Category Archives: Interviews

Rippikoulu: Through Exquisite Darkness

rippikint1After a slumber of many years due to the passing of a band member, the exquisite darkness of Rippikoulu has returned with an all-out vengeance! Their latest MCD Ulvaja is now available from Svart Records - and it surely depressive doom metal in its finest hour. In addition to the new material, Svart has re-issuied Rippikoulu’s landmark debut album Musta Seremonia. Mystery and intrigue has surrounded the Finnish collective since their commencement, and now Highwire Daze attempts to unravels the enigmatic wonder known as Rippikoulu. Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Rippikoulu and how long the band has been together.
Hello, this is Olli, guitarist of Rippikoulu. Band is formed back in 1989. So it has been long 25 years with Rippikoulu now. 1995 our second guitarist died and Rippikoulu took a break, almost 15 years. But now we are back together.

Where is Rippikoulu based out and what was is the local metal scene like there?
Our training place is in Valkeakoski Finland, just next to a place we used to train in 1990`s. Local metal scene in Valkeakoski? Nothing, except Rippikoulu. Finland is well known for its death metal scene tough.

How frustrating was it to wait 21 years to record new material and were you in other bands since then?
It wasn`t frustraiting at all. Becouse we had decided that Rippikoulu will never play again. It was 2010 when we decided to go jamming again and have some fun. Janne played in a rock-band in these years and I had couple of bands, but just for a fun. And we have a new drummer now and he has played in a lots of bands all the time.

riipikcd2Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Ulvaja?
You should ask Anssi (singer) who does the lyrics. But I think there is some kind of story behind that title. Ulvaja (Ulvajanniemi) is in fact a place where Rippikoulu was formed and we spent our youth. We love our Rippikoulu roots and Ulvaja is one way to show it.

Who did the cover art for Ulvaja and how much input did you have on it?
It is in fact a photo which is taken by Janne, our bassist. And it is a view just behind our training place. We think that it is perfect cover to a perfect title of EP.

rippikoulu-musta_seremonia1When you look back on your previous recording Musta Seremonia, what do you think of it now?
It is still a masterpiece. It has some rare details which are still excellent. And its atmosphere is unique. We love it. Considering it was done in two days and just for a fun.

How did your cooperation with Svart Records come about?
We had many many request to re-release Musta Seremonia in years 2000-2009. Then Svart contacted us and they were serious. It was Finnish starting label back then and deal contained LP version too. We decided to release Musta Seremonia with Svart and that was the beginning with our co-operation.

Has Rippikoulu ever performed live or plan to do so in future days?
We had many gigs all over Finland before 1995 (when Marko died). What happens in future, you never know. Everything, I mean everything is possible.

If Rippikoulu could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Hard question. I have to be boring and say I really don’t know. I love many bands in many genres so it is hard to decide one band. But if I have to say one or two, it might be (old) Sentenced or My Dying Bride (old).

Will we have to wait another 21 years for the next Rippikoulu magnum opus?
Future is totally open. We might do a full length album or MCD or Rippikoulu might not be along us anymore in couple of years. We have other things in life too at the moment but we love playing together, so I really don’t know anything about the future.

What would like a listener to remember the most after hearing Ulvaja for the first time?
The dark atmosphere. When you look at the covers of Ulvaja and listen to it your feelings should be dark, desperate and sad.

Any final words of wisdom?
No, wise words does not come out of my mouth. Thank you for this interview and check out our new MCD Ulvaja.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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Comeback Kid: Raging Hardcore at Rock City

comebackkidlive1_032314Comeback Kid was back in the Southland, this time bringing the raging hardcore anthems to Rock City Studios in Camarillo,  On tour in support of their fifth album Die Knowing, now available from Victory Records. the Canadian collective sent the throngs into a slam pit overdrive.  Prior to their exhilarating set at Rock City, we caught up with founding member Andrew Neufeld to find out more about the compelling Die Knowing, working with former vocalist Scott Wade once again, his other band Sights and Sounds, thoughts on the current Christian hardcore scene, and many other topics of interest.  Read on as we catch up with Andrew Neufeld just right before Comeback Kid sent Rock City into the stratosphere…

So how’s this tour been going so far? What have been some of the highlights? This is the last day now.
Tour’s been going pretty cool. We’ve been out for like, 5 weeks.  There were a lot of really good shows on this tour.  NYC was was really fun to play. We got to do a lot of festivals on this tour, which was cool to mix it up. Playing club shows is fun but it’s also cool when you can – even if it’s festivals where we’re a little bit out of our element style wise. It’s fun to have fun, mix it up and play different types of venues. SXSW was cool as shit.

comebackkiddaze032314How does Die Knowing compare to the other Comeback Kid albums?
We set out to do a record that was a little more to the point. Looking back on it now, the songs are noticeably shorter and we just took a fun, simplistic approach to it. There’s still some rippers in there, but when we sat back and looked at the songs we had, we were like, wow there’s a lot of heavy songs on this. So we decided to just pack it towards the front with our heaviest hardcore stuff and then it ends on more of a brighter note. It’s kind of a throwback vibe a little bit of 90s metallic hardcore as well. Some of the stuff we grew up on, we’ve always been into really hard hardcore so that’s some of those influences shining through a little bit.

Select two songs off of Die Knowing and what inspired you to write the lyrics?
There’s a song called “Unconditional” and that’s about – it’s definitely the most chill out song on the record. That song is about a year that went by where my mom had cancer and we went through chemo. It’s about, for some reason I knew she would get through it, and she did get through it. It was one of those things for family members I feel like anybody who has anyone sick in the family – you are always waiting on results and hoping for the best to happen but also have to brace yourself that things could drastically change and really affect you. That’s what that song is about, just reflecting on that.

One song is called “Wasted Arrows,” which is actually my funnest song. We’ve been playing it live. I’m not usually a pissed off person, but that song is just kind of – about someone who’s kind of turned their back on me and just left me out to dry so to speak, is what the lyrics are. It’s an aggressive song, a pissed off song, which is straight and to the point.

Comeback-Kid-300x463One of the songs has Scott on it. What was it like working with him again? Does he ever want to come back to Comeback Kid?
We did some anniversary shows last year with him.  We did a few shows in CA, a few shows on the east coast. We did a small European tour, Turn it Around 10 year anniversary and he came back and sang. I played guitar. We’re super tight friends, we hang out all the time, so we’re always still talking about music. I was like, OK Scott, you can write some lyrics and I’ll write mine and then we were both procrastinators when it comes to it, then we end up smoking weed or something. But the funny thing about that song is, we recorded the drums in California for that. We recorded the music in Winnipeg and then I was on tour with my other band and I did the vocals for that song, because we didn’t finish in time, in Italy and Scott did them in Toronto. Then we just emailed them all and smashed them together.

Figure Four did some reunion shows. How did that feel to do those songs again? Especially since all of them have Christian tones to them?
We didn’t play any of the old Christian stuff. Figure Four – I started the band when I was a kid. 16 years old or whatever. Then towards the end of Figure Four - before the last record, Sufferering the Loss, was going through some changes and growing up a little bit. Started to think differently and not agreeing so much with the Christian aspect, but I was still going through it at that time. That was 12-13 years ago. We just played songs from Suffering the Lost that aren’t really religious.

That’s the best album anyway.
Yeah, that’s the one that can stand the test of time a little bit. That had the best production. I thought the other ones weren’t the best. They never were that great. Growing up for anyone to see every dumb thing I’ve said in my past is – lots of bad lyrics.

ckrock3_1200x900Looking upon the Christian metal scene today, what do you think of it?
It’s weird. I dont know. It’s hard, I notice just as an outsider now looking in how much more things like the world is a lot more politically correct, for the lack of a better term. Christianity, I mean, you even see the Pope pretty much – he gave a statement I saw, he said they don’t believe in a literal Hell anymore and that theres a lot of things, oh and he said all religions are true. That’s something I don’t think ten years ago a Pope would have said. Christianity is really changing, and sometimes people get surprised when a Christian band is homophobic or a little anti-gay. Dude, Christianity has always had that stuff in it. Why is it a surprise? It’s just less tolerated now, which is good as far as any bigotry or fascism or whatever. It’s interesting, I’m really just an outsider looking in. There aren’t really any hardcore Christian bands, is there?

There doesn’t seem to be, no. Just off the top of my head I can’t really think of any.  Maybe Gideon?
I haven’t heard them, but I’ve heard of them.

ckrock2_1200x900I think they’re the biggest band on Facedown now besides War of Ages.
Actually, Jason from Facedown. I keep in touch with him. Not super often, but he’s a cool guy. He’s in Uganda right now adopting a girl, they’ve been there for a few months trying to work all that out.

Facedown Fest is next weekend.
Maybe they’re flying in for it? I don’t knot. When we’re in California, sometimes we see the people from back in the day and get updates on everybody.

Your other band, Sights and Sound, you recently put out a new EP entitled Silver Door. How does it compare to Monolith and the other things you’ve done?
It was a collection of songs that we had, we weren’t real sure what we were going to do with it or how we were going to put it out. Then we ended up getting a tour with the band Bring Me The Horizon, who asked us to go to Europe with them for about 6 weeks. Those were huge shows, OK we’ll put out this record and we got Jake from Pure Noise to put it out for us, kind of an on a whim. We had been working on it for a while but we weren’t sure, but yeah. Then once we had a few tours that we could do, we actually have never played the states before. We were like OK we have to put out the new release. It’s a little more straightforward, also and Monolith was a Devin Townsend produced epic long songs and tons of layers. Sights and Sounds is always about layers, but these songs are a little more simple rock structures. Some are more shorter, I guess. Sights and Sounds is a fun way to play melodic rock stuff.

You said you toured with Bring Me The Horizon, how was that?
It was cool, I mean we were just warming up the shows so it was just interesting to play to thousands of little kids. Sometimes they’re into it, it was a fun tour to be on.

When will we see Sights and Sounds here in the states?
I don’t know, man. I dont know when and if it will happen. Because band members all have to get visas, we’re just a small band. Somehow it’s easier, financially to do a tour in Europe than come to the states, weirdly enough. Its just the way it works.

And when you do go over there, you’re touring with Bring Me The Horizon, [laughs].
We’re a band where if something cool comes up that we can tour, like a support option comes up we’ll do that, or we’ll do some headlining stuff in Europe and Canada. If someone wanted to bring us out in America, that would be cool. Its just so tough here, there are so many bands touring. Sights and Sounds just costs so much money to play.

Is Stu from Misery Signals in Comeback Kid now?
Yeah.

How did that come about?
He almost joined a couple of times. He was a natural fit, and he really wanted to gig and kept on talking to us about it. He was pretty stoked to be a part of this. He’s a great guitar player. We’ve been homies for such a long time, he’s been with us now for a couple of years and I really hope that he stays with us for a long time.

That’d be cool. Well, Misery Signals got back together. Was Stu not involved in that?
No, they’re doing the band without Stu. But actually, this summer they’re going to do a ten year anniversary for Malice, their first record with their old singer. He’ll do a similar thing that Comeback Kid did.

Oh nice. Will Stu be involved with that tour?
Yeah.

This has been a long tour, what’s the first thing you plan to do when you get home?
I live in Toronto these days, we’re driving to Toronto, 40 hours. We’ll leave after the show tonight, then we’ll have a day off. Practice with our new fill-in drummer and then go to Europe.

Do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this?
We appreciate the support. That’s it. We’re just happy to be playing music. Thanks for keeping on checking us out, for sure if you’re into Comeback Kid in anyway, please check out our new record Die Knowing.

(Review and Photos by Ken Morton)

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The Word Alive: Keeping It Real on Vans Warped Tour

thewordalive062514The Word Alive is spending another hot and heavy summer on the Vans Warped Tour, this time with a dynamic new album to promote entitled Real.  Now available from Fearless Records, Real. is a passionate effort showing each and every member at the very height of their artistry.  The band is especially intense live, as concert goers all across North America are witnessing.  We caught up with The Word Alive frontman Telle Smith at the San Diego edition of Warped Tour just prior to their set, where we discuss the concept of Real., a few of the song lyrics, musicians as role models. and what he thought about playing directly opposite Linkin Park at the Warped Ventura date.  Read on as we keep it very real with the one and only Telle Smith…

twajl16We’re here with Telle from The World Alive. How has Warped Tour been going for you so far? What have been some of the highlights?
It’s been great. I think its, unless your bus breaks down or you get super sick, I think its hard to have a bad time on Warped Tour. It’s a great, fun tour. The highlights have been Dallas, that was great. It was the first really great show of the tour. Then Arizona was our hometown show for the band that was absolutely amazing. Then Pomona, probably was my favorite show so far. It was a special day. I think certain shows, cities you really connect with. With everyone. When you can connect with a group of a few thousand people then it just makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.

twajl1What is it you’d like fans to know about the title Real?
I don’t want people to take it the wrong way. I think certainly people could look at it and be like, ‘oh, that’s kind of egotistical’ but I think as fans of music people should want something genuine from bands and artists. That’s what this album is, its genuine. It’s a collection of songs, it’s our art, love and passion. I think it’s hard to not feel that and hear it coming through in the music and vocals. Its just a really honest and open record and we felt the title was fitting.

What or where is 94th Street?
94th Street is the street that our band in its current formation first met up. It’s where Luke came in and we tried him out. It was actually one of our first times we had ever practiced at that new studio. It’s kind of like the place where the band, as everyone knows it today bonded and we were all like, yeah, this is The Word Alive. We’ve been practicing there ever since. So a little over two years now. We wanted a song that was for us. Just the title that was just for us. That’s what it is.

twajl13Was “Never Forget” a hard song to compose?
It was. Zack wrote almost all of it, him and Daniel wrote that song and when I heard it, it was – I had already started writing some – not necessarily journal, but lyrics down. Especially if I’m feeling something. When Mitch (Lucker) passed away, I wrote down a handful of notes and things that I was thinking and feeling at the time. When that happened, I wasn’t thinking “oh man, I need to write a song about this.” But when I heard the music for some reason it reminded me of Mitch. It kind of reminded me of the spirit of Suicide Silence as a band and friends of ours. It’s very upbeat, it’s a faster song and to me its just fun but deep and meaningful at the same time. So when I listened to it, I instantly associated it with some of the thoughts and memories I had of Mitch and the rest of the guys in Suicide Silence. I started writing to it and it took me the longest to write because I wanted to word everything the most respectful way. I didnt want to reach too far and make it too individual based because I think as hard as it is to lose him there’s a lot of fans who’ve lost their best friends and loved ones. I understand more now than I have even in the past for our records that if I’m in this position and I have this voice that I get to speak these words, I would rather them be something that can help someone than be a detriment. That’s what it ended up being, a thank-you to him. A remembrance of him but also a universal song for anyone that’s lost someone that meant a lot to them. Or someone influential that other people, even if you didn’t know Mitch, you know the impact he had on a lot of people and a lot of bands. And the impact Suicide Silence had and still will have moving forward. It’s a tribute to him and to all people that leave something important behind.

twajl2As an artist, is it important for musicians to be positive role models for their fans?
I think it should be, but I don’t think it always is. It’s another thing, some bands, they only want to make money. That’s their only reason for being a band. Or maybe not being a band but being the band that they are. I think some people take routes where it’s very obvious. For every one of those bands there’s ten bands that are doing something positive. I think negative press always gets more press it seems. I know that my family reads the things about our band and about me. I represent my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers. So for me, it’s very important to be that way. But it’s not always beneficial to be that way from a financial or business standpoint, it’s just the way the world is I suppose.

twajl12What did you think about Linkin Park playing in Ventura? How did it affect The Word Alive?
We went on at 5:10 and they went on at 5:25 so we got a few songs in. We started out with a really big crowd and then three songs in, there was definitely a group of people that went to watch Linkin Park, admittedly had I been one of those kids I would have left to go see Linkin Park. So I don’t fault anyone, judge anyone. I love Linkin Park. Chester, as many people know, is a big influence on me and I love his voice, I love that band. It was cool because it’s like the circle of life. I talk to fans, I had a little impromptu speech that was like, there’s fans who are there now that are going to be on the stage that I was on that day. Hopefully on that day when they are, I’m on that stage and theyre speaking to their new fans saying “The Word Alive is a part of why I’m on this stage.” It’s just the circle of life. I just had a real peaceful moment on stage where I felt a part of something bigger than my band and that’s the circle of life, the circle of music. I’m not saying that we will go down as another Linkin Park, but hopefully The Word Alive can be something that influences people to start singing and pick up instruments and be on the Vans Warped Tour one day.

What is the secret to maintaining a healthy relationship with someone while being on the road all the time?
It is a challenge. I dont know that it ever will be 100% perfect. You just have to have two people that want it. That goes for most relationships, friendships, business relationships. The two people or multiple people involved have to want it to work.  It’s not like Hollywood. You have to try in a relationship, it’s not like you find someone and it’s perfect all the time and you don’t have to work for it. People change and grow and especially when you’re gone a lot, it’s easy to potentially grow apart or not understand changes in a relationship. I think being open minded and understanding and willing to try to go above and beyond to let that other person know that you care about them and that they’re part of your life and day, even if you’re 10,000 miles away. That’s what’s really important.

twajl17What’s up next for you guys after Warped Tour?
After Warped we’re going to announce one headlining show in the US and then we have a UK and small run in mainland Europe dates that we’re headlining. We’re bringing out The Color Morale and Like Moths to Flames. Then we have a tour in the US, maybe even a little bit of Canada for November and December, but due to being on Warped Tour, we can’t really say what it is yet. But I’m really excited about it and it will be an opportunity for The Word Alive fans of every era to come out and enjoy. Hopefully people will be paying attention.

Do you have any messages for your fans who may be reading this right now?
Thank you for every person who has purchased our new album, who has shared a link to their friends so they could listen to it on YouTube. Spreading music now a days, whether you’re buying it or telling your friends about it is so important. We understand that not everyone can go and buy every favorite record that comes out. But we appreciate the fans who understand that and try to help in other ways like spreading our music and videos. We wouldn’t be here without you guys.

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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Framing Hanley: Rocking Out The Southland

framingdaze060814It has been quite a while, but Framing Hanley made their way back to the Southland at last, performing an exhilarating show at the cozy Saint Rocke out in Hermosa Beach.  On tour in support of their latest magnum opus The Sum Of Who We Are, the Nashville-based collective has experienced quite a bit of changes since A Promise To Burn was unleashed in 2010.   Now finding themselves on Imagen Records, their solid new album featuring stunners such as Criminal and Twisted Halos.  Prior to their set at Saint Rocke, we had a chance to hang out with front man Kenneth Nixon in their RV to discuss their new album, the triumphs and difficulties of being in a band, their old and new bass player, what they really think about their chart topping cover of Lil Wayne’s Lollipop. and other epic topics of interest.  Read on…

How is this tour going? What have been some of the highlights for you?
It’s been good. We don’t get to come out to the West Coast that often, so any time we get to come out here, we enjoy ourselves. We’re a few shows in to this portion of the tour, the eastern part of the US was good. We’ve toured out there more extensively than here, so the turnouts can be hit or miss some nights depending on where you’re playing. We’ve had a few awesome shows and I’m looking forward, no matter how many people show up tonight and having a great show. It’s been fun, it’s fun to be back out on the road again.

framingsaintrocke1Is this your first time playing Los Angeles?
No, we’ve played with Tantric somewhere and we did a headline show at the Key Club years ago. It’s not open any more. I think this is our third show out here, someone said that we played here with Trapt. That was Modesto, and that’s a ways away. That’s where we came from last night and it took us forever, going up the mountains, this thing (their tour van) doesn’t like to go more than 30 mph.

How does The Sum Of Who We Are compare to the last two albums?
I’d like to think it’s more evolution and lineage of who we are as a band. I think any band is selling themselves and their fans short if they want to just put out the same album over and over again. I feel from album to album, there’s been natural growth and progression in our band and at least, I’d like to hope so. So, somehow some people still stay it has the same Framing Hanley sound, whatever that is. But it sounds like we grew up, whatever that means. It’s good to feel like we’re still evolving. A lot of our favorite bands are those bands with every album they put out something different. A band like Biffy Clyro or Incubus, Thrice, Foo Fighters. Those are the band we all look up to, with every album you’re getting a new piece of that band. Hopefully we can continue to do that.

sunofwho1Is there any story behind the title of the album?
Yeah, originally we did the Kickstarter, it was more along the lines of that it was a collective effort, this is us and you guys together. Us and the fans. This album is the sum of us all putting in all hands on deck. Then, through the things we were going through personally with a former label, former management, all these obstacles that kept popping up that made it seem like the album wasn’t going to come out. It was still, the sum of who we are, which was actually a lyric in a song that didn’t make the album. It was “the sum of who we are, always the battle scars and weary hearts.” It was about that situation, no matter how tough the things are that we’re going through, we’re stronger than that. Then, it’s funny because the album took on an even a different meaning I guess, it became a collection of songs that really were things we’ve gone through over the past few years in the making of this album. The sum of who we are definitely has a lot of different reasons, I think, it’s a perfectly fitting title for this album.

Pick two songs off the album, and what inspired the lyrics for you.
No Saving Me” was one of the songs that, I think during the making of the album there were definitely periods where we were like, have we seen this stage for the last time? Are we ever going to please ourselves enough for this album to release it? That was during one of the darker periods where there was disdain and maybe a bad taste in our mouth after everything that we had gone through that we had seen success, and then to have it all kind of fall apart. Not to throw anyone under the bus, but to feel like that wasnt our fault. We werent at fault for things hitting a brick wall. It seemed like Framing Hanley fell off the wall. I think we’re responsible guys to where we’ll accept responsibility for things that we are responsible for. The past four years, I dont think that’s something we’ve even now grown to accept responsibility for. That said, I think it was Darren, making this album it just hit m. I’m beyond in it until the wheels fall off. In some ways, as much as I love doing this it can be viewed as a curse. There’s no saving me. This is the one thing I love in life, I’m lucky to have a woman that supports me. I know the same for the other guys, that support us for doing what we do. Because it can be really hard at times. I can only imagine what it’s like being our significant others, it’s really hard on us sometimes. But, there really is no saving me. I’ve come this far, I’m here until it’s over.

Another song on the album that plays off that but maybe from a different angle is “Cast Away.” That’s lyrically, one of the most special songs. The subject matter that we’ve done on any of the three albums. That was the awareness, yeah, maybe through all the shit you go through – obviously there’s good times a plenty, but you’re going to have bad times with everything. To know that there’s a group of people out there that, despite us falling off the face of the earth for the past three years, that have sat and waited patiently for this album and they’re coming out in flocks at shows all across the world to see us. Again, whether it’s 10 people or 10,000, it’s what we say every night. That’s a special thing, it’s something I don’t think we even imagined of the payoff of doing this when we were young and dreamed of doing this and being “rock stars.” I don’t think the fan part, yeah, that will be cool, but naturally I think its more if you look at it like a kid from the fame side instead of the fact that you have fans. There’s a difference there. There’s a big difference between being famous and having people that are actually fans of the work you pour your heart and soul into. “Cast Away,” there’s a line in there that says “I’ll go down with the ship.” It’s really a testament to our fans. As long as you guys are out there and you want to hear what we’re doing, we’re going to keep doing this because again, there’s no saving us anyway.

framingsaintetrocke2If you can open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Whenever I get asked that, there’s two answers. I think if it could be a dream scenario even though we belong nowhere near a stage with these two bands, but for me it’d be Guns N’ Roses and Queen. GNR is the reason I’m in a rock band, that’s who introduced me to Rock N Roll. Queen because Freddie Mercury is the greatest vocalist of all time and that band is on another planet. Current, bands if you want to say would be realistic even though it’s not, Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro. Two of the greatest rock and roll bands, Foo Fighters obviously everyone knows who they are. Biffy is a band from Scotland, three piece and I always explain them as Foo Fighters meets Failure. It’s a really interesting rock band, I think they write unlike any other mainstream rock band, at least right now. I love both bands and both those bands released my two favorite rock albums in the past 10 years. It’d be a dream to share the stage with them.

framingsaintrocke3Lollipop. How do you feel about that song after all this time? Is it a curse for you to play?
I think we looked at it that way for a period, which was maybe immaturity or the disdain we had knowing that we were known for a song that we did kind of as a joke basically. We covered, not opposed to our own material. During the hours we’ve poured into this album, just feeling more and more confident in this album I was like, you know what? THis album speaks for itself. If people hear this album, the tricky part is creating the awareness of the album. If people hear this album, I’m very confident in saying that they will quickly forget we were the band that covered “Lollipop.” I mean, with that being said, we took it out of the set briefly because of our own feelings towards that song and we put it back in there during the course of the making of this album when we were given some one offs. Just because I started looking at it as, it’s pretty selfish of us to do that when there are fans that made a connection with our band. There’s a memory attached to that song. I had plenty of memories attached with other artists and songs of theirs I heard for the first time or remember where I was. If that was a college party, and someone heard “Lollipop,” so be it. The good thing is, most of those people have stuck around and if that’s what opened the door? So be it. Here we are with an album that blows away anything that we’ve done before. Hopefully they’re still listening.

Who is the new member in the band, and what happened to Luke?
Jonathan Stoye is our new bass player. Luke, he’d have to speak for himself, I just think he wanted to get to a place where he – maybe with how, I don’t know. How fickle this industry is, and how it can all fall apart at the last minute. We all have families. Again, I don’t want to speak out of line. He flat out said that he wanted to get to a place where he felt comfortable and happy with life. There were things he felt like he had to do to change that and he thought he had to take time away from doing this in order to get to a place where he was happy. Again, we all have wives or kids, finances and he was one guy who I think walked away from school to do this and maybe that’s something that he wants to look back into. Stoye, it’s almost like, not to take away from Luke. The years we shared with Luke were awesome. He’s an incredible bass player, saved my ass plenty of times with his awesome backup vocals. Stoye, it’s almost like he was the guy that’s always been here. We were worried about replacing someone that has been in the band for 5+ years and it just being so different, the chemistry being different. But Jonathan Stoye came in and it was one of those things right away where everything clicked. We didn’t even plan on maybe adding a fifth member, maybe just feeling it out as a four piece and having someone play bass with us live. When we met him, we felt it out for a few weeks and said man, this guy is the fifth member of this band. We took a bad situation and turned it into a great situation with Jonathan Stoye coming on board.

Do you have any messages for Framing Hanley fans out here in Los Angeles, a place you seem to rarely visit?
Come out and see us when we do come here. It’s hard to convince an agent to bring you so far away from home if the crowds aren’t there. We’ll keep coming out here as long as people come out and listen.

Framing Hanley is:
Kenneth Nixon: vocals, piano, guitar
Ryan Belcher: guitar, piano, backing vocals
Brandon Wootten: guitar, backing vocals
Chris Vest: drum
Jonathan Stoye: bass guitar

(Interview and Photos by Ken Morton)

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Meet Dianne van Giersbergen of Xandria

xandriaint2_500x416Meet  Dianne van Giersbergen, the new vocalist for the mighty Xandria!  Also the singer for Ex Libris, one could certainly feel the passion and conviction Ms. van Giersbergen has for her craft when encounter the stunning refrains of Xandria’s latest and greatest masterwork.  Entitled Sacrificium and now available for Napalm Records, the stunning collection of songs will surely exhilarate all music connoisseurs looking to be swept away into a sonic adventure.  Here is an interview we conducted with the charismatic Xandria front woman to find out more about her joining up with the noted symphonic metal collective, her thoughts on the previous Xandria singer Manuela Kraller, their upcoming tour here in the States, and many other epic topics of intrigue.  Read on!!!

Prior to joining Xandria, were you familiar with their music at all?
For me Xandria came into my perpective when they started to promote their ‘Neverworld’s End’ album. When I heard the album for the first time I was really impressed and had the feeling that a band finally dared to return to the roots of the genre.

Did you know Manuela Kraller and has she heard or commented on the new album?
I have met her when Xandria started touring with Kamelot and we’ve talked online with each other, we both were members of the ‘Eve’s Apple community’. She is a very nice person with an amazing voice!
After I joined Xandria (and Eve’s Apple split up, though both happenings are not related) we didn’t speak again. Of course I would love to hear what she thinks of the new album. But I also know that starting up a (new) career like she is doing costs a lot of energy and I too am very busy, but who knows maybe in the future.

Is Ex Libris still in existence and what is going on with the band at the moment?
Yes it is! In a few weeks we (Ex Libris) will be travelling to England to play a few shows as support to ‘Imperia’. Our album ‘Medea’ has been released on the 18th of January and both fans as critics have been very positive about our album! I too am very proud.

Of course now that I am also front woman to Xandria, Ex Libris has to be more flexible. But the whole band supports me in this new adventure and all said ‘go for it’ when the offer came to the table.

sacrificium1Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Sacrificium?
The word ‘Sacrificium’ stands for sacrificing yourself, your love, life, etc for the greater good. At first all the songs were to be about this topic but during the whole process we also included some more story telling songs, like ‘The Undiscovered Land’. I wasn’t that much part of this process because when I joined all of the songs were nearly finished and the band was even already recording the first notes to the album.

Select two songs from Sacrificium and what inspired the lyrics?
For the ‘Sacrificium’ album I had the honour to write two of the lyrics: ‘Little Red Relish’ and ‘Sweet Atonement’.

‘Little Red Relish’ is the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ but then told in a different way. The original story, so not the Disney one, is about a girl losing her virginity and so I decided to give ours a little spin: in ‘Little Red Relish’ the girl sets out to find grandmother but is abducted by the wolf and taken to his wolfs lair. She falls in love with her abductor, decides to stay with him and therefore sort of says ‘to hell with grandmother’. In other words: she chooses not to obey her orders and walk her own path.

‘Sweet Atonement’ is a way more serious song. In this battle I wrote in sing about losing a loved one to fatal disease, about building memories with this person in what you later discover to be’ borrowed time’.

Who did the cover art for Sacrificium and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork is done by Stefan Heilemann, a real wizard when it comes to artwork and photography. The coming together of the cover has been a process of going back and forth between him and us, brainstorming and after the idea of the phoenix was born fine-tuning what it should look like.

We are very happy with the end result and have already receive many compliments from fans who too seem to like this artwork.

xandriaint2_2Describe your first performance with Xandria and what was going through your mind at the time?
Haha I think what was going through my mind was ‘this is really happening!’. My first shows were four headline shows in Spain and I really enjoyed it! I think everyone would expect me to be very nervous but the only thing I felt was pure excitement. I’ve studied music for seven years, know my voice, know how to quickly study new material and I have many years of experience on performing on stage. Because of this I knew how to prepare myself for my first concerts so that I knew the material and what to expect well enough to also enjoy what was going on.

Next to that, the four Xandria guys have been real supports and admirers of how I dealt with the workload. They have answered all of my questions and given me the best advice. When we came off stage after the first concert all five of us had a really big smile on our faces and knew that this was something we could build a future upon.

What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour here in the States?
Ooh difficult question! I of course really look forward to meeting all of our fans, seeing the beautiful landscape, hopefully do some sightseeing ánd eat as many pancakes for breakfast as I can!

Would Xandria and Ex Libris ever want to tour or do a show together?
A show may be more realistic than a full tour but even then I would want to hold off on this. When I enter a stage I am there for the full 100%, having to perform twice a day would mean I would have to cut back on that. Both bands have really challenging vocal lines so a concert is a real work out!

If Xandria could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Hmm I must admit that I do not really have an answer to this question. I feel really happy about the chances we get as we go along rather than to hope for something and be disappointed.

What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing Sacrificium for the first time?
How they truly felt after hearing the album. I think a spoken opinion can only be formed after hearing it for a few times, but the first pure emotions that you feel when hearing the music for the first time is much more valuable then words and must be cherished.

Any final words of wisdom?
I would like to thank everyone for their support and faith in Xandria ànd for welcoming me into this wonderful band! See you all on the road!

Xandria is:
Vocals: Dianne van Giersbergen
Guitar & keys: Marco Heubaum
Guitar: Philip Restemeier
Bass: Steven Wussow
Drums: Gerit Lamm

(Interview by Ken Morton – Xandria Photos by Stefan Heilemann)

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Causing Mayhem with Ryan Neff of Miss May I

MissMayI070514It was Day One of the notorious Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, unleashed within the wilds of San Bernardino, CA.  One of the many bands on the bill was none other than Miss May I, spending a long hot summer on the road with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Asking Alexandria.  Promoting their brand new album Rise Of The Lion now available from Rise Records, Miss May I was certainly causing their own intriguing brand of Mayhem on the Coldcock American Herbal Whisky Stage.  Right after their set, we caught up with bassist Ryan Neff to discuss their new album, what to expect from their summer of Mayhem, an announcement of a very major event they’ll be participating in after the tour, and other topics of interest.  Read on…

missmayijl2Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Miss May I.
My name’s Ryan, I play bass and sing in Miss May I.

What can we expect from your performance today?
Judging after today, a lot of sweat and a lot of dirt. It was wild man, completely packed, huge circle pits, big dust storms. It should be a nice interactive one, seems like we’re going to play right in the sun everyday too, so expect a hot one for us this summer. We’ll have dirt boogers for a month.

Let’s talk about the new album Rise Of The Lion, is there an overall story or concept?
Yeah we wanted to do something a little closer to the fans, something where they had a little more to do with it. So, the lyrical content was chosen based upon topics that come from fans and letters and conversations on tour when you meet em. So we tried to use a lot of topics that we knew would play close to home for the fans, which is a completely backwards way of doing it from how we’ve always done it cause, the first three records were 100% about things that we were going through personally not looking at anything through anyone else’s eyes. This time around it was like writing the 10 songs on the record and the 4 bonus songs, so 14 tracks through someone else’s eyes which was a difficult way for us to write lyrics at first, but in the end it opened things up and it allowed us to do something a lot different. Yeah, it was definitely a challenge you know, there were times when we were part of the way into it that we were like man, this is not as easy and not coming out as easily as we thought it would but, we worked hard at it and in the end we liked the final product.

missmayijl1Who decides what bonus songs go on the Best Buy version and Target version?
That was just a band member discussion, it was tough because there were 11 that we thought should make it and 3 that we thought were bonus track material. So, there was one that we had to cut that we were like, really going back and forth on. So, its a band decision collective effort on that one, depending on who you talk to we still haven’t made the right decision, so (laughs).

What did Terry Date (Avenged Sevefold, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Rob Zombie, etc.) contribute to the recording process, his credits are massive.
When we worked with Machine, we wrote a lot of the record with him, where as when we came in with Terry we had the record pretty much done. The big thing we did with Terry was he let the band be the band, there wasn’t so much rewriting, reworking things in the studio with him, as much as taking whatever we gave him and making it sound the best that it possibly could so, everything you hear on this record is very realistic and straight to the point of the band and what we would write, rather than us writing with the producer who is swaying us one way or the other on certain things.

missmayjl3Has Jay Z or Kanye heard your version of Run This Town?
No. I doubt it. If they have, they probably skipped over it and kept going. (laughs) We haven’t heard from ‘em.

If Miss May I could open for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Its going to be Slipknot and its going to happen right here in October when we do KnotFest. Yeah, it’s an absolutely wild, wild gig that we’re going to be apart of. So, that should be pretty cool, we always wanted to play with White Zombie, we’ve always wanted to play…you know thats not gonna happen. We got to play with Rob Zombie at some festivals. We got to do a Five Finger Death Punch thing which was neat. You know, there’s a lot of really cool stuff going on, we’re pretty excited about it. But, Slipknot is always on that list, I think it might actually happen for us now, which will be really cool.

Since you did clean vocals, have you thought about doing anything solo or acoustic?
I would love to, I would love to challenge myself, do something a little more fun. But, you know, I’m a little more of a background guy in this band, it’d be fun to take the forefront, but we’re such a busy group right now that it’s so hard to find the time to do anything like that. And I say more fun in the means of just something different. You know, we’ve got a pretty good working formula in the band that, I think until we have some free time open up, we’re pretty much stuck on that right now.

Do you have anything else for your fans reading this right now?
Yeah! Thanks for coming to see us in Mayhem if you have, or if you are. Thanks for picking up Rise of the Lion. Just like always, we’ll be on the road, nonstop be here until next record, so keep an eye on the schedule and come hang out with us.

Miss May I is:
Levi Benton – vocals/lyrics
Justin Aufdemkampe – guitar
BJ Stead – guitar
Ryan Neff – bass/vocals
Jerod Boyd – drums

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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Save The Clock Tower: Post Hardcore from Tasmania

Photo Credit: Haydn Robertson

Photo Credit: Haydn Robertson

Raging out of the remote country of Tasmania, it is only matter of time until Save The Clock Tower takes the entire world by storm.  Their debut full length Wasteland has been unleashed through Bullet Tooth Records here in the States – an absolutely colossal selection of exhilarating tunes that will garner the collective a good deal of notice.  We recently interviewed front man Luke Vaessen to find out more about this band on the rise and their fantastic new album.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Save The Clock Tower, and how long the band has been together?
Hi, my name’s Luke and I sing! We have been around for a little over 4 years now.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
We come from Tasmania, which is located just off the southern tip of Australia. The scene has its ups and downs in regards to original music, but at the moment it is having a nice little upswing! There are a few bands who are starting to step up and are worthy of checking out: Interview With An Escape Artist, Zeolite & Luca Brasi.

How did you wind up being signed to Bullet Tooth?
It was a pretty long winded process, but as far as I know, we were actually found on the ‘Sign Me To Roadrunner’ website by an A&R guy there, who then showed Josh (Bullet Tooth) and the rest is history!

clocktowerwasteland1Is there any story or concept behind the album title Wasteland?
There is a few different meanings to the album title for me. It refers to the place we live, it being such an isolated place which makes it harder for us tour and get our music out, but it also refers to the wasteland that we as a race are creating, the wasteland that can be left inside a human after a relationship ends, during / after substance abuse, and just a general feeling of emptiness that people today seem to get.

Select two songs from Wasteland and what inspired the lyrics.
I don’t really like explaining the lyrics and their meanings as I like people to be able to create their own connections to the songs. But what I will tell you is that ‘A Pale Horse’ is about the death of a family member and ‘At The Bottom Of A Bottle’ is about alcohol & drug fueled promiscuity.

Who did the cover art on Wasteland and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork was created by Travis Roberts, who does a lot of work for Bullet Tooth. We had the initial idea of what we wanted, something that would definitely stand out in a shop against other cover art. We literally only had to have one proof sent through, which we suggested changes to and this is the second draft that came back!

How has the tour with Betraying The Martyrs been going and what have been some of the highlights?
The BTM tour was really good. Great turn outs, especially considering it was their first time in the country. Its just awesome to get to meet new people everywhere you go and hang out with people who have the same ideals and goals as you. Adelaide was definitely a highlight. We love that city and have made lots of friends there too. It was also amazing to get to watch BTM every night and the way they perform is incredible!

What could one expect from a live Save The Clock Tower show?
Raw energy coupled with a tight and precise sound. We try and get our sound as close as we can to album quality.

Has Save The Clock Tower ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
No, we haven’t been over there yet. But we are hoping to get over there in the near future for sure.

Any strange or scary happenings on the road or at a show?
The only thing that comes to mind was being involved in a car crash in Tasmania. We were travelling back from a show in Burnie (about 2 hours from our hometown Launceston), and a lady pulled out in front of us without even looking on the highway and ended up t-boning her car. None of us had ever really been involved in an accident like that, it was pretty crazy. Everyone involved in the crash is ok now though.

If Save The Clock Tower could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Personally, it would have to be either Glassjaw or Deftones. Both those bands are incredibly influential for me, and Im sure lots of other people as well.

Have you ever pet or ran over a kangaroo?
Both! hahaha

What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the first time?
Hopefully the energy and sense of urgency that we try to deliver our songs in. Each song we have written has different things that i hope can appeal to people in different ways.

Any final words of wisdom?
Not really hahahaha! If you are in a band, write music that is true to yourself and music that you would want to hear. Don’t jump on a trend just because you think it is cool or think it will make you the next big thing. Cause that fucking sucks and everyone knows when people try and do that shit.

And if you’ve checked us out, thanks so much :)

Save The Clock Tower is Joel Hallam on guitar, Luke Vaessen on vocals, Owen Broad on drums, and Alex Mcnulty on bass.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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Cimino: Raging Hard Rock from Kansas City!

Cimino_promo1_lo_res1c6fd65d39c2Cimino is sure to hard rock your world in a vast and epic way, especially if their exhilarating album Angels & Animals is indicative of greater glories ahead. Featuring instantly memorable anthems as well as some wondrously effective power ballads that will make you stand up and take notice, Cimino is destined to rock it out above and beyond their Kansas City, MO hometown. All this, and drummer Sebastian Anderson was recruited by Nigel Dupree, the son of Jackyl frontman, Jesse James Dupree and toured with Nigel throughout 2012! We recently interviewed the Cimino drummer to find out more about the raging entity from Kansas City, their dynamic live shows, Sebastian’s time spent working with Nigel Dupree, and other rip roaring topics of interest. Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Cimino, and how long the band has been together?
Sebastian Anderson, drummer. CIMINO has been together since 2007

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Kansas City, MO. The local scene here is moderate, there are a handful of talented bands. If anything, Kansas City lacks “Live Rock Venues” and radio support. There are a few typical venues, but nothing too extravagant as far as a rock club. As far as radio, we have one main rock station that is 100% corporate. Essentially what that means is unless you’re Shinedown, Three Days Grace or Five Finger Death Punch, you’re not getting any love. We’re not bitching, it’s just business. When you have a huge rock station it’s going to be that way. There are cities larger than KC where we’ve received airplay, but that’s because they have a handful of smaller stations instead of one big giant. Sucks for the up and coming bands, but is great for the bands who are on top.

Cimino_Angels_Animals_coverart56c7d2Is there any story or concept behind the album title Angels & Animals?
Definitely. To me, “Angels & Animals” is our analogy of the concept of Good vs Evil. Everything about it is contrasting. It’s as simple as the cover being black and white, half of the face being angelic, half of the face being demonic, they are both on opposite ends of the spectrum. I believe that some tunes would classify as “Angel” tunes, some would be “Animal” tunes. Figuratively speaking, songs like Alive, Never, Someday and possibly Shine would be the uplifting, “Angel” songs. Songs like Anarchy, Animal, Fame, Sick etc would be the “Animal” tunes. We also had a song off the last record called Angel, and we’ve got one on this record called Animal. We’re clever like that…

Select two songs from Angels & Animals and what inspired the lyrics.
Start All Over – is a song about relapsing. It’s the desire that lingers in your heart for whatever your poison may be, despite what others say or think.
Alive – Is about finding the light in each day and being thankful for the life you have. It doesn’t matter where you are or where you end up, as long as you’re with the ones you love.

What could one expect from a live Cimino show?
Our live performance is balls to the wall, completely raw, no tracks, no loops, fake backgrounds, nothing. It is all real. We like to put on an entertaining show, our performance is very energetic. We give it all we’ve got night in and night out

Have you ever played here in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in future days?
We have yet to venture too far out west. I love LA, Hollywood particularly. 99% of what inspired us came from there. We’d love to play any of the legendary clubs, it’s just such a trek from KC. I would expect that within the next year or so we will do a handful of routing dates towards the west coast and make our way to Hollywood.

Any strange or scary happenings on the road or at a show?
Unfortunately. From trailers breaking down in the middle of nowhere, and almost half of the places we get shacked up in supposedly being “haunted,” I’d say that we’ve had our fair share of nonsense. One time Kyle’s pedal board miraculously ended up in “Shinedown Guitar World” and we couldn’t locate it in time to start the show. Tha was very uncool. Being good dudes, they let us go on a few minutes late after it finally turned up.

If Cimino could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I would say Van Halen, with Diamond Dave. We all have an enormous love for Van Halen and they’re probably collectively our biggest idols if we had to choose.

What has the experience been like for you to play in the Nigel Dupree band?
I started playing with Nigel back in 2012, he’s a great guy and one of my good friends. When I auditioned I was only 18, whether or not he knew I’m unsure haha. He allowed me to get my first taste of the “big stage.” A lot of huge summer festivals, the Throttle Fests, Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, as well as the reality series on TruTV. In 2013, Kyle Cimino came out with us and played lead guitar for all of the dates which was a lot of fun.

Have any of the members of Jackyl heard and commented on your music?
I’m not sure about the latest album. We went and cut a record down at Jesse’s studio for Nigel, a handful of the songs were tunes that Kyle and I wrote that were technically CIMINO songs. Jesse is by no means an ass kisser, and would never tell you how awesome you were; however, through the grapevine I’ve heard that he thought the stuff was “killer.”

What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
I’ve been known to drink whatever beer is placed in front of me. I typically find myself drinking Bud Light for whatever reason. I drank it a majority of the time and everywhere has Bud Light, I guess it’s just my thing.

What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the first time?
I would like them to remember that we are the real deal. We put our heart and soul into each of these songs and the band as a whole. Every dime we’ve got goes into this product. There’s nothing cheesy about it, anything you hear within a song is based off of a personal experience or a thought that we’ve had at one time. That is what separates the good from the bad in my book.

Any final words of wisdom?
Thank you for taking the time to support us. CIMINO is like family. If you welcome us, we welcome you. The feeling is mutual, you support us, we support you, in whatever way that may be. We just ask that you give us a chance.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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Sleep In: Wide Awake and Not Sorry

Sleep-In-photo1-hi-resSleep In is a dynamic alternative rock band whose exhilarating songs will surely garner them attention above and beyond their South Jersey locale. Their current full length is entitled Settling, now available from Hide Away Records, and it’s destined to become a favorite of fans who like supremely catchy, heartfelt tunes that will rock your world. One listen to the jangly opening track I Do Know And I’m Not Sorry, and you’ll be unapologetically hooked to what this collective has to offer! Here is a recent interview we conducted a few of the members to find out more about Sleep In and their wide awake melodies! Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sleep In, and how long the band has been together.
Joe: I ‘m Joe and I play guitar.
Mike: I’m Mike and I play drums.

Joe: We came together a little over a year ago. Everyone else in this band was playing in another band at the time called Collisions and their guitarist had decided to leave the band and move to Texas. He was a friend of mine and suggested I try out so I did. It actually didn’t go that great initially haha but we ended up jamming on some riffs I had at the end of the day and things started to take shape. From there we eventually decided to change the name and start over. Also our friend now plays in a pretty rad band down in Texas called Nominee.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
Joe: We all live in southern NJ in the Haddon Heights / Collingswood area but Philly is only 10 minutes away and we are very active over there as well. The Philly community is really thriving right now but there is also a great community brewing here in South Jersey as well. Music in this area is definitely better than it has been in years and we are proud to be a small part of it. Some bands I would recommend checking out from around here: Belgrade,  Aspiga, & Dryjacket.
Mike: Sleepers Lie & Podacter.

settling1Is there any story or concept behind the album title Settling?
Joe: I don’t think there is any real overarching story to the record although a lot of the individual song lyrics paint a picture of Keith’s (our singer) stream of conscious in each instance. I think the concept has to do more with how the record feels when you listen to it. We had the song titled Settling already and the more we thought about it, the more we liked it for the album title.

The way that song came together was basically just out on an impromptu jam and everyone pretty much wrote their parts on the spot. It was the culmination of us getting comfortable writing together and settling in for whatever lies ahead. Its much more about that then settling for something your unhappy with. We’re excited with where things are going with this, and this record is like us digging our feet in, getting ready to start running. Well.. or walking. We’re not big on running. We eat a lot of fast food.

Select two songs from Settling and what inspired the lyrics.
Keith: Starting Over was the first song we had completely finished. The song was about starting the band and figuring out how I wanted to approach music. Sleep Sound was written around the time of the Boston bombing. It wasn’t about the event specifically, but rather an attempt to ease the tension many were feeling at the time.

What could one expect from a live Sleep In show?
Joe: I think when we play shows we bring a lot of energy. We get really into the songs and have a lot of fun. I’ve always felt if your having fun when your playing the songs, its easy for the audience to have fun watching you.

Has Sleep In ever played here in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in future days?
Unfortunately not yet! We have only been playing together for a short amount of time and although we do have tour plans in our future, its hard to say exactly when we be able to hit the west coast with our busy schedules. We don’t want to force it either, some bands make the mistake of jumping right into full U.S. tours when they haven’t even developed a following in their regional area. Right now we are focusing on east coast stuff but we hope to make it out there soon.

Any strange or scary happenings on the road or at a Sleep In show?
Joe: One time we were staying at a hotel in Virginia Beach with our buddies in Co|ors (r.i.p.) and a couple of us went down to the first floor to have a smoke out front. We were standing around talking at like 3am and suddenly this drunk guy comes bursting through the hotel doors and sparks up a joint. He started going on about how he was a former navy guy and the government is spying on us with submarines that have superman vision. Then we looked down the street and there was 4 or 5 black cats on the street meowing and hissing. We just looked at each other and one by one walked back up to the room and went to bed. It was a strange night.

If Sleep In could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Mike: Cap’n Geech and The Shrimp Shack Shooters.
Joe: …cause Steve Zahn is our homeboy.

If your music was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Joe: I guess a Dunkin’ Donut because there is a DD right next to our practice space and we pretty much eat there before every practice or show. We are all real health nuts. Also Keith likes to flirt with the employees.
Mike: Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

What’s up next for Sleep In?
Joe: Right now we are focusing on a tour in September to push the LP and writing for a split 7inch. We try to stay busy in between shows and plan to release an EP down the road.

Any final words of wisdom?
Mike: Be Excellent to each other.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to see you guys play out here in L.A. sometime soon!
Joe: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Ken!

Sleep In is: Eric McNelis, Keith Badtorff, Mike Dameo, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Fitz), and Joe Franks.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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The Ready Set: Kicking Off A Warped Summer

thereadyset062514The Ready Set has returned to the Vans Warped Tour this year, with a brand new album entitled The Bad & The Better. Now signed to Razor & Tie Records, The Ready Set continues delivering the super infections pop rock goodness. Best known for songs such as Love Like Woe and Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever), mastermind Jordan Witzigreuter and band has been heating up the Warheads Stage and will continue to do so throughout the long hot summer. On a particularly mild day in San Diego, we caught up with Jordan to find out more about The Ready Set’s grooving songs, advice he would give unsigned bands looking for a record deal, playing Warped vs. club shows, screaming girls, and other pop-tastic topics of interest. Read on…

readysetjl3We’re here with Jordan of The Ready Set. How’s Warped Tour been going? What have been some of the highlights?
So far, it’s been amazing. I think my favorite show has been San Antonio. Just because, we played really early and I didn’t expect that many people to show up. It was tons of people, 3-4 thousand people. It was sick.

The Bad & The Better, where did that title come from?
It means just perspective on everything. I think there’s good in every bit of bad and bad in every bit of good. So it’s like, what is real is what you decide to focus on and see. That’s my headspace when I was writing it.

Do you feel bad, or better?
Better, predominantly.

readysetjl4How much pressure was it to be on a major label? What advice would you give a band seeking a deal?
It wasn’t that much pressure, I had a really good team. The only problem with it, a lot of people who are higher up that aren’t really necessary working with you can call the shots on things that they might not have any idea about, which sucks. But, if you’re trying to get a record deal, try to do as much as you can without one for as long as possible. If you can’t bring something to the table, they’re not going to look at you as a priority and if you’re not succeeding right off the bat, you’re just going to be stuck for a long time. You have to make sure – create your value far before you ever get involved with labels.

readysetjl5Do you ever get used to the girls screaming during your set?
We looked at it as a good indication that things were going well. If it wasn’t happening, I’d be a little more – ah that kind of sucks. It’s cool, ultimately it’s because of music and they like what I’ve written. It’s a cool feeling. You can see things on social media, people being your fan. You can see numbers, but it drives it home when you see it in person. When you see someone really passionate about your performance right in front of them.

If you could open up for any band, from now or the past, who would it be and why?
Michael Jackson. It would be massive. If you look at someone now, I’m gonna go with Prince. Prince would be sweet to open for. I imagine they’d be massive shows, and I guess it’s all pop music. Somehow I justify it as that. That it would make sense because I make pop songs.

Wouldn’t you be nervous going on before Prince?
J: Oh yeah, I’d be terrified. I’d probably – there’s no way we’d be anywhere near as good. So it would be like, I’d be terrified

readyset9When you look back on your album Tantrum Castle, what do you think of it now?
I was trying to figure out how to write songs during that time. I was going with my first thought on everything. I didn’t really have any grasp of structure and how to actually write a cohesive song. It was like a kid sitting in his basement trying to figure out what he’s doing and it’s really lucky and cool that it became the launching point of everything. There’s a lot of things I like about that album. I find that people tell me they like that one a lot too, which is surprising. It’s like a moment in time, that was me being 18 years old just writing songs. Getting out of high school.

Is there any chance you’d revisit it or re-release it or anything?
I did a re-mastered version of it that came out a few years ago, but I don’t think I would ever necessarily re-write any of those songs. If I did it now, I think I’d probably end up trashing the cool things about it, like the lack of structure. All the weirdness about it that made it cool for people. I think it would kind of cheapen it, I’d probably just leave it and let it exist.

readyset8What did you think about Linkin Park playing Ventura Warped Tour? Did you get to see them?
It was awesome. I got to see a little bit of it, but the crowd was so crazy, I didn’t want to watch from back stage. I knew that would be just as intense and there would be just as many people trying to get on side stage. I tried to watch way far back in the crowd, but I didn’t really have that good of luck. I’m not very tall so I couldn’t see over everybody. It was sick, it sounded great. It was cool they did that thing with all the other singers from different bands.

Is it important for bands to be positive role models for their fans?
I think it depends on a band. You shouldn’t treat your fans like anything less than they are. I don’t think a lot of people are going necessarily to musicians to be their role models as far as day to day life. So I think it depends on what you want to do. There’s a lot of people I think that take a lot of pride in being super role model-ish. Then there’s a lot of people that don’t really think about it. It just happens as it happens. I try to be conscious of that kind of thing. I’m aware that my fan base is kind of all over the spectrum. There are kids who listen to me that are pretty young. I try not to be, an idiot or anything. I try to be chill, do stuff that my mom wouldn’t be mad about me doing publicly.

readyset7Complete this sentence. If I have to play Love Like Woe again live, I’ll…
Probably not be that bummed out. It never got old playing that song, it’s still fun. I have no negative feelings, everyone asks that. I don’t. I think the coolest thing to me is that isn’t the song that gets the biggest reaction anymore. That’s the song that gave me the opportunity to do all of this.

What’s up next for you after Warped?
A headlining tour in the fall. We haven’t announced it yet, we’re still putting it together. But it’s full U.S. and it’s going to be really cool, it’s the first time I’ve done a headlining tour in a few years. I’m excited to get back to the dark, indoor shows where you can have cool lights.

Do you prefer those to the craziness of Warped Tour?
There’s something cool about this type of thing, it’s so rapid fire and you only have thirty minutes to set all of your stuff up and do a real brief soundcheck. It’s almost like you’re winging it every day. I think that’s cool and I think out here, its a total experience for people to come here. It’s not like someone is coming to watch a band kill it and sound amazing. The sound quality of an outdoor show is so crazy and there are so many variables that I think out here, it’s all about having a good time and going crazy. Whereas, in a club show it has to be intricate and run like clockwork. There’s a lot more room for natural things to happen on outdoor shows I think.

Do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this?
Yes, thank you for being my fans. I much appreciate that, and if you haven’t checked out my album The Bad & The Better, please do. It’s on iTunes and Best Buy. I’ll be on tour all summer on Warped Tour, then all fall and probably beyond that. I’ll be around.

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Warped Tour Photos Live by Jack Lue)

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