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Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2005

Jessie Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter


by David A. Kulczyk
April 2005

Ever since two cavemen started beating sticks on hollow logs it has apparently been the goal of musicians to be louder. Symphony orchestras, Celtic, Polka, bluegrass, country, rock and roll and sometimes-even jazz, strive to amp up the volume. Now I love nothing better than to have my eardrums blown out by great live music, but not long ago I found myself on a road, miles from any sign of human inhabitation. I stopped my car and stepped outside. The quietness was deafening. A rushing white noise, phase shifted through my ears, like the beginning of some bad rock song from the 1970’s, but after a few minutes I started picking out the chirping of birds and insects. A minute later I could hear the leaves of trees rustling in the slight breeze. I was amazed at the complex audio beauty of a seemingly silence place. The same thing happened to me the first time I saw Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter. There are few bands in the world as quiet as Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter. You can literally hear a beer glass fall on the floor while they are performing.

Fresh off a twenty-day tour of 2,000 seat theaters opening for Bright Eyes, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter is hitting the road again. Their latest CD, “Oh My Girl” on Barsuk Records has been selling steadily and has landed on the Best of 2004 lists by such notable publications as the New York Times, The L.A. Weekly, Harp and Maximum Ink.  The band isn’t resting on its laurels.  “When you get home from a tour,” said Jesse, “it’s like, what do I do?”

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Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull


by Justin Beckner
June 2010

Jethro Tull has tiptoed behind the scenes of mainstream rock music for almost 50 years. They brought an element of class and sophistication to popular music and won over their audiences with witty lyrics and an original sound that blended elements of nearly every style of music. Throughout the years they dared to be different and became something great. The following is an interview with charismatic frontman, Ian Anderson.

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Jillette Johnson

Jillette Johnson

An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Jillette Johnson
by John Noyd
March 2014

Singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson began performing at the tender age of twelve, but years in the business have done nothing to harden her outlook on making music. Balancing piano-driven intimacy with an urgent openness, her songs are both quietly inviting and boldly direct, building into a floodgate of swirling emotions that sweep in unexpected leaps while holding fast to rock-solid beliefs; traversing romantic semantics and sexual politics with daring diplomacy wrapped around vampish fantasy. Still only in her early twenties, Jillette’s dramatic pathos reveal a tenacious optimist skillfully capturing life’s passionate battles in surging orchestrations, lyrical twists and boundless bravado; gracefully capturing love’s inevitable turbulence with a sure hand and a steady heart. In anticipation of her forthcoming visit to Madison, we sat down and asked her a few questions. 

MAXIMUM INK: When did you first feel you had something to offer the world?

JILLETTE JOHNSON: I was four and I told my dad I wanted to be a rock star.

MI: Were you musically precocious, unnaturally imaginative or prematurely literate?

JJ: Yes, yes, and yes. I was quite a little hurricane.

MI: What other outlets does your creative energy express itself?

JJ: I have an affinity for vintage coats.

MI: What aspect of your personality might be construed as a blessing and a curse?

JJ: I’m unabashedly wide-eyed.

MI: If you could change one thing about yourself what would that be?

JJ: I wish I had more control over my lust for vintage coats… and my anxiety.

MI: What do you find to be the most difficult idea to capture in song?

JJ: Whatever it is I’m going through right that moment. I’m a nostalgically emotional writer. In other words I usually need some time to process before I can write a song about it.

MI: What songwriters have inspired you and in what ways might you try to emulate them?

JJ: Carole King in her simplicity and sincerity; Paul Simon in his wit, lyrical rhythm and sense of pop; Joni Mitchell in her whimsy and her everything; Randy Newman in his ironic sadness.

A charming and dynamic performer, Ms.. Johnson visits Madison’s The Frequency April 2nd opening for indie-pop rocker WAKEY! WAKEY! and performing songs from her Wind-up Records debut, “Water In A Whale.”

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Joan Osborne on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 1996 - photo by Dave Leucinger

Joan Osborne


by Dave Leucinger
May 1996

If God were one of us, and his tour of duty brought him to Milwaukee, it’s a safe bet that he’d fill more seats than Joan Osborne did at the Modjeska Theater. Not as safe a bet is whether he’d be able to sing as well.

With five Grammy nominations under her belt, the question wasn’t if Osborne would sell out the 1,800 seat Modjeska, it was how quickly. Imagine the surprise when hundreds of tickets remained minutes before the Kentucky native took the stage May 11. The crowd was sparse – you could walk to within ten feet of the stage without a problem – but its diversity read like an open book on Osborne’s critically-acclaimed major-label debut, Relish.

There were the pop fans, weaned on the radio friendly “one of Us;” the music fans attracted to the show by Osborne’s endearing spirit and warm, folkish charm; and those that fell in between, more than willing to bask in the glow of songs that aren’t motivated by anger and rage.

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Joel Pingitore and the Playground of Sound on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2009 for MI's 13 Year Anniversary Issue

Joel Pingitore and the Playground of Sound


by Dan Vierck
March 2009

Joel Pingitore isn’t wasting any time. He has been performing with his most recent group, The Playground of Sound, for only six months and they’re already booked and/or played 150+ shows. Besides a weekly show at The Dam Bar in Belleville, WI and a once-a-month visit to Stella’s Speakeasy in Stoughton, WI the band is fresh of a stint of gigs at Bike Week in Daytona Beach. In an e-mail interview Pingitore admitted he wouldn’t mind a show every day.

“Naturally,” He also conceded, “it’d be fantastic to be ‘The Next Big Thing.’” With an energetic six month old band that’s already working on an album and playing outside the state, however fantastic the dream, they seem to be aiming for it. On a more realistic, and partially realized note, Pingitore also said “I’d like to see [the band] as a nationally touring act.”

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Marilyn Manson to Rob Zombie, guitarist John 5

John 5


by Kimberly E. McDaniel
December 2007

John 5 is a musician’s musician.  Currently on tour with Rob Zombie, John has played with everyone from k.d. lang to Meat Loaf to Marilyn Manson as well as releasing his many instrumental solo albums. He is known for playing country music as he is shredding with metal bands, and is currently up for two nominations at Guitarworld.com.

The band is now touring with Ozzy Osbourne, in support of the new “ Zombie-Live! ” CD.  In the midst of this tour, John took a few minutes to talk with us at Maximum Ink about his vast body of work and what we can expect from him in the future.

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John 5

John 5


by Tina Hall
August 2010

John 5 is best known for his work as former guitarist for Marilyn Manson and also as guitarist for Rob Zombie. He has one of the most impressive resumes in rock having working with artists like, K.D Lang, Lita Ford, Meatloaf, David Lee Roth, Salt-N-Pepa, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. His latest solo effort is titled “The Art of Malice.” I sat down with him recently to talk music and what he would most like to do otherwise.

Maximum Ink: If you dont mind asking, how did the stage name John 5 come about?
John 5: I became John 5 when I joined Marilyn Manson.He dubbed me that because I was the 5th member to join the group, and yeah, it does have a biblical reference too.

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