Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010: A look back at the year in live music

by Chad Cooper

This past year, 2010, we saw a plethora of live shows from Houston to Kinder, Louisiana.

We walked away from many thinking, man, that show really 'rawked.' And some, well, were just okay.

Powerman 5000 helped christen Beaumont's newest venue, The Gig on Crockett Street, on Oct. 29. The show also featured The Hunger and local bands Forever Falls and Angel Siren. It was just a good night of rock-and-roll, which attracted a great crowd.

Another live music/multi-purpose arena that opened was Nutty Jerry's in Winnie and country music star Dwight Yoakam was the first to play the joint Sept. 19 with a crowd of over 3,000 fans.

The Carnival of Madness Tour featuring Shinedown, Chevelle, Puddle of Mudd, Sevendust and 10 Years rocked the Cynthia Mitchell Woodlands Pavilion on Aug. 21. A near-capacity crowd of 15,000+ piled in for the show. Mix the large crowd with sweltering Texas heat and what you have is an awesome show.

Buzzfest XXV was one for the ages Oct. 23 at The Woodlands Pavilion as Godsmack, Bush, Filter, Papa Roach, Saving Abel, Sick Puppies, Neon Trees, Paper Tongues, Seether (just to name a few) played two stages. It's hard to go wrong with a Buzzfest.

A few of those mentioned above played smaller venues including Filter at Scout Bar in Clear Lake on July 23, Saving Abel played Whiskey River on Sept. 24 and Sick Puppies played both Scout Bar (July 21) and Whiskey River (Oct. 1).

Brett Scallions and the newest members of Fuel performed Nov. 11 at Whiskey River. The crowd was thin and Scallions was battling the flu, but the show was still one to see.

The Sextasy Ball 2010 stopped at Scout Bar in Clear Lake on Aug. 11 and featured Lords of Acid and Thrill Kill Kult. The show was a sell out.

Framing Hanley proved they belong on the national rock scene. The band from Nashville played The Gig on Nov. 30, which was their second time in Beaumont in as many years.

Hed PE is one of the best live bands we've seen. They sold out the Scout Bar in Clear Lake on Nov. 13 and the juggalos and juggalettes were out in full f0rce. Face paint and all.

Coop's Top 10 shows of 2010
1. Powerman 5000 w/The Hunger @ The Gig (Oct. 29)
2. Buzzfest XXV @ The Woodlands (Oct. 23)
3. Sick Puppies @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (July 21)
4. Hed PE @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (Nov. 13)
5. Carnival of Madness Tour @ The Woodlands (Aug. 21)
6. Framing Hanley @ The Gig (Nov. 30)
7. John Conlee w/Bobby Bare @ Nutty Jerry's (Oct. 16)
8. Tantric @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (Aug. 14)
9. Filter @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (July 23)
10. Fuel @ Whiskey River (Nov. 11)

Block's Top 10 shows of 2010
1. Buzzfest XXV @ The Woodlands (Oct. 23)
2. Carnival of Madness Tour @ The Woodlands (Aug. 21)
3. Sick Puppies @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (July 21)
4. Cheap Trick w/Starship @ Coushatta Casino (Dec. 4)
5. Powerman 5000 w/The Hunger @ The Gig (Oct. 29)
6. Lords of Acid w/Thrill Kill Kult @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (Aug. 11)
7. Filter @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (July 23)
8. Hed PE @ Scout Bar in Clear Lake (Nov. 13)
9. Dwight Yoakam @ Nutty Jerry's (Sept. 18)
10. ZZ Top @ Ford Pavilion (April 24)

Friday, December 17, 2010

INTERVIEW: Bellamy Brothers

by Chad Cooper, December 2010

If not for brothers Howard and David Bellamy, there may not be any Brooks and Dunn, Big & Rich or Montgomery Gentry.

They’ve recorded over 50 albums and charted more than 50 songs with 20 No. 1 hits like “Let Your Love Flow,” “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me,” “For All the Wrong Reasons,” “Sugar Daddy” and “Redneck Girls.”

The legendary Bellamy Brothers will perform at Nutty Jerry’s in Winnie on Friday, Dec. 17 with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, $20 and $12. Information can be obtained at or (409) 296-2406.

Both born in Darby, Florida, which is near the family farm where they today call their home, the two were raised around music as their father played music and began performing at local events like rattlesnake rounds and such, then were introduced to country music musician Jim Stafford.

The younger David wrote “Spiders and Snakes,” which became a big hit for Stafford, and gave the brothers enough money to move to Los Angeles to pursue a music dream. It was then they signed with Curb Records and the rest is history.

Before heading overseas to play 10 shows in Switzerland, Howard Bellamy talked with 88 Miles West about his career in music and what it still means to tour the world.

The Bellamy Brothers are still going strong some 35 years later.

I don’t know how relevant we are, but we still do about 175 shows a year and still enjoy traveling the world. We are still having fun and drawing good crowds so it’s a good feeling. Dave and I don’t know much about doing anything else so I guess that’s why we stuck with it so long.

Growing up in a home with your dad, a musician, was it just natural to follow in his footsteps?

We were raised on a cattle ranch in central Florida and grew up listening to him play music with his friends, drink a little moonshine until our mother got tired of it, then go to church on Sundays. That’s how we were raised. We just started playing music for the fun of it and never had a clue you could make a career out of it.

You’ve done an incredible job at it because your songs can still be heard today.

We don’t have a certain approach to writing songs, just try to write really good ones. We’ve been lucky to have some songs that have had long lives. That’s probably the reason why we are still playing. People love those songs and the radio keeps playing them. Times are so crazy now that people love to flashback to the good times.

You are internationally known and have a great following in other countries. Not many in country music can say that.

Actually, it started that way from the very beginning. “Let Your Love Flow” was a No. 1 pop record in 15 countries around the world and it was a hit in Europe before it was played in the United States. Because of that song, it opened up a lot of international doors then came ‘...Beautiful Body,’ which also did very well. We’ve been touring the world for the entire 35 years. It wasn’t something that came later in our careers. Before we play at Nutty Jerry’s, we will be flying in from Switzerland.

It must have been some good times with Jim Stafford. He’s a character.

We spent a lot of time with Jim in the early ’70s. He is an incredibly talented guy and performer. Stafford was raised around another Florida boy, Bobby Braddock, so it was a nest of musicians here and we all knew each other. We moved out to Los Angeles for about five years to pursue our career, that’s where we recorded ‘Let Your Love Flow’ and Stafford recorded ‘Spiders and Snakes,’ which David wrote. We actually lived in Stafford’s basement for a time period along with Gallagher, the comedian. He was Stafford’s road manager for a while. You talk about a nut house. We saw the sledge-o-matic being invented.

How did you guys come to the idea to record the album ‘Reggae Cowboys,’ which was a Reggae record?

Being born and raised in Florida in the orange groves, we worked for our dad out in the field and during the fall when the fruit ripened, the Jamaicans would migrate to Florida and pick oranges in November. We worked with them picking fruit and we loved it because they would sing all day, you know, to break the monotony of work, they would sing island songs. We were exposed to a lot of that. Between that and listening to dad play old Jimmy Rodgers’ songs, it was something we really enjoyed. Maybe that’s why we are so confused musically.

You and David released a song called ‘JalapeƱos’ early this year. It wasn’t a typical Bellamy Brothers’ song. Radio stations wouldn’t play it because some of the content in the lyrics. You reference life isn’t like a bowl of cherries, more like a jar of jalapenos because what you do and say today, it don’t go away and stay, it comes back and burns your ass. Plus there are mentions of President Obama, Glenn Beck, Tiger Woods and Bernie Madoff. What inspired that?

David wrote it. We like to make fun of politicians and lawyers; you know, those people who like to make our lives miserable. We were seeing how many people we could tick off and did a pretty good job of it.

Do you keep up with the current country music scene?

We do. We have accepted the fact you are not going to see us on charts because of the politics in radio and record labels, but we like several new acts — especially Miranda Lambert. We’ve become good friends with her and Blake Shelton and have been invited to their wedding.

Anything new coming up that you guys are working on?

We still live on our old family ranch in Florida, which has been in our family since 1870. People always wonder why we didn’t move to Nashville, but it’s because we have some deep roots there. We’ve had a studio there for several years now and we’re always in there recording or writing. There’s still a lot of material to be recorded. Exactly what the next project will be, we haven’t decided yet. We like to do stuff that hasn’t been done and try to stay current. We’ve never given up yet on having another hit record.

Official Bellamy Brothers website
Official Bellamy Brothers Facebook
Click here to purchase Bellamy Brothers music

Friday, November 26, 2010

INTERVIEW: Grand Funk Railroad

by Chad Cooper, November 2010

One of the most popular rock bands in history continues to spread their original sound with dozens of shows each year.

Selling over 25 million records, Grand Funk Railroad produced great hits like “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” “Walk Like a Man,” “The Loco-Motion,” “Bad Time,” “Shinin’ On,” the remake of “Some Kind of Wonderful” and the timeless “We’re an American Band.”

Two of the original members, Don Brewer (drums/vocals) and Mel Schacher (bass), joined forces with vocalist Max Carl (of 38 Special), former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick and keyboardist Tim Cushion to continue the legacy of Grand Funk Railroad.

Their history dates back to 1968 and just a few short years later, they were selling out arenas across the globe including Shea Stadium in New York. In 1971, GFR sold out Shea in a record 72 hours, which was previously held by The Beatles.

Brewer spoke 88 Miles West about the life and times of GFR.

Do you remember the first band you ever played in?

The first band I ever played in, I played guitar. I think was 12 or so. It was like an elementary school band. We were a three-piece and the drummer just had a snare and symbol with a trumpet player. We were called the Red Devils because we all wore red pants. While I was doing that, I worked my way into the junior high band. I started playing clarinet (my mother thought I would be cute if I played it). Eventually I played in the high school band and worked my way up to first chair but one day our director said he needed guys to be in the drum department for the marching band. All that was back there were girls and they can’t carry them. So I thought girls and I’m the only guy — I’m in. My dad was thrilled. He was a drummer back in the Depression days and played on Saturday nights for food and beer. He later got me a drum kit and showed me how to play.

One of GFR’s first shows was the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969. Did your career take off from there?

Yeah, it really did. Mark (Farner) and I had been in a band together for several years with some local success in Michigan. We had played with Terry Knight and the Pack then Terry went on to New York to work for Capital Records and I kept in touch with him. He wrote me a letter and said record companies were looking for trios. So I got with Mark and we hooked up with Mel Schacher from Question Mark and the Mysterians. We finally had a few songs and Terry flew out and saw the band and that’s basically the start of Grand Funk Railroad. We changed our named to Grand Funk Railroad and our booking agent knew a guy putting together this festival down in Atlanta. We rented a van and trailer, on our dime, and went down there and played. They put us on as the opening act on opening day. We blew the crowd away and was asked to play two more times. It was one of those miraculous moments.

Was it common for drummers to also sing vocals?

Even before I started drumming, I sang some lead in the bands I played in. It just came natural for me to play drums and sing. I learned how to play drums by singing to records. It wasn’t really common, but there were drummers who sang like Buddy Miles, Don Henley and Phil Collins.

There were several times that GFR released two albums in one year.

It was a part of our record deal and most were like that. They wanted you on the road all the time and in the studio. They wanted as much product as they could get. Our contract was for two albums per year and two tours to support those records. You didn’t spend more than a week recording. We’d take a few weeks off, then rehearse and go on the road and play a 40-show tour. Then come off that, take a week off and go back to working on a new album.

What inspired the song ‘We’re an American Band?’

We were touring in support of the album Phoenix. It was the first record that we had produced ourselves because we had just split from Terry (Knight). He was suing every city we toured and we were just making a transition from being under his wing to being our own band. Radio was also changing so we had to make a three-minute hit single. The thought came into my mind as we went from town to town and I had this line that kept popping into my head — We’re comin’ to your town we’ll help you party it down. So it finally came into my head that ‘We’re an American Band’ and it sounded good. I sat down and started writing some chords and took some stories from each city that I had gathered and just made a story out of it.

GFR had some pretty interesting album covers. All the Girls in the World Beware!!! had bodybuilders with your heads imposed on them.

We had a publicist named Lynn Goldsmith, who was our second manager’s girlfriend. She was a marketing person and had all these ideas including posing nude on bales of hay.
That album had the hit song ‘Some Kind of Wonderful,’ which was originally recorded by Soul Brothers Six in 1967. How did you come to record that one?

It was one of those things where we were sitting in the back of the car from the hotel to the show and I started singing ‘I don’t need a whole lots of money’ and we would sing it acapella. It was an old R&B song with actually some Gospel in it. We always listened to this R&B station back in Flint called WAMM and they always played it and that’s where we first heard it. It was inspiring as a song and we always used it as a warmup as we were going to the gig. As we were putting material together for that album, our manager at the time said we should do that song and we did.
You guys collaborated with some heavy hitters like Frank Zappa, Bob Seger and Todd Rundgren. Any particular motives or reasoning behind that?

It was a real rush. We were trying to separate ourselves and become our own band. We knew how to make hit albums, but we needed help making hit songs and give us a kick. With Zappa, we all went to see the movie 2000 Motels and in it, Frank mentioned Grand Funk Railroad, so we thought let’s call Frank. It was very fun and inspirational to do.

How does it feel to be Homer Simpson’s favorite band?

Oh man, it’s great. They wanted to use our song ‘Shinin’ On,’ which is a song Mark and I co-wrote. In the episode, Homer is explaining to his kids about Grand Funk Railroad and says ‘the wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner, the bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher and the competent drumwork of Don Brewer.’ There is no better stamp of approval.

Photos of GFR performing @ Nutty Jerry's
Official GFR website
Click here to purchase GFR music


by Chad Cooper, November 2010

Here’s a story of a band named Fuel. With origins dating back to 1989, a rock band was born in the western part of Tennessee by two friends, Carl Bell and Jeff Abercrombie.

The two then saw Brett Scallions singing in a nearby city and were blown away by his incredible vocals and talent and had to have him. So Scallions teamed up with Bell and Abercrombie in 1993 and the group decided on the name Fuel.

After recording a few EPs, Fuel caught the eye of Epic Records, who signed the band and their first national release came in March 1998 — Sunburn. The album spawned four huge radio hits, which include “Shimmer,” “Bittersweet,” “Sunburn” and “Jesus or a Gun.” The record went toe-to-toe ranking ahead of the likes of Metallica, Green Day and Everclear.

It took Fuel two years to produce their second album, but it was nowhere near the proverbial sophomore slump. Something Like Human went double platinum and the song “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” gave the band their first No. 1 hit.

It took even more time (three years) for the band’s third album, Natural Selection, to come out, but for Fuel fans it was well worth the wait. The song “Falls on Me” was another radio hit and “Won’t Back Down” was used on the soundtrack to the movie Daredevil. The record was later nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for best engineered album.

Problems arose and Scallions and drummer Kevin Miller left the band. After replacing Scallions with Toryn Green and Miller with former Godsmack drummer Tommy Stewart, the band released Angels & Devils in 2007.

After that release, the band went idle until Scallions called up Abercrombie in 2009 and brought along Candiria drummer Ken Schalk to play some dates under the name “Re-Fuel.”

Abercrombie decided to work on other projects, but Scallions moved on with Schalk and hired former Shinedown bassist Brad Stewart and Jasin Todd (Shinedown) on guitars, thus the new version of Fuel.

Scallions spoke about his exciting journey in the music industry.

How’s touring been with this group of musicians?

We have been having a blast. We all got together with a common purpose, which is to play the music of Fuel, but at the same time it’s a steppingstone for us. Not just to have fun and get our rocks off, but the opportunity to make new music as well and become a real, really functioning group that we want to be. We want the music that the four of us have done, not just music of me and the other guys that used to be there. Chemistry is great. One beautiful thing about this is Jasin (lead guitar) is not Carl Bell, and Brad (bassist) is not Jeff Abercrombie, and Ken is not Kevin Miller. They are their own people and I embrace that. These are songs that I did as Fuel, but I want the guys to make it their own. Listen to the songs, pick out the important part and add your own color to it and that’s exactly what we’ve all been doing.

Any new music on the horizon?

We have one new song we are playing and there are a number of other new songs we have been tweaking on. Hopefully those songs will be ready in the new year.

You’ve also been very busy with World Fire Brigade.

World Fire Brigade is me and Sean Danielsen of the band Smile Empty Soul (lead singer/lead guitar). He’s done the bulk of the guitars on the record and I’ve done the bass. Since Sean and I are both singers, we have been sharing the spotlight. The two of us can really intertwine with the vocals aspect and that should be out in the spring. It’s about 90 percent complete.

Sunburn was a powerful debut back in 1998. It went up against several other big rock releases that year. Some 12 years later, are you surprised how relevant the record still is?

It felt great to be lumped in a group with other successful bands. To be able to contend with already successful groups and not be stuck playing in Joe’s Pub every night; to be able to have songs that people can connect to and records that people want to buy and have this longevity is a wonderful thing. You always look back on your career to see what you accomplished and I do look back and think, I did it, you know? I did what many people in this world dream about doing. I did it and I am still doing it. There is no better feeling in this entire world than to survive doing what you’ve always dreamed of doing and get paid doing it. It’s not a dead end job that I hate. I get to do what my passion is. My advice is think about your dreams and go for them. Don’t ever be afraid of catching that start. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible. I’m very lucky.

Going through the trials and tribulations of Fuel, how has this effected you?

After I left Fuel in 2005, I started playing with so many other people. I got the luxury of feeling what it’s like to play with other people than the ones I had been playing with for 15 years. It was nice to get a gauge on what else was out there. I had the chance to play with Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors and they were just monsters. I have been fortunate enough to have good players around me. After all is said and done, I am a better musician today than I ever was.

View photos of Fuel performing @ Whiskey River
Official website
Click here to buy Fuel music

INTERVIEW: Framing Hanley

by Chad Cooper, December 2010

Nashville may be known for country music, but its rock roots have grown drastically from the Music City USA entertainment tree and fans can thank Framing Hanley for helping the scene blossom.

Kenneth Nixon (vocals), Brandon Wootten (guitar), Ryan Belcher (guitar) Luke McDuffee (bass) and Chris Vest (drums) make up the group who are touring in support of their 2009 sophomore release A Promise to Burn on the national record label Silent Majority.

Framing Hanley hit the scene in 2007 with The Moment, which contained the hit single “Hear Me Now.” The album was re-released with the bonus track “Lollipop.” That song was a radio hit of rapper Lil Wayne and the band decided to play it one night in Nashville as a joke, but fans loved it as did rock radio stations across the America. Not only did it garner over eight million views on YouTube, but it became the ringtone for hundreds of thousands of cell phones.

The band hit the road for multiple tours and did a stretch of 300 shows in a year’s span and during that time, began working on new material. They hooked back up with producer Brett Hestla, the former bassist for Creed and vocalist of Dark New Day, and recorded their second album.

“You Stupid Girl” was the first single off the new album followed by “WarZone,” which was recently sent to radio.

Framing Hanley last played Beaumont in April 2009 at Scout Bar and recently, guitarist Brandon Wootten spoke to The Examiner about their second album and life on the road.

Wootten spoke about the sophomore album and life on the road.

With the new second album ‘A Promise to Burn,’ were there any goals heading into the writing and recording process?

We wanted to write a more rounded record, so we spent a lot more time on the creative process. We went down to Florida and spent two months and spent a month and a half writing before we even went into the studio. We ended up having like 20 songs before the record was ever released. Like most bands with their fans, there are some that like the first record better than the second, but we have definitely accumulated new fans. We are going to tour Europe, so a new record means you hopefully pick up a new fan-base. The record is more mature because some of us were 18 when we wrote the first album. It’s like growing up and becoming better musicians.

Listening to both records, it seems like this one is more personal than The Moment. Is that the case?

With this record, we weren’t trying to be more personal than the other record. The record does have somewhat of a storyline concept to it. The storyline is the last two years of our lives and everything we have come through.
Nashville is known for its country music, was it difficult getting started?

You would think it would be, but it’s not like that. Nashville actually has a big rock scene. It’s kind of nice because when you tell people you’re from Nashville they automatically think you are a country music act and you say ‘no, far from country.’
Love the video for ‘You Stupid Girl.’ At the beginning of the video the French phrase baiser de la mort is shown, which means kiss of death. How did that come about?

When the video starts, Nixon poisons the wine bottle and plans to kill both he and the girl. When she puts poison in there, she thinks it’s going to just kill him, but in fact it kills both of them.
I saw a video online where right before you go on stage and perform you chant ‘bring on the ruckus.’ How did that originate and do you guys still do that before hitting the stage?

We have done that every single time since we started touring. Maybe two shows where we got on stage and forgot to do it. A lot of bands do different things, we want to get our heads right and go out on stage and bring it.

Framing Hanley seems to tour more than any band. What do you like to do on your free time?

Ryan and I, the other guitar player, just got an endorsement from Innova, which makes discs for disc golf. We love to play disc golf. On show days, we like to take the cities in and enjoy where we are at and definitely enjoy mingling with the fans.

Follow Framing Hanley on Facebook
Official Myspace
Click here to purchase Framing Hanley music

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

INTERVIEW: Miranda Lambert

by Chad Cooper, November 2010

Texas-born Miranda Lambert is headlining the 2010 CMT Revolution Tour with special guests Eric Church and newcomer Josh Kelley.

The tour will play Ford Arena on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are on sale for $42.75, $37.75 and $26.75 at the Ford Park Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations.

The 26-year-old singer/songwriter is touring in support of her 2009 album, Revolution, which gave Lambert her first No. 1 single, “The House That Built Me.” The album was her third to debut at No. 1. With that, she became only the third female country singer in history to have three records debut at No. 1 on Billboard Country Albums.

In September, it was announced that she was nominated for nine CMA Awards, which was also a record for a female with the most nominations in a single year, which includes Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist, Single, Song and Album of the Year.

Born in Longview, Lambert began playing music at 16 and in 2003 she finished third on the reality show Nashville Star. She released her first national record, Kerosene, which debuted at No. 1 and sold over a million copies giving it platinum status.

Then came Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in 2007 and Revolution in 2009. Popular singles include “Me and Charlie Talking,” “Kerosene,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Famous in a Small Town,” “Gunpowder and Lead,” “White Liar” and her newest to radio, “Only Prettier.”

Lambert took time out of her schedule to answer some questions.

As a native Texan, growing up, what music did you enjoy listening to?

I absolutely love classic country and it’s no secret that Merle Haggard was and is one of my favorites. I really love Jack Ingram’s music, and Alison Moore, as well. But in addition to country my family used to listen to southern rock like CCR (Creedance Clearwater Revival) and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

What is the biggest difference between Miranda, the singer/songwriter in 2004, and Miranda, the singer/songwriter in 2010?

I learned that you have to follow your heart and your art, no matter what people tell you; it’s still your name at the door and you are responsible for what happens next. Good advice is great, but it has to make sense in your life. I think in your twenties its natural to mature as a person because a lot of the experiences are a first as a young adult and you try to figure things out. I understand more now, especially that I have a lot more to learn. Being on the road and traveling the country for the last five years taught me a lot about myself and others. I am engaged to a wonderful man and have a great farm as my home, with a ‘bag full’ of marvelous animals and of course my dogs! Professionally, I’m more comfortable in my live show, as I had a chance to get better at entertaining partly by watching all the incredible artists I had a chance to tour with in the past, and partly because I have come to know myself better.

How important is it to have a No. 1 single?

I am not sure about its importance, but it feels great to have one. Just to think that a song that you recorded is the most played single in the country...Pretty wonderful.

Three straight albums have debuted at No.1, but 'Revolution' has helped get you a record nine CMA nominations and your first No. 1 single. Did you know when writing and recording this one that it was going to be special? Did you go into this album doing anything different than the previous albums?

I wanted this record to reflect both sides of my personality and I think I accomplished that. ‘Revolution’ is much more revealing into my personal life than my first album, 'Kerosene' and then the follow up, 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'. As a songwriter you can sometimes ‘hide’ behind the lyrics and not let the listener know the real person behind them. In 'Revolution' I feel like I didn’t hold anything back from my fans. I let them in on every aspect of where I am at in life right now and that kind of felt like a little private revolution for me, hence the name of the record. As I am maturing as a person and an artist I learned that even if it’s scary to reveal yourself to your fans in your music, it’s also freeing at the same time.

Coming up on your 27th birthday, it seems like you are already an established veteran in the industry. Are you already looking ahead on what’s next? Anything left for you do accomplish?

I’m going to start writing for the next album soon, which seems crazy, because I feel like this one just came out! Once I finish a record, I usually don’t write for a really long time because I’m burnt out. But this time I have been writing so much, just all kinds of songs with all different people. I’m really excited! But I’m just really excited in general now — I have everything in line for once, and it’s awesome. My personal life, my music, and I feel more creative than ever. I guess success brings on that creativity because it’s working, so I want to do it some more.

Official Miranda Lambert website
Click here to purchase Miranda Lambert music

INTERVIEW: Powerman 5000

by Chad Cooper, October 2010

Spider One is the brainchild behind rockers Powerman 5000. From Massachusetts, Spider created the group nearly 15 years ago and pumped out popular tunes including “When Worlds Collide,” “Nobody’s Real,” “Bombshell” and current hits “Super Villain,” “V Is for Vampire” and “Show Me What You’ve Got” from the 2009 album, Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere.

Spider even put the Powerman touch on the 1983 radio smash “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, which made the Zoolander soundtrack. The band’s songs were also included on other soundtracks as well as dozens of video games. No more does he live under the shadow of older brother Rob Zombie.

I scored an interview with Spider One, who says Halloween is his absolute favorite holiday.

Growing up, were you a ‘Clockwork Orange’ type of kid?

Oh yea. That was one of my favorite movies. Actually, Powerman did a Halloween show in 2006 and we dressed up as the gang from ‘Clockwork Orange.’ It was a pretty badass visual on stage. Halloween is and always was my favorite time of year. I live in LA now, but grew up near Boston, which is very much in the fall like a Halloween vibe. We would go all out like turning the backyard into a graveyard.

Your work is brilliant. Tell me your thought process of heading into a new record.

Writing music and songs is a weird thing. I always joke about people who can tell you a place, time and coffee shop they were when they wrote such and such song about this girl. For me, it’s almost the opposite. I generally don’t sit down and try to write a song. You can be going about your day and all of a sudden an idea pops in your head or your falling asleep and this riff pops in your head. You get up and sing it in your phone so you won’t forget it the next morning. The original spark from me usually comes from nowhere. The inspiration usually finds me and then it builds from there.

This is the final tour of the year for Powerman 5000. What are your immediate plans?

Yeah, we are super-busy right now with a couple of things. The band has already started writing music for the next record. We feel really inspired by the last album and the direction the band has gone back to, in a lot of ways, which is more of an electronic-metal sound. We are also going to do a side thing where we do some cover songs as well. I don’t know if it will be an album or what.

Cover album? That’s awesome because you guys did an amazing job with ‘Relax.’

We got approached by a record label called Cleopatra about doing this and it sounded like such a fun thing to do. When you get to do someone else’s song, you learn a lot about songwriting. We haven’t decided on what songs, but it seems like it’s leaning toward the ’80s. Probably have some Devo, The Clash and put the Powerman-spin on it.

I hear you can officially add television producer to your long list of titles...

Yeah man. I have been working on this TV show idea for years called ‘Death Valley.’ It’s a horror comedy cop show in the San Fernando Valley and they chase vampires and werewolves. It was finally sold to MTV and we will have 12 episodes. It goes in production as soon as I get off tour and we will start shooting in December.

How important is it to put on an energetic show?

For me, personally, it’s everything. I love writing songs and making albums, but I always feel like a band lives and dies based on its live show. There is a reason why we (Powerman 5000) have a reputation as a strong live band because we take it very seriously. If I have an off night, I won’t rest until the next show. It’s totally unique and different every night. I honestly try to create a vibe where we’re all here for a reason. There is a reason why you got off your couch and I got on the bus and came to Beaumont. However many people, we are here for a fucking reason, so let’s make it count. It’s always been the most important reason being in a band.

Click here to view pics of the PM5K show @ The Gig
PM5K Myspace
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INTERVIEW: Christopher Cross

by Chad Cooper, October 2010

His 1980 debut album won him a record setting five Grammy Awards, which beat out The Wall by Pink Floyd. He followed that up with an Oscar in 1981 and a Golden Globe Award.

He contributed backing vocals along with Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys in 1985 to David Lee Roth’s version of “California Girls.” He once filled in and played guitar with Deep Purple.

Who is he? He’s Christopher Cross.

With hits like “Ride Like the Wind,” “Never Be the Same,” “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” “Think of Laura” and the ever-so-popular “Sailing,” Cross’ music continues to be relevant in an age of digital download.

The 59-year-old singer/songwriter took time out to talk to me about the past, future and present.

Going back to 1980 when you recorded your self-titled debut album, was there a special feeling when recording that record that those songs would still be relevant some 30 years later?

You have to believe in yourself and I did think it was special and thought those songs deserved to be on a record. Ironically when Warner Bros. Records signed me, their attraction was more to my voice than the music. They originally wanted me to record other people’s songs but eventually came around to the idea I was strong enough to record my stuff.

You are getting ready to release a new project called 'Dr. Faith', which is your first new album in 12 years.

It comes out Jan. 25, 2011, and I am very pleased with it. I produced it myself and would say it’s more of a guitar-based record whereas past records were more keyboard-based. If you had to pick a genre, it would be like Crowded House. It will be 13 songs, but we are currently not playing any new songs until it comes out.

You grew up in Texas (San Antonio), so did you enjoy listening to Texas-themed music?

I did enjoy Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, but as soon as the English invasion came in, I did sort of gravitate towards that. I enjoyed Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Tom Wade, Randy Newman, and Joanie Mitchell. Joanie was my single biggest influence and the new album is dedicated to her. I was more into songwriters as well like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne. Eventually, I was lured to the West Coast, where I live now in Los Angeles. Even though I lived in Texas and respected that music like Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, my heart was the West Coast.

In 2005, you recorded a song with your daughter Madison called ‘He Was Just Like Me.’ How special was that?

It was wonderful. The reason so because the song was written about Mattie Stepanek, a young poet who died in 2004 at the age of 13 due to muscular dystrophy. My daughter became very close friends with him, so I wrote the song in a way she could express her feelings about her grief. Even though he was in a wheelchair and on a ventilator, he was this amazing kid. Kind of like Yoda.

Any other new projects?

Actually, yes. I did a Christmas album in 2008 called 'Christmas Time is Here' and it will be released in Europe this year and in the United States next year. I also produced it myself.

Official Christopher Cross Website
Click here to purchase Christopher Cross music

Monday, October 18, 2010

NEWS: Fuel to play Beaumont

by Chad Cooper

Rock band Fuel will play Whiskey River in Beaumont on Thursday, Nov. 11. Advance tickets are $15 and the show is for ages 18 and up.

With only the original lead singer left in the group, Brett Scallions, the band hit the scene in 1998 with their debut album Sunburn, which featured the hits “Shimmer” and “Bittersweet.”

Their second release, Something Like Human, produced their only No. 1 single, “Hemorrhage (In My Hands).”

After a third album, the band split and hired a new singer, but later reformed only to break up again.

Earlier this year, Scallions announced there would be a new Fuel with former Shinedown members Jason Todd (guitar) and Brandon Stewart (bass).

Official Fuel Myspace
Venue information

Friday, September 10, 2010

INTERVIEW: John Oates of Hall & Oates

by Chad Cooper - April, 2009

There’s not much that hasn’t already been written about the most successful music duo in rock history — Daryl Hall and John Oates.

Over 80 million records sold worldwide, with eight No. 1 hits and 29 songs that reached the Top 40, including “Rich Girl,” “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” “Out of Touch” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”

The two actually met in 1967 when they both ran for cover in an elevator to escape gunfire by gangs in Philadelphia. A mere 42 years later, Hall and Oates continue to record and tour behind their patented blue-eyed soul sound.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, the duo shows no signs of stopping. We caught up with John Oates via telephone from Aspen, Colo., where he was taping a television program.

What’s the secret to your success?
Real simple. Write a better song and get a better record contract. It was incremental goals and that’s how we really approached it and believe it or not, that’s how we still approach it today. The fame and success was a byproduct of working hard and what we did.

It took nearly four albums to get that first hit. Any frustration?
When you are young, you want everything to happen yesterday. We were there mentally but by the same token, it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t have success right out of the box. The first three albums were distinctively different; Whole Oats (folk, singer/songwriter), Abandoned (acoustic), War Babies was a full rock album. The Silver Album was kind of like a collaboration of all three. That was the first time our sound became identifiable. We took over production of our own music and that’s when everything changed and we began to hit our stride. The decade of the 70s was preparing us for the 80s.

Why did you decide to cover “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers?
It was an after thought. After we thought the Voices album was done, we had a listening party. Back then after you made an album, you had a get-together for the record company with friends and family. You debut the album to get them jazzed up a bit. We did that and sat back and felt something was missing. It was a great album but one element was missing. We didn’t know what element but knew there should be one more song. After the party, we went to eat at a local restaurant and that song came on in the diner. We looked at each other and thought wow, that’s it. Went back to the studio and played and recorded it and finished it in one day.

The song “Every time You Go Away” was a hit single by Paul Young yet you guys wrote it. Any regrets?
Not at all. If you listen to our original, it’s like an old stack of R&B songs and that’s how we heard that song, in that style. We pay homage to our roots and that was important to us. They heard it as a pop song and it became a huge hit for him. The song was so good you could do it anyway you want.

Were you surprised “Maneater” was your biggest radio hit?
We had a good feeling about that one. We both were notoriously bad at picking hit singles but that one just jumped out. It captures a mood, musically and lyrically, of New York City in the 80s. Lean, sparse, edgy, new wave meets pop. It was perfectly suited for the time.

Was it weird that “Say It Isn’t So” came out at the same time Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson released “Say, Say, Say”?
The deejays had fun with it. Interesting story on this song was the dance version of this song became a No. 1 record. That was in the beginning of the club mixes. Producers were taking songs and turning them into club and dance mixes. That was the first one of ours that was mixed. ‘Out of Touch’ was also a big dance remix hit; so was ‘I Can’t Go for That.’

You are into auto racing. Why so?
As a little kid, I was a race fan. My friend’s dad ran a hot dog stand at a local dirt racetrack that I used to go to in the 50s. I saw Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo, race jalopies. Back in the late 70s, I was making a little money and I went to the Hampton’s and saw a little track there and began doing some racing. I took driving schools in England and here in the U.S. and began doing amateur races, Formula 4, sports cars, then Endurance Series in the 80s. I did Daytona (24 hours), and began some professionally, but I never considered dropping music. I still enjoy it and take my son out there and go to NASCAR and Indy.

Jon Stewart asked you to be on his show to make fun of Alan Colmes of Hannity and Colmes. How’d that come about?
Well, they called us when Colmes was leaving the Hannity and Colmes show on Fox News and they wanted to do a tribute so we did a spoof of ‘She’s Gone.’ We are big fans of Stewart and I didn’t realize how much work he puts in to it. He’s there at 8 a.m., writes all day and then he directs the show.

Plenty of rap/hip-hop groups sample your songs. You down with that?
Oh yeah, it’s cool. It goes back to songwriting that has a timeless quality to the songs. They still work and reach people. Part of it is the groove, part of it is the hook. We look at it kind of as a tribute.

What’s your take on the music industry today?
I don’t think very much of it. I am happy to see the old business dying. It will now give the artists the opportunity to be creative and do whatever they want. The Internet is both a blessing and curse.

So what’s left for Hall and Oates?
We represent a lifetime of music. We have legacy and a fan base and a lot of people we feel responsible to, to uphold the hard work and the years we put in. I am doing some independent stuff. I have a solo project called ‘Story Behind the Songs.’ It is a songwriter series. I taped it live in Aspen (Colorado). I want to nurture young songwriters. I enjoy that process and that’s very important to me. For me, it’s all about creativity. It’s about songwriting. I am more appreciative of the art and craft of songwriting as I’ve gotten older. We made good records but the reality of it was the songs. Now my goal is to write songs that are meaningful.

Official Hall & Oates Website
Hall & Oates Myspace
Click here to purchase Hall & Oates music

INTERVIEW: Theory of a Deadman

by Chad Cooper - October, 2008

Lead singer Tyler Connally said it was purely “awesome” that his band’s hit record “Bad Girlfriend” was blowing up the radio airwaves across the country.

According to Radio and Records trade magazine, the song that was once No. 1 has been in the top 25 for 21 consecutive weeks and currently sits No. 2 on the Active Rock charts, getting more than 1,600 spins per week behind Metallica’s “The Day That Never Comes.”

Connally said the group originated in British Columbia, Canada, then roared onto the scene back in 2002 after he handed Chad Kroeger, the lead singer of Nickelback, a demo after a concert. Kroeger, who had created his own record label with Roadrunner Records called 604, signed the band but they needed a band name.

“We recorded a song called ‘Theory of a Deadman’ and we changed the name of that song,” said Connally. “We got signed by the label and needed a name so we picked Theory of a Deadman. Back then we were a lot younger and our music was a little harder so the name was cool and it stuck.”

The name may be a little unusual but “Bad Girlfriend” isn’t. Off the band’s third album, Scars & Souvenirs, the single can be heard frequently on Big Dog 106, cell phone ringtones and thousands of Myspace pages but this isn’t their first rodeo. Often referred to as TOADM, the band has had success with other singles including active rock top 10 hits “Nothing Could Come Between Us,” “No Surprise” and “So Happy.”

Several of TOADM’s songs have been featured on video games such as American Chopper, NASCAR 09 plus the band performed “Deadly Game” live at WWE’s No Way Out pay-per-view in 2006 and later recorded “No Chance In Hell,” the theme song for WWE owner Vince McMahon, and the song landed on WWE The Music, Vol. 8. Connally added that getting hooked up with the WWE was a great opportunity because wrestling is huge.

“Jim Johnston heads up all the music at the WWE and he happens to be a big fan of ours and the rest is history,” he said.

To add to their popularity, TOADM will return to their native country and perform at halftime of the 96th Grey Cup in late November, which is the Canadian Football League’s version of the NFL’s Super Bowl.

“Now that’s pretty awesome,” said Connally. “So we are already thinking about a wardrobe malfunction.”

Recording hit records and gaining popularity are one thing, but how does it translate into their live gigs?

“We’ve been told that our live shows are very comparable to the CD,” said Conally. “We just get on stage and push play on the tape and just dance around,” he added with a laugh.

“Just kidding, Hannah Montana. No, really, it’s a great compliment to our sound guy but it’s more dynamic,” he said, then attempted to describe their live shows. “We do a lot of crowd participation. We like to rock out and move around. We’ve been on tour for a long time now and opened for a bunch of big acts, so it was our job to get the crowd going and motivated. We were new and people were like ‘Theory of a what?’ so we had to do a lot to get these people’s attention and we’ve learned a lot and we just carry that over to our headlining set.”

Official Theory of a Deadman Website
Theory of a Deadman Myspace
Click here to purchase Theory of a Deadman music


by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

If you were a fan of rock music in the 1980s, then you know Tesla.

True old-school rock fans remember “Modern Day Cowboy,” “Gettin’ Better,” “Love Song” and, of course, the remake of “Signs,” originally performed by the Five Man Electrical Band.

Four of the original five members are back, including lead singer Jeff Keith. Several brief reunion shows and nearly 25 years later, Tesla returns with a new album, “Forever More.”

“Man, the love of music still drives this band,” said Keith. “We still have a blast doing it and it’s all about the fun.”

In 1994, the boys from Sacramento took a break because lead guitarist Tommy Skeoch, who is the lone member that didn’t return, had to deal with personal problems – namely, drug issues.

“We really didn’t want to break up in the first place,” said Keith. “It kind of just happened.”

Keith explained Tesla continued as a four-piece band and had hoped that Skeoch would join back up with his band mates and when that failed to occur, Tesla finally broke up in 1995.

“We then got back together thanks to a DJ in Sacramento named Pat Martin,” said Keith. “Me and Tommy were playing in another band at the time, but there still was a lot of animosity, but we were able to bury the hatchet.”

Tesla then recorded their fifth album, Into the Now, but soon after, Skeoch hit the brakes and left for the second and final time. The band continued on and replaced him with Dave Rude and Keith said they didn’t miss a beat.

After some touring in Europe, Tesla signed with an independent label and went back into the studio with producer Terry Thomas, who produced the band’s fourth album, Bust a Nut.

Keith said they wanted to bring Thomas back in because they felt they didn’t give him a fair shot.

“We were so out there with Bust a Nut we felt that wasn’t our best effort so we wanted to work with him again,” said Keith. “Everything we do now, we are clean and sober so things are tighter than ever.”

The new album also gave the rock legends a chance to get back to doing what they do best without all the corporate hassle.

“Unlike the big labels, every ounce of energy and every penny goes into the band,” said Keith. “You don’t sell as many records but it’s more satisfying. You are able to choose what you do opposed to fighting the label over the music if they don’t like what you do.”

For instance, Tesla’s only top 10 single they wrote was “Love Song,” but their label, Capital Records, didn’t want it released.

“They said it was just three great parts,” said Keith. “I said ‘what’s the format then, Conway Twitty?’ We fought for it and we won. Now we are able to put out what we want.”

Official Tesla Website
Tesla Myspace
Click here to purchase Tesla music

INTERVIEW: The Toadies

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

The Toadies are back. They are out from underneath the corporate umbrella and have signed with an independent label and are free to do what they want.

Despite breaking up nearly seven years ago, the boys of Fort Worth have done more than getting back together for a reunion show. They are out from underneath the corporate umbrella and have signed with an independent label and are free to do what they want.

“We are not stuck under that big corporate record label that doesn’t know what to do with us,” said guitarist Clark Vogeler. “They are not stymieing our career as opposed to helping it and that was what was going on in 2000.”

The story began in 1989 when Vaden Todd Lewis and Lisa Umbarger met while working together at a record store in Fort Worth. They both liked the same music, so Todd taught her how to play bass and they started a band called The Toadies together.

After making several demos in his bedroom, the group signed a deal with Interscope Records and released Rubberneck in 1994 that produced the hits “Possum Kingdom,” “Tyler,” “Away,” and “I Come From the Water.” It sold 500,000 copies within a year, gaining gold status and went over the 1 million platinum mark in 1996.

After going through two guitar players, Vogeler joined the band in 1996 and they toured like crazy in support of their successful debut album.

Then trouble began with the record label. After the tour, they went into the studio and recorded Feeler but Interscope canned the album and the band grew frustrated and had to take a break. When they finally returned to the studio, Vogeler said they used some songs from that recording and created their second official major release, Hell Below/Stars Above in early 2001.

They began the tour but Umbarger left the group and the band broke up just five months after their second release.

During the breakup, Lewis and Rev. Horton Heat drummer Taz Bentley formed the Burden Brothers, drummer Mark Reznicek joined a country act called Eleven Hundred Springs and Vogeler moved to California and went to film school.

“I moved to Los Angeles and studied editing,” he said. “I’ve done some TV, documentary and music editing the last couple of years.”

The Burden Brothers released two albums and toured for years and the Toadies reunited March 11, 2006 for a one-night show then played a few more gigs here and there. Vogeler thought they were going to do a few shows but Lewis parted ways with his band and called him and Reznicek in August of 2007.

“He (Todd) started writing songs and said they sounded like the Toadies,” said Vogeler. “He told me and Rez he had these songs and wanted to know if we wanted to do an album. It was good timing.”

The band signed a deal with indie label Kirtland Records and recorded No Deliverance, which was released in August.

“Working with an indie label, they let us do what we want and that’s a great position for us,” said Vogeler. “Todd has found his way. He can sit down and bust out a song in one day. Back then, we had to work through some things but this shows on the new record. This is a straight-ahead, rock-n-roll album. We were focused, it’s simple and we wanted to keep it raw.”

But after seven years, will there be a warm reception waiting for them? Before the new album, you could catch a Toadies’ song on the radio or even play along with “Possum Kingdom” on the video game Guitar Hero II.

Vogeler said the group has been touring and the fans have been nothing short of great. “They (fans) continue to drive us,” he said. “They kind of got us off our asses and back into the studio. We started playing a few Texas shows here and there and we were completely blown away by their enthusiasm they have maintained after we broke up. Our shows have been half the people our age and half of 18 to 25-year-olds that have never seen the band.”

Older and wiser, hopefully the days of breakups are long gone.

“We decided to just record the album, do a tour and just have fun,” said Vogeler. “It’s been a hundred times better than we could have imagined. We have some ideas for next year but beyond that, we want to play good music and have fun and that alone has been working for us, so we are going to stick with that.”

Official Toadies Website
Toadies Myspace
Click here to purchase Toadies music

Thursday, September 9, 2010


by Chad Cooper - November, 2008

For those who know Otep and her music, this show is just what the doctor ordered as it will be the group’s first trip to Beaumont. For those who don’t, check this story out.

Otep performed just four shows in Los Angeles in early 2001. At the last show, music industry mogul Sharon Osbourne was in the crowd and offered the band a spot on the coveted Ozzfest Tour. Record labels lined up to sign the band and Capital Records became the fortunate ones to gain musical rights.

Otep Shamaya, the singer, describes the group as “uncompromising collective of artistic bohemians with creative catharsis through art and music.” The blonde beauty is a true artist.

“I had the hunger to create things,” she said. “It sort of manifested itself in the beginning in the form of illustrating because I would draw, and draw, and draw. Then I wanted to put stories to the pictures. After that, I got into poetry and poetry performances, then eventually put the poetry to rhythmic music.” Her poetry was so powerful that she was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry.

Just eight years ago, she and a friend went to Ozzfest to watch the popular tour and she got a foul taste in her mouth watching a certain band.

“I don’t know the name of them but they were very crappy,” she said. “They were very disrespectful to the women in the crowd, then the fans started booing them so the band began drenching them with beer. I thought to myself, these guys don’t appreciate this opportunity so I looked at my friend and told him ‘this time next year, I will be playing on this very stage.’ He laughed and said I didn’t even have a band.”

But low and behold, Otep was on that very stage the following year. For those unfamiliar with the band, their shows have received rave reviews.

“People may not appreciate the loud dynamics but they may appreciate the artsy part of the show,” she said. “It’s about an emotional release. We relive the emotion that caused us to write those songs. My goal as an artist is to motivate and inspire, or provoke. If you come to an Otep show, I hope that is what we can give you.”

But Otep is not your average rock star. She’s a very outspoken individual who follows politics more closely than some of the politicians in office, landing her an invitation to speak in Denver at the Ballot Bash during the Democratic National Convention this past August.

“It was incredible,” she said. “Probably one of the most memorable moments of my life and it definitely wasn’t the audience of my demographic. I spoke on behalf of the Rock the Vote campaign and voter registration and why it mattered. Being informed and involved was no longer a necessity, but an act of defiance. It’s important to stay active and pay attention. Some people don’t believe their vote matters because of the electoral college. But, to some there are more important ballot issues on state measures that are by popular vote. After I spoke, everyone there came up to me and thanked me for what I did. It was a remarkable experience.”

Asked how she got so interested in politics, Otep explained that during her childhood, one parent was exceptionally conservative, almost a “McCarthyist” and the other parent was an idealistic Kennedy follower.

“I was bombarded by very extreme points of view,” she said. “My mind got inquisitive so I wanted to find out things and see which view was more fair and in my mind, what JFK said was usually right, which was the more practical matter. I loved the issues and enjoyed reading about it. Then I started listening to Rage Against the Machine, who brought attention to things that were important. Those issues were bigger than what other bands were speaking about.”

She encourages people to vote and you want to know whom she may have voted for president?

“After eight years of the worst administration of modern history, they’ve pillaged our natural resources, misused our military, basically gone away from the conservative plan on which they’ve ran, basically helping out their rich friends. We’ve seen the vice president expand his powers to dangerous levels, the economic crisis. Here we are with a chance to turn our ship in another direction. If the Bush policies aren’t stopped, this country will look even worse. If we care about maintaining our privacy rights, keeping jobs in America, giving healthcare to everyone, then get out and vote.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, she voted for Barack Obama.

“What I like about Obama is his ability to be cool,” she said. “When Hillary (Clinton) was throwing everything at him in the primaries, he stayed cool and calm. (John) McCain is throwing everything at him while he’s managing a great campaign and continues to roll on. You want someone who is running the country to stay cool and calm and not have this John Wayne shoot’em up diplomacy.”

Her thoughts on the war in Iraq?

“One of the things that keeps driving me insane is Democrats, or whatever you want to call them, have allowed the other side to define what a liberal is. They say we don’t like wars. We just don’t like fighting in stupid wars.”

Don’t be afraid of Otep. You may learn a little something from her.

Official Otep Website
Otep Myspace
Click here to purchase Otep music


by Chad Cooper - March, 2009

The band Red may not ring a bell to the average music listener. They’re not flashy nor do they use strange gimmicks to garner attention.

The group, who started off in the Christian music scene, has now crossed the proverbial mainstream line and is beginning to get the attention they deserve.

“For our purpose, we just wanted to be honest on who we were,” said guitarist Jasen Rauch. “So the fact that we were Christians, those things we were writing about were coming from that perspective and influence. We didn’t want to be boastful or preachy.”

It started some seven years ago when Rauch met vocalist Michael Barnes and a set of twins — Anthony and Randy Armstrong.

They all set their sites on Nashville — not as country musicians, but for a place to set up shop. Rauch said they all became roommates for a year or so and then the music became natural and not forced. With all that said, they had to settle on a name, which Rauch said was the hardest thing to do.

“Yes, that’s the worst process, ever,” he described. “We really wanted something that represented the music itself. It began with RED, the color of anger, then RED, the color of passion, blood, life and love. RED captures all of that pretty accurately.”

The group had a name, and then came the music, which really wasn’t geared directly towards the Christian genre.

“I was working in a recording studio as an engineer and most of my contacts were in the Christian music industry,” said Rauch. “We (the band) were all Christians and when it came time to write music, we didn’t write music as a platform or pedestal to get a message out. That wasn’t our purpose.”

After showcasing for several major record labels, RED signed with Essential, which is a subsidiary of Sony Music that rosters Christian bands. It was a perfect fit for Essential, said Rauch, and the band did not disappoint.

Their debut album came in 2006 as End of Silence was released and its first single, “Breathe Into Me,” won the “Rock Recorded Song of the Year” in 2007 at the GMA Dove Awards. If that wasn’t enough for the debut single, it climbed to No. 10 on the mainstream rock charts.

Two more singles were promoted over the airwaves and the band began touring with such Christian music acts such as Disciple, but also played with rockers Three Days Grace, Chevelle, Seether and Puddle of Mudd. They earned a Grammy nomination, “Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album,” and their debut album sold nearly 300,000 units. “That was the little record that could,” described Rauch. “It never really spiked, but just sold consistently for two years.”

After 500 live shows and narrowly escaping lifethreatening injuries when their van wrecked, causing then drummer Hayden Lamb to miss the remainder of the tour, RED released their sophomore album, Innocence & Instinct.

The album has been out a mere three weeks and three different singles are on three different charts. According to radio trade magazine Radio and Records, “Never Be the Same” is No. 6 on the Christian/CHR chart, “Fight Inside” is at No. 9 on Christian Rock and “Death of Me” currently sits at No. 22 on the Active Rock charts. “Fight Inside” debuted at No. 1 on the Christian Rock chart, which was a first. Radio and Records stated that RED became the first band in Christian rock history to have a song debut at No. 1.

“We really didn’t have any goals as far as numbers are concerned,” said Rauch of the new album. “It took us 13 months to turn the record because we were touring the entire time, but we couldn’t be more happier now. We are revved up. This is far more than we or the record company could have imagined. We are incredibly honored since we were so into the project.”

Thanks to Rauch, who composes most of the music, the band was able to get plenty of work done on the new record. “I have a full rig we carry with us on the road and it’s really like a full-time studio,” he said. “We have all these flow of ideas and game plans of new songs. They aren’t just my songs, but they are RED songs.”

Some music fans may categorize RED with Christian artists like Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Carmen and MercyMe, but that’s simply not the case. None of those artists would be asked to tour with the likes of Staind, Sevendust or Papa Roach, and the rock community has put up no resistance.

“We watched how we were carrying ourselves as we were crossing over,” said Rauch. “But the Christian market to mainstream wasn’t any different. We wanted to play the same shows and have the same intensity, regardless who we were playing for or what they believed. We don’t view what we are doing as an opportunity to recruit people.”

Rauch then used Sting as a further example. “You don’t see Sting as a Buddhist artist, even though I am sure his music is influenced some by, and that’s kind of where we are coming from. We are careful not to step on anyone’s toes or judge anyone we are on tour with.”

The adventure continues as RED finds shelter on both the mainstream rock and Christian music charts as their improbable crossover dreams continue.

Official Red Website
Red Myspace
Click here to purchase Red music


by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

Most national bands are used to the cycle of writing, recording then touring, but none may be able to compare to the work ethic of Seether. Four albums and continuous touring from the states to Europe are some of the many reasons why this guitar-driven foursome has sold over 5 million records.

“On the road again” doesn’t begin to describe them. They are fresh off a tour supporting Staind – they just played Ford Arena in November — and now they are off to the United Kingdom for 10 days before returning to the United States to support 3 Doors Down. That show hits Ford Arena on Feb. 6 before Seether departs on a three month spot on the Nickelback tour.

So is there a burnout factor?

“You do the best you can,” said guitarist Troy McLawhorn, who is the newest member since joining the group a year ago in February.

“Don’t get me wrong, we get burned out, but we love what we do,” he said. “But if you do the same thing each day it gets old.”

So fans who just saw Seether in Beaumont will likely hear a new setlist when the band comes back through town.

“We change it up and play songs we haven’t played in awhile,” he said. “It makes for a good show by mixing things up.”

The original group was founded in 1999 by singer Shaun Morgan in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa and began playing small venues in Cape Town. Morgan is the lone original member of Seether, a band that was once named Saron Gas but changed its name when they signed a major record deal with Wind-Up Records. Apparently the original name sounded too much like the nerve agent sarin gas, a particularly nasty chemical weapon.

A native of Fayetteville, N.C., McLawhorn met Morgan in 2002 when his band, Still Rain, opened for Seether, who had just released their first record, Disclaimer, which had a single called “Broken,” where Morgan shared vocals with a guest artist — his then — girlfriend Amy Lee of Evanescence.

McLawhorn then joined a band called doubleDrive and they were once again reunited with Seether on the road and yes, it happened again. The guitarist joined up with Dark New Day in 2005 and supported Seether on another run.

“I got to be good friends with Amy (Lee) through Shaun,” said McLawhorn. “Evanescence needed a guitarist and drummer on quick notice and Amy called and asked and I went on to finish the tour with her. As we finished, I saw Shaun and he and Dale (Stewart, bass) asked if I was interested in playing with them and I said yes.”

McLawhorn has yet to be involved in the recording process with Seether, but that will soon change. According to him, once the band finishes the tour with Nickelback, they plan to shut themselves in and begin the new album process.

“My drive comes from satisfaction from creating to performing,” he said. “In the studio, you get to be really creative and do things that you can’t do live. Performances are the other side of the coin and you get to approach it in a different way. Throw that on top of the fact I love to travel, it makes for a great life.”

Official Seether Website
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INTERVIEW: Hoobastank

by Chad Cooper - December, 2008

Their first two albums sold well over a million copies to give the band the status of platinum recording artists and their third sold over 500,000 units, certifying them as gold. But after selling lots of albums and non-stop touring around the globe, Hoobastank needed a break.

“We wanted to beat each other up,” laughed lead singer Doug Rabb from the beaches of Maui. “Not because we hated each other but we were together on a bus for so long we were just physically and mentally tired.”

The group, which has seen a few members come and go, has been at it since 1994. From the suburbs of Los Angeles, Hoobastank self-produced their first three albums then caught a break in 2001 when Island Records scooped them up.

The band’s first major release, self-titled Hoobastank, produced hits “Crawling in the Dark,” “Running Away” and “Remember Me.” The single “Losing My Grip” was picked to be on the “Scorpion King” movie soundtrack. Hoobastank later played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Then came The Reason. Their second album in 2003 sold over two million thanks to, in large part, the record’s second single, “The Reason.” Rabb said he and the group had no clue what the single was going to do.

“Not only did we not think it would blow up, but none of us thought that song was going to be a single,” he said. “It came out of leftfield.” Being a ballad, the single reached No. 1 across the board in different genres including modern rock, pop and adult rock and appeared on just about every MTV reality show known to mankind. The success of the single earned Hoobastank several Grammy nominations.

But don’t let the ballad fool you, Hoobastank likes to rock.

“That song doesn’t define us,” said Rabb. “If people think it does, then it’s laziness. If that’s the only song they know by us, that’s fine, but that’s not a smart definition of us.”

The band chugged along and released their third album, Every Man for Himself, in 2006 and then it was time to take a break.

“We need time away from the music world,” said Rabb. “We knew just write, record, tour. We were burned. Everything we were writing just didn’t feel right so we weren’t really happy with it. It forced us to take a step back and enjoy the normal life.”

And that they’ve done. The band from the West Coast has recorded a new album, and probably got in a few games of bowling. It’s titled For(N)ever and their first single “My Turn” is currently in the top 10 rock charts.

The new album is set for release in early 2009. As far as the music goes, Rabb claims not much has changed. “We never really sat down to make a conscience effort to change album to album, yet people have come up to us and say this is their favorite record and that they can hear the evolution of us.”

So what’s the deal with the letter ‘N’ in the album title?

“No hidden meaning or anything,” said Rabb. “After going through the songs, I noticed the majority of the songs deal with positive aspects of relationships so I was talking with our manager about forever and never and we comprised with For(N)ever.”

Hoobastank teamed with producer Howard Benson, who produced their last two albums, so expect the same great Hooba

“It’s still exciting,” said Rabb . “Thinking about the good shows we’ve done the last 10 years and to know we can accomplish that helps drive us. Besides having a couple of grays in my beard, our mental state is so different. We have recharged ourselves, which made us hungry again.”

So what’s left for Rabb and his two band mates to accomplish?

“Well, I wouldn’t mind taking a few of those Grammys,” he said. “It would be icing on the cake, but no really, if we can keep playing music and feel good about it, that’s all I could ask for.”

Official Hoobastank Website
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by Chad Cooper - February, 2009

The record companies told Pop Evil lead singer Leigh Kakaty they were looking for something new and different.

“I don’t remember when a lead singer, who is Indian, had a top 20 rock single,” said Kakaty. “If that’s not different, I don’t know what is.”

This four-piece rock band from Michigan has been around since the late 1990s, explained Kakaty, but it’s just recently that they have found national success with hit singles “Somebody Like You” and their current active rock hit, “100 in a 55.”

But they’re doing this without a major record company supporting them. Pop Evil is signed to Pazzo Records and, right now, Kakaty wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It doesn’t matter how many bowties, how many scarves, or tell us how to cut our hair, if it works then it works,” he said. “We have been taking a lot criticism from labels; ‘you don’t look like a lead singer, bass player needs to cut his hair.’ But whatever. There is something here and it’s working.”

But the million-dollar question is — what is Pop Evil?

“We all grew up in Grand Rapids, which was very conservative but we all listened to everything from Led Zeppelin to Tupac,” said Kakaty. “We grew up a product of that pop culture. Being a minority singer myself, it’s hard to find your place when you don’t look like Robert Plant or Tupac so whatever I was, I was above or below that norm. Pop Evil wasn’t about the name. It was about the lifestyle.”

It wasn’t the normal Michigan lifestyle either. The 27-year-old’s father is from India and his mother is Canadian.

He’s not the only one in the band with a distinct heritage.

Pop Evil also consists of Turkish, Mexican and Polish descents. Kakaty explained that the group came together late in the 90s as most were members of competing bands but once all came together, he wanted to do something different.

“I didn’t want to save money on the recording costs,” he said. “There are so many people that can make music these days by going down to the Guitar Center or Best Buy to get an 8-track machine and the next thing you know they are recording in their basement. You don’t meet anyone like that and this industry is based on relationships.”

The lead man then wanted his band to play covers, or songs recorded by other artists.

“Instead of making just 20 bucks a night, why don’t we suck it up, save money, play some covers and find a great producer and really go for it,” he said. “Instead of recording an album, let’s do three songs.”

Being from Michigan, Kakaty enlisted Al Sutton, whose credentials include Kid Rock, another Detroit native. “Our first song was ‘Somebody Like You’ and we then shot a video for that single,” he said. “We then went to our hometown radio station in Grand Rapids (97.9, WGRD) and just hounded them.”

The hounding worked as the single was added to their nighttime rotation in 2006. The song instantly drew rave reviews forcing the program director of WGRD to put the single into fulltime rotation.

After the song went No. 1 at the station, the PD asked for another song in 2007, “100 in a 55,” and that instantly became the local chart-topping hit. indie label Pazzo Records came in and snatched up Pop Evil and the boys hit the studio to record the album, Lipstick On The Mirror. The single “100 in a 55” was re-released and is currently in the active rock charts across radio America and “Somebody Like You” was also recently released to mainstream radio stations.

Pop Evil then left the Michigan area and began touring, supporting bands like Tesla, Puddle of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman and Saliva. Now, they have just started a tour of their own.

“It’s really insane,” explained Kakaty. “Everywhere we go the fans are going nuts. We are on our second single now and that’s crazy because some major record bands don’t have two singles.”

Kakaty added their shows are high energy and well worth the price of admission. “The economy is so bad, especially in Michigan, people don’t have $10 or $20 to waste on something they don’t get,” he said. “You play your instrument for nine hours on stage, you are going to get booed. You have to put on a show. From a national standpoint, Kid Rock and Eminem (another Detroit guy) spend a ton of money on their props, so whether you like them or not, they take you on a journey and that’s what we try to do. We don’t have that kind of money but we really try to do it right.”

Pop Evil has since added their DJ to the tour so there are no recorded tracks behind the music — the entire musical barrage is created right there on stage.

Official Pop Evil Website
Pop Evil Myspace
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