Thursday, November 19, 2015

Leslie West - Soundcheck - No Sign Of Going Gently Into That Good Night

Leslie West
Prologue Records/Mascot Label Group
November 20, 2015
"On my tombstone, it should read, 'Leslie West: It's Neither Major Nor Minor.'" ~ Leslie West
Over the last eight years, Leslie West has delivered four excellent, excellent albums, and he continues to ratchet it up with Soundcheck, an album that manages to hit everything on the menu of what you want from Leslie West. Not as many original tunes as we've gotten used to seeing, but the covers are all done with great taste, and some damned good creative change making on some classic numbers. Believe me, Soundcheck is what you came for from Leslie West.

It think this album sees the definitive version of Leslie's recorded guitar playing and legendary tone.  I know he's not out to sell a textbook, but if you were looking to buy one, this would be a great purchase. And it's not just tone and technique - his note placement and choice of notes has never sounded better, and he's still progressing as a musician with each release, how many guys can say that at the tender young age of 69?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Dictators NYC - Supply And Demand - Rock Ain't Near Dead™!

Holy hell! The new single by The Dictators NYC, the long venerated rock 'n' roll institution, is a force of nature.

"Supply And Demand", b/w a live rendition of the MC5 classic, "Kick Out The Jams" is as much fun as you will have listening to rock 'n' roll in 2015. From the Who approved crushing chords that announce its arrival to Ross The Boss Friedman's self described "Chuck Berry on steroids" Les Paul/Marshall howl to Handsome Dick Manitoba's superb rock 'n' roll manifesto lyrics and delivery, this sizzling piece of rock delivers on the promise of the past, the present, and future of this thing we love, this thing called rock 'n' roll. This dynamic duo have stepped up and not just matched, but added to this great band's legacy.

Bassist/producer Dean Rispler may be the secret weapon that takes it all over the top - you know The Dictators' veterans are on board - I've got to tell you, drummer J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson has never sounded better or more powerful behind the kit, and longtime collaborator Daniel Rey will rip your head off with his hard hitting rhythm guitar work, but it's Rispler's throbbing bassline and in-your-face, crystal clear and crushing production (with the aid of engineer Jesse Cannon) that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Death Dealer - Hallowed Ground - Best Metal Album Of 2015?

Death Dealer
Hallowed Ground
Sweden Music Group
October 2, 2015

Death Dealer has crushed the sophomore jinx. The sophomore jinx. At least that's what it's called in America. In the United Kingdom, it's often referred to as the second year's blues, in Australia it's known as the sophomore slump. At any rate, it is a term that addresses a second effort that is weaker than the first. Whether it's in terms of an athlete's performance, a student's second year, or a musician's second album, it is a reality that has haunted since time immemorial.

Hallowed Ground is the band's second album, and it's a runaway contender for best metal album of 2015. As much as I've enjoyed Iron Maiden's latest, I will admit that a part of that love is tied to nostalgia and very much wanting to love something. Maybe that's the difference between it and Hallowed Ground - Death Dealer comes across like someone's first band, and I am taken back to the first time I saw Eddie The Head grace an album cover, reminded of how I felt when I first heard Def Leppard's On Through The Night. It's excitement is thrilling, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. It makes me feel like a kid again, and metal is reborn.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Scorpions and Queensryche - A Great Night Of Classic Metal For The Masses - San José, California

Scorpions/Queensryche Gig Report
SAP Center, San José, California
Rocktober 1, 2015

I can't imagine a better way to ring in Rocktober than by seeing two exceptional classic metal bands in fine, fine form.

Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker have found the fountain of youth, and they nearly wore out their sixty foot walkway as they put on the hits for a nearly sold out crowd at the 18,000 seat SAP Center arena in San José, California. But first came the mighty Queensryche.

Queensryche is a band that has spent the last several years rebuilding after the controversy filled departure of frontman Geoff Tate, and all that I can say is that they are doing a magnificent job of moving the legacy forward with two excellent albums, and a regular spate of road work. The original core members, guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield, and bassist Eddie Jackson have not lost a step, and enough credit cannot be heaped upon this bunch for not only revitalizing this great classic metal outfit, but for also moving it into the future with newcomers Parker Lindgren on second guitar and the new star of the show, frontman vocalist Todd La Torre. Michael Wilton proved again that he is among the unheralded guitar heroes in all of rock with his riffs, solos, and presence.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Joel Hoekstra - Have Guitar, Will Travel - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

"I do believe you can create your own luck to a degree through hard work. The harder you work, the luckier you get." ~ Joel Hoekstra
You could be forgiven for not knowing of Joel Hoekstra before he showed up this summer electrifying audiences around America this summer with Whitesnake's shockingly successful "The Purple Tour." His rise in the world of rock has been a slow, steady climb that saw him go from a Broadway show (Rock Of Ages) to MTV hitmakers Night Ranger, then to even bigger stages with the Trans Siberian Orchestra, before he landed his first true star turn as a member of David Coverdale's long running legend of Whitesnake in 2015. His overnight success has at last arrived after thousands of gigs.

Hoekstra will be the first tell you that luck may be a small factor in this equation that has seen his star rise, but he'd also tell you that it's really all about the work - whether it's a basic love for playing the guitar, or the desire to be a part of something larger than one's self, it will all go to naught without great bits of perspiration, the choice lubricant of dreams.

No sooner than Hoekstra has wrapped up his debut tour with the 'Snakes, he is now overseeing myriad details as Frontiers Records prepares to launch his latest solo project, Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Dying To Live on October, 16, 2015, that includes a group of musicians (Tony Franklin, Vinny Appice, Derek Sherinian, Russell Allen, and Jeff Scott Soto) that certainly ranks as powerful a rock machine as you could imagine. The album is a straight up, no chaser hard rock album that is in Hoekstra's words, "Good, solid rock stuff, tastefully played by great players."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Neal Morse - Morsefest! 2014 - Five Hours Of Glorious Prog

Neal Morse has done it again. After being asked to do a performance in his home church by his pastor (an idea which Morse initially thought impossible due to logistics), the idea wouldn't go away, in fact it grew, and it all blossomed into Morsefest! 2014, a 2 DVD/4 CD/ package that features over five hours of progressive rock brilliance by Morse, his stellar band, and a host of cameo appearances (most notably his brother and former Spock's Beard bandmate Alan Morse).

Not being one to do anything with less than a complete effort, Morse elected to perform his first two solo albums (Testimony from 2003, and One from 2004) on consecutive nights, and he even flew in Rich Mouser, who did the original mixes on both records, to do the front of house sound. Considering that the albums had never been played front to back by a live band, it is Herculean to consider the daunting task for everyone involved. Over five hours of performances rehearsed for two shows. The quality of these five hours is astonishing - Neal Morse has done it again.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kelakos - A Missing Link In Seventies Rock History - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Kelakos is one of those great bands that sometimes fall through the cracks of history. They've just released Uncorked: Rare Tracks From A Vintage '70s Band, a set of tunes originally recorded between 1976-1978, and when you hear it, you'll wonder why these guys weren't on The Midnight Special cranking out the same type of eclectic, soul stirring rock as the Allman Brothers Band, Steely Dan, and other legends of the times. Better late than never, we can now hear what should have been a big hits at the time.

The band was filled to the brim with talent - drummer Carl Canedy has been a hard rock/heavy metal legend for many decades, and bassist Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. went on to a remarkable career in Washington, D.C.. While his bass playing and singing can compete with anyone of his era, Bloomfield instead opted towards a path that would see him most notably appointed Assistant Secretary Of State for Political-Military Affairs by President George W. Bush in 2001. Guitarist Mark Sisson, and singer/guitarist/songwriter George Kelakos Haberstroh have never stopped playing music, and continue to work together almost forty years later, proving that the love of music never dies, in spite of the pains that can be caused by the industry.

I recently had a chance to speak with George Kelakos Haberstroh, and it was one of those experiences best called life affirming for all the right reasons. It would be only too easy for a musician to respond to a fickle market with bitterness and acrimony, but Haberstroh has instead chosen to taking the high road by putting the past behind, and getting on with the task of honing his God given skills, and continuing to follow his muse with an attitude that is wonderfully refreshing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cracker - They're An American Band ( And One Of The Best) - Gig Report

Photo by Kristie Brown Gripp

Cracker w/ Victor Krummenacher
Palms Playhouse
July 7, 2015

Cracker is one of those rare and few bands that can get their audience to come from near and far on a weekday evening, fill a room with rock 'n' roll lovers in an ancient room in a relatively sleepy town, and create the party of the week just days after a big party holiday.

The band's fans call themselves the Cracker Crumbs, and when they gather it's always a joyous celebration. Every band has its fans, but the Crumbs are a special lot. They know the words to all the songs, they sing and dance the whole night through, and it resembles a high school reunion (at least the way we wish they were) as much as a rock show.

Steve Lukather Offers Up Some Real Talk On The Music Business As It Stands Today (Includes New Commentary From Luke)

Last Friday something kind of strange happened on my Facebook wall. It seems that someone 'liked' a photo I had posted way back in 2013 of Steve Lukather of Toto, Ringo Starr's All Starr Band (and probably a million recording sessions). Attached to the photo was a rant that Lukather had written concerning the state of the music business at that time.

Since last week the photo has been shared almost 6,000 times, and it has received some 1,200 comments, and those comments have been 95% in agreement with what Luke had to say.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Beatles' Three Guitar Workout On "The End"

It was somewhat fitting, and the circle was completed when The Beatles wrapped up their career with a three guitar jam in the appropriately titled, “The End” on their Abbey Road album. After all, they had started their career as three guitarists playing together, and it seems a good place to wrap things up. 

It was Paul's song, and John Lennon said he wanted to do the solo himself initially, as he often enjoyed having a shot at being a lead guitarist (and he was usually brilliant when he chose to do so), but let’s let EMI/Abbey Road engineer and author Geoff Emerick tell the tale, as he was in the room when it happened:

There were quite a few empty bars to fill after Ringo’s drum solo on “The End” [Abbey Road], and George Harrison said, ‘Well, a guitar solo is the obvious thing.’

‘Yes, but this time you should let me play it,’ said John, half seriously. He loved playing lead guitar, but he knew he didn’t have the finesse of either George or Paul, so he rarely took a solo on record.

‘I know,’ he said mischievously, unwilling to let the idea go, ‘why don’t we all play the solo? We can take turns and trade licks.’

"George looked dubious, but Paul embraced the idea, and he upped the ante further by suggesting the three of them play their solos live. Paul announced that he wanted to take the first solo, and as it was his song, the others deferred. Ever competitive, John said he had a great idea for an ending. So, as always, poor George was overshadowed by his two band mates, and got the middle spot by default.

While they were practicing, I took great care to craft a different, distinctive sound for each Beatle, so it would be apparent to the listener that it was three individuals playing, and not just one person taking an extended solo. They were each playing a different guitar through a different amp, so it wasn’t all that difficult to achieve. I lined the three amps in a row—there was no need for a great deal of separation, because they were all going to be recorded on a single track.

Incredibly, after just a brief period of rehearsal, they nailed it in a single take.

For me, that session was undoubtedly the high point of the summer of 1969, and listening to those guitar solos never fails to bring a smile to my face.” Geoff Emerick, Here, There, And Everywhere: My Life Recording The Beatles.

The beauty of “The End” is that there is not a sense of competition between the players, so much as there is a collaboration. By all counts it was a joyous occasion enjoyed by all three guitarists. While Paul and George’s solos are excellent examples of the style of melodic hard blues rock that was being played on stages around London at the time, John Lennon’s take on things is much more simplistic and crude. It is Paul’s song, so he gets the first slot, and his playing is not very far from what Harrison is doing in the middle position, and this has caused great confusion amongst listeners for decades. 

Three amps were lined up side by side, and I am assuming they were recent issue silverfaced Fender Twin Reverbs, but this is again difficult to verify. George was almost certainly playing his red 1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard, a guitar which had started its life as a Goldtop model that went through the hands of The Loving Spoonfuls' John Sebastian, blues rock guitarist Rick Derringer, and a refinish before it ended up in the possession of Eric Clapton (who used the guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps") who went on to make the guitar a gift to George in early August of 1968. The guitar is still in the possession of George Harrison's estate. John was undoubtably playing his 1965 Epiphone Casino (serial number 328393) which was famously stripped of its sunburst finish, and is still owned by Yoko Ono Lennon - the Lennon estate has the guitar in its inventory under the designation, “The Revolution Guitar”. While I have not found a definitive answer on what guitar Paul McCartney used for this session, with various usually reliable sources saying it was either his Epiphone Casino or Fender Esquire. I’ve listened very closely time and time again, comparing it between different tracks Paul has played with both guitars, and I’m very familiar with both instruments as a player, but I cannot with any confidence saying which is actually on this track. The guitars were played live, and they were obviously playing very loudly - you simply get those bold, aggressive tones out quiet amplifiers.

Let’s look at the solos themselves:

In the first round, Paul and George both tear off slices of highly energized riffs that sound almost as if this could be the work of a single guitarist. Both parts are evokative of the playing of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix at the time, and are even very similar in tone. But then, in comes Lennon with brutally effective rhythmic stabs at his guitar that establish his very singular voice as a lead guitarist. He’s making it howl, not sing. 

In the second round you start to see more stylistic differences between Paul and George, as Paul continues to sound very contemporary with the hot British rock guitarists of the day, and now George answers with a very tasty double-stop outing (a double-stop is when a guitarist plays a melodic section of a song using two notes, as opposed to a single note or a chord (three or more notes)) that is very reminiscent of the soul music coming out of the American South. Paul and George's tones are also more noticeably different with Harrison's being a bit softer and smoother than his playing on his first go round. Perhaps he had switched to his Les Paul's rhythm (or neck) pickup from his lead (or bridge) pickup. Next, John steps it up a bit and fires off a brilliant volley of bent low notes in a seething homage to Link Wray.

His travelling record collection includes albums by Bo Diddley (three), Chuck Berry (two), Lenny Bruce (six), the Mothers (everything), Paul McCartney (Ram – and it's been played at least once), and Link Wray (with cover inscribed "To John and Yoko – thanks for remembering – Peace, Link Wray").

“The story behind the Wray inscription is that John and Yoko were getting out of the lift at 1700 Broadway, which houses Allen Klein's office, when they were confronted by Wray, who was going up to Polydor's offices in the same building.

“Wray apparently said, ‘Hey – John and Yoko.’ John didn't say anything to him, but turned to Yoko and breathed: ‘Yoko, that's Link Wray. Without him…’”, Richard Williams, Uncut Magazine, 1998.

For the third and final round, we see Paul go very guttural in his playing with a staggering, stuttering statement that he picks very aggressively and very close to the guitar’s bridge, giving it a taut, staccato tone that would not sound out of place on a Jimmy Page solo from early days of Led Zeppelin. George’s gorgeous climb up the neck suggests his very soon to be exploration of the slide guitar (which he had been hinting at in his playing, and in his love for Indian music for several years), but it’s just the musical motion you’re hearing here as he manipulates the strings with just his fingers and a pick. John wraps it up with a rave up that is the perfect marriage of where rock ’n’ roll guitar had started for him, and where rock guitar would go in the future. 

Everyone simply did what it was that they did as guitar players, without any real time or thought being given to anything other than having a play. They had seemingly come full circle to once again meet The Beatles.

Here is a video of the isolated guitars from the track, and below is a clickable time schedule for who starts playing at what point (the soloing starts at the 1:03 mark):

Paul #1: 1:03
George #1: 1:07 
John #1: 1:10 
Paul #2: 1:14 
George #2: 1:19 
John #2: 1:22 
Paul #3: 1:27 
George #3: 1:30 
John #3: 1:34

Monday, June 22, 2015

Joe Satriani - Shockwave Supernova - Ziggy Played Guitar

It finally sounds like Satch is having fun. Shockwave Supernova is the guitarist's fifteenth studio album, and while it continues a very long winning streak of largely instrumental guitar records, there is a palpable difference at play here. It's almost as if he has released the need to work under the constraints of musical theory and composition, and to embrace his inner Jimi Hendrix. There are some familiarities to what's come before, of course, but there is also a freshness and a sense of relaxation as he flexes his musical muscles. It's almost as if he's finally mastered all the rules, laws, and science, and is just making music.

When he rocks out on this record, and he rocks out a lot, it all sounds a bit less precious and predetermined - it rocks. You still have a wide variety of stylistic range, in fact, the first four tunes are all as different as night and day, but they work together because Satriani transcends genre at every turn, and makes it Satch music.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Coverdale and Hughes, Now Schenker and Bonnet - What A Great, Great Week For Rock 'N' Roll Reunions!

This past week has truly moved me. The week saw not one, but two of the greatest combinations in hard rock history reunited amongst hugs, love, respect, and loud, beautiful music.

First we saw David Coverdale reunited with his partner in The Unrighteous Brothers, his Deep Purple bandmate Glenn Hughes onstage at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California on Tuesday, June 11 (last seen onstage together in 1976? I'm told they were last together onstage in 2000!),  and now we have videos coming in from Osaka, Japan wherein we see another amazing duo, Michael Schenker and Graham Bonnet reconvene for the first time in 33 years.

Never say never, they say, and both reunions were not just wonderful, they also make me pine for more of the same. I have had the privilege to speak and know all four of these characters a bit, and all rock 'n' roll excess and controversies long since left aside, I've heard all four express their love and respect of their old partners, and never a negative word. Having now seen them all together again onstage, I can't think that I'm alone in wishing, as a fan and curator of rock, that these titans of rock would somehow find a way to make some more music together in the autumn of their astonishing careers.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Robben Ford Band with David Grissom, Matt Schofield - Live Without A Net! - Gig Report

Robben Ford Band featuring David Grissom with guest star Matt Schofield
Harris Center
Folsom, California
June 7, 2015

There's nothing like spending a warm Sunday evening in the company of three great guitarists. Robben Ford is on the road supporting his new album, Into The Sun, and he proved to be a magnanimous guitar god, as he shared his stage with David Grissom as co-guitarist for the West Coast dates, and the added treat of a few tunes with British guitar star Matt Schofield. Musical sparks flew from the beginning to the end, but let there be no doubt, this was Robben Ford's stage, and he commanded it like a king.

I had seen several days earlier notification that David Grissom would be joining the tour, but it wasn't very clear as to what his role would be, and I wrongly surmised that he would be supporting Ford as an opening act, when in fact he was there as a member of Ford's band. I was even more blown away when I found out that they would be hitting the road with zero rehearsals. He was joining Ford, bassist Brian Allen, and drummer Wes Little, who both were inspiring in their expert work as a rhythm section (especially in their solo sections, which revealed the wider scope of their stellar skills), and to think that they were covering the broad boundaries of Ford's immense musical palette without out rehearsals was most astonishing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

David Coverdale's Whitesnake - Reigning Champs of Classic Hard Rock? - The Purple Tour Examined

Whitesnake: The Purple Tour
Wells Fargo Center For The Arts
Santa Rosa, California
June 2, 2015

Whitesnake are on the road in America, and they are taking no prisoners. David Coverdale is fronting one of the strongest bands of his career, and while the show is all his, he shares the glory and plays well with the other kids in the playground. If this band shows up in your neck of the woods do not miss this tour.

Coverdale's well worn, classic British hard rock vocal pipes are in excellent condition, and his utter command of both audience and band posits him as possibly the best of his class. Whitesnake had the sold out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center For The Arts in Santa Rosa, California in the palm of his outstretched hands for two hours of heavy rock bliss. Much has been made of the condition of David's voice, but he sounded amazingly up close and personal on this night.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Whitesnake - The Purple Album - Critics Be Damned, This Is Great Stuff

The Purple Album
Frontiers Music srl
May 15, 2015

Whitesnake's The Purple Album is a solid, solid sender. It should be taken at face value and accepted for exactly what it is - this is David Coverdale revisiting his past, and in light of the fact that it looks like there is to be no reunification of that old troop, he's chosen to put up the best front possible and to simply play and sing the living hell out of these old chestnuts, and he's succeeded mightily.

Let's take a few minutes and deal with naysayers, critics, and those who will reflect negatively upon this album - some may think it best to dance around this 800 pound gorilla in the corner, but that's just not my style.

First, there is the matter of David Coverdale and his voice. I'm continually amazed that fans seem to think that a man is going to sound the same at the age of 63 that he did at the age of 22, and that's unrealistic and somewhat foolish. There's no question but that the man has used his voice over the years in much the same manner as an athlete, and there have been injuries, there has been wear and tear, and there is the matter of simply the ravages of time. However, on the flip side of that is the depth, dynamics, and phrasing that a singer learns and implements in a forty year career that can't be denied or discounted. Sure, there are places on this record in which studio technology is used to sweeten up certain spots, but there is less of this than many would assume. To my thinking and to my ears, this is a wonderful representation of what a hard rock vocalist can accomplish late in the game. David Coverdale has spent great time and effort to make the very best product he possibly can, sparing no expense, and he's done a fantastic job.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Michael Schenker / Temple Of Rock with Kirk Hammett - All Hail The Metal Gods! - Gig Review - Rockbar Theater, San José, California

Photo by Hidenori Saito

Michael Schenker / Temple Of Rock
Rockbar Theater
San José, California
May 3, 2015

Kirk Hammett finally got to play in front of a large audience with Michael Schenker and his colleagues in Temple Of Rock, and it was a historic rock 'n' roll moment.

When Kirk and Michael guested on Eddie Trunk's That Metal Show last month, Kirk said he wanted to come to the San José show, where he had just put on his FestEvil last month, and he stayed good to his word, coming out for two encores at the end of what had already been a brilliant evening.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society - Unblackened - The Sacramento Chapter Abides - Gig Review

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society Unblackened Mass
Ace Of Spades
Sacramento, California
April 18, 2015

Zakk Wylde brought a special show to town last night with his Black Label Society, and their Unblackened Tour is a magnificent semi-acoustic resume for the ex-Osbourne guitar star. My mind is still reeling at the whole thing.

The Sacramento Chapter of the Black Label Society showed up en mass to Ace Of Spaces, and if anything, the club was oversold - though it mattered little to the County Sheriffs who were hanging out at the mouth of the club and the merch table all night. It's my opinion that they're paid to keep things in order, but they were more interested in checking out the music than giving anyone the business. And you couldn't blame them as the music was superb.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Michael Des Barres - The Last Guy Standing? - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

"I'm a great assassin playing Chuck Berry, and it's hilarious! We've got a great team together, and I get a shot, I've got a real shot at being the last guy standing, and to be the singer in the band, the house band at the apocalypse." ~ Michael Des Barres
The Key To The Universe is E major. It's also the title of Michael Des Barres' just released four star masterpiece of rock 'n' roll, and here is a man on a mission, spreading the word to every corner of the globe for at least three hours most days as a host on SiriusXM radio's Underground Garage, the legendary creation of "Little Steven" Van Zandt.

Des Barres' new album is the best of the veteran vocalist's career, and he's continuing on a meteoric upsurge that began a few years ago with several successful podcasts and a solo project entitled, Carnaby Street, and now finds an audience in the millions awaiting his words, thoughts, music, and more on an ever increasing level. The Key To The Universe sees Des Barres reunited with bassist Nigel Harrison (Silvered, Blondie) and producer Bob Rose (who collaborated with the singer on his vastly underrated, Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1986), but just as importantly sees new arrivals to the Des Barres camp in guitar whiz Dani Robinson, and drummer to the stars Clive Deamer (Robert Plant, Portishead, Radiohead) who contribute brilliantly to this album. This sounds like a band, and evidently they'll be hitting the road to prove just that.

I had a chance to catch up with Mr. Des Barres as he was completing work on the band's first video and prepping for the album's release, and one does not pass up a chance to speak directly with Michael Des Barres - it's like walking into the Church of British Rock Royalty and getting a sermon from atop the Himalayas. Amazingly free of pre-formulated pablum, and fresh with every answer, Des Barres is the very definition of a man living in the moment to help himself and his world awaken. This is one of those interviews in which somewhere along the way it became very apparent why I interview people - sometimes you come across an example of the breed that teaches, excites, inspires, and entertains us along the way if we will only listen!

One begins such things with greetings and pleasantries, and it's always a joy to speak with someone who has no walls set up around him, and a healthy curiosity of other human beings:

Michael Des Barres: "I'm terrific, man. How lovely to talk with you again, how are you, Tony? Is your family good? You should come visit me and my crew sometime soon."

I brought the meeting to order by asking Michael to tell me what someone can expect from The Key To The Universe:

Michael Des Barres: "A punch in the face. 
"A punch in the face with a great deal of affection. One of the songs on the album is called "I Want Love To Punch Me In The Face", which is very important because I think that we're in a coma. I think the country is in a coma of fear and repetition, and we need to be woken up. And the only thing that's going to wake us up is the notion of love and compassion for everybody around us, and if we don't have that, we're fucked. 
"I mean, we can't go to Syria and solve their problems, but we can play music and get on another frequency, and that's what the album is about. The Key To The Universe sounds glib, and it is glib - I could say, people have asked me, 'What is the key to the universe', and I've said, 'E major!' 
"But, I've also said, love your community and support it, be there for your friends and your family because without that little pebble that you throw in that lake of tranquility, there won't be any tranquility, because you have to take care of those around you. 
"Now this record, to me, is the most important record I've ever made, and for many reasons. The most important is that I had the most fun making it. 
"I was flown to Rome to work with my old friend Nigel Harrison, and my old producer Bob Rose. Clive Deamer on drums from Robert Plant's band and Radiohead, and Dani Robinson on guitar - the best new guitarist I've ever heard. It's a guitar, bass, drums rock 'n' roll record, and it was made in a studio that was built for an orchestra, and Morricone to do all those spaghetti western scores, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, so on and so forth - a massive room with guitar, bass, and drums, just like in the old days. 
"We made it looking in each others' eyes in this beautiful city, in this timeless place, and I am so excited about people hearing this. Carnaby Street was the opening act, this is the headliner."

I was curious as to how a figure so immersed (at least seemingly) in the culture of Los Angeles came to record his new album with a decidedly non-angeleno cast in an exotic locale:

Michael Des Barres: "I think when you say I'm immersed in LA culture, you know, I'm immersed in entertainment, and the idea that I live where I can express myself best. 
"I am really very oppositional to what Hollywood stands for, I'm from the Iggy Pop school of life. I don't subscribe to the rules and regulations, and never have. And when you say I'm immersed in this lifestyle, what has happened is that I've been immersed in movies, and television, and making music - now, if I could do that in the foothills of Lake Tahoe, believe you me, I would, and in my head? I am. 
"But, my body has to be in the gym and then on the set by 5 a.m., so that would be a hell of a commute! 
"But, the short answer to your question is, Bob Rose, who produced this record, produced a record of mine years ago, right after The Power Station, called Somebody Up There Likes Me. On that record with me were The Tower Of Power Horns, Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols, Andy Taylor of Duran, and Jim Keltner on drums, Nigel on bass, so we go back a long way. An incredible band. He (Rose) had went to Italy and was tremendously successful in recording Italian and European rock bands, and Julian Lennon. 
"He called me out of the blue this summer, and he said, 'Michael, I have the resources to make the record I've always wanted to make with you, and that is a balls to the wall record - would you like to come to Rome and do that?" 
"And I said, "Uh....yeah." I said I would love to, especially with Nigel, and I went there armed with twenty sets of lyrics perhaps, no music, one song I had written for the album, and we created it in the studio.
"You know, I did Linda Perry's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head', which she wrote, it's our first single, and I just finished the video for that with David Russeau, who is a brilliant five time VMA (Video Music Awards) nominee, a very accomplished director, so everybody involved was really, really committed to making as best a rock 'n' roll record as we could, and when I say rock 'n' roll, we're talking about music that beats below the waist - you know what I like, more than anybody! You've been so supportive of my trip, you know what I'm trying to do. 
"I'm trying to bring the heartbeat below the waist back! I'm trying to bring rock 'n' roll back, never mind sexy! It's a diminishing breed, and I'm the last man standing, in a way, that hasn't had a face lift, hahaha!"

Talking about being immersed I asked Michael whether being so involved in the garage rock universe that is Underground Garage had informed the in your face, balls to the wall nature of The Key To The Universe:

Michael Des Barres: "You know, trust you to be so perceptive. 
"Yes, it's been incredibly informed, because, you know, Tony, I know that you love music, and you support music - well, I do too! I support music. 
"Not just my own, I'm talking about like albums, so like the last year we've spent with Little Steven, playing to six million people a day, music that they love, and that I love. So of course, it is going to inform what I did in Rome, and what I could boil it down to is the idea that it's the essence of it. 
"I use this metaphor often - if you look at the great painters, they end up doing a few brushstrokes, and it means everything - and that's what I'm trying to do. To minimize all of the affectation, and all of the ad libbing, and all of the posturing of rock 'n' roll, and trying to sing a fucking song. And do nothing but that. 
"And, have the band play the fucking song with no virtuosity, just groove. Frequency and energy that is so entertaining and provocative, and all those wonderful things about rock 'n' roll, just simplify, simplify, and that is what I've learned from the playlists that Little Steven has created over the years, and that I am privileged to be a part of. 
"Never for one moment did I think I'd be asked to contribute, but now, I can't imagine a world in which I didn't play music for others - that has informed my work."

One of the best things about The Key To The Universe is the guitar playing of Dani Robinson - he comes on like the perfect combination of Hendrix, Steve Jones, and Mick Ronson, steeped in rock history, punk energy, and melody, but with an eye towards the stars, fearlessly taking song after song to the stratosphere - Des Barres is not the only preacher in this church of music and love:

Michael Des Barres: "Well, thank you, Tony - you're a guitar player, you know. 
"I played it for Steve Jones, and he lost his mind. Steve Jones is one of the sharpest people I know, certainly one of the most intelligent, and he has just a genius about him, and here's the first thing he said. 'Michael, who the fuck is that guitar player?' 
"And there is a reason for that. Because, this guy... we just did the video, and we've been playing between setups. Dude. When we go out live, people are going to lose their minds when they see this guy. 
"He's sort of Hendrix-y, but it's like tomorrow. It's like the way that Hendrix was this futuristic blues player, and it's the same with Dani. Dani has his feet firmly planted in the blues, and he's reaching for the stars, and he is the key to the universe. 
"Bob Rose found him in Prague, and had him play on Julian's album, and he said, 'OK, I think you and Michael Des Barres would be pretty good'. 
"I've always needed a foil, you know? 
"I had Monarch in Detective, but you've got to have a great guitar player, otherwise, you're lost. And I've found one, and as you've said, nobody's really hip to him, but the response to this record has been bigger than I have ever experienced, plus, we have international distribution, and a huge team behind it. 
"People are going to know who he is, and for that reason alone, this project makes me happy."

The fact that this band will be playing shows pleases me to no end - I'm hearing too many great rock 'n' roll records of late that aren't getting the honor and pleasure of being played upon the road on stages, and for the people, so it's fantastic to hear that this record will be played live:

Michael Des Barres: "Oh, big time. 
"I'm going out to do a promotional tour for the media for the next month here and in Europe - already American radio has embraced it, the Linda Perry song, and "I Want Love To Punch Me In The Face" have gone to radio, and in Europe, it's an even bigger reaction in the UK and Germany because Murdoc (His character in television's MacGyver) was really big in Europe, and now they've got this guy that kills people on the telly playing rock 'n' roll music, and they seem to be delighted with that! 
"I'm a great assassin playing Chuck Berry, and it's hilarious! We've got a great team together, and I get a shot, I've got a real shot at being the last guy standing, and to be the singer in the band, the house band at the apocalypse."

So, we have this man who was a child actor (To Sir With Love) who became a rockstar (Silverhead, Detective, Checkered Past, The Power Station), who then went back to being a huge television star (MacGyver), only later to re-emerge as a very real voice of a generation as an on air communicator of all things rock, love, and compassion. What made Des Barres go to the microphone now as a quite brilliant commentator/spokesman:

Michael Des Barres: "Well, first of all, thank you so much, coming from you that means a great deal to me. 
"I have a lot of energy? 
"And, I'm sick to death of playing punks and rock stars on television, and killers. 
"I wanted to express myself in my own words, Tony. And, the only way I could do that is on the internet. So, I started out on the internet very humbly, interviewing friends, who just happen to be famous, and I got an audience - and from that audience Steven Van Zandt's wife heard me, and recommended me to Little Steven. 
"When Andrew Loog Oldham broke his leg and couldn't do the shows, Steven called me, and said, 'Michael, you know, we've been watching and listening to you on the internet, would you like to substitute for Andrew?', and I said, 'Yeah.' Because, as you said, I had done all these Roots and Branches, and things on the web, and I really loved doing it, and I did it for nothing - nobody paid me to do this, so, Steven called me up, and I said sure. 
"So, I did it for six weeks, while Andrew got better, well, Andrew then decided that he didn't want to come back, and Steven asked me if I would take over the morning slot, on his Underground Garage, and it was like one of the great days of my life! I admire him so enormously, and now I have this platform that reaches so many people. 
"Everyday, three hours a day, and I do it from my home, and the difference is, and why I am doing it is because I've got a chance to talk, you know how I love to talk! Now, I could talk about stuff that people are interested in, and that's music, and then I could use that to potentially talk about sex, and the psychology of our culture, and why Brian Jones was important, and why Muddy Waters has a statue in the town's square, and so on, and so on, and that's what I do. 
"And it makes me happy."

And, it is here where we get to the heart of the matter. If you've come along this far, you can now congratulate yourself on making it to where it really gets good.

We've made the case in conversation for the fact that The Key To The Universe is an album that must now be heard, that there's no place better for a fire breathing advocate of rock 'n' roll such as Michael Des Barres than on Little Steven's Underground Garage, but all that is a preamble for what really counts. It's when Des Barres talks about his life, your life, our lives, and when he examines the human condition that we see what compels this man to seek the highest mountains from which to communicate, be it the air waves or via rock 'n' roll records:

Michael Des Barres: "Well, everything I say is a surprise, so therefore, I'm not only turning you on, I'm turning me on - I promise you this. 
"I am just a vehicle, a vessel, if you will, on something that is going down that is way bigger than I am, and when I say this stuff that I say, and I write the stuff that I write, and the thousands of people who respond to what I'm saying and writing is in and of itself satisfying. Because, what I am underscoring, what I want to believe, and what I wish for is the things that I write about. 
"Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I really do feel that way, and at other times I plug into a source that enables me to get to what people want. 
"See... everybody wants to be kind - if you ask anybody to do something for you, they'll knock themselves out to do it, but nobody asks. 
"Because, they don't feel they're worthy of asking. So, my mission is to make people feel good about themselves - strong enough mentally, physically, and spiritually to be able to ask for help. Therefore, they are then giving help by asking someone, who then gets self esteem from that request. Make sense? 
"When you are asked to do something, you feel good about yourself. Now that ties in with my whole idea of unity - of a divine unification of us all, and that's all God is, God is the unification of our higher selves. It's not Charlton Heston! It's not some mythical figure sitting on a cloud looking complacent! 
"It's our higher intelligence unified, we can still remain individuals within that paradigm. 
"So, I don't know, man... It's like On The Road To Damascus, I had a flash! And I just explained it to you."

Michael Des Barres' heart is not too hard to find - he wears it on his sleeve, unafraid of getting it handled a bit. That's one of the great things about the new album. The Key To The Universe is straight up tough, rough and ready rock 'n' roll, but it's also got that rock 'n' roll heart that is always willing to love enough to get hurt. I wondered aloud if perhaps the lack of vulnerability and heart are not exactly what is missing in this age of corporate rock:

Michael Des Barres: "Yes, absolutely, utterly and completely. 
"The most attractive thing to people is vulnerability, because that way, you're letting people in - I don't profess to be an arrogant man. I can be!
"But, there's another word for it, it's called confidence. If you can get up there to play in front of two million people with just twenty minutes of rehearsal, you know the story (the story of which he refers, is, of course, the tale of his coming to front the supergroup The Power Station at Live Aid in 1985, at that point the largest rock event in history)! 
"That taught me a huge lesson, which is, it's not about me. It's about entertainment, it's about a conversation between you and the audience, so, in terms of vulnerability on this record? You bet! 
"It's about being dumped, it's about, oh my god, "Burning In Water, Drowning In Flames" that is a terrific lyric - it's not by me, it's by Jeff Silbar, a wonderful writer, and I wanted to explore... Carnaby Street (Des Barres' 2012 solo album) was a cocksure record, I just wanted to shake my ass, and tell them what time it was on a rock 'n' roll street level, but this record goes a lot deeper than that lyrically, which you have observed, and I believe that's gone. It's all, I'm bringing back sexy, I got a big dick, I can drink more champagne than you, my cigars are the biggest cigars ever made, Lamborghini makes my cigars. 
"I mean, what the fuck? 
"Are we in the school yard? My dick is bigger, my God is bigger, my daddy's bigger and will beat up your daddy? 
"I'm not going to play around in a playground, and get my knees muddied up in some brawl with some idiot, some judgmental fool, some racist mad man - dude, I'm here to explore the human condition, I'm not here to piss around in some absurd sandbox, unless I'm working with Brian Wilson!"

Michael Des Barres has led by any measure an interesting life, and I wrapped up our conversation with a question - What moment was the most surprising?:

Michael Des Barres: "This fucking moment, Tony. 
"Right here surprises me, because I don't know what I'm going to say, I don't know what you are going to ask, but I know one thing - I know it's going to be smart and informed, and that's why I'm taking this call with you. I'm not going to talk to everyone about this stuff, I'm not going out there, and proselytizing some pre-arranged speech. Those days are over, I don't need that anymore. I've got to stay in the moment, and surprise myself, and surprise you, and the audience. 
"I think "Yesterday's Casanova" is a song that I think sets the direction I'm going in, I'm going to get really heavy with this stuff, and live, it's going to be The Who, it's going to be very powerful live, and Tony, I'd love for you to see it - the record is the best record I've ever made, but live, I think it's really going to move people. 
"I've never been in a room with people that were so good, and really focused, and that's what happened. Written and recorded in five weeks - it's not how fast you do something, it's how committed you are. 
"When you have a producer like Bob Rose, and a band like this, magic happens, and we got lucky - I'm so happy, and so grateful, and so delighted to talk with you, Tony, thank you for talking with me. Give my best to your family, and we'll see you in LA."
Class dismissed. I'd have paid to have done this one.            

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mos Generator / Zed / Blackwülf - Rock Ain't Near Dead - RippleFest 2015 Gig Review - Oakland, CA

Mos Generator/Zed/Blackwülf
The Golden Bull Bar
Oakland, California
March 27, 2015

Have you ever gone back for seconds, and found it to be better than the first go around? Well, I know that it doesn't happen often, but I got lucky and that was just the case when I saw the mighty Mos Generator for the second time in a week at the label party of the year, RippleFest 2015 at the packed wall to wall Golden Bull Bar in downtown Oakland, California.

I had just seen Mos Generator play an abbreviated set in Sacramento two nights earlier, and even that brief set would have sated my rock 'n' roll hunger for a month, but to see them rip into a full throttle headlining set before a rapturous crowd set me completely right.

Michael Schenker/Temple Of Rock - Gig Review - The Boardwalk, Sacramento, CA

Photo by Anthony Crawford
Michael Schenker/Temple Of Rock
Gig Report (Plus Photo Gallery)
The Boardwalk
Sacramento, CA
April 1, 2015

I've augmented this gig report with a great many photographs courtesy of the wonderful members of the Facebook group "Michael Schenker".

Michael Schenker and his Temple Of Rock raised the ante for their Spirit On A Mission US Tour 2015 by bringing along to the states for the first time their recording and European touring partners from the classic era Scorpions, drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz, and it's paying off in spades. This show was the first of the tour, and while there were moments where it looked more like a dress rehearsal (understandably so, as the band had to cancel their first three shows and any prep when work visa issues slowed their entry into the US), but in fact, they had the crowd eating out of their hands from the moment they walked onstage until they strode of in victory two hours later.
Photo by Patrick John
As the band continues to morph into its own entity as Temple Of Rock, and less as the Michael Schenker Group, they are introducing more new material and depending less on the once mercurial guitarist's vast catalog of hard rock history with The Scorpions, UFO, and his own MSG imprint. Doogie White seems to be stepping up in his role as frontman more comfortably with each tour, and while it's still readily clear that he much prefers singing his own material to that of Schenker's past vocalists (and I don't blame him a bit for this, but many longtime fans do). He certainly put on a great show on this night.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dio Disciples, The Quart Of Blood Technique - Gig Review - Rockbar Theater, San José CA

A nearly three hour drive into the bay area for a gig on a Friday night - that's the kind of assignment you give yourself when you're a full time rock 'n' roll junky. However, my success had been so great the week before at RippleFest 2015 that a drive to the bay seemed like a small price for the dope my soul requires, and I was right. Dio Disciples brought it like they always do, and it's a good thing that I'm scrupulously (some would say neurotically) early to any event, as it meant I got to see a scorching hot set of rock from The Quart Of Blood Technique, who got the night off to a raging start.

Some of you will remember Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) from the 1983 film, Trading Places, in which the comedian enthralled a jail cell audience with his mysterious kung fu "quart of blood technique", and I gotta think that it's the perfect name for this four piece. The Quart Of Blood Technique was formed in 2012, and they've released their first long player, The Greatest Kicks, and it's a solid sender from start to finish, but where this bunch really shines is on the stage.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Legend of Uli Jon Roth and The Scorpions

"Just before he left the band, Michael Schenker asked me, in fact, to join The Scorpions. He told me what was going on with the UFO thing, which was supposed to be a secret. Then Rudolf Schenker rang me a couple weeks later, and said 'Did you know Michael has left the band,' and 'We've got this gig lined up, would you like to fill in?'" ~ Uli Roth

And so it was that Uli Jon (Ulrich) Roth joined The Scorpions, and in four short years the guitarist created a legacy that still dominates any discussion of what has been an incredibly varied, and productive career. In those years (1974-1978), Roth recorded five albums with The Scorpions, and arguably created a genre of rock guitar known as shred. This last comment may raise the hackles of fans of Blackmore, Page, Schenker, Beck, and Iommi, but Roth brought to the table some skills that none of these greats could quite claim.

Uli Roth took the Stratocaster and Marshall sound of Jimi Hendrix and injected it with a sense of precision, daring, and technique that had not previously been demonstrated. His speed was unparalleled, his knowledge and use of theory unique to the world of hard rock, and his whammy bar histrionics set the stage for Edward Van Halen.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Damo Fawsett of Slam Cartel - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview (Soundcloud Audio)

Guitarist Damo Fawsett joined Slam Cartel in 2014, and he came into a band that was becoming well established and had already built a significant fan base. The band is the brainchild of Terance Warville, and after several years he had decided to make some changes to the lineup, so he brought in Gary Moffat on lead vocals, who in turn recommended Fawsett for he lead guitar position.

Fawsett brings to the band a wealth of experience, having been gigging regularly across the UK and Europe for several decades in a wide variety of bands, sessions, and situations, including a stint with the reformed Sacrilege, and touring with Reagan Browne.  He's obviously got the nerve that goes with the job, as one of his first gigs was replacing the legendary Dave Kilminster, so stepping into a situation such as Slam Cartel, which is a bit different than what he's done before presents new challenges as he fits his style into an existing machine. The results seem to speak for themselves as the band's first single with the new lineup, the double A sides 'Vanishing Worlds'/'Hypnotized' which have received excellent reviews and airplay on both sides of the ocean. The band is currently on tour across the UK.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kiko Louriero Joins Megadeth

Kiko Loueiro has been named Megadeth's new guitarist. I had predicted as much several weeks ago when the guitarist had inadvertently left some clues, and rumors were being bandied about by many Internet sites. He will be Megadeth's tenth guitarist in the band's thirty year history, and he replaces the departed Chris Broderick, who left the band in the fall of 2014 claiming 'musical differences'.

Megadeth is preparing to go into the studio to begin work on their fifteenth album, and they are also being joined by drummer Chris Adler, who remains a full time member of Lamb Of God. He's replacing Shawn Drover who left the band on November 25, 2014.

Kiko Loureiro has been the lead guitarist for Brazilian power metal act Angra for just over twenty years, and eight albums. He also has a thriving solo career (four albums), and is a clinician for Ibanez Guitars who make his signature model guitars (KIKO10P and KIKO100P).

Being a member of Megadeth is one of the most challenging positions in all of the metal world, and the Daves Mustaine and Ellefson could not have chosen a better man for the job than Loureiro who brings an extraordinary resumé and a remarkable skill set to the band. Congratulations, Kiko!

Van Halen - Tokyo Dome In Concert - The Band Is Named Van Halen, And This Show Rocks

Van Halen
Tokyo Dome In Concert
Rhino Entertainment
Out now

Perspective. That's when you look at something through the proper set of eyes. When you hear with the right set of ears. That's what I've tried to do with the new live Van Halen live album, and it's working for me. Tokyo Dome In Concert is something we've been waiting for for decades, and it does not disappoint.

The 800 pund gorilla in this is Diamond Dave's voice, so let's talk about it. DLR was never about the notes, the tone, or the enunciation - he's the clown prince of hard rock, and he runs this three ring circus like a champ. He gives a great running commentary, supplying the words, and he cheerleads the finest family act in heavy rock history. 'Panama' is a great example as he talks about the weather, his bassist being in Tokyo for the first time, and his delivery is no better or worse than it was in the '80s. We've become so reactionary about old lineups and what we think we remember that we've lost track of what's right in our ears and eyes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Red Dragon Cartel Name Michael Thomas Beck In Lead Vocalist Change Up

Darren James Smith is out of the band, and has returned to his band from Canada, Harem Scarem, and Jake E. Lee's Red Dragon Cartel have announced that Michael Thomas Beck will be joining the band on their upcoming US/Canada tour.


The band followed up several hours later with this announcement: "Red Dragon Cartel and singer Darren James Smith have officially parted ways. All scheduled shows will still take place as planned with Michael Thomas Beck (owner, engineer, and producer at SoundVision Recording Studio in Mesa, Arizona. He has worked with such acts as Soilwork, Marilyn Manson, The Black Dahlia Murder and Daath) on vocals. We would like to welcome Michael to RDC and we look forward to getting back on stage!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Andy Tillison - The Tangent and The Legacy of Prog Rock - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Andy Tillison is the driving force behind the long running prog rock band The Tangent, who are about to release their new album, A Spark In The Aether, on April 20, 2015 on the Inside Out Music label. The album is said to be "a rallying cry to people to keep open minds about newer music in a world where remasters and re-issues are more eagerly anticipated than new material", and it is a powerful record that contains over an hour of some of the finest music I've heard this year. It's definitely a prog rock record, but that descriptor may be a bit too contained - The Tangent is a group of six amazingly talented musicians who are adept at any number of styles and genres, and this is an album that must be heard in its entirety to be appreciated. (full review to come shortly)

I was fortunate enough to be able to grab a rather last minute interview with Mr. Tillison, and being familiar with both his band and his elegant blogging, I leapt at the chance. Anytime I can speak with someone I consider a master at their work, I try to take full advantage of the opportunity. He did not disappoint, and our time together was only over too soon. However, in that time we covered a lot of ground, and I believe that you'll find this discussion as interesting and invigorating as I did.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Andy Fraser - A Life Well Lived

As soon as I heard the news I teared up. Andy Fraser has died. I wasn't a close friend or a relative, but still I felt like I'd been punched in the gut right at my assemblage point. I walk into the living room and told my wife, and she turned nearly white in an instant. She didn't actually know Andy Fraser either, but she got it - she felt what I was feeling, and understood all that it meant.

Andy Fraser was best known for his work as bassist and songwriter in the seminal British blues rock band, Free. Depending upon who's story you accept he wrote either most or all of their greatest hit, 'All Right Now'. He wrote their greatest riff with the brontosaurus bass line that defined 'Mr. Big'. He was an equal quarter of one of the greatest bands this planet has known, but he had left band by the time he was twenty. I vividly remember conversations with such great bassists as my friends Glenn Hughes and Carmine Rojas in which they spoke of the influence of Andy on their art, and for their love of him as a friend.

Chris Impellitteri - The Power and Passion of Metal - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Chris Impellitteri has been leading the group Impellitteri since the late '80s, but he'll be quick to tell you that this is a band, and not the product of a drive for egotistical solo careerism. Though his greatest claim to fame is certainly that of being perhaps the world's fastest guitarist, he's more interested in songs, a band sound, pleasing his fans around the world, and making great records.

I had a chance to catch up with the guitarist at his Beverly Hills home, and I was enthralled as I listened to the dedicated and very seasoned musician speak. He shares credit, he thinks about the product he creates and releases to a tremendous degree, and he's as excited about his band's new album as he is reticent to seem too proud, or boastful - inshore, he's a very well rounded individual who knows what he wants, and works his fingers to the bone to get the results he seeks.

We discuss the new record Venom, his stellar band, his best friend relationship with his singer Rob Rock, his new partnership with Frontiers Music srl, equipment, and recording processes, and much, much more.

Release dates:
EU: April 17th 2015
US: April 21st 2015

Tracklisting: Venom; Empire Of Lies; We Own The Night; Nightmare; Face The Enemy; Dominoe Theory; Jehova; Rise; Time Machine; Holding On; Rock Through The Night*; Reach for the Sky*

*Bonus tracks

Steve Overland of FM - Heroes and Villains - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

FM is one of the UK's most enduring bands, having trod the boards for over thirty years, and frontman Steve Overland has led the band every step of the way. On April 20th the band will begin a new partnership with Frontiers Music srl, and release their latest album, Heroes and Villains.

I had a chance to catch up with Overland in between gigs, and he was still abuzz with the band's reception at the HRH Festival on March 14, and indeed, the band's future. we spoke about the new album, life in a rock band, his band mates, and much much more. The band reconvened in 2007 after a dozen year hiatus, and they've been rapidly ascending the ranks of British rock once again, touring with such stalwarts as Journey, Thin Lizzy, Europe, and Foreigner, and now they seemed poised to return to the top shelf.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Elliott Rubinson - CEO of Dean Guitars, Bassist To The Stars - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

The Elliott Rubinson story, when it is finally written will be one of talent, determination, hard work, and making the most of the cards you are dealt. He's currently the owner and CEO of Armadillo Enterprises, which owns and operates Dean Guitars, DDrums, and Luna Guitars, and he's also a touring bassist who's seen duty with such luminaries as Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Vinnie Moore, Michael Angelo Batio, and Black Star Riders in the last few years.

He's done all of this without a master plan, but he's always worked very hard, and made the most of every opportunity. From selling guitars out of his apartment in college to operating a seven location chain of music instrument stores (Thoroughbred Music, 1976-1999), and eventually purchasing and reviving the massively successful Dean Guitars to getting back in the game as a working musician, he's focused on preparation and fearless forward thinking to great success.

After having dinner together before the San José date on the Extreme Guitar Tour (Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore, Black Knight Rising), we agreed to catch up once the grueling tour was completed for a more serious chat. For not only did Robinson play with all three acts, the bands also played twenty seven shows in twenty eight days. All this while continuing to run his companies from the back of a tour bus.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Angra's Kiko Loureiro Favored To Join Megadeth As New Guitarist

Odds are that Megadeth has hired Brazilian shredder Kiko Loureiro as their new guitarist. Confirmation notwithstanding, Kiko and Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine have left a Twitter trail of tweets that would seem to confirm my suspicions. Follow me here, if you will.

It all starts innocently enough when early in March, the guitarist starts following Dave Mustaine and Megadeth on Twitter: