. So it was like surgery-after-surgery-after-surgery. That was just to where I could walk correctly, and you know, I couldn't even push in a clutch in a car. I wasn't supposed to be able to ski again, or run, or walk and I'm just fine. So it was a long process, and very character building but I'm actually skiing better now than I ever have in my entire life.

AWAY-TEAM: So you seem to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie...

MATT REARDON: (laughs) I like a challenge.

AWAY-TEAM: What's the bigger rush, jumping out of a helicopter? Or taking the stage?

MATT REARDON: It's really, you know, it's a lot in the same. When you're in Europe doing the freaky shit with the helicopters, it's like when I get down to the bottom I'm just so jacked! It's the same when I walk on stage, but it's kind of funny I'm getting really comfortable with walking out onto bigger stages. And it's cool, 'cuz I'm understanding the energy that you can control and translate out into a crowd. And we're just learning the big stage, I've done some bigger stages in Europe, but tonight was like a big pinnacle for us. And they're just two different animals, those two things; but they're one and the same you know what I mean? I don't know how to describe that really. You know, when you ski a big face in Alaska or a first descent, and you have an avalanche chasing you, you just cheated death, you beat Mother Nature and you kind of feel larger than life. You get the same feeling when you walk off after nailing a big show.

AWAY-TEAM: So I understand you worked on a movie soundtrack? Mount Saint Elias? Tell me about that.

MATT REARDON: It's a buddy of mine who is one of the world's best mountaineers...we used to be on a team together for about eight years, this guy Axel Naglich, he plotted to ski the longest ski run in world's history. The place where you do that is Alaska so you can ski down the fjord to the ocean from 20,000 feet. It's a dangerous, gnarliest, and one of the guys that taught me how to play guitar; which I wrote a song about him on my first album, which has been kind of an anthem for people that have passed away, which is called “White Room”. He died on that mountain, and I knew about the mountain from that. Then Axel contacted me, and I'd worked with Red Bull before he said “Hey man, I'd like you to… 'cuz you know me, I'd like you to write a song. Because we're gonna spend all this money on Nothing Else Matters from METALLICA with the orchestra...Do you think you could do something like that?” I was like “In my sleep, no problem”. So I submitted a few things, and then, they were like “Alright”, and then Red Bull was like “Fuck it, let's hire the Vienna Orchestra”. I happened to be in France, doing a film at the time, they flew me to Slovenia...and we worked with a composer there and mapped it all out...and then they liked that first thing, which was an insane type of ballad, kind of crazy, it's called “Second to None”, and then, then they were supposed to license CREED’s Higher, and they were like “Let's have Reardon do it. He sounds like CREED.” So then I wrote a song called “Higher Ground” and then uh, they produced it and they liked it, and they just kept taking more. We just won Sundance for best sports documentary. It actually has won, almost every film festival that it has entered. If it hasn't won, it got second place; and only once it got third place. That's out of like, seventy different film festivals worldwide right now.

AWAY-TEAM: That's some heavy shit man. So when you write a song, does it go back to your sports roots?

MATT REARDON: With this guy, I know him, but... does Jack Johnson sing about surfing? No, he sings about life, you know, the trials and tribulations, and what you go through. And I knew what was going through his head, 'cuz I've done some gnarly shit, but, nothing like what he did. Because what he did was gnarlier than Mt. Everest times ten. He did it with skis on his back, and he did some fuckin' crazy shit. But umm, it's one of those things where you just tap into your own energy, and what feels best.

AWAY-TEAM: You can put your energy into somebody else's?

MATT REARDON: Oh Yeah, I've been submitting country music, lately. Because I like country. It came across my desk and somebody was like “Can you write a country song?” I was like, ‘of course I can’, I started out in Louisiana I grew up on Hank Williams Jr. It's about real stuff, real things that are happening in life, not just some pissed off music, ya know?

AWAY-TEAM: Growing up in Louisiana, how the HELL does a Louisiana boy end up becoming a world-class extreme skier?

MATT REARDON: (laughs) My aunt and uncle lived in Connecticut, and my dad was starting over, again for the second time in his life. He had his partner embezzle all his money, so me and my dad shared a room, shared a bed in my aunt's house. I finished high school, he was getting back up on his feet; and my uncle took me to see a ski movie, I was like 'I wanna do that, I'm gonna do that'. He took me skiing, and then I got hooked, and I bought a pass, and I was detailing cars for a living in high school, and bar backing. Got a job, and worked, worked, worked...didn't get into the college of my choice, was trying to go to UVM, and then umm, I ended up getting a bar back job and joined the Killington Mogul Team. I trained in aerials...

AWAY-TEAM: What part of Connecticut?

MATT REARDON: I graduated from Avon High School.

AWAY-TEAM: Are you kidding me? I used to work in Avon all the time. I'm from Holyoke, MA!

MATT REARDON: Right on! (punches fist)

AWAY-TEAM: Matt, thanks for your time, and good luck. I know you'll go far.

MATT REARDON: Thanks dude, I appreciate it.

From battling the forces of nature, to becoming a natural force in the rock 'n' roll world, Matt Reardon and Black Sunshine are ready to unleash an ass-kicking on our eardrums. Are you Ready??? For more information on BLACK SUNSHINE, Tour dates, music samples and details on how to pick up a copy of their debut album, head over to BlackSunshineBand.com.

AWAY-TEAM'S Jason Rybak with Matt Reardon. Special thanks to Matt for his time, Uncle Vern for making it all work, and to James at Kerosene Media for setting us up with this opportunity.

 

 

Gary Holt 2

Almost one year ago to the day, I was to interview Gary Holt from Exodus. They were in town during a head line tour and I was set to sit down before the show and interview the man behind some of the most brutal thrash metal songs to ever come out of the San Francisco Thrash scene of the 80’s. Fate however would intervene and Gary was busy getting his first ever tattoo, so Tom Hunting their drummer graciously stepped in and gave a great interview. A year later, a new album being released (Today May 18th), Exhibit B: The Human Condition, and once again I am set to interview Mr. Holt. Over the next 30 minutes we talked about their new album, their longevity, the ‘Big Four’, Master Of Puppets being the best album ever written period. And the possibility of Exodus’ next album centering around unicorns and butterflies (read on, I’m not lying!!!). From Obama to liner notes, from tattoos to the old Bay Area music scene, from Paul Baloff to Venom… Here you have Gary Holt standing on the backs of giants in his own words…

AWAY TEAM: This is Jim Keller with away-team.com talking with Mr. Gary Holt from Exodus! How are you sir?

GARY HOLT: I’m doing good, how are you?

AWAY TEAM: Doing very well, very well thank you for taking time for the interview.

GARY HOLT: Ah no problem, you know I hate to say it I almost forgot! (laughs) No, actually, all I did was uh run like 2 minutes away to the corner store and just walked in the door like ‘oh shit!’ but uh you know I wouldn’t have been gone long.

AWAY TEAM: Not a problem at all, actually this is my second shot at an interview with you, on your last tour you came through Raleigh, North Carolina and I was set up to do an interview and you were getting your first ever tattoo so Tom Hunting (drummer) stepped in.

GARY HOLT: Oh yeah I remember that! Yep I was I was uh indisposed. Heh heh.

AWAY TEAM: So what took you so long to finally decide to get a tattoo or what was the impetus for it?

GARY HOLT: Ah you know it’s one of those things... Lee (Altus guitarist) calls it a midlife crisis. I just look at it like this, I’ve always wanted one and I never had the right artist and never knew what I wanted. And if I’d done a tattoo you know 20 years ago, I’d probably be like most of my friends and have a lot of really bad tattoos. I have two of ‘em now and they’re both like world class art so…

AWAY TEAM: Very nice, very nice. Yeah I was just watching your new DVD Shovelheaded Tour Machine and saw the footage of you actually getting the tattoo on there, I’m like, ‘that’s where he was’!

GARY HOLT: That’s where I was. Ha ha ha. Exactly!

AWAY TEAM: Congratulations on the release of your 13th album, by my count, Exhibit B: The Human Condition which comes out in 11 days on Nuclear Blast (the interview was on May 7th, 2010).

GARY HOLT: Yeah well it just came out today in Europe actually so…

AWAY TEAM: Oh did it really?

GARY HOLT: Yeah everybody’s pretty excited. They get it first, you know, it’s one of those things that kinda sucks, that that my countrymen have to wait longer.

AWAY TEAM: (laughs) Speaking of your countrymen, I saw that you guys are doing two CD release shows and you just added a third in Chico, California which you claimed is your adopted town.

GARY HOLT: Yeah I’ve been here for shit like 3 years now; it’s my first time playing my adopted home town!

AWAY TEAM: Very cool. How’d you end up in Chico?

GARY HOLT: I don’t know, they got a theater here and we just wanted to do an additional show before San Francisco and L.A. You know like a warm up show and then my manager called back and said how’d you like to play Chico? I said sure. I wanted to play here for awhile you know. It’s a small town, its a little college town you know so…

AWAY TEAM: Yeah I actually lived there for 3 years myself.

GARY HOLT: Ah really?

AWAY TEAM: Yeah back in the in the late 90’s.

GARY HOLT: Oh I love it up here it’s peaceful, its quiet you know. I go to the Bay Area and my stress level just rises.

AWAY TEAM: Laughs. Understand that completely I do.

GARY HOLT: Yeah yeah I like it up here though fucking gorgeous day right now out here.

gary holt01

AWAY TEAM: Yes, it’s very nice up there. So again Exhibit B uh came out today in Europe, its coming out next week in the States and you kinda took a little break between Exhibit A and when you guys said you were going to release Exhibit B to rerecord Bonded by Blood which I think, from all accounts that I’ve read and my listening to it and my review of it, was an exceptional album. A great ‘redoing’ of a classic album. Are you still the primary music and lyric writer or now that you have Rob Dukes (vocalist) and some other new members is there a more collaborative effort or method to the song writing for the new album?

GARY HOLT: I still write most of the stuff. Lee and Rob the two of them wrote two of the songs on the new album. I wrote all the rest but you know like the Let There Be Blood thing it wasn’t even like we took a break through there, we just had a break between tours so it’s not like we stopped doing anything to do that. We were just home for a little bit and we recorded that thing in definitely less time than the original. I’ve got 27 years of rehearsal on those songs you know! I don’t need a whole lot of time to practice them (laughs).

AWAY TEAM: Right! And how did you think the reception was for Let There Be Blood (title of the rerecording of Bonded By Blood)?

GARY HOLT: You know it was mixed. I think it came out great! Some people are just uber defensive about touching a classic. It was never meant nor could it replace the original. Bonded by Blood’s always gonna be our magnum opus. We just wanted to give ‘em like the sonicupdate and pay homage to the guys who made the original and pay tribute to Paul (Baloff, former singer for Exodus who passed away in 2002) more than anything!

AWAY TEAM: Your lyrics over the years have varied from political, social, anti-religion, to just straight up pissed off at the world. Now that you’re sitting here at 40 something and what 28, 30 years in the industry, how do you keep the fire stoked to continue to write such aggressive songs lyrically and musically?

GARY HOLT: Well you know you get older, sometimes you just get angrier! (laughs) You know I think as a band we’ve become that angry old man that lives next door to all the kids and hollers at ‘em to stay off his lawn’ you know? And the baseball comes over the fence, and you’re never going to see it again. ‘I’ve got it now!’ you know, fucking Old Man Smithers next door. There’s never any shortage of things to piss one off in this world we live in, so as long as that keeps going I have plenty of motivation. I mean if we ever encountered true peace and paradise on this planet I don’t know what would become of Exodus! You know?

AWAY TEAM: Yeah good point, good point. But I think that’s true for a lot of music, specifically in the rock or metal genres, and I guess rap to an extent too. Is if there wasn’t anything to be pissed off about… I mean you can’t really write metal songs about peace and happiness and rainbows and unicorns right? It doesn’t really work!

GARY HOLT: No! No, I don’t think it’d work if you’re writing about butterflies you know. I’m an animal lover, obviously I’d never do it, but I guess we’d have to write songs about pulling their wings off you know? You know writing about the beautiful patterns on their wings just wouldn’t really work for an Exodus song.

AWAY TEAM: As I said, you’re very vocal about your political views and not just in your lyrics. You endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. How do you think he’s done so far?

GARY HOLT: I think he’s done great! We get a lot of conservatives that just… The guy inherited the worst mess this country’s been in a long time and they immediately blame it on him. Or aim level heavy criticism at him when he can’t fix it immediately. It’s gonna take a lot longer than one or two years to fix this mess we’re in. We’re a band of that divergent political beliefs you know Jack (Gibson, bassist) and Lee are died in the wool conservatives, and I’m a liberal who also happens to harbor some the most extreme views on crime and punishment of anybody in the band. So I swing from both sides of the plate, one minute I’m very liberal in my political views and then, on other things, I believe in an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth more than most people I know.

AWAY TEAM: Between 1994 and 2004 you guys had done a few small tours, you released a live album but, you didn’t release any new albums or new music. Creatively how do you keep your sanity without the benefit of a full time band during that period? I mean was that ten years of kinda waiting around trying to get something going or were you just you know shut off alone in the wilderness and recharging or what?

GARY HOLT: Well a little bit of both I’d say. You know I’d left the band after Force Of Habit just because I just wasn’t enjoying this anymore. And it’d become like a job, one I didn’t like! I was kinda soured on things and then I chose to stay home and be a Soccer Dad, which was the best thing I could’ve done at that time. Obviously after awhile you start missing it and I got back together with Paul for the live album and touring which was like one of the best I ever could have done. But as time went by I guess the drug problems concerning everybody in the band, with the exception of Jack Gibson, just became too much of a controlling part of what was going on with the band. We were no longer musicians who dabbled in drugs, we were drug addicts who dabbled in music! That just kills your creative drive. It’s hard to create anything when you’re just trying to get high all the time. But once I got clean and conquered that that demon it’s like all of a sudden the rest just came flying back!

AWAY TEAM: Good! You just finished up a tour with Testament and Megadeth

GARY HOLT: Yes.

AWAY TEAM: How’d that tour go for you?

GARY HOLT: It was awesome! I mean it sold out almost every night! We were out touring with a couple of very good old friends. It was a tour we had no intention of doing just because we hadn’t planned on touring at that time. But if an opportunity like that comes up, well, we could sit at home or we can go out and do this. Well that’s a no brainer you know we decided to go out and do the tour!

AWAY TEAM: I just read that you were saying that you guys feel you should be on the bill for Sonisphere with the Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth) and make it the Big Five because you guys were there at the beginning also…

GARY HOLT: You know, I don’t really care. We had an offer to play one of them but you know the offer was shit so we said fuck it! I don’t dwell on this Big Four, Big Five, Big Ten, Twelve whatever shit you know, people bring it up all the time and I think we deserve credit where credit’s due, But I understand that the Big Four thing is predicated on record sales. I mean people could say, ‘Well, the Big Four just made the most quality material..’ Well you know all of us have made our great albums and our not so great albums.

AWAY TEAM: Absolutely…

GARY HOLT: So it’s no different. It’s no different for any one of us but I just concentrate on the here and now, and I don’t try to worry about that shit. It’s like I don’t waste a second of thought during the day about some Big Four Vs Big Five thing. That never occurs unless someone brings it up. I don’t look at the Big Four thing you know with them playing these Sonisphere shows and say, ‘Man, I should be on that!’ It just it never crosses my mind. I just got too much other shit to do anyway. I don’t have enough time in the day for what I already have to concentrate on let alone worry about public perception or something like that. I know where this band was when thrash metal started and that’s enough for me and we get plenty of younger bands that pay homage to Exodus and talk about what an influence this band had on them and that’s really what it’s all about. That’s what makes you feel good, is when people give you credit for having some small part in the shaping of their own bands.

AWAY TEAM: Right. Well let me ask you then, why do you think it is that you guys didn’t get bigger, or have the popularity, or notoriety of the ‘Big Four’ or the other bands? Because like you already said, you guys put out your masterpieces and your albums. And you guys today are doing what I consider harder more brutal music than you did back when you started. You guys, to me, have gotten better, you’re tighter, you’re more cohesive, and you’re more straightforward now. I love Bonded by Blood, and Fabulous Disaster, and Impact is Imminent. But the stuff you’re doing today it’s just that the older stuff pales in comparison to it in musicianship and the writing etcetera. So why do you think it is that you guys didn’t reach that next level like the rest of them did?

GARY HOLT: You know, well, obviously Metallica went on to become the biggest metal band of all time. And deservedly so you know! I mean, I still consider Master of Puppets the greatest metal album ever made! I don’t even say the greatest ‘thrash album’, you know it’s just the perfect record. I think some bands have better breaks. We’ve always had a lack of those but I don’t complain about my career. I still make a living doing what I love doing all these years later. And I don’t have to work or anything. It’s sometimes a little bit of feast or famine, but I’m fortunate that I can do what I love and be my own boss and not have to worry about all that shit.

AWAY TEAM: Right, right. After so many years of touring how do you get yourself pumped up for a show night after night? How do you continue to go out there and give these brutal shows that you guys are doing? Your shows are just nonstop from beginning to end. There’s not a lot of pause in between the songs to catch your breath, and you know Rob will throw out his views on various things and quips here and there, but for the most part you end a song and you dive right into the next one. And you guys give 90 minutes to two hours of just an incredible show. And after doing it for like I said, what, 30 years now… how do you how do you keep that intensity on stage?

GARY HOLT: Well you just… for starters, you have to have to take care of yourself better. I can’t… I don’t drink the way I used to. I drink every day on tour I just don’t drink to excess you know? I try to avoid drinking to a hangover cuz you wake up at my age and you feel like total crap. You know it takes you another day and a half to get over that now. And another big part of that is just desire. You want to go out and give your best and we have a chip on our shoulders! We feel we have something to prove, and we don’t ever want to look slow. The most important part is the fans! When they’re really giving it… giving you the energy… that you’re asking of them, it’s kind of impossible to do anything but give it back.

AWAY TEAM: So what are your fondest memories of the old days in the Bay Area music scene?

GARY HOLT: Oh god! Just getting in Paul Baloff’s old…what did he have? He had some little like Datsun B10 I think, or one of those little miniature wagons, and just piling into that thing and going to a different show every night. Cuz back then you could go to a different club every single night of the week and never see the same band twice. And that’s all we did. We were just kids… we tracked, rehearsed, and then hopped in that thing… we’d stop by the liquor store, buy a half gallon of the cheapest vodka possible and Collins mix, you know the cheapest mixer we could find… and we’d just go out and just have a good time. Those days were awesome!

AWAY TEAM: Very cool. So what drew you to play music originally and specifically thrash when you began?

GARY HOLT: Well I started playing music just because this was what I’d wanted to do. Until I finally got an opportunity to start learning to play guitar seeing all your heroes playing live, as an impressionable kid… that’s what you wanted to do. So I was playing thrash. That’s just the kind of music we wanted to hear you know? We weren’t doing anything we thought that was ever going to be relevant. We just we wanted to play thrash/faster music. We wanted to take the music of our youth, our heroes, from Venom to Mercyful Fate, to Diamond Head, and Sweet Savage, and obviously Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath… and we just wanted to incorporate our love for the things like Discharge and stuff, and obviously Motorhead and shit like that, and just push the boundaries. I mean basically all we did was stand on the backs of giants and just add our own twist to it!

AWAY TEAM: What is the one thing left for you to do that you’ve always wanted to?

GARY HOLT: I don’t really know, I mean at this stage in my career it’d be kinda fun to just go to more places. It’s like I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, so now I really look forward to those opportunities when I get to go someplace where I haven’t been in all these years. Granted if someone wanted to bestow upon me several million dollars that wouldn’t be bad either, but that’s not gonna happen! I mean if it all ended today, I’d feel like I had a perfectly fine career.

AWAY TEAM: Very cool. You recently produced Warbringer's album Walking in the Nightmares. How was it sitting on the other side of the board? Did the experience…

GARY HOLT: Well I sit on the other side of the board for every album we do anyway, whether it’s sitting there with Andy (Sneap, producer) brainstorming and working on the record or whatever. I’ve been there for every minute of every record. It’s rare if I’d even leave the studio or leave anything up to someone else during tracking anyway. So it wasn’t a big switch. They asked me to do it and I happened to have a little break and we tracked the whole thing in eleven days. They came in prepared and ready to go and the album came out fucking fantastic!

AWAY TEAM: With major record labels still struggling to cope in the new era of digital entertainment and your storied short lived time with Century Media, how important is a label today and how is Nuclear Blast treating you guys?

GARY HOLT: Well Nuclear Blast has been amazing to us! They’re fans first, and label second. They understand the music here and they really work very hard. The record industry as a whole is a dying horse. Downloads and mp3 players and all that shit, is killing it. I can’t see this whole thing surviving for another ten years. Which is a shame because as a kid, to me, my favorite thing as someone who loved heavy metal and hard rock was bringing that vinyl home for that first time and putting that fucking record on and pouring over the lyrics, and the thanks list, and everything about it. You wanted to know what they played, and where they recorded it, and that was part of the experience of a new album. Now it’s a digital file, you’ll be lucky if there’s even artwork included in this shit in ten years!

AWAY TEAM: Yeah, what’s next for you guys? What with the album coming out I assume there’s tours coming up. Are you doing European festivals? You hitting the States headlining again or what do you guys have on the books?

GARY HOLT: Well we’re going to go to Europe, just a few days after the LA, San Francisco, and Chico shows. We’ll be over there for… the first show’s June 18th in Finland, last show’s July 10th I think in Slovenia. Then we come back and hang out for the rest of the month of July, and then we’re off in the States in August headlining.

AWAY TEAM: Nice! I look forward to seeing you guys back over here in the South!

GARY HOLT: Yeah, well, I’m not sure of the exact routing you know. It would be the first leg, so there will be some areas missed, but we definitely promise we will be back to catch all those on the next round.

AWAY TEAM: Very cool very cool. Well I wish you much luck and success with the new album again, Exhibit B! I’ve been…

GARY HOLT: Well thank you…

AWAY TEAM: I’ve been listening to it for about a week now and I’ve said this to a lot of people over the last five years now, since Tempo of the Dammed came out, you guys seem to me to have hit this new level. And every successive album that comes out you guys are killing it! And every record is better than the last one. I’ve been following you guys since Fabulous Disaster came out. That was my first exposure to you and have bought every album since and I’m very happy for you guys and wish you much continued success and hopefully you get to take the message out to more and more people.

GARY HOLT: Well right on! Thank you very much!

AWAY TEAM: Thanks again, I appreciate it Gary. Good luck buddy!

GARY HOLT: Ok. Bye bye!

Exodus' Exhibit B: The Human Condition is out TODAY (May 18th) and you can pick it up by clicking right here.