Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paul Finn (KISSin' UK webmaster) Interview


How old were you when you first started listening to music and what were the first bands/artists that you listened to?

I would have been about 7. I used to like The Police, Madness and Adam & The Ants. I seem to remember my very first album was Ghost In The Machine by The Police. If only I’d known KISS were around at that time and picked up Creatures Of The Night instead!

How old were you when you discovered KISS and what were the circumstances by which you discovered KISS?

I was a late joiner to the KISS party. I didn’t get into them until 1991 when I was about 17. I hate to admit it but it was due to going to see Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey at a cinema in Wellingborough. I came out of the film and "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II" was going round in my head for ages, so I bought the soundtrack and kept my eyes open for the next KISS album with that song on it, which leads me nicely to your next question.

What are some of your favorite KISS albums/songs and why?

The first KISS album that I picked up was Revenge and to this day, it remains one of my favourite albums. I lost track of the number of times I listened to that album from start to finish. Everything from "Heart Of Chrome", "Unholy", "Paralyzed" and "Every Time I Look At You", the whole album was faultless. This then led me on to many of the older albums until I’d built up a nice back catalogue. Now my list of favourite albums would also include Destroyer, Creatures Of The Night, MTV Unplugged and all of the Alive albums (yes, even III).

Favourite songs? Difficult one, there’s so many. But if I have to choose, then "Love Gun", "Forever" (first song at our wedding), "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II", "Black Diamond", "Unholy", "Say Yeah", etc.

How many times have you seen KISS in concert and what was/were your favorite KISS show(s) or tour(s)?

Only 9 times, starting with one of the best, which was Donington in 1996. Paris in 2008 was also a highlight for me. Great show and a great chance to catch up with other fans in a great city. And, of course, you could never leave Islington off the list. Amazing show in such a tiny venue. It really was surreal being

My Betty Blowtorch Baptism by Fire


For better or worse, I'm never 100% satisfied with anything I do, which might explain why I haven't done a whole helluva lot in my 41 years. But that's another story for another time.

In this instance, I'm referring to my very glaring omission of any mention of the band Betty Blowtorch in my interviews with former BB members Blare N. Bitch, Sharon Needles and Judy Cocuzza (a.k.a. Judy Molish). Needless to say, this omission bothered the fuck out of me all weekend long, eventually prompting me to email the ladies and request a second interview specifically about BB, which all 3 graciously agreed to.

In preparation for those interviews, I decided to seek out Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures, Anthony Scarpa's 2003 documentary. Fortunately, the entire film is available to watch for free on YouTube (and posted above). So late yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a break from my eternal job search, emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, message boards, etc. (in that order - SERIOUSLY) and watch it.

And, I gotta say, I loved every second of it. Especially all the kick ass BB tunes.

So anyway, this post isn't so much a review of said film as it is a mention of sorts for the upcoming BB reunion show with Mia X on bass and vocals (along with other special guest vocalists) for the late Bianca Halstead (a.k.a. Bianca Butthole). I'll post all the info on that as soon as I get it. And needless to say, I WILL BE AT THAT SHOW.

Speaking of Mia X, please be sure to check out all of her endeavors: The UVs, RockShopNRoll and Rebel Music TV. All good stuff and she's a really cool person to boot.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Andrew Greenaway (author of Zappa The Hard Way, Idiot Bastard website, ZappaCast podcast) Interview


How old were you when you started listening to music and why did you get into music?

The radio was always playing in the house when I was growing up, but it was The Beatles that first made me sit up and really listen - when I was about five or six, I guess. I was very caught up in the whole Beatlemania thing. Having an older brother to share in this probably helped, though he always had first dibs on the memorabilia. So I'd end up with the "I Love Ringo" badge.

Who were some of the first bands/artists that you really liked and why?

Aside from The Beatles (who continue to move me to this day - will the same be said of One Direction in 50 years time?), I really liked The Dave Clark Five - that great thumping sound, with saxamaphones. In the late '60s/early '70s, I used to watch Top Of The Pops on TV every Thursday and listen to the top twenty on the radio every Sunday. I also went to a church youth club where we'd bring our own records to play to one another. Someone brought Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" single in and I was very impressed by that. I thought the singer was a woman though!

With bands like Free, Jethro Tull and Deep Purple getting into the charts, and Top Of The Pops having an album slot that one time featured Yes playing "Yours Is No Disgrace", I found that I really liked that type of music as opposed to the likes of T. Rex, Sweet and Slade, which my schoolmates seemed to prefer. Again, I was undoubtedly influenced by my big brother's tastes here. Of all those bands, the mighty Zep were the next band I really fell for.

When and how did you first discover Frank Zappa?

A junior school friend of mine, Kevin Armstrong, could play the guitar really well and generally impressed me to no end. He borrowed the Mother's Day compilation, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Hot Rats from his new Grammar school buddies and I listened to those in amazement. That my brother didn't like it was possibly significant - I'd found something different. That means a lot when you're 12.

What are some of your favourite Zappa albums/songs and why?

I still regard Hot Rats as one of his very best albums - it's not really like any of the others. And "Son Of Mr Green Genes" continues to blow me away. Other favourite albums are One Size Fits All, Make A Jazz Noise Here, Uncle Meat... those cover a lot of ground. Every Zappa album has something entertaining on it - the whole canon is just so diverse.

I love songs like "Mother People", "Yo Mama", "The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution", "We Are Not Alone", you name it. Just great, great music. Good singin', good playin' and with a tremendous sense of humour.

Discuss your book, Zappa The Hard Way.

Well, I never set out to write a book about Frank's final tour. In 2008, Wymer, an independent book publisher here in the UK, listed Zappa The Hard Way as "in the pipeline". I asked them when it would be available and they said that it hadn't even been started yet. Wymer's owner, Jerry Bloom, wanted to write it. But he saw my website, and the list of people that I'd interviewed, and felt that

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Worst Concert Experiences Ever

The Concert Horror

A topic came up a few days ago and some of the good folks at DB Geek started thinking about what was their worst concert experience. Usually when things like this get started between guys it ends up being a contest of one upsmanship. If it rained on you, then your buddy walked up hill through driving snow both ways to get to the show. If you got beer spilled on you by some random girl, he got the clap from some chick in a Porto potty. You see where this is going. Amongst men, reveling in misery is a badge of honor. So into this we now delve.

Everyone has a story of some lame show where the band phoned it in or was just too drunk to function. We’ve all been to shows where we left regretting blowing perfectly good money on the fiasco we’d just endured.

Sometimes it comes from the exhaustion of an overly strenuous tour on the musicians, their lack of professionalism, the sad excuse for a venue picked by a road manager that would soon be looking for a new job or from the a-hole you went to the show with. Whatever it is, it at least makes for a good story afterward.
My personal horror story involves a young boy whose older sister had told him she was taking him to see AC/DC. She was taking him because, being eight years older, she was allowed to go to concerts by their parents but they required her to take her little brother with the idea that dragging a seven year old along would curtail any overzealous partying on her part. Being the “good” sister she was, she had come up with the plan of telling their parents they were going to see Tina Turner. This was supposedly the cover story because it sounded nice and tame and would most likely not draw any major objections.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mick Ekers (Zappa's Gear website/author, ZappaCast podcast) Interview


As you well know by now, I am quite a big fan of the ZappaCast podcast (my favourite podcast) that you co-host with your fellow Zappa freaks Scott Parker and Andrew Greenaway. What were the circumstances that led you to become a part of it?

I got in touch with Andrew when he posted an item about my book on his Idiot Bastard website (almost before I’d told anyone about the project – that man has his ears to the ground!). I listened to the first ZappaCast episode and spoke to Scott via Facebook. Next thing I knew, I’d been invited to contribute a Zappa’s Gear spot. Shortly afterwards, I discovered that Andrew lives just 13 miles away from me, so we are both in the heart of the Thames delta in England. What are the chances of that? Scott and Andrew have both been incredibly supportive and helpful regarding the Zappa's Gear book. I'm very glad to be part of the team.

You've conducted painstakingly detailed research on Frank Zappa's guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals and other assorted studio equipment and, in addition to discussing it on the ZappaCast, you've posted it on your Zappa's Gear website. Discuss that.

Although I initially set up the site mainly to act as a promotional focus for the book, it soon became clear that some people would be interested in detailed technical information, photographs and interviews that would not fit into the book. As and when time permits, I’ll be posting more supplementary material of this type. I’m hoping that when the book is published, the website will continue as a repository for corrections and additional content as it comes to light.

What is it about Zappa's gear that made you decide to devote so much time and energy to research it and so thoroughly?

Frank Zappa was an unremitting innovator and experimenter, always looking at ways to exploit the latest advances in musical equipment. His working life coincided with the explosion in the development of music technology, which started in the 1960s and continued throughout the following three decades. Consequently, he ended up using a unique and fascinating range of guitars and other devices, many of which he had specially modified and customised (or "tweezed", as he put it) and often used in ways for which they hadn’t been designed. Although numerous books have been produced on the history of electric guitars and amplifiers, much of the gear that Frank Zappa used has received scant coverage. As a musician, self-confessed equipment geek and life-long Zappa fan, these were things that I wanted to know more about. In the end, the only solution was to write the book myself.

What is the current status of the Zappa's Gear book that you are working on?

The bulk of the research has been completed and much of the final text has been written. I expect the book to be published in August.

I know that Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust literally and figuratively lord over Frank's legacy with an iron hand (for lack of better words). With regard to your Zappa's Gear website, how much of a challenge has that posed for you?

I knew that I would have to work with the ZFT for the Zappa’s Gear project to succeed. I first met Gail at the 2010 Roundhouse event in London, told her of my idea for the book and to my delight, her immediate reaction was "What a great idea!". I quickly sent Gail a couple of sample chapters and an outline of the book and she gave her support and approval for the book. I’ve just returned from Los Angeles where I was allowed to visit the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen and photograph FZ’s guitars and amps. Gail and her staff could not have been more helpful. I’ve always been careful to avoid any misuse of ZFT copyrighted material and am as committed as Gail that the final result will be worthy of the subject matter. So far, we have not hit any problems.

What are some of your favourite Zappa albums and/or songs and why?

That’s a hard question for someone who considers Frank’s best period was from the 1960s to the early 1990s. I’ll pick just two albums and two songs.

Roxy and Elsewhere – my favourite Zappa band in top form. For me, this is the perfect combination of humour, great tunes and astonishing musicianship. My jaw still drops whenever I listen to "Echidna’s Arf" and "Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing".

Lumpy Money - the best ZFT reissue, in my opinion. Worth it for the original version of Lumpy Gravy alone but filled with riches from two of Frank Zappa’s masterworks.

"You Are What You Is" - I just love this song, it always makes me happy. Ray White’s finest hour. And, to complement it, "Outside Now" (from Joe's Garage) - the electric sitar intro always gives me goose bumps. A heartbreakingly beautiful tune and Ike Willis’s finest hour.

Do you have a preference as far as what format that you most prefer to listen to Zappa's music? If so, what format and why?

I prefer vinyl but to be honest, I can hear little difference when listening to the CD version of an album as long as it has not been remixed or otherwise messed around with. I tend to notice more detail in my vinyl recordings but possibly only because I have a better

Friday, January 27, 2012

Joey Haynie (Rock Strikes Ten podcast, CNJ Radio) interview


How old were you when you got into music and why?

I remember music as early as my earliest thoughts. Between the ages of 2 and 3, I remember my parents playing country records by Alabama, Kenny Rogers and The Oak Ridge Boys. A couple of years after that, I started moving the radio dial on my own and found the rock stations. The first songs I can remember that were big for me were things like "Jump" by Van Halen, "Mr. Roboto" by Styx, "Down Under" by Men At Work, "Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot and most anything else that charted between '83 and '85. I used to put on lip sync shows in my family's garage on random Saturday nights and people would actually show up! Very shortly after that, I made friends with my next door neighbor, Sean. He was almost 10 years older than me but he treated me like his own little brother and he became my music mentor. It was because of Sean that I got into Prince, KISS, Ozzy and The Ramones, just to name a few.

Why did I get into music so much? I'm not entirely sure. I know that I was into the other things that the normal kids were into like Hot Wheels, Star Wars, He-Man, etc. but at the same time, my favorite toys growing up were my Fisher Price tape recorder and record player. I watched a lot of cartoons, yet my favorite TV shows were The Muppet Show, Solid Gold and Radio 1990. It's not like my parents or sister pushed me in a musical direction, I just gravitated towards it and it has been with me ever since.

What were the first bands/artists that you really liked and why?

My first favorites by a mile were Prince and Van Halen. The big singles from the 1999 album were still huge but then Purple Rain came out and I made my mom buy me not only a copy of that album but all of the 45s that were put out in conjunction with it because they had B-sides that weren't on the album. That same year, you got Van Halen riding high with the 1984 album and for my money, it's still one of the greatest albums of all time. I suppose I had it in my mind at an early age that I was going to play guitar and what better heroes to have than Eddie Van Halen and Prince? I also responded a lot to David Lee Roth's showmanship and colorful personality as well. I took his side in the split up.

One of the many things that I really like about your Rock Strikes Ten podcast is the fact that you play so many different genres of music on it. What sort of criteria do you use when deciding what bands/artists to play on Rock Strikes Ten?

Thank you very much for the compliment. Well, first and foremost, it has to fit the theme for the week, which is either chosen by me or by one of the listeners. After that, it boils down to my favorite songs or acts that tie into said theme. I would like to think that every single show is a completely different experience than the previous one, even if I play a band that you are super familiar with or a band that I played on a previous episode. For instance, I did this all metal episode a couple of months ago and one of the 10 songs that I played on that show was something off of the new Anthrax album. Fast forward to a few weeks after that and I am recapping my favorite albums of 2011 and I play yet another song off of the new Anthrax album. On this episode though, instead of 9 other metal bands, you heard songs by

Ross Berg (author of Gene Simmons: A Rock 'N Roll Journey in the Shadow of the Holocaust) interview


How old were you when you first heard about KISS and what were the circumstances by which you eventually became a KISS fan?

I was 7 years old in 1976 when I first saw and heard KISS on the Destroyer album. The look of the band and the song "Detroit Rock City" just completely blew my mind! I realized that I had stumbled upon a life-altering event. There was something really scary yet very intriguing about Gene’s character and I was immediately drawn towards him as my favorite member of the band. Even as a kid, I could never understand how certain other kids could possibly prefer other band members over Gene. It just didn’t make sense to me as a 7 year old. Peter didn’t breathe fire! Why would anyone care about him? LOL

(My 5 year old son likes Ace the best and wears a Frehley wristwatch to preschool every day. I still don’t get the attraction of Ace over Gene – but hey, at least my son’s into KISS).

What are some of your favorite KISS albums/songs and why?

As a kid, the songs that really knocked me out were the harder tunes like "Deuce", "Watchin’ You", "Let Me Go Rock ‘N Roll" and "Rock And Roll All Nite". The Alive! album was really special to me, especially side three where Peter does that incredible drum solo and Paul verbally whips the crowd into a frenzy on "100,000 Years". In third grade, when I was 9, the teacher let us kids bring one album to school for the last day of school at our class party. My buddy and I conspired to bring the Alive! record and purposely cued up the beginning of "Cold Gin" where Paul discusses the delights of alcohol consumption. The teacher dashed across the room from her desk and ripped the needle off the record. It was hilarious. Even back then, we delighted in knowing that KISS offended "old people" like our teachers and parents.

In my teenage years (and up until now as a 42 year old), I preferred the softer and deeper KISS tunes that Gene wrote. They really speak to me about loneliness, longing and the pain associated with being an outsider in the world. Tunes like "Mr. Make Believe", "Goin’ Blind", "A World Without Heroes", "Only You", "Under The Rose", "Man of 1,000 Faces", "Waiting For The Morning Light" and the like.

I'm currently over halfway finished reading your book Gene Simmons: A Rock 'N Roll Journey in the Shadow of the Holocaust (which, as you already know from my Amazon review of it, I am enjoying immensely). How did the idea for the book come about exactly?

Well, my mom is a Child of the Holocaust and has always been hyper-aware of anti-Semitism and the ways in which things are connected to the Holocaust. Many years ago, we were talking about Gene Simmons and I mentioned to her that Gene’s mother was a Holocaust survivor and my mom immediately said, "oh, that’s why he adopted that character in KISS". Being immature, I sort of shrugged it off, thinking "here we go again, everything always has to connect back to the Holocaust, right?" I put the comment out of my mind and life went on. Then, when Gene’s book KISS & Make-Up came out years later, I was really taken by how much Gene discussed his mother’s experiences in the camps and the ways in which it seemed to have really impacted his life. I flashed back on my mother’s comment from years earlier and I wondered

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Episode 18 - Top 6 Favorite Bassists


Where There’s a Will (& Enough Alcohol) There’s a Way

For those of you that saw the post that was put up yesterday, you already know that Chris has had the week from hell and Aaron also had some rough news over the past seven days.  But, have no fear, another episode is here!

We may be a day late but we’ve got all the bottom-end that you can handle and we’re not talking about Kim Kardashian (thanks for the extra hits Google Alerts). We’re picking our Top 6 Favorite Bassists today! Why 6 and not the requisite 5 that we always do? Well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to figure that one out but let’s just say that it was due to one of the hosts and it wasn’t the buzzed one.

The Joy of Hops & Bulletproof Vests

We eagerly anticipate a shitstorm of hatred from this episode since it’s about as subjective as it gets. What were our criteria? Well, this week Chris was going through so much that his criteria was basically, pick bassists that he digs and that are memorable. Aaron on the other hand did his homework and has plenty to say about his choices, why he made them, the mysteries of the universe, and a dissertation on the physics of mechanical resonance in pre-Industrial Age Manitoba. Actually, the beer flowed and lots of stuff came out so that’s our best guess.

Ear Candy to Shove in Your Head Holes

With so many different options to choose from on this list, we give you a plethora to think about and digest in this episode. No clues, no hints, just listen to the show and get your torches and pitchforks ready. Some of these you will agree with and some you will not. Either way, it’ll be a good distraction from traffic, treadmills, or bosses with bad breath. We hope you enjoy it and can’t wait to get the hate mail. Rock on folksies!

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Rebecca Davis (author of Blind Owl Blues, the only existing biography of Canned Heat founder Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson) interview


Aside from the fact that rock music originated from it, blues music is one genre of music that I must confess to neither having listened to very much nor having very much knowledge of. Please provide a very brief history of blues music.

Definitions of the blues vary. Some have attempted to define it on emotional terms insofar as it’s often been represented as an art form that is about suffering. However, there are also boastful or bragging blues songs (the Muddy Waters song “Hoochie Coochie Man” would be a good example). The subject of my book, Alan Wilson, preferred to define the blues on the basis of the pentatonic scale used in early blues forms. Others find the three-chord structure, the AAB verse pattern, and the 12 bar form to be useful in helping to define more contemporary blues sounds.

Historically, blues probably came into being shortly before the dawn of the 1900s. W.C. Handy provides the first written account of hearing blues in 1903. Early rural blues artists such as Charley Patton and Son House were recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. Robert Johnson is one of the best known blues artists from the 1930s, and with him comes a legend of selling one’s soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent. This legend actually predates Robert Johnson, and was earlier associated with the unrelated Tommy Johnson who was also known for drinking Sterno.

As African-Americans moved to urban centers, the blues went with them. In the 1940s and 1950s, electric blues by the likes of Muddy Waters became prominent. Related to the blues were R&B artists and early rock and rollers like Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Chuck Berry, and so on.

In the 1960s, young white people took up the blues. This was, to a large extent, an outgrowth of the folk music revival that spawned artists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Arlo Guthrie. It was also influenced by the beatnik scene which included a lot of jazz fans who were also appreciative of blues. The late 1960s would eventually be termed a “blues revival”.

During this era, older blues men who had survived the decades, such as legendary Paramount recording artist Son House, were tracked down by their new fans. Many had successful “rediscovery” careers in coffee houses and folk clubs. Other who were part of this trend included Mississippi John Hurt, Booker White, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Some electric blues men, including John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, recorded acoustic “folk” albums in an effort to capture the young white audience.

White people have long been involved in blues – a listen to Jimmie Rodgers, the “singing brakeman”, will make this clear. In the 1960s, however, more white bluesmen came to prominence, and greater numbers of white artists – including the aforementioned Captain Beefheart – were influenced by hard-core blues sounds.

Since then, blues has increased in popularity among mainstream audiences. A more recent “blues revival” was marked by the success of Stevie Ray Vaughan in the 1980s, and the “crossover” success of albums like John Lee Hooker’s The Healer. This kind of thing continued throughout the 1990s. Today, the blues seems to be alive and well, and I’m happy to see kids in their teens listening to blues recordings going back to the 1920s.

What exactly is it about blues music in particular that you enjoy?

I think the blues speaks to people because it is authentic music. It was developed as a form of folk music; that is, it was not originally created with commercial interests in mind. It was originally played in cotton fields, on back porches, in back country juke joints. The recording and promotion of the music came a little (though not much!) later.

The blues also speaks of a common human experience. Everyone knows what it’s like to suffer, and everyone has been lonely at some time. The blues is filled with poetry about these kinds of situations. There’s also the human experience of falling in love, of feeling on top of the world and ready to be in your lover’s arms. The blues also sings of this. Sometimes the blues will have conflicting elements in the same songs – just as we, in this human experience, sometimes have such conflicting feelings of joy and despair, all at once.

The blues was also created by a people, African-Americans, who were oppressed by society, and who were suffering in various ways. Blues probably came into being after the end of slavery, but the effects of slavery – such as Jim Crow laws – continued to weigh down the lives of people in the community. Though I did not experience all of the same issues, I was always very different from everyone around me, and certainly did not fit in at school or in social circles. Therefore I felt that I could relate, on some level, to the oppression endured by African-Americans. This may have been a factor in my love of blues music.

Discuss your book, Blind Owl Blues.

Blind Owl Blues is the only existing biography of Canned Heat founder Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson. You can learn more about it and purchase your own copy through my website, BlindOwlBio.com.

Many music fans will be familiar with Canned Heat’s biggest hit, “Going Up the Country”, which is often used in movies and cultural references to the Woodstock era of the 1960s. Canned Heat is known for their appearance at Woodstock and their success during that time. Another of their hits is “On the Road Again”, not to be confused with the Willie Nelson song of the same name. Their last major hit, sung by Canned Heat vocalist Bob Hite and featuring Alan and Harvey Mandel on guitar, is “Let’s Work Together”.

I began writing Alan’s biography when I was 19 years old, and spent much of my early 20s doing research into Alan’s life and interviews of those who had known him. This would have been in the late 1990s. In 2007, I published my work as Blind Owl Blues. I’m pleased to say that it’s been successful both among my originally envisioned audience (baby boomers) and younger listeners who are discovering the music of Canned Heat for themselves.

In terms of Alan Wilson, he’s a fascinating personality, which is why I chose to dedicate so much of my life to chronicling his. He was quite simply a musical genius, endowed with perfect pitch and able to play pretty much any instrument he picked up. He served as Canned Heat’s rhythm and slide guitarist, harmonica player, occasional singer and “musical director” from their formation in 1966 until his death in 1970.

Alan was something of a tormented genius, and suffered from depression as well as some social issues which are thought by a few acquaintances, in hindsight, to have been indicative of Asperger Syndrome. Until publication of my findings, his death was often misrepresented as a suicide in the popular press. However, it was ruled as accidental by the attending coroner, a conclusion that’s backed up by the other evidence I’ve presented in my book.

Another intriguing thing about Alan is that he was one of the first popular musicians to take up the environment as a cause. In addition to music, he had a passion for plants and botany. Prior to his death, he had been attempting to establish a charity foundation with the goal of preserving the coast redwoods of California. Recently, I’ve been involved with a tribute website established by his family, who are making efforts to continue and further this goal of his. Readers can visit this website at AlanWilsonCannedHeat.com.

As a writer, who/what are some of your influences and why?

Henry David Thoreau is a very profound influence on me, both as a writer and as a human. His biographer, Walter Harding, is inspirational to me as a chronicler of Alan Wilson’s life and music. Other writers I enjoy include Tom Wolfe, Edward Abbey, and Robert Heinlein. I’m not sure if their influence is discernible in my writing per se, but they have certainly affected me over the years.

As to why these particular authors have influenced me, it’s hard to say. I guess that is just part of who I am. Upon reflection, I consider that some might find a common thread among these, consisting of a rejection of the mainstream.

In terms of musicological writers, I’d recommend that those who are interested in the blues check out Robert Palmer’s book Deep Blues. It’s a good introduction to the music. For those who would delve deeper, Dr. David Evans has written Big Road Blues, a thoughtful study of tradition and creativity in rural blues. Evans is a professor of ethnomusicology as well as a working musician in the jug band tradition.

Discuss your experiences (positive and/or negative) being a woman in the music world.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, so I’m not sure how to answer this question. I have little point of reference for comparison. There are some funny stories I could tell, however, such as the time when the guitarist John Fahey asked me to marry him. He said that the spirit of Alan Wilson meant for us to be together. I was a little offended by this suggestion and elected not to marry Fahey. I doubt he would have proposed to me if I’d been male, so this might be the kind of thing you’re thinking of.

I think that when I started researching Alan’s life and music, my gender combined with my age (I was 19 when I began this work) was a little surprising to some people. When I met interviewees, their first question was usually either “Why are you so interested in Alan Wilson?” or “How old are you?” To be honest I found that people tended to have preconceived notions of me more on the basis of age than on the basis of gender. However, again I have not known what it’s like to be a man, so it’s hard to provide any exterior frame of reference.

Discuss your career as a public radio show host.

The first public radio shows I did were as a guest at KVNF in Paonia, Colorado, discussing Alan’s career and blues music in general. That would have been circa 1998. In 2000, I got training at another station, KAFM in Grand Junction, Colorado, to host my own shows. On the air, I’ve featured a variety of genres including blues, rock, and world music. Once I even offered a two-hour special punk and metal show, though I’m sorry to say that it was not very well received by KAFM listeners, who tend to like things that are a little mellower on their ears.

My work as a volunteer show host led to other work with the radio station and eventually a place on the staff of KAFM Community Radio. There, I did a variety of things including management of public service announcements, show scheduling, volunteer wrangling, production of on-air promos, and FCC compliance. I also managed a small concert venue operated by the radio station, which has gone on to be a very successful home for live music in Western Colorado.

I left my staff position at KAFM in 2006 so I’d have more time to focus on finishing Blind Owl Blues, which was published in 2007. However, I continued to have a volunteer and contractual relationship with KAFM until moving away from Colorado earlier this year. In the future, I hope for the opportunity to develop relationships with public radio stations in the New England area.

As a public radio show host, who/what are some of your influences and why?

To be honest I am not a frequent listener of National Public Radio, so I can’t cite any of those influences that might be familiar to readers on a national basis. I don’t really enjoy hearing people talk. This may be because I am more of a visual learner; I prefer to read the written word, and to write things, than to deal with the spoken word. This is why I don’t really listen to NPR.

Ergo, most of my radio influences are DJs specializing in the music I love best: blues. One of the people who trained me to do radio was Jabeaux, sometimes known these days as the Groovemaster. Hailing from the Deep South, this gentleman rocks out with some of the finest blues, swamp music, and boogie you’ll hear anywhere. In recent years, he’s done shows on a variety of stations in Colorado and elsewhere around the US.

Another big influence on me is Jimmy Rabbitt, whose career dates back to the 1960s. His early years were spent in Texas and California, and he’s been active as a songwriter and musician as well as a DJ. Some may be familiar with the song “Long-Haired Redneck”, which he co-wrote with David Allen Coe. I’ve been privileged to host a number of shows in conjunction with Jimmy during public radio fund drives, and he became a good friend.

Both of these men have unswerving dedication to blues and to good music in general. That, along with their good natures and the friendship they have shown me over the years, has made them influential to me.

For somebody like me who has never listened to a Canned Heat record, which one(s) would you recommend that I listen to first and why?

That’s a hard question because all of Canned Heat’s records are so good! Today, in the digital era, it’s also noteworthy that the marketplace makes it easier to purchase individual songs, so it’s not even necessary to commit to buying an entire album. If you wanted to just check out Alan Wilson-sung items, for instance, you can buy those items on their own.

In terms of the original album releases, I’d suggest Boogie With Canned Heat as a good place to start. It’s their second album and was released in 1968. You can find it, along with other items from the “classic” era of the band featuring Alan Wilson, available to purchase as downloads through AlanWilsonCannedHeat.com. The site is operated by some of Alan’s family members and serves as a fine tribute to him, as well as a convenient source for fans to get the essential music.

Discuss your crafting business, Runes By Rebecca.

I have been creating hand crafted items since I was a teenager. For about a decade, I’ve been offering Rune sets and talismans through New Age stores and other metaphysical type venues. The Runes are a method of divination, or an oracle as some might call it. I prefer to think of them as a tool to help the querent get to know him- or herself better and to explore various options for life empowerment. It’s not a means of fortune-telling, but more about personal insight. Historically, the Runes are rooted in Norse mythology and associated with Gods like Odin and Thor.

More recently, I’ve also been creating quartz crystal pendants and other jewelry crafted from minerals. These along with my Runic items are available through my website, RunesByRebecca.info. I list items as I create them, so you won’t necessarily see everything I do on the website at any given time. Each item is unique and limited in availability.

I’ve also been a professional psychic/divinatory reader for almost 15 years. I offer Rune readings along with Tarot and other oracle types. Back in the 1990s, I did this by phone, but nowadays I prefer doing online readings. In-person readings are available on a local basis. I’ve also given a number of very successful classes on Runes, for those who would like to use this tool for themselves. Like music, it’s something that almost anyone can do if they have the desire and put their energy wholeheartedly into the effort. For the future, I’m working on a Rune manual which, if all goes well, will be released in both print and e-book format sometime next year.

Martin Johannessen (Heavy Rock - the playlist! website/blog) interview


How old were you when you got into music?

I was about 10 years old when I bought my first KISS record, Dynasty. I am 42 now.

What were the first bands/artists that you really liked and why?

The very first band I became a fan of, was KISS. But I quickly expanded to almost any heavy metal band that was around. Although I focused on KISS and buying all their records, I also dug all the stuff from AC/DC, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest. And plenty of others. I also had a band (Metal Rats) at the time. And a few years later (when I was 16), I started working at a record store. Then I seriously got into collecting music. And this was in the '80s, so the heavy metal scene was huge. I went to every concert I could! The first one was DIO with Queensrÿche as a support and the next was KISS with Bon Jovi supporting.

Discuss your website/blog, Heavy Rock - the playlist!

I figured that I needed to have some kind of focus. I already had the Heavy Rock page on Facebook and so I began posting my blog stuff there. It quickly gained a lot of traffic to the blog.

It`s a rather simple kind of blog. I post music that I like myself. That means hard rock and heavy metal from the '70s and the '80s. At first, I dug up documentaries and full concerts that I found on the web and posted them on my blog. After a while, I started to post news regarding the music. And as the blog's traffic grew, I posted more and more. Now the blog has about 600/800 visits a day.

What sort of criteria do you use when determining what's post-worthy and what's not post-worthy on your website?

First of all, the bands must have started recording music in the '70s or the '80s (plus some late '60s stuff, of course). I post when they release new stuff, if I find good live clips from recent tours or full concerts (old and new), interviews, classic stuff, etc. This means, for example, if I listen to a lot of Rainbow, I dig up some Rainbow concerts on YouTube and post it on my blog. It`s all about sharing music really.

Are there ever any instances where you post about music that is either pre '70s or post '80s? If so, discuss. If not, why not?

It has happened.

Are there ever any instances where you post about genres of music besides rock and metal (i.e. punk, hardcore, blues, rap/metal, etc.)? If so, discuss. If not, why not?

No, I don't. I do all this on my spare time. However, if you include Facebook, I post stuff there from time to time.

Discuss the rock and metal scene both in the 2010s and in Oslo, Norway.

Metal has always had a strong scene in Norway with magazines, venues, and record stores dedicated to the music.

Are you a fan of any of the more recent bands/artists? If so, discuss. If not, why not?

Well, at the moment, I only listen to old stuff. However, I do like all kinds of music (except techno).

What format (vinyl, CD, cassette or digital) do you most prefer to listen to music and why?

Now, it`s mostly digital, but CDs from time to time. I sold all of my vinyl years ago. I regret that.

Queen Simmonz (former bassist for PRISS) interview


What were the circumstances that led to you becoming Queen Simmonz (Gene Simmons) in the all female KISS tribute band PRISS?

My friends Judy Cocuzza and Sharon Needles wanted to started a female tribute to KISS and they asked me to be the "Gene". I thought that it would be fun to work with the girls and a good way to make some extra dough.

What are some of your favorite KISS/Gene songs to play and why?

Hmmm... I like "Rock And Roll All Nite" because it has a great chorus. The song is also upbeat and people love to sing along to it.

What are some of your favorite KISS albums/songs and why?

To be honest, I am really not that big of a KISS fan. I can't use the words favorite and KISS in the same sentence and be sincere about it.

Did Gene or any of the other KISS members ever see you perform as Queen Simmonz? If so, did they give you any feedback on your performance and/or portrayal of Gene?

No, but Nick Simmons and Shannon Tweed did. They loved my performance. Nick went on and on about how Queen Simmonz is the best that he's seen as Gene. He was super sweet and told me that I have all of Gene's moves down perfectly.

How long were you in PRISS?

I think that I was in PRISS for about a year.

Why are you no longer in PRISS?

Times change and people want different things. I think our goals for the band changed. I was more interested in using the idea to propel other projects and make money. With cover bands, that's all you can do. When the band was founded, that was the consensus. Later on though, things changed, I believe.

What is your current professional and personal relationship with the member of PRISS?

We are friends. Always have been, always will be. Judy also plays with me in Evil Beaver and we've toured Australia, Europe and are now going to Alaska together in May.

Have you seen PRISS perform with Andrea Zermeno as Gene? If so, what's your opinion of her performance and portrayal of Gene?

No, I have not yet seen her perform. I am sure that she is great though.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Episode Soon, We Promise!

Dear valued listeners,

We had planned to have the new episode of the Decibel Geek Podcast up by the usual time of Thursday morning but that won't be happening this week. Unfortunately, Chris has run into some automobile issues that he will not go into detail on in fear that his fist may become one with the monitor while thinking too much about this particular predicament.

The new episode is going to be pushed back to either Thursday 1/26 in the evening or Friday 1/27 in the evening. The vast majority of the episode has been edited and partially mixed but work on a podcast does not stop there and there is all kinds of technical jargon that we could bore you with but we won't. We take pride in getting an episode out on time but we take greater pride in delaying by a day or two for the sake of quality in our show (hundreds of folks just laughed I'm sure). If you think it's bad, imagine the edited version!

Anyway, for those of you that are subscribers to the show, we wanted to put this message up for you in case you were wondering if we vanished or something. We're still here and we're determined to entertain you (no matter how many articles of clothing we have to keep on; trust me, you don't want it coming off).

We are excited for some amazing interviews coming up in the near future but also excited for our chat this week about our favorite rock/metal bassists. We'll get up soon, we promise!

- Chris Czynszak & Aaron Camaro

Daniel Hill (contributor to the KISSin' UK website) interview


How old were you when you first started listening to music and what were the first bands/artists that you listened to?

Rock music has always been a part of my life. From as far back as I can remember, my dad has always been a bass player in several rock bands and played music non-stop around the house, so I pretty much grew up listening to Judas Priest, KISS, Dokken, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Ozzy, etc. In fact, all the great rock band of the '70s and the '80s.

How old were you when you discovered KISS and what were the circumstances by which you discovered KISS?

With all the bands that I grew up listening to, KISS grabbed me more than any other. I can’t really say it was the whole makeup thing because I was born in 1985. I remember that my brother was fascinated by the Destroyer album cover and we had the KISS Exposed videotape, which features a lot of footage from the makeup era. However, my favourite videotapes were Crazy Nights and Animalize Live Uncensored, which are both non-makeup. By the time I was 6 years old, I was asking for KISS albums for Christmas and playing my dad's videotapes over and over again.

When the Revenge tour was announced in 1992, my dad decided that he was going to take my brother to the show. I was only 7 years old at the time and my parents didn’t think it was a good idea to take me along. However, I was adamant about going, so my granddad offered to pay for my ticket and talked my dad into taking me along.

At one point during the show, Gene pointed over to me & my brother and sent a roadie to us with a plectrum each. And that was it for me. I was hooked for life.

What are some of your favourite KISS albums/songs and why?

That’s a hard question. How can I pick a favourite album or song from a band that has a back catalogue as huge as KISS?

I suppose Asylum, Crazy Nights, Hot In The Shade and Revenge will always be up there for me as these albums were being released as I was growing up. However, I also have a huge appreciation for the early '70s albums, just for being so raw and unique.

How many times have you seen KISS in concert and what was/were your favourite KISS show(s) or tour(s)?

Up until the Alive 35 Tour in 2008, I had only seen KISS when they came to England and this was limited to one show per tour. By the time 2008 came around, I was earning my own money and was able to buy my own tickets and travel wherever I wanted.

Since then, I have seen KISS in several European countries, followed them all around the UK and even made the trip over to America a couple of times to see them on their own turf.

My overall favourite tour is definitely Sonic Boom Over Europe in 2010. I managed to see KISS 11 times on this tour and got friendly with some of the crew. This led to me getting a backstage pass in London and spending the day helping out behind the scenes and even sharing a meal with the band, management and crew in the arena’s canteen. I also got the opportunity to meet some of the fans around the UK that I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before, some of which remain very good friends of mine.

My favourite show is yet another one that I find hard to judge but if I had to choose, my top 5 are:

5 – Islington 2010 (intimate show in London with approximately 800 fans)
4 – Wembley 2010 (watched the whole show from backstage and side stage)
3 – Donington 1996 (first time I saw the original line-up)
2 – Madison Square Garden 2009 (a dream of mine to see KISS play here)
1 – KISS Kruise 2011 (All 3 shows were awesome but the unmasked/acoustic sail away show was my favourite of all time)

Do you have a favourite KISS member or members? If so, who and why?

I’ve never really had a favourite member of the band. Over the years, there have been a total of 11 different members of KISS, all of which have played a significant role in the band for the period of time that they were there. I’ve been lucky enough to meet past and present members of KISS and other than the odd occasion, they have always been pleasant and welcoming.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Eric Carr but I swore that one day, I would visit his place of rest in Newburgh, NY. This dream came true when I went to NY to see KISS in 2009. The day after the show, I jumped on a coach and headed upstate to pay my respects to my childhood heroes. This will always remain a special day for me.

Discuss KISSin' UK, the KISS website that you contribute to.

I’m very proud to be a member of KISSin' UK. Whenever I go on one of my ‘KISS Trips’, I write a review/diary of my adventure and post them exclusively to KISSin’UK. These reviews have got both myself and the website a lot of attention over the last few years. This is mainly because I don’t only go to a KISS show, I also like to go visiting all the old places that the band have either played at, worked, lived, went to school, recorded albums, video shoot locations and photo shoot locations. All of these can be found here - http://www.kissinuk.com/cms/reviews/concerts-a-interviews.html

The website itself was created back in 1996 by Paul Finn. He originally wanted to create a fanzine but wanted something he could update on a more regular basis, so he decided to go with a website instead. Over the last 16 years, the site has continued to grow and Paul does a fantastic job of keeping fans updated with all things that are KISS related in and around the UK.

What would you say distinguishes KISSin' UK from all of the other KISS websites?

KISSin’ UK is the only website that focuses solely on the United Kingdom. We have a forum that consists mainly of UK KISS fans which is active several times a day. Without this forum, I would never have met some of the kindest and genuine people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

The website also works very closely with ‘The Worlds Longest Running Tribute to KISS’ – Dressed To Kill. These guys have been active for 22 years, played all over the world, featured in several issues of Kerrang magazine and have been joined on stage by Peter Criss (1994), Mark St. John (2003), Bruce Kulick (2004) and Eric Singer (2005). In 1995, they were watched by Ace Frehley in Switzerland and in 2004, the band put on a private show for 'Gene Simmons' and the pupils at Christ's Hospital School in Horsham, which was filmed as part of the Channel 4 series 'Rock School'.

Has KISSin' UK gotten any feedback from any of the members of KISS? If so, who and what did they say?

Over the years, Paul has conducted several interviews with members of KISS.

1998 – Bruce Kulick
1999 – Eric Singer
2003 – Mark St. John
2007 – Peter Criss
2009 – Ace Frehley

All of these interviews can be found here - http://www.kissinuk.com/cms/reviews/concerts-a-interviews.html

Besides KISS, what are some of your other favourite bands/artists and why?

My favourite bands range across all different genres of rock: anything KISS and KISS member side projects, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Dokken, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Poison, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Journey, Metallica... I could go on and on.

Why? Because it’s all kick ass rock ‘n’ roll!

Lee Hutchings (director of the upcoming film Dance with the Devil: The Cozy Powell Story) interview


What is the current status of Dance with the Devil: The Cozy Powell Story, your upcoming film about legendary drummer Cozy Powell?

Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story is currently in development and will be moving into the early stages of production very soon.

When and how exactly did you first discover Cozy Powell?

Before taking up a career as a director, I was a hard hitting rock drummer and I used to visit a website called Drummerworld (www.drummerworld.com). On this site, you could read profiles, watch videos and listen to tracks by various drummers and one of the drummers featured was Cozy Powell. To be honest, I knew nothing about Cozy. However, by reading the biography and watching the links, he immediately caught my attention.

There was a great video of Cozy playing a mini-solo and that really fired my imagination and inspired me in my own playing. From there, I went on to YouTube and watched countless videos of him as well as finding out and listening to records which he played on. I soon found that I had a new drumming hero to add to my growing list.

What is it about Cozy Powell that made you decide to make a film about his life and legacy?

Cozy was a drummer who was, and is still considered, a titan of the drumming world and a musician’s musician, meaning that those in the drumming and music worlds know of him and of his incredible achievements. Other than that though, it seems that he has been largely forgotten by the public, unlike British drumming heroes such as John Bonham or Ringo Starr and I strongly feel that needs to change.

Over a very long career playing in legendary bands such as Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Whitesnake, alongside his own solo work, Cozy was able to stamp his mark on the history of rock music and drumming and, in the process, inspire generations of drummers and fans the world over. However, what is more is the fact that he achieved all of this from a background of a broken childhood. He was an underdog.

Cozy Powell was an orphan who had to work his way up from the personal problems in his life to become the legend that he is considered today and, along with his musical journey, I want to delve into his personal journey and pay the highest tribute to him, not only as an amazing drummer but also as a person who reached the highest of careers only to fall in the most tragic of circumstances in 1998, leaving us his legacy.

What are some of your favorite albums and/or songs with Cozy Powell on drums and why?

Without a doubt, my favourite albums which Cozy played on were with Rainbow. Rainbow Rising and Long Live Rock n’ Roll are sheer classics and brilliantly show Cozy’s playing to the fullest. Dynamic yet solid, that was the Cozy style! Also worth checking out are the Jeff Beck Group recordings Rough and Ready and The Jeff Beck Group.

I'm currently only really familiar with Cozy Powell's work in Black Sabbath. However, Headless Cross is absolutely in my top 5 of favorite Sabbath albums (above many of the Ozzy and Dio era Sabbath albums, in fact) and in large part because of Cozy's kick ass drumming on it. What's your opinion of that album?

Headless Cross is a great album and is considered one of the “listen to” albums that Cozy played on. What this album clearly shows is how Cozy was able to take over the drumming stool of Bill Ward, original long serving drummer of Black Sabbath, and was able to not only stand on his own with his own style of playing but to also pay tribute to Ward by keeping his playing familiar to the Black Sabbath sound and feel for their fans.

Tracks such as “Headless Cross”, “When Death Calls” and “Devil and Daughter” are great examples of the band sounding like a cross between the Ozzy and Dio eras, thanks mainly to Tony Martin’s vocals, and Cozy’s playing fits right in with Iommi’s epic guitar riffs and Neil Murray’s booming bass.

As a filmmaker, who are some of your influences and why?

I have so many to choose from but for me, the two main influences on my work are Sidney Lumet and Alexander Mackendrick. When compared to the Spielbergs and Kubricks, both were relatively unknown but were expertly talented and unique filmmakers who weren’t afraid to make the films they wanted to see.

Their film-making styles weren’t about trying to please everyone. They wanted to tell good and engaging stories and this can be clearly seen in their work. For Lumet: 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and The Verdict. For Mackendrick: Whiskey Galore, The Ladykillers and Sweet Smell of Success.

Both were also brilliant teachers of the craft of filmmaking and both have books still in print regarding the subject. Lumet’s Making Movies and Mackendrick’s On Film-Making are essential reading for any aspiring filmmakers, actors or writers. They are the bibles that you MUST read if you want to have a career in the film and television industry.

Briefly discuss each of the films that you've completed so far.

I have completed a variety of short films that have included emotional dramas, police & crime dramas, oddball & satirical comedies and a documentary short.

Besides the Cozy Powell documentary, briefly discuss each of the films that you're currently working on.

Besides Dance With The Devil, I am also working on several other feature film projects, including a period piece chronicling the life of renowned Scottish “poet” William McGonagall, an office based sci-fi comedy, an emotional drama about a cancer sufferer on one last road trip and a TV crime series following a career thief in search of redemption.

For further information on these projects, as well as my previous work, please go to www.leehutchingsfilms.com

Even though you're a schooled filmmaker, do you personally feel that it's necessary for aspiring filmmakers to have some sort of formal training? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Looking back now, I don’t regret going to film school but do regret the cost of going to film school. Film school is great for meeting like-minded people and contacts who have the same ambitions and desires of becoming filmmakers, although I’ve always considered myself a ‘director’ rather than a ‘filmmaker’ and you are also in an environment where you will be taught the basics of filmmaking giving you, the student, a foundation for which to base all of your future work on.

That said, I do have issues with the costs of film schools. In some cases, going to film school costs more than going to university if public funding isn’t available. For the amount spent going to film school, or less, you could most likely pick up a reasonably good camera, lighting and sound equipment and copies of Making Movies & On Film-Making and be out there filmmaking on your own or with friends. However, you would be out ‘in the cold’ so to speak, without the guidance of experienced teachers, so you would be more likely to make mistakes and also not have the contacts to build your career upon.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not film school is for them. However, I would say that if you do want to go to film school, look into as many schools as possible and choose wisely. And if you don’t, buy that camera as soon as possible and get out there and start making films. The sooner, the better!

What's your advice to not only aspiring filmmakers but to anybody who is contemplating working in the entertainment industry in some capacity?

As with the previous questions, it’s all about ambition and experience. If you want to work as a filmmaker or within the entertainment industry, you need to get out there, make films, get them seen and network both on and off the set. You need to be seen and heard. It’s only when you get out there that people will take note of you and will, hopefully, give you the opportunities you need in pushing your career forward.

Also, watch as much film and television as possible. The more you watch and take in, the more you’ll be able to adapt the lessons learned into your own work. The same can be said for reading - read as many books on filmmaking and filmmakers. Learn from the past and use it to build your future.

For further information on Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story, please visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dance-With-The-Devil-The-Cozy-Powell-Story/275805889149464

Twitter: @cozypowellfilm

Website: www.cozypowellfilm.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

James Hager (PodKISSt, E.P.E., ZombieFAQ.com) interview


PodKISSt, your KISS podcast (natch), ranks a close second on my favorite podcasts list. Really good stuff. What were the circumstances that led you and your PodKISSt co-hosts Gary Shaller and Ken Mills to create it back in 2007?

I'm really glad that you dig the show! In late 2006 or early 2007, Gary hit me up. He said that since the previous KISS podcast has ceased updating with new episodes, we should get together and host our own. He thought that I brought a unique perspective to the show by only being 20 years old at the time and a fan for so short of a time. We went to our buddy Tony who, at the time, owned MyKISSLife.net and he was more than happy to host it for us (check out my and Tony's other project, ZombieFAQ.com). Ken came along a bit later. Starting with the second show, I believe, Ken did all of the artwork. Starting within the first 10 episodes or so, Ken started contributing material. Eventually, Ken became a full fledged member of the show and today, he's kinda taken over the position of "co-host" while I've kinda slid to the background and contribute when I have time.

What sort of criteria do you and your co-hosts use in determining the content for each episode of PodKISSt?

Honestly, there isn't much criteria. We make sure we'll have something to talk about and that we think someone will listen. One of the most important things we make sure of is that the topic is more positive than negative. There is too much negativity within the KISS Army. We don't wanna contribute to that.

What are some of your favorite PodKISSt episodes and why?

I've always been a fan of the episodes that focus more on the music and the episodes where we play rarities. Any of the shows where we dissect an album are incredible. I also really enjoy the first Christmas episode. Wiggy FTW!

You've had several special guests on the PodKISSt. How much of a challenge has it been for you and/or your co-hosts to get people to appear on the show?

It's been a great challenge to get some folks on the show. HOWEVER, one of the greater tasks is making sure that all of us co-hosts are available to record the same interviews at the same time. I had to call in to work to interview Ace.

Who have been some of your favorite special guests and why?

Ace, Tommy, Eric and Bruce are obvious choices. A somewhat less obvious choice is Tod Howarth of Frehley's Comet fame. He was awesome. In preparation for the interview, he asked me what my favorite Comet song was. I told him "Calling To You" and he sent us an exclusive acoustic version of this song recorded just for our show. That was incredible.

When and how did you become a KISS fan?

I became a fan in the 7th grade around September of 1998. I had a friend at school that was a hardcore fan and I was anything but. I remember actually making fun of him for it. He sent me home with a VHS tape of the abbreviated VH1 version of X-treme Close-Up hosted by Sebastian Bach. I heard clips of "Watchin' You" from Winterland 1975, "100,000 Years" from Cobo Hall 1976 and "I Stole Your Love" from Magic Mountain 1977. I was instantly hooked. My mom and dad dismissed it as a phase. I was 12 then and I'll be 26 next month. That's a helluva phase.

What are some of your favorite KISS albums/songs and why?

My favorite song by far is "Black Diamond". To me, that is the definitive KISS song. It has been performed by every lineup and sang by every drummer and Paul. If any KISS song can show the evolution of the band, it's "Black Diamond". If you've ever seen Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, they do a video collage of "Seek and Destroy" (which, strangely enough, is my favorite Metallica song) over the years. I would love to see something similar for "Black Diamond".

My favorite album is Psycho Circus, probably because it was my first. Other favorites include Destroyer, Creatures Of The Night, Revenge and Unplugged. My least favorite is, easily, Animalize. What a turd.

Do you have a favorite KISS member or members? If so, who and why?

I'd have to go with Peter Criss and the two Erics. I am a singing drummer myself (like my band E.P.E. on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/EPE/180196028685127 ) and these guys are the biggest source of inspiration to me. We are about to record our debut album after 8+ years together. I intend to thank all 3 in the liner notes.

How many times have you seen KISS in concert, what were some of your favorite KISS concerts/tours and why?

I have seen them twice. The first time was in Nashville on the Alive 35 tour (we detail my first show on a PodKISSt episode - check it out!) The second time was in Cincinnati on the Hottest Show on Earth Tour. Both were great times!

What are some of your other favorite bands/artists besides KISS and why?

I love a wide variety of music. I'm a big Rob/White Zombie fan. Def Leppard and Queen are two of my favorites as well. Pink Floyd is fantastic. My favorite band out there right now is easily The Black Keys. If any you classic rock or blues fans are looking for something new, check the Keys out. Don't just listen to the last two albums (Brothers and El Camino). Dig further. Jam out to Rubber Factory. You won't be sorry!

Feel free to discuss and/or shamelessly plug any of your other endeavors here.

Like my band E.P.E. on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/EPE/180196028685127

Check out ZombieFAQ.com

Make sure to continue listening to PodKISSt!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Evie Evil (Evil Beaver) Interview


How did you get into music?

No one in my family was a musician. I was just naturally attracted to music.

What were some of the first bands/artists that you listened to on a regular basis?

L7, Black Flag, The Beatles, The Sugarcubes, The Ramones, Descendents, Motorhead, Prince, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pretenders, Big Black, Jesus Lizard, Slayer, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Cure, The Clash, Nina Hagen, Shellac, Bad Brains, Betty Blowtorch, Elvis, The Cars, The Pixies, The Smiths, Dead Kennedys, The Fall, Eurythmics, Faith No More, Fugazi, 45 Grave, Husker Du, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, MC5, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, Minor Threat, NWA, Peaches, soooooo many... I know that I am forgetting a bunch but you get the idea here.

How old were you when you started playing a musical instrument and what was the first instrument that you started playing?

5 years old. Toy piano.

Why did you choose that particular instrument?

I was naturally attracted to it and found it to be a challenge.

As a vocalist and as a musician, who are some of your influences and why?

All of the bands influenced me as an artist. Probably because I listened to them a lot.

Your band Evil Beaver consists of you on vocals & bass guitar and a virtual revolving door of drummers. Why and how exactly did you decide on that concept for the band?

Evil Beaver evolved into what it is. I like to play with different drummers because it is an ever evolving project.

Are you the chief songwriter in Evil Beaver? Also, discuss the songwriting process.

I write the vocal melody and sing. I also write the music on bass. Sometimes I play the drums on the recordings as well or I will demo the songs with drums that I lay down and then a Beaver will record the drums in the studio. Other times in the past, Beavers would contribute drums entirely on their own. In more recent recordings, I kinda give the drummer Beaver the feeling of how I would like the drums to be and then they and I work out the parts together in rehearsals. It is mainly because I hear the songs complete in my head before they are recorded. Sometimes Beaver drummers will play beats on their own without any input from me and when it works, I really like that because it gives me a new perspective on the song.

Drums are much more important to capturing the feeling of a song than most people think. The beat is everything. It can make or break a song. I enjoy working with drummers that are able to maintain control. Too many drummers over play and like to be flashy, which is fun to do but doesn't always sound the best for the song.

What are some of your favorite Evil Beaver songs and why?

All of the songs have meaning. Some songs are so meaningful, I can't play them without crying, so I don't. HA! I can't say that I have favorites but the songs that are fun to play live are the ones I like the most. Songs like: "You Suck", "Hey Man Hey", "Cold", "Handz of Fate", "Closer 2 Hell" and "Lechery". I really enjoy playing the louder and faster songs live.

Evil Beaver had shared the stage with quite a few big names in the music world. What bands/artists are you most proud of playing shows with and why?

The White Stripes, Nina Hagen, Peaches, Shellac, David J, The Gossip, Jennifer Precious Finch, The Polysics, Semi Precious Weapons, Fu Manchu, Betty Blowtorch, and Texas Terri Bomb. The reason why is because these bands have some serious talent. Most of these bands invited Evil Beaver to perform. It feels good to be respected on that level by

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sharon Needles (Betty Blowtorch, PRISS, Hell's Belles) Interview


How did you get into music?

My older sister introduced me to Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, The Stones, Queen and David Bowie when I was a kid. Friends from school introduced me to KISS, AC/DC, Ted Nugent and Aerosmith in the late '70s. By the early '80s, punk rock wormed its way into my brain and I was hooked and felt right at home.

What were some of the first bands/artists that you listened to on a regular basis?

KISS, Sex Pistols, AC/DC, New York Dolls and The Ramones.

How old were you when you started playing a musical instrument and what was the first instrument that you started playing?

I played a few instruments and sang in grade school but never really stuck with anything for more than a few months. It wasn't until high school when I picked up the bass guitar that I stuck with playing something.

Why did you choose that particular instrument?

I always had a fascination with the deep sound of the bass and wanted to learn to play. My fingers were too retarded to play guitar, so I started on bass and switched to guitar a few years later. I found that bass was similar to a guitar, a little easier in that you're not playing 6 note chords but a little harder to master the techniques.

As a singer and as a musician, who/what are some of your influences and why?

I don't really think of myself as a singer, though I do sing in PRISS as Doll Stanley. I think of myself as a rhythm guitar player.

Some of my influences: Johnny Ramone, Chuck Berry, Malcolm Young, Brad Whitford... Keith Richards and Jimmy Page are also super strong rhythm players, though they are mainly known for lead.

Discuss your experiences (good and/or bad) both as a female musician and as a woman working in the entertainment industry.

95% of the time, you deal with male agents, male promoters, male venue managers, male stage managers and male sound crew. When you walk in as a female and they know who you are, it's fine. Otherwise, get ready to have them assume you're the merch girl. On top of everything else, you're supposed to pretend things are all good. That being female has no effect at all. If you don't keep up that pretense, you'll probably get pegged as having some militant agenda or just being a bitch. You know you're not actually inferior, so you want to go along as if things are fine. You just wanna do your thing and have it be what it is. For hours, even days at a time, this works. You can live life without being reminded that your femaleness is a problem. Then somebody beats you over the head with it again.

What were the circumstances that led to you becoming the Paul Stanley of the all female KISS tribute band PRISS?

Judy and I went into a bar to have a drink one night when the bar was having a "KISS night". Literally, everyone in the bar was dressed up and made up like a member of KISS. The DJs were spinning KISS and the television had KISS videos showing all night. KISS was my favorite band in grade school and were also a huge influence on the band that Judy and I were in together called Betty Blowtorch. BB had low-tech pyro and dancing blowtorch girls. The singer we had in Betty Blowtorch was also a huge KISS fan and when she passed away, she was cremated and her ashes were placed in her favorite KISS lunchbox. So that night, it was clear that we had a calling to do an all-female tribute to KISS.

What are some of your favorite KISS songs to sing and/or play and why?

My favorite KISS songs are: "She", "Love Her All I Can", "Black Diamond", "I Want You" and "Detroit Rock City". KISS has hooks for days and those big over-the-top choruses that hit you like a ton of bricks. That’s what has set them apart from other bands.

Do you happen to know if Paul Stanley is aware of PRISS and if so, have you gotten any sort of feedback from him about your performance?

I'm sure Paul is aware of PRISS. PRISS was actually on an episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels and we met Shannon, Nick and Tracy Tweed. Years ago, Eric Singer was in a band called Glamnation when Judy and I were in Betty Blowtorch. Betty Blowtorch and Glamnation did some shows together back then. We had a blast together! Eric is now in KISS and he has been very supportive of PRISS. I've met Gene, Bruce, Tommy and both Erics. I still have yet to meet Paul but I WILL.

What do you play in Hell's Belles, an all female tribute to AC/DC?

I fill in as their Malcolm Young playing rhythm guitar.

Are any of the members of AC/DC aware of Hell's Belles? If so, what (if anything) do they think?

Before I started filling in with the band, the rest of the girls met the guys from AC/DC at the Tacoma Dome. AC/DC's own Angus Young has said of Hell's Belles, "It's flattering. It's great to know that other musicians like you enough to play a tribute to you. Hell's Belles are the best AC/DC cover I've heard."

What are some of your favorite AC/DC & KISS albums/songs and why?

Favorite AC/DC albums: Powerage, Highway To Hell, Dirty Deeds and Back In Black.

Favorite KISS albums: KISS, Dressed To Kill, Rock And Roll Over, Hotter Than Hell and ALIVE!

Both bands have pocket-solid & hard-rocking memorable riffs and songs that stand the test of time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Episode 17 - Van Halen Discussion w/Mitch Lafon


Diamond Dave & The Hype Machine

For anyone living under a rock or not named Sammy Hagar, the hype surrounding the recently-released single and forthcoming album from Van Halen has sparked loads of excitement and speculation whether the new tunes will cause us to break out our Rubik’s Cube and ponder the days of bellbottoms through Wall Street excess. The first album released by a David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen since 1984; ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ promises to illicit reactions of all kinds on February 7th when it’s released. The newly released single, ‘Tattoo’ has drawn mixed reviews as well. 

The Car’s Out of the Garage & News You Can Use

We are without co-host Aaron Camaro this week, as he’s on assignment with one of his other ventures. Never fear though, we brought in guest commentator Mitch Lafon from Bravewords.com this week.
Before we delve into Van Halen, we have a few news items to discuss in the intro to the show. By the way, if you want to skip straight to the Van Halen discussion, it starts just after the 5 minute mark though I’d rather you listen to me prattle on about other stuff for a few minutes.

We’ve brought on a few new writers to the Decibel Geek website. Please welcome J Alexander, JB, and Andrew to the team! We’ve had some amazing articles and interviews posted in the past week since these folks came on board and I’d like to tip my hat to them. JB’s first articles will be coming very soon. J Alexander wrote a fantastic article about Why Boy Bands Aren’t So Bad (trust us, it’s not what you think) and Andrew Jacobs has been churning out tons of great interviews for us including Larry Harris (former Casablanca Records), Blare N. Bitch (Betty Blowtorch), and Patrice Zappa-Porter (sister of Frank Zappa). Many new articles and interviews are planned in the future for the show and the site as well as a full revamp of the site itself that will
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