Interview: Jon Larsen from Volbeat


Since the last time we saw Volbeat in Cincinnati, they have blown up in the US with their tour with Megadeth and Motorhead. They are a premier and first-class European Metal band that is sweeping North America by storm playing coast to coast. They have been touring on the album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven for a couple years now and are set for another run this summer.

Amy spoke with band drummer Jon Larsen to get everybody ready for their set at Rock on the Range. The two discussed the evolution of the band in the short time since they were last seen in Ohio. They will be taking the stage at Rock on the Range in Columbus along with the rest of the best acts in Metal and Rock music.

Amy: I know you guys just got off the Gigantour Tour. Did you have any crazy Motorhead or Megadeth stories along the way?

Jon: No not really actually, not really any interesting stories to tell. We got along fine with both camps and everybody was in high spirits. I think it was definitely a great tour for all.

Amy: Rock on the Range is always a crazy time in Columbus. What are you looking forward to about the show and are you looking forward to seeing any other bands there?

Jon: Oh yeah, I am always looking forward to seeing Anthrax. We like to hang out with those guys.  We have hung out with them a few times. We don’t know Zombie or Manson but Anthrax is gonna be cool.

To read more head over to The First 3 Songs! (Direct link to article)

John 5 Talks Serial Killers and ROTR

John 5 Rob Zombie

John 5 has seen almost everything in Rock music from his days with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, and currently with Rob Zombie and has been credited on songs in all aspects of music from Saliva to Salt n Pepa to k.d. Lang to an upcoming collaboration with Rod Stewart.  He has gained the reputation as a musical genius and one of the most action packed guitarists in the world. He has just released his sixth solo album, God Told Me To which mixes acoustic Spanish style guitar along with heavy metal riffs.

Amy caught up with the guitar player to promote the new album and Rob Zombie’s upcoming appearance at Rock on the Range in Columbus. The two discussed some of the dark aspects of what goes into his writing as well as the lighter aspects of what puts him to sleep every night.  John 5 will take the stage with headliner Rob Zombie on Sunday May 20th in Columbus.

Amy: Can you tell us about the name of your album God Told Me To?

John: The name, it is funny because I remember, I am from Michigan, I am from Grosse Pointe. I was upper class growing up there. I was brought up in a really nice environment and home and I remember the night before I was leaving for California to really give it my shot saying, “I am going to try this. I am going to try to be this musician type of thing.” I remember I was saying my little prayer. I never wished to be a “rockstar.” I just wanted to be a working musician. My dreams didn’t even go past a session player or a working musician like that. It was too far beyond my dreams. That’s kind of what the title means, that kind of thing, but also you can look at in the negative way, like when someone does a horrific murder, they always say, “Oh, God told me to.”

To read more head over to The First 3 Songs! (Direct link to interview)

Q&A with Ben Wells of Black Stone Cherry

Ben Weller Black Stone Cherry

Black Stone Cherry is a Kentucky based band that combines their Southern roots with some hints of Metal in it. Last time we spoke with them, they had just released their third studio album Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea which they continue to tour on this summer. They have been featured on major tours with sensations Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge, and Nickelback and recently headlined a European tour.

Amy was able to speak with the band’s rhythm guitar player Ben Wells to preview their upcoming performance at Rock on the Range, where they will be taking the Main Stage on Sunday May 20th at the Columbus festival.

Amy: Last year, I spoke with Chris and he talked about how you guys love to go to Europe and how the fans embrace you in there. I know you just got off a European Tour. What was the highlight of that tour for you guys?

Ben: We did shows in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and 14 shows in the UK and every single one was sold out. It was a pretty big accomplishment since we have been over there several tours and this was the first time we had one as big as it was. We just felt really good about that and they gave us a tour plaque to hang on our walls. That was pretty neat.

Amy: Are there any bands you are looking forward to seeing at Rock on the Range this year?

Ben: I know we are looking forward to seeing Rob Zombie. We really enjoy his show and we are good friends with John 5 who plays guitar for them. I can’t remember who else is playing that day, but I am sure there are tons of bands that we are looking forward to seeing.

Amy: I think Marilyn Manson is that day too?

Ben: I’m not a huge fan of his but I do like Rob Zombie.

To read more head over to The First 3 Songs! (Direct link to interview)

Interview: Sam Loeffler of Chevelle

Chevelle Amy Harris

Chevelle has been rocking faces off their crowds for over ten years. The three piece set is set to release their sixth studio album in December with Hats off to the Bull. Their most recent release Sci-Fi Crimes was a top 10 album on the Billboard charts with the smash hit “Sleep Apnea.”

Amy spoke with drummer Sam Loeffler before their show in Cincinnati on Friday. They spoke about their rise to fame and their new album hitting stores in December. Their current tour with Filter and Bush is a must-see.

Amy: I’m kind of intrigued by this family band concept.

Sam: We get that a lot. Pete and I just always played together since literally 23 years ago when we picked up instruments. We just always started writing songs from the very beginning and it was just a coincidence that we both got really interested in music at the same time.

Amy: What was the age at that time?

Sam: 12 and 14.

Amy: Are you the older one?

Sam: I am. That’s how I think of myself, as the old one.

Read the entire interview over at The First 3 Songs!

For pictures from their Milwaukee set go here!

Q&A with Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge

Interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

Alter Bridge is a hard rock band formed by Creed members Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips alongside their lead singer Myles Kennedy. The band released their third studio album in 2010, aptly named ABIII. The album features their first number one hit “Isolation” and debuted in the top 20 the week after release. They are currently on tour with Theory of a Deadman, Black Stone Cherry, Adelita’s Way, and Emphatic on the Carnival Madness tour.

Amy spoke with guitarist Tremonti to preview the tour coming through the area in Louisville and Dayton. They talked about the band’s writing style and his future ventures including the future of his solo career and other headlining band Creed. Alter Bridge will be playing the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville Friday night and in Dayton, Ohio as part of X-Fest in Dayton on September 18 with the rest of the acts on the Carnival of Madness tour.

Amy: I’ve seen you play several times in Creed and with Alter Bridge most recently at Rock on the Range. I love you guys in both bands. I know you write a lot of music with Myles and for Creed as well. Do you have a different writing style when you are considering the different vocals between Myles and Scott?

Mark: No, when I am writing, I am writing whatever I am feeling at the moment. Then later on I will go through and categorize stuff after the fact and kind of organize ideas once I have gotten out of the moment.

Amy: Do you write it by yourself?

Read the rest of the interview at The First 3 Songs! (Direct Link)

A Conversation with Stevie Nicks

Interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

Stevie NicksShe is currently on the road to promote her latest record with her solo act and will come through Cincinnati on Saturday night at the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend. It will be a fun night of music showcase with her new sounds and a nostalgic flair.

We caught up with Stevie via email this week to discuss her upcoming tour stop in Cincinnati and her inspirations for the new record and what a typical day looks like for an iconic rock star.

Amy: You recently released your first new album in ten years “In Your Dreams”. What was your biggest inspiration for the album?

Stevie:  I actually didn’t think I’d do another album for many years.  But I went to see the movie “Twilight New Moon” in Melbourne Australia when I was on tour in 2009. I loved it so much that I went back that night to see it again. It inspired me to go back to my room and write an essay based on the love story of Bella and Edward and Beauty and the Beast.  In the next city we were in, Brisbane, there was a piano in the suite. I sat down at the piano on our night off and wrote the song that became Moonlight- A Vampire’s Dream. I turned to my assistant when I was done and said, “I’m ready to make a record”.

Amy: You stated recently that having a boyfriend takes you away from being an artist. Do you get lonely and miss romance?

Read the full interview at The First 3 Songs!(Direct Link)

Chicago Music Couple Michael McDermott and Heather Horton are Inseparable

By Eric Schelkopf from Total Scene

Michael McDermottAnd as I learned, they like it that way. Horton has been a member of McDermott’s band since 2005, and they were married in 2009.

Horton and McDermott also both have birthdays this week, and will celebrate by performing at a birthday bash Friday, Aug. 26, at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave., Chicago.

The show starts at 8 p.m., and general admission tickets are $20, available at

I had the chance to talk to Horton about a variety of topics, including how they balance being musicians while tending to the needs of their 1-year-old daughter, Rain.

Eric – The birthday bash is coming up, I see.You guys both have birthdays this week. And your daughter Rain just had a birthday, right?

Horton -She just did, yeah. She turned 1 on July 19. And then we took off for Europe.

Eric– Yes, I understand you were just in Italy. How was that?

Horton – It was amazing. It was extremely challenging, and we knew it would be. But it was just amazing.
I’m doing a documentary on Michael, which was less about the music and more about an American traveling through the center of Italy.

We’ve been there several times, but each time we go there, it solidifies our belief in what our roots can really do for us.

We’ve gone there and seen a 1,000-year-old castle. It’s just a whole different way of life over there, and it really makes you put things in perspective when you come back here.

Read the entire interview over at The Total Scene.

Bumpus founder bringing the soul with new band, Dance Floor Plans

By Eric Schelkopf at The Total SceneJames Johnston is a soul man. After forming beloved Chicago funk jazz band Bumpus in the late ’90s, Johnston has a new band, Dance Floor Plans, that is all about the soul with a healthy dose of funk.

Dance Floor Plans,, will perform its first show opening for Nikka Costa on Aug. 21 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago.The new band features members of Bumpus, Terrible Spaceship, Clip Art and Mars to Maridia.

DJRC is also on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $17, $20 at the door, available at

I had the chance to talk to Johnston about his latest project.

Eric: Dance Floor Plans will play its first live show opening for Nikka Costa. Do you think that’s a good gig to introduce the band?

James: I actually can’t think of a better first real gig than opening for Nikka Costa. She’s got the funk and soul, but her music is not completely retro. She brings something modern and we’re trying to do the same thing.

Read the rest of the interview at The Total Scene! (Direct Link)

COLD Interview with Scooter Ward

COLD interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

Cold can still bring an alternative grunge style to the stage that they rocked when they hit the scene in 1996. They became a mainstay in the musical culture with their 2003 top five release Year of the Spider. After an announced break-up of the band in 2006, they returned to the stage with a reunion tour in 2009. Right now, they are promoting their recently released fifth studio album Superfiction.

Amy was able to speak with the band’s lead singer and original member Scooter Ward. The two discussed the road back after the time off and a visual imagery associated with their new music. T

Amy: I’ve been listening to the new album and I love it. I’ve been listening to it over and over this week.

Scooter: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Amy: I personally think it is your best work.

Scooter: I think so too. We’re on the same page. We are very proud of it. It took us a long time but it definitely came out well I think.

Read the full interview at The First 3 Songs! (Direct Link)

Volbeat Interview with Michael Poulsen

Volbeat Interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

Volbeat is Michael Poulsen (Vocals / Guitar), Anders Kjølholm (Bass), Jon Larsen (Drums) and Thomas Bredahl (Guitar).  They may not be a household name around the venues in the United States, but they are an intense heavy metal Danish band that has played in front of some of the largest crowds in the world overseas.  Their song Fallen is also taking over Octane Sirius radio and rock radio stations across the country. They are about to kick off their U.S. leg of their Grand Summer Tour. It will promote their album Beyond Hell and Above Heaven that was released late in 2010.

Amy caught up with lead vocalist Michael Poulson to discuss their growing popularity in America, being naked with Metallica, and the great successes of the band in Europe.  This is a great opportunity to catch an act that half the world already has fallen in love with.

Amy: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. I know it’s evening for you.

Michael: Yeah. Right now the sun is shining. Me and my wife are sitting out in the garden. It’s really good weather. The kids are playing around. Everything is just really peaceful.

Amy: The tour does kick off next week in the U.S. What can fans expect from you guys and the show?

Michael: We really love what we are doing. We are definitely a live band. We are very serious about our records. We would never go into the studio if we weren’t capable of doing exactly the same thing on the records that we do live. The image is just so much higher live because there are certain things you can’t get on the record. So there will definitely be lots of energy and good spirit and good connection to the audience. This is definitely a tour we are looking forward to.

Read the full interview at The First 3 Songs! (Direct Link)

Q&A with Bo Koster from My Morning Jacket

It is undeniable the effect My Morning Jacket has placed on live rock music in America over the past couple years. Their legendary show is full of production value and an electrifying experience for all audiences that attend. They are coming off their sixth studio albumCircuital that was released at the end of May of this year peaking at number five on the Billboard album chart.

Amy spoke with keyboard player Bo Koster to discuss the upcoming show in Cincinnati. They discussed his passion for the local record shops and the My Morning Jacket live experience. They will be performing Wednesday August 17th at the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center.

Amy: Many of the band members are from the Louisville area, are you actually from Louisville as well?

Bo: I actually grew up in Cleveland, a Cleveland boy. I haven’t lived there in a long time but I grew up there. I spent the first 21 or 22 years of my life there.

Amy: You guys opened your tour for Circuital in Louisville at the Palace Theater. You had it broadcast on Youtube with a director. It was a large production. What was that experience like for the band?

Read the full interview at The First 3 Songs (Direct Link)!

Janet Jackson Talks About her New Book, Touring, and her Inspirations

Janet Jackson literally comes from the music royal family. She has extended the legend of the Jackson family positively through her strong powerful voice and a performance that could only be matched by her brother, the King of Pop himself. She has a very successful acting career with several Tyler Perry produced and directed movies, Why Did I Get Married, the sequel Why Did I Get Married, Too, and the 2011 hit For Colored Girls. She recently released her first book True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself. “The Baby Sister” has broken free of that name by creating a legacy of her own through versatility of music, dance, and performances on the silver screen.

Jackson will be performing at PNC Pavilion at Riverbend on Thursday August 11th  bringing her “Number Ones” tour to town.

Janet is extremely private in her personal life but we were able to catch up with her via email to talk about her book and her upcoming tour performance in Cincinnati.

Amy: What is a normal day for Janet Jackson?

Janet: That depends on what is going on in my life. One thing that is consistent is that I start every day with a prayer to God.

Amy: You have played in Cincinnati before on previous tours.  Any significant memories?

Janet: Yes, if I remember correctly, I was in Cincinnati for the Rhythm Nation, JANET and Velvet Rope tours. The one thing that stands out most for me is how wonderful the people are. I can’t wait to get back and see all my fans there.

Read the rest of the interview with Janet at The First 3 Songs! (Direct Link)


The Band Perry Tells Stories on the Road with Tim McGraw

Interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

The Band Perry took the stage at Riverbend Music Center on Sunday night in front of a background that said “We’re The Band Perry & We Play Country Music.” Simply stated that is exactly what they did to warm up the crowd for Luke Bryan and headliner Tim McGraw. The band is as traditional a country act and as they play you will ever hear every possible string instrument present and meaningful songs that resonate within the culture of the genre. They are country music’s newest crossover act with their smash hit single “If I Die Young” reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 on the pop charts. They are merely a humble family band made up of siblings from Mississippi that take pride in their songwriting and classically trained musical talents. After listening to their chart-topping self-titled album, it is not hard to see why they are the hottest young group in country.

The crowd sang along as Kimberly started their newest hit song “You Lie”- dedicating it to all the cheaters with an intro from the Rihanna/Eminem hit “Love the Way You Lie.” It was not hard to see that many of the fans at Sunday’s show came just to see The Band Perry.

Amy caught up with Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry on Tuesday after the show to discuss the band’s show this past weekend in Cincinnati. They talked about the current tour hazards of being on the road with Tim McGraw and the band’s innocent nights out.

Amy: What’s your craziest Tim McGraw tour story so far?

Kimberly: Our craziest Tim McGraw tour story? I’ll tell you this. There have been so many injuries on the “Emotional Traffic” tour. Everything from the king of the tour, Tim himself, he had his broken ankle. We had our guitar player who broke his collarbone in three places riding his bike.

Reid: Luke Bryan actually got in a fight with his bass player and his guitarist actually broke his arm. We have had everything from scratched knees to broken bones.

Kimberly: We need an emergency room on our tour.

Reid: But the cherry on top is actually on the tour in Washington. There was a fight that broke out right in front of us on stage in the crowd and Tim McGraw actually broke it up. It was actually pretty cool.

Read the full interview here at The First 3 Songs!

Brad Gillis of Night Ranger Talks Touring, Downtime, and Replacing Randy Rhodes

Interview by Amy Harris at The First 3 Songs

Night Ranger is still alive and kicking in the heart of Rock n Roll after 30 years on the road. They have just released their 9th studio album Somewhere in California. The band is celebrating their long and glorious career on the road with 80s music staples Journey and Foreigner on the Eclipse Tour. Over the duration of the band’s time in the mainstream, they have produced seven top 15 singles including the always impressive “Sister Christian” which gets any crowd on their feet when the drums kick in.

Amy caught up with lead guitarist Brad Gillis to preview the show. Brad has great stories of the road and a look at his history with Night Ranger and touring with Ozzy Osbourne.

Amy: I have been listening to Somewhere in California which is your 9th album. I think my favorite song on the album is “Lay It On Me.” Can you tell me the story behind that song?

Brad: It’s funny that you ask because in our short set that we are playing with Journey and Foreigner, that is the opening song for our show. We all enjoy that song too. Our first video came out, “Growing Up in California,” and now we are looking into doing a video for “Lay It On Me.” I’m glad you like it. It’s a song where I brought in that heavy riff and we all got into the studio and started jamming on it and it ended up turning out the way it was and became the second song on the CD. So we like it a lot and it’s coming across live very well.

Amy: I think it comes back to the roots of the original music that you guys did through the years. I saw that there weren’t a lot of ballads on this record so you guys are going back to the rock n roll vibe on the new album in general right?

Brad: Yes, we decided to kind of get back to that kick ass Night Ranger music from the original three albums that made us famous Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, and Seven Wishes. We just wanted to get back to the big vocal harmony choruses, the twin lead guitar assault, and we were pretty excited to go into the studio, especially with our new guitar player Joe Hoekstra and our newest addition Eric Levy on keyboard. So it was great to get them in studio and bring the best out of them to create this new record. We took our time recording and spent a little over four months on this record. Usually we do records in two to three months. We just wanted everything right and exciting and the mixes to be great and we kind of went over time on our recording schedule but we all believe the final mixes came out great and are so happy that it is a worldwide release. We have already been to Japan, already been to Europe, and now we are out for three months with Journey, Foreigner, and Night Ranger on the road in the United States.

Amy: Did you guys come together and write it together or do you work separately when you write?

Brad: We all got into a room with musical ideas and started jamming on all these different riffs and stuff and then the vocals came later which is a different process for Night Ranger. Usually people come in with songs or chorus lyrics or some type of hook and we write music around it. But we just wanted to get into the studio and jam on some of these new ideas and kind of focus on the more up-tempo, exciting musical ideas and went on to finish those off. Like you said there is only one ballad on the record, I think mainly because we had so much energy and excitement in us that it is how it turned out.

Amy: You guys are obviously coming to Cincinnati tomorrow and you have been touring through here for years. I was curious to see if you had any crazy Cincinnati memories from the 80s or the original touring days?

Brad: I remember back in 1983 when we first came out, one of the first shows that we did was in downtown Cincinnati at this radio station on the sixth floor. I remember that it was crazy because the crew had to haul equipment up stairs instead of using an elevator to get to this live radio show we did.  I remember we had just come out with “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and the excitement was just beginning for Night Ranger and I remember doing that radio show in 1983. Somebody sent me pictures of us at the radio station doing that performance six months ago and it brought back memories of being there in Cincinnati. Cincinnati kind of has a warm place in my heart for Night Ranger because they were one of the first radio stations that put on our first single “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.”

Amy: There are bands that are getting lots of press like Kings of Leon right now who are having all this internal strife and cancelling tours at the peak of their career. Do you have any thoughts on that or what advice would you give bands today going through the process that you have been living for 30 years?

Brad: Well I guess the key to our success and longevity and the reason we get along so well is that we all have a sense of humor. We all like to make each other laugh and keep things positive. When you have been touring as long us, you have to make sure that everyone is getting along. We keep the humor up and joking around. On our days off, we all go sightseeing and go out for a nice band dinner. We just try to get along by keeping each other in check and keep the humor up. Because of that we seem to get along. This is our heaviest touring year since the 80s so we are kind of reliving the old experience of being out on the road for a long time. I think we are going to be up to about 100 shows total this year for Night Ranger and it’s pretty exciting to be able to have that much touring available to us and great packages to be playing on. We thank our lucky stars that we have a new record and a great tour going on and our key is just keeping everybody positive, happy, and keeping the humor rolling around.

Amy: What do you do on your downtime on the road?

Brad: On the downtime on the road, I collect vintage guitars and amplifiers, so I like to hit all the pawn shops and music stores on the road. We try to take in as many sites as we can see in each city, but there is only so much time allotted to us having to travel and having to play the opening slot in the Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger Tour. But when I am at home, I have a Harley that I ride around town. I live in the San Francisco Bay area. There are beautiful roads to ride on and nice back mountain roads. And personally, I do a lot of music for ESPN and Fox Sports. I am constantly writing music at home and trying to place that and spending time with my daughter and gearing up for the next Night Ranger gig.

Amy: You famously replaced Randy Rhodes with Ozzy Osbourne after his tragic death. What was that experience like for you and how did you go about coming back to Night Ranger after that?

Brad: When Night Ranger got together in 1980, we put together our demo with like five songs and we were trying to shop this demo and not having much luck. It was very time consuming with people trying to shop our new material. We did not want to play small clubs in the Bay Area. We wanted to hold off and get a record deal and go in big time like gangbusters with a new song on the radio. In that interim, I put together a band, the Alameda All Stars, and we were playing Ozzy tunes. When Randy’s tragic death occurred, two weeks later I got a call to go play with Ozzy and go to New York and finish the tour up. It was very exciting for me but very scary. I had never been in that type of situation where I was being thrown right into a headline situation where I had to learn all this intense material. I camped out in my hotel room for four days with a live cassette that Randy was on and the fifth night I played my first show, my first sold out Ozzy show in Binghamton, New York for like 7,000 people. It was very,very scary for me because I had never played with the band before and the only time I was able to play with the band was at the sound check the day of that first show. So we had gone on stage and it was very scary for me. After a few weeks, I started settling in and getting into the groove. And I remember doing a live broadcast from Memphis, Tennessee, King Biscuit Flower Hour, and our show was broadcast live throughout the US. I actually had a very good show that night, and after that I actually started relaxing in my position with Ozzy. It was a lot of intense touring. We were out for about 11 months total. Towards the end of the Ozzy tour, our bass player decided to leave Ozzy because his new band Quiet Riot had gotten a record deal. Rudy ended up leaving the band and about a month or two later, we got offered a record deal with Night Ranger. Being a side man with Ozzy, I felt in my heart that I would be more comfortable with Night Ranger because these were best friends of mine that I spent a couple years trying to get this project together and I was a full band member and not a side man. So I decided to quit Ozzy in the end and we had just recorded the live record Speak of the Devil with Ozzy with old Black Sabbath material and Night Ranger, we had our record Dawn Patrol finished in the can. When I re-joined Night Ranger, both records, Speak of the Devil from Ozzy and Night Ranger’s Dawn Patrol were released in the same week in early ’83. It was exciting I had two records charting at that time. Night Ranger hopped on a huge tour and next thing you know we were back out doing big shows opening for a lot of big acts at the time. We were fortunate enough to have MTV behind us so our videos all throughout the 80s were heavily played which helped with the recognition of the band.

Amy: That’s a great story. Do you have any regrets over the years?

Brad: Not at all. My career has always been going in a nice direction. It is just wonderful to see in this day and age 30 years later, after Night Ranger was conceived, we are having one of the biggest years that we have had since the 80s with the all the shows and the new record and the worldwide tour. You can’t ask for anything better than that.

Amy: What do you feel was your greatest rock n roll moment ever?

Brad: When I was 19 years old, when I just graduated high school, I was playing in club bands playing five nights a week. I got picked up by this band called Rubicon, and Jack Blades, our lead singer for Night Ranger was in that band. We got a record deal from 20th Century Fox Records and we did a small tour. The highlight of my life will always be playing Cal Jam 2 at Ontario Motor Speedway with Rubicon and the headliners were Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart, Santana, all these great bands. I will never forget that day, it was March 18th, 1978. I played in front of 250,000 people. It’s still to this day the biggest day of my life, being flown in, backstage, and helicopters, and taking limos everywhere. All my friends from the Bay Area drove down to see me and hang out with me at the show. After that, they made a live video for TV and showed us and a Double Live album from the Cal Jam 2. That was the biggest day of my career.


Amy Harris Talks to Nate Query of the Decemberists

The Decemberists are a very popular folk rock group with an easy sound that appeals to the mass audience while keeping their Indie edge. They believe that life as a musician means continual evolution and that over the course of a career, any band worth paying attention to will pursue a sound, a direction of great adventure. The Oregon based group has spread from the West Coast bars to filling venues throughout the country. They are currently touring behind their new album The King is Deadwhich debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. They have collaborated with members from My Morning Jacket, R.E.M., and even the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Amy spoke with bassist Nate Query. The two discussed the new album and tour. They also spoke about the upcoming break the band will be taking and where the band is headed. The Decemberists will be performing Thursday night at Riverbend. It would be smart to catch this widely popular act it will be the last time they play Cincinnati before their scheduled hiatus.

Amy: I’ve been listening to the new album The King is Dead this week and I wanted to start with some questions about the album and how you put it together. My favorite song was the “January Hymn” song, and I was just curious about the story behind that song.

Nate: Well, I’m a bass player not the songwriter so I won’t read too much into it. That song and “June Hymn” is Colin kind of doing an ode to the seasons in Portland, especially in the part of Portland that he lives which is near a big park with a forest. A lot of the imagery is about painting a vivid picture of January in Oregon.

Amy: Most of your songs are very vivid storytelling. Do you write as a band or does one person take the lead?

Read the full interview with Nate here at!

Ted Nugent Talks About Why “Google Sucks” and Sensationalized Hollywood Drug Abuse

Most recently Uncle Ted has taken heat for a recent episode of Piers Morgan on CNN with an interview on gun control where he attacks President Obama. “Anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead,” Ted Nugent tells CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Anybody that wants to make me unarmed and helpless, people that want to literally create the proven places where more innocents are killed called gun-free zones; we’re going to beat you. We’re going to vote you out of office or suck on my machine gun.”

Amy caught up with Ted to discuss his early roots in rock-n-roll music and the current tour.

Amy: What has been your greatest rock-n-roll moment?

Ted: Oh Lord, there has been a lifetime of nonstop spirit stimulating thrilling tsunamis of excitement and fun. Surely this tour is the most ferocious, high energy fun rock out of my life. My band is the best on earth.

Read the rest of Amy’s Interview (trust me you want to!) at (direct link to interview)

Hinder Talks Touring, Blackouts, and Ke$ha

All Hinder Photos By Amy Harris

Hinder is Oklahoma hard rock. The band, comprised of members Austin Winkler (lead vocalist), Joe “Blower” Garvey (lead guitarist), Mark King (rhythm guitarist), Mike Rodden (bassist), and Cody Hanson (drummer) blew up in 2005 with the release of their debut studio album Extreme Behavior which featured popular hits “Get Stoned” and “Lips of an Angel.” They are climbing the charts again with the single “What Ya Gonna Do” off their third studio album, All American Nightmare.

Amy Harris caught up with the band prior to their performance at Rock Fest when she traveled to Cadott, Wisconsin to check out the popular rock festival that has been around since 1994.They had time to discuss the new album and the festival life. The band will be rocking the entire summer hitting rock festivals all across the country.

Amy: You’re out here in the metropolis of Wisconsin. What did you guys do last night?
Austin:  We played a show in Indiana.

Amy: So you were on the bus last night?
Group: Yeah

Amy: Is this your first time at Rock Fest?
Austin: I don’t think so. I think we’ve played this before in 2007.
Blower: I know we’ve played this venue.
Austin: We played with Three Doors Down in ’07.

Amy: What can we expect today from the set?
Cody: Rain!
Austin:  Rain and Lots of wetness.
Cody: We’re going to get the chicks wet tonight.
Mark: God is doing it for us.
Cody: Wow!

Amy: That’s the line of the day. You guys were just at Rock on the Range. What was your craziest Rock on the Range story?
Mike: I think I pissed myself that night.
Amy: Any particular reason?
Mark: I don’t remember why because I was blacked out but I definitely woke up with some wet pants.
Cody: Shit I was so hammered that night, I might have pissed your pants.
Austin: I got so high, I didn’t know where the phone was.

Amy: Did you guys go to Rocklahoma after that or did you just go on tour?
Austin: Yeah, we did Rocklahoma for the first time. That was pretty awesome. It was about time too because we are from there.

Amy: I love the new album. It was one of my favorites that I listened to prep for Rock on the Range. I’ve been listening to it ever since. What are your favorite tracks to play live on the album?
Mark: “Two Sides of Me” is one of my favorites to play live. It’s a good little rocker.
Austin:  “What You Gonna Do” is one of my favorites to play recently.
Amy: It’s catchy. I can say it with you.
Mike: Tell that to radio.
Amy: It’s all over the radio. I’ve been in traffic coming into this place for a day and I think I heard it three times today. I think they got the memo that you were here. You guys have toured with some huge bands. Are there any other bands that you would like to tour with or play with?
Austin: I want to play with the Rolling Stones. That would be awesome.

Amy: You guys did Aerosmith for a few dates right?
Group: Yeah
Austin: That was badass.
Mike: I’d like to play with The Doors, if that was possible.

Amy: I had a question about “Striptease.” Any particular strippers or clubs that inspired that song?
Austin: I think it’s a lot of the bullshit that’s being shoved down people’s throats these days.
Cody: It’s more about a few of the pop artists and you can throw some reality stars in there.
Mike: Yeah, it’s kind of like they belong more in a strip club than they do on the radio or TV. That’s about how much talent they have.
Mark: Dude Ke$ha is talented, alright.
Amy: In more ways than one right?
Cody: I doubt that. I did just see a picture of her online yesterday with her holding her tits and a big wad of nut underneath.
Group: Are you kidding me?
Amy: Are we sure it was her?
Cody: Yeah, or it was some nasty bitch that looked just like her.

Amy: So what has been the highlight of 2011 for you guys so far?
Mike: I don’t think we have any super-big highlights.
Austin: The fact we have our third record out is pretty awesome. Being well-received by our fans, I think that’s pretty badass.
Mike: We might just make a highlight tonight.

Amy: I have to tell you. I was here last night and Rob Zombie made a highlight.
Cody: What did he do?
Amy: The stage, as you know is two-tiered. He said, “Everybody is too far away. Come up on the stage.” So all the girls came up on the stage with them for four songs. He said, “If you behave. Don’t fuck it up.” Next thing you know I am running onto the stage and at John 5’s feet.  So I think that shocked the security and the venue for a minute. So you guys can try it.  Nobody got hurt.
Mark: They are a lot braver than us.
Blower: A lot more scary looking too.

Amy: Any regrets over the years?
Mike: Yeah, we have lots of those. We have a whole bag of them.
Cody: We have tons of regrets and mistakes we have made over the years especially when you first start out being a band. You are green and you let outside people have a little too much control and make some bad decisions for you. If we could go back, we would probably have a lot more money.

Amy: Do you guys all still live in Oklahoma.
Austin: I don’t. I live in California.
Cody: But the rest of us do.
Amy: How often do you get home?
Cody: We just came from home. We have been home for quite a bit on this cycle. It’s been a little more relaxed. We’re out on this run for like seven weeks. So it’s good to be out.

Amy: Do you guys prefer to play festivals like this and Rock on the Range or your own shows where you have your own, obviously your fan base is here too, but when you have your own shows, you know who is there?
Autin: Either way, we bring the same show. I guess sometimes when we play like Rock on the Range, we only get a certain amount of time. We come in and play 40 or 45 minutes, that kind of sucks. I wish we could play longer. Other than that, we bring the same show no matter what.
Mike: It’s kind of cool too, to have a break from the same tour every night and have a few festivals stuck in there because the lineup is different, and there are different bands at all the festivals. So it’s cool to get a change from the everyday show.

Amy: Anybody you are looking forward to seeing today?
Blower: I’ve never seen Kid Rock so I am pretty stoked about that.

Amy: You guys are touring with the new album. Have you started working on any new music yet?
Austin: Not necessarily recording in the studio but we are always coming up with ideas and stuff on the road. We kind of never really stop writing.

Amy: What’s your process? Do you guys do it together or separately?
Austin: Usually me and Cody will sit down with acoustic guitars and write the nutshell of the song and bring it to the rest of the guys and they put their thing on it.
Amy: How does the feedback session go?
Mike: Pretty straight forward.

Amy: You guys have been together forever so you can take it right?
Group: Yeah
Amy: You guys had a ton of songs to pick from for this album?
Cody: We’re hoping to be able to recycle some of those and use some for the next record. There are some really great songs that didn’t make it. Hopefully we’ll pick some of them out for the next one.
Amy: We’ll you tonight at the show when we all get wet.

Photos from Hinder’s set at Rock Fest are here.

Interview and photos by Amy Harris at

Talking to Easton Corbin

Easton Corbin is one of the hottest new acts in all of country music. Since debuting in 2009 with his self-titled album, which reached as high as number four on the country album charts, he has been gaining great recognition. His first two singles, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It” skyrocketed to number one in country music. He has been nominated for 11 awards in his short career, taking home three of them, all at the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Amy spoke with Easton about the new success. They discussed the new tour life and how he is affected by being up on stage in front of thousands of fans. Easton Corbin is on tour with Rascal Flatts and will be coming to Cincinnati for a show at Riverbend Music Center on Friday, July 22nd.

Amy: You’ve had kind of a big year this year. How has your life changed in the last 12 months?

Easton: You know, for me, I travel a lot more. I’m not home a lot. And, of course, a lot more people recognize me. Those are probably the biggest changes you know. Once you’re big, there’s a lot of stuff going on with the schedule. It’s good and it’s a blessing. It’s always better to be busy than not.

For the rest of the interview head over to!

Shannon Larkin from Godsmack Sets the Record Straight

Interview by Amy Harris
Godsmack is in your face, kick you in the ass heavy metal. Not only do they not apologize for this, but they embrace it. They are touring and promoting their fifth studio release, the 2010 album, The Oracle.

As part of our 2011 Mayhem Festival coverage Amy spoke with Godsmack drummer, Shannon Larkin to promote the upcoming tour stop with the Mayhem Festival  in Cincinnati at Riverbend Music Center on July 20th. In the interview Shannon discusses the band’s writing process and is happy to set the record straight about crazy rumors with a famous rock star groupie.

Amy: I wanted to start with the important questions, I know you love football. What do you think is going to happen with the lockout?

Read the rest of the interview with Shannon at

John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls Speaks!

The Goo Goo Dolls have come a long way since they started in 1986 in the crumbling rust belt city of Buffalo, New York where the band was probably started for no better reason than to kill time, make some music, and hopefully get a few free beers from the clubs where they were lucky enough to get a gig. They have stayed together for over two decades and continue to create hits on the music charts. Their current single “All That You Are” is getting serious radio play and featured in the newest installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Dark of The Moon.

Amy spoke with vocalist and lead guitarist John Rzeznik about tour life, longevity, and the future of the super group. The band will be playing in Cincinnati at the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend on July 13t to support their current album Something for the Rest of Us.

On this album with his songwriting, Rzeznik confronts some of the issues that have become part of many people’s everyday lives.

Amy:  You guys have written a lot of songs over the years and had so many hits. What is the difference when you get asked to write songs for a movie soundtrack like Transformers or “Iris” from City of Angels versus just writing songs for touring or for a record?

To read the rest of the interview head over to

Amy Harris is a an established journalist and photographer from Cincinnati, Ohio.  She currently is a photographer and writer for Citybeat.

Jerms Speaks!

Dirge Within hit Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville on the 31st last month and Peter kidnapped Jerms for a few minutes.  See what happened below:

Ok, we really didn’t kidnap him, he was a willing  participant. Thank you to Jerms and Dirge Within for taking time to speak with us!

Check out the photos and review of the guys at Austin’s here, and check them out on the web:


New See Green Video: “Get What You Want”

See Green’s “Get What You Want”

For more information on See Green click here!

Adam Lambert: Transposing, Lip-Syncing, & Auto-Tune

Adam Lambert Glam Nation Tour For Your Entertainment

adam Lambert

The Dead Hub was lucky enough to get another opportunity to ask Adam Lambert a couple of questions pertaining to his debut album For Your Entertainment and current headlining Glam Nation Tour. Read what Adam had to say below in regards to transposing his tunes live, pitch correction plug-in Auto-Tune, and the dreaded act of lip-syncing… Dead Hub: Many of your songs have you belting and holding out some pretty high notes. Do you find yourself having to lower the key of any of your songs live in your set on this tour just as a means to save your voice? Adam Lambert: Yes. We have lowered a couple of the keys so that I can make sure that I am sounding my best every night. I worked with a vocal coach on the show and we sat [down] and looked at everything. We said, “Okay, so let’s take this one down a half step and maybe alter this one,” so that I can get through it every night.

adam Lambert

Dead Hub: As someone who can really sing and has Broadway musical experience, how do you feel about artists who lip-sync when performing live and use Auto-Tune in the recording studio?Adam Lambert: I think at the end of the day, whatever they need to do to make the song sound good is what it is about for them. I do not judge it. It is not for me. I am not going to be lip-syncing anytime soon. I am not really fond of Auto-Tune abuse. But it’s a style and it’s cool and it’s catchy. If it makes you sing along and it makes you dance, then the song is doing its job and that is the whole point. I just happen to prefer the style where it is more vocally driven.

Boys Like Girls Break It Down To Business & Break Even

Boys Like Girls
Love Drunk
The Bamboozle Roadshow

boys like girls

Boston power pop/rock quartet Boys Like Girls stopped through Chicago on The Bamboozle Roadshow and took a pretty significant chunk of time out of their schedule to chat with The Dead Hub. Boys Like Girls is Martin Johnson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Paul DiGiovanni (lead guitar), Bryan Donahue (bass), and John Keefe (drums).

“Heart Heart Heartbreak” sounds incredibly similar to “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi. When writing, recording, and producing the track was it your intention to emulate the Bon Jovi hit single in any way?

Martin: Did you see the YouTube that mashes them up? I’m really excited about it.

Bryan: I didn’t see it.

Martin: You know what it is? It’s the two hits at the beginning. I didn’t realize that until it was on the record. I probably would’ve changed the two hits if I had known so many people were going to talk about it. It’s just that I don’t really care. Bon Jovi’s sweet, so whatever. Everybody rips off everybody. [Copying] is the best form of flattery. Hey Bon Jovi, thank you, thank so much. Good song guys. It’s the two hits at the beginning. It’s the stealthy rock-and-roll hits. I guess we’re just keeping some stealthy rock-and-roll hits alive. We didn’t realize it until after the record [was finished] that it was kind of similar. I’ve never experienced ourselves in one of those “Wow, you ripped yourself off” or “Wow, you ripped somebody else off” video mashups. We got really excited. There’s this one with Nickelback where they rip themselves off. It’s a mashup of two [of their] songs.

Dead Hub: Well, all of their songs sound alike pretty much.

Martin: I’m not even a closet Nickelback fan. I’m a public Nickelback fan. I think they’re great.

Bryan: We all are. We made that public years ago.

Martin: We’re all public Nickelback fans. Check that out on YouTube [BLG/Bon Jovi mashup] and know that the band gets a good laugh out of it.

Read the rest of our interview with Boys Like Girls after the jump…

[Read more…]

Keri Hilson: The Writer and The Performer

Keri Hilson
Sears Centre Arena – Hoffman Estates, IL
April 10, 2009


First there was Ne-Yo. Then there was The-Dream. Now there’s Keri Hilson: the lastest behind-the-scenes songwriter to come out with her own album and enter the world as a performing artist. Read on to find out what Ms. Keri Hilson had to say about working with superstars Lil Wayne, Timbaland, and the real Kanye West.

[Read more…]

Chester French: Two Self-Proclaimed Narcissistic Dudes Who Know For Sure They’re Not Gay

Chester French
House of Blues – Chicago, IL
March 24, 2009

Chester French


Read my interview with D.A. Wallach (right) and Max Drummey (left) from Chester French after the jump!

[Read more…]

Lights on Doghouse Records, Old Navy, and “The Hills”

Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
October 31, 2008

  • What makes your songs and album (Lights – EP) stand out from some of the rest?  I’ll go back a little bit. I was raised a home-schooled kid, all right? Everything I did, artistically to educationally, was never based on what was around me. It was just based on my own ambitions and on my own perception of what success was. Even to this day, I make what I make and it happens to be in that genre and it happens to be whatever people want to put it in. I’m just doing my own thing. I’d probably be the last person who would know what makes it stand out. I suppose that’s up to the listeners.


Read the rest of my interview with Lights after the jump! [Read more…]

Fueled By Ramen’s Latest Success: The Cab

the cab group 1After interviewing The Hush Sound last month, I got to met Alex DeLeon (vocals) and Ian Crawford (guitar) from The Cab. For those of you unaware, The Cab is the lastest band signed to the hugely successful indie label, Fueled By Ramen. They recently released their debut album, Whisper War, this past spring. The band is also managed by the super successful management company, Crush Management. Almost every Fueled By Ramen and Decaydance band is managed by Crush. The Cab was first signed to Decaydance, an imprint indie label under FBR founded by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. The Cab already had something going for them since most fans of one FBR band are fans of all the rest of them. Whereas most people like artists from a wide variety of labels, Fueled By Ramen bands all share the same fans. It is seriously like a huge family. Being signed to Decaydance/FBR is like having a pre-generated fanbase handed to you upon having your first record released. Kids will be at your shows in a heartbeat. Read on to hear what Alex and Ian from The Cab had to say about the controversial Live Journal community, FBR Trash!

1) What have you noticed about crowds at recent The Cab shows?

Alex: Well, it’s been a huge difference because we toured a little bit before our record came out and shortly after. Then we had a month off. And then ever since we’ve come back from that month break, it’s been insane. Everyone knows the words now.

Ian: It’s completely different.

Alex: It’s not like they only know one or two songs. They know every word to every song. It’s just completely night and day. The first few shows we were just blown away – so excited. It’s a huge, crazy difference.

Ian: Their generosity has been incredible, too. They’re bringing us gifts. They’re making us signs and shirts.

Alex: It’s awesome.

Ian: Really appreciating what we do, and we really appreciate that.

2) How much do you rehearse for a tour?

Alex: We – as a band we rehearsed –

Ian: As a full band…

Alex: Like half a practice. We practiced half the set and then –

Ian: Somebody had to go somewhere. For some reason, it got cut short.

Alex: We didn’t really practice much for this tour.

Ian: We don’t really practice much for any tour.

Alex: Our first few shows are our practice, and then we kinda kick into gear; kinda wing it –

Ian: That was definitely the case on this tour.

Alex: We just ad lib a lot. We go with it, and figure out what songs kids are responding best to on the road. Then we kinda change our set from there. After the first week or two, we kinda know pretty much what it’s going to be for the rest of the tour.


3) What’s on The Cab’s rider?

Ian: We got a couple lactose guys, so pretty much anything dairy-free.

Alex: I enjoy Sunkist – orange soda. We’re all pretty different, so our rider goes from like he said, everything from lactose-free stuff to me, who, I love anything with fat and sugar; there’s lots of candy and soda.

Ian: I’m stoked for sushi in the future. Sushi on the rider.

Alex: Hopefully we get to the point where we can have nicer stuff like that.

4) When you’re in the studio, do you think about how the songs will sound live? Does that affect the decision as to which songs will make the record?

Alex: I don’t think we ever think about…I think when we record and write and album, or thinking about recording and writing an album…I mean, as we’re recording, a lot of times, we’re like, “This song’s going to be fun to play live.” But we definitely don’t let the live show affect the writing process, I don’t think.

Ian: It puts a safety net on everything – not thinking about how it’s going to be performed live. I know that’s something that I, when we first went into the studio, I was really concerned – “How is this going to sound live?” Then you kinda got to look past that.

Alex: The best song is the best song, you know what I mean? You can’t sacrifice good songs for a live performance.

Ian: Learning how to do it and pull it off is another half of the battle.

5) How do you decide which songs to play each night? Or do you play the same set for every show on the whole tour?

Alex: I think there’s so many factors. Some factors are what we want to play and what we enjoy playing. Then there’s what we think the crowd wants to hear – the response – what fans tell us what they like. What songs more kids know the words to. Then there’s also the factor…For example, the first week of this tour, I was extremely sick and I had no falsetto and no upper [range]. My upper range was completely torn up. We had to tweak the set. We couldn’t play certain songs, and then we played other songs instead. We tried a few different ones out. It literally just depends on everything. If we play Vegas, if we play our local shows or towns that we’ve played for a long time, we can play older songs maybe that aren’t even on our record because kids will know that and appreciate us going back to where we started. It totally depends on everything. There’s so many different things that go into what songs we’re going to play.

6) Do you ever change your set midshow, depending on your mood?

Alex: Hell, yeah. I look back at them and I’m just like, “You know, no ‘Sing Myself to Sleep’,” or “No…”

Ian: We say, “Can’t do that,” or “Hey, let’s play this song.” That’s happened.

Alex: Our most upbeat song is “Can You Keep A Secret?” and one show we thought was going to be kind of dead, so we weren’t going to play it. We were just going to play a more relaxed, chill song. The crowd, out of nowhere just went nuts! So we looked around and I was just like, “Play the song.” I looked at all of them and went up to them and told them all and then we just played it. It doesn’t happen every night, but if it needs to happen we make it happen.

7) How do you change things with every tour or show to make them different from your past tours and shows?

Ian: Just kind of what’s going on with us at the time. For example, at the first show of this tour, a fan brought this cape – a big, green cape that had dollar signs on it – for our bass player named Cash. So we took the cape and we’re all notorious for being goofballs and forgetting things –

Alex: It’s called the Cape of Shame. If you do something stupid, you have to wear it every night. A different person wears it every night, whether it be us or our techs, or whatever.

Ian: Anybody in the whole crew is involved with it.

Alex: But then also, I think our next few tours that are upcoming, we’re going to try and plan some of the styles and some of the ideas from our music videos – maybe incorporate that in the show. Obviously, the bigger a band gets, the more resources and opportunities they have to have better light shows and stuff like that. We have a lot of cool ideas if it ever gets to that point. Right now we’re just making do with what we have. Just trying to give the best show possible with our resources that we have right now.

Ian Crawford – Guitar


8 – What do you do on the road to relax?

Alex: We don’t have any time to relax.

Ian: Write music a lot.

Alex: We write music to relax. Any free time I have, I try to keep in contact with people back home and friends and family and all that. On off days, I like to have fun. Some of the guys in the band like to relax and just stay in the hotel and relax and rest on the off days. [For example] An off day we had a few days ago, I went to a zoo and a waterpark. Kinda get out there; have a little adventure. I’m into that kind of stuff.

Ian: Malls, movies.

Alex: I like getting out and I like seeing the places that we play. I don’t like staying in a hotel room or staying at the venue. I like to get out. I’m getting paid to see the world; I might as well see it instead of locking myself in a room.

9) What challenges, if any, did you face putting the album together?

Alex: Tons! The whole making an album is just a big challenge. Putting all your ideas together and sorting out the parts of the songs and coming to agreements. You want to challenge yourself in the studio to write the best parts possible, or to play it or sing it the best you can. Being in a band, there’s challenges every day – playing the best show you can. If you’re sick, you can’t just not play. You kinda have to fight through it. Driving can be a challenge – we wrecked our van. Everything is just a big challenge.

Ian: Yup, it’s all a big test.

Alex: You have to stay focused at all times. There are obstacles around every corner.

Ian: Especially making the album. We were just out of high school and adapting to being – living in this new place for two months. Recording in the studio and being away from everybody. We’d done a small tour before that, but besides that it was completely different than anything we’ve been involved with.

10) How would you categorize your music?

Ian: R&Bemo.

Alex: Soulful rock – soulful pop rock. We take all of our influences and put them together. Take my R&B soul influences and Ian’s classic rock influences to straight piano pop. I think that’s what cool about our music – is it’s not one genre. I don’t think it can be categorized in one word. It’s a few different things combined. I think that’s part of the thing that makes us, as a band, different than a lot of the other stuff that’s being done right now.

11) Who are some of your favorite bands?

Alex: Me and Ian are polar opposites. I don’t even listen to bands. I like Jason Mraz, Justin Timberlake. Then I like Maroon 5 and bands that we’ve toured with. I really enjoy Sing It Loud, We The Kings – our friends. I listen to everything. I listen to Lil’ Wayne, I listen to Justin Timberlake, and I listen to –

Ian: Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones.

Alex: John Mayer. We listen to everything. That’s part of what makes us unique – our influences and just the different music that we put together.

12) How has your life changed since your success?

Alex: What hasn’t changed? We went from being – I mean, I played sports in high school. I got really good grades in school. I went from being just a regular high school kid that kind of had a band on the side, to being thrown into having the band be the only aspect of my life. To being stuck in a van for eight months in a row, and just touring – writing music all the time. It was a complete 180. I went from being a normal high school kid to being in a signed band with all these expectations and pressures. It is a huge difference. Ian lived in Seattle. Ian had to pack his bags, and move in one day’s notice.

Ian: I got a phone call and I was on a plane three hours later.

Alex: It was super hectic and it still is. We’re still adjusting to all the changes that we had to make.

13) What advice would you give those interested in playing in a band as a career?

Alex: Work hard.

Ian: Make music you love and work hard at it. Give it everything you have.

Alex: I think people underestimate songs. I think people focus on playing shows or how they look on stage. Those are obviously very important, but I think if you focus – if your songs are good enough, everything else kinda doesn’t matter. If you write good songs, people will definitely follow you and follow those songs. I think just focus on writing that song. If you write that song, then you should be pretty set.


14) How did you start playing your instruments?

Ian: I started when I was about 11. My dad – both my parents were very into music. They kind of inspired me to pick up an instrument and start playing it. As soon as I did, they were the ones that were always snagging at me to keep doing it. “You said you wanted a guitar for Christmas, now you better play at least a half an hour a day and live up to it.” They kinda influenced me to keep going at it.

Alex: I got my first guitar when I was 14. I’m still not a very good guitar player. My dad and my grandma were singers growing up, so I was always around a big family of music. I was always going to my dad’s shows and he got me into guitar. I never knew I could sing until Cash, our bass player, forced me to. So I just kinda came into that. I’ve been into music my whole life, but like I said, I started playing instruments when I was 14.

15) What were the first songs you learned to play?

Alex: My first two songs I learned how to play on the guitar were “Radio” by Alkaline Trio and “God Called In Sick Today” by AFI.

Ian: First song I ever learned was “Down By The River” by Neil Young – bunch of Neil Young. My dad was a huge Neil Young fan, so I just had a songbook and I just learned all that.

16) Who were some of the bands you first saw live at shows you went to growing up?

Alex: My first few concerts that I remember… I think my first concert ever was Garth Brooks and then I saw… The first concert that I wanted to go to was ‘N Sync. I was the only boy – little boy – there. But it definitely got me to where I am, so I’m stoked. I think my first big rock concert – I went to a lot of local shows and smaller shows – but my first arena rock concert was Incubus. That was insane. That really got me into wanting to be in a band – seeing Incubus and Brandon Boyd, for sure.

Ian: My first one that I really remember was REM. I saw them quite a few times growing up, so they were a really big influence.

17) How do you improve your skills on your instruments while out on the road and holed up in the recording studio? Do you have a practice regimen?

Ian: We all have different things. I like to just sit in a room and play the same thing over at least 200 times before I get it right and then just keep working at it. I don’t know; everyone has their own ways…

Alex: As a singer, you kinda get better every day, just singing along to songs. I think what makes me a better singer is, the more music I listen to – the more different varieties of music I listen to – the different vocalists that I can be inspired by… Whether it be like soulful R&B people or super old school blues. It really makes your mind think differently when you’re writing melodies and when you’re singing. So I think just the more music I listen to, the better of a vocalist I become. And the more diverse of a voice I get.


18) How do you feel about the whole Guitar Hero and Rock Band game phenomenon?

Ian: I think it’s awesome. I suck at it, but I think it’s awesome. I think it’s kind of given an opportunity for kids younger than us, or just really anybody that isn’t as familiar with that kind of music. The music that inspired even yesterday’s music really and then today’s music. It digs deep into what people listen to now and shows how people really were influenced by that and made today’s music.

Alex: See I’m kind of on the other end. There’s two sides to it. I think there’s that side, and I think there’s also the side… It’s kind of allowing kids to cheat the whole picking up an instrument and working hard to become good at it. Kids don’t have to pick up a guitar anymore to play it, they kinda just press buttons on plastic in front of a TV. It’s just making our generation lazier. I think it’s cutting into the whole point of working hard to become a musician. Kids feel that they can become a musician like I said, by sitting on the couch and picking up a controller. There’s both ways to look at it.


19) What are your thoughts on FBR Trash?

Alex: It’s one of those things where people are going to say what they want. That website specifically, it’s always back and forth. They either love you and almost worship you, or they hate you and there’s like, death threats. There’s some great fans on there. It’s really supportive and it gets our faces and our name out there more. It’s cool that people even care enough to talk about us. That’s how I look at it. The fact that they care enough to talk good or bad – it’s awesome. But then there’s times where…[For example] One fan got mad because she asked me sign something and I signed it and I was like, “Thank you, sweetheart.” I went on the website later and she was mad because she goes, “He just took my maraca,” which I signed, “and just scribbled on it.” So she was literally – she literally called me a bad person because my signature was not the way I guess she wanted it to look –

Ian: Not up to par for her.

Alex: It wasn’t good enough for her, so somehow it made me some arrogant jerk that my signature didn’t look pretty enough. Stuff like that – I laugh at stuff like that. If that’s literally what you’re going to be mad at me and my band about, then it’s like, whatever. It’s funny. A lot of times we go and we crack up at how immature it is, and how funny it is. It’s pretty funny.

Ian: They obviously gotta care about you somewhat if they’re gonna…It’s like in high school, or even in school growing up, where there’s that girl that’s really mean to you, but you later find out that she really likes you.

Alex: If that’s what they wanna do in their spare time and that’s what they choose to do with their lives, so be it. I’m following my dream, I’m making music and seeing the world. There’s really nothing they can say to make me feel bad about what I’m doing.

Ian: If there’s money to be made on the website, somebody else’s dream is being accomplished.

Alex: If they want to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel bad, then so be it. It doesn’t affect us, we just laugh at it. It’s pretty funny, it’s really funny.

20) Why and how did you choose ‘The Cab’ as the name for your band? Does it mean anything to you?

Alex: There’s not really a meaning. It was just the most simple thing me and Cash [Colligan – bass] could come up with. We didn’t want to be categorized. We didn’t want our name – people to see our name – and categorize or put us in a group. If your name is ‘Last Thursday’s Bloody Romance,’ people are going to put a label on you – by your name. I think ‘The Cab’ is so simple. I think it’s catchy and simple to where people have to dig a little deeper and listen to our music before they know who we are as a band.

Alex DeLeon – Vocals

21) What are some of the important lessons you have learned from music professionals with more experience in the biz?

Alex: For me, I’ve learned a lot about – first off, physically, my voice. I have to drink a lot of water and I have to get more rest. I can’t yell as much. This is my job and my throat’s my instrument, so I have to really take care of it. You always have to stay true to yourself and no matter how much success you see… I was the kid at the shows that would wait after shows and try to meet the people that I looked up to. Try to meet the bands; get them to sign my shirt, or get a picture with them. I remember the people that were super rude to me, and that were too good for me. I vowed never to be that guy. So it’s like I’ve learned a lot from the people that made me feel really bad as a kid. I learned a lot from the people that treated me bad. It just showed me what not to do. Also, the people that were great to me and nice to me showed me who I want to be like. I’ve learned a lot, not even from reading or anything, just from leading by example.

Ian: Absolutely – their attitudes and their playing. The good ones will definitely gravitate toward you. You’ll learn a lot from them – shun the other ones out.

22) What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from mistakes you have made during your career so far?

Alex: We’re still pretty young. I think we’re still young and learn every day. We make mistakes all the time. Whether it be little mistakes like me and my microphone used to always fall out – the cable used to always fall out of the microphone – so I’ve learned to tape it. You learn little things like that, but you also learn bigger things like relationship things with other bands or with fans. You learn a lot. I don’t know if I can pinpoint it. I don’t even think we realize what we’re learning. We just kinda learn and every day we grow as people, and as musicians and as a band. I think you just learn together and build together.

Ian: It’s very subliminal. You’ll look at it – even go back a few weeks – and you’ll be like, “Oh, that was a lot different.” Then you’ll see how you’re doing something now and you don’t even realize it’s happening. Just being on the road will eventually build up your level of a musician without even realizing it.

23) What are your thoughts on having your recorded live performances downloaded for free by your fans (no revenue stream coming in from online performance rights royalties)?

Alex: It’s whatever. It doesn’t really bother me. I like playing music. My favorite part of all of this is writing music, so that petty stuff doesn’t really bother me. As long as I’m touring and writing and making music I love and seeing the fans…It doesn’t really bother me.

Ian: It’s gonna happen anyways.

Alex: Yeah! If we don’t want it to happen, it’s gonna happen, so you kind of just have to deal with it. It’s just not really a big deal. It’s just where we’re at in the world. At this day in age, that’s what’s going on. The more you fight it, the more it’s going to happen.

24) Who influenced and/or helped you with the business side of your career and how much did you know about the inside of the music industry before making deals and signing contracts? Basically, what did you understand about publishing, licensing, touring, merchandise, major vs. indie labels, marketing, production, radio, etc.?

Alex: Not really. We found a management company. Our management company is the best and the most trustworthy group of people. I think when we went with our manager and that company, I think we put a lot of faith and trust in their hands. Any question we have, they talked us through it, or they sat us down and they’d say, “Ok, this is what’s going to happen, and this is what it means.” There’s not very many people you can trust in this industry, or in this world. But we definitely have a lot of trust and faith in Crush Management and just the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with. I think we’re surrounded by a good group of people who genuinely care about each other. Who care about the music and no so much the numbers and dollar signs. We like to ask questions – I ask a lot of questions. It’s good to know. It makes you feel more safe and comfortable if you know exactly why things are happening and not just what’s happening and where things come from.

Ian: It’s better to ask what you think is a stupid question than to just sit back and let somebody take care of something and you don’t know what’s going on, because you don’t know what could happen.

25) As far as commercial music licensing goes, what television shows would you enjoy having your music placed and featured in?

Alex: My favorite TV show is Nip/Tuck, so I’d be stoked if our song was on Nip/Tuck.

Ian: Lost!

Alex: Any TV show would be awesome.

26) Who would you love to tour with or open for? Write songs with?

Alex: I would like to write with Ne-Yo. I would like to tour with Maroon 5 or Justin Timberlake.

Ian: I would like to collab and tour with John Mayer – definitely would be cool. Eric Clapton. I’d be stoked on that.

27) What was it like having Patrick Stump help produce and sing on your record? What did you learn from your experience with him?

Alex: I learned more from Patrick in three days than I did from everyone else combined musically in my life. He just teaches you so much about how to carry yourself and how to perform to the best of your abilities. His thoughts and ideals on the music business – in the industry – is just amazing. He’s just such a smart guy and he’s so underrated. Don’t get me wrong – love Pete – Pete’s our boss. Pete is the forefront of that band and I think so many people overlook how amazing and smart Patrick is. He’s the man. I don’t even know what to say about him, but I learned so much from him. He nails everything in his first take.

Ian: Literally. He walked into that vocal booth for “One of THOSE Nights” –

Alex: He walked in the vocal booth for his part on “One of THOSE Nights,” and first try, laid it down, walked out and he goes, “What that good?”

Ian: Yup, it was all right.

Alex: It’s on the CD – first try. He’s amazing.

28) Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?

Ian: We love you.

Alex: Just thank you for everything. We hope to see you guys on tour. We’ll probably be touring for the rest of our lives. It seems to be the pattern. See you soon.

My Time with The Hush Sound

The Hush SoundThe Hush Sound recently played a hometown show at the House of Blues while in the middle of their summer Dance Across The Country Tour promoting their new album, Goodbye Blues. Before they hit the stage to a SOLD OUT crowd of adoring Chicago fans, friends and family, I got to talk with lead singers/songwriters Greta Salpeter and Bob Morris. Just a heads up – about 3/4 of the way into the interview, Bob had to leave to go soundcheck, since he was singing with the first opening band. Among the topics we discussed were: bags of weed, iced coffee, Tim and Eric, Guitar Hero, New Kids On The Block, Rock Band, The Young and the Restless, ‘N Sync, Patrick Stump, and even FBR Trash. Read on to hear what Greta and Bob had to say about THAT…

1) With three studio albums to choose from, how do you decide which songs to play each night? Or do you play the same set for every show on the whole tour?

Greta: Well, this tour definitely is focusing on the new record, but in a way we kind of just started at the beginning of the set and after each song we went, “Well, what do we want next?” When you’re building a set you want there to be a lot of dynamics. So we just kinda pick songs according to that. Instead of playing three or four ballads, we play one slow ballad from the new record and maybe one from the old record.

Bob: We don’t do the same thing every night either. Sometimes people will come up to us and specifically want a certain song that wasn’t in our set and we’ll try and accommodate. We try and mix it up just to make sure everybody… If there’s a special song for someone that they want to hear, we try and play it for them.

2) Does anybody get to make an executive decision if the band can’t agree on song selection?

Greta: We haven’t gotten to the point where we haven’t agreed on it.

Bob: Yeah, and when we disagree it’s usually like, “Ah, I think this would be better, but let’s try it your way, and if it doesn’t work…” Usually we all agree if it works or not.

Greta: Yeah, usually playing it at one show and seeing how the audience reacts is enough to test whether or not something’s gonna go over well.


3) What prevents you from playing different sets every night? Can you change songs in midshow, depending on your mood?

Greta: Oh, yeah you definitely can. I mean, to me it gets boring when you know exactly what’s coming next every minute; it’s really not exciting anymore. Like already, two weeks into tour, we’ve been playing a pretty similar set and I’m kinda like ready to change it up now.

Bob: We play a similar set, but even still we change it every night almost. We still have to talk about Where We Went Wrong [addressing Greta].

4) Do you plan shows differently when playing in Chicago?

Greta: Yeah, like there’s one song we play where we all switch instruments. Like I play drums, and our drummer sings. We did it the last time we played a big Chicago show, so it might not be a good idea to do it twice in a row.

5) What have you noticed about crowds at recent The Hush Sound shows?

Bob: They’re getting older.

Greta: They’re growing up.

Bob: There are more men.

Greta: Yeah!

Bob: Which is awesome, because I love men [long dramatic pause] at our shows.

Greta: Haha, when that’s typed out, there’s going to be no note of sarcasm. It’ll just be like, “Bob: I love having men at our shows. I love men.”

Bob: I love men…at our shows.

6) How much do you rehearse for a tour?

Bob: We usually try and practice for at least an hour…once.

Greta [laughing at Bob’s sarcasm]: No, you know, we were home for three weeks before this tour. After the last tour, which was two and a half months, we took a good week off from each other and then all kinda went and did our own things. We’ll build a set, which takes a few days. And then we pretty much just spend a week running a set.

Bob: It’s funny doing like a headlining set, because it’s so long and you only get to do it every now and again. So it’s like, you start off, and it just seems extremely overwhelming – you’re just like, “Ugh, how are we going to do this?” And then the next day it’s like, “Ok.” Pretty soon, it’s crazy – if you’ve ever been in a high school musical or something – just the way it all just kinda comes together really fast. And then all of a sudden, you play your first show, and make your little changes and then everything’s good.


7) What’s on The Hush Sounds’ rider?

Bob: It’s hard for me to remember.

Greta: Well, it depends…

Bob: We don’t really get it all that often anymore.

Greta: Yeah, we don’t get it all that often. Definitely water, tea. I usually just ask for fresh fruit and organic vegetables, but…

Bob: I like wine. Love the wine. There’s some veggie tray, etc. Nothing crazy. Sharpies.

Greta: No underwear, condoms, drugs, weed, puppies, small children…none of that stuff.

Bob: Bag of weed. We went on tour with a band that had bag of weed on their rider, and they got it.

Greta: We played at a college! At a college, they gave them a bag of weed and what’s it called – some kind of air freshener – and were like, “If you’re gonna smoke it, use this.” Like as if that’s just gonna totally clue the police to go the opposite way.

8 – When you’re in the studio, do you think about how the songs will sound live? Does that affect the decision as to which songs will make the record?

Greta: I mean, to me, a lot of the time. It’s kinda fun to write a song and then keep in mind how are people – where will people get involved singing this part or that part. So, I guess yeah.

Bob: Yes and no, because sometimes you don’t wanna worry too much about that’ll all come later on. But yeah, there are times when you, of course envision yourselves playing. And that’s how you know if you’re going to feel comfortable continually playing a song.

Bob Morris – Guitar/Vocals


9) How do you change things with every tour or show to make them different from your past tours and shows?

Greta: I guess it’s not something you really plan. A lot of the change has to do with the crowd and the dynamic in the crowd. Sometimes you’ll get some really exciting, strange or rude talkative people who really make it different than it used to be. I mean, I guess we do different arrangements; try to get the crowd singing in different places and everything.

Bob: We like to make the audience part of our instrumentation. Which is good when the audience is a good musician.


10) What do you do on the road to relax?

Greta: Well, the problem is that there’s too much relaxation on the road, so it’s rather “What do we do to keep active?” I guess is the question? Because literally, on the road, if you wanted to you could lay down for 22 hours a day – if you wanted to and not do anything. So it’s more like what to do to keep active. I don’t know, I do yoga, we [her and Bob] go for bike rides.

Bob: Yeah, I like to go for bike rides with Greta. And I also just love to explore the cities.

Greta: Yeah, we walk around a lot. I go to thrift and vintage shops – book shops, record stores. Read a lot, write a lot.

Bob: I usually try and hit a Starbucks every morning.

Greta: Pretty much, we realized that when there isn’t a place to get iced coffee, we suffer in the day. Like the day’s missing something for sure, which is sad, but true.

11) What challenges, if any, did you face putting the new album together?

Greta: You know, one of the biggest challenges with having two songwriters is trying to make cohesive records, I’d say. Which, some people really like that about our band – that there are the Greta songs and the Bob songs. And then some people say they don’t want all the songs to sound so different. They want all of us to be singing on everything. With two songwriters, there’s always going to be a challenge of us writing stuff that’s coming from totally different places. So it’s probably one of the hardest, but also one of the most exciting things, is just picking the shape of what we want our record to look like. Another challenge is always picking where you want to record it, with who’s going to produce it, and who’s going to engineer it, and how you want it to sound. Getting everyone to agree on stuff like that is definitely a challenge, but again also very exciting.


12) How would you categorize your music?

Greta: Golden, like a sunset. A bubble bath. Sixties dance party at the beach. Bowling. Finger-painting. Sprinkles! Water color. Mexican buffet.

Bob: I don’t know. That’s so hard to categorize yourself, because I don’t know how people see us. I know how I see us. But I guess how I see us is just –

Greta: A Mexican buffet.

Bob: A Mexican buffet, or maybe a Gospel brunch?

Greta: A Gospel brunch. A backyard barbeque on the Fourth of July. And tie-dying t-shirts. Can you put all those images next to each other [addressing me]?

Bob: In her mind?

Greta: No, I mean in the answer. Okay, that’s it.


13) What makes your band stand out from others in your genre of music?

Bob: We just sound completely different. And I don’t know if there are bands in our genre that exist.

Greta: I don’t know, I mean if our genre is pop music, that’s kind of a big scene, haha.

Bob: When you put us next to any other band – there’s a lot of bands that sound the same, but I don’t think we sound like any of them.

Greta: We get a lot of questions like, “How do you differ from your labelmates?” So when people say genre, they are automatically are saying Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, The Hush Sound, The Cab, Paramore, all these bands that are on the same label. And definitely to me, none of those bands sound like each other. I think if you have a musical ear, it’s hard to say that they sound like each other. For us, I don’t know a band out there that sounds like us, which is good because we’re trying to be the first Hush Sound, not the next whoever else already exists. But how would we categorize it? I don’t know. Fun, imaginative music that we’re kinda making for ourselves for fun and hoping that other people enjoy.

Darren [Wilson – drums/vocals]: Four, unique personalities coming together to make a unique sound.

Greta: Yeah, and actually attracting a lot of unique people. We go on other headlining tours and you see that each band has a very particular kind of fanbase. I feel like the people who come to our shows are so unique and interesting. And most of the time they’re like, really creative, either in the arts, or in music, or in kinda whatever. Everybody has something really cool to offer. So it’s nice to know that it’s attracting that kind of people, I guess.

14) Who are some of your favorite bands?

Greta: Of all time?

Bob: The Beatles. The Beatles, easily. Tom Petty, Neil Young.

Greta: Joni Mitchell, and the whole Motown collection. Carole King.

Bob: Leon Russell.

Greta: Yeah, Leon Russell, Elton John.

Bob: Yeah, we have pretty eclectic tastes. But, we’ve become hip to some of the newer stuff lately too, thanks to Phantom Planet pretty much.

Greta: Like, the new Phantom Planet record’s great.

Bob: Yeah, the new Phantom Planet record’s great.

Greta: There’s a band called Simon Dawes from L.A. and their record is really incredible.

15) How has your life changed since your success?

Greta: You know, I don’t think you’ve really made it until your music has lasted 20 or 50 years and people are still singing it. To think – for anyone to think in this field that they’ve made it – particularly at our level and at our age – I think would be really disappointing. Because once you’ve “made it,” where do you go from there? You know what I mean? So to me, it’s like we’re just at the tip of where we start to feel the success that we want. To speak for everybody, and correct me if I’m wrong [addressing Bob], I feel like success for us is making records the way we want to make them, the songs we want to put on them, and releasing them so that a lot of people get a lot of genuine satisfaction out of it. It’s really hard in a modern day situation, with the music industry right now. Sometimes some people in situations – particularly with major labels – are in a boat where they can’t put out the songs that they want because it’s not radio-friendly, or because of this or because of that. We, so far have been able to make the records that we want and have been able to get really good distribution and get stuff out. So that’s a certain level of success right there. Just doing it the way we want to do it. I think continuing to do that would be success for us.

16) What advice would you give to those interested in playing in a band?

Bob: Listen to music. Love music.

Greta [in a creepy, evil voice]: Quit now, while you’re ahead.

Bob: Quit, so that we don’t have as much competition. It’s all competition, it’s not creativity. It’s competition. No, the first part is true – listen to music, love music. Learn about music. Don’t just listen to one kind of music.

Greta: Try to get a vehicle that runs on air, because gas is so expensive.

Bob: It’s hard to be in a band.

Greta: It’s really hard to be in a band right now. It’s hard to do everything right now.

Bob: It’s not hard to be in a band, it’s hard to make any money…

Greta: Touring…

17) How did you start playing your instruments?

Greta: I started when I was two, or younger. I guess I’m just kind of a natural. My mom played piano.

Bob: I wanted to be a drummer. My parents bought me a little drum set. I broke it in a day. They thought it was so annoying when I had it for that day anyways, they probably it broke for me, I don’t even know. And then they just bought me a guitar because it was quieter. I asked for drums all the time, then they’re like, “Here’s this guitar.” I’m like, “Ok,” and then I loved it.

18) What were the first songs you learned to play?

Bob: I learned Korn – “Blind.”

Greta: Oh my God, the first song I learned on guitar was Mest – “Drawing Board.” It was hilarious.

Bob: “Drawing Board,” I taught her that. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are.”

19) Who were some of the bands you first saw live at shows you went to growing up?

Greta: Oh my God, Catch 22 was one of my first shows. Weezer was also one of my first shows, which I’m still very proud of.

Bob: Weezer? Really?

Greta: I saw Weezer when I was 12 and it was amazing. Yeah, I think that was it.

Bob: The first concert I ever went to was New Kids On The Block, but I didn’t want to go. I swear!

Greta: I saw ‘N Sync when I was maybe nine, but no girl can be – actually no, ‘N Sync was good. I’m proud of that choice. I was going to say no girl can be held responsible for her choices when she was nine, but they were good! I liked them. Oh my gosh, my parents went to great lengths – they found some bookie and got tickets for my birthday.

20) How do you improve your skills on your instruments while out on the road and holed up in the recording studio? Do you have a practice regimen?

Greta: To me, when you term it “practicing,” it’s kind of the same reason why I quit playing piano when I was 13. It was like, “Oh, there’s discipline. You have to run scales, you have to learn pieces, everything has to be perfect.” For me, that makes music a real turn-off, because it’s not about perfection. It’s about the originality of the songs you’re writing, and then from there you want to learn to play them well. Instead of calling it “practice time” or “improvement time,” it’s more about listening to a song you love, and you love it so much that you want to learn it. And so you learn it. And then maybe you learn it on every instrument, and then if you wanted to, you could go record it, or whatever. You know what I mean? It’s more fun and exploration than it is specifically wanting to get better at my instrument. I think that when you pursue things with a genuine curiosity, and with a genuine hunger, you automatically get way better. Maybe than you would otherwise if you were super disciplined about it. But if you’re asking physically how we do it, we have acoustic guitars and a practice keyboard, and all sorts of stuff.

21) What are your thoughts on FBR Trash?

Bob: I just discovered this. The Cab has talked about it. I couldn’t imagine anyone giving a shit about that. That’s straight up what that is, right there.

Greta: What is it?

Bob: It’s a Live Journal thing of people talking trash about Fueled By Ramen bands, as if you could classify all Fueled By Ramen bands as something that you should talk shit about. I don’t know… I couldn’t possibly care less.

Greta: Oh. I’m generally opposed to just putting negative energy out there for no reason.

Bob: I also couldn’t imagine being that much of a loser to sit online and talk trash about people that you don’t know. So, those people should really be ashamed of themselves. Apparently, they don’t say anything bad about us – supposedly, I haven’t read it.

Greta: That’s because we’re not mega-successful. As soon as a band gets successful, people start bad-mouthing them.

Bob: Yeah, can’t wait.

Greta: I just feel like, I don’t know. People like that need to get hobbies. No – honestly, seriously, people like that need to figure out what they want to do with their life and then just start pursuing it. I don’t know.

Bob: They’re losers. That just bums me out that the people exist. Exactly.

Greta: Now this interview will be published and everyone will put it up and be like, “They’re so lame! They said we need to get hobbies. They’re losers.”

Bob: “I can’t believe how dumb they are. Let’s talk about how dumb they are.”

Greta: I feel like Gabe [Saporta – from Cobra Starship] will get involved in anything, anytime possible, ever. If there’s something going on, no matter if it’s negative or positive, he’s there. I think that’s just kind of his thing.

Greta Salpeter – Piano/Vocals

22) How do you feel about the whole Guitar Hero and Rock Band game phenomenon?

Greta: I think that’s fantastic.

Bob: I think it’s cool. It’s cool the way that they get kids into older music.

Greta: I think it’s cool, too. If I was a parent and my kid wanted to play drums, I would totally get them Rock Band first, so they weren’t making a huge, crazy ruckus every day.

23) What are some of the important lessons you’ve learned from music professionals with more experience in the biz?

Greta: Well, that once you start making music, either just for money or just for other people, it just becomes really soulless and no fun at all. I feel like sometimes you see people who have done that, and maybe are regretful of it. And then also, on the bright side, you can do this forever and stay really young and have a really great time just kind of be a kid forever. And that’s what most people we’ve gone on tour with have taught me. What about you [addressing Bob]?

Bob: That pretty much hits the nail on the head, I think. I don’t know… You have to business-savvy to be a successful musician. There’s just way too many bands out there – way too many people trying to do this. There’s a lot of creative, awesome intelligent people that will never be successful. We know some of them. It’s interesting seeing it because, you just want to be like, “Hey, if you just would do this, then this amount of people would hear your band, and that would be good for your band.” It’s not a sacrifice as much as it is making smart moves and whatnot. You have to be savvy to a certain degree. But at the same time the most important thing has to be the music, otherwise what’s the point of being savvy?

24) How much did you know about the business side of the music industry before you started signing contracts and making deals?

Greta: Oh, nothing! I was 16 when we signed, or maybe I had just turned 17. We were babies – we had no idea. Fortunately, we ended up in really good hands. We ended up with a great management company and a really honest label. Which is better than probably 95% of people who get signed at the age that we do. First of all, we got really lucky. And then second of all, we learned very quickly. I went out and bought a book on like, “How Not to get Ripped Off in the Music Industry…Here! 200 Vocabulary Terms You Need to Understand Your Record Contract.” I basically got us a lawyer and started negotiating our contract. Which, again you learn a lot quickly by just keeping your eyes open and talking to people. But, the whole business side of everything is – I hate to say falling apart – but really, now it’s becoming almost… To survive, bands need to be totally, or nearly totally, do-it-yourself. Have a great management company, but other than that, try to do your own distribution. You can even make your own videos, design your own merch.

25) Who influenced and/or helped you with understanding publishing, licensing, production points, artist royalties, etc.?

Greta: Management and lawyers. I read a lot on my own, so I guess management and lawyers and myself. But that’s not what I want to be focusing on. I don’t want to be focusing on how to sell music. I want to be focusing on writing better music. If I wanted to be a millionaire right away, I would probably be in med school right now, or whatever. I probably wouldn’t be doing this if I was in it solely for making the dollar. Though I wouldn’t mind…

26) What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned from mistakes you’ve made during your career so far?

Greta: I don’t think we’ve made any serious mistakes. The one mistake we almost made was breaking up. Just because we were so exhausted from touring for a year in a van and were not getting along. But that was the one mistake we could’ve made that we avoided, which I’m really glad…

27) What are you thoughts on having your recorded live performances downloaded online for free by your fans?

Greta: To me, despite the fact that YouTube means that you can have every single second of your awkward puberty phase of your career put on video, I think that when it comes down to taping live performance, the band needs to be able to say when something can or cannot be used. We’re totally comfortable with playing live and with recording live. We did the Daytrotter Session, where we go in and we pick five songs. We recorded them live and they’re available for free on their website – I think it’s But there are just days when you’re playing sometimes, like if your monitor goes out, and you can’t hear anything. Obviously you’re not singing in key, you have no clue what’s going on. Sometimes there’s technical stuff that just really doesn’t reflect your level of musicianship and I just think a lot of bands would probably get a worse rep if one of those performances got out. I think definitely that wouldn’t be fair unless bands could promote it.

28) As far as commercial music licensing goes, what television shows would you enjoy having your music placed and featured in?

Greta: You know what’s hilarious – we never anticipated this, nor did we really reach out to them, but The Young and the Restless is putting Hurricane on one of their commercials, which to me is just kinda funny because whatever, it’s soap opera land. And then House used Medicine Man for something. I’m trying to think of what TV shows we like. Most of the TV shows we really like already have all their own music. Like, Tim and Eric – specifically they design funny music. Curb Your Enthusiasm has the Jewish waltzes. I’ve never seen Grey’s Anatomy. It seems like a lot of people have made their break from being on Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, I don’t even have a TV. Maybe HBO shows that are actually decent. It would be cool to have a song on there. I honestly haven’t seen a TV show in a long time.

29) Who would you love to tour with or open for? Write songs with?

Greta: Last time we played in Chicago was the same night Rilo Kiley was playing. A friend of mine who knows them took us to their show and we met them. They were super nice and put on a great show. It would be really fun to tour with them. Although, I don’t know if they’re going to be touring much anymore, what the deal is… Who do we really like? We want to go on tour with Death Cab and Weezer at some point; a lot of bands that we grew up listening to, it’d always be fun – you always have that dream in the back of your head. Let me think…who would we like to collaborate with? Honestly, if I wanted to collaborate with someone, I would say some of my friends in other bands – like Alex from Phantom Planet. We all had so much fun. We were sharing a bus with them and we’d all just kind of mess around and make up songs and play songs and show each other new songs. I’d just say I would want to collaborate with the people I already know and love. There’s nobody huge that I want to collaborate with.

30) What was it like having Patrick Stump produce and sing on your Like Vines record? Did you learn anything from your experience working with him?

Greta: Yeah! I learned a lot from him. I feel like I was such a baby when we made that record. I feel like I barely even sang – I could barely even sing. Definitely the best thing we got out of making that record with him was just a really awesome friendship. We’re still really close with him and I really value his friendship. He’s talked a lot of sense into me at very important times in my life and in my career when I really needed it. Definitely, it was fun.

31) Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?

Greta: No. We love ‘em. That’s it.

Emailing with The Pink Spiders

After two failed attempts at a phoner (phone interview for those not in the know) with Matt Friction from The Pink Spiders, I finally got to interview him via the wonderful form of electronic communication known as email. I have to admit, I was hoping for some lengthier responses from the band’s lead singer and guitarist, but I will take what I can get. This was my first time having to interview an artist via email and let me tell you: it is very hard to get someone to answer your questions when they are hundreds of miles away from you and have the option of simply not typing up an answer to your question. So when you get your questions back, a lot of them will be blank. Oh well.

I am still going to their concert tomorrow night – Friday, June 27th – at Reggies Rock Club on the Southside of Chicago. The band is in town while on the road for The Tapped Kegs, Spread Legs and Fertilized Eggs Tour with special guests Drive-By. I have never seen the band perform live, but have only heard good things from friends who have attended every Chicago show The Pink Spiders have played in the past couple of years. Keep reading to see what Matt had to say – I mean type…

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Drug Rug Interview

Drug Rug is poised for a successful career; their influences (Beach Boys, and contemporary favorites, Dr. Dog) fueled an impressive 9-song album, and on stage their personalities meld to make a fun live act. When asked, “What would be the Drug Rug ideal show?” the duo, Tommy Allen and Sarah Cronin, displayed their fun-side and provided a shared response. The ideal show would include playing on an island alongside the Beach Boys and Aretha Franklin to fans that took ferryboats and rafts with Chinese lanterns to get to, just as the Sun goes down.

The Chicago date was their penultimate show of the tour that supported the Long Blondes. “This has been one of the better tours so far,” says Tommy Allen, though it’s only the young band’s third tour ever, “The Long Blondes said they had a list of bands to choose from and picked us.” The successful tour’s end will allow for the nice transition to the studio at the end of July to work on their sophomore effort due in late summer or fall. On this tour, the band has been performing six new songs that will appear on their currently untitled release.

The question of which contemporary band they like froze the two up a bit, “That question always takes us back because we listen to so much older stuff…” Tommy and Sarah said as they scrambled for new bands that excite them. Out of the scramble came Tulsa, a fellow Massachusetts act, The Black Angels, and Dr. Dog whose “polished,” advance-copy of their fifth album, FATE, has been playing through Drug Rug’s speakers as of late.

Drug Rug occasionally tries their hand at a cover, but generally stick to their own. This year they probably won’t be rocking any festivals, though they would like to, and anticipate doing so behind their next album. As we moved to a more general discussion, the band professed their love for Sultan’s falafels in Wicker Park, and their amazing time at the Hideout this winter.

Reflecting on the interview, I feel fortunate to have met up with them, and having talked to them prior to them playing definitely enhanced their quality set. I do not, however, feel fortunate in the quasi-celebrity sense, which I sometime feel when interacting with indie-rock artists; and that, strangely, was the best part. Being able to talk with a band of Drug Rug’s caliber with such ease exemplified rock ‘n’ roll’s essence.

A Phone Call from Matthew Santos

At 2:09pm on Friday, May 16th, I received a phone call from Matthew Santos. Not many people can say that they have had the chance to speak with Matthew over the phone, so I feel lucky to be one of the few college students that has done so. My friends Rikki and Alli have interviewed Matthew three times to date. Once at Columbia’s Backline: Battle of the Bands, and then two times on their live radio show at Columbia – Radio Graffiti – on WCRX 88.1 FM. Another friend, Jessica, interviewed Matthew for the Columbia Chronicle, where she is the A&E Editor. You may be wondering why all of these people who have spoken with Matthew Santos are from Columbia College (including me). Well, for those of you who don’t know, Matthew attended Columbia College from 2002-2004 and studied Music Composition. He left school to pursue his music career, and right about now, that is looking like a very good decision to have made. Read on to hear what Matthew had to say when I inquired about his perspective from being on the inside of the music industry…


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Interview with Lykke Li

Lykee6 5 12I feel lucky to have interviewed artists that I love (Stephen Malkmus, Reggie from Black Kids, Honeydrips…); however, this lucky feeling usually only kicks in once the interview is over. In the Schubas’ lounge area above the bar (sometimes used as the DJ area), where a ping-pong tournament between the backing bands to both Lykke Li and El Perro Del Mar was held, I waited for Lykke Li to finish up another interview.

Watching the beautiful, soft-spoken Lykke Li sit down on the couch next to me, nursing her cold with some hot tea, and then begin to answer my initial questions so comfortably and quietly, I realized I had enough material for an article alone. This, and my natural fear of burdening artists who I admire, kept my interview with Lykke Li at a mere 8 minutes. Lykke’s disarming nature inspired me to keep it simple, allowing her brief-yet-telling responses to remain untainted, and hindering my desire to force some perfect question in hopes of uncovering something that probably doesn’t truly exist.

The just-turned 22 year-old put out her first album this year, and her debut EP hit shelves in the United States last Tuesday. Nearly all of the songs from both Youth Novels and the Little Bit EP are layered masterpieces, which all share the same humble beginnings. “I write the songs on either piano and guitar,” and from there, Lykke continues, “I just go with the flow.” Going with the “flow” makes it seem too easy though; she is downplaying her instrumentally intricate visions that come to life when producer Bjorn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn, and John) puts his spin on these indie-pop gems. Lykke is quick to point out how blessed she feels to have Bjorn, and that when an idea arises, her “wildest dreams” are put into action (aka trumpet sections and cool effects, see “I’m Good, I’m Gone.”)

Lykke Li has worked closely with Bjorn, recording and touring, and has played shows with Swedish staples, the Shout Out Louds, and currently El Perro Del Mar. Her ideal show though is somewhat simple, “A small, intimate, but packed crowd, all screaming and into the show. I also really like to interact with the fans.” By my estimation, this was realized later that night with her sold-out Schubas performance.

At the moment she is simply enjoying the tour, letting her records and amazing live act speak for themselves, and while she casually throws in that there will be more records to come, she has nothing stocked up. She plans her career to some degree, introducing bit-by-bit her material to America (which is not a response to downloading), but isn’t on some heavily planned career path. “I put everything I have into the songs I have written,” she says, which holds especially true when you see her stage performance. When I asked what bands influence her, she was completely non-discriminatory, “I like everything, African Big-Beat, Punk, jazz…” In the past she has covered A Tribe Called Quest, but each night of this tour Lykke Li and Sarah Assbring – the El Perro Del Mar centerpiece-get together for their perfect rendition of Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter.”

Looking back on the interview now, I can probably come up with 20 questions that would provide pretty interesting insight into Lykke’s tastes, but I feel no need to further grasp her beautiful essence. Whatever fear of burdening I had yesterday has vanished, and in fact been trumped by an overwhelming sense of luckiness to have gotten to know such a beautiful person and truly incredible artist.